This week’s WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge topic is “extra extra.” Gayle calls her submission: “Facetiming with Eva Louise.” Instead of regretting the fact that her grandchildren are far away in Norway (we live in British Columbia, Canada), she regularly communicates on her I-pad with her grandchildren via her daughter’s I-phone. What a wonderful invention Facetime is for those of us who have family members that live far away. It is wonderful to be able to communicate with them electronically when you aren’t physically present with one another and also great to be able to watch a young child grow and develop. Our “extra” part of the smiling photo of 10-month-old granddaughter Eva Louise is the little insert at the lower right of grinning Grandma Gayle, slightly desheveled since she was awakened by daughter Gwynne’s call at 1 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. It was 10 a.m. Central European Time so, in contrast, Eva Louise was freshly washed and dressed for the occasion. Thanks to daughter Gwynne’s instructions, Grandma has learned how to snap a photo as she is talking and viewing on Facetime. A great invention!
As Mother’s Day approaches I’m enjoying so many uplifting and poignant messages on Facebook regarding motherhood, as well as savouring the sight and smell of flowers that were just delivered to me from my daughter who lives with her husband and children in Norway. I’m also anxiously awaiting a call from my son who lives in California and hearing from my step-daughters in Manitoba. Yes, they are all too far away from our British Columbia home, but I guess that is a common situation in present-day life. Thank God for the modern convenience of Facetime so that we can regularly communicate and even see each other on my ipad and their iphones. (My son and I regularly go for a “walk” in the garden he maintains for the house he lives in and down to the nearby beach to check out the sand and surf.) Since Ian and I live in a popular retirement spot, many of our friends here also have children and grandchildren who are residing in other corners of the earth. Through Skype, Facetime and the like, they also manage to communicate and keep up with distant family members with the occasional long-distance flight to touch base in person.I’m sharing a Pic Collage photo I compiled on my ipad to commemorate our great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren – the youngsters (or “wee’uns,” as Ian would call them in his Scottish vernacular) – the children in our lives who live far away from us (in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Norway) for whom we are Grandpa and Grandma and to whom we will be dedicating our children’s chapter book, “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie,” for which I am presently doing the layout. Here they are: going around clockwise from the top center: Leland, 13 (our age-appropriate consultant for the book); Hannah, 8 (who did the drawings for the book); then Logan, 4; Brayden, 2; Lexi,2; Eva, 9 months; Gustav, 3; Caleigh, 6; and Madison, 4. (We also are expecting two more great-grandchildren later this summer. The two photos in the center show Grandpa Ian at his 80th birthday party in Winnipeg with six of the great-grandchildren and one grandson (Calan) whose daughter wouldn’t pose without him; plus the bottom photo of Ian and me on our 7th wedding anniversary at home in Vernon, September 7, 2010 (on the day he had his heart attack, mind you!)
My husband Ian (the author) just turned 82 last week and is presently in a local care home for a 2-6 week “short stay convalescent care program” to help him regain some strength, balance and walking ability after over five years of serious illness and lots of medications which have saved or bettered his life but also are essentially poisonous and have lots of nasty side-effects, the worst of which has been neuropathy in the feet. I’m happy to say that a set of new orthotics plus the exercises, physio- and occupational therapy he is receiving daily is helping. I’ve seen a lot of progress in just a few days that he has been there.
In the meantime I’m enjoying some time alone at home with only the dog to take me away from gardening and layout duties. Misty supervises me as I plant flowers in boxes and pots on our front porch, prune the shrubs in our front and back xeroscaped gardens, get the gazebo canopy and curtains set up and hire a worker to come in and clean out our pond and waterfall. I did the latter for the first time last year and could hardly stand the sight and stench of an about-two-inch layer of rain worms that had crawled into and died in the pond at the end of last autumn, during part of our mild winter and then so far this spring. I realize they are also God’s creatures, but they are ones I’d just as soon not encounter. I’ve also included some photos of our back yard from last year to share some of the beauty of our surroundings. The first photo is of my “Benjamin memorial” to remember my infant grandson who died in 2011 in Norway at 13 days old, the day after I had arrived there. The other photos show our xeroscaping, gazebo, pond and waterfall. Hopefully, Ian will be home soon to enjoy it all as well.
