July 23 – my wife

364/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Here it is.  The penultimate post.  The one that I wanted to write so many times but wasn’t ready for.  This one is for my wife – Lak.  I have not prepped my wife for this.  Yes, it may be wrong of me but I have to go with my heart.  I know that she is the yin to my yang and thus, this post is not what she would want as she is a very private person but I have been honest and public throughout the year and I have to finish on the same path.  My wife and I had an introduced marriage – not arranged as both of us had a “choice” to say no.  I had met several girls but the moment I saw her, I knew that she was the one.  Unfortunately for her, I was the first guy she met so she really didn’t get a chance to see others.  I know that we both felt pressured to get married – her more so than me and both of us being good children did what we were supposed to (this was the late 80s).  She was only 19 and I was 22 when we ended up getting married.  That first year – in fact the first couple of years – we were like a dating couple trying to get to know each other, figure each other out while being legally married at the same time.  I will say it straight up – I was not the best of husbands.  I was, I guess we both were, children thrown into this situationship but I acted like it; however, Lak was and is the one who could handle it and had/has maturity beyond her years.  I know I didn’t make the marriage easy on her but she sacrificed who she was to make it work and only in the past couple of years have I realized the things she has done to make sure that our home was a home and how she put her own needs after everyone else’s.  Yes, I took things for granted.  She is an amazing mother.  I fully recognize that.  Our daughter is a damn, wonderful young woman and it’s because of Lak and the tight bond that the two of them have and share.  My son, although he likes to pretend mom doesn’t matter, is her baby boy.  He adores her but won’t admit it.  She has been wonderful to them and has always put the kids first.  I know that is said of many mothers but Lak actually does it and I know my daughter realizes it and my son will also once he becomes a young adult and I definitely realize it though I should have acknowledged it more.  Not only is Lak physically stunning – yes, I’ve been told by several people (hundreds in fact) on how beautiful she is and what is she doing with me and yes, that’s a good question – but she is a very kind hearted, generous person to all those around her, a full time working mom (and has been since before the children were born and while they were young – never taking any time off) and a responsible daughter as well as good cousin, sister and friend.  As the years progressed and as does happen in many relationships, ours took a turn for the worse.  The boat that you thought was sailing along smoothly, capsized not as a result of some storm that you could have predicted and planned for but more due to the neglect of the maintenance required for the boat and then just getting used to it and the apathy towards the repairs that were necessary.  The boat tried to right side but would take on a lot of water and thus, we decided to take time apart from each other to reassess the boat itself as a vessel – I moved out.  New uncharted territory for both of us.  I decided to go public about the separation and with my feelings (freshly starting the gratitude posts into the first year of the separation); whereas, Lak wanted to deal with our relationship privately.  In retrospect, I totally understand her reasoning but in the moment, I wasn’t hearing it – something that has been my downfall throughout the almost 30 year relationship.  I definitely could have been a more understanding, more helpful, more there for her, more in tune with her needs type of husband.  Alas, I wasn’t and I apologize for my shortcoming but here we are back in the same space co-parenting our teenage son.  Where is this relationship between the two of us going to go?  I couldn’t even begin to guess.  Today’s post is not meant to be a public apology to undo the past but rather a public acknowledgement of gratitude for you, Lak being a great wife over the years to my not-so-perfect husband.  Thank you for sharing your life with me and wherever our roads lead us – either together on the same one, side by side intersecting here and there or in two opposite directions, I wanted to say I’ve loved sharing the journey and yes, I do love you!

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July 19 – remedy

360/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Most of you probably don’t know that I have a medical condition (sarcoidosis) which has resulted in a compromised immune system – I get sicker faster and stay sicker longer than most people (I’ve had a cough/chest cold for 11 weeks running as of this moment!).  I am at St Paul’s Hospital two to three times a year (and have been for the last decade) undergoing heart monitoring, breathing tests, CT scans and xrays, in addition to weekly blood work, and daily/weekly ingestion of prednisone or methotrexate coupled with two inhalers.  My respirologist, who I have thanked earlier, is amazing but today’s gratitude post is for the entire provincial healthcare system.  Yes, many of us complain about our medical system but I am not one of those as I am constantly in and out of doctor’s and specialist’s offices, constantly in labs and constantly hooked up to various machines just so some sort of understanding can take place about the condition I have.  Have I gotten better – unfortunately, no – just a bit worse each year but I’m not upset or jaded and one of the those reasons is that my experiences in the medical system have been easy and the people have always been friendly.  The people who do the breathing tests know me by face and joke with me that I am an expert – hence, when I’m scheduled, I get the students working with the veteran on me (happened today).  The secretaries at the various doctor’s ensure that my four appointments at the hospital are all coordinated and are at least in a four hour time period in one day rather than all over the calendar.  Yes, I may have to wait a few extra weeks on occasion, but I can’t and won’t complain.  The techs in the blood lab – already queasy just typing it – know that I hate the sight of blood so they get it done as quick and as fast – or as fast as 8 vials of blood can be removed.  I am still healthy, I can still do all that I want to do but when I do have to spend my time related to my medical conditions in the “system”, I am glad that the system takes care of me well in all aspects!

