First Job, Thinking Caribbean, Money and the Power of a Hug

First Job, Thinking Caribbean, Money and the Power of a Hug, Some happy thoughts from my little world for another week.


For the last few days, Jordyn has asked if I am writing a blog this week or not. When I told her I have something roughed out, she asked if she could read it first. I told her, she could read it after it is posted online, like anyone else. But she insisted, asking for me to send it to her in advance. It made me think, why is she so curious all of the sudden about my blog? Then it occurred to me. She is curious what I am going to say about her and her new co-op position that starts next week.

Well, let me start by saying that I am so proud of Jordyn and everything she has become and the challenges she has overcome on many levels of her education. The many years of tears and fights and late late hours, studying and working towards the eventual end of education and the beginning of her work life. Life long learning aside, there is an end to formal schooling and a time that you need to figure out what you “want to want to do” for the rest of your life and I think she has at least narrowed it down.

Aside from that period she watched like 11 seasons of “Bones” and said she wanted to be a Forensic Anthropologist, Jordyn has always said she wants to work with kids. It’s been over the last 6 months that she has narrowed that down to work with deaf kids. You see Jordyn has an amazing rote memory. She has watched hundreds of hours of YouTube videos of people teaching sign language, mostly signing popular songs and she loves it. That brings us to her co-op. Next week, Jordyn starts a 16-week placement in the library at a deaf school in Milton. Congratulations Moom and we love you!

That somewhat kitschy pop song from the 80’s on the Cocktails’ soundtrack, about a utopian, mythical and magical, nonexistent island in the Caribbean called Kokomo has always made me think of warmth and summer time. Sung by the Beach Boys, it also speaks a bit to the musical sound of yesteryear for sure, but more importantly, it reminds me of a different time and place in my life.

Now, all these years later, I get to have a daily flash back to life in the 80’s, the movie, the sound & lyrics, when I arrive home and am greeted by the loving new Carr family member. Yes, something happened that we said would never happen again. To be truthful, it was just Nathalie and I that said it would never happen. The girls had always held out hope, and in one way or another pressured us over the last little while to the point that we finally gave in. We got a new dog.

Taken by Julia!!!
She is not a new dog. Kokomo was rescued from an Indian reserve, west of Hamilton after what looks like might have been a tough 2 years of life. She has scars on her legs and paws and one on her nose and when we first saw her curled in a ball in the cage, she avoided eye contact at all costs. She was so scared to meet us, that after we finally said yes, we had to actually carry her into our car to go home. Unable (or unwilling) to walk on a leash, she was timid and in a constant state of fear and seemed overwhelmed by the whole process of life itself.

What a difference almost 4 months make. She is learning tricks. She’s got a crazy fun and sweet personality. She loves now because she is loved and that make us all very happy. Now, it has come at a price. In future blogs, perhaps I’ll tell you the shoes or the drape story, or the escape from the crate twice story, or if you are really lucky, the hanging out of the 2nd floor window story, but truth is she is just awesome and I am so glad that we gave in and now have her happy to see us face, greeting us everyday.

I love the girls, obviously. I love who they are and who they have become and love the little situations that remind me that they are becoming self contained, contributors to this world. They think on their own, do things for others, they show compassion and empathy and also, of course they each have smarts and a great sense of humor. Last week, after the good night hugs and kisses, the girls disappear up stairs and head to bed. After about 5 minutes, Jordyn comes to the landing on the stairs, and shouts to both of us, “Dad do you have 10 dollars I can have?” Now I am the softy and usually always give them what they ask for. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t ask questions or give them a hard time about it, it just means, that they know who to come to.

I want to get a handle on what she is going to spend this on, so I pause the TV and ask, “Can you be more specific?” She looks at me from across the room, as if I have just asking the most personal question imaginable and says, “Like a 10 dollar bill?” I just loose it and start laughing, and Nathalie get’s in on it too. “I know what 10 dollars is, I am asking what you are going to use it for?” And instead of answering the question, she deflects, “that is not what you asked!” Then Nathalie agrees with her and the whole, what should have been a simple question and answer becomes “pick on Jimmy” day. OH whatever, here is your money!

