Sunday, 28 April 2013

It's all Relative

Madison is home. First year university, accomplished! It was a tough year, but she did it and we are really proud of her. Madison wasn’t happy being away from her family. And when she left for university, last August, we were packing up the family home; our house was sold and we had already moved to my sister’s house (see blog post 'Home Sweet Home'). Plus, we were looking for new homes for her beloved pets: her cats, Professor Fluffy and Pepsi and her dog, Molly. I can’t imagine how tough that was for her.

It was love at first sight when Madison found Molly on line. Madison searched for the perfect pouch after grieving the loss of her first dog, Isla (I have blogged about both dogs – ‘Separation Anxiety’ and ‘A Girl’s Best Friend’). Mike couldn’t understand why we would go to Bellingham, Washington to adopt a dog. He kept asking why we would go to the United States for a dog, when there was a pound just a few miles away. He stopped asking when we brought Molly home and he met our adorable new puppy for himself…and fell in love.
Madison was only a few weeks away from finishing her first year of university when she surprised us and came home for the Easter long weekend. She caught a ride with some friends and showed up wearing blue bunny ears, carrying a basket of chocolate. It was a wonderful surprise and on the second day of her three and a half day visit, Nathan came over and said he was going to call Christian and arrange a visit with Molly.

Christian is Nathan’s friend. They became friends in grade 8 and one day shortly after, they figured out that they were cousins as well…kind of. Christian was over at our house and saw a picture on the fridge and asked Nathan why we had a picture of his cousins on our refrigerator (a Christmas picture of my cousin Sean’s children). Nathan told him that they were his cousins. Turned out that Christian’s mom and I had the same aunt and uncle. Her dad’s brother married my mom’s sister…Auntie Marguerite and Uncle Trevor. Tragically, Uncle Trevor died in a plane crash many years ago when their fourth child and only girl was just a baby. Now, their three sons and daughter are in their thirties and forties and have beautiful families of their own…Uncle Trevor would be extremely proud!
Anyway, Molly lives with Christian and his mom and dad, Alison and Raj and brother Taylor. The Hardie family is Molly’s new family and Nathan felt it was time Madison (and me and Mike) saw Molly, it had been way too long since our last visit. When Nathan hung up with Christian, he said, “Let’s go!” and we were off to see Molly.

Molly was happy to see us, but it was apparent, she was a full-fledged Hardie. They were her people now and she loved them the way she loved us when she lived in our house. And the Hardies love her. Molly is their dog now and we are really happy for all of them. Shortly after Molly moved in with the Hardie’s, in a message from Raj, he said, “Molly has been a blessing. A smile that’s been missing from our faces since our Golden Retriever, Max died.”
It’s a unique friendship for sure. Not only do we share the same relatives, we share the same love for a wonderful dog, but even more than all that, we share the same illness; ALS. Alison’s dad had ALS.

One day not long ago, Alison sent me a lovely message, including three poems her mom wrote years ago. I was overcome with emotion because reading the poems was like reading a portion of my own heart. I didn’t know Alison’s mom, Judy (I might have met her when I was a child), but now I feel I know her well.
With permission from Alison, Judy’s poems:

May 15 - Me: A brave façade. A stiff upper lip. I am tough and I keep my pain well hidden. But the smallest of things reveal my fragile self. My body betrayed with unexpected tears. A kind word.  A remembered melody.  The sound of a bird in the morning. There should be joy in the morning.

May 26 - We: Last night I held you. I ran my hands over your back; your body is frailer now. No, frail is not the right word...less robust. I saw the obscene twitching of nerves on your back and know it is spreading when you touch me. Your fingertips are cool, your touch so delicate, but I know this is the new you. And can you still feel me?
July 23 - Going Backwards: You walk unsteadily carefully planting. One foot before the other. You eat uncertainly, grasping with difficulty the fork and the spoon. You speak haltingly each word carefully chosen: Simple, monosyllabic. You cry unabashedly. Heart on sleeve.  At a moment’s whim.  Body behaving like a child's. Heart and mind: still you.

Alison went on to say in her message, making me cry even more and laugh out loud:
A month later my mum was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer so the battle spread to two fronts.
Anyways I am sharing this with you because I appreciate that you are sharing your experiences. I think it helps everyone to understand the disease but most importantly you are allowing God's Grace to shine in your lives.
With love, Alison.

(PS Molly is snoring up a storm behind me, reminds me of my Dad!!!)

Christian and Nathan - a few years ago
Judy and John Watkins - John lived with ALS for less than a year, he died in 1997. Judy died three years later in 2001

Judy and John Watkins and their family - Alison in the middle back row
Me and Molly when she was a puppy...a new Canadian
Molly as Rudolph Christmas 2010 - The look that stole Madison's heart!
Alison, Christian, Molly and Raj (Taylor not pictured)
(I shared this picture before - blog post 'Home Sweet Home')
Madison and Molly

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