The Heartbeat

Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of this place.

Category: Writing


My adult daughter and I live together, while she goes to university… at least for a while longer. We have a very messy fridge door. Lots of things get put there when they have no where else to go, and then rarely get cleared off. Many items have been there for years, stacked on top of each other. This is what it looked like a few days ago…

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Those little white bits that you see are fridge poetry. You can buy sets of words on various themes to “write” whatever you like… and then rearrange as you like. Many a creative saying has been “penned” on our fridge door. Here’s a closer look…

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Without fridge poetry, no one would ever have thought to write that “secret corduroy is ferocious” or that “blushing boys were smoking perfume” or “free the peaceful prisoner” or “drink joy fire” or “fresh need-ness is crap.” People come in to my kitchen, and while I am cooking, they create.

The other day I noticed that up in the top right corner, near the ferocious corduroy, were the suffixes “ing” and “ing…”

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That’s two “ing’s.” One for me, and one for my daughter. We do a lot of ing-inging around here… talking, sleeping, eating, working, hoping, dreaming, writing, texting….

Having spent most of the past year on a schedule filled with chemotherapy, surgery, tests, and appointments, I have contemplated death and dying quite a bit. I keep wondering why this disease came to me and why it has sent me to the sidelines for a while. When I have moments of energy, I’ve been organizing, decluttering, donating, trashing, recycling, arranging… trying to take care of things that I don’t want to leave to loved ones to do after I’m gone. (Not a waste of time even if you are in good health!)

But those two “ings” have made me realize that when one’s days are done, there is no more “ing-ing.” It’s all past tense after that.

So while I am still here, I am resolved to do as much “ing-inging” as I can and to notice if I am doing it the best that I can.

(This is a very recent insight. I am not done yet with these thoughts.)

Other’s Day – the 4th Sunday in May

Apparently, May 22, 2016 is Other’s Day. I found the Facebook page for it today, and now I am not able to find the link back to it! It was a page devoted to women, who have lost their mothers early in life, and who have had other women fill that gap in their lives.

Other's Day ImageIt’s OK that I am not able to find the page because I think Other’s Day should include ANYONE who has lost a parent early in life (or even later in life?), and who have had an other man or woman step into that parent role for them. And I think we should celebrate those Others, as much as we celebrate biological, step-, and adopted parents.

I say this because, as a teenaged girl, I lost my father. He was killed by a drunk driver as he walked on the sidewalk, while on a business tip in England… a long time ago. He missed the graduations of his four children, our weddings, and the births of his grands and great-grands.

No one “other’ed” me. That is, no one filled the gap that my father’s death left in my life. But there are lots of people who have had a teacher, minister, relative, or a friends’ father step up to the plate. Fathering a girl, as an Other, I realize, is not an easy role to take on. It has potential for many misunderstandings.

Have you had an Other in your life? Does it make sense to have a day to acknowledge them? How would you do that? I’ve created a Facebook page for tributes to these men and women –

Perhaps you just acknowledge your Other on Mother’s or Father’s day?

Since it’s a brand new page, your “like” of the page and sharing on your timeline would be much appreciated.

Send me a message here or from the Facebook page, if you have comments or suggestions for the page or about the day itself.


photo credit: Poppy and Reese via photopin (license)

P.S. The Canadian long weekend in May, is the weekend that my father died. (I suppose that is why the “lost Facebook page” caught my attention. It seemed right to expand on the day. And make it a tribute to my dad.)


Live. Love. Laugh.

In Walmart the other day, I saw a wall-hanging with these words. I have always found this saying confusing. If you can love and laugh, are you not alive?

live love laughHaving been on chemotherapy since August 2015, I admit my focus has been on dying, and how to do it gracefully. Lying in bed most of the day, my thoughts have gone to updating my will, putting my affairs in order, and decluttering my office and closets. Actually, a very positive focus for a while. Who wants to leave a ton of shredding and confusion to family?

If I were the one to have made such a poster in these past months, it would read “Die. Love. Laugh.” But I have had some days of renewed energy lately, which have led me on several shopping and errand excursions. My focus has been on living and getting my life back on track. I find myself making plans, planting seeds, and decorating my home.

Now the poster makes sense to me. We have a choice to die or to live. Sometimes life throws things our way that are unexpected, and a focus on taking stock, for a while, is a good thing.

Still. I don’t think most people “get it” unless they have spent some time in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

I would love to be able to attend Jenny Allen’s session, “I Got Sick and then I Got Better,” at the Ovarian Canada conference on May 15th in Niagara Falls. Maybe she could come to Ottawa.


photo credit: IMG_1766.JPG via photopin (license)