Thursday, April 16, 2015

Childhood Memories

One of my favorite memories as a child is meeting Grandma and Grandpa in Westlock--driven by mom from Edmonton--so they could pick me up and I could spend some time with them at the farm.  We would often meet for lunch at the Alberta Cafe--and the food was always good.  There was always a free booth to sit at and I loved that I could have anything I wanted.  I guess that's what being with Grandma and Grandpa is all about! Inevitably I chose grilled cheese sandwich and fries--or fish and chips. I felt like a princess!

My cousin and I loved getting into mischief together at the farm.  We were less than a month apart in age and she lived close to Grandma and Grandpa, so she always came to visit.  We were forever exploring and giggling together.  I remember climbing into one of Grandpa's granaries and trying to swim around in it!  We had grain stuck everywhere!  Afterwards, I think I had a piece stuck in my ear for months.

The chickens always scared me--I vividly remember one of them chasing after me all the way to the farmhouse.  Grandma said they were just friendly and thought I had something for them to eat.  I thought I was allergic to them.  And I didn't like the way they looked at me without really looking at me. They had such crazy eyes! Cuddling the kitties was much more fun!

Grandma and Me
As a woman, I remember spending time with my Grandma on the farm long after my Grandpa moved to the nursing home and eventually passed with Alzheimer's disease. On one visit, pregnant with Blake, I woke up in the middle of the night to see deer grazing in the moonlight, feasting on the empty field in front of the farm house through the glaze of misty fog.  The peace I felt was beyond all understanding, and I still recount this beautiful vision in meditation. I continued to bring my babies to share laughter and love with their Great Grandma. And as they grew too big for their britches, I would continue to visit by myself, enjoying the simple pleasures of playing cards and watching TV with grandma.  I felt so blessed.  Her sometimes bristly ways and brisk sense of humor did not bother me at all.  Her life had not been easy, and I loved her to bits.

This Easter long weekend we drove through the country side to see Mom and Dad at Lesser Slave Lake.  As we passed by the farm turn-off these incredible memories came flooding back.  My grandfather was a pioneer who cleared this beautiful forested area by calloused hand to create rich farmland along the Athabasca River.  He and Grandma worked hard to feed four beautiful children, who parented nine grandchildren. There was always enough for all.  I am saddened that my Aunts do not remember this and that there continues to be a dispute over my grandparents' legacy since Grandma's passing in 2013.  I still feel the love of my grandparents deep in my bones and within my spirit. I hope with all my heart this love prevails, erasing the greed of a few, and allowing Grandma and Grandpa to rest in blissful peace.

The Road to the Farm

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pick some pansies for me

We planted a small apple tree the spring after you were born still. It has never failed to sprout beautiful white blossoms every year since you have been gone. This spring was no different.  But as the calendar flew through July, the leaves on the tips of your tree started to turn brown and weep.  I took a sample to the garden centre and was told it had fire blight.  Fungicides and herbicides were not recommended.  Instead, I was advised to be very aggressive and prune each branch several inches below the brown parts. In addition, we were told to bleach the pruning tool between every cut to prevent the spread of the disease, and hopefully save the tree. Unfortunately there was a lot of brown, and we had to severely prune the tree. Your dad did all the hard labor.  We felt awful doing it--it's fragrant spring blossoms have brought us a lot of comfort over the years. It was indeed grown with love in your memory.  

Last night as I was watering the flowers planted around your tree, I studied the tree and once again worried whether it would survive the winter.  And then a new thought floated into my mind.  As much as the tree was planted in memory of your short life, it's possible demise does not have to be symbolic of your death.  Instead, it would be more synonymous with the difficulties eventually faced by almost every living thing here on earth: such as sadness or illness. I know you live on...fluttering to a different measure of space and time.  To me, you are perfect--only knowing love, peace and happiness--free from mortal afflictions--safe with God.

