Archives for posts with tag: Family

I need a car.

There, I said it.

My husband Dion lives with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that is robbing him of his mobility. Last fall Dion learned how to drive with hand controls and has a license that requires he use them. Our car is fitted with them now, and so Dion needs to use it as his primary means of getting around. With his new role at work, he no longer needs to simply get to The Gateway. Instead, Dion needs to be going places at exactly the same times I do. I never thought I would potentially be a part of a two car family. In some ways I struggle with even having a single vehicle: I think about the impact on the environment; I consider that I live in a city with public transportation; I know that for most people a car will never be an option. These are all good reasons to eschew driving a car, except…

The challenge for me is that I found ways to make my life work in large part because I had the use of our car. Our vehicle is used to ensure that things happen at The Dale. The Dale might not have walls of our own, but we do have my trunk. I transport groceries for our drop-ins, at various times store art supplies and outreach items like socks and hats, and move sound equipment for our Open Stages. We rely on the car to help our community friends move. We go on hospital, jail and court visits. We take people to appointments. Sometimes it is our office. And that’s all in the course of just one week.

Having a car also has a profound impact on my effort to keep life at The Dale in balance with life at home. I am able to finish my time in Parkdale and get home in time for Cate (which is a tight squeeze). I can drive a carload of kids to rehearsals for the choir that Cate has been in since the age of six. Our family participates in a “Dinner Shuffle” each Wednesday that is always followed by me heading off to do street outreach during the remainder of the evening. My list could go on and on. Though Dion will be able to get around, it will not afford him the energy to take on the grocery shopping, etc. Fatigue is a difficult symptom of MS.

Sharing this makes me feel very vulnerable. I know that life will go on if we don’t get another car. I also know life will be decidedly different for The Dale and the Oxford house without one. Quite honestly, I’m scared about all of this. A Dale community member has decided to actively pray for a solution. I know that my mother is doing the same. I would like to invite you all to help me/us see what the possibilities might be in all of this. Do you know a person wishing to sell a vehicle for a decent price? Do you wish to help us?

I am all ears.

Last week my daughter Cate managed to do two things that, for different reasons, were real challenges: fasting from food for thirty hours and singing a solo in front of a large group of people. It took courage for Cate to do these things and I’m very proud of her for conquering the fear associated with both. I don’t know that she will be racing to do either again anytime soon. I also imagine that being in a vocal recital will still cause Cate stage fright. The difference next time though is that she can draw from her previous experience and remember that she can open her mouth and sing.

I recognize the anxiety that Cate was feeling. There are things that I know I need to do that quite frankly, scare me. Sometimes when I think about those things that enliven fear in me I can feel my stomach drop out from under me. Lately this has been happening when I think about the long-term life of The Dale. To be clear, I don’t feel anxious about the community or its ability to continue to gather. What I wonder about is my capacity to fulfill the role I have in it: pastor, director, administrator, fundraiser. I feel ill-equipped.

When I confessed this feeling to my husband recently he simply said, “then you are exactly where you should be”. I know he’s right. Being in this place forces me to lean on others, ask for help and rely on God. Here I have to choose to take leaps of faith, which isn’t so different from what I was encouraging Cate to do right until the moment she had the last bite of food before her fast or when her name came up in the recital program. Some of the best things have happened because I decided to jump despite the fear and trepidation.

In truth, I also have scars because not all the jumps have resulted in the desired outcome. With time these scars do take on a different form. A song I love says, “they are less like scars and more like character”. I want to battle fear with a certain abandon and trust that my wounds will turn into scars of character. This life of mine requires stepping out in faith, over and over again. It also affords me the opportunity to be a part of a radically beautiful place like The Dale.

The next time I am overwhelmed with my role I want to recall the way Cate stepped up to the stage, composed herself and sweetly sang “The Swallow”. She was anxious the entire song AND she did it. I hope I can do the same.

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My Mom lives in complex continuing care at a local hospital. About a decade ago she needed to have a brain tumour removed and has called various hospitals home since then. The surgery took away much from my Mom, including her gag and cough reflex. This loss means not being able to eat food via her mouth.

Think about it: my Mom never gets to taste anything other than a bit of toothpaste. Though I feel close to this reality, I still can just not imagine.

My Mom is occasionally able to come over to our house, usually for visits that last an afternoon. She lives just a couple of blocks away from us, so she always keeps a close eye on the weather reports to see if riding in her wheelchair over will be possible vs. taking a special cab. This Saturday promised to be beautiful, so we decided it would be the day for our traditional Easter dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes.

Given that my Mom can’t eat, you might wonder why we would plan a feast that would coincide with her visit. The reason is twofold: my Mom loves to visit around a table and she loves to smell. I spent the morning cooking with this in mind. We affectionately call it creating an “aroma buffet”. Once we settle around the table I put together a plate of food that I then pass under my Mom’s nose. I always wonder if it just makes not being able to eat more difficult, but she always happily takes a deep breath.

They say that when you lose a sense the other senses are heightened. There is something incredibly moving about witnessing my Mom’s willingness to participate in meals in a different way now. I hope that her sense of smell somehow helps to compensate for her lack of taste, even if it is just a little. Though I can still take food into my mouth, I want to learn to deeply appreciate my nose. I don’t want to take being able to eat for granted.

Bring on the aroma buffets.

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Right now:

I am a muddle of thoughts.

I am trying to not be worried about my Mom and admittedly not doing a very good job. Yesterday was a harder day for her. She remains in ICU. We covet your prayers and healing thoughts.

I am considering everything that needs to be done at PNC. It is a challenge to prioritize tasks when everything is important…we need the door, but the door can’t be hung without hinges, and the hinges need to be screwed into the wall and the wall needs to be repaired..whew!

I am thinking about Cate’s big Ice Show. Tonight and twice tomorrow she will don her figure skates and green outfit (her number is called “Seaweed”). I know one of the things she is most looking forward to is the Grand Finale, when all the skaters roam the ice and hope to have flowers tossed to them. Dion and I will have a bouquet in hand.

I am grateful for the way my almost four-year old nephew Oliver prayed for his Gran last night: “thank you and make Gran feel better. Thank you and give her medicine”.

I am continuously pondering what it means to be thankful in all things. And at the same time be willing to talk about what’s not right in the world and to seek after justice in a humble, merciful way.

I am preparing for a Community “Town Hall” Meeting at PNC on Monday after our lunch (if you are reading this know that you are welcome to join us! Lunch is at 1, the meeting will start shortly thereafter).  We are going to talk about the changes that PNC is facing and brainstorm together about our future. I am excited about the ideas that are brewing and being batted about already.

I am listening to Mumford and Sons and loving this lyric:

And there will come a time,
you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart,
but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see
what you find there,
With grace in your heart
and flowers in your hair.

I am recalling listening to Joni (pronounced John-ee) Eareckson-Tada speak at a conference years ago. Joni is a woman who, at a young age, dove into shallow water and broke her neck. She has lived in a wheelchair ever since. I have always been struck by the glow she has about her as she talks about her life, her faith and her hope. In fact, she reminds me of my Mom.

I am doing my best to lose the muddiness in my head and again choose to be in the moment.

Right now.