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.

June 14 – gettin’ my Indian on

325/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Writing these posts, I’ve realized that there are many people who have influenced me on my life journey inside and outside of my ethnic heritage.  For any of you who have had to balance the fine line between two worlds, you will understand this post.  I was born and raised in Canada.  My parents were immigrants but they immediately assimilated into the Western culture as that was the way back in the early 1960s.  Growing up, I knew that we were different – yes, obviously because of skin colour but also because of “rules” that we were subjected to in our homes that my friends were not.  However, being the oldest and often just with my mom and sister, I was able to shape my mom into what was the ‘right’ thing as opposed to what her more traditional family was telling her.  I was proud growing up ‘western’ (no offense meant to anyone) as I was able to traverse life a lot easier back in the 70s and 80s without anyone really paving the way for me.  Our parents, as well as those of our cousins (all, also born in Canada), tried to inculcate Indian/traditional ways but most of us rebelled as we didn’t understand the restrictions and limitations.  We overcame and basically moulded our parents.  However, we didn’t know what we were really missing about our heritage until the 4th and final sibling of my mom emigrated from India to Canada with her family.  Initially most of us cousins were a bit reluctant in hanging out with our new cousins as they were – well very Indian 😉  I felt I had nothing in common with them other than that our parents were siblings.  My mom insisted that I have all three of my new cousins (with their spouses) over for dinner and I argued against it but caved.  Yes, it was awkward and even communications was tough as their English was minimal as was my Punjabi.  However, our familial bonds started to entwine us and soon enough we were laughing and learning.  They tried martinis and wine, I tried my Punjabi language.  We looked at photos and they reminisced about how they first met the fat Randy in India when I was 7 or 8 years old and then the total transformed Randy of 19 once again in India.  I cringed but I loved it – we were family.  These were my cousins.  Over the years, they have bonded me to my heritage more than anything could have and I try hard to be worthy of their respect but I know they respect me regardless.  Thank you Jeeti, Jasvir and Gurmeet for making me feel proud of my Indian heritage and family.  I raise a cup of chai with a Crown Royal chaser in your honour ; )

May 14 – golden boy

294/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  When I got married way back in the late 80s, my “family” more than doubled.  My wife had so many cousins and a good 2/3 of them were younger than me.  This was so very cool for me as I got to see them move on from their teen years into young adulthood, witnessed their weddings and then join the ranks of parenthood.  All of them have been great role models for my own kids and now their kids look up to my young adult and teenager.  The one cousin that was similar to me in that he was an only son with two youngers sisters was/is Pavi.  From the get-go, Pavi has always been one of my biggest supporters and although he almost always has the utmost respect for me, he likes to take the occasional jab at this selfie-king 😉   Pavi, unlike most males, wears his heart on his sleeve and is very honest about his feelings and this is probably what drew me to him because he is genuine.  He is not afraid to be vulnerable and that is a quality I admire and something that I started doing in the last few years.  His two sons are very fortunate to have him as a dad – I see how caring he is towards them and I can also tell that he is a great son as he forwent a lot (his career) in order to stay in Golden and carry on the family business.  Pavi was also one of the few relatives that I feel comfortable in being open and honest with as I don’t think he is judgmental but just there to listen and give advice when needed.  I hope I have been the same for him.  Thanks Pavi for being a great cousin and a great ambassador for Golden whenever I make a trip down!

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!

May 4 – brothers in arms

284/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As many of you know, I’m brotherless – only male child out of three for my parents.  Every one of my male cousins has a brother or brothers and at times I have been envious of them as yes, I do miss not having the brotherly bond that I assume is present.  Of my male cousins, there are two that I am closest to even though I only see them every year or so but do consider them like my younger brothers – really younger brothers as Inder is 12 years my junior and Terry is 14 years younger.  The nice thing is that when we do see each other, we have a simple affinity towards each other that has not wavered over the years even though we may not see each other for long periods of time.  Being their older cousin, I didn’t get to bond with them in the typical way cousins do as I was in my late teens when they were younger but I would still play games, be a judge for dress-ups, watch their routines etc.  We became much better friends and relatives as they entered their teens and got married and had children as our commonalities multiplied.  Although we have not talked about life and issues – I think that’s a brother thing!! – we understand that each of us has been through tough times and respect each other and are there for each other in spirit.   Not having a brother(s) kinda sucks but at least having Inder and Terry as cousins gives me a feeling of what it would be like to have them.  Love you guys!  Glad you are my cousins!

April 4 – i’m finally not the oldest!