We also wish to remember and honour our own mothers who passed away in 1995 at the ages of 86 (Ian’s) and 96 (mine) in 2001. Their birthdates were within a day of each other but a few years apart: Chrissie’s on June 15 (1909) and Mil’s on June 16 (1905).
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers on your special day on Sunday, May 11th. After church, my friend Jean (whose children are also far away) and I plan to drive up to our neighbouring Davison’s Orchard Farm, have Mother’s Day luncheon at Auntie May’s Cafe and enjoy a walk through the blossoming apple, pear and peach trees before our dog, Misty, and I go to visit Ian. Sounds like a fun day!
Thanks to Francis Guenette on her blog, “disappearing in plain sight, writing about writing” for drawing our attention to Word Press’ “Daily Prompt: In a Crisis” for January 17th. In it Michelle W. poses the challenge: “Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?” The challenge was interesting enough to encourage Gayle to respond by answering both “no” and “yes,” giving the following examples:
Thirty years ago I was living in Frankfurt, Germany with my late husband Gus and our two children, a daughter (6) and a son (1). I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. Gus came home from work every noon for a hot meal – our dinnertime. We had just finished eating dinner in the kitchen and were still sitting around the table when Gus put our little espresso pot onto the stove to make us some coffee. Now this was the old-fashioned kind of pot into which you put water in the bottom piece, espresso powder into the holed metal basket, added a rubber sealing ring around the top edge of the bottom piece and screwed the empty top piece onto the bottom piece to form a little espresso pot. With the pot on a heating element, the boiling action should have forced the water up through the coffee powder basket and into the top area. Voila – espresso. Unfortunately Gus had neglected to put the sealing ring into place, causing the coffee pot to “explode”! Our one-year-old was trapped in his highchair. Our six-year-old sat frozen to her chair. Gus jumped into action to take the part of the pot still on the element off the burner and turn off the stove. What did I do? Well, obviously without thinking, I got the heck out of the room! I just ran out and left my kids sitting there, never giving them a thought! Was I ever disgusted with myself – and embarrassed. Luckily no one was hurt from the explosion. My kitchen, however, was another story. After hugs all around, Gus took the kids into the bathroom to clean up the three of them. I got busy doing my “penance.” First stripping down to my underwear, I grabbed a stepladder and bucket to wash off the ceiling; put curtains, towels, tablecloth and our clothes into the washing machine and dishes into the dishwasher; applied heaps of elbow grease to clean up the wet and grainy dark brown mess dripping from cupboards, stove, fridge, table, chairs, window, etc. and finally mopped the floor. I’m still embarrassed about my cowardly reaction. What a protective mother I was—not!
Last year when I was visiting my daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons (ages 1 and newborn) in Norway, I was proud and relieved to find out that my reaction to a crisis had changed from “flight” to “fight.” I was holding my 13-day-old grandson Ben at the breakfast table as we were discussing returning to the hospital with him as he was not looking or reacting well. All of a sudden he stopped breathing. I screamed, “He’s not breathing!” My son-in-law and I sprang into action and did CPR on him until the ambulance arrived and the emergency medical personnel took over. Soon a helicopter ambulance flew in carrying a pediatric cardiologist and finally the baby and doctor flew off for a hospital in Oslo with my daughter and son-in-law following in the auto ambulance. I stayed behind to care for the 13-month-old and two dogs. A few hours later my son-in-law called to tell me that Ben was dead and had been baptized at the hospital. I can’t even try to describe how heartsick we all were, still are, and perhaps always will be over the loss of Benjamin. I’ve always heard that the hardest loss is one of a child and now I know how true that is. An autopsy determined that Ben had a previously undetected heart problem which led to his death. Instead of the planned baptism, we began to prepare for a funeral. With God’s help, we all got through it somehow, and found comfort in being together. Considering that our CPR did little to prevent Ben’s death, I was still thankful I had taken a refresher CPR course the previous year and that I had realized instinctively that my best reaction in this particular situation was “fight.”