July 14 -it’s how you say the words

355/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Most of you are probably not aware of the following about me:  I have a speech impediment.  I stutter.  I grew up with it and it was much worse back when I was in elementary.  Oh yeah, if you have been reading these gratitude posts and know about my childhood – just add one more thing in the mix to be bullied about 😉  In my case, the thing that made my stuttering much worse was if someone noticed it and reacted to it and I noticed that reaction – well, my brain was thrown into flux and I would be stuck on a particular word and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get past it.  That was the thing – I wasn’t supposed to get past it, I was supposed to switch tactics for my form of stuttering.  My speech pathologist, who I totally don’t remember but had one of the biggest influences on my speech impediment, gave me two pieces of advice.  First, stop the moment I was getting stuck on a word and immediately think of a synonym or a couple of words having the same meaning.  Most of you who know me probably don’t realize I do that – at times, I try to feign looking contemplative but I probably come off as a bit slow but I’m okay with it as it is giving me that breathing room to continue on speaking.  It’s much harder to do in a classroom when I am teaching and that is where I notice my stuttering even moreso.  This is where my speech pathologist’s second piece of advice came in handy – tell people about my condition.  I haven’t really told friends.  Only immediate family know (like my sister and mother and a few cousins and aunts).  I guess you as reader now know.  However, I tell all of my classes/students about my stuttering because early on in my career, I kept it a secret and when it would happen, I would hear snickering and of course, that added to my embarrassment which in turn increased my stuttering and I would be stuck on a word for 30 seconds to a minute.  Now, I take the bull by the horns and let the students know what my inability is.  I tell them that it’s not if it will happen, it’s when and when it does, please don’t make me aware of it as I know what’s happening and will quickly try to correct myself with a synonym.  Most often, I’m pretty quick at it but other times, I have to consciously stop, refocus and start again and I honestly can say that I haven’t had a student in the last decade or so get me flustered because they have empathy for my speech impediment.  Thank you to my speech pathologist for the two greatest pieces of advice that have helped me so much in life and career!

June 30 – how do you spell your name?

341/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  In teacher world, the normality is to teach other people’s children.  People that you don’t know.  However, sometimes you end up teaching people you know through friendships or familial relationships.  For me, that hasn’t really ever happened except very early in my career, I substitute taught (one of only two times in my life) and ended up with my cousin and his friends in my class.  What does happen for me – quite often – is that my teacher friends have ended up teaching my children.  Many of them saw them as babies and then ended up having them in their classroom.  Yes, it’s awkward for my kids, my friends and me but all parties have gotten used to it.  Ornella is one of these teacher friends who ended up teaching my daughter – the daughter that she saw me bring to Burnett when we both taught together.  Ornella ended up being her counsellor in high school and I am so, so very glad that that ended up happening.  My daughter had a great tight-knit group of friends in elementary school.  The graduating grade 7 class went on to two different high schools – 80% to Steveston and 20% to McMath (at that time, it has reversed the other way around for my son seven years later).  Unfortunately for my daughter, her entire friendship group ended up at Steveston and she was lone warrior to battle McMath and what a battle it became because of the mean girls who accompanied her from Westwind.  She wanted to transfer to the school I taught at and I entertained those notions until Ornella phones me and gave me friend to friend, parent to parent and counsellor to parent advice which was to stop giving her an out.  She may struggle that first year but Ornella would be there for her to guide her and get her in the right classes. I remember my daughter going to see Ornella to figure things out and I felt at ease to know that I had a friend in my corner to help my child out.   Besides being an advocate for my daughter, Ornella and I have a good friendship.  Yes, we haven’t seen each other in ages (which will be remedied this weekend) but oh the laughs and stories we share when we do get together – she remembers every Randy-ism that has taken place and sadly there have been many and I’m sure I will be hearing about a few this weekend but I look forward to it because it comes from a place of friendship.  Thank you Ornella for being there for my daughter and for being an awesome friend to me!!

