#15 – Claire

ClaireClaire is another one of my Twitter friends, so it’s hard to trace exactly how we got to know each other.  It was a  quickly formed friendship, one that translated into me leaving our first “in real life” visit with multiple bottles of wine.  She takes good care of me.

We’ve bonded over similarities.  A love of good food and even better wine.  Single mommyhood.  Culture consumers.  Tech nerds.  Shoe obsessions.

It wasn’t long after our first meeting that Claire started to take over, in the best way possible.  When I’d visit, she’d force me to sit down, politely tell my kids to step away from the exhausted mommy, and would help find them something to keep busy.  (She has a good mommy voice.  They listened to her.)  She got me to try fois gras.  (I didn’t like it.)  She talked me down from my high anxiety peaks. (She has a good mommy voice.  I listened to her.)  She told me that, without a shadow of a doubt,  2012 was going to be my year.  (She wasn’t wrong.)

While she is an excellent mother, she has on many occasions reminded me how strong, capable, and nurturing I am as a caregiver.  I’ve even inherited the title of her “Twitter-Mum”, which is a lot of responsibility let me tell you.  It was quite the ordeal dealing with her fear of opening champagne bottles.  And I had to keep a close eye once she started dating Nice_Jewish_Boy. They’re engaged now.  I guess I’m also a “Twitter-Mum-In-Law.”

It just goes to show your family isn’t just who you’re related to, it’s also who you can relate to.

(See what I did there.)

You can follow Claire’s Wine Wednesday blog on foodiePrints.  Check out the rest of the site too.  It’s good.  Really good.

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So, hey, it’s been a long time huh?  Sorry about that.

I did want to say a big THANK YOU to the readers who have stuck by me.  I recently reached  20,000 hits on this website, which is small change compared to many others, but it’s a big deal to me.

There are still many Faces of Joy to come.  Thanks for reading!

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#13 – Dad (The Birthday Edition)

If you ask my Dad to recount any stories of my birth and my first year of age, you’ll be out of luck.

He saw me enter the world through the hospital room window.  After much false labour, it only took a couple of hours of “real” labour for me to make my appearance.  He almost missed it.  Too busy in the smoke room or playing cards with my uncle I guess.   I’m told he did hear the roars of a woman down the hall, wondered if it was my Mom, but assumed it couldn’t be.  He was wrong.

It wasn’t long after Mom and I came home that Mom had to return to the hospital.  She was very ill.  Kidney failure.  Lots of hours away from home ensued.  Not only did he have to regularly drive over an hour a day to see his wife sick, but he was all of sudden in charge of newborn, and still had to put in his hours at the office he had called his second home since he was 16 years of age.

Once Mom came home, she was really weak and couldn’t take care of me on her own.  Dad quickly learned about diapers and bottle feedings and developed his own soothing tricks.  Though, don’t ask him to tell you any of them… he doesn’t remember.  He does remember waking up in the middle of the night, sitting in a rocking chair, with me in his arms, and freaking out at the thought that he could have dropped me.  He never did.  (That I know of…)

My Dad was always strongly present, but definitely on the sidelines throughout the rest of my childhood.  I had an extremely strong relationship with my Mom (with only the slight “fuck off!” yelled at her when I was 16 to tarnish our near-perfect record.)  I always knew I could trust him and go to him about anything, though I rarely had to because I suspected my Mom told him everything already.   I wouldn’t have known just how vital Dad was to my upbringing when I was a baby if it wasn’t for my Mom.  I think, deep down, she might have felt oddly guilty about missing out on some of the early baby craziness, but she never hesitated to sing Dad’s praises.  I also would never have known that Dad cried every time he watched me perform in Crazy for You when I was 18 if Mom hadn’t told me.

And when my life took a turn for the worse, he was my white knight, taking my girls and me to safely.  Now he continues to make us feel safe, and cared for, and loved.

It’s cliché, but my Dad is the best Dad ever.

 

#12 – Pier

While I was waiting in line to grab a coffee before my meeting with Kate, I ran into Pier.  I don’t think he and I have properly spoken in a long time.  Maybe even years.  Sure, we’re friends on Facebook.  I stay up to date with his company’s work, but it’s been a while since we… talked.

This is strange in some ways.  He hired me for my first major professional acting gig.  I stage managed and assistant directed on a beautiful Brecht piece he worked on.  DD5 and I saw him perform at her school.  He was a witness at my first wedding ceremony and sang at my second.  (Same guy.  Long story. Don’t ask.)

I’ve always been in awe of him.  I hesitate to call myself an artist, but wouldn’t for a second hesitate to give him that moniker.   I greatly admire his passion for children’s theatre and his organic creative process.  All of this admiration can be scary though too.  One day, I watched him in rehearsal release an actress’ voice so much that she was sobbing by the end.  I was afraid I’d be next!

Pier has a way of bringing out vulnerability in people.  Getting to the core of what they didn’t know they were capable of.  Thankfully that often translates to depth and truthfulness on stage… and not just tears in the rehearsal room.

