Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Sentimental dedication November 9, 2012

Filed under: family — wakingupincanada @ 7:23 am
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I have this little sister; well actually I have 3 younger and one older, all fabulous; but this one in particular, who is the heart of the family. Somehow she keeps us all together. Quietly, she acts like the centre of the web, with all the threads cast out from her, holding onto us, keeping us attached. We all have threads weaving between us, in all directions and at odd angles, but it is her’s you can always count on to reach us all and to hold tight in the wind.

Before our other sister went to Thailand, she posted her some “Bats”, Thai money. Including postage it cost less that £20, but the thought and the time were priceless. She forced me to book hostels in advance of travelling around Canada, and to write these all down for her so she could keep track in case I went missing. It was her map that guided my boyfriend and I this summer on a 7,000 km road trip from Southern Alberta to Mount Rushmore to Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan and home. The waste company send her the text to remind my parents to put out the recycling, even though she lives in a different country. She Skypes, Facetimes, phones, texts, e-mails; she remembers little things like a long run, or her nephew’s first day at playschool, or what her niece dressed up as 2 Halloweens ago.

For some reason, she inherited more of our mother’s features than any of us and I always believed that is why my father loves her more. She has a kindness I have neither the ability, energy nor fullness of heart to imitate. She is working on her Masters while helping out at Brownies, training for a half marathon, and wonders if she is giving enough. When we say, “we should do that sometime”, she comes back with a time, date and place.

She also manages to eat small portions of food and to thoroughly enjoy every (little) bite. This, for me, is like a superpower, and I often just watch her and wonder how. I also take the opportunity to grab a fork and eat her food.

I’m sure growing up we fought though the only memory I have of her ever upsetting me is biting my bum when she was 1. She was just old enough to stand, and somehow walked up behind me, aged 6, and bit. The shock still gets me, 24 years later. For her first week of primary school, aged just 4, she cried her heart out, and I was allowed to have her sit beside me in my classroom. Then one morning, Miss. Ferry lifted her from me. I cried until I could check on her during our 11 o’ clock break. She had survived, and from then on she went to her own class.

On her first day of secondary school, my friend advised me that my worrying was pointless; the fears I had for her may come true, but I was unable to protect her, and she would deal with them as the rite of passage we all must endure.

So, instead I watched as she grew up confident and capable, kind and caring. She has kept the goodness and grew it to wisdom. She ran a 10km with me and then a half marathon. I say with, but she was out in front, leading me on. She introduced me to the wonderful world of Harry Potter and it was apt that our goodbye before my travels was a midnight viewing of his final movie. I sometimes make a stand based on principle; she rolls her eyes and advises with sense.

I told her I was struggling with writing and she challenged me to give her a story reminiscing. So here I am Lou, reminiscing about you.

See you at Christmas, we’ll read Harry Potter again.


A Saturday evening in Ireland January 28, 2012

Filed under: family — wakingupincanada @ 11:26 am
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It’s not my place to advertise Apple products, or any other products, they all have a big enough budget. It must be stated, for us travellers, Facetime on the Ipod or Iphone is simply amazing.

My sister arrived in Australia this week, bang on time for Australia Day, and I have already seen her hostel twice, discussed travelling, our 4 year old niece and contact lenses. She will usually be a day ahead of me, but then, she always was.

This morning, I spoke to my mother for over an hour as she cooked dinner, and spoke to my Dad as he flitted in and out, complaining about dinner not yet been ready.As she did the laundry, we talked about men being late, babies being born and what the neighbours were up to. I was left alone for 2 minutes, listening to the Grandfather clock that sits on the shelf above the cooker, the slow tick tock that I have listened to for 22 years. If I closed my eyes, I could have been lying on the sofa on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the same routine, the usual stories and complaints, the way it is.  I asked him how long his family have been on our farm: we got as far as my great great grandparents and before that, probably a few generations more.

When I was leaving home, I worried about my nieces and nephews growing up and not remembering me when I came back in a year. I worried about people moving on and me being left behind. I worried relationships that meant the world to me would dissolve when I was half way around the planet.

Sitting with my mother in my kitchen on a Saturday evening in Ireland, it felt as if some things would be the same forever.


Christmas Eve Eve December 23, 2011

Filed under: family — wakingupincanada @ 1:17 pm
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My parents’ home is full.

They are all at home now, and my sister-in-law and 2 nieces were also visiting when I spoke to them all. Sometimes the kids wanted to speak to me, sometimes they had other things to do.

I may not be there but I feel the love and happiness of that family feeling, the feeling of re-connecting, enjoying each other. When I take off my rose tinted glasses, I know things can get manic and loud and busy, and yet, even with it, it is that feeling of “we are family”. I will argue with you, shove you, drive you insane, but it is ok, we’ve got blood in common.

As I looked on, things were just the same, the way my sisters each have their own way, their own posture, tone, jokes, habits, way with the kids. The kids are growing and jumping and singing, becoming more of that person that they are. My parents were as they always were, my Dad talking breifly, my Mum talking about the little things and making sure I was warm. I thought I would find this hard, them gathering together while I watched on from a distance. Not so. I could feel the love, the fun, the madness of Family at Christmas. I am part of it, even if I am not there right now.

I remember a poem I studied in Irish class about the ties that bind, to a community, to family. I don’t know if I even understood the words but the sentiment seemed to be that of binding, tying down, holding back. I wonder what went wrong for him. I am in a different country, 7 hours ahead and I feel those binds holding me steady. When my family are all together, I feel them a little more snuggly, a warm hug on a cold day.

I say a prayer we will always have this.