Sunday, February 28, 2010

Haysom Olympic Finale

17 days out of our lives.. a mere 2 1/2 weeks out of the grand scheme of things.. what does it amount to really? At 53 years of age, it's nothing really..but these last 17 days have left an imprint in my life. In case you have been on another planet this past month you know we just had the Olympics here. In 1988 when we had the Olympics in Calgary, I had 5 teenagers at home, a husband who worked out of town and was going to school out of town, I worked full time as nurse as well as part time as a councilor at a sexual assault centre. Olympics? What was that? My olympian feat was trying to keep the laundry pile from being higher then my ceilings, the fridge from completely emptying on any given day, filling hollow legs, fighting crowds in stores for that last pair of jeans/sneakers/sweater/ that was on sale for 5.00.

During the 1976 Olympics in Montreal I had 2 small babies, and was in the hospital. In those days there was no such thing as tv's in your room and if you were lucky there was one old small black and white one in the common room that had rabbit ears on top (and if you have no idea what those are you need to ask your parents) and as I was bedridden that option wasn't there.

Needless to say when these Olympics hit our little city, I was excited!! I'm a winter sports person way more then summer so it works for me. I spent the month prior to it arriving to go over what Olympics were to my younger granddaughters, we looked up all the events, researched them online and found bios on our athletes. even wrote letters to some of them. We talked about winning and losing, the different medals and the dedication it takes to be an Olympian athlete. I talked to them as often as I could about patriotism, about what it means to be a Canadian and why we should be proud of who we are. I talked to them about how the whole world would be watching us and we should always be on our very best behaviour.

We decorated our home inside and out and my car. When we would be driving around and saw another car with a Canadian flag we would honk and wave. It made them smile when the other drivers would honk and wave back :) But it was more then my teaching them; as I mentioned before they taught me too. They taught me to cheer for the other teams so they would play with us again. They taught me that it doesn't matter if we win or lose as long as we have fun. They taught me to keep some things INSIDE my head and not use my outside voice so much. They taught me that I am way too loud when I cheer.

I learned that you CAN be a part of Olympic celebrations without spending an arm and a leg. It became my passion to find things to do that were free. I realized it was way more important to spend the time at the activities with family and friends then to have been there alone. We were there on the first day when the torch ran in our neighborhood, and later that night at the ceremonies in our city. I was able to take my 12 year old granddaughter with me to the opening night celebrations at a free site downtown Vancouver watching the whole thing unfold on megatron size tv's. And I loved her even more then I already did for not standing away from me when I was screaming my head off when Wayne Gretsky came on board.

I had always said you would never catch me dead going up to Yukon but after an evening in their pavilion Keith and I were both so impressed that we know that will be our next big trip in the future. I learned a lot about different countries that I didn't already know. I learned that it's ok for big girls to cry at the drop of the hat over and over again and it's ok. I found out that red is my new favourite color.

It became even clearer to me that I have the BEST husband in the world when he would keep his eye rolling for when I wasn't looking because I wanted yet another picture of the torch even though I already had 100 of them. Even though he knew I would pay for it the next day with pain, he was ok with going back downtown again and again even though he HATES going down there on a regular day let alone when everybody and their mother is on the street.

I loved him for not once saying "I told you so" these last 17 days, nor for saying "didn't you watch that event already?" I loved him even more the day I woke up from having fallen asleep on the couch watching the events and he had covered me with a flag when he left for work. Last night was the last full day we could spend at the events so we went down with 2 of our children and 7 of our grandchildren. It was cold and wet and the little ones were tired and cold but we kept on going. Lots of walking (thank goodness for strollers!) although they sure gave it a valiant effort at wanting to walk on their own. At one point the 5 year old asks me " When are we going to be in Canada?" I said we are in Canada.. and she said "No, we're not.. we have to yell GO CANADA GO GO CANADA GO and jump up and down that's when we are in Canada"...opps.. my bad...I have to work more on geography in the future and less on cheerleading I guess :)

Late in the afternoon, we went in our different directions, our 1 son needed to go home (DIL is due any day with their baby) and our daughter and her family wanted to go in a different direction to find some Olympic items. We kept our oldest granddaughter with us and headed off. We went to the Italy, the French and the Switzerland pavilions. We then managed to scrounge some tickets for a cruise around the harbour. They were getting ready to leave and had some empty seats and they wanted to just fill the seats. So for 2 hours we cruised around Stanley Park, saw the Olympic rings from the water side and the cauldron. When we returned back to the marina we found we could take an aquabus back to the other side without having to wait forever for the train so we hopped on!!! Talk about being at the right place at the right time. It was a great bonding moment and I sure hope she will remember that day for a long long time.

It was a day full of memories that cost us virtually nothing. Today it was the men's gold medal hockey game. We had friends who thought that we cheered the men winning way more then we cheered the women winning their gold and how wrong that was. I had been there watching the women win and I know the city went wild but as I thought it about all afternoon I realized it wasn't because we cheered more for the men it was because of what that gold medal meant. It meant we had beat the record held of most gold medals won at any Olympic games. That was why we went crazy! I went back on Shaw on Demand and rewatched the womens' win again and there really was pandemonium that day from the spectators! We are nothing but equal opportunitistics :) Keith and I had gone downtown to watch it at FreeCity Yaletown that day and I had known there at least it was insane with excitement.

