A Fireside Chat?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thoughts on Dad

The morning that my Dad died, Cath was sitting in the studio and she noticed a small bird that she had not noticed in our garden before. It was a small black bird with a brilliant orange beak and orange tips on its wings.

At about the same time I was looking out at the front gardens and noticing all of the new blooms and for a moment I was overwhelmed with such a strong sense of my Dad's presence that I knew at once that my dreams of bringing him to Mexico, where we live now, had become a reality. He was here with us. He lingers still.

I recognize that my Dad's body was worn out and that try as he might to keep it functioning it became increasingly harder for him to maintain his life's work as husband, father, grandfather, friend, advisor, caretaker and so many other roles that he played throughout his life. It was time to give up his earthly existence so that from heaven he might still watch over all of us.

With his passing those of us whom he loved without reservation are charged with the simplest task of keeping his spirit alive through remembering. Memory will be aided, if we allow it, by the feeling of that first warm breeze of spring on our faces as we look towards the sunshine, the source of all renewal. He will be behind the force that stands the hair on the back of your neck when you witness extraordinary, often impossible, events that have the capacity to move the human spirit in solitary celebration. I believe that these moments are gifts of life sent to us by those departed souls who have loved us in life. They are sent in forms that the muses of music, poetry, art, and humor would approve to still us for a moment as we absorb the message: I am still here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Never without a camera!

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My Dad 1924 - 2009

This morning, January 23, 2009, after a life well lived, Howard Duncan Miller left us to take up his place in heaven following a courageous battle with failing health.

Howard was a Veteran who served his country during WWII with the Canadian Navy, and was later employed by Imperial Oil until his retirement. He was an amateur photographer who spent much of his free time on the banks of the St. Clair River, in all kinds of weather, photographing the freighters that sailed the great lakes.

He is survived by his much loved and devoted wife, Jean and his children: Jennifer and Cathy Broderick-Miller, Jacquie and Fred Jackson, Marlene and David Black, Michael and Lona Miller, and Mary Miller and Michel L'Heureux. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Derek & Darryl Jackson, Amanda Madere, Catherine and Justine Miller, Mathieu & Brianne L’Heureux and 10 great grandchildren and Emma the cat.

About forty years ago the Beatles released "Yellow Submarine". It was our Dad's favorite song at the time and although he did not sing, at least not in front of people, he could often be heard whistling the tune: "So we sailed up to the sun till we found the sea of green and we lived beneath the waves in our yellow submarine. . ."

He is now free to sail to the sun and though it pains us to say goodbye we are grateful for an end to his suffering. We are all stronger for having witnessed the courage, the loyalty and the love my parents shared particularly in these last few years when Dad struggle with failing health.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Romance Language Goes to the Dogs or Romancing el Perro

I believe that Spanish qualifies as one of the recognized Romance Languages as it has its roots in Latin. In any case Ayelish, our second youngest Wheaten, has become enchanted with the Spanish speaking Veterinarians at the clinic where she has become a weekly visitor.

By now I am sure that many of you know that Ayelish had a cancerous tumor removed the week before Christmas and started chemo immediately after. I hasten to add that her prognosis, with chemo, is very good and although it breaks our hearts every week while we sit with her during her treatment, she seems to be handling it well with few side effects. She will not loose her hair and other than a restless night the day of chemo, and some feverishness she is holding up well under treatment.

But for those of you who know “Ayelish the Nut” you would be amazed at the changes in her demeanor. Until recently her most notable characteristics were trembling or hiding behind either Cath or I, or at the very least looking as if, given the chance, she might skidder off to hide under a table or behind a chair at the approach of a stranger. These traits have not vanished entirely but nevertheless I have often wondered these last weeks if her Mexican veterinarians have preformed a lobotomy on the girl during the removal of her tumor.

When we first decided to pursue the chemo therapy option I worried that she might have to be sedated before each session. This was necessary before her surgery to keep her calm before they got started. I expressed my concerns and reminded the vet of her neurosis and her fear of EVERYTHING and he quickly, and kindly, invited us to stay for the treatment and has allowed her to sit in her stroller for the hour long session.

Now, each week, Ayelish sits in her stroller under the spell of a wonderful technician who administers the potion that will hopefully make her well again, and speaks to her in Spanish while stroking her face. And all the while mi muchacha Hermosa sits attentive, romanced by the softly spoken Spanish words of encouragement; she gazes into their eyes with a look of absolute trust while Cath and I fight tears.
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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another year older and what have I done?

In less than an hour it will be 2009.

It barely seems like a blink ago that we were in our shop doing the annual inventory and at intervals, agonizing over what to do about retirement. It wasn’t a case of not wanting to retire. No. I could barely contain the gleeful thoughts of freedom that I anticipated with the finish of my working life. The concern was the affect that following our hearts might have on other people, our family, our friends and our staff.

Robert Louis Stevenson said: “We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend”.

I have been lucky. I have a few honest friends who finally helped me to recognize that, no matter what we chose to do, in the end the world would continue to spin and no one would be any the worse for our choosing that road less travelled.

It isn’t that I have ever felt indispensible but most of my working years were spent in a position of responsibility in terms of other’s financial futures. Because of this I took that task so seriously that it became an albatross that threatened to sour the pleasure and contentment that I have always enjoyed during the many years of working with people, most of whom I had come to regard as friends.

It was not an easy decision. In fact it was much harder than I could ever have expected. Although I had anticipated some emotional upheaval when it came time to make the announcement, I was absolutely stymied at the reactions of a few. But that’s where true friends make everything bearable. Someone once said that a good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.

Tonight, as I sit here waiting for the clock to send us chasing after another year, I have been thinking about my absolute good fortune. I have been blessed by family and friends who have cared enough to let me go and who have promised to keep a light in the window for my return. I am grateful for your wisdom and excellent counsel, for your patience and kindness, for your unending sense of humor which is probably the most important ingredient in the foundation of our friendship, and most of all for your love; I hope to always earn it.


This is MY Giraffe and I don't want it Packed!


Soon to be Our Home on Wheels