Erin's Journals

Monday, December 4, 2023

Just a thought… If the family were a boat it would be canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles. [Letty Cottin Pogrebin]

I begin this with a heartfelt thank you and what I hope feels like a hug. Last week, in writing about grief surrounding the holidays, I received an incredible number of beautiful and personal posts on my FB page, many of them telling me of your own losses, struggles and small triumphs.

I have run out of time to answer each post there, but will still try to do so every few days. But you need to know that each one is appreciated, not just by me, but by others who need to know they are not alone. I love our community here and the way you see and express yourself as a reflection of what I share in this blog and on FB.

I’m posting this today as I prepare to board a very small plane and head back across to the BC interior from our home on Vancouver Island. I’m staying four nights in West Kelowna in my niece’s bedroom, as I endeavour to make my younger sister Leslie’s spirits brighter heading into the holidays.

The last-minute trip stemmed from a DM she sent a week ago, which happened to come in while airlines were having sales around US Thanksgiving (dumb timing for Canadian companies but I’m not complaining).

Now, I had barely tested negative for the Covid I suspect I got from my last trip, and had decided not to travel again until the new year. But when a sister sends out an S-O-S and you have the means to get there, you make things work.

I’ll be spending time, not just with Leslie and her family but, of course, our dad. Last visit, I could see how Les is losing herself bit by bit by being the 24/7 caregiver to a 91-year-old man who’s healthy, but becoming less happy as his dementia sets in more deeply by the month.

His requests are becoming demands; there are night-time walkabouts while he gets set for a flight in the morning, thanks to a mind that has set itself back like a broken VHS tape to the middle part of the show and just stays there rewinding and replaying endlessly his life and obligations as a pilot, both military and commercial.

Add to all this the challenges of having two young and one older adult in the house, while trying to run a concierge business with her husband in a tightening economy, and you have a recipe for stress.

So what will we do? Not much, I suspect, and that’s okay. Last time, I offered fresh eyes and we moved some furniture around to help Dad and the family live a little easier. Did some chores. Just talked a lot. Sometimes that is all it takes until the next visit.

The lights of the holiday season seem to illuminate not just what’s right with the world, but what’s wrong – whether outside our homes or within them – so we can try to keep an eye out for those who are struggling. Where we are able, we’re there for them, even if it’s just a call. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get through another day.

I’ll be bringing you another Christmas favourite on Drift with Erin Davis this week: Little Gretchen and the Wooden Shoe. I named the grandmother in this one Mira after our now-98-year-old dear friend, and it’s told with so much love, just as I feel for her.

And it’s with a great deal of delight that I tell you that once again I have partnered with Michael Bentley and the folks at SierraSil (remember the ads I did for Joint Formula 14 all those years on CHFI? Yes, we still use it!). SierraSil has joined enVy pillow as a sponsor of Drift and also Gracefully and Frankly, so you can listen for free. Little by little we’re growing with two companies steeped in integrity and we are grateful.

I’ll be posting on Facebook and the regular spots (just not X/Twitter anymore until some sanity returns, if ever) so you may see some snowy mountains in the days to come. Wherever you are, whatever your view, have a gentle week and we will too.

I’ll say it again: we. can. do. this.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, December 4, 2023