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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

18/11/2013 10:36

Do you find that there are certain times of the year that you stop & take a step back & look at the past year or few months?  In a natural way, I found that I do just this twice a year:  in November & in February. 

Since it is November right now, my mind is doing an account of how things have been going since last February.  How do things look differently & how are things the same?  We may both be asking ourselves this question right now.

Every single person who knows me is very aware that November is Diabetes Awareness month.  You may find this to be true of you too if you have diabetes too.  What does November represent potentially?  It can bring up a myriad of feelings within us that’s for sure.  Perhaps we find ourselves remembering struggles throughout the year with our blood sugars & how this dominoes into other struggles.  Let’s face it, or call it exactly what it is & that is a 24-7 monkey on the back of sorts.  There’s no time off for “good behavior” & so often a person can do everything “right” & still get punishing blood sugar results.  The spiritual strength that I have built in the last 6 years surprises me.  The strength comes from so many sources including:  personal spiritual devotion, family support, compassion & caring from friends & Battle Buddies, from reading positive books, art & nature to name a wee list.

With my D-versary coming up this November 29th, this year marks 6 years living with type 1 diabetes.  There have been days that have tested every bit of my strength yet there has always been enough strength even when I have questioned where it will come from.  A good part of it is that I don’t “go it alone” anymore.  I did try that early on in my diagnoses however let’s just say that it did not go well. That does not mean to say that others know if an especially trying day is happening.  They may or may not.  You know in army lingo, there are reserves.  Well, I believe in strength reserves.

What if I told you that with all my heart I believe that I was given the gift of strength reserves from family members who are no longer here on earth?  Have you experienced that unmistakable knowledge that someone was put on your path to give you the gift of example that will be with you always?  My heart hopes so.

November is a profound time of honour as it is the month that we each get to say a bold thank-you to our war veterans past & present for the sacrifice that they gave & give for us.  Although it is extremely difficult to imagine the sacrifice made for us, I try to find ways to honour our soldiers.  How would you feel if your Grandpa at age 18 somehow through immeasurable odds against this left letters written home during World War 1 & you got the gift of treasuring them always?  It is indescribable.  Three years ago, my Grandpa M’s letters from the war found their way to my Dad.  Although my Grandpa died when I was just 2 years old, there is a love that he left behind & wisdom & an endless fountain of strength that is the most beautiful gift.  You know you get to know someone pretty fast when you go through something huge together.  For instance, perhaps you go on a trip or adventure with someone or you press yourself in a marathon together & succeed.  That could not even hold a small candle to how it would be being in the trenches fighting in a war.  And I quickly “met” & got to know the core of my 18 year old Grandpa through his letters.  And it has come to me more times than I can count that if at 18 he could fight in a war, sustain injuries that impacted the rest of his life yet he kept the spirit of strength, determination & love of family then I can do this too.  For me, type 1 diabetes is a battle & yes, it is a constant battle but it is not a war.  Grandpa passed on enough strength for me to fight every single day & to realize that I am far more than my body or anything that is happening to it. 

One of Grandpa’s letters that had a bit of humour in it that I got a chuckle out of was his mention of going to tea & he included the age of the ladies & referred to them as “old dames”.  Those words made me laugh for many reasons.  First of all, the age he referenced was exactly the age I was as I read his letters.  Secondly, I needed to put this into perspective as he was writing as a teenager still.  Some things haven’t changed as I now find our sons referring to their parents as “old.”  And finally, I laughed because even with the living hell all around him, he found a way to give his sisters back home a wee laugh.  And it would be remiss of me if I did not say that he merely mentioning tea makes me smile.

My grandpa has sent strength to every single person in my family in exact ways that we each needed.  When I was almost 3 years old, my Dad was in a terrible car accident.  He was thrown from the car & sustained critical injuries.  He was found by a fisherman.  For sure Grandpa sent that fisherman.  Grandpa was a fisherman through & through & had a passion for fishing.  Our youngest son is passionate too about fishing & now he goes with his Grandpa, my Dad.  I believe that my Grandpa looked over my Dad as he healed from the car accident.  And he gave him strength.  And my Dad does not complain yet I am acutely aware that he sustained injuries in his early 20’s that have remained with him through his whole life too.  But like my Grandpa, he lives the knowledge that he is so much more than a physical being.  To say that I am profoundly proud of Grandpa & my Dad is a huge understatement.  I remind myself daily that I come from that stock of strength. 

Several times, I have had the joy of sharing stories of my Grandpa Brown too & it is a lifelong honour to be one of his grandchildren.  Grandpa Brown courageously faught in WW2.  He retained the nickname "Sarge" when he returned home & everyone called him this with a grin as large as Grandpa's.  I had the blessing of seeing the example of a courageous, strong, humourous, kind, hard working, compassionate person that my Grandpa was for 13 years.  In those years, he could not have known the impact that he would leave in the living legacy of love.  He taught through humble example rather than words.  I think that Grandpa could see a developing intensity within me & he found ways to help me to see that not everything was representative of the sky falling.  Here’s an example.  When I was in grade 1, somehow when it was time to go to library class, rather than go from one building to the one next door, I kept walking all the way to my babysitter’s house at 10 in the morning.  When I realized that I had “broken out of school” by mistake, I was turning myself inside out.  As soon as Grandpa heard about this happening he laughed & laughed until it became contagious, lifted me up onto his knee & simply said, “forget about it Saundie.”  That I think was the beginning of a lifelong lesson that Grandpa instilled in me of keeping perspective, laughing at my human mistakes, rejecting the dramatic approach to life & realizing that some things are simply not worth worrying about.  Grandpa taught me the grace of absolutely seeing things for what they were & he set me on a straight path of living out my life based on what matters most.  He got “it” because he had it.  Grandpa was comfortable everywhere he went & he made everyone laugh big time.  The cool thing about Grandpa was that he was humourous yet wise, humble, gentle & sensitive at the same time.  Just a wink from him made you feel like as Grandpa would say, “the bee’s knees!”  Grandpa taught me in a very special way that I can choose my thoughts that I can choose to laugh at myself, to be absolutely comfortable being myself and that there is strength in all of these things.  My heart was absolutely safe with him & I am smiling right now as I picture him smiling.  He was a joyful person & it rubbed off big time.

November.  November is a month that is one of incredible gratitude most of all for the honour of standing on the shoulders of these Dear Heart Giants of heroes that I proudly call Grandpa M & Grandpa B.  Yes, November also marks 6 years with type 1 diabetes.  I think that was no ironic happening somehow.  There is no way that I would be diagnosed with this & not be also provided with the strength in body & spirit to “do battle” with diabetes & win.  After all, I received strength from 2 soldiers.

My heart’s hope is that you also know that you have a profound reserve of strength.

Smiles, Saundie :)

This was an especially heartfelt honour to share both Grandpa's & the legacy of strength & love that lives on forever.  May you have such sources of strength too in your life always.  Next Monday's sharing is "Finishing the Race Amongst Cheers & Jeers."  :)