Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Not the Marrying Kind.

1452388_10153580945835113_784035814_nI’m not the marrying kind. Even though I’ve done it two times. That’s the enigma.  It’s a mystery even to me. My personal paradox.  The thing is, it’s not even that I don’t believe in marriage per se.  I think it’s a fine enough thing to do, and anyone who chooses, should have that right.  No matter what.  I’m just not sure it’s something that really matters to me.  Despite having done it twice.  I’m ambivalent at best.  It’s a Sunday morning quandary.  I for one am positively stumped.

To say the two wedding ceremonies were as different as night and day, the East and the West, Chopin and The Clash, would be a monumental understatement.

The first time, I stood next to my betrothed in the muggy cramped claustrophobic office of a Justice of the Peace in the far reaches of northern BC.  There were warning signs right from the get-go that I chose not to heed.  Like my absurd fear of small spaces, yet there I was getting married in one.  Then there was the JP, who was missing one of his thumbs.  And the piece de resistance, he was wearing a burgundy leisure suit.  His name may have been Ron.  I don’t remember, which is probably a good thing.  Best that I don’t remember all the intimate details of that day.  Some situations and events are better left in a foggy haze.

By contrast, the second time with E was on top of large rocky hill with sweeping 360 degree views of the city and the ocean below.  The clouds, the sun and the large expansive sky, a natural backdrop.  Sheltered by ancient Garry Oaks, we were married by our beloved minister, surrounded by our beautiful family and friends. There was much music and laughter in the summer air.  It was lovely and romantic.  Well worth the twenty year wait.

But as wonderful as that was, it was nothing compared to T and D’s wedding last weekend.

Perhaps I was seeing through the eyes of a mother, who loves her son dearly.  Or maybe it had something to do with how much I adore his beautiful sweet “Lady”.  But the sight of these two dear ones exchanging vows stopped my heart.  Took my breath away. Brought tears of joy.

All this vow taking over the past two years got me thinking about Ma and The Old Man. They were together for over fifty years yet they never married.  They had their reasons.  We didn’t talk about it much.  For a long while, Ma carried a truckload of shame. Then there came a time where the legalities didn’t matter much anymore.  When she was finally free to marry The Old Man, she chose not to.  Perhaps the truth is, she wasn’t the marrying kind either.

No, they never said I do, in any formal way. Never took it to the alter.  Not before God. Nor anyone else. But they did take it to heart, made promises and vowed, in all the ways that count.

I do love you.  I do cherish you.  I do respect you.  I do honor you. I do want to be with you above all others.  I do want to spend all the days of my life with you. I do want to be there by your side through sickness, health, good times and bad.  I do want to hold you close to my heart and keep you forever in my soul.

They may not have been bound legally.  But they were willingly united for life by the things that matter most. Commitment. Loyalty. Honesty. Faithfulness. Dependability. Steadfastness. Devotion. Trustworthiness. Kindness. Gentleness. Compassion. Generosity. Tolerance. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

And above all else.  Love.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Escape Artists.

A and E grinning from ear to ear at her high school graduation.

A and E grinning from ear to ear at her high school graduation.

Sometimes I just want to escape.  Get away from it all.  Take off. Break out.  I have fantasies about this.  They usually go something like this.

I’m in the truck, or some other vehicle with an automatic transmission, heading towards work or some other obligatory destination.  I come to a traffic light. It’s red. I stop.  That’s when it happens.  Instead of waiting for the light to turn green so I can follow the prescribed relentless path.  Otherwise known as my daily routine.  I hang a right on the red and keep on going.  To where, I don’t know.  My only thought is, I’ll know when I get there.  I briefly consider my family, and those I love.  The ones who clutch and cling and cleave to my hungry heart.  I shake those distracting binding thoughts from my head. Toss the rattling chains to the curb.  I hammer on the gas pedal.  Accelerate.  Take a deep breath.  Off I go.  A free bird.  Untethered.

Of course, I’ve never done that. Like John Donne once said, it’s “a nothing, a fancy, a chimera in my brain.”

This daydream of breaking free had exponentially grown since E received his diagnosis back in December.  Like everything else that had happened since then, I wasn’t the only one looking for some escape hatch.  A magical rabbit hole to dive into. E too was looking for a way out.  Even if just for a little while.  A small respite away from the all-consuming Big C was all we both needed.

So in the middle of February, E and I left town. Split. Vamoosed. Set sail.