Our brief chat while I waited for my coffee was typical Pier.  A bit of a whirlwind.  Charming.  Slightly self-deprecating.  Always creating.  He said he was at the cusp of something new in his life, and that he’d really like to reconnect properly.  He said something along the lines of he thought it would “do him some good.”

I think it would do me some good too.

#8 – Shane

Shane with his beautiful daughter and wife.

I have a strange way of making friends.  I mean, I meet people pretty much the same way everyone else does, but I go about choosing my “keeper” friends oddly.  #8 and #9 are such people.

Do I remember exactly when I met Shane?  Nope.  I know he did community theatre with my Mom and I was involved backstage somehow.  I was quite young and don’t have the clearest memories of my community theatre days.   Once I got involved, I got heavily involved, and one production blends into another.

What I do remember clearly is that Shane was part of a group of crazy boys (men?) that I admired and loved very much.  They were (are?) smart, witty, creative, rambunctious, and fiercely loyal to each other.  They all pretty much treated me like a little sister (though I thought most of them were hawt!) and protected me.   Our families knew each other well and spent a lot of time together, but I was still the “kid” through most of it.

There was a lapse in time where Shane and I didn’t really speak or see each other.  Too long of a story to mention, but he was back in town when I turned 20 (or was it 21?  Again… a blur) and he took me out for an amazing day that resulted in drinks and getting my navel pierced.

Though we were good acquaintances up until that point, that one day of sharing, confiding, hugging, and celebrating made us brother and sister.   One day is all it took.

And it’s been that way ever since.

He lives on the other side of the world now with his beautiful family.

But he’s still my Big Bro.  Taking care of me from afar.

#6 – Les Sicottes

They were my tormentors, my best friends, my classmates, and will forever be my family.

Mélanie and Mélissa (twins… can’t ya tell?) are my age, and Marc is one year younger.  My mother babysat all three of them at our home after school for too many years to count.  We were as close as cousins could get.    They teased the hell out of me when I was younger, but now I know that’s because they loved me so much.  Right?  RIGHT!?

Marc and I would play “house” in the basement (not as dirty as it sounds.)

Mom would get out her “tickle trunk” of costumes and us girls would do a fashion show.

We worked with our Uncle Michel to create detailed choreography (ahem) for live musical performances during family gatherings.  (The highlight in my mind was Bryan Adams’s Everywhere You Go the Kids Wanna Rock for Mother’s Day one year.)

We’d have sleepovers at their place and sneak out in the middle of the night to go to the school yard… a whole half a block away. (Sorry Tante Hélène.)

We’d walk around the library together, that is until one of us (hardly ever me) got a boyfriend and found a quieter hallway elsewhere.  (Only Plantagenet grads would know what I mean about the library.)

We’d share gossip and be a shoulder to cry on during the long bus rides to and from school.

They supported and comforted me through recent crazy times.

We spent so much of our childhood and teens together… and then we graduated from high school.  All three of them went on to marry amazing people and have a wackload of beautiful children.   We made new friends.  We lived in different cities.  We grew apart.

Still, I will never forget how our friendship helped shaped who I am today.  Growing up, they were the siblings I never had.  And when we do get the chance to see each other, there’s a certain soothing feeling that comes over me.

Like I’m coming home again.

#3 – Michelle

Smart and sassy, Michelle is one of my longest friends.  We met doing community theatre and I was amazed with her positive spirit, grace, and beautiful voice.

She moved away for university and then spent what felt like forever building a career for herself, eventually starting her own ESL school in Japan.  Needless to say keeping in touch was difficult.

Her life hasn’t always been easy but she’s strong, determined, and fierce.

Sadly, she forgets how amazing she is sometime.  I take it upon myself to remind her as often as I can.

She’s recently moved back to Canada and will be (any second now) embarking on her biggest challenge yet… motherhood.  I can only imagine how excited and terrified she must be.  I know I was.  She’ll be living in Toronto once the baby’s born and, while I know that’s where her heart is leading her, I can’t help but be a bit sad that distance will come between us again.

Through ups and downs, her smile is always contagious.   Warm, creative, caring and exuberant, Michelle will be an amazing mom. Though our time in the same city has been brief, and I haven’t taken advantage of it like I should have, I plan on making sure she regularly knows how wonderful she is and how much I love her.

#1 – Mes Amours

Let’s get the two most obvious (and important) ones out of the way, shall we?

I see myself in them every day.

The good parts, and the not-so-good parts.

I think they are amazingly beautiful, especially when feverish or covered in dirt from the park.

They push my buttons.

They test my patience.

They are growing so fast it makes my heart ache.

With every day that goes by the room on my lap gets smaller and the grocery bill gets larger.

With every day that goes by I forget more and more how they would coo, how they first crawled, what it felt like to rock them to sleep.

But today I got tackled by a toddler run-hug.

And watched as puzzle pieces were methodically put in the correct place.

And listened to mini-nerds in training play with Star Trek Next Generation action figures.

I have a reminder of how amazing life is, every day.

I just wish that reminder came at 8am instead of 6am.

Maman est fatiguée.