Answer

              Answer

When am I the happiest?                     IMG_20150304_170112                
When I am with you.
What is the most fun?
The things that we do.
Sports and travel.
Laughter. Games.
Family and friends.
Daughters. Names.
Anna Kate
      and
Erin Elaine.
The answer is always the same.

The source of my contentment?
As clear as can be.
Love and time and us.
Happy Every Day to me.

Fortitude

Fortitude
From father to father,
and friend to friend,
I send you thoughts
I can barely comprehend.

I have been reticent
and respectfully hesitant
to send my thoughts,
any thoughts, your way.
Because, for the first time,
perhaps first time ever,
I simply could not find
any words to say.

After laboured rumination,
days spent distracted,
with all of your family
weighing on my mind,
feeling extremely selfish
and somewhat irresponsible,
I will attempt to express
thoughts I’ve managed to find.

As a distant friend
it would be remiss,
and inadequate,
to send you my love.
If I was a believer
I could send a prayer,
deferring my sentiments
to someone up above.

I have no wisdom
to pass on to you,
no innate answers
that I can honestly give.
It’s an experience
that I have never had,
and one, that no one
should ever have to live.

You already know 
we send our condolences,
and we know you have family
for a comforting hug or a soothing kiss.
So, as my tear touched sentences
gain their momentum,
the least that I can do
is to let you know this.

We have read the resilient words
that you have shared,
have great respect for your fortitude
in the face of such pain.
We’ve seen the positive approach
that you have displayed,
the cascade of beautiful memories
and there affirming refrain.

Pictures of a young life
well-lived, always to the fullest,
by a vibrant young man
who seems exceedingly wise.
Smiles and great experiences,
friends and family, and life,
images of dedication, and pride,
seen through his father’s eyes.

We admire, from our distance,
your immense courage, and resolve,
as you lead by example,
for those also exceedingly sad.

The best representation of a parent
and a dedicated husband,
the brave face of a grieving family,
the embodiment of a caring Dad.

Seeing this fortitude in you
provides us all with inspiration,
with the stark realization
that we must cherish every day.
And, what I realize now is,
that the most important thing,
is not what we have to offer you,
but rather, what we can take away.

Thinking of your love, and loss
makes me want to give my all,
recognizing a perspective
that I should have embraced before.
When I see your stance,
representing such strength,
I am inspired to be stronger
and to love life just that much more.

Whenever I get down
I will climb right back up,
look at my little problems
with the appropriate perspective.
Will take the time to notice
the warmth that surrounds me,
to understand how lucky I am,
whenever I feel reflective.

Every time I feel the impulse
I will give my daughters a hug,
holding on to it, and them,
just a little longer.
I will tell them, far more often,
just how much I love them,
with a renewed certainty,
which is just that much stronger.

And, I will never use distance
as a lazy, convenient excuse,
because when time is so tenuous,
it should never be a bother.
This is a promise I intend to keep,
in honour, of both you and your son,
as I draw upon your fortitude
to be a better friend, and father.

Father to father,
and friend to friend,
my words barely touch
the respect that I send.


Fortitude
– 
courage in pain or adversity:

synonyms: courage · bravery · endurance · resilience · mettle
In memory of Ricky Davies
(1993-2016)

 

 

Limbo

“As much as I’ve always been driven creatively to move forward toward something bigger, brighter, and unknown, I’m also a deeply-rooted nostalgic. I adore photos, mementos, all bits of ephemera that represent each and every time and space I traverse. I’m a hoarder when it comes to these things…
A flood of memories wash over me when I find these treasures, all of them new again, focused by the perspective I’ve gained in the years since. It’s a beautiful kind of limbo, seeing yourself, your past alongside your present…”
-Mick Fleetwood from Play On…Now, Then, And Fleetwood Mac The Autobiography-

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Limbo
There I am, sitting on the couch

Looking as content as I can be
But what makes me smile now
Are the faces of the other three
Friendships, made in a flash
Cultivated with laughter, and cold beers
The time of my life, so many times
Great nights, that turned into years

Sometimes I sit with a lost friend
If only for a brief while
I gaze into her playful green eyes
I remember his reluctant smile
Realize just how alive they really were
And how precious that our time is
That contagious spirit, so uniquely hers
The distinctive laugh, that could only be his