The truth is, we didn’t go far and our little escapade had an underlying medical purpose.  But for two full days we were in a cancer-free zone.

It was divine.

On Monday, February 18 E was booked into the Cancer Agency in Vancouver for a PET scan.  This is one big mother of a test.  Head to toe 3D color imaging.  Nothing can hide from its radiating nuclear eyes.  If cancer is there, the PET will reveal it.

That was Monday.  Before that we had two glorious days of fun and play in Vancouver.

Our oldest daughter A lives there so accommodations were taken care of.  What we didn’t expect was the pampering she provided.  We were eternally grateful.  She gave us exactly what the medical profession couldn’t.  Love.  In massive doses.

Saturday night was a “date night” orchestrated by this wonderful girl of ours.  We hadn’t had one of those in ages.  If ever.  E and I didn’t really date. Everything we did was kind of topsy turvy, upside down and backwards.  We met in a country bar, fell in love, found our groove, had our youngest daughter and got on with day-to-day life.

Everywhere we went that weekend, we were enveloped by such grace and love.

We had many close encounters of the angelic kind. Starting with The Fish Shack.  Being both popular and trendy, it was crowded. Filled to the rafters.  No room at the shack for us.  Despite the generous gift certificate from our daughter, we weren’t up to standing in line and waiting to have dinner, no matter how good the food.  But before we could even consider hightailing it out of there, the young restaurant host had a table set up just for us.   Once settled into our cozy table for two, we were greeted by our waiter who was gracious, witty and downright entertaining.  The food was great, but he made the experience extraordinary.  We felt like royalty.

After dinner we strolled arm-in-arm up the street to the Vogue Theatre, where our daughter was working.  She had seats for the early show waiting for us.  It was improv night with Colin Mochrie and TheatreSports.  This was a new experience for both of us.  We’ve been to scads of music concerts and festivals over the years but we were Live Improv Comedy virgins.

They say laughter is the best medicine.  On that particular Saturday night in Vancouver, this cliche proved to be true.  We laughed ourselves well that night.  Not physically.  E still had cancer.  It wasn’t a night for those kinds of miracles.  Seas didn’t part.  Water didn’t become wine.  Yet supernatural things occurred.  Spiritual healing took place.  It was a night of joy.  Merriment.  Glee.  Our spirits were uplifted.  Our hearts lightened.  Worries held at bay.  We were just us.  Not the guy with cancer and his wife.

On Sunday we hung out with our daughter.  She cooked homey comforting food for us.  It was like being back at 204 in Ma’s kitchen.  Brunch and Sunday night dinner.  Sandwiched in between was a trip to Ikea.  We returned to the apartment with shelving, a hanging lamp and other Ikea accoutrements. I languished on the sofa like the Queen of Denial while E and A assembled everything with the infamous Ikea allen key.

I treasure the memory of that evening.  Just the three of us.

It’s funny how you can shut things out when you need to.  For those 48 hours, E and I were free.  Unencumbered.  Immune.  Safe.  The untouchables.   Monday would come soon enough.

As I breathed in the delicious aroma of beef stew simmering on the stove, I thought how wonderful it was that we were here in this place, at this time, with each other.  This made me happy.

It was the perfect gift.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: This is The Man we all Love.

Sitting in the window of an abandoned farmhouse.

I have written a lot posts for all the magnificent Girl Warriors in my life.  My strong, fierce and beautiful daughters, grand daughter, daughter-in-law and the original warrior, Ma. Plus all the others, near and dear to me.  All glorious inspirational women.

I also have a son.  He is equally magnificent in my eyes.  Yet in many ways he’s a mystery to me.  A charming and perplexing enigma.  Perhaps it’s because he’s a boy and at the end of the day I must admit that I don’t fully understand the male species.

I was young when he came into the world.  So was he.  In truth, we grew up together.  He has taught me much since that wondrous day when I looked into his dark raisin eyes for the very first time.  I am eternally grateful for all the learning through the years. Even the difficult stuff.  I’ve probably learned more through those experiences than from the easy breezy butterfly days.

So many rights of passage we shared.  The holding close.  And the letting go.  All those milestones.  From the first step.  To the walk across the stage to receive his degree.  Everything in between.  Proud mother moments.  Heartbreaks and heroics.  Flights of fancy and family ties.  Unbreakable bonds.  Love is born.  And grows eternal in this mother-son relationship.

