Waiting for a forest fire

Our community of Red Lake is on standby to be evacuated from two nearby fires. Three communities north of us have already evacuated some or all of their community members. Last year we evacuated on a moment’s notice because of a fire that started very close to town. This year we have warning and systems are in place. But now we wait.

My mother was evacuated with her long term care home to one in Kenora two nights ago. She is safe.

We are packed. We have decided what we are taking with us.

We have let all of our loved ones know where we are going and what is happening.

We continue to go to work.

We watch Facebook.

We read the news updates.

We wait for the next update from our Mayor.

That is all we can do now.

Wait and be calm. Encourage each other. Be nice to each other. Help each other.

Pray for rain and pray for wind change.

Our firefighters are working hard. We pray for them too.

Look around

I saw a boat going by yesterday. It was a beautiful, hot summer day and a great day to be out for a boat ride.

There were two people in the boat, one was the operator, sitting in the back, steering the outboard motor. The other was sitting at the front of the boat. She had her hand out and was looking down.

At her phone.

I saw a mom walking down the street the other day, pushing a stroller with a small child in it. It was a beautiful day to be out walking with your child, enjoying the weather, the blue skies, the blooming flowers and listening to the birds in the trees.

The Mom was looking down at her phone.

I saw three young people the other day sitting at a picnic bench outside the street vendor’s truck. The sun was shining; it was a beautiful day to be young and free and with friends.

They were all looking down at their phones.

Wow, did you see that? A beautiful eagle just flew by…

Oops, no.

I was looking at my phone.

The Impact of 215 — Life Has Meaning

Sadness, anger, horror, incredulity, shame, regret, and repentance are just a few of the emotions and responses that cycle through my soul since hearing of the discovery of 215 children’s bodies buried at an Indian Residential School in British Columbia. Read it here. These are people that died away from their homes and communities; people…

The Impact of 215 — Life Has Meaning

Contentment

Finally, it has come, a bit of contentment with life. Sometimes a lot of contentment. Content to just be. And really it’s because I can’t be anywhere else than where I am. I have to be content to be right here right now. It is like a gift. Usually as winter approaches, we dream of a vacation to somewhere else; somewhere warmer maybe but just to be somewhere else. With that dream can come a lot of stress. Decisions to be made and agreed upon. Arrangements for travel made. More stress. Plans and more plans. And then travel and meet deadlines and run through airports. Well, not this year!

It is peaceful. Don’t have to fill up my already full brain with all of those extra decisions. Can just stay. Be. Rest.

I see families hanging out together, enjoying each other. I see people spending time outdoors, enjoying creation. I see many things to be grateful for.

Yes, there is a terrible pandemic and people have died and are very sick all over the world. That is a fact. I worry about my mom, in long term care. That is a fact. But I see hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.

And right now, I am content in being.

New Year New Ways

Every day is a new beginning. I love that. If you were grumpy or bitter or jealous or envious yesterday you get today to change that. I am grateful for this.

There was a time when I opened my eyes and did not want to face another day. The pain of losing my child was so huge. Immense. Gigantic. Enormous. Smothering me.

But I got up and fumbled through the day hoping for relief. I did that for a long time. It was lonely. Then I prayed for faith because I had lost my belief in a Creator. I kept praying. And praying. It worked. So I am grateful for healing. For waking up in the morning with a prayer of thanks in my heart instead of an emptiness.

I haven’t written anything for a long time. Like others in this pandemic I’ve been staying close to home and focusing on my world around me, trying to make some peace with the confusion and fear of the unknown future. I’ve decided that I will write whatever I’m thinking about because writing is part of my healing process. I have to write for me. It might not always make sense to others.

I get tested weekly for covid so that I am able to see my mom in a long term care home where she lives her final years in her world with dementia.

I have continued to work throughout this pandemic in an essential job for which I am thankful. Violence against women has not stopped during this time.

Each day is an unknown. And each day I embrace. So with those thoughts I’ll share some photos of my walk the other day. Peace.

