Posts Tagged ‘tribute’

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou

This famous saying is one of those truisms that seems well said when we hear them as young people, yet sinks in deeper and deeper the older we get, the more we realize the profound truth.

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Today marked a certain milestone.

My youngest son turned thirteen. He boldly crossed the threshold to teenager. To commemorate, I gifted him his grandfather’s razor. Though he isn’t shaving yet, he soon will be. The razor is good quality and with continued care will last him for years. I know the gift hit the spot because he examined the razor minutely, popped open the lid and looked inside. He had to plug it in and turn it on. As he navigates these wild waters of his teenage years, I want him to feel supported and to feel loved.

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I’m glad he liked his gift, and I’ll freely admit I’m relieved he’s not using the razor, yet. He might be jumping with giddy glee from milestone to milestone, but, poor mama back here needs to sit down a minute and get her breath. We’re at the stage now where his childhood is hurtling by so fast it’s giving me whiplash.

Today also happened to mark another important milestone.

It was the day my beloved “adopted grandfather” Bruce left Toastmasters. He retired after having been in the speakers’ association for twenty-six years, much to the chagrin of all present, especially me.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t know either of my grandfathers. Both sets of my grandparents lived in England. As a consequence, my entire life, I’ve idolised grandfathers and that patriarchal figure in the family.

In my writing, the grandfather figure always plays a key role. In the series I’m working on at present, the Chronicles of Aden Weaver, the first book starts off with Aden’s conflicted relationship with his ‘Papa Joe.’ It ends in the third book, which I’m writing at present, The Last Tree, with Aden now the grandparent telling his grandchildren a bedtime story.

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My maternal grandparents, Evelyn and Alfred Leonard

To me, that is the penultimate circle of life, when you have the child and the elder present in a story. I may have never met my own grandfathers, however, I can indulge in the experiences I missed out on by vicariously living through my characters, and I must say it is very soothing and healing to do so. I thoroughly recommend it.

Spending time around my “adopted grandfather,” Bruce, has been a real tonic these last few years, also. I’ve enjoyed our friendship. Meeting him at Toastmasters each week has been a hoot.

On that day, nearly four years ago, when I dared try Toastmasters, I went along sceptical and highly self-conscious and absolutely terrified at the idea of tackling my all-time biggest fear, public speaking. I made myself go by assuring myself I didn’t have to join; I was just ‘going to have a look.’

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When I arrived, I saw two silver haired gentleman standing talking outside talking. Bruce shook my hand and welcomed me warmly.

I felt an instant gravitational pull towards this venerable elder. I sat next to him for the rest of the meeting, and Bruce brightly asked questions about me at every opportunity. He said he was 96-years-old, a war veteran. He had recovered to sprightly good health after having both knees replaced at the tender age of 90. I had made a friend.

Needless to say, I joined the club.

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After the nerve-wracked, heart-thumping, knee-knocking experience of delivering my first speech, I walked to the back of the room and Bruce stood there, clapping.

He said, “Congratulations, my dear! You’ve been blooded.”

It was something only a patriarch would say, and I loved him for it.

For the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to be guided by him through many of my speech projects. At Bruce’s farewell party today, held not four days out from his 100th birthday, our club said heartfelt goodbyes.

I gave a one minute speech and said, “Everyone asks Bruce, ‘what’s the secret of your longevity?’ It’s not vegetarianism. He makes every single person he meets feel special. For that reason, everyone he meets loves him. Bruce is surrounded by love everywhere he goes. That’s the real secret to his youth.”

Which brings us neatly back to where we started. How will you be remembered? By the way you made people feel.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”~ Malala Yousafzai

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A reality bloomed before us yesterday…one I didn’t want to see…that shocked me to my very core. My father is mortal. The superhero of our family – our fearless leader – who has never spent a day in hospital, apart from when he got bowled over by a truck, is lying in a hospital bed at death’s door.