He stands shoulder to shoulder with the three other good men who I love dearly.  My strong and gentle big brother, my solid husband and my complicated father.  Each seemingly different.  At least on the exterior.  At once complex and full of mystifying layers.  Yet also sublimely straightforward and uncomplicated.  Always sincere.  Forthright.  Honest.  Kind.  They are the faces of strength, courage and tenderness in my often anxious world.

The 10 Steps to Becoming the Man We All Love:

The Old Man was so delighted with his grandson.

1. Be your own man. Authentic. Genuine. 100% bona fide you. The real thing.  Don’t be an impostor.  Nor live a vicarious life.  Grab a hold of what matters to you.  Put on your own jersey.  Strap on your own skates.   Play the game you love.  Not someone else’s.  Be an original.  A maverick.  The natural.  Always be the guileless boy who looks at the world with wide-eyed wonder.  Forever rub your hands together with glee and pure joy.  Be the spontaneous boy. And the solid man.  Work with your full range of emotions.  Express yourself completely.  Thoroughly.  Freely.  And if a tear falls. Let it.

2. Be brave-hearted.  Stand tall.  Stare down your fears.  Look them straight in the eyes.  Laugh at them.  Call their bluff.  Walk right through them.  Don’t go around.  Don’t avoid.  Face them head-on. Know that all courageous men have fears. Life is scary sometimes. For all of us.  Don’t be a victim.  Instead be valorous.  Do no shrink.   Roar.  Hoot and howl.  Feel the fear and get on with it.  There are no boogeymen under the bed.  No monsters hiding in the closet. Myths.  False emotions appearing real.  That’s all.  And always remember that you are far bigger than your fears.

My big brother with my nephew and my son sharing a cuddle.

3. Get a real kick out of life.  Have fun.  Find things that amuse and delight you.  Not just once and awhile.  But every day.  Don’t put it off for the weekend.  For vacation.  Or another time.   Play right now.  Cause a ruckus.  Bang on your drum all day.  Shake your tambourine.  Laugh your guts out.  Make a fool of yourself. Embrace happiness.  Enjoy the people you’re with right this very second.  Surround yourself with the lighthearted ones who put a smile on your face.  Take delight in every minute of this life you are given.

4. Be a loving man. And you will be loved.  Guaranteed.  More than you could ever imagine or dream. Open your heart wide and let in the love.  Don’t run from it.  Strong men have the guts to be tender.  Kind.  Compassionate.  Be a Gentle Ben.  Tom, Dick or Harry.  And remember, love isn’t always perfect.  Accept that sometimes it will hurt.  That’s okay.  Don’t let this frighten you. Don’t push it away.  Or turn your back.  Don’t give up on it. Love refines your heart and grows your compassion muscle.  Most importantly, learn to recognize love when it comes your way.  It doesn’t always come gift wrapped.  It may be completely different from what you had in mind.  Better even. In fact, the best thing that ever happened to you.

The proud uncle with his lookalike niece.

5. Find your tribe.  Your band of sisters and brothers. The ones where you fit in.  Belong. Feel at home with.  For these will be your family.  Some related by blood.  Others by the heart.  Surround yourself with people you trust, respect and enjoy.  You don’t have to always agree. You don’t even have to always get along.  But these are the faithful ones. Loyal. Steadfast. And true.  The ones who will be there for you.  With you.  By your side.  Through thick and thin. The ones who have your back.  Who pick you up when you fall. Help you find your way home in the dark.  They’re with you no matter what. No questions asked.  No doubt about it.

6. Follow your passions and the things that make you want to get up in the morning.  Jazzed and ready to go.  Have big dreams.  They don’t cost any more than the small ones. Your life will be so much richer for it.  Do the things that you love to do first.  And everything else will fall into place. Be enthusiastic.  Get psyched.  Pumped.   Gung-ho.  Embrace new ideas and ways of doing the things you already know. Be creative.  Imaginative. Take the magical mystery tour of discovery.  Go on an adventure.  Expand. Grow. Cultivate. Hone. Take risks. Embrace the failures on the way to your successes.  Learn and move on.

My son with “his lady” in Scotland on the adventure of their lives.

