Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life lessons from my parents

My mom and dad.
Today, September 25th, 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the day my parents walked down the aisle together.

Fifty years is a long time.

Half of a century.

And it is indeed something to celebrate. An accomplishment not often heard about in today's day and age. And though circumstance has dictated that we should be on two different coasts today, they are both very, very much on my mind and in my heart.

I've wracked my brains for some 'thing' to give them that would show them how much I love them. How much I appreciate them. How much they have meant to me. How proud I am of them and how they have shaped my life.

But how do you put a value on such feelings? How do you properly honour the people who gave you life and breath, put you on the right road and supported you even when it was they who needed support?

You don't.

And so here I sit at my laptop. Wishing I could be somewhere else and yet trying to share with the world how I feel. How do you put the appreciation for fifty years together into words?

I can only try.

When I was about 4, while my dad was out at work, my mom taught me how to read. My dad encouraged it when he came home. I'm pretty sure they thought I was from another planet because my desire for books was insatiable. I ate books. And I could not WAIT to get to school. I don't think they realized it at the time, but those first picture books were the makings of a career. Of a passion. Of a love that would last a lifetime.

Around the same time, my dad taught me how to fish. And hunt. And work a garden. And I learned to appreciate growing things and the earth around us. My mom taught me to bake by baking. And how to sew by sewing. How the work doesn't go away on it's own. I learned to make hay when the sun shines and to appreciate the rain when it comes.
I learned how much hard work goes into feeding a family. How sometimes you can put hours and hours of work into a project and have it fail, but you can't stop trying.

My mom taught me to appreciate the quiet times. To be still. To look beyond the moment and to have faith. She taught me that sometimes I have to stick up for myself--but that doesn't mean I have to be mean or vicious. You can be strong without being hard. Strength comes in many forms.

My father, a true handyman, taught me that I can repair just about anything with the right tools.

Together they fostered my independence from day one. They didn't coddle me (although my older siblings would disagree), and they didn't spend every waking hour entertaining me. They had work to do, and they did it. I played by myself. I found things to do. I read. I went outside. I climbed trees and I made leaf sailboats. I played with toy cars in the dirt and I ate apples right off of the tree. In letting me explore, they encouraged my imagination. Sure, times were different then, but I think in doing so, the taught me one of the basic rules of parenting. Kids learn by doing. They need to explore their environments and make mistakes to grow. I made lots of mistakes. But I learned. Sometimes I made the same mistake over and over again. But sooner or later I did it right.

Lastly, having watched my parents from day one, they taught me that the best things in life are not free. Love comes with a price. Hard work, long hours, sacrifice, and heartache are the currency of love and marital success. Forgiveness sometimes comes at heavy cost. No marriage is perfect. Often we hurt those we love most, and we have to dig deep to ask forgiveness. And sometimes things are too broken to be fixed, but you can't know that unless you first try to put it back together.

No matter how happy it looks on the outside, there are always issues. But getting through those issues together, humbling yourself, recognizing your differences and accepting them, brings huge rewards. My parents have taught me that. They find happiness in each other's company. They understand they are two distinct individuals and they have spent fifty years discovering how two parts can become one whole.

I am so incredibly proud to call them my parents.

I am here today as a testament to their love and dedication to one another.

And so, Edna and David Corey, I thank you for all that you have done for me. And I wish you many, many more years of happiness together.

Happy anniversary,


Monday, September 22, 2014

Military Monday: A weekend of Heroes.

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to participate with my husband in a ceremony
Hanging with a hero-Stocky and I
before our flight in the Cessna
commemorating the great Second World War air battle known as the Battle of Britain. Being an ex-Air Force officer and and an RCAF wife, this ceremony is an important one, as it represents the first commitment of the RCAF to combat in WW II. I was part of a contingent which travelled north to Port Hardy--a small community on the northeastern shore of Vancouver Island to participate in the ceremony there. It was a wonderful weekend of fun, camaraderie, sight-seeing and seafood, paired with some serious moments of reflection. The local Air Force Association Squadron welcomed us with open arms, and much fun was had by all. I even had the opportunity to take a flight in a Cessna aircraft over the Queen Charlotte Strait at low enough altitude to see breaching humpback whales and several pods of orcas.

One of the members of our contingent was (and is) a real live Air Force hero. And even better, he was accompanied by his wife of 63 years...who I also think deserves the title of hero for her many years of service to our country behind the scenes.

