We have to get up early to get Quinn to the gymnastic meet. I worried, needlessly, that I wouldn’t be able to get you and the children up and dressed, fed and out of the apartment by 8 AM. But I did it! Actually it was 8:03 when we left but I still felt pretty good about it.
We get to the Alta Gym exactly on time. Quinn is whisked off for warm up exercises. I maneuver your chair through the crowd and find a spot where most of the gym is to your right, so you won’t miss much. As we get settled, you notice out of the corner of your right eye another parent. “Isn’t that Sam’s Mum?” you ask. Sam was on Quinn team last year. He and his family moved away last year. Sam’s mother was accepted to veterinary college in PEI and started to study veterinary medicine this past September.
I had met her once before, but I couldn’t remember what she looked like or her given name. I just knew her as ‘Sam’s Mum’. We spotted Sam doing warm up exercises. “She must be Sam’s Mum. Go over and say Hi.” You demand “I would but I wouldn’t be able to get the wheelchair there.” “What if she is not Sam’s Mum – I’d be embarrassed.” You refuse to let me cave and continue to coax me to go. To get you to shut up … I humor you. You were right. She is Sam’s Mum.
Sam’s Mum, Lisa, asked almost immediately about you. I said “See for yourself – we broke him out of the hospital for the weekend.” As we talk, it turns out that Lisa and I have more in common then a shared love of the veterinary medicine and sons who love gymnastics. It turns out that Lisa’s husband, Wayne, suffered from a severe brain injury five years ago. He was in a motorcycle accident. A truck ran into him. He was in very serious condition for a long time and in a coma for six weeks.
During the long days and nights while Wayne lay there fighting for his future, Lisa stood as a guardian over him. She said that she would not allow anyone near Wayne that did not have a positive attitude. She felt that this was a big reason for their survival. She spoke passionately about her experience.
Positive thoughts are instrumental to a positive outcome.
At the time Sam was five years old and Mathew was a mere four months. I can’t even imagine how strong this woman, who stood before me, must be. I am in awe. She shrugs her shoulders and says, “You just do it.”
Wayne is with his family at the meet. Lisa introduces him to you and the two of you talk. He shakes his head and says, “The wheel chair brings back memories… wheelchair to walker, walker to cane.” Now he is walking without anything. He has to be careful on stairs but he can do them. He is even thinking about going back to school and doing another degree.
You are in awe of him.
Quinn had a fun at the meet. You played the over protective parent … angry with the judges for not seeing your son’s brilliance. No ribbons this year. We decide, along with Quinn and Tara, that the best ribbons are the ones you give yourself. They are the ribbons that mean the most.
Quinn is happy with his performance … even without real ribbons … that is what counts.
The birthday money that Tara got was sitting heavy in her pocket. She needed to spend it. You and I had a good parental talk about the money. Your Mum was generous with the birthday money this year and it seems like a lot of money ... even to a ten-year-old. Every year, to date, you have taken birthday money and put it in her savings account. “This year should be different.” You say. “It’s not every year that you turn 10.” Tara is pleased with this decree.
While at the meet, I rack my brains trying to think of where Tara could spend her money in a fun, yet responsible way. Since we are in Halifax, I wanted to think of something that is not available in Truro. Then it came to me. ‘Michael’s Craft Store’. Last year while Quinn was at the same meet, we went to Michael’s to hunt for glow-in-the-dark sticks and paint for your Tidal Boar Runners team and the Cabot Trail Relay.
The four of us spent a long time roaming about the store with ideas bouncing around in our heads of the unique projects that we could do. After a few hours and a few dollars we emerged with bags of treasures.
When we got to Michael’s, Tara eyes widened … she made a ‘bead’ line for the bead section. You were tried, and wanted to wait in the car. I was disappointed, I had hoped that this trip to Michael’s might spark an interest that you would consider a hobby.
You are not ready for this idea yet.
It didn’t take long for Tara to load up on beads. I reminded her about her birthday budget. The bead fever caught on, Quinn spotted a bead kit complete with tools. He knows to the penny, how much money he has in his wallet. He checked out the price and whispered to me, “I want to buy this, I have enough money, but will you carry it?” Then in a quieter whisper he said, “I don’t want anyone to see me buy it … it’s too girly.”
At the checkout, we were one of those families that no one wants to get stuck behind in line. Tara was over budget, and because the prices weren’t on the beads they each had to be scanned again to figure out how to downsize the order. Finally, she was under budget by four dollars! She was quite proud of herself.
Fran meets us back at the apartment. She is in town for the weekend. We celebrate Tara’s birthday dinner. Beef tacos and chocolate mousse - as requested by Tara. At dinner I asked Tara what her top three memories were for the first decade of her life. She didn’t even have to think, She said without hesitation, “Trip to Boston, the moment when Mummy came to us and said that Daddy was going to die and be an organ donor and the day that Quinn was born.”
After dinner, you and I talk. You worry about dragging the children down with you emotionally. As parents, we had hoped to inspire our children but the fact is that our children are continually inspiring us.
“Past, present and future, I am scared of it all.” I tell you to stop thinking about the past and start thinking about the future, because hope only lives in the future. You have to look forward to the hope. I remind you that we have been through the whole range of emotions. We went from NO HOPE to a new level of hope. As one hope is realized, a new one hope forms and slowly enters our lives. Every realized hope is like a ribbon. A sign of accomplishment.
Your dark negative thoughts make me think about Lisa and her resolve to not let negative thoughts entry her husband’s inner sanctum. How can I protect you … from you?
You are alive! That deserves a ribbon. I know that you don’t feel hope now … but you will.