A note, a post card, a poem

Feelings that are, and/or used to be
A letter filled with distant love
Words, meant only for me
Wee hour messages that I have written
Hastefully penned, but never sent
A shoebox, filled with emotions
Papers lined with what we meant

Flipping through the pages and photos
Snapshots of my life until now
People and places, that shaped who I am
Images of who, of where, when and how
Framed pictures of significant moments
Rectangular reminders of family and friends
Travels together on this wondrous journey
An evolving road, that curves and bends

It’s a beautiful kind of limbo
Spent with people that I know
A transcendent state of mind
And I can choose where to go
The full gambit of my experiences
The love, the pain, the pleasure
Memories, that take me away and back

Moments, I will always treasure

Camping, Christmas, the dinner table
My whole family, together in one place
The truest essence of who I am today
So much influence, etched in each face
My Mom, my Dad, right there for me
Whenever when my heart yearns 

I am able to go home, again and again
With happy, and melancholy returns

Time-lapse capsules of my two daughters
Wide-eyed infants, in the back seat of the car
From half-day kindergarten to incredible teens
Ever-emerging lives, chronicled so far
First steps, dance recitals, and graduation
Lovingly preserved, in albums or on DVD
Even when they seem too far to reach
I can find them here, in front of me

Awards, team photos, newspaper clippings
Memories of play that are always fond
Reminders of an enduring love of sports
Teammates, championships, a life-long bond
Wondering what became of those I coached
Peewee signatures on a thank-you card
Events and people that helped me to grow
Character built, through practicing hard

These boxes that I’ve moved many times
To different homes, to cities and towns
Different cabinets containing my life
All of us sharing the ups and downs
I can open up whenever I want to
These memories, of importance to me
Their significance, personally priceless
Sentimental value, I can always see

It’s a beautiful kind of limbo
Sitting there, beside myself
A transcendent state of mind
Brought down from a shelf
My life, captured in moments
The past, seen through today’s eyes 
Images, taking me away and back
Suspended, for now, while time flies

 

Squashed

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Squashed

She had
no time

for us.
I had
no patience

to wait.
While she
found
the time

to keep 
the promises
she made.

Plans made
for us
months ahead.

One night
away

in a different bed.
To feed
a love
we left unfed.
To bandage wounds
that
slowly bled.

Convenient excuses

from her
instead.
Obvious signs
that hope
was dead.

One dinner
for us
and maybe one dance.

One night
for us
months in advance.
To try
to find
our lost romance.
To save
our family
from circumstance.

Squashed
by her
without a glance.
An obvious sign
that we had
no chance.

No time.
No patience.

No hope. 
 Unwilling
to even try.

No time.
No patience.
No chance.

We both know
the reasons
why.

Vivification

     From the ‘blue folder’ archives written during my Queen’s University days – the birth of my nephew Jason in 1985.
     Raised by one loving family, in two loving households, he has become a man to be admired and respected for all of the right reasons…making these words ring true.

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Pages

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Pages
Plenty of reflections
Plenty of idiosyncrasies
come naturally with age.

The
inclination to hesitate
 The instinct to look back…
before I turn a page.

Birthdays and anniversaries

Dates of significance
Names and news and faces.
They pull be back in time
To a life full of friends
To many happy places.

I find myself occupied

For more than a moment
When I stop to reminisce.
So deeply entrenched
As I get lost in a past
That I invariably miss.

I have done my due time

Been an adult for a while
Am a proud father of two.
Have settled into middle age
Set aside my daydreams
For the responsible view.

Far too many pages

Far too many friendships
That I’ve let slide by.

As my mortality jolts me

As I read into it further…
I have to ask why?

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Social media postcards

Everyone is travelling
Going there and there.
With unlimited budgets
Twelve weeks of vacation
Gone without a care.

Everyone else seems to get it

That time is of the essence
As the years tread by.
Different walks of life
With uncommon passages
But similar reasons why.

Emphatic experiences

To exciting locations
At the drop of a hat.
Unbelievably available
Unrealistic, of course
But I want some of that.

So many more pages

So many more memories
for me to still get.

With age comes wisdom

With wisdom comes perspective…
but not just yet.

20160407_124745[1]
Chance encounter reminders

Of emotions long forgotten
Of passages in my book.
Resolute feelings of once was
The remnants of my passion
And the chances that I took.

