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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thoughts on motherhood

Posted by Dawn-Ann on January 24, 2015

Does anyone ever stop worrying about their kids, or am I an anomaly?


I worry about them all, even though they range in age from 26 to 38. And I have now acquired grandchildren and a son-in-law to worry about, too!

Oh, I know. I should leave them to live their lives, and I really try. I bite my tongue so hard sometimes, refraining from giving advice. I stop myself from throwing money at them (money I can ill afford to be throwing around). I work to love and accept and encourage, but not to manage them. I am often successful in doing so… but not always.

It hurts to see them struggle – financially or emotionally. Things seem so much harder now than I had it.

rob and holly 1981 - 1-cropped

A long time ago in a country far, far away…

My first husband made good money and I started out married life with a new mobile home on our own city lot and never really wanted for anything. Even after our divorce, when I suddenly found myself to be a working single mom, I had a job I loved, fun friends around me, and relatively well-to-do grandparents who loved to help out with a cheque now and then.

Still, I had my struggles and a lot to learn about life. And where I am now boils down to paths I chose and decisions I made. Did I make mistakes? Oh boy, did I! I made mistakes out the wazoo;  I like to think I learned from them.

But back to the kids…

There comes a time when you have to just let go and trust that you’ve given them the smarts and courage to live their own lives and let them deal with their successes and mistakes. Maybe I had a tougher time letting go than some (I battled empty nest syndrome for YEARS), but I am mending and backing away from meddling.

Besides, managing my children’s lives gets in the way of living my own life fully, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the second half of my life. All my life I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and caring for others, from the time I toilet trained my baby sister when I was six.

Now it’s time to start thinking about me.

Silent, sad stories

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 12, 2011

In memory of...

When we were in Scotland I took a lot of pictures of cemetery headstones, especially in Closeburn and Dumfries.

Most of the images I got were of Kirkpatrick family members’ stones, but occasionally I found ones that stirred my imagination. Some even moved me to tears, such as this poignant story.

You can’t read it all, but here is what it says:

In Memory of
Bridget, wife of Thomas Wilkin,
Surgeon, who died on the 12th December 1840
aged 40 years
Also Robert their son, who died
21st February 1831 aged 1 year and 4 months
Also James Pennington their son,
who died 24th October 1839 aged 1 year
Also Mary their daughter, who died
1st February 1833 aged 9 days
Also Catherine Mary their daughter, who died
at Kendal 20th July 1854 aged 20 years
And Amy their eldest daughter,
wife of Henry F. Bainbridge,
who died in Liverpool 27th September 1871
aged 46 years
Also the above Thomas Wilkin,
who died in Suffolk 16th February 1873
aged 72 years

“Looking unto Jesus”

Imagine the heartache this family must have endured…

The power of family

Posted by Dawn-Ann on December 21, 2010

Every day I am so grateful for my family. The Kirkpatricks are known for their solid support of family and friends, through thick and thin, and here in our little Calgary branch we are rallying the troops again.

My beautiful niece Krista is working hard to raise some funds for a marvelous, life-changing trip she plans to take to Ghana. It is an educational trip – an opportunity for field study extraordinaire - but the learning will be much more than academic. I know from experience how travel not only broadens the mind but educates the heart.

That is why I am one of Krista’s biggest supporters in this venture and, to that end, I am helping her ramp up her fundraising effort. We have designed a page with her story on it and I would be ever so pleased if you would drop by and have a look. Even a $5 contribution could make all the difference if enough people do it.

Namaste and thank you!

Visit Krista’s fundraising page here.

Let the children run free

Posted by Dawn-Ann on August 8, 2010

When I was a girl I was often up and out the door after a quick breakfast. I played and explored outside all day and only came home to eat and use the washroom. I was called in at dinnertime and then was out again until the street lights came on (and woe betide me if I was late!). I played and ran and had fantastic adventures with my friends.

Depending on where I lived, I also tramped around in the bush by myself and learned how to tell time by the sun and find my way home after becoming lost. I ate wild berries that I’d learned were safe and drank stream water.

I think it was good for me to grow up semi-wild and independent. I was always extremely healthy and became a bit of a free-thinker. I learned from nature and observation. Although I was a dreamer, I also became very observant of what was going on around me.

Things are different nowadays. Although our children are statistically safer than they were back in my day, they are coddled and protected more now. This false perception of danger, according to one journalist, has led to unhealthy, socially stunted kids.

Another article warns that “the mental health of 21st-century children is at risk because they are missing out on the exposure to the natural world enjoyed by past generations.”

I’m afraid I would have to agree.

But there is a movement afoot to set the children free. Lenore Skenazy, the journalist who was labeled “America’s Worst Mom” for allowing her nine-year-old son to journey home on the subway alone, has started Free Range Kids and has even written a book on the subject (see Resources, below).

Lenore says on her website, “We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence. Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned.”

Hear, hear! Let’s temper our fear with a little more common sense, shall we?



A day in the life of Dawn-Ann

Posted by Dawn-Ann on July 7, 2010

Okay, this is the last video that I’ll bore you with for awhile. It’s just that I’ve been having so much fun with my FLIP camera and my editing software (CyberLink PowerDirector).

I was hanging out with my niece and her fella and my son, Rob. We went to Eau Claire and Princes Island and had dinner at Joey Tomato’s at Eau Claire. Later, my daughter and son-in-law came over with the babies. It was a good day.


Video of my new grandchildren

Posted by Dawn-Ann on July 6, 2010

While my blog is mostly about genealogy and Kirkpatrick family research, it seems I’ve been digressing a lot lately. Anyhoo, I just had to share this priceless little video about my grandbabies.

Now, I realize I’m probably just being a typical grandmother and most folks out there are bored with video of babies, but indulge me, please? I proud and I’m happy – that’s reason enough for posting. :)

So now, without further ado, my twin grandbabies (who, by the way, are Kirkpatrick descendants)!

Changes in the Canada census impact genealogical research

Posted by Dawn-Ann on July 1, 2010

Time to start keeping our own records for future generations of family researchers

The genealogical community is abuzz with news that the long form of the Canada census has been tossed. As of next year’s census, 2011, everyone will receive just the short form to fill out. A voluntary “survey” will be sent out to about a third of households.

Folks who are not involved in genealogy are celebrating.  Many found the long form, which only one in five households were asked to fill out in any given year, were onerous and intrusive.  As a matter of fact, one Saskatchewan woman is doing battle in court over her refusal to fill out the long form.

But genealogists are less than pleased. For years, census data has offered important clues in family history research. An Edmonton Journal article says, “A door to Canada’s past has slammed shut, leaving future Canadians with little information about their own families and the country’s history, in a move the government says was prompted by privacy concerns.” This is exactly the kind of discussion I’m hearing in the genealogical circle.

Canadian census records are released to the public after 92 years for privacy reasons. The results of the voluntary “survey” will never be released to the public.

I have found some very valuable family information in census records. They brought my ancestors to life – I could see all the brothers and sisters, their ages, their neighbors, their father’s occupation. It’s sad that future researchers will come up against a brick wall on similar research.

I suppose that’s all the more reason for us to be writing out our own histories and gathering information together for future generations. Thank goodness for those of us who are the family “archivists” and story gatherers!

Happy Father’s Day, Dedy!

Posted by Dawn-Ann on June 20, 2010

Getting geared up for the Calgary Stampede

I’m really lucky in that I get to see my Dedy fairly regularly, as he lives just a couple hours’ drive away. Occasionally he comes in for family gatherings and appointments and – even more occasionally – I go out to his town for Legion events and just to hang out camping.

This blog post serves no purpose but to let my Dedy know how much I appreciate him and am so glad he is part of my life. I believe we choose before we’re born who we will be spending our lifetimes with and I do believe I chose well.

So, happy Father’s Day, Dedy. I love you! :)

Acceptance and the circle of life

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 28, 2010

As I move more or less gracefully into the second half-century of my life I have been faced with a number of life lessons I haven’t had to learn before. There have been staggering losses and remarkable gains; dark moments of grief that brought me to my knees and (sometimes on the same day) brilliant, shining moments of joy.

This year's greatest blessing for me - my very first grandbabies

One thing I am oh-so-slowly learning is acceptance. The Universe is unfolding as it should, to quote the Desiderata. There are many things I cannot or should not change, but I can accept them as part of the ongoing winding and circling of life.

It seems that Life, in its infinite wisdom, seeks balance. When it takes away, it gives back. When it hurts, it heals. And there is opportunity for learning and growth in every experience.

I am grateful that I can find great pleasure in the simplest of things:

  • a perfect spring leaf…
  • a well turned phrase…
  • a baby’s wee fingernails…
  • being awakened by birdsong…

That’s the key, I think. Accept what comes, find your balance, and appreciate Nature’s gifts.

At least, that’s what works for me.

The end of an era

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 25, 2010

Celebrating Canada Day and the Fourth of July

I am feeling a little bit drained today, emotionally and physically. I spent the weekend helping to get my grandparents’ cabin ready for sale. My cousin and her strapping young sons came and helped move mountains of stuff out (I really couldn’t have done it without you all!). I showed the new buyers around one last time, locked ‘er up and, after two days of impressive manual labor, left for home.

But not without a few tears.

Alanna dreaming in front of the fireplace

As I wandered through the now-empty little cabin the memories started to flood back. I remembered sunny days with my then young children, hanging out in the mountains with grandma and grandpa. I recall evenings by the fireplace with them, lingering over a glass of wine and laughing uproariously at grandma’s banter. I would chuckle at grandpa’s wisecracks about grandma’s cooking and her vibrant, quick spirit.

More recently, I recall days spent with Janine and how she loved that beautiful location in the rugged Montana mountains. She’d go down for weeks at a time and just veg, playing on her computer, planting flowers and watching satellite TV by the hour. The quiet and solitude were balm to her spirit. The cabin is full of her memories.

UFO hunter Dawn - and yes, that is indeed a surgical cap on my head

But the memory that somehow stands out the most has to do with this photo. On this night, grandma and I had dressed up in snowmobile suits to protect ourselves from the cold mountain night air. We went outside with binoculars in one hand and a drink in the other and laid out under the stars on deck chairs, watching for UFOs. Grandma would exclaim “There’s one!” at every satellite that went over. “Grandma, that’s just a satellite,” I’d say. But she was adamant that every one was a UFO. Who was I to argue?

Though they’re gone now, grandma and grandpa and Janine are more than just memories. Their energy lives on in their actions, which will reverberate throughout the years to come. They live on through their children and their grandchildren. I could feel their presences in a very real way as I said goodbye to them and the cabin yesterday.

“We sure did have us a time,” I murmured, gazing quietly through thick tears at the sparkling blue waters of the lake.