And for the first time this summer you get to celebrate your birthday with Great Grandma Owens.  I miss her dearly. She made the most mouth-watering dad's cookies, bread and raspberry pie--soaked with fresh cream. And she loved to kiss the babes--no matter the age.  Enjoy those hugs and kisses Bret and know we are sending you lots too. Grandma always loved pansies--so please pick some for her today and she will bake you a masterpiece to celebrate your 19th heavenly birthday in style.  Happy Birthday Babe!

Love Mom.

Written in memory of Bret Nathan Munro--
born with wings 
August 27, 1995.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

To Bruce

Twenty one years ago I couldn't wait for the time to come--for the day you were born and for me to become a mother for the first time.  Then when my water broke at home that evening, I was suddenly scared to death!  I wanted to run away--afraid of how painful childbirth might be--but I knew wherever I waddled to, my round belly would be going with me.  There was no escape.  So off to the hospital we went--your dad trying to avoid the potholes from the March thaw because it seemed like I could feel every bump on the road.

After we got to the hospital you decided to just take your time--at least it seemed that way.  After eight to ten hours of labor it was finally time to push.  I was becoming exhausted after an hour and 1/2 of pushing, so the doctor decided they'd better call in the anesthesiologist for a c-section.  The nurse suggested trying the vacuum extractor--and the doctor said we could, although doubtful it would work.  As I bared down and pushed, the doctor pulled.  And finally you were born just as the anesthesiologist walked into the room.  You came into this world with a little ring around the crown of your head that looked just like a halo--it was where the extractor held onto your head.  

Through your first breath and screams at the cold air, the nurse exclaimed, "look at those dimples!"  You had them right from the start.  And you had cute dimples in other places too--a sweet, pudgy little boy that I could hardly believe was ours.  My dad couldn't believe how many creases you had either.  It must have been all those dilly bars your pregnant mom gobbled up.  We named you Bruce after your dad's late father--whom I never I had the pleasure of meeting.  

You still take your time and have displayed incredible patience throughout your 21 years.  You were such an easy baby to take care of--seldom crying and forever grinning and showing off those dimples.  I remember an incident when you were about 9 months old and had a terrible stomach flu.  As first time parents, we were terrified when you projectile vomited across our bedroom.  But that alarm soon turned to relief as you broke out in a grin right afterwards.  

When you were four, it seemed like your proudest moment holding your new baby brother.  He had slept almost entirely until you held him--then he opened his eyes wide when he heard your familiar voice.

I am in awe of your witty, spontaneous, sense of humor; and your memory for sports and movie facts is truly astounding!  I could tell countless stories about how you've made me smile over the years, and for this I am grateful.

A handsome young man full of patience, wit and love for his family, today, on your 21st birthday, I realize how truly blessed we are to have you in our lives.  As your future unfolds I know whoever you choose to share your life with will be incredibly fortunate.  I am so proud of the man you have become.  

Happy 21st Birthday Bruce!

Love you!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

About Dad and Mom

I wrote these poems for my parents many years ago and just retyped them for one of my sisters--
I thought I would share them on my blog too.  :o)

About Dad
By Cindy Haugen 

Dad diapered and bathed us
when Mom worked at night
Then it wasn’t “macho,”
but he felt it was right.

When it thundered
he always found room in his bed
for three little girls
to lay their scared heads.

He taught his three girls
to ride bikes and to play ball,
to be good sportswomen,
to get up when we’d fall.

Dad always taught us
to pursue our dreams,
to be our own person,
to have high self-esteem.

He worked very hard
to make dreams come true,
funding our educations,
and helping us move.

He spared no expense
when his three daughters wed.
He was known to work hard;
“Not a risk,” the bank said.

Now Dad’s a fine Grandpa--
six grandson’s in all!
He’ll share with them wisdom
and how to play ball.

So the lessons in life
Dad taught us were clear;
be independent, work hard,
and get a career.

Take care of those you love,
stand up and be honest,
and my Dad’s special trait—
is to be very modest. 

After 39 busy years,
my Dad just retired.
Thanks for my dreams Dad.
You’re truly admired.