June 29 – McNair

340/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I didn’t think this group was going to make the cut but it has. Last night was the McNair staff year end windup party and it was epic! I realized as I was socializing that I enjoy these people and that I have made quite a few friends over the last four years and I didn’t think I was going to when I first started. My initial two years were basically hell but I am also to blame as I believe I made it a self-fulfilling prophecy in that I was not going to like McNair and I made it happen. I also tried to apply out of the school to other jobs at other schools but each time I did, someone who was laid off got top priority for the jobs I wanted. This was the first year that I didn’t apply for any job and that is when I realized that I actually like it here. Yes, the students at this school have a lot to do with it but the social being that is me thrives on the relationships and I’ve built and I’ve built quite a few good ones with co-workers here (sadly having to say goodbye to a few of them today as they are leaving the school through no choice of their own). To my colleagues and friends at McNair, thank you for accepting me into the school when I really didn’t accept myself here and for bearing with me until I made McNair my home. I look forward to working with my McNair buddies for years to come – okay, six hopefully before I retire! 😉 In your honour, I will be sipping many a drink on a patio as summer is officially here!

June 19 – father figure

330/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  It’s dad’s day.  The day when male role models/caregivers/fathers/father figures are being recognized for their part.  Yes, I’m the first to say that moms are way important overall for children but if the dad is in the picture, he also matters and makes a difference.  Dads can be grand-dads and uncles, brothers and cousins especially in this day and age.  For all those fathers out there that may not be in their kids’ lives daily but do try, kudos to you.  For all those awesome fathers who are there for their kids, same on you.  And for those guys who are stepping up and being “dad” (whatever that may mean), well major props for you.  Yes, I’m second fiddle to my kids’ mom and I totally understand that bond.  My kids don’t necessarily appreciate me in the same way and I get it – especially with the angsty teenager – oh how I miss those elementary days with hand-made crafts and big hugs 😉   However, I was the same way and didn’t realize the value of my dad until much later.  Yes, he wasn’t around literally and figuratively but he did the best he could given his circumstances.  Thank you to him and to all the uncles who stepped in and helped out my mom to get us raised.  Most of you were not “real” uncles in the traditional sense of the word as you were more friends of the family or distant relatives but you were at times more real than my biological uncles and I truly appreciate you being there for assisting the family.  This one also goes out to my mom who was my dad for most of that time – took on both roles and yes, it was tough but you did the best you could and that’s not forgotten.  I know I’m not the best of dads by far as I didn’t have a consistent father figure to model myself but I try.  Hopefully one day, I have the same fatherly connections that I see out there in the social media world and will eventually measure up to my kids’ expectations but until then, I will keep on keeping on and try to get this dad thing right!  Cheers to all the dads!

June 17 – bender helpers

328/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  With a lot of these gratitude posts, I’ve been pretty raw and at times self-deprecating.  No one can accuse me of not being honest within these gratitude posts.  In writing this post, I have to once again be honest with myself and not put myself in a great light.  Every couple of years, because of some special event and being with friends, I will imbibe much more than my fair share.  In the moment, I am enjoying life and then Freudian psychology comes into play – my Id dominates my Superego and bullies my Ego and I give in to the indulgences of whatever might be the drink du jour.  I’m glad though that this happens only rarely (perhaps once every two to four years) or else Freud would be having a field day analyzing me 😉  I am also glad that my Id (hidden but true nature) when it comes out is a loving, happy-go-lucky guy rather than what some are – mean, angry drunks.   But what is more important is all the people who have had my back when I’ve had way too much.  Any number of them could just turn their backs as I am an adult male but time and time again, I have made it home safely because of the caring people that I surround myself with who go out of their ways to get me on my way.  Yes, I sometimes cringe when I recall some of those nights but it’s important to do so.  As I said, fortunately, I don’t have to regret any of my actions towards others on those occasions as I am a good guy at heart but some of my antics, however, humorous are embarrassing when they are relayed to me but hey, if I can provide a little entertainment at my own expense, I guess I can’t complain because that’s the least I can do for all of those that care enough to get me back home in one piece and make sure I am okay.  Yes, you have to unwind (maybe not to that extent) but it’s so nice to know that all my life I’ve had people looking out for me when I have.  Thank you all (you know who you are) for being my bender helpers and getting this guy home in one piece and safely – so very much appreciated.

