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 12 – you did me wrong

353/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  How cliché? 😉  But it is so very true – I totally understand and live by that motto.  Everything that I have been through in my life has made me the guy you know.  Yeah, my life was tough but I know people have had it rougher.  I accepted my fate in life and dealt with it.  What I do wish though was that I had support growing up.  Yes, as I wind down these posts, I must throw in one final back-handed gratitude post to people who, without your non-care (for lack of a better word), made me even stronger.  You all should know by this time that my dad was a paranoid delusional schizophrenic.  We, as kids, were told to keep it hidden.  Deny it.  Don’t talk about it.  This was told to us by our mother.  But she was forced to tell us this as her in-laws wouldn’t accept/believe that their son/brother/brother-in-law had a mental illness.  I recall overhearing my mom being lectured that she was making things up and she had to stop phoning the police when my dad would lose it on her.  I remember also being told as a teenager that I was in collusion with my mom by having my dad institutionalized for that decade or so.  I was in shock and I had so much anger at my dad’s family.  They saw things from the outside.  We lived things from the inside.  As you may also know, my sister and I were in foster care for a short period.  We were living with different relatives at other times when my mom would be hospitalized because of my dad’s violence.  The anger stayed with me for most of my life.  I had to see these people at my dad’s funeral – these people who never were there for us growing up.  Any one of them could have stepped up and been a father figure, a true uncle but that never happened.  On my 18th or 19th birth year, my mom wanting to take me to see my paternal grandparents in India – I was lectured to by my uncles there that my mom and I (once again colluding) to steal my dad’s wealth and property there – no, they had no clue about the poverty we actually lived in growing up as my dad put my mom on an allowance and so she had to hold down multiple jobs just to care for us but I listened and festered.  I, however, did learn that three of his other siblings (two whom had committed suicide) were also afflicted by the same mental illness – I got a better understanding of my dad.  I was forgiving of my uncles and family in India as they did not have the same knowledge level as my dad’s Canadian family.  I have 100% forgiven my dad because none of what he did was in his conscious control but I can’t forgive my dad’s immediate family here in Canada.  You could have made a difference.  You could have acknowledged that there was something wrong.  You could have supported any of us, all of us.  Yes, you lay blame on us.  I’d like to think I’m a bigger person and can move on but I’m not that good – I can’t forget and I definitely can’t forgive.  I will say though that you have taught me a life lesson that not all family is there for you. Yes, this gratitude post might come off as very bitter but I think I’m entitled to this one.   I am so that much stronger in spite of/despite you and for that, you get the backhanded thank you!

July 8 – bros in law

349/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Some of these posts would have been written earlier in my 365 day journey but because of life circumstances, I wasn’t in the mental place to write them because of my personal situationship!  However, almost a year later, I am in a better place and acknowledge people who did impact me positively prior to the life events of the last few years.  I have four brothers-in-law.  Two are married to my sisters.  Two are my wife’s brothers.  I’ve talked about one of my sister’s husband already.  Tonight, it’s about my wife’s brothers.  I met Jujar and Surinder almost 25 years ago at the various pre-wedding functions that take months and months at Indian weddings! 😉 Jujar one year my senior and Surinder one year my junior.   I was excited as I had instant brothers!  I only had sisters all my life so it was cool to have these two new guys.  The two of them are pretty much exact opposites.  Jujar, the one with the cool name (nickname Ju) that I had never heard of (even to this day), is calm, easy-going, laid back and takes life as it comes.  I chuckle to myself when I think about first meeting him and his afro – but I am one to talk about hairstyles!! 😉  I can say that I have rarely, if ever, seen Ju get upset or fazed by anything.  I mean, he could have 20 extended family members show up at his house and decide they are going to spend the night and he just gets the air mattresses ready as if it’s no big deal (and to him, it isn’t) and we have an impromptu motel for the night!  Surinder is the guy who lives for the moment.  For as long as I have known him, every year he and his family are vacationing in some amazing destination that I have only dreamed of.  He makes time for his family when he can which is understandable when one is living in Texas.  He brings a sense of fun and frivolity when the families get together.  It has been great having these guys as brothers-in-law – all three of us very different, but all three of us learning from one another.

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!