“You look great for fifty”

That is kind of you to say
But it’s clearly not the same.
Just takes me back to twenty
With the world at my feet
At the top of my game.

I have no urge to act my age

I crave the reckless abandon
That I felt back then.
I need more of that feeling
More of that self-assurance
Inside of me again.

Plenty of next pages

Plenty of new stories
before this chapter ends.

Much is still in place

Much of what motivates me…
and most of those friends.

 

Wavelength

           Wavelength
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Apart in our own worlds

Regrettable but inevitable
Too much time in between.
Some texts and a phone call
Reflective two hour drive
Back to where we’ve been.

Always able to continue
Exactly where we left off
The bond will always hold.
Seamlessly joined together
Cohesive and carefree
Like yesterdays of old.

Vicarious rock and roll
Symbiotic music appreciation
Smiles and affirmative glances.
Twenty minute trade-offs

Guitars and emphatic drums
Meandering random dances.

Age irrelevant atmosphere
Perpetually young of heart
Suspended in our prime.
Reluctantly grown men
Trading personal tracks
While losing track of time.

Irreplaceable friends
Life long brothers
Taking time to play.
The comfort in knowing
That our yesterdays
Can always be today.

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Embraces and honesty
No subject we can’t broach
Confronting life with laughter.
Best men, best buddies
Beside for ups and downs
Before, during and after.

Team and battery mates

Sharing one wavelength
Signals and tell tale signs.
Uncommon commonalities
References unique to us
Through life and like minds.

Truly rewarding hours
Our innate predictability
That sense of what’s known.
The unspoken understanding
Essential and soothing
Inevitable, and our own.

Miles and hours apart
Responsibilities and reality
We make time for the game.FB_IMG_1454780080387[1]
With the sigh of our certainty
We carry on with who we are
Family, in everything but name.

Irreplaceable friends
Life long brothers
Taking time to play.
The comfort in knowing
That our yesterdays
Can always be today.

 

5,000

 

During World War II, starting in the winter of 1940-41, in and around the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in Nazi-occupied France, 5,000 Jews were sheltered…by 5,000 Christians.

The Protestant Huguenot villagers, mostly poverty-stricken themselves, protected the Jews at the risk of their own lives. Every home took in Jews, fed and protected them, right under the noses of the Gestapo. They were often hidden in the countryside when the authorities came to investigate. For four years they defied the Nazi régime and a French government that was collaborating with the Nazis. The citizens of Le Chambon sheltered these strangers, educated their children, and arranged for hundreds to flee to Switzerland or Spain via an intricate, wooded, underground escape route.

True to their beliefs, some citizens of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon penned a letter to the Nazi-influenced Vichy government, feeling spiritually obligated to admit that they were indeed sheltering Jewish refugees. They were clearly defiant in their determination to protect them – “We feel obliged to tell you that there are among us a certain number of Jews…whose only fault is to be born in another religion…We have Jews. You’re not getting them.”

No resident of Le Chambon, it is believed, ever turned away or betrayed a single Jewish refugee.

            “I do not know what a Jew is.  I know only human beings.”
André Trocmé, the Huguenot pastor of Le Chambon


5,000
They were welcomed.

Given shelter and refuge,
without hesitation,
on the edge of violence.
Protected, without question.
Given food and a future,
at the risk of everything,
in open defiance.

One life saved
For every hero
From a man
From a horrific plan
From a power
Aiming for zero

Five thousand.
Spared a hateful demise
Five thousand.
Strong and assured
Five thousand.
Sharing one single purpose
Five thousand…
And no one said a word


Hiding strangers.
Sharing what little they had,
without hesitation,
for a number of years.
A beacon of hope.
Sharing an indomitable spirit,
without reservation,
and despite their fears.

