Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kelly-Anne and Mickey

I thought about this picture today...Kelly-Anne at Disneyworld on New Year's Eve in the late 1990's. She was there for a waterpolo tournament and the team celebrated the New Year with Mickey and friends. I am so glad she had that special New Year's eve.

Happy New Year to one and, happiness, love, peace & friendships.....that is all we really need.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It just wouldn't be Christmas without traditions

From today's Gazette. This story touched my heart and I would like to share it with you.

By Marian Scott, The Gazette

December 24, 2008

Every December, Heather Summerhayes Cariou gets out her dog-eared cookie recipe, puts on some Yuletide music and bakes golden shortbread stars.
The holiday ritual brings back happy memories of making Christmas treats with her younger sister, Pam, who died 28 years ago of cystic fibrosis at age 26.
“I put her picture on the counter when I’m baking,” said Cariou, author of Sixtyfive Roses, A Sister’s Memoir.
“I didn’t see any reason for the ritual to end (when she died).”
Whether it’s leaving out milk and cookies for Santa or preparing a treasured family recipe, traditions provide comfort and continuity in a changing world, said Donald Taylor, a professor of social psychology at McGill University.
“What Christmas traditions do is serve as symbolic anchors, whether it’s special cookies or going skating on Christmas day,” Taylor said.
“Whatever it is, these traditions are hugely important.”
The joy of Christmas can seem like a sick parody when you’re trudging wearily through the mall as yet another canned rendition of Little Drummer Boy blares, or doing hand-to-hand combat at the tree lot. “There is the huge pressure of running around and shopping,” lamented Taylor.
Yet, come Dec. 24, the time-honoured customs are dusted off once more: the special dishes only used at Christmas, the treetop angel your son made in Grade 3, the sausage stuffing without which Christmas dinner just wouldn’t taste right.
“We may not even know it, but when we arrive at them, these are the things that settle us,” said Taylor.
Once again, Dad will drive the kids crazy by taking forever to eat his pancakes on Christmas morning, since opening presents only starts after breakfast. Once more, the same familiar faces gather around the table and everyone pronounces this year’s tree the best ever.
“The more the world is fast-paced, the more these traditions become anchors of predictability for us,” said Taylor.
Rituals provide reassurance when global financial troubles loom and the newly elected government teeters on the brink of defeat.
They persist even when economic uncertainty takes a toll on holiday shopping. Analysts predict this year will go down as the worst Christmas in years for retailers because of the global downturn. In fact, when consumerism declines, the essence of the holiday shines through.
“My family lived through wars and displacement, but the breaking of bread was always there,” said Addie Ciebien, a Gazette reader who shares her Polish traditions in the accompanying article (see above)
And that saying about how Christmas is only for little kids? Taylor doesn’t buy it.
“The 19-year-old is rough and tough and anti-authority, but you’ve still got to put out the milk and cookies for Santa,” he said. “He hopes Mom and Dad will do it, so he doesn’t have to ask.”
For writer Cariou, whose sister’s death still seems like yesterday, Christmas routines provide solace.
“The holidays can be difficult,” she said.
“If you can develop a joyful ritual, it’s comforting.”
So deck the halls and roast the chestnuts.
Whip up the hard sauce and stuff the stockings.
Whether your holiday includes sweet potato pie studded with mini-marshmallows or making angels in the snow, honour those traditions. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

This morning I continued one of my Christmas traditions which is making shortbread cookies....the really thing. For years I tried to master the art of shortbread but failed. One day a dear neighbour who passed on shortly before Kelly-Anne decided that she would teach me, Kelly-Anne and Kim how to make shortbread. In other words she would divulge her secret recipe for the perfect cookie.

I can remember that Saturday morning many years ago as if it were today. We three sat in her kitchen with ingredients at hand and had the privilege to learn from the finest baker around.

We learnt that day the trick is in the kneading.... I won't tell you anymore than that !!

Today I remember Joyce, her humor, her love of life, her baking....oh those rum balls so many of the neighbours would remember. We could get tipsy just from eating them!

Christmases past with traditions that continue on. I hope that you will share your traditions with others that mean alot to you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Road Trip

Early December I traveled to Ontario with the White Tigers to speak to teenagers across the province about abusive relationships. In Kelly-Anne words , she would of declared this voyage as a "road trip". I can tell you that we sure did see alot of highways especially in the dark!

I was able to tell my story and that of Kelly-Anne's to close to 2,000 teenage girls and women. Each time I spoke, the reaction in each city was the same, not a sound was heard in the conference rooms. All eyes were fixated on me and as I looked at the girls...some cried silently. The silence told me that my audience was absorbing my story and that they were feeling my pain. The questions afterwards were incredible...some I really had to think about my answers.

Questions like do I believe in capital punishment. What would I say to parents who are having a difficult time with their daughters who are in abusive relationships. What am I going to do in insure that Kelly-Anne's murderer stays in prison forever.

The week was emotional. I met great police officers and wonderful young people who came up to me to talk and tell me about themselves. I love speaking out and feel that I am planting seeds with theses young women. I hope that they never forget me, Kelly-Anne or our story and that they will make the right decisions if ever faced with an abusive partner that they will get our of the relationship without any fear of repercussion.

