Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and how you handle it is totally up to you! My Granddad used to say "Every Day's a Bonus". He has a real sense of what time we have on this earth. My Granddad was born and raised in England and entered the Army there prior to the WW11. He fought at Dunkirk so I am sure that living through this horrifying time really sculpted him into the man he was when I knew him.
[Actual historical photo]
The funny thing is, we did not get on with each other at the time. I was a very sensitive child and he said things that I took in a very mean way but I think if we met now I would feel very differently about him. I would understand more where he had been and what he had seen. I would have loved to have had his stories on tape or written down somewhere and I often wish we had spent more time together talking instead of his sharp remarks and my sensitivity leading to me running off.
I purchased a series on DVD many years ago that was called "the 1940's House". It is a British historical reality program made by Wall to Wall/ Channel 4 in 2001, about a modern family that tries to live as a typical middle class family in London during the Blitz of World War 11.
I absolutely devoured this series and was so excited about it I even shared it with several of my students while still teaching. These students were learning about hair and studying to be hairdressers and you might wonder why I would think they would have any interest in this whatsoever? I find that when we have no sense of history we are unable to truly appreciate and understand why things were done, so even when learning hair, if we know why women were wearing their hair this way based on what was happening in the time it is helpful and many of my students have gone on with a real admiration for the styles of this time!
One day my Mum was out for a visit and I sat her down to watch this with me. I think this may have been my 5th or so time seeing it but every time it touches me and speaks to a part of my soul. At some point I turned to say something to my Mum only to find tears streaming down her cheeks. "Oh no!" I said reaching for a box of tissue. I passed them to her and asked "Are you okay? It's very touching isn't it?" I said. By this point we have paused the series so we can gain our composure because her crying has started me crying.
"I wish I had seen this while I was growing up" Mum says. "I would have understood a lot more of what my parents had been through and why we got such practical gifts for Christmas like a set of sheets or why they always had to have a ton of canned food stored in the basement." She said to me.
"I know" I replied, "I thought the same thing. I wish I could have talked more to Granddad about his life." I replied.
It was a very bonding experience for my Mum and I along with us really seeing what things were most likely like for her parents. It is not that we did not know the history, we did, but seeing this family relive things as though they were there was very moving and really hit home. So much so that the Mum in the program has continued to walk and no longer drives, she shops at the local market for food and supports her community. This Children got a sense of just how much they have compared to what they might not have had during the war. They have something to compare things to so are now more grateful.
These reflections, Mum and I looking back on what her parents went through and then having a deeper understanding of why they were as they were also gave us a deeper awareness of time and how fleeting it can be. I was blessed to have had time with my other Grandmother to say my goodbyes while we were still young enough and healthy enough to know what we were saying. When she passed I was sad but I also had so many wonderful memories to carry me through that time. I was able to remember us crying together and telling each other all the reasons we loved each other. We made a packed that this was going to be our goodbye and that we were not to fall apart when either of us left. Of course I did cry when she passed but I also had many memories to carry me through.
[My grandmother and Grandfather, My Mum and my Uncle on their way to Canada on the Boat]
Although my Granddad and I often did not see eye to eye, I have wonderful memories of dancing in the living room with him. I would stand upon his feel and dance and often it would end not in a dip but in a flip! He would probably have done flips with Dolls in the 40's in swing clubs that popped up here and there for the soldiers.... at least that is what I now tell myself.
My Grandma and I used to go and meet him at the bus stop and give him a warm thermos of tea and sometimes we would do a route with him and then walk home together. He drove the bus in England after the war and then when they all came across on the boat to start a new life in Canada, he joined the TTC fleet and retired there. He loved to drive the bus and loved talking to people. He looked like Jackie Gleason too which is hysterical in it's own right.
If he was on route and saw something at the side of the road that he thought had been discarded he would often stop the bus, get out, pack up whatever it was and bring it home with him. It didn't matter what it was or even if he needed it. He just knew that it was still salvageable and would therefore "save" it and felt that one day he would meet someone that might be able to use it. It's difficult to understand this for many as we live in such a throw away society but there are also, and thankfully, many that are trying to up-cycle.
My Granddad made the best of each day. He knew how to stop and smell the roses. He and my Grandma took dance lessons, went on cruises, owned a small but lovely house, He traveled all over the world, took guitar lessons and piano lessons when he was well into his 60's; He really knew that "Every Day's a Bonus"!
So let me end like this, when you die all those things you are currently stressing about will still be here and no one will be worry about them, all the people that you worry about how they feel about you, the things that keep you up at night will all be gone! What you have is the memories you have made and you will take those with you and you will leave those to help those who have to watch you go. Making time now to tell those around you how much you love them and making memories with all those around you will help you leave peacefully and help them to continue on with the memories you created together! MAKE TIME... we don't know when our time may be up but if you live like every day is a bonus, every minute, each second... what a beautiful life it will be!