Committed, as one
For simple humanity
To do what’s right
To the preservation of life 
To an immaculate deception
In the face of the enemy

Five thousand.
Hidden amongst them
Five thousand.
Conviction, silently heard
Five thousand.
Sharing one selfless will
Five thousand…
And no one said a word

                                               Gary Greentree


Happy are those hungry and thirsty of justice…for they will be satisfied.”
-André Trocmé

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wakefield

Banner
Wakefield
A small village
A huge heart
A desperate family
A new start

Perogies, and perspective
New friends, community, drinks
The comfort in knowing
What the best in us thinks
—–

Live music for what ails me,
My spirit needing a lift
The Black Sheep beckoned
My own pre-Christmas gift

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A Weber Brother’s Christmas’…
That had to be good for my soul
I was alone, and a few hours early
 So, it would be fresh air and a stroll
—–

Intending to bide some time,
I curiously opened your door
Just looking for a unique pint
What I found,  was far more

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At first, it was exactly what I wanted
A small crowd, and ‘Perogy Night’!
Easing into the Kaffé 1870 atmosphere
Something about it, feeling just right

It didn’t take very long, however
The numbers began to grow
For live music and a fundraiser
More and more locals, I came to know

Photos Andre Forget

Kaffé 1870, Wakefield for Refugees
An awaiting host, a timely cause

A community coming together
Just like that, and just because

Words from the dedicated organizers,
A gregarious councillor, made everyone smile
The people, the closeness, the obvious warmth
My trip, already, well worth its while

Photos Andre Forget

It would become hard for me to leave
‘Godknowswhat’ was sublime
Extremely accomplished musicians
Donating their talent, and their time

I couldn’t count all of the terrific chats
I had found, in just a few hours
But, what I will never underestimate
Is community, and its obvious powers

Wakefield for Refugees sign showing $30,000 raised.

Seeing the good in so many people
And knowing, when I hear it
Experiencing your generosity

And sharing in your spirit

A raffle ticket, some Bean Fair coffee,
For my table, another round 
I had donated, but felt like the recipient
As I departed, Black Sheep bound
—–
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Two Weber hours later
After another fantastic show
It was time for me to leave
But, I didn’t really want to go

Reflecting, smiling again,
And thinking, alone in my car
About an extremely fortunate family
About just how lucky they are

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Heading home, yet feeling closer
Invigorated, inspired, alive
Accompanied by this community
For my two-hour drive

Kaffé 1870, and The Black Sheep,
The warmest of patrons, and cold beer
And Wakefield, I am grateful
That circumstance brought me here
—–

Perogies, and perspective
New friends, community, drinks

The comfort in knowing
What the best of us thinks

A close community
An open heart
A fortunate family
A new start

Banner

 

Remembered

Remembered

   I had a dentist appointment on Thursday. After I had parked my car I looked down at the ticket, and I remembered. 
   I felt a wave of anxiety come over me as I realized just where I was, and on what day. 
   I remembered, and I paused for a moment, before going up those stairs.
   I remembered, in a haze, as I sat, quiet in the dental chair.
I remembered many things in a rush of cold reality.

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I remembered that it was September the 10th.

I remembered that it was the date he died.
I remembered, thinking how fast that two years had gone by.

I remembered that this was where he had his fall.
I remembered getting the phone call at work.
I remember seeing him later that day at my sister’s.
I remembered how battered and bruised he was.
I remembered how shocked we were that he was released from emergency.
I remembered how proud and how stubborn he was.
I remembered just how much that I missed him.

I remembered two heart wrenching weeks in the hospital. 
I remembered the dedication of Dorry.1174411_721955574497380_563150802_n
I remembered the strength and humour of Gerry.
I remembered the seesaw of conversations with Tim.
I remembered the innocent sincerity of Anna and Erin.
I remembered the love and support, and soft hands of Lana.

I remembered his amazing comeback.
I remembered his helpless confusion.
I remembered when we decided to let him go.
I remembered saying goodbye.
I remembered picking out a casket.


I remembered dinner the night before the funeral
I remembered the breathtaking sky above Lake Huron.
unnamed
I remembered all of us staying at the same hotel.
I remembered the stories and drinks, smiles and tears.

I remembered what I wrote for the graveside.
I remembered that Lana had to read it for me.
I remembered my girls holding each of my hands.

I remembered, smiling, that Alec was there too.
I remembered people leaving for the airport.
I remembered saying goodbye.

I remembered looking back as we drove out of town.

As I stepped down from the chair, our dentist Dave, I am sure unaware of the date or circumstances, asked me to “say hi to the girls” for him…and he said, “I miss having your father Norm come to see me”.
Again I paused, and he knew just how much that meant as his eyes caught mine.
“Me too Dave.”  I closed the door behind me.

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