Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Keep Smiling

Madison had a great game Sunday night. She scored a couple of goals and had lots of energy.  The whole team played really well. Her team, "Moose on the Loose" is an all-girl, 3 on 3 ice hockey team. They play in a co-ed spring hockey league every year after the regular ice hockey season is over. With only three players on the ice at a time, and a goalie, it’s fast. The girls say its super fun and a great workout! Most of their competitors are boys. The girls don’t beat the boys as much as they used to; the boys are young men now and are much bigger and stronger than they were a few years ago, but regardless, the girls always give the boys a run for their money. Last game was no exception. The boys beat the girls, but not by much and not without a good fight.

From the end of the first period until we left the rink, Mike had a smile on his face that wouldn't quit. I commented on his ‘contagious’ smile while we were getting him in the car. He didn't say a word, he just smiled bigger.
It’s a huge process getting Mike in and out of the car (we don’t go out in the car very often). It takes a team. Madison and I did the lifting and lowering and positioning and my parents helped with taking the wheel chair apart and fitting it all in the trunk like puzzle pieces.  Mike just smiled the whole time.

Earlier that day, I watched Mike watch Erin read our granddaughter, Leah, a book. It was a French book and Erin read the book to Leah in her usual enthusiastic way and Leah watched and listened as though she could understand every word. Mike watched and smiled. It was that same smile that said, “I am thoroughly enjoying myself.” It also spoke of being proud, happy and thankful.
Mike has a great smile. It was one of the things that attracted me to him right away. He has no idea how his smile has impacted my life all these years. It has encouraged me, it has inspired me, and it has comforted me. When he smiles at me, it makes me feel really good and I can’t help but smile back. His smile is like a reward. It’s a special gift. It’s a warm and wonderful gesture of love. And now, when words are few, I appreciate his smile more than ever.

ALS has taken so much, but Mike’s smile is still intact and I am thankful!

"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."
Mother Teresa
A smile is a universal symbol that means the same in every language. Smiling releases endorphins which make you feel good. It takes more muscles to frown than to smile. And, best for last –it looks good on you…so, keep smiling!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Turning Over a New Leaf

Mike put on his Leaf’s t-shirt this morning in anticipation of the NHL play-off game against the Boston Bruins tonight. The Bruins are ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, two games to one, but Mike is hopeful his team is going to tie it up.  Mike is a faithful fan and an optimistic one as well. Yesterday when he woke up, he told me he thought the Canucks would make a come-back and win the game and go on to win the series. The Vancouver Canucks were of course down three games to none against the San Jose Sharks and many of their fans were calling them a bunch of bums already, but not Mike. He hasn’t said a negative word and when the game started, he was wide eyed, cheering on the inside. Unfortunately, Mike’s prediction was incorrect and the Canucks lost the game in overtime (Mike was close though. He had a vision earlier in the day that the game would go into overtime and Daniel Sedin would score. The game did go into overtime, but Daniel Sedin ended up in the penalty box and the Sharks scored). Mike cheered for them to the very end and was pleased they played well.

I have proudly written about Mike’s incredibly positive attitude many times, but Mike is human and he fell into a little slump last week. It’s unusual for Mike to be down, but it’s understandable for sure. Once in a while I think he just needs to grieve what’s gone, while 99 percent of the time, he is happy, content and thankful for what he has.
I noticed it on Wednesday and by Saturday Mike was still not himself. Nathan went to Kelowna for the weekend to play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, so Leah stayed with us. She came on Friday and having her over definitely helped, but Erin, Madison and I continued to work together to cheer him up.

Mike and I had plans to meet Mike’s good friends, Dan and Ron at the local casino to watch the Kentucky Derby horse race on Saturday afternoon. It’s tradition for Mike and his long-time friends to watch the famous race together.  They always got together a few times a year to go to the races, or a hockey game, or out for a burger and a beer. They love to talk about events at Riverview Hospital where they all worked at one time, or the games of ball hockey or slow pitch when they played on the same teams. Nothing causes their bond to become stronger than recalling fond memories, including past races won, remembering the names of the horses with smiles on their faces…Charlie’s Pride, Lucky Lady, Warm Annette…and now Ron’s pick, number 16, Orb who won the big race this year. I was really hoping Mike’s horse would win to help cheer him up. Mike’s horse started well, but landed somewhere in the middle of the pack. My two dollar, ‘win place show’ bet on number 4, Golden Soul made me fifty bucks richer and like the couple of other times I’ve placed a bet and won, I stopped while I was ahead .
Erin and Madison took Leah out so Mike and I could meet Ron and Dan. Mike was happy to see his good buddies, but I knew he wasn’t necessarily in the mood for the horse race. Mike always liked to study the racing program, he liked to do a little research on the horses running in the race and converse with the guys about the jockeys and the condition of the track etc., but Mike can’t do that anymore and it was disappointing.

Mike and I left right after the race. We walked over to the park across the street and spend some time there being disappointed. Alone together on a beautiful day in the shade, in a quiet place, to breathe, to grieve for a few minutes and then, onward!  We had asked Erin and Madison to bring Leah and meet us at the little pottery place on Dewdney Trunk Road so Leah and I could work on a project for Mother’s Day. Erin and Madison took Mike for a walk while Leah and I got creative.
I was glad for Mike because I knew Erin and Madison would take Mike back to the park, entertain him with witty banter and give him a head and neck massage (Erin’s famous head rub). When Leah and I were finished our project we went to meet them, the three amigos met us with three large grins and a picture. The two girls managed to get Mike in the photo booth at the mall…I don’t know how they did it and I can’t believe they did it, but they did it and they were proud of their accomplishment and had a priceless souvenir.

By the end of the day, Mike’s smile was back and he seemed himself. Wide eyed and cheering on the inside, he watched his team; the Leafs beat the Bruins that night and all was right.   
I finish this blog post during the second intermission of the Leafs game. It’s tied, 3-3. I’m also cheering on the inside for Mike’s team…”Come on boys win another for my guy Mike. He is one of your biggest fans!”

Today’s reading in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers says: Perseverance means more than endurance – more than simply holding on until the end. A saint’s (Christian’s) life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but our Lord continues to stretch and strain, and every once in a while the saint says, “I can’t take any more.” Yet God pays no attention, He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight and then He lets the arrow fly. Entrust yourself to God’s hands

Erin calls this picture "The Three Amigos"
The Three Amigos, Ron, Dan and Mike - Kentucky Derby 2011