June 16 – i need u

327/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  We all need support systems – people to be there for us.  Whether it’s to get us through the tough times or the happy ones, it is amazing when there are people to go through the experiences with.  With this past week’s events with the shooting in Orlando, I have been reading about the outpouring of support and camaraderie that is being shown.  It’s amazing to know that in times of need, people are there whether physically or in spirit – even messages on social media make a difference for people who are not directly affected by events but are still feeling a sense of loss and thus become a part of a larger community.  I love the fact that there are forums and blogs of support also to get through whatever life throws you.  I have a medical condition called sarcoidosis and belong to a few forums.  I don’t contribute but creep to read what people are going through and because of them, I don’t feel alone with my condition when I can see myself in the writings that are taking place.  If not for these community forums, I would only have the advice of my doctor.  This is the same thing when I was going through my separation.  To understand a little more about what I was feeling and especially what my son may be going through, support came both through personal friends and through online communications.  I’m not one for unsolicited advice but I do appreciate true support when I’m looking for it just to get a perspective and today I thank both the online world and real people who have given me information, a sense of community and just the understanding that I need to deal with whatever it is that I’m dealing with.  I hope to rely on y’all in the future because I’m not ever going to be done needing.

June 15 – witness this!

326/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Has anyone said something so profound that it changed the way you think about things?  I’ve had a handful of those significant quotes or sayings and one that really hit home much later in life was what my Accounting teacher said in high school: three things are inevitable:  death, taxes and a car accident but the unknown is how big and bad it’s going to be (I’m paraphrasing of course).  That one thing stayed with me.  Let’s ignore taxes (yes, I’d really like to ignore them) and let’s not talk about death.  That leaves car accidents.  I’ve had many – but save for one, they have all been very minor fender benders!   That one though was the mother of all – I hit a person.  A child.  With my car.  One second I was casually driving along Riverdale Drive and the next I hear a loud thud see something roll across the windshield and over the roof and off the trunk.  I instantly stopped.  I got out.  I saw the car in the opposite direction stop.  The male and female passengers yelling “We saw everything!!”  I was in a complete shock.  My life as I knew it was over.  Or so I thought.   Firetruck, ambulance, police all there in a matter of moments.  Did I say my life was over?  Unbeknownst to me, the witnesses were yelling to me that they saw everything at that I was not at fault.  The boy (who ended up being a student of mine in Grade 12 – yes, another story) ran out of the driveway into the middle of the road and into my car that happened to be passing by.  If not for those witnesses, it would basically have been a long investigation looking at skid marks and my story.  Those witnesses stopped and spent half an hour of their lives to talk to the police and write their story which helped me beyond belief.  I often have thought of them for making an otherwise monumentally stressful situation so much easier.  Why am I remembering and thanking them today – because I was that witness today.  Surreally, I saw a similar incident play out only hours ago.  Instantly I pulled over to give my statement exactly because of what those witnesses had done for me and the driver of the vehicle involved with the biker who just pulled into the road without warning was my neighbour!!  She was beside herself and I remember myself in that same moment.  What those witnesses did for me to ease my anxiety is exactly what I had to do for this driver.  I’d like to think that I would have stopped regardless as would be my legal duty but regardless, those witnesses made me stop my life for 45 minutes and do the right thing just to help someone who didn’t do anything wrong even though they were behind the wheel.  Once again, thank you complete strangers for initially helping me but even more affecting me as a person – never forgotten!

June 11 – Queesborough queens

322/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Do you remember much about elementary school?  Especially the early years?  I was born in the royal city – New Westminster.  My parents moved to Queensborough where I went to school from Kindergarten to grade 3.  With no one to take me to school, my mom had arranged it so that two girls in the neighbourhood on Lawrence Avenue would walk me to and from school with them.  I, with a few of these gratitude honorees, do not recall their first names but do remember their last name – Kandola.  One of the girls would have been a year or two older than me and the other one would have been at least 5 or so years older.  It was very comforting for me to have these older “sisters” to watch over me and many times, I would stay at their place until my mom could come and get me.  I don’t recall where my sister was during this time (as she wouldn’t have been in school).  The Kandola girls showed me what kindness was and this was the safest of my times as a child as no bullying happened to me until we moved to Richmond in grade 4.  I didn’t realize how great I had it and have reflected upon it several times.  I remember being in my mid 30s or so being at a reception party and the older of the sisters coming up to my mom and giving her a hug.  I didn’t know who it was and when my mom pointed me out, she was in shock but came in for a big hug like a long lost adopted sibling.  It was surreal as I do kind of remember her but it was also very heartwarming as she felt like I was her little brother.  We reminisced for a short while and although, at that time, I wasn’t able to express to her how safe she had made me felt and how it was nice to have older, caring kids in the neighbourhood, I feel that she probably had an inkling.  Thank you Kandola girls for giving me peace and tranquility in my younger years before the eye of the storm would eventually make it my way – perhaps I needed the comfort and care of you two sisters and the memory of it to get through all the tough times.  Here’s to you both!