Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hope soars

I had an overwhelming feeling of despair and despondency the day we found out the results of Dad's surgery.  It didn't hit immediately, but after about ten minutes of processing what we had just heard, wave after wave of grief started to slap up against my heart.

Two things happened that soothed my sadness.  First of all, Marcel sent an email that offered a bright ray of hope, saying that Dad has a better than average chance of beating the cancer as he has taken such extraordinary care of himself over his years.  (Marcel is my first cousin, a family physician from Ontario)  Secondly, I started to feel more optimistic when Dad emerged from the anesthetic fog, looking and sounding more like himself.

It ended up being the first time all my brothers and sisters had been together since the Doré reunion in Vernon about 5 years ago.  It was an unfortunate circumstance for a long overdue get together, but it was still nice to catch-up, re-connect.

Lisa, Mom and Dad the day after the surgery
Being home for this important transition in Mom and Dad's life was important.  It felt right to drop everything on a dime and dash back to Kamsack.

I've been back in Fort McMurray for a full week now, after a 3250 kilometre round trip, enough time to catch up on over one thousand emails, phone messages and issues that never stop.  After several hours today of reviewing, filing and deleting, I should be caught up.

While Dad's health challenges absorbed much of November, the month was book-ended by two wonderful events.  Heather and I attended the annual Keyano College Foundation Gala to start things off, enjoying our community's most spectacular party with twelve hundred guests.  Frankly, I think Heather was perfectly radiant that evening, more stunning than ever.  Her health has been amazing in recent months as you can probably see from the glow of her cheeks.

Baby Giroux born on November 30, 2011
I was on my way to the annual Student Awards celebration at the college to close out the month as Claude and Tiffany made their way to the hospital in North Vancouver.  While I began announcing the names of the recipients, beautiful Baby Giroux (no name selected yet) popped into the world, a girl, as both Heather and I predicted quite assuredly just a few days earlier.  Mother and baby are doing well, with Tiffany's Mom up in support from northern California.

Sunrise on November 27, 2011
Winter has settled in Wood Buffalo after Chinook winds blew threw the province last week, even this far north.

Getting ready to turn on The Lights of Christmas to start the parade
Ben and I rode the municipal float in the annual Santa Claus Parade to officially kick-off the holiday season.  It was a mild evening in the great scheme of things, but sitting on a metal park bench on a flat bed with the cold wind blowing proved to be a chilling experience.  Ben was a trooper though, and after we got him into the warm environs of the car, his private parts thawed quickly.

Earlier this week it was great to see Ben win a Student of the Month award at his school.  When his name was called he jumped up and ran to the front to accept his certificate from the Principal and congratulations from his brother, who was in the receiving line in his role as Vice President of the Student Council of Dr. Clark School.  Dylan must be enjoying the responsibility because he's already starting to talk about running for President next year.

Heather came back from our Edmonton trip with her little car jammed with new shelving from IKEA for her yoga studio.  She has spent the better part of a week putting them all together and creating a vibrant and compelling display of her line of retail products.  Sales starting picking up almost immediately, as presentation is everything.  There is no question that she is maximizing the use of the limited amount of space that she has in the basement.  It looks very impressive.

I live a very transparent life as I'm sure you know.  To look back and recall the events of a certain month, all I really need to do is go to my blog website and read to remember.

With several of my Council colleagues at the KD Gala
The post that was the most read in November and the 6th most read of the past two years is Cameron's Story.  During the Kraft Dinner Gala in support of our Centre of Hope a few weeks ago, a homeless drug addict shared his story.  It's worth a read if you have a few minutes.

For Greg, Kristina, Maggie and others interested in drama I would suggest reading about our Legion Blues experience.  We enjoyed a most amazing live HOME theatre performance that we'll never forget.

With Kenny Shields at the pre-Gala reception
I wrote about meeting Kenny Shields, lead singer of Streetheart and the uncle of two boys that I babysat in Kamsack back in about 1982. The band was in Fort McMurray to perform at Gala.

Finally, I waxed eloquent about our former Farnsworth boat anchor, otherwise known as our 100-pound television that was replaced last week by a 42" flat screen early Christmas present.

Dad out for a walk the day after surgery
When you are staring up at a daunting mountain face, it is so easy to give up, to acquiesce to the fear, to stop the journey forward.  Dad came out of his surgery and instantly started to find his first foothold, starting to tackle his mountain.  When the nurses asked him to wiggle his feet, he wiggled his feet.  When they asked him to walk, he walked. When they told him that the cancer had spread to his liver, he wanted to get home to start reading up on the liver, and what he could do to get better.

I hate to use the word fighter, as I don't want characterize this journey as a battle, but Dad is giving it everything he's got.  Hope soars, courage reigns.

We are so grateful for all the prayers, kind wishes, and every form of connectivity offered, from phone calls and visits to Facebook posts and email messages.  I can't speak for Dad, but I sense that he has been uplifted by the outpouring of kindness and love.

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