Mommy

She stood at the door

waving goodbye and smiling

I waved back and turned to go

Earlier she had said

she never thought her daughter would be

the one to do her laundry

Life is a circle I said

And I am privileged to be able to

do her laundry

to help her change her clothes

to hold her hand and

trim her nails

So very lucky I am

to hug my mommy

with my mask on

when others in the family

are far away and

can only pray

for my dear mommy

And so many out there

have lost their mommies

during this time

of scary unknowns

and can’t be there

at the end of the life

of the woman who gave them life

I am grateful that for today

I could be there

because I don’t know what

the code will be tomorrow

It’s been 14 years…is it easier?

The pain was so great! I did not think I would be able to go on living without my son. But I have. How have I gone on living? One moment at a time. Then one hour at a time. Then one day at a time. And I continue that way, one day at a time.

Even though it is 16 years since Ryan died of a suicide by cocaine overdose, I am easily brought right back to that moment when triggered. The anniversary of his death, September 21st is still the worst day of the year. Yes, it is easier than it was, but the loss never leaves.

It was a traumatic death and one that I have learned to cope with and live with but I have been a changed person from that moment on. I will never be same person that I was before Ryan died. I’m different but I keep trying to find joy in life and hope for the future.

I think that one of the post trauma challenges that I am still working on, is the fear that one of my surviving children is going to die. This causes me to be a meddlesome over-worrying mother. I need to know where they are and that they are okay. I’m a little better at it and find prayer helps me a lot. I pray for them and leave them to God. They boys themselves are helpful because they get annoyed with me when I’m too controlling!

I won’t go into my loss of belief in God and how I have regained that because I’ve done that in previous posts but I am just happy that I now have a belief and a faith that is stronger than it was.

It’s a long road; that is how life is. It is a journey of valleys and hills. But there’s also the meadows.

I’ll always love you Ryan. I will always miss you. I will always keep your memory sweet inside me.

We’re cousins

Families get separated for many reasons; divorce, marriage, geography, feuds are a few. In my life I’ve had family members disappear and reappear or just disappear or just appear! I shared a few years ago, about cousins who moved away as children and then reunited with the rest of us forty years later.

You can read that story here: https://momhealing.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/1024/

This summer I met two cousins, Dan and Donna, I have never met before!

A few of us cousins have been in contact via Facebook for a couple of years now and I don’t even know how that all happened. But everything happens for a reason and I also believe in miracles.

My cousins were apprehended by Child and Family Services in the late 60s, here in Red Lake. Their father was my mom’s brother. He was struggling with addictions at that time as was his wife, their mother. Three children were apprehended and put into foster care and eventually put up for adoption. My cousin tells me that there was an add placed in the newspaper.

The three children were all adopted by a non-native family in the Toronto area and raised there. My mom always told me about these cousins who “were taken away”. I wondered what happened to them.

They were fortunate to be adopted into the same family! They have each had their own struggles in life but I am so happy that they have reached out to their bio family. It is only the beginning.

Their story is theirs to tell, so I’m not going to tell it. From my perspective, it has been a surreal experience, meeting people I had heard about since childhood but never expected to meet.

I can say that there is talent in the family! You can check out Dan’s artwork on his Facebook site: Trip with me.

An evacuee again

After our escape from our little town, we had to spend the night in our vehicles and get some rest. We’d left in a hurry and crawled out of town in the long line of cars. Everyone in town went to the one gas station to get gas and then onto the one highway out of town. We were three vehicles but we were all filled with gas so didn’t have to endure the gas pump line up.

There were no hotels available in the nearby towns, so we decided to get some sleep in Ear Falls and then carry on to my brother and brother-in-law’s cottage another five hours’ drive away. Even though I had packed my two tents, sleeping bags and an air mattress, I was too stressed and tired to even think about putting up the tents at 1:00 a.m. We just put our seats back and crashed in our SUV. My sons and their dog were in their vehicle next to us. And my brother, Bill and his partner, Dave, were in their truck at the other end of the park.

At that point, my mind was just on getting some rest and relieved that we were away from the fire. I was also worried about where we would all go and for how long. We were evacuated for two weeks the last time, in 1980. If the fire crossed our highway and burned the hydro lines, our town would be without electricity until the lines could be replaced. Food would go bad in fridges and freezers. Phones could be down. Internet could be down. Things could be very bad. And houses could burn.

