July 22 – U

363/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Wow, only 3 more gratitude posts left including this one!!  When I started this journey a year ago, I was a little nervous as to if I would have 365 people to thank.  I didn’t want it to come down to posts such as thanking my mailman for the flyers he delivers in that they were the ones that led me on to some awesome deal!! ; )  Early on in these posts, I started hearing from friends that so and so had made “the list”.  I didn’t understand what that was until I was told that it was my “gratitude list”.  That put some pressure on me to say the least as there was now a “list”.  I didn’t want it to be a list and I didn’t want it to be some type of contest.  Then I heard that some people mentioned they were in the 80s and others were in the 200s!  I do have to make it clear that I haven’t had an order as to who I thank and thus whatever number gratitude post it was has no relation to ranking.  Most posts are the night before or a couple of days before.  Yes, I saved my dad for his birthday as I did with my children for theirs, my mom was first because well she is my mom but save for them and the final two gratitude posts, no one had a day or a number.  The list by the end of Sunday is far from complete.  I could thank another 365 people who got me to where I am today and this is what today’s gratitude post is about – to all of the people I didn’t name and there are hundreds of you that have impacted me!  So many former students, co-workers past and present, family members, inlaws, bosses, professors, fellow students, random strangers, neighbours past and present, friends, backhanded gratitudees (bullies and the like), service providers, celebrities etc, etc – just so many people who have made me who I am and to all of you un-named in this past year, you are part of this gratitude journey just because you were not personally mentioned here doesn’t mean you weren’t recognized by me.  To all the new people that will come in to my life, thanking you in advance as some of you will change and influence me in new ways.  Thank you to all of you who came along with me on this 365 day journey as well.  Your encouragement and support has gotten me to this end point.

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July 3 – where my girls at?

344/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by females.  Born in New Westminster, my mom just 19 would stay with her aunts and nieces in Vancouver while my dad was at work.  I was told that I was passed from female cousin/aunt to female cousin/aunt as they were all older and I was the new toy.  I was with them for about the first four years of my life.  Nary a male around.  Growing up in Richmond, my own siblings and first cousins were born and they were all female.  I stayed with my aunts, sister and cousins while my mom worked.  Once again, usually the only male child around.  I can admit that because of my earlier nurturing, I have an ease with females that eludes many a male.  In high school, I related to the females who would say that they found it easy to get along with males as fellow females didn’t get them.  I felt this way with males but once I hit university and found my stride that all changed and I easily made friendships with my male counterparts just as easily as I did with the females.  I recall sitting down at a lunch table with a few female staff members who were already engaged in conversation.  I gleaned that they had an informal top 5 list of male staff members that “creeped them out”.  I was taken aback – no, not at the list, but if I had ranked!!?  I asked them as much and I was told that I could never, ever end up on such a list.  Phew!  Then of course I had to know who made it and was told and given an explanation for each and I realized that I was the antithesis of every single guy on the list based on their characteristics and qualities that made these women (and I suppose most women) uncomfortable.  Even tonight, there was a mini work reunion of sorts and it ended up being four females and myself and yes, when I initially heard about the guest list, I was missing the male camaraderie but moments into the festivities, friendship and ease took over and once again, I was in my element with these ladies cracking jokes and just reminiscing.  Thanks to all the females in my life when I was a young child as you totally shaped me into the man I am today allowing the females who come into my life today to appreciate the man I am and I thank you ladies as well for being a part of my life and accepting me into your fold.  Here’s where my girls are at!

June 24 – familial bonds

335/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Sometimes a person doesn’t even have to have a direct impact on another to be having an impact on that other.  Does that make sense?  Let me explain.  My wife’s family – especially the cousins – have been close to us.  We have seen them grow up and become young men and women and then move on to join the ranks of parenthood and now their children are becoming teenagers.  Sandy is one of those cousins.  I remember going to Golden, BC and to a duplex where Sandy and her siblings all met me for the first time – the guy who married their cousin.  I remember Sandy being a young teenager with long light brown hair.  Although, due to proximity (Golden and Vancouver), we all would get together at family functions.  Then Sandy stayed with us a year while going to school.  She had a great influence on our daughter Natasha and to this day, Natasha, and also Ethan, look up to her.  They watch the way they raise the kids and use both of my kids as role models but in a respectable way.  I watch and see how both my kids and their kids get along even though there is a large age discrepancy.  I watch how advice is being given and I see the maturity exhibited by both sets of kids.  Sandy has done a great job with her kids but also with mine.  Even though my wife has no sisters, Sandy is like a younger sister to her and the first aunt that comes to my kids’ mind when they think about going to a family home to hang/have dinner – “let’s go to Sandee musee’s house!”  Thanks Sandy for being a great part of our family and being there for us all.