Canada is going to seem awfully quiet this week. I heard something today..we may not be as outwardly patriotic as other countries, we may not all hang flags from our door frames but we do have a quiet was always there..we just needed permission to know that it was ok to let it all out. So for another 2 1/2 years (summer Olympics) I will put my medals away, wipe my tears, swallow the lump out of my throat, but what I will not do, is forget how for 17 days our country became one. We no longer were French-Canadian, Indo-Canadian, Asian-Canadian etc. We were Canadians.. through and through.. and with glowing pride we stood shoulder to shoulder as one nation, cheered when we won, cried with our athletes when we didn't, we felt every sorrow, every win, every in between. We sang our national anthem in every possible wrong key that could be found but we did it with such pride.

I saw this short video today and thought I would include it in closing as well as "my" medals that has grown since the first one was won. Some of our granddaughters helped me make this poster and as we got a medal I hung a matching on in the window. It became our neighborhood gauge on how the country was doing. I actually twice had a neighbour come to our door to ask where a medal was because we had won something and I had not hung a medal yet. :-D

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

End of an Era

Friday will mark the end of an era in my life. 3 and a 1/2 years ago a then 2 1/2 year old red headed Princess with her own independent mind came into my household. I started watching her while Mommy and Daddy went to work. This little princess became my saving grace and didn't even know it. On Friday I will find it hard to "give her back". Mommy is going to be on maternity leave while they wait for their new baby to arrive then will be home for a year or so. After that Daddy will become a full time at home dad. Or so that is the plan now.

But this little girl became attached to my soul more then one would think. I realized today after I dropped her off at school, I won't be there for her Noisy Reader time in the mornings at school where the parents etc can come in to read with their child. She was sitting on my lap and told me she was going to miss our snuggle time. She said she would tell Mommy that she HAD to come help me clean and then we could just snuggle lol.

She saved me from my self destruction when I was diagnosed with cancer. Here I had all these adults surrounding me, looking after me, but it was this little 4 year old that "took care" of me. She was the one that got me a cloth when my head spent way too much time in the bucket; she was the one that kept an eye on the draining bags from my surgeries and would tell me that one had more blood then supposed to and I needed to empty it. She would follow me in the bathroom just to make sure I did like the nurse told me.

She gave me back rubs every day; brushed my hair and put clips and ponies all over telling me if I looked pretty then I would feel pretty. We spent days at the library, went to the pool, went on adventures in the forests, treks to the parks and beaches, went to the surgeon every 2 weeks for 6 months, we learned where all the bathrooms were, where all the cool lunch places were and she knew the train stations and when we had to get off.

We had tea parties and sleepovers with her younger cousin and together we would get dressed up in our Queen and Princess clothes and tiaras then would bake something scrumptious for Papa. Together with her cousin, they kept my spirits up when all I wanted to do was to pull the blankets up over my head and escape from the world. We finger painted, sculpted masterpieces and went for trips up to Whistler and many camping trips.

And Friday that will come crashing down all around me. I believe I might just have to be elsewhere when Mommy comes and gets her so I do not have to say goodbye. I know I will see her throughout the week but it won't be the same. She taught me about life, she taught me about slowing down and smelling the roses, she taught me patience (she does NOT move at any speed but hers and that was never mine!!), she taught me about sharing, about playing nice and for cheering for other teams that are not Canadian.

I will miss my morning snuggle and all the I love you mostest no returnies. But most of all I will miss making new memories. But this time now belongs to her mommy and her daddy and her new baby when it comes. And one day I will tell her all this and how much she saved her Nana from her self and what she came to be..Nana's special Princess. Thank you Rosaleen. I truly do love you mostest NO RETURNIES!!! xoxoxoxoox

Monday, February 22, 2010

Playing Nice

All last week little Princess Rosaleen, our 6 year old granddaughter, has been telling me continually that I need to also cheer for the other teams because they are visiting us and if we don't cheer for them or let them win sometime they won't come and play with us again. This morning she told me she was very proud of me that I had obviously been cheering for the other team last night (Men's hockey) letting them win so that they would play with us again. She has been listening to me being so ..hmm well let's just say passionate about my cheering our athletes and has been chastising me continually that it's not if we win or lose but if we had fun that is the most important thing. I have had to bite down to not confuse her with how different rules are when you are at the Olympic level. Better she think that I had been listening to her all last week and that I let USA win just so they would play with us again. But let me be perfectly clear here...


Friday, February 19, 2010

End of week one

I have been a proud armchair supporter of the Olympics. I am a avid sports fan, well ok sports to me means hockey and then football in that order but for the Olympics I watch every event Canada is participating in. When the torch ran through our community I was there with some of our family then we went to the city's opening ceremony that night.