When daylight came, we decided to head for the cottage. The community of Ear Falls kept their gas stations open all night for evacuees. Food donations were being organized. We got gas and carried on down the highway to Dryden, where we stopped at Walmart and picked up food and clothing necessities. I’d packed my clothes but forgot a nightgown. I need my nightie. I also didn’t pack my sunglasses because we’d left at 10:00 p.m. in the dark.

For the next week, we stayed at the cottage, very grateful to have somewhere to stay, trying to keep busy and keep our minds busy but watching the updates from our municipality on Facebook.

Praying that the weather would be helpful; the winds would stop, the rain would come. And the winds did change direction. And the rain did come. And the amazing fire fighters were able to contain the fire.

I wish I could say that I did well that week. That I was calm and trusting in God. I can’t say that. I was a basket case inside. Trying to be brave on the outside. It was very traumatic. My family was great. Everyone helped out around camp and we behaved well. Some trees were felled. Some saunas were had. And boat rides were enjoyed. But always in the back of your mind is wondering when and if we could go home.

When I read the post six days after we fled that said we could now return home; we wouldn’t have our natural gas turned on, but we could go home, I cried.

Flight from Forest Fire

Fleeing from a forest fire in a pandemic was not even a worry in my worried head. My head was full of Covid 19 changes in my life and the usual worries about my boys.

Strangely, I had posted my story about our evacuation due to forest fire in 1980. This year was the 40th anniversary of that time.

https://momhealing.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/fire-1980/

But, really, did it have to happen again?

Yes it did.

Here’s a short version of my later on longer version.

On Monday, August 10th, I was at home enjoying a few days of holidays. My brother and brother-in-law were staying with me for a few days and we had arranged to visit out mom in the Lodge that day. It was a good visit and we scheduled another one for the next day. We then went to the beach.

It was windy. Really windy. I am not a windologist but it was crazy windy. Things were blowing down the streets and trees were having a hard time. We gave up at the beach. The sand was blowing in our faces, giving us unwanted dermabrasion.

We went home and sat outside. My brother checked his facebook feed and saw a post about a fire. We looked to the west and yes, there is was, a big plume of smoke. Naturally, we were curious so we jumped in the vehicle and sped off to investigate. It wasn’t long before we realized that was dumb and turned around. The fire wasn’t that far away. That was at approximately 4:00 p.m.

We notified my sons, who were home at their apartment and then we all went to my house to watch the smoke and keep up with facebook posts. Facebook is the way our little town communicates.

The first post by the municipality stated that the fire was not a threat. We sat and watched. The second post a couple of hours later said to be on alert. What!! I packed my little suitcase and waited. Evening came. The smoke looked like it was not as bad. The helicopters were on scene and then the water bombers.

Then I was notified that the Lodge had evacuated mom and all residents to Kenora, three hours away. What?!!

Then the post from the municipality stated to evacuate that night if possible. What?!! I’m not sure what time I saw this but we all packed up in about 15 minutes and were out the door. (We had parked our vehicles on the front street). We left at about 10:03 p.m.

Everything happened so quickly. What do you pack when you leave in a hurry? What are those important things? Well, we took my Dad. He is still in my closet at home, waiting to be laid to rest, when mom leaves this world.

Out on the street, people were getting in vehicles or waiting for rides. We noticed a man with his thumb out and asked him where he was going. He had no clue where to go or what to do as he had just moved to town. We told him to get in. Off we went and joined a line of a thousand other vehicles leaving town in the dark on our one road out of town.

What a relief to be heading down the highway. We had decided we would go to my brother’s cottage six hours away; just drive all night. It didn’t work out that way. We were told to register in the next town. People were diverted into the town to register which caused a bottle neck of vehicles. What normally takes 45 minutes to get to, took three hours. Yes, we were in a line for three hours. Wondering how close the fire was. By the time we reached Ear Falls, it was 1:00 a.m. We were exhausted. We pulled into the beachfront park and slept in our vehicles. Happy to be alive.

To be continued….