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As dad said when he was still lucid, ‘I never get sick. I’ve never had anything wrong with me.’ He couldn’t understand why people started to fuss over him in his town a few weeks ago. A few worried reports filtered in, that dad’s colour wasn’t right; he was ‘looking blue.’

When I rang to check on him, Dad said he’d had flu for about four weeks. I said he must see a doctor in the morning. He promised he would.

My sister rang the next morning to check on him. She found dad was panting and fighting for breath. He still refused to see a doctor. Nevertheless an ambulance and friends in the community raced to side. My father is so fiercely independent (as the nurses keep telling us, also) that he fought being taken away by the ambulance. He didn’t want to go, and had to be persuaded in no uncertain terms.

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My father was transferred to Waikato Hospital HDU where he could be put on oxygen and have his levels monitored. The doctors said he had pneumonia in both lungs which accounted for his difficulty breathing.

In talking to him, dad admitted he’d “been a bit wobbly” for a few weeks when getting his firewood. He said he “had been struggling a little.” That’s understated dad-language for ‘I’m desperately ill and have been struggling a lot.’ No wonder the other people in his town were concerned.

I travelled to Waikato Hospital yesterday, along with my eldest son, and we were in for a shock. I saw dad’s mortality written across his face, and for the first time I faced the fact we could lose him.

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Holding dad’s hand, I stretched one of Ma’s crocheted blankets across his lap. He was counting erratic sequences of numbers in his half-sleep. His normally brown eyes, when he opened them, looked murky blue.

My superman had landed. I could have wept a thousand tears. But I had to hold it together for my son and my niece. I’m sure my father doesn’t want to see us grieving before he’s even gone, either.

Unfortunately, because it went on so long, dad let himself get very sick, and at this point, he is still no better.

Bless him, we were told he is a “flight risk” even so. He keeps trying to leave the hospital to go home. While we were there, if he wasn’t sleeping, then every few minutes he’d check his watch and say, “It’s time to go.” He was feeling anxious because he hadn’t laid the fire and ‘needed to get home to collect the wood.’ Yet, being so wobbly, he can’t go anywhere without a walking frame and someone holding him.

It was hard to leave dad at the hospital. I’ll take my younger boys to see him tomorrow.

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The call has gone out to the family. The time has come to gather from various points on the earth. We just need to focus on supporting dad through this and surrounding him with love. So that’s where our energy goes at this time, being there with him, no matter what.

We’re still praying he can recover and return to his beloved hometown. But, as one of my young nephews so sagely said, ‘Grandpa will never be able to go back to the way things were before.’ As a family, we have turned a corner. It’s just that none of us know which corner we’ve taken.

How do I approach the decline of this great man? Step by step. Moment by moment. There is no other way to do it than to let one’s heart be broken, petal by petal. That’s what it is to love, to surrender to the process of life. Yet, in all its suffering there is still sweetness and divinity. On the drive home from Waikato, the setting sun rimmed a burst of clouds with gold and sent out long apricot-yellow “fingers of God” into the deep blue sky. The scene was overwhelming in its pure magnificence. I looked with joy and I wept with tears of grief for my father.

How do we approach all of life with the same equilibrium? That’s something I’m currently pondering on…your thoughts are welcome!

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Talk to you later…

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.’ ~ E.B.White

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

When I got the news, last Thursday afternoon, that my mother had passed away, my reaction, as a writer, was to want to write about it. So, I wrote down a page or two (or four) into the wee hours of the night.

I have been afraid of public speaking all my life. I’d only just joined Toastmasters a few weeks ago, and was due to give my first speech, the ‘Icebreaker’, in the second week of July. However, this huge event of losing my mother, demanded a speech. I knew it in my bones. It was the right thing to do, to overcome my fear for her, in order to pay her tribute. This is the speech I gave, based on my writings from the day my mother, Shirley Angela, died.

25 June, 2015

Ma,

Where to start, to say goodbye?

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When I think of my mother, I see that I got my bubbly nature from her, all my siblings did, we’re quick to laugh and to be silly and that was mum to a tee. From mum, I got my taste for chocolate as well as for the finer pleasures of life. I’m not averse to skipping the main course and going straight to dessert, nor do I have a problem in applying second and third dollops of cream.

