A day worth celebrating

With thousands of years of humanity behind us, it’s safe to say that every day of the year has been significant at some point in history. The 19th of May is no exception, having been the day on which:

– In 1535, Jacques Cartier set sail for his second of three voyages to North America. That’s almost 500 years ago! He went on to spend a very rough Canadian winter in modern-day Quebec

– In 1743, Jean-Pierre Christin developed the centigrade temperature scale, freeing us forever from that ridiculous things-freeze-at-32-degrees scale our old neighbours in the USA still use (well, the non-scientists anyway)

– John Franklin and his doomed fellows set out to find the coveted northwest passage in 1845…

– Parks Canada, the first national park service in the world, was established in 1911! (Definitely grateful for that)

– Malcolm X (1925) and Jodi Picoult (1966) were born – did you know you share a birthday with them, my love?

Interesting bits of trivia, but obviously none of these events are as significant to me as May 19, 1984. I like parks and temperatures in Celsius perhaps slightly more than the average guy, but Kathryn – you mean everything to me.

I’ve known and loved you for 10 years. That’s a lot of my life, and your love is the best thing I’ve had over all those years. Your love and the vows we made push me onward to pursue and work for the best life I can give you.

I’ll never stop thinking you’re beautiful; it’s easy, because you just are. I’m fiercely proud of you and would defend you from anything and anyone who would try to cut you down or diminish you. I admire and respect you, and I know that in the moments when my resolve crumbles and my hope fades, you’ve got my back, and the strength to pull me back onto my feet.

You’re a great mom and, God willing, we’ve got a long time left to enjoy together. It kills me sometimes to be away like I am right now, but I know I can trust you with our kids and that our reunion is never far away.

Thanks for everything babe: who you are, who you’ve helped me become, and who you are teaching our children to be. Happy Birthday, from the bottom of my heart, and many more to come.



Yep, it’s about mom

This morning, as I sat in church, a series of memories passed through my mind, each of which made me grateful for what my mom has taught me over the years, both directly and by observation. I’m not a perfect son, and my mom’s not a perfect mom, but she has changed my life (and me) for the better so many times over the course of the years that I wanted to acknowledge her today, it being Mother’s Day and all…

I think the most important thing my mom has taught me about is communication. For those who know her, they are certainly aware of the fact that my mother is an avid communicator, or in other words – for those who aren’t great at interpreting subtleties – she talks a lot. Sorry mom, for the many, many times I’ve zoned out while you’re talking. I like to think it’s not my fault, that there’s some sort of built-in mom-frequency-ignoring mechanism built into all of us, but I have to accept responsibility for at least some fraction of the mom-ignoring I’ve done over the years. But well done for hammering home the lesson that open and honest communication is vital for a successful marriage. I believed you so much on this point that we made it part of our wedding vows, and I bet it’s the biggest contributor to the wonderful relationship Kathryn and I share now. We don’t let things slide, or fester, or pass them off as insignificant – we talk about and resolve our issues as they come up, and that is mostly thanks to your advice. I’m sorry you had to learn this in a harder way than I did, but I’m thankful for the lesson learned.

On another note, and I don’t need to go into details, but there was a time once – my heart rate increases and my adrenaline starts flowing when I even start to think about it, so many years later – when I got angry. I mean full-body-flushed, veins popping out of my neck and temples, murderous intent kind of angry. It’s probably hard even for my best friends to picture that, but it’s happened two or three times (two that I can remember). On this particular occasion you were standing between me and the subject of my wrath, and you stepped forward and blocked the way with your arm as I was about to pass you. Your arm wouldn’t have stopped me, but I looked at you, and you had fear in your eyes; whether for me or because of me I’m not sure, but you told me not to let it control me. I didn’t want to scare someone I loved. I didn’t like that look in your eyes. I stopped, breathed, considered the situation as well as I could have in that state, and subdued my anger. I had a shower, and while I was in there I vowed to myself that I would honour your request and not let anger control me, ever again. If anything has made me a better parent, it was probably that intervention and the outcome of it, so thanks mom.

There are so many things I appreciate about my childhood, looking back on it: the freedom we had to roam and discover nature (which likely played a big part in me becoming a geologist), the opportunities and encouragement to cook (even if my current palate has been heavily influenced by post-home experiences), and, perhaps most of all, the trust you had in me. I didn’t always make great decisions, but you were right to give me the freedom to decide, because I’m a strong-willed kid.  You kept my loyalty by giving me freedom and trust, and in the end I usually wanted to make the right choices, to honour your trust.

So Happy Mothers Day mom, too bad you won’t get this until after church.

Love you,


Sometimes you had to keep me in line

Sometimes you had to keep me in line (ca. 2006)