It’s been 12 days and I have missed writing here.   I have missed writing.  Truth be told, I haven’t had a spare minute to do so and I’m not even sure I do now either but what the hell.  Live dangerously eh?

How is it that life changes so quickly these days? I’ve moved out of “going to Cincinnatti” mode rather quickly and into the “what next?” mode.

What seems to be next is making sure that I am taking care of the important things in my life, like my family.  Continuing with the paternal focus of the past few months, my dad phoned me not long after the contest, in fact it was the day after my last EPIC post, the post where I listed the rewards I have reaped through this 9 month long process.  He asked me how I was doing and how I felt about what I had done.  It was really satisfying to tell him that I was at peace with everything.  The outcome, the rewards, all of it.

And then, he started to say “Well, I went to the doctor the other day….”  and started to tell me a story that we all end up hearing.  As he was talking I thought to myself “WTF???  Dad’s telling me that something is wrong with him….”  It did not compute.  I backed up from my brain as I listened and someone in my body started to cry and then tried to STOP crying and listened to my dad tell me ever so coolly and calmly that he has asbestosis and that “I imagine it will be my demise.”  (‘How incredibly fucking BRITISH is that statement?’  I thought.  ‘How stiff upper lip is THAT?  Is that not the epitome of all that is England????’)

I couldn’t believe it and I didn’t know what to say.  I just didn’t know what to say.  They don’t know how much time he has and I was afraid to ask because it’s just such a horrible question.  He’s not set to see a specialist for 3 months though so it can’t be that acute yet, Canadian health delays and all.

His older brother died of the same thing.  Manufacturing.  My dad worked at Ford for decades.  Breathing that shit in.  Working for his family.  Hell, he left England for the opportunity to do so.  It takes decades for the disease to manifest and now it has.  And I’ve not thought about it too often yet.  It doesn’t seem like a real thing.

I was on the ferry last week and I came across this book.  It was called “Dear Dad  –  from you to me  -journal of a lifetime”.  I picked it up and looked inside of it.  It has about 150 blank pages but at the top of each page there is a question like “What were your favourite childhood games?”  and “How did you meet my Mother?”  and “What do you like best about me?”  My heart started to go faster.   I thought “I have to get this for Dad.  I need to know these things.”

I felt panicked almost and then I started to cry, right there in the ferry gift shop.  My thought finished itself even though I tried to stop it. “I need Dad to do this because one day he won’t be here.  Like I always knew would happen.  Like I thought would be a very long time from now.”

But now it’s real.

When Dad asked me what I would be doing next, I told him I felt like it was time for me to write.  “I always thought that you would write a book Paula.”  Dad said.  He has said that to me more than once.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m writing a book.  I haven’t started the actual writing yet for God’s sake, but I am preparing for it.  This month is insanity-level-busy with my daughter’s first communion, three field trips, our newly dead landscaping van and my new cleaning job to pay for our new van.  My efforts to revive our Toastmasters club including a storytelling event for which I am coaching four children…etc.  My level of stupidity is just staggering sometimes.  I’m not taking on another damned thing after this month because I have MORE IMPORTANT SHIT TO DO DAMMIT!!!!

So that is what’s next.  I’ll finish the book I am reading now (Parenting with love and logic) because it needs to be read and retained.

After that, I have ordered two books that are going to help me with my story.  The first book is a memoir AND a how to write a memoir called “Writing About Your Life: A Journey Into The Past”  by the great writer William Zinsser.  This will satisfy the writer in me.

Cover of "Writing About Your Life: A Jour...

Cover via Amazon

The second is “The Message of You” by Judy Carter (former comedian, now public speaker).  This is a how to turn your life story into a money making speaking career.  This will satisfy the comedian and speaker in me.

The rest I will put out there for God to take care of as He always does, even when my faith is weak as it is now.   I need to remember what to pray for.  I need to remember to pray, period.

 

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Yes, I am indeed groovin’ again and holy cow, my speech is averaging avout 7 minutes and 20 seconds!!!!!! NO GOOD.  I dropped a short paragraph I was iffy about.  I thought it was structure, turns out it’s just wallpaper.  Gives me an extra 15 seconds.  Taped it and watched it several times- it does not interrupt the flow.  Can I get an Amen?

I am happy with this speech- I will be pleased to give it as is but I am asking God to please give me a bigger punch at the end.

Still waiting on my feedback.  Sheesh.  You’d think people had LIVES or something.

Got my best feedback so far yesterday.  Comment from my dad.  *blush*  🙂

So as you can see from my last post, I scrapped my “new and improved” speech because it sucked.  I read it to Lloyd last night and he threw about 50 darts at it.  All accurately, all painful.  In the end he was being generous.  There was no magic to the speech.  And that’s what it needs.

Magic isn’t something you can manufacture.  Otherwise I’d be freakin’ rich.  We all be rich!

I do have a completely new idea and it’s actually a pretty damned good idea.  It’s got some pretty potent magic.  Whether the SPEECH will be any good remains to be seen.  And written. So that’s what I wil be doing tonight.  ( I will also be transforming into the tooth fairy for the 3rd time in a week! Crazy!)

