Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you all had a safe New Year.
I was reminded of an important lesson on January 1st , about taking our loved ones for granted; about demonstrating our love with actions, not just good intentions. I learned a lesson about procrastination and priorities.
My sister-in-law, Helen, died on January 1st. She'd just returned from lunch and sat down to relax. That's where they found her.
I'd been planning to go see her during Christmas but I let other things sidetrack me. In fact, many times during the past year I'd been planning to spend time with her. She only lived 15 minutes away. But, I let other things distract me.
Maybe this weekend, I'd tell myself. The weekend would arrive when suddenly, weeding the potato patch and getting that hose out to water the horses would demand my attention.
And don't forget the dirty dishes that need to be washed and - oh yeah, I'd better put those clothes in the dryer. I forgot about that. Is that my phone? Where the heck is my phone? Gee, I do this all the time. Leave my phone somewhere and then I can't find it.
Okay, where was I. Umm... gee this floor is dirty. The dogs track in a lot of dirt, not to mention those kids wearing their boots right into the kitchen, then into the carpeted living room. Wow, that's a really good song. I wonder who sings it.
Now, what was I doing. Gee those plants look dry. I'd better water them. Look out, Sofie-girl. I need to get the water pitcher. I'd better make a list. I should go into town later and pick up some groceries We need milk, fruit, bread for lunches and toilet paper. The snow is melting today. Need to open some windows. Wow, look at the bison running around in circles. Where's my camera.
I'll go tomorrow.
But, what if tomorrow doesn't come?
Dr. Helen Many Fingers
When she was younger, Helen was given the responsibility of the Miisaamahkoyinimaan (Long Time Medicine) Bundle. She'd been an artist and a gifted seamstress. When her children were grown she returned to school and became a teacher, then counselor for First Nations students. For many years Helen attended every convocation, cheering on the Native graduates, even from her wheel chair.
Helen received an honorary Doctorate degree, the Order of Canada, and the Jubilee Medallion. She served as Tribal Counselor, and was the Elder Patron of the Kainai Chieftainship. Her deep faith sustained her. Her gentle, loving nature shined upon all who got close to her.
Love is not meant to be hoarded or kept close like a good card hand. Share it. Reach out. Don't wait. Time is short. This lesson reminded me to reach out to those I love now, not later. Helen inspired me to do everything in loving spirit, with hard work and determination. Her children and grandchildren looked up to her for loving guidance and example.
It is taught by the Blackfoot people not to cry for long, for to do so keeps the spirit of the deceased bound to this earth; rather, honour the person and let them pass on, keeping the stories and lessons alive for others.
Thank you, Helen. Peace Be With You. Here is a photo of our beautiful Rocky Mountains to the west. Sorry for the power line.
Photos: © Val Fox
Tags: gratitude; loss of a loved one; southern Alberta photos; life lessons; remembering loved ones; honouring loved ones; bereavement; putting love into action; First Nations elders; Native role models