by - September 12, 2010

The greatest gift my Grandma ever gave me was the gift of culture and when I think about it, my whole life is defined by this gift.  My Grandma's family came directly from St-Quelquechose near Montreal. St-Jérome, je crois.  Her langue maternelle was french but with life and the way things go, she would not speak French at home to her 7 children.  Sure, they learned french in school but it wasn't their first language.  Mom can hold her own in a conversation which is still quite impressive. For some reason it was that French culture that  so easily seeped into the root of who I am.  Perhaps it was that French Immersion Schools are easy to come by as opposed to say, Norwegian or Scottish immersion.  So naturally, the Park kids were put in immersion and immersed we were.  I'm not going to say I loved every minute of it, and I was likely rebellious and too "cool" to learn french at some point.  But also, at some point, it clicked.  I remember going on my exchange in grade 11 to Montreal.  Best decision I ever made.  I came back with a huge appreciation for the language that my Grandmother had given me.  I wanted to learn more. Somewhere, somehow I knew it was to be my future.  And sure enough I would take BAC en français and end up teaching immersion in P.A and then Saskatoon.  Therefore, I see my career as part of the gift of language that my grandmother gave to me.  And with the language comes all the part of french culture that we embraced while growing up.  The food, the celebrations and the next most important gift...the religion.  I am Catholic and proud to be because it is a part of my heritage.  Sure, I don't necessarily agree with every single teaching of the faith, and I don't practice as much as I did growing up. But I believe and that's what gets me through the rainy days:  the accidents, the deaths, the strokes, the scares in life.  It's a belief that there is something bigger and a plan.  All that?  A gift from my Grandma.
2 months ago we were told to prepare ourselves to say good bye to Grandma.  Her health was failing rapidly.  Being diagnosed with Parkinsons 3ish years ago, we have watched a steady decline in her wellbeing...but this summer it took a spring forward and my mom and aunts weren't sure how much longer she would have.  A couple weeks?  A month?  Weighing now only 80 pounds, she was slowly leaving us.  Grandma had a living will, meaning she didn't IVs/aide were this to happen, so we knew this was going to be goodbye.  I had prepared myself to say good bye, but found I couldn't say it.  How do you say it? So I didn't. I thought instead I'd write this blog and have her read it instead. But Grandma changed her mind.  Instead of leaving us, she decided she wanted help, so off to the hospital she went.  To make a long story short, Grandma is now in a nursing home and has improved 96.7%.  They have noticed that the Parkinsons medication was causing her to have uncontrollable shakes.  Taking her off the meds have eliminated the shaking.  Grandma is back to being the way she was at Christmas, if not before that.  She spent the afternoon in Leask with us yesterday and it was such a blessing to be able to visit with her and see her and spend that quality time with her.  She is beautiful and I'll be forever grateful to her for the gift of culture that she bestowed onto me because it's a gift that will be passed on to my children and maybe my grandchildren that's a legacy if you ask moi.
If I've learned anything in the past 2 months, watching my mom and my aunts deal with this situation, it's how important your family is to you.  We are so fortunate to have people around us that will care for us and who love us and support us.  Having a family is a blessing and time spent with them is so precious, so soak it up people, whenever you have a chance!

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Have a lovely day!