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.


July 10 – the people in your neighbourhood

351/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m always fascinated by one’s environment and the kind of impact it has on one in regards to character formation.  I grew up in the 70s in Northwest Richmond BC – a predominantly white community with a few ethnic families.  We were told to assimilate by both our parents and by the community at large and we did.  My street – Riverdale (like the Archie comics – yes, I’m dating myself) – was host to a very diverse population in regards to socio-economic status, family types, and even ethnicities.  I remember almost every kid who lived on the street and I’d love to say that they were wonderful and left an amazing, lasting impression on me but I can’t say that.  With perhaps an exception of one or two, most were not pleasant to me.  However, that also helped shape me into the guy I am today.  My neighbours and yes, it’s my blog so I’m gonna name you – brothers Daryl and Ken R who lived right next door to me made my life a living hell (more so older Daryl with Ken following his lead).  They would spraypaint racist epithets on our driveway and no form of cleaning truly erased what was said literally and figuratively as it has stayed with me to this very.  Daryl would vandalize our home: windows broken, rip off our laundry off the line and I would have to go hunt it down on the street, throw all sorts of trash into our yard and have his buddies over to spit at me from their deck while I (remember that I am extremely overweight and nerdy) had to cut the grass.  Daryl would make fun of me when my dad would be taken to Riverview, he would say the worst racist things to my mom and I would yell back and he would laugh at my face.  My mom told me to ignore them and do what I had to and just keep the peace and although I was angry at Daryl and Ken, I did what I had to and took the abuse.  They involved neighbourhood kids like Candace and Todd, Arif and Shafik (yes, that Shafik if you live in Richmond) to join in and yes, they joined in.  There were others but I need to get off this bitter train before I start giving them all their own compartments 😉 The neighbour kids across the street, although not involved directly, saw how very unconfident I was and did their own things – siblings R, P and K, and K and her sister – nowhere near the extent of Daryl and his followers with physical things but more psychological.  At the time, along with the bullying I suffered from (see post #15) in school, I hated my life and just wished I didn’t live there but I got through.  As with that earlier bullying post, I became stronger – a Survivor.  Everything I am today is on a subconscious level in spite of all of my tormentors.   I haven’t really thought of these neighbourhood kids until today and just happened to Facebook find a few of them as I was writing this and was tempted to send them this link but I am above all that – yes, I named you and I needed to do that and yes, I hope some of you who read this post and are in touch with them will forward it to them but I am beyond the Riverdale neighbourhood kids today and so much better off given what you put me through as I am that much stronger.

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!

April 23 – basement dweller

273/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Sharing and Respect.  I was taught the meaning of these two words my entire childhood up into my teens.  No, I’m not speaking about things like toys or food.  I’m talking about space.  Most Indo-canadian children will understand what I’m talking about – basement rentals!  For as far as I can remember, I shared houses with others.  I don’t really remember much of my early life in New Westminster but I do remember living on Riverdale Drive in Richmond and sharing our home with others.  My parents had a full suite in the basement (2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, washroom) which they rented out from as far back as I can remember.  Growing up, I knew no different – people share homes.  I learned to share our space with others – yard and house.  I learned how to be respectful of others regarding noise, time, and privacy.  I also learned from the various renters.   There was cool George & Glenda – a young couple who were kinda funky, loved taking pictures and told me to focus on my education.  There was Slavo & Jana and their two kids –  a European couple who had just emigrated from Yugoslavia and were learning the language and the culture.  There was Mike and his Grandmother – he so cool with the multitude of Asian girlfriends and she so nice like a second grandmother to me.  I’m sure there were at least a dozen or so “families” that made our basement their home for as long as they needed to.  In addition to sharing and respect, I learned so much more about people by having to share a common living place with them.  Yes, I didn’t love it all the time and my first home did not have a rental unit much to the chagrin of my parents but I understand why my parents needed to rent out their home and don’t fault them at all.  I learned a lot from all the people who passed through our house on Riverdale as they had a small part in shaping the man I am today.  I know I’ll never see them nor remember them if I saw them today but I’m glad that they crossed my path and for that, I thank them.