James Francis "Stocky" EdwardsCMDFC & BarDFMCD (born June 5, 1921 – ) may not have fought in the Battle of Britain, but he joined the fighting soon afterward, and is one Canada's few remaining WW II flying aces. "Toni", born Alice Antonio, also has a military history, having worn the uniform in the '40s, working in both Communications and the nursing field. 

Young and dapper Stocky Edwards
Although I've only known them for a short time, Stocky and Toni Edwards have made a HUGE impression on me. Humble, kind, selfless and warm-hearted, they are the very essence of the perfect military couple. Seriously. They have been through it all. Postings far from home, long separations and deployments--they lived all of this before I was even a twinkle in my parents eyes.

Toni Edwards in her military days
But these two are so obviously in love, that they have persevered through all of their difficulties and are still living life to the fullest. They are so positive, so happy to be together that I can't help but think, I want what they have. They are true role models for today's military couples, having recognized the military lifestyle for what it was and embraced it--and they continue to embrace it as supporters to 19 Wing Comox and the RCAF. More than 60 years after their marriage, they attend as many of the local events as they can, arriving together and leaving arm in arm.

I'm so fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time with this lovely couple. They are true heroes.

You can find out more about the Battle of Britain on Wikipedia here, and about Stocky and Toni Edwards here and here.

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Want to talk about the life of a 'dependent'? Do you cringe at the very mention of the word (as I occasionally do...part of why my book is so titled...)? Join me TOMORROW for a twitter chat at 12:00 PST, using #dependent to join in! Hope to hear from you!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Military Monday: Life...interrupted.

As you know, our summer has been a bit messy, with all of the moving and upheaval and chaos that goes with it. Although you never get used to that sort of insanity, you learn to deal with it. You expect a month or two of boxes and hiccups and new issues, and this summer is no exception.

As our moves typically occur in the summertime, we usually fumble through the months of July and August...knowing that in September we'll really be able to get organized. 

Because in September, the kids go back to school. Schedules are finalized, kids head off to their classes with backpacks full of shiny new school supplies... off to fill their heads with knowledge, meet new friends and settle in for the next few years. Parents are refreshed, energized, and people like me finally have the time to dig into those last few boxes and get their household administration under control. Time to sort out our careers, organize our days and make plans. Right? 


Waiting for the doors to open.
In the province of British Columbia (where we live), teachers are on strike. It's a messy, political, deep-rooted battle between the BC Teachers Federation and Governmental beings, and as an outsider moving in, I refuse to take sides and support either entity. When two sides can't sit down with an experienced negotiator and work it out, they lose my respect. I am already sick of the media ads and tweets that say (either directly or indirectly) 'Our side is better because we're willing to negotiate and the other side isn't, so you should support us!' Baloney. Horse poop. It all makes me grumpy. Especially when the people who the sides are fighting about--teachers and kids--just want to get back to school. 

Anyway I digress. 

The schools here are closed, and my kids are still home. Those hallowed first days of school where I can sip my coffee and organize my life are yet to happen. There are signs that the two sides are getting closer, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'll be fine. And my kids will be fine as well. But the first day of school is a milestone all families look forward to. And it has become blatantly clear how much we, as a military family, depend on that milestone to ease the sting of a posting. 

Because school isn't just about books. It's about life. 

Life for military families with kids on a new post starts on the first day of school. It's the real beginning. Until that day, the move isn't finished. Just like the pile of boxes in the corner, school holds so many possibilities and so many unknowns. It's a big stressor for military kids because there are so many unanswered questions. Will I like my teacher? Will I be able to play the trombone in band? Will I make the soccer team? Will I be behind or ahead in Math? Will I have too much homework? Will the kids on the bus be mean or nice? Will they tease me because I'm new? Did I get the course selections I asked for? Will I have enough time to get between classes? Are there good books in the library? 

And the most important question for kids... Will I meet a new best friend?

It's always been a given that the kids would head back to school at the end of the summer, and when they were bored and missing their old friends we could bring up the possibility of new friends just on the other side of the school doors. Our kids are old enough to understand. They know that somewhere in the throng of shiny new faces is a potential kindred spirit. So they are looking forward (even if they won't admit it) to the first day. But it feels like we are on hold. Like life is interrupted. Unfinished. 

And this year we have a new question to add to our list of unknowns. When will it start?

I guess we will just have to wait and see.