May 24 – the “untys”

304/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I realized today why I have so many friends and acquaintances – I get it from my momma!  😉  As a child, I saw female friend after female friend and couple friends in our home.  I had so many aunties (pronounced ‘unty’) I felt like an octopus as it was hug after hug after hug.  I remember Shoti Aunty, Abbotsford Aunty, Gurdev Kaur, Pritam, Karen’s mom, Baljit…the list goes on and on and this is not including immediate and extended aunts!!  I didn’t wonder why she had so many friends – it was just the norm for me and how I grew up and I think that my mom’s affinity towards people just rubbed off on me.  I enjoy the company of an eclectic crew of people and am energized when I am with people just like my mother.  I am supposing that my mom needed friends in her life as my dad wasn’t in the picture for most of my younger years and these friends got her through the hard times and I am thankful for that part but also for the kindness they showed towards my sister and myself.  Growing up, I have seen the aunties at various functions and once they realize who I am, those hugs are back!! 🙂  The love and affection I am shown is indescribable and it takes me back to happy moments in the house – sadly, some of them have started passing away which is inevitable.  Although my childhood was fraught with a lot of adversity, I am so glad that I remember much more of the positivity thanks in great part to these gratitude posts.  To all my aunties, I am so glad you were part of my mom’s life and in turn a part of mine as unbeknownst to you, you played a part in making the man I am.  Love you all!

May 19 – the lady at the gym

299/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Do you ever have moments when something clairvoyant-like takes place and you are trying to get an understanding of the logic behind it?  The other day I was thinking of a woman that I would run into back in my 20s and 30s when I used to work out at Fitness World.  I was wondering whatever happened to her.  She was a Punjabi woman who was well over my mom’s age (probably by a decade or more).  I was fascinated by her because first she was working out lifting weights.  Second, she had short cropped hair – growing up Indo-Canadian, all females sported long hair and older women had auntie-buns – but not her.  Third, she was made up to the nines (yes, she was working out but damn, she did it in style).  Fourth, her English, although accented, was impeccable.  I recall her sitting on a bike next to me striking up a conversation with me and of course, small world – she knew my mom and my extended family.  She started giving me hugs when I would be at the gym and I met her once at the temple where she just grabbed me and told my mom that I was her other son and we had only talked casually.  I admired her and how she really got me to see older Indian woman in a different light than what I was used to growing up.  The evening after she had popped into my head earlier this week, my mom phoned and asked me if I remember a woman who used to work out at the gym.  I was floored as I told her that I was just thinking about her.  My mom got all quiet and then told me that she had just gone to her husband’s funeral that day and that she (this lady) was asking about her “son” (me)!  To say I was weirded out would be an understatement.  I guess I also affected her on some level.  I made a promise to my mom that in the upcoming weeks I would make a trip to her place to give my condolences but also to connect with her.  I am very fortunate that a lot of good people have come into my life over the years to get me to think about life and this lady is one of those people.  Thank you for allowing me to see (Indo-Canadian) women of my mom’s generation and older as productive, vital, independent and lively rather than what I was shaped to see them as through my interactions in a patriarchal cultural.  I look forward to our reunion where I can tell you this in person.

May 8 – to all moms

288/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.    My very first gratitude post 287 posts ago on my birthday was about my mother.  Today being Mother’s Day, I just wanted to recognize all the “moms” who’ve had an effect on me but also all moms in general as well.  Moms can be biological.  Moms can be adoptive.  Moms can be dads.  Moms can be single.  Moms can be aunts.  Moms can be grandmothers.  Moms can be family friends.  Moms can be in heaven.  Moms can be trying.  Moms can be loving.  Moms can be teens.  Moms can be older.  Moms are all sorts of things.  Moms are whomever you share that bond with.  My mom fits several categories.  My aunts have acted as surrogate moms.  My grandma has been a mother figure at times. My wife is a great mom to our kids.  I am the first to admit that the bond between mother and child(ren) is much more important than the bond between father and child and it will always be that way for most people – hey, there’s a reason why it’s the second biggest gift giving day (after Christmas) because our mothers are important.  Moms sacrifice careers, deal with tears, have fears and will get cheers but also jeers.  Moms are the true superheroes in my opinion – from my own mom, to my cousins, my wife, my sisters, my aunts, my friends, my grandma – I’ve seen how much moms do.  Today, I will go visit my mother but also my grandmother – yes, it shouldn’t be about one day but if not for today, I might keep putting it off (especially in my grandmother’s case).  To all the moms as defined above, thank you for all that you do as the ripple effect of your hard work, care and love are felt by countless others unbeknownst to you!