Just getting caught up on sharing some of the memories from the past 10 months of missing blogs, I have to start writing about the amazing trip the girls and I took last July. The idea of the early summer road trip was hatched, 3 weeks before we left, while sitting in my hot tub late at night under the stars. I was thinking that Janey, my twin sister would be sitting under the same stars at her home in Newfoundland at the same time, and how wonderful it would be to experience that with her. We hadn’t seen her in 4 years, so it was time.

After the long drive there, and a few days of getting acclimated to the surroundings, I woke early one morning and found myself sitting on her large deck overlooking the ocean and I wrote this piece.

Sound of Silence
I love that song. 1964 Simon and Garfunkel. I haven’t really thought about the words and the meaning for very long, but today, this morning I did. I’m up earlier than I’ve been since we arrived in Newfoundland. I had breakfast and went to sit on the deck that surrounds the house and the sound of the outdoors hit me. Still wind with bright, somewhat cloudy skies with the smell of the ocean and the almost deafening sound of silence.  

When I was a kid, I spent lots of time at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and one of my favourite displays was the sound proof tunnel.   You walked in and with every step the air pressure changed and the sounds of nothing grew louder. Like everything disappeared and I so remember that feeling.

This morning, that happened again. A single bird chirp in the distance; a cough from a guy on the road, a ways away. Flies. But smattered in between, is the amazing sound of silence.

What is it about the hug that is so powerful? I am a big fan of both giving and receiving hugs. I have always loved the pre-embrace, the lingering hold and the release. If there was a secret to giving a great hug, I think it is holding for an extra 3 seconds past when you think you should. The first time can actually remember feeling the power of it; I was 16 at my Grandmother’s funeral. I remember the cemetery and can see the rows of cars and the people and can actually remember the way it made me feel good at what was an otherwise very sad time for me. In my memory, it is a little fuzzy as to who is actually doing the hugging. One time I remember it is my Mom, but I also have had the same scene play out in my head with it being my twin sister.

This week, when I just finished hugging a good friend, I thought I should try and capture my thoughts on this amazing, often underused form of affection in my blog. I look forward to my yearly Seneca convocation and always hug each of my students, as they walk the red carpet and pick up their diplomas. In that instant, I am somehow hoping that they understand the impact each of them have had on me and that they understand that no matter their contributions to the class, or what shows up on their future career radars’, that they can each make a difference in this world with their own actions and if it is just giving a hug themselves, then that is wonderful too.

This past week I had a run-in with someone in my neighborhood about something so small, that it made me think to myself, how there is someone that just wasn’t hugged enough as a child. My last thoughts on hugs are simple. Hug More. They contain a power that needs to be used by more people in this world. You would think that if I could hug anyone right this moment, I may select my Mom or my Dad, but right now, I think they would be number two and three… The hug I miss the most right now is my sister Janey. She gives a great hug.

In closing
I love that my girls and Nathalie share a wicked sense of humor and they often think and act and say the same things at the same time in a marvelous symphonic performance in perfect harmony. When they are all on, it is often me that is their muse and I guess I am ok with that.

On the weekend, we where all heading out to a lunch, and so everyone was getting ready feverishly and I believe we were late. Julia was out of sight in her room, Nathalie in hers’, and Jordyn was in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I walked in, just as Jordyn was asking her Mom if she looked ok? Nathalie said, “You look nice Jordyn” and me, I thought the same, but always wanting to be a little controversial, answered the questions NOT asked to me with, “ah I don’t know looks a little ugly to me!” Without eye contact or a single beat out of place, both Nathalie and Jordyn, from separate rooms say at the exact same time, “So is your face!” I guess I totally asked for that.

Off to find my own mirror,

Thanks for reading, have a safe and great week,

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