On Friday I took one of our granddaughters that had turned 12 a couple of days prior to that with me and off we went. We were in the lineup JUST to get in the gate for 2 hours and 15 minutes in the cold and rain. We were totally soaked but it was so intense. We loved it!! We were the only ones in our large family out here that were there and we took advantage of it. I kept telling her we would probably never get the opportunity to do this again.

When the Canadian athletes walked in well to say it was a screaming frenzy was to say the least!! I was jumping up and down and screaming my head off all the while knowing I would suffer in pain the next day but at that point in time I did not care. Then when they were getting ready to bring the torch in to light the cauldron I kept repeating the mantra "Please let it be Gretsky" over and over again then Rick Hanson wheeled in. Well it wasn't the Great One but it was ok. Then another one then another one and we realized there would be 4.. there was such anticipation in the air where I was. We could see the back of the man but not his face. I knew it was him.. you could tell by the way he stood and his hair.. and when the 3rd torch went to him to light his and the cameras finally panned to his face I screamed so loud and jumped up so much I actually almost knocked myself out and lost my breath. My granddaughter kept looking at me like I was weird. I said Latitia it is Wayne Gretsky!! And she said WHO??? Are you kidding me??

So on the way home I had to explain to her who he was as well as all the 6 people who carried in the Olympic flag. Man they sure don't teach kids these days about who Canadian athletes are! So oh man just to have been that close to him, I would have stood 10 hours more just to have been a part of that whole experience.

Other then Survivor night I have had the tv on 3 different channels to keep an eye on all the events. One of our other granddaughters and I did up some posters and decorated our front window to show our support. Then when we got our first medal I wanted to do something more so I got out a bronze kind of cd and hung it on a ribbon on the one poster that says "Do You Believe?" As we have gotten more medals I have hung them on the poster. Not very "Modern Decor" look but it shows our grandchildren how important it is to support people even when you do not know them.

Of course I am hoping to get enough medals that I will have one window for the gold and one for the silver and one for the bronze :)Tomorrow Keith and I will be heading back to check out all the pavilions and just walk around downtown checking things out. I am sure afer a couple of hours he is going to be fed up with the crowds and ready to go home so will have to make sure we check out the Quebec house first heheehe. Although I know he will suffer through the crowds cause he knows it is so important to me. I even have my autograph book in my bag already just in case I meet someone important.. like you know.. the Great One :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pizza anyone???

I got this from our son Kim and man oh man I am so making this over the weekend!! Good thing the crust makes 2 because there isn't a hope in heaven Keith will eat a pizza with eggplants and tomatoes on it!!%29

Monday, February 08, 2010

Olympics 2010

6 years ago when Vancouver put their bid in for the Olympics I was against it. Right out of the starting gate I knew they would never keep within their budget (I was right), it was going to put a lot of people out of work (again right), businesses would suffer (yup) and that the money would be better spent on health care and education. Patients are already on long wait lists because hospital beds are closed, not enough nurses to go around, not enough is done to keep doctors in small towns, schools are closing and those that are open don't have enough computers for children, no after school extra curriculum, and the lists went on and on.

I watched the ceremonies that day all those years ago and I have to admit that I jumped out of my chair and cheered when the host declared Vancouver had won the bid! I was caught in the moment! Over the last few years it has been brought home many many times at how the cost of these Olympics are out of control, we have gone into debt to bring it to pass, businesses have gone bankrupt because of all the road closures due to road construction and so on.

But having said that, I have athletes in my family and I do know that those athletes work very very hard and for most of their lives at the sport they are playing and competing. They don't deserve to be penalized because they love to compete. These last couple of weeks I have been explaining about the Olympics to my almost 6 year old granddaughter, explaining the intricacies of the game and medals. She wanted to send a letter to one of the athletes one day so we cut out part of a Cheerios box, found how to mail it and she told me exactly what she wanted to say for me to write it. She also was very specific to who she wanted it to go to. So as she dictated her wishes I had to hide a smile. She wanted me to write the following "It doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you played your best we will all still love you." I didn't have the heart to tell her that at that level of competition, disappointment at not placing let alone not winning a medal would be at the front of all their minds and hearts. But she is 6 and for now it was enough that she wanted to send her wishes to this athlete.

Today right after school we walked over to where the torch bearers were going to be running along the road. I explained to her before what the torch meant, went online and watched other torch ceremonies and she had it all down pat. As the athlete ran past our group we cheered as loud as we could waving our flags as hard as we could and at that moment, the debt never crossed my mind, the over spending, the feedback from the people that the government wouldn't listen to, none of it mattered for one small moment in the grand scheme of time. What mattered was watching my grandchildren cheering for this athlete as she ran past us. What mattered was them knowing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, that you CAN be everything you want to be. As my little granddaughter and I walked back home out of the blue she started singing O Canada, she knew every word.. and half way through the first paragraph she asked me why I wasn't singing with her. I told her cause I had a frog in my throat. She laughed and said Nana you're funny.

So all the way home, we sang our national anthem over and over again and then I sang it in French to her. After the Olympics are over then I will go back to worrying about how the sheer cost of these games are going to cost the taxpayers, but for now, I will support the athletes.
But for now, true patriot love in all thy sons command.