In the meantime, why don’t I recycle another speech for you?  It’s one of my favourites actually.  It’s a highly personal one.  If you’re my dad, you might not enjoy reading it.  If your dad is one of those dads who isn’t big on communication, this will be right up your alley.

This speech needs 2 disclaimers:

1st Disclaimer: My dad is a good honest man.  He is a hard worker; he is sacrificial; he is funny and intelligent; he is a leader in his own right.  I am proud to be his daughter and wouldn’t be the woman I am today without him.

2nd Disclaimer:  My family is in the communication arena.  Dad was in hospital radio back in England, my brother’s in radio, my sister’s a teacher and my mom likes to yell-just kidding mom!)  The irony is, for the most part, we suck at communicating with each other.

I wrote this speech after my folks had come to visit us in BC and my dad had even come to my Toastmasters meeting once which was a huge thrill for me.  Amazing how his presence made me as nervous as I had been when I first started.

This is speech # 6 and it’s focus is VOCAL VARIETY.  Damn shame you won’t be able to hear any!  LOL!  Just imagine it being varied, ok?

Delivered on August 10 2009 :

It Is What It Is

     Although my father lives 3000 miles away from me, his legacy is very present in my life.  Until very recently, I was still trying to impress him and win his approval to validate myself as a human being.  Pretty embarrassing eh?  I’m so glad I had the opportunity to introduce my dad to some of you at a Toastmasters meeting earlier this summer.  But I’m thrilled that I’m stepping out of the shadow of his approval and into the light of the Father Almighty- the one who loves me more than anyone.

 

     Fathers have such a powerful hold on our psyches.  They shape our vision of what it means to be a man.  What’s that saying?  Boys become their dads and girls marry them.  Well I did indeed marry a man very much like my father; one huge difference between them though is that I can count on one hand the number of times that my father has told me that he loves me.     That used to drive me crazy.

 

     Now first off, allow me to disarm this boo-hoo bomb.  I’m not looking for sympathy.  I know that his generation is not inclined to outbursts of affection and he’s English on top of it so he never really had a chance.  But my dad is an emotional and expressive man so it always stupefied me that he couldn’t express the most important of emotions to his firstborn child.  See, the thing is, he cries at movies.  He sobs when Manchester United beats Liverpool.  He used to grab his dog by the face and coo “Who’s the best doggie in the world then?  Oh yes, I love you Springer, I love you!” 

 

     And I’d think to myself, “What am I, chopped liver?”

 

      I’ve heard him say “I love you” to my mom, my sister and brother, all of his grandkids, Lloyd my husband and a few complete strangers after enough beers.  But for some reason, he has an enormously difficult time saying it to me.   I’d say “I love you dad” and he’d say “Thanks Paula” in return.  After a while, it hurt too much not to hear anything in return and I wanted him to know what that was like so I stopped saying it altogether.

 

     To his credit and to my shock, on the first night they arrived at our house this summer as I was going to bed, he quickly said “Love you girl.”   I somehow knew I had to treat it casually so as not to embarrass him.  “Love you too dad” I said calmly as my heart pounded and I hurriedly put that treasure in my memory box.  I wonder what prompted him to say that to me at that time.  Was it because my back was to him and he didn’t have to look in my eyes? 

 

     Like many others, I have always felt that my father has never really known who I am and wasn’t all that interested in finding out.  It could be part of what led to me acting out in so many loud and ridiculous ways throughout my life- trying to be acknowledged.  Or that could just be cheap pop psychology and me looking for an excuse for my irresponsible behaviour.  I suspect the latter.

 

     This spring, I attended a powerful spiritual retreat where I met a wise and caring older man who taught me a lot about my relationship with my dad and my relationship with God.   He convinced me that although it hurts that my parents don’t know much about who I’ve become, it has nothing to do with who I am as a person.  My choices are what make me who I am. 

 

     Waiting for my parents to affirm my self worth is as ridiculous as trying to sew a button on a lemon meringue pie.  Leaving my cup at their door or anyone’s door waiting for them to fill it up is not only senseless, it’s also unfair.  We’re all imperfect, we can’t possibly be the way we want each other to be.  Nobody on earth can fill my bottomless cup.  Only God can fill that cup the way I need it to be filled.  Generously and endlessly.  With love and hope and truth and even discipline. 

 

     I had a blast with my dad during this trip.  I decided let it all go and we just had fun.  Not to say we didn’t have a few skirmishes but it didn’t affect me like it has in the past.  His imprint is there on my psyche forever.  His work ethic.  His dedication to his wife.  His sense of humour.  His vulnerability.  His imprint is there.  It’s what I choose to do with it that’s changing. 

 

     When they were leaving a couple of weeks ago, my husband Lloyd was saying goodbye and he told my mum and dad that he loved them. 

Dad said to my husband.  “I love you too Lloyd.  You take care now.”

And I wondered, “Will he be able to say it to me?”   And I thought about not telling him so there wouldn’t be that awkward moment of non-reciprocation.  So there wouldn’t be that quick stab in my chest.  But God gave me the courage to tell him anyway.  I do love him and I know, that he loves me too whether he says it or not.       Which he didn’t.       But this time, I was ok with it.  He’s English.  He’s a boomer.  He’s my dad.  It is what it is.