As the holidays approached, I found myself quicker to tears on occasion. The last 11 months have been a challenge and a gift at the same time. We have a foster child, and with that comes tantrums, disobedience, anger and tears. We all know how to behave, but showing an emotional reaction isn't always the right solution. Especially when you are being tested on a daily basis. We've had an upswing in behaviour changes over these last few months with the holidays. It's emotional trauma time, and as clear as day, I can remember loads of it from way back when. If anyone thinks I go overboard with Christmas, well... maybe I do. I've certainly calmed down over the years. It is something I can almost control
if I drink enough in a good way. I'm aiming for special, and with the friends we've made here over the years, I think we have done really well.
Our child is a "professional foster child" which means: She has been in foster care long enough to know how to work the system and how the system works. When we talk about a permanent home, or she tells us she wants us to adopt her, I don't let emotion slip in… I calmly say it is forever - there is no going back. You can't leave because you decide you don't like us anymore. However, my reaction to her announcement is seen as hurtful. Rose petals and unicorns should dance at this notion, and we should all break out into song like a musical. ♩♪♫♬♭ Errr... um... no. That's Disney - that's not real family.
Christmas time isn't my most favorite time of the year. I lost my
grandfather Poppa several years ago, just days after Christmas. My husband's father passed last year. Our daughter has been separated from a sibling for the first time ever, and has a deep hole in her heart. I found myself one evening, driving home from a garden club Christmas party, suddenly crying. A clear feeling emerged: I made pumpkin pie that night - It was his favorite. The very last thing I remember making for my Poppa before he died.
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We came up for Canadian Thanksgiving with husband about 5ish years ago? I convinced the family I would make a traditional Thanksgiving meal at cousins house. We had the whole family around one table; About nine adults and four children. When it came down to the pie, Poppa did his usual back handed comment that it wasn't spiced the way he liked. Which was not really my fault, since I didn't bring my spices from home, so I ended up using some of the old ones my
grandmother Grama had on hand. Oh… and I made him eat it with real whipped cream from a cow, not that petroleum based Cool Whip crap like he was accustomed to eating.
The day we left for home, I came early to say goodbye at their apartment. It was 8:00 in the morning. My
grandmother Grama was in the shower with her Nurse's aide. Poppa was sitting at the table, with entire pie plate in front of him, eating my "not spiced as he would have liked" pie for breakfast. This is one of my last memories of him. Now, each time I make a pumpkin pie (from scratch people, NO CANS) I always spice it for him, with extra ginger, fresh grated nutmeg and cinnamon. If he ate my pie today, he'd never complain. Now I make a point of travelling with my own favorite spices. Who knows when I might need some.
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As we were driving home with tears streaming down my face, I felt compelled to tell my daughter some truth about life. When someone dies, they are gone - we are left with memories of them, sometimes heirlooms or small treasures of their life. We can do good deeds in memory of them, spread stories about them or re-tell famous family anecdotes, the way they told them. Their spirit is not forgotten. When you are separated from someone you love who is still alive, like a sister or brother... time often heals by bringing people back together.
It is not easy or fair that you must accept that a person:
Who is part of you + Who you love = Is out of reach
- Write them letters, poems, drawings. Make a box for them of your dreams
- Remember them and know that you will be reunited again
- Live as you wish they would live = happy and healthy
- Continue to be a big sister or brother as a role model, even when distance divides
I can't get on the phone anymore and talk to my Poppa. The closest I can get to him now is in my dreams… but we do manage to have some pretty good conversations.