7. Be generous and magnanimous of spirit. With everything and everybody.  Don’t be stingy.  Don’t withhold. Don’t hang onto things.  Never covet. Give of what you have.  What you know.  Give a little. Or a lot.  But give. This isn’t necessarily about money.  Nor material things. It can be. Nothing wrong with that. If you’ve got it.  Give it.  But it’s also about giving of yourself.  Your time.  Your energy.  The natural gifts you came into the world with.  Take every opportunity to share these with others.  The more you do, the bigger you will be.  This will make you happier than anything you ever imagined.  For the more you give, the more you receive.

8. Be honest.  A man of your word.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Nor intend to.  Be a man of integrity.  Honorable. Upstanding. Someone you can rely on.  Depend on.  Be the good guy who shows up.  Even in the stickiest of situations.  Know that when you shake on something that you are doing more than pressing flesh.  You are giving your word.  Your bond.  Don’t violate this sacred trust.  Respect others and you will be respected in turn.

My two lovely men standing tall at our wedding.

9. Defend and stand up for something.  Be righteous. Not self-righteous.  Find causes close to your heart.  Help those in need.  Shelter the weak.  The young.  The very old. Once you accept the challenge, don’t put conditions on who you’ll help and who you won’t.  Raise the bar on compassion.  Kindness.  Tolerance.  Embrace your fellow travelers.  Meet them eye to eye.  Carry the placard.  Wear the colors.  Pin on the badge.  But don’t force your beliefs down the throats of others. This is not a persuasive approach.  Don’t cloud the issues with misplaced anger.  This just creates mindless noise.  Be humble. Not sanctimonious.  Charitable.  Not complacent.  Be a leader when called upon.  And a follower when the time is right.  But most importantly, be a man that everyone wants in their corner.

10. Take care of yourself.  Do whatever it takes.  All the days of your life.  Not just physically.  But mentally.  And spiritually.  Do it for yourself.  And for all the people who love you.  Be active in every arena of your life.  Find your sport. Get out there and move.  Join a team.  Or go it alone.  Play hockey.  Or a round of golf.  Walk the dog.  Or chase the kids.  It’s all good.  Learn to cook and eat well. Spend time looking inwards.  Take a moment for introspection.  Meditate.  Pray.  Go for walks alone with your thoughts.  Get to know yourself.  And “to thine own self be true.”  Do these things and you will be the man we all love.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Baker’s Dozen – 13 Virtues from my Parents.

Ma and The Old Man pose in front of his birthday cake.

Ma and The Old Man taught me much during our lifetime together.  Some things were practical and intentional.  Like cooking and cleaning up after myself.  Brushing my teeth before bed.  The simple day-to-day things parents teach their children to help them grow up big and strong.  Others things involved character building.  Like doing the right thing just because it was right not because I particularly felt like it.  Saying please and thank you.  Expressing gratitude not bad attitude.  Then there were the big things.  Ten commandment big.  Don’t cause harm to any living creature. Don’t lie.  Cheat.  Steal, and that includes someone else’s spouse.  Respect your elders, especially your parents.  Then there were the things they taught me without even knowing it.  The ‘by example’ things.  The stuff kids pick up on.  Learn through osmosis.  By watching.  Listening.  Witnessing.

While all this learning was going on — the day to day, the big and the by example — thirteen virtues stood out. A perfect Baker’s Dozen.  These are what I would like to share with you.

8 From Ma:

LOVE: One of the big ones. The biggest.  For Ma it came unconditionally.  You didn’t have to do anything special to earn her love.  If you were one of hers, you just had it. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for one of her own.  Including lay down her life.  Thankfully she was never put into this position. What a blessing to be loved so dearly.  What more could a child need than to wake up every morning feeling cherished.  In the end, Ma was grateful that her life followed its natural course.  Although she hated to leave us all, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.  One day we will all follow her into the Light.  Her love was such a blessing to our entire family.  I still feel it now.  And I am grateful.

Ma and her grandson taking a moment to look at Polaroids.

WISDOM: Ma was a simple woman in many ways. Unpretentious. Unassuming.  She never graduated from high school and had very little formal education.  Although at age sixty she went back to night school and studied art.  We were all so proud of her accomplishment.  Her wonderful paintings are amongst my greatest treasures.  Education aside, Ma was a wise and enlightened woman.  She possessed profound insights. Introspective by nature, she was always interested in the “why” of life.  This led her to places of deep spiritual and philosophical understanding and acuity.  She was a good listener.  A skill lacking in the best of us.  I am eternally grateful for her counsel and sought it at every turn.  She was involved in every big decision I made.  It is my prayer that my children feel the same way about me. That when they turn to me for advice or simply a compassionate ear that I bring Ma’s kind of wisdom.

KINDNESS: Ma possessed this virtue in spades.  In abundance.  Good measure. Pressed down.  Shaken.  Running over.  Her heart was tender.  Not just for those she loved. But everyone she encountered on her journey through life.  Children, in particular touched her heart.  She never met a kid she didn’t like.  Her kindness was even extended to the naughty ones. Her heart was open and large towards the elderly, the downtrodden, the forgotten ones and those considered unlovable.  She was kind to animals.  They all knew a kindred spirit.  I am kind too.  Ma taught me well.

GENTLENESS: Ma touched everything with a gentle hand.  Her touch was soft.  Warm.  Benevolent.  She caused no harm.  Never spanked her children.  Nor scolded.  Shy by nature, her voice was quiet yet reassuring.  She was a Whisperer.  Even in the kitchen, nothing was forced.  Food was prepared in a sweet and easy style.  I will always miss her beautiful long-fingered veiny hands that caressed her world with loving kindness.

Ma and Daughter Number One smile for the camera.

PATIENCE: Ma was well practiced in this virtue.  Four children and an alcoholic husband could be taxing at times.  Being patient with children came easy for her.  She understood kids innately.  And consequently they were drawn to her like bees to honey.  She was like Jesus in that she wanted the little children to come to her.  Never too busy for a child.  No little one shooed away.  Her patience wasn’t only extended to the very young.  She successfully shepherded four teenagers into adulthood.  That took monumental skill and patience by the bucketful. Being patient with The Old Man was her biggest trial.  He was her Achilles heel.  I can only say she did her best to extend the same grace to him as she did the children in her life.  Nobody’s perfect.   Patience hasn’t always been one of my strengths.  Just ask my two older kids.  I’ll be working on this one for the rest of my life.  As I said, nobody’s perfect.

EMPATHY: Ma’s compassionate heart wept for the world.  She intuitively knew what people were feeling.  Felt their pain.  Embraced another’s sorrow.  She was the shoulder to cry on.  Her heart broke at the sight of any suffering.  Whether it was within our family circle. Or brought to her over the garden fence or through the television set.  Witnessing suffering on a colossal scale moved her to take action. She donated to many charitable causes and supported a third world child all the days of her life.  She inspired me to do the same.

COURAGE: Ma was timid, shy and meek by nature.  Yet she was also a warrior.  A little spitfire at times. Full of true grit. Especially when it came to protecting her kids.  She wouldn’t let anything or anyone cause us harm.  She was also courageous in the face of any adversity.   From the cradle to the grave.  Whatever the strife, she faced the challenge head-on with bravery and grace.  She also never complained about being sick.  She could be stoic to a fault at times.  We saw this intimately when she had her heart attack.  At first, she denied even having one.  She never ever gave up.  Ma taught me to fight the good fight right until the bitter end.  Like Dido said, there will be no white flags above our door.

THOUGHTFULNESS: Ma was considerate in her every thought, word and deed.  Not only in the small gestures.  Coming to the aid of the elderly.  Helping someone up who has fallen.  Figuratively and literally.  She was quick to send thank you notes, get well wishes and thinking of you cards.  My mailbox was always a wellspring for delightful little surprises.  She never forgot a birthday.  Cards were sent.  Cakes baked. Gifts given. She welcomed everyone into our home regardless of who they were.  There was always room at the table.  If she saw something in a store that she thought you’d like, she picked it up.  There were many just because gifts.  She had others on her mind. I miss dearly those cards and notes inscribed with her small meticulous handwriting. Trips to the mailbox aren’t as much fun anymore.

4 From The Old Man:

HUMOR: The Old Man loved a good laugh.  A silly joke.  A funny yarn with a good punch line.  He was always quick with one to tell.  A faithful reader of The Reader’s Digest, this was the source of much of his material. He also loved a good comedy on television.  Red Skelton could bring him to tears.  He laughed loud.  Heartily.  Easily.  Right from the belly.  I do the same.  I loved this about The Old Man.  It is also what I look for in friends and lovers.  I’m a sucker for a man who can make me laugh.  He will always tickle my fancy.  Laughter.  One of God’s greatest gifts to humans.  Thank you.

The Old Man and his grandson enjoyed a good game of crib.

