Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Courage, stronger than a hurricane.

Two courageous guys.

I see courage pretty regularly. When it is your job to fly over the cold North Atlantic in a fifty year old helicopter, courage becomes part of the scenery. One of the great things about my job is I get to associate myself with some pretty courageous people. In fact, the people who fly with me are some of the most courageous people I know.

Courage is not about dodging bullets or running into burning buildings. It is about doing the right thing regardless. Winston Churchill, during the lowest times of the Battle of Briton said, “A true measure of a man is what he does when he is tired.” He probably also mumbled something about booze and cigars, but no one paid any attention to that.
Two courageous kids.
Feats of courage happen everyday. My kids are learning about courage. They tell the truth regardless of the consequences, and they take responsibility for their actions. When the time comes in the future, people will look to them because of the skills they are learning now. Those traits are hard to find in adults- maybe it is because we are so tired and we want things to be easy. 
I have talked about courage in a previous post. My Grandfather Pynn was rewarded for his actions on a stormy fall day in Northern Newfoundland. Growing up, that event was the how I defined heroism. It had all the classical elements- danger, death, and more importantly recognition. It wasn’t until very recently did my concept of courage change.
Alzheimer's disease is a coward. It usually strikes the elderly, silently and over time. It steals from everyone. It robs the victim of their memories and loved ones of their family. The disease as far as I’m concerned can go fuck itself.
My family has had to watch the effect of this awful disease on someone we love dearly. Over the past four years we have struggled with the disease, the patient and the aftermath. There is nothing easy about Alzheimer’s and it leaves everyone tired.
Our loved one last Christmas.
We have tried to get medical care for our loved one for years. We have dealt with doctors, and nurses, social workers, and government bureaucrats. It has been complicated by the fact that we were so far away and it is easier for them to say ‘no’ over the phone. Applications have been made and submitted and then resubmitted. Our loved one has been assessed and reassessed, placed on waiting lists and then forgotten. We have requested, asked, demanded, swore, shouted, complied, submitted, pleaded, and begged to have care for our loved one. 
If I was a spiteful person, I would wish that the health care professionals and administrators that ‘worked’ this file receive the same level of care in their time of need. Thankfully I am not, and I wouldn’t wish that stress and heartache on their loved ones.
This ordeal wasn’t like pushing a boulder up a hill. It was like pushing a bolder up a hill during a hurricane. It shouldn’t have to be so hard, but it was. 
My wife and kids facing a hurricane in Eastern Passage.

It was.

My wife’s courage is stronger than a hurricane. 
Finally, our loved one has been admitted to long term care and she can be afforded the dignity that everyone deserves. It was accomplished entirely from my wife’s courage. I always knew she was courageous- she is married to me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Red Currant Wine- Anne was a kindred spirit

Anne and Diana in Avenlea. I think I prefer Megan Follows.

At first I didn’t believe that I had much in common with Anne Shirley. She was a precocious red headed orphan raised on a 19 century farm in rural Prince Edward Island. I am a sarcastic grey haired man on the verge of a midlife crisis living in Eastern Passage. But a recent trip back to the island has caused me to pause and consider that I may be more like her than I’d like to admit.

I spent a few years living in PEI as a child. Like everyone I’m sure, my memories of that time of my life are fragmented but for some reason were important enough for me to keep them. I can still recall the bitter disappointment of loosing my Hammerhead Star Wars action figure in the school sandbox. 

During the morning singing of O’Canada, I once proclaimed my undying love to some pony tail beauty in Kindergarden. She pretended she couldn’t hear, but I know she did. 

It is the small details we remember growing up that stay with us. I’ve lost many important things in my life since Kindergarden, but it is the loss of that 3 dollar toy that has stayed with me. I have also proclaimed my love to many pony tailed beauties in my time, but I remember her because it was then I learned that relationships are more complicated than proclamations.

My kids aren’t much older now than I was then. I often quietly wonder what will be their touchstone moments that will last with them through the years to come. 

My Daughter demonstrated that she is a natural leader. She is going to change the world someday. People look to her because she is good and true and honest and sincere- and she isn’t afraid. Who else can so aptly lead a bunch of strangers on a chicken rescue? Those skills will change the world someday.

My Son learned that it is okay to be different. It is hard living in someone else’s shadow, especially when you are shy. I’m sure Charlie Sloan has a hard time living in Avonlea. He lives in a world confined by genteel responsibilities and proper behavior and all he wants to do is chase pigs and put frogs down girls shirts. My Son found a kindred spirit.
I learned that I am not much different than Anne of Green Gables.

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds."
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables