From the monthly archives:

April 2016

Once a star

by lulujane on April 28, 2016

Over the last few months I was remotely aware of a student at a local high school who seemed destined for greatness because of his prowess on the basketball court. Because he was an immigrant, he was housed with the basketball coach, someone in our community who has a strong and successful reputation for coaching teen aged boys in the sport. Even though Nicola came to the school  identified as a seventeen year old, he appeared larger and stronger than someone this age, had a deeper voice, and even  a bit of gray in his beard. Given that he was only seventeen and relatively new to the sport, he was accomplishing great things on the school team and it was thought that he would likely have an opportunity to play professionally some day.

In an attempt to obtain a visa to enter the United States to play with his team, it was revealed that instead of seventeen, he was actually thirty years old.  In high school sports I understand that the maximum age to participate is twenty-one. Newspaper reports indicate that he was well liked by his team mates, that he was a good guy. Now he is being held in detention, with the strong likelihood of being returned to his home country.

Without paying attention to all of the detail in the case, this made me feel really grateful to be Canadian.  I have done nothing to earn my right to live in this wonderful country and the freedoms I enjoy. I am not alone when I say we take this for granted. And why, really, am I more entitled than someone else to be here?   Many of us have heard the phrase ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’.  I cannot imagine being a mother in a foreign country where there is limited opportunity,with me and my family experiencing hunger and deprivation of the necessities of life, in danger every day and living in fear.  I would want the best for my children.  The fact that people are driven to the extremes of deception and danger speak to the cold reality of their lives in their homeland.

I know there are rules, and their must be rules.  I also believe there must be compassion and understanding and sincere gratitude for the luck of the draw of being born in Canada.


Cash for Life

by lulujane on April 28, 2016

I am a grateful recipient of Canada’s Old Age Security which is dependably deposited into my bank account each month, without fail.  Often in the newspaper, on the radio or television news I read about persons who are not happy with their OAS and complain what benefits they believe other demographics (i.e. immigrants/First Nations people) receive that they do not enjoy.

Today is my sister-in-law’s 65th birthday.  I took time to deliver her card and gift this morning and mentioned that one of the good things about turning sixty-five was the cheque she will receive each month.  She responded with “my brother Mike calls OAS Cash for Life”.

If someone won a lottery in Cash for Life which would provide this amount of income each month, consistently and reliably, until death they do part, I imagine this would be a source of great happiness and might even be accompanied by excited telephone calls and  shouts of delight.  Heck, there might even be expressions of gratitude. A Cash for Life win would be nothing to just take for granted.

Years ago I worked at a law firm where I got generous Christmas bonus cheques which made me happy. One year, a person new to the firm received her first bonus cheque and was delighted.  She was so happy that she mistakenly revealed the amount to others.  She had only been there a few months, and yet proportionately, to some other bonus recipients, it felt to them that she didn’t deserve the large sum.  Gossip floated around, and even though most people were originally happy with their windfall, all of a sudden they were unhappy because they made comparisons with the good fortune of another.  This was a big lesson for me.  What I get, I should be happy for, and also happy for what others receive independent of me.

I am grateful for my Cash for Life.



Shiny shoes

by lulujane on April 28, 2016

As a very young child there was a shoemaker shop a couple of blocks from where I lived. When I walked by I loved hearing the sound of the machinery that drove the belts, and I have memory of the smell of leather, shoe polish and glue that drifted out an opening door.

When shoes were taken for repair, as shoddy as they may have looked when handed over to the master in the black, brown and oxblood polish stained apron, even if the repair was a small one, they were returned to the owner shining like the sun, restored to their former brilliance.

Last week I took a pair of shoes to a local shoe repair shop, leaving them to have a heel replaced. When I returned to pick them up, the finish on the leather was as dull as when I dropped them off. While I realize that I did not pay for a spit polish, and the heels were expertly done, I was surprised that I felt a level of disappointment.

Many craftsman see the finished product they present as a reflection of themselves, their art, and go above and beyond what is expected to show what they can do. This makes ‘them’ shine.

When my shoes didn’t shine it gave me pause, and in a negative way, speaking about myself, I made a judgment about my perception of the level of care I received, even though the work I paid for was performed in a professional way.