April 13 – i survived you

263/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  If you’ve read some of these gratitude blogs, you no doubt have realized that as a teen and younger child, I was bullied at school and in the neighbourhood.  The only safe place I had was my house for the most part.  There were times though when I was made fun of by family.  Not my immediate family but extended.   I had an aunt, who shall remain nameless, who constantly made fun of me for my weight, my awkward and late puberty, my effeminate behaviour, my studious nature, my appearance – generally anything about me she made fun of.  When the odd “friend” or two would come to pick me up to take me to school or work, she would tell my mother that they were not good people and that I should not have female friends and my mom who was easily susceptible to family influence would heed her advice to my anger and frustration.  I remember when my aunt would just burst into the washroom while I was in the shower to make fun of my weight or for me reading books while on the toilet – who does that?  She did.  She also denied my dad’s schizophrenia and would say that my mom and I were making up stories to keep him institutionalized.  Wow!  Who thinks that?  She did.  She also tormented me with mice.  Because my mom had to work, my sister and I would be dropped at this aunt’s place and she lived in a run-down basement with a mouse infestation.  She could not handle my ADHD behaviour and kept me in check by taking the mousetraps that had dead mice in them and threatening me with them by waving them in my face, or keeping them within reach to get me to behave.  I was not allowed to say anything to my mom.  Of course, I was terrified and have a phobia of rodents to this day.  Yes, not only did I have bullies in the community, I had one in my family.  At the time, I absolutely hated her as I couldn’t understand why she would do this to me but at this present time, I am not bitter and I hope it doesn’t sound that way although I have not spoken to her in years, I am almost sure she has no clue the trauma she caused me as a child.  Just writing this reverse gratitude post is cathartic and she taught me a lot about people at a young age and that family is not always there for you/in your corner which is a lesson I’m glad I learned then as it has only made me stronger now – perhaps a lot more guarded but a lot more aware of how I put myself out there to others.   I am now not that disappointed when things happen in my life such as my own separation or my siblings and I becoming estranged from one another as I understand dysfunctional dynamics because of my childhood.  I have grown a great deal and become a stronger man because of all the things I have had to endure as a child and a crazy aunt was just one more thing in my unfathomable upbringing.  I can’t say thank you – I can only thank myself for surviving you.

March 15 – speaking in tongues

234/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’m very fortunate to have a second language. I was born and raised for the first seven years of my life in New Westminster, BC. I learned English and Punjabi at the same time – perhaps a little more English and a little less Punjabi. I will admit that my Punjabi skills are not the greatest – I think in English and then translate to Punjabi which inevitably creates a small lag time that is often commented on by my relatives to my chagrin. And yes, I don’t have all the words/vocabulary/grammar down and yes, my pronunciation and enunciation is not the best but I still try. I have to thank all my relatives from my parents to my uncles and aunts and to the aunties and uncles (extended and not related) who kept on speaking to me and my sister in Punjabi regardless of our understanding – you forced us to learn our mother tongue and although I’m in no ways an expert, I can definitely get by. I also have to thank you in allowing me to speak Pun-glish (a combination of both) when I couldn’t come up with terms to quite express myself in Punjabi which still increased my knowledge of the language. Although I would have loved to have had one of the Renaissance languages as my mother tongue (let’s be honest, Punjabi is pretty guttural although German takes the cake on that one), I’m still glad that I do have a second language and it allows me to connect with some of the older relatives and immigrant relatives who have never, ever had the opportunity to learn English. Thank you to all my relatives for giving me a skill that would have eluded me if I had any say in it.

March 9 – Mumee dearest

228/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   In the Indian culture, we have special names for aunts and uncles instead of the generic terms of aunt and uncle. Each of the terms signify the relationship of that particular aunt or uncle to oneself – for example your mother’s brother is called Muma or your father’s sister’s husband is a Fufar or your mother’s sister is a Musee (even your parents cousins fall into this category hence we have no second cousins). We were taught these terms from the get-go and I label all my immediate aunts and uncles this way.   Yes, it’s very complicated but it shows all the ties and how one is related to another and I actually appreciate it. Growing up, my Mumees (mom’s brother’s/cousin’s wives) have been some of my favourite aunts. Strangely enough, even though they are in-laws into the family, they have been some of the kindest and caring aunts I have had. Surjit, Manjit, and my Mumee in England (I honestly can’t remember her first name as we don’t really use them) are three that I am particularly fond of. They were very nice to me growing up and never made me conscious of my awkwardness or weight problem. I saw my Mumee Surjit more than my Mumee Manjit who I saw more than my Mumee in England but each and every time I saw them, I only got positivity from them. Yes, maybe a little correction to my behaviour but I always knew it was coming from a caring place (I can’t say that for all my other relatives though). Although I don’t them as often now that I am older and have my own kids and life, I still remember their impact.  So tonight’s post is to honour my 3 Mumees – awesome ladies who definitely made me feel awesome about myself.