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Though ma got into her eighties, she was perpetually young of spirit, I know I have that same youthful spirit in me, all of us do. Not just my siblings and I, but the next generations too. We share in the spark of grandma. Who else but mum could come up with her own, nearly-famous interpretative dance – “the G-Nu” – performed with usual panache, her own unique blend of graceful exoticness. Be warned, kin who reside in New Zealand, the role of carrying on “the G-Nu” appears to have fallen to us! My sister and I performed our own rendition of “the G-Nu” (while dad read the spoken parts), for the entertainment of the whole family!

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Mum had a good heart and she was generous to a fault. I remember when I married my first husband. Mum was the only one who believed in me, and it helped. Her support always helped. She could be counted on in a bind. I remember when I presented my poor stunned parents with the news I was pregnant as a teenager, that it was mum who immediately stepped forward, put her hands on the table and said, “Right, what are we going to do?”

The last eight or so years since the strokes have been difficult. The strokes made mum angry, aggressive at times, and tearful and sometimes fearful. She had her good days and her bad days. She and I had a few altercations. At times, things were said – she may or may not have called me ‘a cockroach’ on my last visit. But in my eyes, the time had simply come to stand up and say a few home truths between us. So we did. Mum and I cleared the air a few times which I felt was good and healthy for us. So our relationship did evolve in these last years.

And through her friendship with the therapeutic masseuse, Erin Lees, who she was seeing for treatment once a week, mum experienced some real moments of peace, joy, and lucidity that gave me great hope.

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I think I’ve had some of my most enjoyable times with ma in these last years too. She had moved on from only ever being the one doing the talking, to being the one who could also sit and listen.

In my adult life, she featured greatly. Mum and dad were a great support when my eldest son was little. I remember I went to see a clairvoyant around that time, the first thing he said was, “I see your mother and father at your shoulders, that’s how close you are.” And he was right!

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I owe ma and dear pa a great debt of gratitude, and I’ve expressed this to them before. But now that my mother has passed, I want to take this opportunity to say it again. When I gave up freelance journalism at the age of 25 and asked them if I could move back home to pursue my dream of being a writer, they didn’t hesitate to open the door. They believed in me. They gave me wings. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mum and dad arranged things so that I was able to take on the purchase of the family home, ‘The Stags’, at a good price when my marriage ended. They gave me and my younger boys a stable place to settle down and grow roots. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Ma had developed a real keen interest in my stories. Nearly every time I visited them, at some point we would talk about what I was writing. She would ask and then really pay attention to me spinning my worlds. She had a childlike way of going there with me, which was deeply rewarding. Ma, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Last year, she was talking about dying, as she had taken to doing at times, and I suddenly felt this need to truly thank her for letting me return home and pursue my dream in those early years. I said I wanted her to stick around and see my first book published.

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I wanted that full circle moment, not just for me, but for the three of us. I wanted ma and pa to have that gratification, that knowingness that their faith in me had been well-founded. Their money well spent.

So, when my brother, Al, rang this afternoon to say that ma had died, I thought she can’t have died, that milestone moment hasn’t happened yet. Here I am, in the last throes of getting my first book ready for publication, and I didn’t get a chance to tell her yet. Ma left already, to move on to the next part of her journey. Which is wonderful for her. But no full circle moment.

This is why I had to take this chance to say thank you now, while I have the chance and the public floor. For your unwavering, rocksolid support, ma. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Ma, your spirit in life and in death will always be bright. We’ll never forget you. How could we? We’ll be telling grandma stories until the end of time. You’ll never be forgotten isn’t that wonderful?

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Ma, where to start to say goodbye to you? How do I say goodbye to you?

With a tribute speech like the one I’ve just given. My first ever proper public speech, two weeks shy of my ‘Icebreaker’ for Toastmasters. You pipped them at the post! I give this honour to you, ma.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Yvette K. Carol

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R.I.P Ma