Grateful and patriotic. That’s how I felt last weekend when E and I escaped again to the mainland. This time there weren’t any medical procedures tagged onto the end of our trip. No Big C cloud hovering over our heads like an alien space ship. Just two glorious days of freedom and fun with our oldest daughter A. Quite simply, it was divine. And exactly what the doctor ordered.
I like to keep an attitude of gratitude. I’m happier and far more optimistic when I do. Life just feels richer and amplified when I see the glass half full. This thankful continence isn’t always easy to maintain though. Sometimes I engage in rip-roaring pity parties of one. But most of the time I count my blessings. And they are many.
Last Saturday afternoon, smack dab in the middle of a busy crowded downtown Vancouver street, I had an epiphany. The sun was shining gloriously overhead. The energy and positive vibe in the city was electric. Music and laughter, breezy summertime conversations, and the smell of suntan lotion wafted from every street corner. It was picture perfect. Endorphins flooded my limbic system, and by doing so released a profusion of happy childhood memories of summers at 204. In an instant, I was as lighthearted and mirthful as a ten year old girl running under the garden sprinkler. Yippee! It doesn’t get much better than that. Another neat thing happened in that moment. My gratitude muscle expanded and skyrocketed, then soared heavenward through the brilliant clear blue sky.
Giddy with glee, I turned to E and said, “Life doesn’t get much better than this.”
He looked at me as if I had suddenly grown two heads. I fully appreciate why he would find my declaration untrue, given the circumstances of our life right now. But before he could protest or disagree, I repeated, “Life doesn’t get any better than this. In this cosmic moment, which is all we have, life is perfect. Just the way it is.”
Then he got it. His eyes welled with tears and he smiled. Big honest smile. Right from the heart. One filled with gratitude.
Later that day, our daughter took us to a baseball game at the Nat Bailey Stadium, where the Vancouver Canadians and the Tri-City Dust Devils were playing. I can’t think of a more definitive summer diversion or pastime than going to a ballgame. Some people find this game boring. Too quiet and slow. But for me it is beautiful. Elegant. Subtle and masterful. First and foremost, a team sport. Yet each player has a time when they stand alone at home plate. Armed only with a wooden bat, years of practice swinging it, the sagacity and the wits of a street-fighter, the indelible voice of their coach always with them, the encouragement of their team mates, the cheers of their devoted fans, and the genuine love of the game. It is there that each player, one by one, bravely faces the nine guys from the opposing team, all focused on the same thing. Stop this guy from getting a run.
My love of the game goes way back. The Old Man loved it too. He was one of the guys who started Little League in our hometown. He coached and umpired games well into his senior years. When I was young, I used to tag along and sit in the weather-beaten wooden bleachers and cheer on ‘our guys.’ It was during those long hot steamy Northwestern Ontario summer nights, that I fell for the game and the boys who played it. During my Toronto years, The Old Man loved visiting, especially in the summer. Going to a Jays game was a dream come true for him. To see a major league game close up and personal was beyond his wildest imaginings.
The Nat Bailey Stadium is gorgeous. Most people wouldn’t describe a sports stadium this way. But to me it is. This was my first time, and like many firsts, it was memorable and I loved everything about it. The pre-game excitement, the smell of popcorn and hotdogs, pizza and beer, cotton sundresses and pink cotton candy, fans in red tee-shirts and baseball caps, flip-flops flapping up and down concrete steps, hoots and hollers across the stands, the red wooden bleachers with perfect views of the field, the calls from the beer guy and the fifty-fifty girl, the playful fan photos taken with Bob Brown Bear, the cornball music, the repartee and easy banter of the announcers, the pre-game warm-ups, the national anthems, and the crack of wooden bat on leather ball. Gorgeous. Every last bit.
Before the game begins two national anthems are sung. I don’t recall the name of the singer only that she gave a virtuoso performance. Flawless. Resplendent. A crackerjack job. I love the American anthem. It’s impressive and majestic. But I’m a Canadian girl. Through and through. Tried and true. Homegrown, born and raised.
From the very first note, when this crowd of devoted Vancouver Canadians fans stood shoulder to shoulder, hats in hand, young and old alike, and gloriously sang our national anthem, I was moved. Unexpectedly touched yet filled to the brim. With patriotism. With pride. With gratitude.
Oh Canada. Dear sweet Canada. My home and native land. I am so grateful to be here.