GENEROSITY: The Old Man was one of those guys who would give you the shirt off his back.  Unlike Ma, who was quick to give to charitable causes, he didn’t part so easily with his money. Not that he had much to part with.  He happily gave his pay cheque to Ma every two weeks. She was the manager of our family finances.  But he gave other things.  If he had something you needed or wanted he rarely said no.  As a teenager I appreciated this virtue the most.  Especially when it came to handing over the keys to his car.  That was a big deal back then.  The Old Man supported his family.  No matter what.  Roof over our heads.  Food on the table.  I always felt that as long as The Old Man was on this earth I would never be destitute.  I’d always have a place to go.  A safe haven where I would be taken care of.  I am so grateful to have had that.  E and I have created the same for our children.  We also go through a lot of shirts.

WORK ETHIC: The Old Man loved and hated his job. Regardless of how he felt on any given day, he got up at 5am and did it. He showed up. For some thirty odd years.  He never actually said, “Take this job and shove it,” but I suspect there were many days that he felt this way.  Possibly he had bigger dreams than he had ambition.  In his defense, he was from a generation of folks who raised families and did whatever it took to do so.  No complaints.  No whining.  No woulda-coulda-shoulda.  Just hard work.  If he had regret over his professional path, he kept it to himself.  I understand.  I’ve done the same.  I show up.

The Old Man and his grandchildren pose for the camera.

SERVICE: The Old Man did what he could to be of service to his country, his family, his community, his employer, his church.  He was in the army.  He volunteered in sport.  Umpiring Little League games was his delight.  He helped out at the church.  Did yard work and painted one of his elderly customer’s home on a regular basis.  Old Jenny was dear to him.  Although she paid him a small fee I suspect he would have done it for free.  He was honored with an award for Service to his Community.  He taught me what an honor it is to serve.  People need help everywhere.

1 from Both of Them:

PUNCTUALITY: Some people might not consider this a virtue.  But I do.  I don’t think either of my parents were ever late for anything.  They were either right on time or early.  Like many from their generation lateness was akin to rudeness.  It was also considered thoughtless and arrogant.  They respected the time of others and appreciated that no one likes to be kept waiting.  Nor should they.  Lateness required two things.  A good reason.  And an apology.  I love that they were both so courteous in this way.

We all wore paper crowns on New Years Eve.

My Own:

GRATITUDE: I will forever be grateful to both my parents for their Baker’s Dozen, these 13 Virtues.  My heart is filled with gratitude every day for the life that God has blessed me with.  Starting with the ultimate gift of my parents.  Ma and The Old Man.

Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Walk Talk And Listen.

Ma and Me on the town in our snazzy slacks.

I love to walk.  Alone.  Or with dogs.  Sometimes with people.  But mostly I like to walk alone (which sounds like the title of a good country song but that’s another story.)

I didn’t always.

A little back story.  I have a long history of walking, which began with my mother.  She too loved to walk.  She didn’t drive so in order to get around and maintain her independence, she walked or took public transit, which in our town meant the bus.  When my father wasn’t working, he drove her to and fro, mostly to the grocery store and the plaza, which eventually flourished and grew into a mall.  Progress.  But I digress.

I loved walking with my mother.  And talking.  Ma wasn’t a big talker, but she was an excellent listener.  This gift alone made her an extraordinary conversationalist.  She was quite simply, transcendent in this talent. With Ma, there was never any competition for airtime, cutting off mid-sentence, interrupted chains of thought, one-up-man-ship, running rings around, nor upstaging in quick wit and repartee.  She was a delighted, polite and interested listener.  I liked that.  I could pour my heart out and bare my soul endlessly and still she listened, with kindness, patience and love.  She offered her opinion when asked, her advice when needed, her consolation and comfort unconditionally.  I liked that too.

I think over the years Ma and I must have traversed thousands of miles and covered an infinite array of topics while doing so.  Everything from soup to nuts (literally).  We solved all of the world’s problems, or at least had a few good recommendations.   We walked off pain, sorrow, anxiety, fear, and a few extra pounds.  We laughed.  We gabbed.  We gossiped.  We wept.  We commiserated.  We stopped.  We started.  We looked back.  We looked forward.  We thought we could walk forever.  At least I did.

Although Ma is no longer with me physically on our walks, she is with me none the less.  I have conversations with her in my head.  I still seek her advice.  I still hear her laughter.  I smell her face cream, subtle and clean.  I ask her about God.  Is there anything I need to know Ma?