The “Heart” category is one that is represented by the Warm Green of emotions. It is the feeling me, the how-I-relate-to-others me.
In the past, some of my successes in this area have been getting married, having a child, more structured relations with my extended family, travelling with Andrea, becoming less squirrelly, career support (2-way), some mentoring, outings with friends (like MMMMM), house parties, holidays together with others, outings with Jacob and Andrea, and generally learning to be a better husband, father, and (hopefully) son.
Last year,I held myself to just six priorities but I made almost zero progress. Sure, I continue to support Andrea in her career relating to her M.Ed., helping to make sure she has the time to do it without having to do it as a complete “add-on” or trying to kill herself. I wanted to do more lunchtime outings with Andrea, and it did happen sporadically. I am not, however, doing much on Jacob’s night time routine…Andrea tends to get him ready, and I read him a story or six. I set up the website for Astro Pontiac, but that was about as far as I went in helping, other than to give some seed money. I had really hoped to have a Remembrance Day party, or a corn roast sometime, but by the time that period came along, I was in survival mode for dealing with my mom’s stay in palliative care. And I did nothing about figuring out an overall charitable giving strategy.
However, if I am truly honest with myself, there are three things that I did this past year that overshadow everything and so I’m chocking up one giant “win” in this category. First, I said goodbye to my mother. Actually, I said goodbye six or seven separate times (depending on how you count) and it didn’t get easier each time. But I did it. Second, while my mother was in palliative care, I went and hung out with her for a week, staying overnight to keep her company. It was way easier in some ways — I thought I would be freaked out by the issues with her, but I wasn’t. By contrast, I hated the hospital itself, by the fourth night, I was completely squirrelly. Hard to sleep, claustrophobic almost. Jumpy, quick to pounce on any opportunity to do something, particularly if it took 15 or 20 minutes. But I spent the week with her. I’ll talk more about this next fall when I do my first annual tribute to her, so for now I just want to give credit to myself for doing it. It was only one week out of six, but still.
Finally, the big one. I did the eulogy. After having done my Dad’s eulogy, I said to myself, “Never again.” I figured when it came time for my Mom, someone else could do it. For my Dad’s, I cried all the way through it. I was almost incoherent. Lord knows what anyone understood. However, because of some odd quirks of the family dynamics, I ended up doing the one for my Mom too. I made it as clear as I could that I was willing to do it, but not insisting — if anyone, a grandchild perhaps, wanted to do it, I was good to defer the honour. But no one else stepped up for that item, perhaps not wishing to deny me that opportunity, so I did it. For a week afterwards, I kept saying to myself, “You did it! You made it through without losing it!”. It was such a different experience than for my Dad’s. Obviously, I’m 16 years older. Hopefully more mature, more grounded, more experienced with life and, unfortunately, the death of a parent. I also practiced out the wazoo — full walk throughs, out loud, six or seven times. Each time through, I put stars and notes where I lost it emotionally, so that I would know when it came time for the real reading that I should pause there, or slow down, or just focus on breathing. More importantly though, I had support. When my Dad died, I was single, lived in Ottawa, and without much of a portable support network. This time, I stayed at my inlaws most of the time my mom was in the hospital, which was amazing support. Andrea’s grandfather came to the funeral too. I had a friend, Seb, who drove all the way from Ottawa to Peterborough and back the same night, just so he could come to the visitation. Nine hours round-trip, and did I mention he had a broken foot at the time and was on crutches? Of course, the biggest supports were Andrea and Jacob. There are no words to express how much they supported me, particularly while they too were experiencing the same loss. But somehow, we all got through it.
So I chock all of that up as a win for the year.
For new priorities, most of last year’s will roll over to this year too…continuing to support Andrea on her M.Ed, becoming more involved in Jacob’s night-time routine, supporting Stephan on the Astro Pontiac initiative, figuring out a charitable giving strategy, and organizing a Remembrance Day party or a Corn Roast. However, I am adding four additional ones this year in a slightly different nuance.
Three of them are about better connecting to Andrea and Jacob. First of all, Andrea is spending the first 9 months of the year at home with Jacob, which is great, but it will also might limit the interaction her and I have — less time spent commuting together, less time sharing, perhaps. So we need to kickstart some date nights somehow. Not entirely sure how to get that organized in terms of babysitters, etc. without making it too “scheduled”, but we need to do it, just to stay sane. Second, this year marks our 5th anniversary and I’d like to do something special to celebrate / commemorate the occasion. Could be merged with our house party option if we want to keep it casual, or maybe go larger. Not sure what Andrea would be interested in yet. Finally, I also want to take some extra leave this year to give the three of us more time together before Jacob starts school in September (ack! he’s starting school!).
The fourth addition is a duty I must perform, and to be honest, I wouldn’t describe it as a pleasant one. My mother appointed my sister and I as co-executors of the will. Which means for the first six months of the year, we’ll be doing a lot of organizing to get the personal items distributed and the house sold. Separate from the challenge of just getting it all done in a reasonable amount of time, we also have the fun that the six kids named are rarely in agreement on anything. We’re trying to avoid anything that will be “nasty” or unpleasant, but it deals with issues tied to raw emotion, so it may happen. Nevertheless, I will do my duty, as my mother asked me to do at the end.
So, with those goals in mind, here’s my working to do list for the Heart category:
Leave to spend with J&A
Remembrance Day party
|Charitable giving strategy|
Wings with Seb
Wedding present to Aliza
|GGs service record|
Botox for J (?)
|Wedding Feb 8-10|
Letter in a bottle (#26)
On to the next area!