April 20 – loss of loved ones

270/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I was one of those rare, dare I say lucky, people who did not experience any personal family loss/death of a relative close relative until I was in my early 40s.  Yes, I had a maternal grandfather die when I was about 10 years old but I had only known him for about a year and was a bit too ego-centric to know any different.  Yes, I had both paternal grandparents pass away but they were in India and I had only met them two – three times in my lifetime.  Yes, I had distant uncles and aunts pass away as well but no impact on me.  The commonality – there was not a long standing established relationship.  Their deaths, sad yes, however did not impact me emotionally.  Over the last 6 or so years though, I have experienced the loss of people close to me.  The only person who was an immediate family member was my father (gratitude post to come) but I was affected by three people from my wife’s family: her cousin Aman, her cousin Jeeti and extended family member Gudi.  Because of my experience with death, I naively just assumed that older people are the ones taken and I’d never hear of someone younger than me or around my age passing away.  I had known them all for well over 25 or so years.  All three of the aforementioned had families with kids – 2 of the 3 with kids as pre-teens or younger – leaving behind their spouses and children and families.  I had never grieved, never been to a funeral and never had anyone I knew closely pass away.  With respect to their families, I will not go into any details about the loss but I was deeply moved by all three – Aman and Jeeti much my juniors and Gudi a few years my senior.  I had a great relationship with Aman – he lived in Golden and would always make me feel at home when I came to visit.  Show me the town (okay, the pubs 🙂 ) and joke around.  He was also very honest and forthcoming and I appreciated that about him.  Jeeti was the smart cousin I remember from my wife’s family – I remember her in her farm attire, braid and glasses and then through her marriage and birth of her kids.  Gudi was the friendliest woman I’ve ever known – she could walk into a room and end up sparking conversations with anyone and everyone.  She once told me that she came on Facebook just to read what I posted as it started her day off with a smile but she’s the one who made me smile.  Their deaths affected me in that I realized the frailty of life and how really short it is.  Older people die and it’s understandable but they have left a legacy but when (relatively) younger people pass away who had so much more to leave, that is much harder to comprehend.  I am honoured to have met these three people and it still shocks me today when I realized that they will not be sitting at that front desk, cooking that food with their sisters or laughing and dancing up a storm at a party.  Thank you for being a part of life and teaching me that there is (sadly) an end but it’s the “you” and who you were that matters the most.

April 19 – bro-in-law 1

269/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I have four brothers-in-law:  two married to my sisters and two brothers of my wife.  One of my sisters was married before me and I have known her husband/my brother-in-law Kam for just a few months shy of 30 years!!  That’s a long time!  British accent and soccer aficionado and big beer drinker, I didn’t really have anything in common back then except for my sister.  We always had a brother-in-law relationship with each other rooted in civility – not much to converse about as we had a world of differences.  The only time in 30 years that we ever had an argument sticks in my mind LOL – the four of us (me, wife, sister and Kam) decided to road trip to California (or was it Mexico??) from Vancouver.  In a small car.  With no air conditioning.  In summer!  Yes, if that is not a set-up to lose it with another person, I don’t know what is.  And lose it we did.  Basically not speaking for a couple of days probably because of some small insignificant thing that heated up literally and figuratively.  I totally understand it in retrospect and the good thing is we were back to our civil ways before the end of the trip.  I can’t say we have a friendship in the traditional respect of the word but we have respect for each other and mine comes from the fact that he takes great care of my mother’s needs.  He is always there for her when she needs things fixed, picked up, arranged, organized whatever it may and he is my mom’s go-to guy as she has gotten so used to that she now neglects to ask me for assistance (which might be a good thing as I probably wouldn’t know what to do).  He may complain in secret but has never said anything to me or my mom and just helps out with anything and for that, you have had a great impact on me as you are taking care of my mom more like a son than a son-in-law.  Sadly we haven’t seen each other (due to an estrangement with my sister) except when we happened to be at the same soccer game and even then he asked how I was doing and told me to take care of myself – once again, cordiality at its best.  Thanks Kam for being my first brother-in-law and being there for mom – always!

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!

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.

February 28 – cousin-in-law

219/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s true when they say you marry, you marry into a family and everyone else in that family. Connections are made – some good, some great, some not so. I have been very fortunate in that my wife’s family is amazing. Before the separation, I spent a fair bit of time with them and enjoyed their company. The family is huge and the get-togethers were amazing – everyone loving, caring and genuine. I valued my time with them and would take their company any day over my own smaller family as there was a great bond with them. I felt accepted and valued by most of the family members and I had a great relationship with the cousins and spouses. Yes, I was weird uncle Randy and I relished that role 😉 However, as things happen with a separation, understandably uneasiness and confusion takes place as to the navigations of the extended family dynamics. Since I’ve been back home, I have had some time to think about these lost relationships and it has been awkward for me to engage in in-law family get-togethers as I guess on some level I felt hurt as I thought the connections that were there could have ridden the storm on even a simple level – just a message of “heard, hope you are well” instead of a complete shut-out but as I said, I am working through those feelings as I can see the other perspective.   The one person who I must thank today and who has been one of my most favourite in-laws is Raj. She is the one who has always had my back – when others make judgment calls or feel they know the right answers because they are louder – she always steps to the forefront and says it like it is. We have similar outgoing personalities and sometimes to our detriment, wear our feelings on our sleeves. She also understands me plus has a great sense of style – I mean we were both blondes once 😉  Upon my moving back, Raj did make an effort to connect with me and although I didn’t let her know, I am saying it here that I appreciate you reaching out to me – whereas others didn’t or haven’t since, you have and although I wasn’t ready then, I am ready now to reconnect. I feel so bad that I missed the birth of your child but she’s young, she won’t remember fingers crossed 😉 Thank you for being an awesome cousin-in-law and always a ray of sunshine 🙂