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 18 – baby sister

329/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ll probably come off bitter or mean-spirited with this gratitude post but that is not my intent going into it.  I have a sister who is almost 15 years my junior and it’s obvious that we have major differences given our age gap.  My father was released from Riverview after about a decade or so once his schizophrenia was properly diagnosed and managed with medication and about a couple of years later my youngest sister Sandee was born.  I can admit that I was subconsciously jealous of her and the parents that she had in that she had both and my dad was working, more or less cognizant of what was going on in the world because of the meds and adored her.  However, the thing about having a younger sibling was that I had an early start on learning what parenting was all about as myself and my other sister (two years my junior) were basically responsible for her as both my parents worked at that time.  I learned how to feed, bathe, clothe and change a young infant.  Did I love it?  Hell no LOL.  Whereas all my teenage counterparts were living teenage lives, I was at home with my sisters responsible for them but I still had fun – I remember good times with Sandee – playing board games, fashion showing her Barbies, making her watch movies with me (barring the scary ones), playing dress-up, being host to her and my cousins talk shows and a host of other activities.  Sadly, Sandee doesn’t remember this and has bitter feelings towards me as she feels that I wasn’t the older brother that I should have been (which boggles my mind) and I wasn’t there for her.   Yes, I may not have been that dad/brother figure that she desired but that wasn’t my responsibility.  In the past, I tried explaining to her (both of us as adults) that I was almost 18 years old when she was three and I was in university and had to focus on myself and I also wanted to be away from my parents as I needed to assert my own independence but because she had some idealized version of what brothers were supposed to be, I have never measured up in her eyes.  I also tried to get her to see my perspective of what it was like for me to grow up with a (schizophrenic) dad who was institutionalized and unfortunately she couldn’t understand it and trivialized it – It’s sad that we have been estranged and I have not seen her daughter who was born almost two years ago nor her son who I had a great bond with.  Life is like that unfortunately especially because of family dynamics.  I still care for my sister even though we have our differences.  Unfortunately, because both of us are of the same ilk, our pride gets in the way and I can admit that we are both to blame in the way our relationship has turned out.  Wherever we may be in life, I am glad that I had Sandee as we needed each other when my father passed away three years ago.  Who knows if we will even mend our broken bonds but I’m still glad that I have my sibling(s).

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!

April 24 – can you tell me how to get…

274/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Both my parents were immigrants to Canada – my dad in the late 50s and my mom in the early 60s.  They had good enough English skills to be able to get by quite well in the new Western culture that they found themselves in; however, they chose to speak to me and my sister in Punjabi and thought that it was the school’s job to teach us English.  Our elderly next door English speaking neighbours encouraged my parents to let us watch Sesame Street in our pre-school years as they convinced my parents that our oral English language skills would be that much better entering Kindergarten – and they were right.  I remember watching Sesame Street in the mornings – at that time I recall a 3 to 4 hour block of it and then a further hour or so in the early afternoons.   I can honestly say that I was enthralled with the show and what I was learning (although I didn’t know I was learning).  I practiced every word and letter and just sat there – literally in front of the tv (I think I have bad eyesight because of how much I watched).  I remember Oscar, The Cookie Monster and Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and the humans (Bob, Carol and the multitude of others).  I’m sure I subconsciously picked up on the ethnic diversity of the cast in addition to the conscious educational aspects.  I don’t have any hard facts but I really feel that watching Sesame Street gave me the academic edge in elementary school equivalent to those kids who go to preschool.  I also feel that the show gave me confidence in my abilities and that not having English as a first language did not pose a hindrance to my learning in any sense as I had Sesame Street there as my private tutor.  I believe that without Jim Henson’s muppets and the multitude of producers, actors and puppeteers, I would have had an added disadvantage in life.  Whoever says that tv is not educational, I would have to disagree – it can be if the right programmes are watched by the right people – academic learning does not have to take place just in a classroom, it can take place in one’s living room.  Thank you Sesame Street for giving me a very fair advantage that made all the difference in the world for my abilities and my confidence!

January 26 – from babysitter to teacher

186/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Up until these gratitude posts, I thought my first few jobs were at McD’s, Bootlegger and A&A Records but I realized that I also had a babysitting job in the neighbourhood. I actually don’t recall how I got the job – probably through word of mouth (and now that I think about it, why wasn’t it my sister who was doing it – not being sexist but I don’t recall a single guy in high school babysitting LOL). The A—–r’s were an Indian family also living on the same street but were of a different background than that of my Sikh parents – I believe their last name was of Sanskrit origin and they were Hindu. The father and mother were both professors at UBC – I was dumbfounded as up until that moment, I had never met anyone who was Indian in a position of academia and here were a married couple living in my neighbourhood. I somehow think that meeting them led me to believe I could become something other than what I was used to seeing in my immediate and extended family – a labourer/blue collar worker. The children were well behaved – the daughter R (whom I was never told outright) was a high functioning Down’s Syndrome child and the son M (whom also I was never told outright) was on the other spectrum, a genius. Both kids wanted me to read to them at night and these were not everyday Disney classics – the books the parents had selected were intellectually challenging and yes, not what I expected I would be reading. There was also no cable – just basic channels and thus, I spent a lot of time doing my homework while the kids were sleeping. The thing that I most remember is both parents talking to me before heading out (which was often as they had many university dinners) and telling me that I could definitely become something of myself specifically Dr. A taking me aside and motivating me to do well in school. He had said to me that being Indian, I had to work twice as hard to get half as much and that has always stuck in my head – not necessarily because I feel that it is so but I feel that perhaps on a subconscious level I felt it so and that’s why I may have the drive, stamina, work ethic and perfectionism that permeates my very being. As is with most of the gratitude honorees, I have lost touch with them but because of tonight’s blog entry, I did Google search them and was pleasantly surprised to see entries, videos, pictures of them in their respective careers/endeavours. Thank you to the A——-r’s for giving me that gentle subconscious push to be all that I could possibly be.