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 6 – love thy neighbour

225/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As an early teenager, living in a one family home that required a lot of work inside and out and my dad not able to help out with the upkeep, my mom was tasked with a lot of the home maintenance. My sister and I did what we could and tried to help out as much as we could in the days before the internet era where now one can look up fixes or find and compare handypersons in a moment.   My mom is a very outgoing person who quickly makes friends because of her personality (hmmm, I wonder if I took after her) and she made some friends in the neighbourhood. The one family that became quite close to us were Mr & Mrs Jiwa. My mom, being slightly ignorant as to their heritage, thought they emigrated from Fiji and coined the terms the Fijians – can you be racist if you are of the same skin colour?   My sister and I didn’t know their names and so Uncle Fiji and Auntie Fiji was what we called them for several years until they finally told us our mom was wrong!! The Jiwas told us stories of their escape from Idi Amin in Africa and starting life over in Canada. Uncle Fiji fixed everything in our house – at times I felt bad for him because anything from the car to the laundry machine to a broken lamp in our house, my mom was fast to call him and he dutifully came over to fix it. But the relationship was symbiotic as my mom would cook extravagant Indian foods and have them over for dinner or make extra and send them a care package. They became very close to our family just like regular extended family members – at baby showers, weddings, engagement parties – any event we had, they were right there with us. I am very grateful to have had them as neighbours on the street and for my mom to have had someone to share friendship with in Auntie Fiji and rely on to help around the house in Uncle Fiji. Although my mom has moved out of the neighbourhood as have they, all of them still keep in touch and I do see the Jiwas occasionally at my mom’s different functions. Thank you Uncle and Auntie Fiji for being there for all of us growing up and even as an adults and especially being there for my mom!

December 15 – the people in your neighbourhood

144/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Most groups of people you associate with, you don’t get to choose: your family, your co-workers and your neighbours being three of the main four – friends being one as well but luckily you have a say there. The group you have the least input into being associated with is your neighbours but they do have an impact on your life. Whether you live in a basement suite, apartment or condo, townhouse or detached home, your neighbours can make your life awesome or miserable. Do they kindly bring in your empty garbage/recycling from the curb? Do they play their music at all hours of the day and night? Do they keep an eye out on your property when you are away? Do they cause you stress over little neighbourly things? I am very fortunate having great neighbours and I can say this from comparing them to the neighbours I had growing up as a child/teenager. Living in a detached house, the interaction is less so with my neighbours than living in other arrangements but their impact is still felt. Yes, there are those nosy neighbours who need to know what is going on in the hood and I guess that keeps the gossip mill running and in turn keeps the social interactions going. There are also those that will lend a helping hand fixing a fence or walking the dog, buying your child’s sports lottery tickets, or just chatting over a beer. I can admit that I am not the most social one of my neighbours (which is a surprise especially if you know me). I do like to keep a healthy distance – maybe it harkens back to my earlier (negative) experiences with neighbours growing up – but even with that aloofness, my neighbours still make an effort to include me and my family into the neighbourly activities from the annual Hallowe’en party to the Dine N Dash to block garage sales. I can’t say that I have had a single negative experience with my neighbours and that is a rarity I’m sure. Thank you neighbours for making the last 16 years in the hood a pleasant non-event which is actually a great thing! In your honour, I keep an eye out for your kids/dogs/cars as you do for mine.

November 17 – over the white picket fence

116/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Love they neighbour. Uhm, no. That’s kinda weird and yeah, no. However, respect, like and admire one of my neighbours – yes, that I can do. Flo is a Japanese woman in her 80s who has the best landscaped yard – wait, the other Japanese lady across the street is competition but I digress – and Flo is always giving me plants to put in my garden. I do not know anything about gardening – I mean, I pulled out what I thought were weeds when in fact they were plants that I bought a few weeks prior so yeah, Flo looks out for me in that regard. Anytime I do something like water her lawn, she brings over some homemade treat or organic produce from her backyard garden as a token of appreciation. She is in awe of my son’s growth each and every time she sees him. She keeps friendly tabs on what is going on in our lives but is not a nosy neighbour which I greatly appreciate. She likes her weekly casino runs and takes pride in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Flo is spunky and still drives (which is kind scary though) 😉 Flo makes me smile. I hope to be as active and full of life and energy when I am her age and I hope I am as neighbourly as she is rather than curmudgeonly (my worst fear for old age). Cheers to you Flo as I plant a succulent in your honour – yes, I learned something 🙂