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 pride..it 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