Updated: Aug 27, 2020
STOP START MONKEYING AROUND
The lights all get shut off with the exception of the pot lights at the front of the living room… you know those ones that frame the TV with the soft glow? They make the 60” TV that my husband insisted we needed actually look like a cinema screen. The ambiance especially feels like a theatre when we run into Crossiron cineplex and get a bag of movie popcorn and race home to eat it before the layers of “real” butter coagulate. We push our 20 year old sectional all together and everyone brings their favourite blankets and quilts and pillows to the now-made-fort.
When Daddy is home on leave one of our favourite family times is Fort-night (no, not that one) and one of our favourite movies is Wonder Park by Nickelodeon. It’s a great little movie about a young girl named June who has a huge imagination (much like my son, Gerald). In this movie, the amusement park of Junes’ dreams comes to life, along with her stuffed animals. The world is transformed from reality to dreams all by June and her Mom whispering ideas of rides and adventures into the ear of her stuffed monkey.
A WORLD AWAY, A WHISPER UNITED
There are things that we try and do as a family to feel connected while Glenn is deployed that we think could also be helpful for other families that at times might have to “live away” from each other - police families, shift worker families, other military deployments, oilfield workers, etc. This deployment we used the idea of Wonder Park and used SockMonkeys.
I bought 4 Pocket Monkeys to support a local Airdrie mom (and because these monkeys are the cutest ever!!) and for 4 days Glenn, Aila, Gerald and myself carried around these monkeys, slept with them, stuffed them into pockets, and whispered our Wishes and Love into their ears. We treated it almost like a fun relay in that we kept trading out each other’s monkeys and having fun finding them in each other’s pockets or under pillows.
We whispered our family’s vision, what we are all fighting for in Glenn’s time away at work, we whispered I love yous and I miss yous. We whispered enough to fill the heart of every monkey. So, when Glenn left to go back to Africa we each took a monkey to keep and hold close. Especially for the first couple of days after Glenn left, which are always the toughest, it was also nice to have something that kinda had his smell and something that the kids could snuggle knowing he had been so close to it recently too.
TIME TRAVEL CELEBRATIONS
Glenn's usual time home from work is 3 weeks and his time deployed has been 3 months.
Remember me telling you that I always look for silver linings? One of the blessings that COVID gave us was Glenn was “stuck” home for 4 months straight with International travel being cancelled! That meant this time that he was able to be home for both Gerald’s birthday and my birthday as well as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Glenn had missed them all last year because he was in Gao, Mali. Well… I should say he missed the actual date because we actually “Time Travelled”.
What that looks like in real-time is that we picked another date and re-named it. For example… March 23rd became May 20th for the day! When Glenn was home in March last year we time travelled while we were sleeping that night so when we woke up in the morning it was May 20th and Gerald’s Birthday! What that can mean is a lot of cake and parties crammed into a short time period!! Last year Gerald had 3 Birthday parties!! How lucky, right? Sure beats having to wait a full 365 days!!!
Same with Christmas. Because Glenn was the newbie in his contract he was the one who had to stay on base over Christmas 2019. Lucky for our kids, because they were 7 and 9 Santa and Mrs. Clause heard about Glenn’s circumstances and made a special trip and time travelled with us! Christmas happened twice! Once at the beginning of December while Glenn was home and the second time with the rest of our family on the 25th and Glenn even had wifi in Timbuktu so he could Whatsapp video call us! The magic of Christmas does exist!
SOMETHING TO FIGHT FOR
Having a vision is important. Some might call it a dream. For many, the last time we had a dream was when we were in grade 2 and we believed we could be a ballerina and an astronaut at the same time. Somewhere along the road life happens for most of us and we settle. Maybe it was hearing we weren’t good enough one too many times or when we failed a project or maybe school altogether. Maybe it’s money or being laid off or just not believing there’s more.
I’ve been there… Glenn was there too. How do you not stay in a job with a “guaranteed” pension? He could’ve been miserable for 2 more years to get that golden ticket, right? The truth is we didn’t think he would make it. I remember that night standing in the kitchen and Glenn looked at me and said, “Who do you think is going to be the next person to die in our family?” This didn’t shock me as we are no strangers to loss, unfortunately. I looked up at him and said, “The truth? It’s going to be you.” He looked down for a moment. Looked me right in the eye and said, “I think so too.” That’s when we decided we had to make a change.
We know this is a big sacrifice… but we know WE are worth it. Are YOU? We know we are fighting for a house surrounded by trees, not inside a city, where the hum we hear are the wings of hummingbirds and bees, not the electrical box. I can smell the smoke from the campfire on our clothes from our backyard, not from a vacation. Aila is all sweaty and dusty from being on her horse all afternoon and Gerald is still up in his treehouse. I have spent the time picking the colours of my walls and know the flowers I will put in my garden… can I help you find yours?