Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A Math Lesson I Understand

Our youngest daughter, Madison graduated from high school last month. She’s our baby, so this significant event in her life hugely impacts mine. My chicks are almost all out of the nest and it makes me sad.

I’m happy for her, sad for me. I’m happy for her because soon she will be off to Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta to start the next chapter of her life. She has been given an athletic scholarship that covers all of her tuition for five years.
Madison was approached by coaches and scouts from twelve different universities this past year with varying scholarship offers to play hockey for their schools (mostly Canadian, a few American). I have mentioned in past blog posts that this past season, I was the trainer (safety person) for her hockey team, the Phantom, who I might add won the BC Provincial Championships this year. Being the team trainer, I was with the team in the dressing room before, during ice cleans and after games. This was advantageous when coaches and scouts came knocking on the dressing room doors. I was able to meet the coaches and ask questions and ultimately help Madison make her final decision.

Needless to say, Madison is an exceptional hockey player; she is a gifted athlete. Athletics has always been a big part of our children’s lives and they are all good at sports. They are all fast, co-ordinated and team players. I think what makes them stand out as athletes though, is their determination, commitment to train hard, listen to their coaches and try their best.
Anyway, Madison has chosen a degree program at Mount Royal that is a combination of business and sports, it’s called: Bachelor of Applied Business Entrepreneurship – Sport and Recreation. Math 12 is one of the required courses for this degree, but Madison didn’t take Math 12 this year, so Madison is taking Math 12 in summer school.

Math was my worst subject; Mike’s too. So our poor children, falling not far from the tree have never done that well in math either. I probably don’t need to paint a picture, but Madison was stressed out right away. She was worried and afraid that she would fail. She was questioning her decision about the program she has chosen, she was talking like she was a failure and that was just the first week of the four week course.
During the second week, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope. While she was studying her math one day after school, she told us how the teacher had said to the students that if they listened and tried their best, they would pass his class. Madison was listening, she was trying her best…it’s like the simplest math equation – one plus one equals a pass.

I keep thinking about what the teacher said and wonder if his students didn’t learn more in that one lesson than they will in all the math lessons of summer school this summer. I think it’s very wise and valuable advice we should all follow. Whether in sports, academics, work, relationships or whatever, if we listen and do try our best, surely we will succeed.
As Mike’s primary care giver it’s a good reminder that if I listen (pay attention) and try my best, I will do well at the job I never in a million years thought I’d be doing. And as a Christian, I apply the same principal to my relationship with the Lord and I think of Luke 11:28, which says, But even more blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice. (New Living Translation)

Two pictures taken from two news paper articles. Top - Madison in action. Bottom - Madison (in front) with friends Payge and Emily.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Divine Intervention

It’s obvious I’ve been slacking off in the ‘blog’ department lately. It’s not for lack of material; it’s more an issue of time and focus. In fact, I have lots of ideas, I actually write blogs every day…in my head that is.

Anyway, I have a list of things to write about: this one being at the top of my list. I call it: Divine Intervention.
I mentioned in my last post that some family members came out from Toronto to participate in the ALS walk and spend some time with us. Mike’s dad George, his sister Aileen, her husband Ross and our brother in law, Gary stayed a week and Mike’s mum Sheila and sister, Pat stayed for two.

It was evident right off the bat that they all wanted to help.  They were looking for things to do for us. It didn’t take long and the guys were busy with some home repairs, the girls were cooking and they all were fussing over Mike…it was great. They wouldn’t let me do anything for them, I didn’t cook a meal, I didn’t drive anyone anywhere I just enjoyed their company and delighted in watching them dote on Mike.
It was hard to say good bye to the four that left after a week, and great to keep the other two for a little while longer. Pat continued to take care of Mike and look out for her mum. She has a gift of caring for people and whatever Mike needed he got including more of her home cooked meals – shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, lasagne and spaghetti sauce (our freezer is full…I should say half full now).

I knew Pat and Sheila weren’t going to let me do anything for them, and with Pat busy trying to take care of everyone, all I could do was pray that the Lord would meet her needs, whatever those needs might be. And this is how I believe the Lord answered that prayer the very next day:
Mike had his appointment with the ALS team at GF Strong and Pat came along. It worked out well because this appointment only happens every three months. On our way to GF Strong, Pat mentioned how she had really hoped to go out to UBC (University of British Columbia) while she was here. She explained that she had been following the ALS research of a Doctor Neil Cashman who did his research at the university. Her and Aileen have spent hours most days since Mike was diagnosed investigating ALS.

When we got to GF Strong we had to wait, which is unusual. While we were chatting in the waiting area, Pat noticed Dr. Cashman’s name on the list of doctor’s names on the door of the ALS centre. She said she had no idea his office was at GF Strong. She said if she had known, maybe some how she could have arranged to meet him while we were there. We discussed how the chances of a busy doctor and researcher being there and available when we were going to be there, would be slim.
A minute or two later, a very pleasant looking man with silver hair came out of an office to greet a couple who were standing at the reception desk. Pat had her eye on this guy and after the group of three went back into the office, Pat said, ‘’I’m pretty sure that’s him!’’ She said she had seen his picture so many times on the research articles she has read on the internet, she should know him anywhere.

Her face lit up and I could tell that meeting this man would make her day. So I went and asked the receptionist if the pleasant looking man with the silver hair was in fact Dr. Cashman. She confirmed it was. I told the receptionist that my sister-in-law had been following his research and would love to meet him. I asked her if perhaps he had a few minutes during our three hour appointment to meet Pat. She had a look at his schedule and said he did a little later.
While the physiotherapists were working with Mike, Pat and I snuck out of the examination room we were in and went to see if Dr. Cashman was available. We could see his image through the tainted glass in his office and could tell he was alone. I asked someone working there if they could please knock on his door and ask him if he had a few minutes to meet Pat. Just then, Mike’s doctor, Dr. Krieger approached me with some questions and Pat disappeared. She was off to meet the guy she had earlier said she wished she could to meet. (I love it when wishes come true)

When she returned, she was beaming and I think she was walking on air as well. When our examination room cleared and while we waited to see the last person we were to see (the speech therapist), Pat was happy to tell us about her impromptu meeting with Dr. Cashman. She told us that he said he was feeling very positive about the results of the latest drug being tested. He said that the results will be public information in December and the drug itself will probably be available in the New Year. She told us about the rest of their conversation and about the hug he gave her and how nice he was. In the five minutes they spent together, Pat’s hope for her little brother had been renewed. That was all this concerned sister needed.
Later in the car on the way home, I told her that there was no way we could have made that meeting happen if we tried. I suggested that the Lord made all the arrangements behind our backs…she smiled and agreed (I think she smiled all the way home). With excitement we talked about it again and again for the rest of the week. Pat kept saying what a nice guy the doctor was and she called the meeting a ‘divine intervention’. We just smiled and agreed.

                                                                       Mike and sister Pat

                                                                           Sheila and Mike