Four years ago this week-end my daughter Meghan and her husband Graeme were married in a joyful, love-filled family wedding on Gabriola Island. Our friend Dick Hamilton who was the MC was surprised and amused at all of “the cousins” in attendance from far and wide. Of course what he didn’t know was that he was seeing only half the clan on that special day. “How can you have so many great cousins,” he wondered out loud to me, and frankly, I still wonder myself. Just lucky I surmised.
I love all of my cousins but I have a very special relationship with my cousin Bill. He is the first one I spoke to Gottfried about in the early days of our relationship. He is more like a brother. A favourite brother, whom I grew up with, shared stories and experiences and childhood memories with and where there is a special heartfelt bond that I will have forever. This bond has even carried forward to the next generation.
My two children and his four carry this heart lineage even though they grew up 4000 miles apart and really only met as adults in their 20’s. There is a camaraderie, a generosity of spirit that exists between the generations, and the “family spirit” that Bill and I were imbued with as children, still lives within each of our families and between our families. Shannon, Bill’s only daughter is my Granddaughter’s Godmother. And then there is Dianne. We all LOVE Bill’s soul-mate, best friend and wife Dianne of 40 years, (can that be, am I wrong?) so the four thousand miles that separated our homes, the infrequent times we actually were together has been no deterrent to maintaining these connections.
There are so many wonderful stories I want to tell you about Bill:
* Wild strawberry picking with our Nana at the farm each summer.
* Bill being expelled from school for his audacity in getting an unconventional haircut.
* His hitchhiking from the east coast to attend the Seattle World’s Fair to the dismay of his Mother, my aunt Hilda.
* His kindness in helping me many many moons ago to purchase a house.
* The fun of our living in the same apartment building in Montreal, during the “viva le Quebec libre” era.
* The amazing coincidence of us both unknowingly attending an International Educational Technology Conf in Vancouver in the early 80’s with 5000 other people and walking through the turnstiles late, at the same time, and on the last morning. Talk about surprise! This was the last time Bill tried to sneak into Vancouver without telling me.
* And of course how he was concerned that I was getting WAY too much attention with cancer so he had to arrange something even more dramatic to even this whole thing out.
So the stories are many but for now I am going to plunge right in, right now, to the heart of this matter today. This is the deal and what this post is really all about.
This coming Thursday May 22nd my dear cousin Bill is going on the gurney. He will be wheeled into an operating theatre for open heart surgery, around 1:00 New Brunswick time. (What an idea- he already is one of the most open-hearted people I know.) He will be getting five by-passes thanks to the skilful hands and mind of one of the best heart surgeon’s and cardiac teams in the country. We all have complete confidence in the procedure and who is doing it. And we are happy that this is getting done this coming week. And still…
The truth is this is a big surgery. And we are human beings. Healing is more than bypassing. It is also connecting. I believe that in times like this we can use all the help we can get. So I am asking you, to do what Patti Digh of 37 Days, did for me. Find a lovely little box, a strawberry box if that’s all you have, an indigo blue glass box that belonged to your grandmother, a folded paper box that you brought back from Japan, a hand carved wooden box that someone gave you, an empty box that contained wooden matches that you used to light the fireplace or even a tooth fairy box. Any box will do. Take that box, place it in a spot where you will see it everyday. Now, on a tiny slip of paper, write the name Bill and put that name in the box. (along with any other name that needs your attention and love) Say it everyday when you have breakfast or dinner. Take that little slip of paper out of the box, and sound his name and wish him well, and send him your best thoughts and prayers and wishes for his complete recovery.
Maybe on Thursday around 1:00 Atlantic Daylight Time (that is 9:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time,) you will whisper his name again.
I know that all of the good wishes I have received from people help me everyday. And they especially help me to stay anchored to my moorings. Prayers and intentions and blessings, call them what you may, have been arriving from people I don’t even know. I have been overwhelmed with the kindnesses of family, friends and complete strangers.
So I started a God-box today for Bill. As much for me as for him. I won’t be there to sit with his family but they will all know that I am with them in spirit. I will be munching on strawberries (sorry not wild) for all those happy childhood memories we shared, remembering the strength and humour of Nana, the trunk of the family, and looking forward to the celebration we will all have in thanksgiving for life, love, family, friends and the amazing medical teams that we are both and all benefitting from.