Next conferences USA: April 2009
Canada east coast: May 2009

I`m just going to do it....nothing can stop me from spreading the word!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Ring

Here's a story which I would like to share with you. Shortly after Kelly-Anne was murdered, we started to go through her belongings. As you are aware Kelly-Anne had just come back from Italy. One day we were going through her makeup bag and found this particular ring. It was just a plan sliver band with a tiny zircon stone in the centre. The ring looks very old and I am sure there that there is alot of history behind it. I tried it on and to my surprise it fitted me perfectly.

Kelly-Anne was the type of person that would carry the oddest of things in her makeup bag. She was a very sentimental person and little trinkets like matches that her father and I had ordered for our wedding in 1977 were in this bag. There were countless elastics for her hair too.
Embedded below everything was this ring. Did Kell find it in the sand on the beach in Viareggo? Did someone give it to her? These are questions which I most probably will never have the answers for. So many unanswered questions. I never got the chance to sit face to face with Kell after her trip to really talk about her adventure.

I pray that one day I will be able to retrace her trip to Italy. I believe I need to make that step in order to continue my healing. I feel that there are some answers for me in Italy. It's not just about this's what she saw, her experience, I need to feel it.

A Mother's Endless Love

Today, I gathered with many others to say goodbye to Ray. She is the mother of my dear friend Gloria. Gloria is one of these friends that is always there...through thick or thin...her son Richard was a good friend of Kelly-Anne and is it because of them that Gloria and I became friends.

I sat at Paperman's and was so touched how Gloria's sister, brother and niece paid tribute to this incredible women. She was the epitome of motherhood. We were told that sometimes she would cook a different meal for each of her four children along with her husband 's meal on the same day as she wanted to be sure that her children would be happy and have what they liked the best. Her son talked of his mother's love for cooking and the home. Ray cared about everyone and was so proud of her grandchildren and their accomplishments. As I listened to the testimonies, I couldn't help think of my own mother Alyce. She too loved and cared for her family and loved to cook. Ray and Alyce should of been friends.
" Motherhood is priced
Of God, at price no man dare
To lessen or misunderstand"
- Helen Hunt Jackson
Rest in peace Ray. Your worked has been valiantly completed on earth. Now it is your time to rest in God's house.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

In twelve days it will be Christmas Day. Today Jules, Kim and I went early morning Christmas shopping. We headed out early thinking that we could beat the crowds...well everybody else on the West Island seemed to have the same idea. Most of the shopping had already been's not like we have alot of people to buy for.

For the last four years, I have had the tendancy to go into a store in December and try not to notice the Christmas fanfare...the decorations etc. I try to block it out of my brain...if that makes any sense. I just go through the motions, ignoring the music from the PA system and the Santa sitting in the middle of the mall waiting for the young ones to appear. I remember walking into HomeSense last Christmas and breaking down into tears at the display of beautiful Christmas table ware, thinking how Kelly-Anne would love to see all this and partake of the holiday season activities.

Life is so unfair. The Christmas tree will go up tomorrow. More tears will be shed as Kelly-Anne's Christmas balls will adorn the tree. It 's those Christmas memories of Christmas past that will bring a smile to my face. Remembering Kelly-Anne and her last minute touches to her gifts, as she would sit in the back seat of the car on the way to a cousin's house for a Christmas party working on her balls and wrapping them. It's like is was just yesterday.

Her last gift to Jules and I was a pass card for the museum in Montreal. The theme was the 60's and she thought that we would enjoy an outing. Her gifts were always different and well thought out.

Today , on the first of the twelve days before Christmas, my wish to all of you is to have peace in yours hearts. To those that walk in my shoes, my wish for you is that you keep the fond memories of your loved ones who have gone before you because of murder alive this hoilday season.

Remembering :

Theresa A. Sharron P. Julie B. Aidan L.Tanya B. Tammy S. Valerie A. Suzanne F. Tina P. Brigitte S. Matthew K. Julie S. Isabelle B. Debbie K. Melanie M. Ana Maria S. Jeremy B. Paul S. Kostas P. Raymond E.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dance Like No One's Watching

Here's a little message which I would like to share with you. Many of you may of already read this, but I believe we have to sometimes remind ourselves of this........

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we are frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D'Souza. He said " For a long time it had seemed to be that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness.

Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have, and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time...and remember time waits for no one....

So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds,until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids,until your kids leave the house, until you start work,until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home,until you are off welfare, until your car of home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall,until winter until you bare off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you sobered up, until you've decided that there is no better time than right now to be happy...Happiness is a journey, not a destination!!

Thought for the day:
Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching.

Kelly-Anne's Birthday Party

November 28th brought about many mixed emotions. It would have been Kelly-Anne's 29th birthday. Over 80 people gathered to remember Kelly-Anne at the Dollard des Ormeaux Aquatic Centre. We snacked on great hor oeuvres from Le Tambour passed around by inspiring young lifeguards. Awards were given to the lifeguards who were involved in competitions throughout the year. Over $ 6, 500.00 was raised. This money will go towards training, equipment and travel for the athletics.

Kelly-Anne was remembered by a beautiful video and a slide show created by her friends Caroline and Martin.I can see that Kelly-Anne's spirit continues to inspire many of her friends.

I am sure that Kelly-Anne thinks that it is " interesting" ( she loved that word) to know that she still even in her death continues have birthday parties.

My dear cousin Barbara goes out of her way to collect gift donations for the occasion while Kim and I sold many of our Christmas Balls.

The ambiance, wine and company left me with a warm heart. Many thanks to Martin, Antoine D and Antoine O for being the kind spirited young men who worked earnestly together to make the evening special.