About Mom
By Cindy Haugen 

Mom’s done so much for her three girls,
there’s so much to recall.
She stayed home to take good care of us
from the time we were just small. 

Whenever we weren’t doing well
and feeling under the weather,
she’d cook for us—our favorite foods
to make us feel all better. 

Mom taught us we could do anything.
We were proud that we were “girls.”
She ensured we had lego and cars
and played ball despite our curls. 

When I was at an awkward age,
Mom drove the extra mile
to get my acne treated,
to improve my buck-toothed smile. 

She would sew a special outfit,
or create a new hair style
to help us hold our heads up high,
to make us feel worthwhile. 

Mom taught her girls to work real hard
yet make the time for fun,
to be good cooks and gardeners,
to get out—enjoy the sun! 

When I faced my hardest time
I saw behind her tears
the desire to just take my place,
to quiet all my fears. 

She’s been there on my darkest days
helping me to cope,
to stand up on my two feet,
to manage and have hope. 

But most of all, the greatest thing
Mom taught us, now we know,
is how to be a loving mom,
to help our boys to grow. 

Now Mom’s a loving “Granny”
to six wild little boys.
She’s busy playing “chase” with them
and spoiling them with toys. 

Mom, thanks for being our best friend,
for showing how you care,
for listening,
 for your good advice
and for always being there.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Song I Remember

The thunder rumbles
and the raindrops tap
a familiar refrain
on my window pane...
the song I remember.
Happy Birthday young man.
Born still August 27, 1995
Love you babe.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Death Walk

It hurts to watch
the silent death walk,
skin spread loosely over bones.

"I'm eating," she claims.
Please don't lie
as you casually kill yourself.
It's like hearing screeching nails on a chalkboard.

The truth will set you free
and reflect light into your empty eyes,
to behold the beauty I see.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Simple Beauty of the Human Spirit

On the hospital unit I work on we had a lovely elderly lady who was, unfortunately, very confused.  She was on our unit waiting for a bed to become available in a long term care facility. Often she would talk to someone we could not see.  And at other times she would be incredibly frightened, curling up into a little ball and cringing at whatever she perceived was clawing at her.  It broke my heart to see her so terrified. 

Amazingly, she responded well to touch--the gentle stroking of her hair, or caressing of her hand, covering her in a warm blanket, and telling her it would be okay.  Her faded grey eyes would light up, she would smile and sometimes say, "I wondered when you would come."  We sat her near the nursing station in a reclining chair, so staff could keep a close eye on her and give her the comforting attention she needed.

Another patient on our unit was recovering from a severe stroke and also waiting placement.  The stroke left this elderly man wheelchair bound, but he became very good at shuffling his feet to move his wheelchair around.  His face was permanently contorted into a mask; open droopy mouth, tongue swollen and protruding, drooling, and speech mostly incomprehensible.  Regardless, the kindness and wit in his sparkling blue eyes was remarkable.

On a hectic Friday afternoon, unknown to staff, our elderly lady was having one of her terrifying hallucinations.  When the buzz settled down I looked up and saw our gentleman holding her hand, looking into her eyes and nodding reassuringly.  She smiled contentedly at him and grasped his hand in both of hers.  He stayed with her until supper came.  We were all moved by the sight, and thanked our patient for being a true gentleman.  Some joked about love being found on the unit.  But it really wasn't that.  Rather, it was two lonely souls touching each other at a very raw, uncertain time. 

Looking back on that afternoon, I am not sure who was most blessed that day:  the confused, panic-stricken lady who was instantly comforted, the elderly man who felt needed despite his frustrating disability, or the staff, who were reminded of the simple beauty of the human spirit. 

Some days at work can be very draining.  But afternoons like this make it all worth while. 

In the end, only kindness matters.

~From "These Hands" by Jewel~


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,
a smile,
a kind word,
a listening ear,
an honest compliment,
or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around. 

~Leo Buscaglia~