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 6 – oldest niece

347/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ve been told that I am quite naïve at times and take things very literally at other times missing the subtle sarcasm or subtext.  I’d like to think I’m just very straight forward and expect things to be relayed to me that way as well 😉  I have also been told that I am quite into my looks.  Okay, well, I won’t argue that but if you know my history – and if you have been reading these posts – well, then that personality trait is understandable.  I thought I was one of a kind until my niece Sabrina came along.  I didn’t see the similarities in personality until her own mother, my sister Pam, pointed them out.  From then on, almost everyone commented on how we were similar.  I didn’t take offense to it and I’m hoping Sabrina never did as it has been a running theme/joke whenever the family had gotten together for family gatherings.  Sabrina was born about a year before my daughter so I got a quick education on what parenting as an adult would look like.  In fact, Sabrina did everything a year before my daughter – entered kindergarten, high school, university etc and thus, I also received a cursory overview of what could possibly in store for my daughter and thereby myself.  I enjoyed our easy rapport and definitely our similarities and our uncle/niece bond but alas, as things have happened in my family, Pam and I have become estranged and sadly but understandably Sabrina decided to also cut ties with me in solidarity with her mother.  I hope that someday soon Sabrina remembers the happy times that we all shared as family but especially myself and her and perhaps will decide to rebuild our relationship as individuals rather brother/daughter of a family member but until that time, I wish her well and will always remember the learning that took place for me as I saw her growing up.

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 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!

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 10 – my siblings

260/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  So today is siblings day.  Sad because as I have aged, my siblings and I have grown apart over the years rather than closer.  So apart that I don’t speak to either of my sisters over issues that really are petty but because emotions and pride are involved, no one wants to admit they were wrong and I’ll be the first to admit it.  I can now reflect on it and see that both sides are at fault when it comes to a disagreement and that acknowledging perspectives does not lower one to agree with said perspectives.   I did make the first move to mend fences with one of my sisters through a gratitude post on New Years’ Day but here we are in April and I have yet to hear anything from her although the post made it to her.  Regardless of where we are in our relationship today, I am glad that I had them in my life growing up.  I can say that I wasn’t a perfect brother especially to my younger sister (we are 14 years apart) as I had my own issues to deal with being bullied, not having my dad around, trying to get good grades so I could be something and move out; however, I tried to spend a lot of time with her in her younger, formative years which she probably wouldn’t remember.  Yes, as she got older, I’m sure she would have wanted what she saw in tv and movies as an older brother but as we grew up, the age difference didn’t help as at 19 when I wanted to go out or hang at university, she was a mere 5 years of age.  I did learn how to change diapers and feed a baby and all sorts of other things that come with parenting as my other sister and I became surrogate parents while my mom worked.  I have great memories of the good times with both my sisters and perhaps that is what I can focus on this Siblings Day and take pride in the fact that my own two kids get along well given their 7 years in age difference.  Here’s hoping that one day me and my sisters can let bygones be bygones and mend our bonds.

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.

April 3 – skin to skin

253/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Most of my friends are white.  Yeah, I said it.  I’ve been told that I have sold out as I don’t hang with my own kind?!!  Wow, that’s a whole lot of subtleties in one statement!  My question – how does one sell out their own ethnicity??  That doesn’t make any sense to me.  Just because a lot of my friends are white means I have left my ethnicity behind?  Uhm, no.  I have similarities with people who enjoy the same thing as me and the majority just happen to be of a different skin colour than my own.  As well, I don’t consciously choose my friends based on skin colour – I choose them based on looks (LOL, I kid, I kid).   I actually have very cool Indian friends.  And Chinese friends.  And Filipino friends.  And Black friends.  And white friends too.  Finally, I wasn’t raised very Indian even though I came from an Indian family.  No fault of my own.  I am being true to myself – not denying my ethnicity.  My soul sister who I believe totally gets me is Orene.  This awesome, funky, cool, stunning black girl understands that your outside skin colour doesn’t define who you are as a person.  We became friends about 15 years ago but were not as close as we are over the last year or so.  Because of other friendship dynamics, we didn’t really keep in touch with each other personally as sides were taken over friendship breakups but we always were on the same side of friendship ourselves and reconnected over Facebook.  Even that connection was slightly superficial so we took it upon ourselves to meet for lunch which turned out to be an afternoon of craft beers and Top Model posing on the streets sometime last year.  We then started bonding over our love of The Walking Dead and Orphan Black and bringing back others into our fold that we had also lost touch with.  Orene is honestly another sister from another mister as she gets what it is like to be a person who is defined by most others by your outside skin colour but really colour really has nothing to do with who we are except that we are human beings that should be seen as that first.  We are both fortunate that we have the majority of people in our lives who fall in the latter category and see us for who we are and not our stunning complexions 😉  Orene is also just a great ego booster for me – I can do no wrong in her eyes but on those rare occasions, she tells me like it is.  But I gotta boost her ego – she is an amazing mom and creates amazing clothing for herself and her kids as well as a fashion bag line while still working outside the home.  Yeah, she does it all.  I am so very glad we reconnected and even more glad that I am sharing tonight’s Walking Dead finale with you and yours!!  To our continued friendship Orene!!