254/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ll just say it – I hate being the oldest.  All my life I have had to set the bar and through both conscious and subconscious pressure, I have set it very high so that my siblings and cousins had something to aspire for (or so I thought).  So many times I wished that I had an older sibling or cousin who I could look to for guidance but unfortunately for me, I was the oldest.  I have a sister two years younger than me.  I have another sister 15 years my junior – yes, 15!!  The cousins who were born in Canada and that I grew up with are 7 to 16 years younger than me.  In my 30s, my mom’s sister’s family emigrated to Canada and along came a few more cousins.  These ones were older but I was still oldest.  It was contested that my cousin Gurmit who was born in the season of harvest was older according to my grandmother as she had heard about his birth in India and then recalls my birth in Canada but harvest season is probably after this Leo baby.  However, I recall going to the motherland when I was 18 for four months – yes, when your parents take you out of school for a trip to India (and for me, it was out of university), it was for an entire semester!  My mom took me to probably marry me off – LOL, I kid (although I was hot property back then and had a lot of offers – I didn’t want an ESL tag-along!!).  So I was dragged along to countless homes and met cousins that I had heard about and finally, finally I was younger than two!!  My dad’s niece Baljit – stunning beauty – was about 3 years my senior.  She literally and figuratively took me under her shoulder and I let her.  First time I let go and was able to be someone who had an older sibling (re-read my earlier post about cousins being sibling in Indo-Canadian culture).  Although I was 19, she took care of me like her younger baby brother doting on me.  I let it happen because I so wanted to look up to someone and let go of having to be the oldest and role model and whatever else came with it.  A similar thing happened when I met my mom’s nephew Amarjit.  Handsome and having the same stutter as me.  Also 3 years my senior.  He took me on his motorcycle to various sites and kept me within arm’s reach and looked out for his Canadian cousin whenever we were out in public as I didn’t really know what I was getting into.  Although I only met them briefly that first time in India, they made an indelible impression on me that has been everlasting and they allowed me breathing time away from being role-model and just revel in the fact that I could be the younger one looking to my older siblings/cousins for guidance.  I have never forgotten that trip and they will never know how comforting it was to have them for those 4 months and have an experience I longed for all my life for however brief it was.  Thank you Baljit and Amarjit for being my older cousins and just making me feel that much more at ease and allowing me to be me without having to be an example for others.

March 27 – do you believe?

246/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As people sit down this Easter Sunday with their families, I’m assuming a lot of them are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection while others are using the holiday to be with their families be it having lunch, hunting for eggs, getting their chocolate on etc.  On these “holy-days”, I often wonder how many people are celebrating the true nature of the holiday be it Easter, Christmas, Labour Day or whatever you have and how many are using it just as a long weekend, yard work day, shopping day, extra respite from work day and so on.  I’m in the latter category but that is because of a conscious choice – I am agnostic in my personal belief system (only one in my family) but I am very encouraged by and impressed by people who have their beliefs and live by them.  In my life, with family, friends, acquaintances, I have seen hypocrisy in that one thing is preached in respect to others’ behaviour based on personal belief systems but exceptions happen for personal behaviour.  This is no attack against anyone’s religion but more of the way one chooses to follow that religion – that was one of the reasons I made my personal choice.  However, I also understand people need something to live for/believe in providing values and a way to live one’s life.  I could never live my life that way and I can admit it but I do have examples of those rare exceptions who follow their faith and live their life truly by it without judging others.  You are also in my life as family, friends and acquaintances and I am thoroughly impressed by the way you live your lives and you also have also shaped me as I know I haven’t got it in me but I am encouraged by your choices.  You have not judged or criticized me on my choices and that is one of the things that I appreciate the most.   As they say, to each his (her, their) own – you keep doing you and following your belief path and I will keep doing me and following mine and still maintain our bonds 🙂  Thank you both groups for shaping the way I choose to believe!

March 26 – all my nieces and nephews

245/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  In my family (and perhaps my culture but I can’t be sure), our cousins are like siblings. Our own children call these aunts and uncles with identifying terms meaning mom’s/dad’s brother or sister (not second cousins). As well, we as aunts and uncles refer to our cousins’ children as we do to our siblings’ children as nieces and nephews. Add to this that the in-law cousins and respective children fall under the same category and one outside the culture might get to understand the importance of extended family (and how our various functions/receptions are so huge LOL). Last night, my wife’s cousin’s daughter (did you get that? 😉 ) came to our place to spend the night and she watched a movie with me, baked muffins with my daughter, watched my son play his video games and played with the dog. For all intents and purposes they are cousins and she is my niece – not distant relatives. This got me to thinking about all my extended nieces and nephews on my side of the family and my wife’s with all of our siblings’ and cousins’ children and I honestly could not come up with a number as I easily came to 50 nephews and nieces and then lost count. I am very fortunate to have all these nieces and nephews ranging from the oldest who has her own children (damn, am I a grandpa?) to a newborn a few weeks ago.   I am also very fortunate that these nephews and nieces – even though we may not see each other regularly – take the time out to converse with me and add another dimension to my life. I am amazed at the wonderful men and women, the funky teenagers, the sassy pre-teens or the cute toddlers they are and how they not only affect my life but my own children’s as well (giving advice or being role models for). Yes, it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child – I’m just glad my village is huge and has a lot of children to raise!