Christmas 2020, the year of vision,
Merry Christmas, my Dibbuns (explanation of Dibbun given in July post 2017)!
There are different types of grace, but I’m praying for only one kind this Christmas
There is grace, the noun, for which the definition is simple elegance or refinement of movement.
I have no hope of ever attaining that kind of grace.
Hold on; I’m going to get a mug of my famous spicy-sweet coma inducing mulled wine.
So, let’s go back in time, my brother Andrew arrived on the scene when my sister Carla was ten and I was seven. I was thrilled; I saw so many positives to the whole deal. I figured my mom would be busy with a baby and forget all about the stinky job jar, plus I got a live doll to dress, feed, and satisfy my already developing maternal instincts.
I would also have a captive playmate. Regardless of what he claims, he loved playing Lady Lavender and The Marshmallow, and I shall not reveal who played who.
My older sister Carla seemed to tire of me. I shared a bedroom with Carla growing up, and she used to pay me to stop singing show tunes and asking her questions at night. Carla confirmed this story and asked me to tell you that she was not a mean sister; she had to get up very early because she was an excellent pony rider who had to be at the barn at six a.m.
I would agree you should cut her slack because I’m pretty sure being my sister was liking having this, follow you every day.
I also had a secret reason for being happy about a new brother. I hoped a brother would take the heat off me and play catch with Dad. I never felt like Dad pined for a boy before Andrew was born. I even asked him once when I was an adult if he was disappointed I wasn’t a boy, and he answered, “Oh no, I’m far too logical for that.” Isn’t that sweet?
My dad, Fred Wall is a man of science, as was his brother Harry, and they had four girls between them. Gender was irrelevant to them; their girls mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and studied the scientific names for wildlife.
This enlightened rearing produced one cousin who is an award-winning engineer, with an P.Eng, an Fellowship with engineers Canada. Another cousin is a BMR (PT), My sister has a B.A., A Bachelor’s of Nursing and an MBA, and there’s … Leana. Well, three out of four girls is pretty good. Yes, yes, I have some letters behind my name too; none of them can make me a living, but I have always had self-confidence without any facts to back it up.
Anyway, back to my need for a brother (I am going somewhere with this) I was around five when my dad started coming to find me once a day and asking, “Hey, Lee, let’s play catch.” Catch? Ewww. I was usually playing with dolls, drawing, or looking for fairies in the garden. I had zero desire to play catch, but Dad was insistent. Thus, when my little brother Andrew came along, I figured once the boy was around two I would be exempt from all dreadful activities involving balls.
What was going on was the pediatrician had told my mother I needed a lot of extra help working on my hand-eye coordination. My parents had already tried putting me in gymnastics to help give me some grace. That attempt was a disaster. My mom said the other little girls were laughing at me, so they pulled me out. She needn’t have bothered; I hadn’t noticed. I’m pretty sure I thought I floated like a feather on the balance beam.
All these years later I found out the whole “playing catch” thing was a sham. I thought Dad loved playing catch with me. When my Dad heard me say so, he laughed. “Leana, there was no catch to it. I threw the ball, and then you picked it up off the ground. You then threw it off into the bushes, and I had to go get it.”
I am still hopelessly uncoordinated. Sorry, Dad; your efforts were in vain.
Now grace, the verb, is more in my lexicon. Grace the verb is defined as giving unmerited favor or conferring dignity on someone or something. I was born with a heart of mercy, and giving grace to others is usually one of my strengths. Giving grace—unmerited favor—to others comes with a lot of joy and a lot of pain. Basically, I am tender hearted which leads to all sorts of beautiful things, but that also makes me first in line to be a sucker.
The year 2020 has stretched my ability to find compassion, and I have found myself struggling to live with an attitude of grace.
As everyone around me knows, both Dennis and I have had COVID. Dennis did okay but lost fifteen pounds of muscle, which cannot be regained since he cannot move his muscles. I’m still struggling with long COVID. The latest studies have shown, up to eighty percent of people who get COVID will have symptoms that linger. An unknown percentage will recover from the acute symptoms of the disease but continue to have symptoms for months possibly, year’s? after.
Seeping up from underneath my softness is fierce anger, bitterness, and sadness, not pleasant qualities to be around. I have not enjoyed my own company.
A global pandemic, getting COVID, and the American election was too much for this peaceful, pink-cloud soul.
Christmas is the season when love came down to dwell among us. Such a gift cannot be received with a hardened heart and bitter tongue. So I set to work praying, reading, and talking to others about how I have arrived in this emotional space.
A picture seemed to emerge. Perhaps some of you can relate, or not.
I’m not angry so much with the pandemic. Look back at history; pandemics are nothing new. When this one started, medical experts told us exactly how long it would last, when a vaccine would probably be available, and what it would take to manage things. We couldn’t deal with it.
The election, well, that’s nothing new either. Heavens, this country went through the American Revolution and the Civil War, which I just learned all about for my citizenship test. American history is fascinating and full of conflict and drama. Canadian history, not so much. A lot of paddling, and politely asking The Queen to back-off. No wonder sometimes I feel overwhelmed here.
In my long COVID situation I can’t blame people for what they haven’t heard about. When more and more of us COVID long-haulers become visible, people will become educated and understand the long-term effects of the disease.
I have become isolated and fixated on my pain. To some extent, I feel like here in my adopted country people don’t know me as well. If that’s true, I have only my self to blame. I do know I am 100% responsible for my happiness in life, so it’s my move.
The only way to fix this pain inside me by trying to know others and care more about others.
I’m going to start the conversation. I hope I will see you soon, we can sit down, and you can tell me your story. I hope you will then continue to do the same with as many people as possible.
The following is a small bit of my story.
My name is Leana Conway.
My grandparents emigrated to Canada in 1924 after the Russian Revolution. The communists took everything they had, and my family had to flee for their lives. My grandparents on both sides left everything behind in Russia to start all over again in Canada, which was willing to give refugees a chance to build a new life.
My grandfather always became emotional when he talked about how it felt leaving behind everything he knew and feeling as if he belonged nowhere in the world.
Most of my family still lives in Canada.
I suffered from post-partum depression, and other small bouts throughout life.
I am a Mennonite; no, not the horse-and-buggy kind. Fred and Irene, my parents, are very cool. They enjoy a gin and tonic and wear regular clothes. Mennonites are an offshoot of Anabaptists, who believed in pacifism. We are very ordinary.
I attended Bible School as well as University because I am fascinated by theology, philosophy, and world religions.
I am now a dual citizen, Canadian/American.
My family includes people of:
Cree First Nations descent (American friends what you call Indians we refer to as First Nations, in Canada).
Ojibwa First Nations descent
Metis First Nations descent
Soon my son is marrying the love of his life, CC. We love her, and part of CC’s family is Czech/Jewish, who barely survived the Holocaust.
My daughter has been dating a man named, Sheryar. He, his sister Sehar, and his parents are Ismaili Muslims, and we adore them. Those previously mentioned useless letters indicating a degree, behind my name, included studying world religion. The Islamic faith I studied was a beautiful religion of brotherhood.
Dennis and I live within a fragile health community. We see some people who struggle to get through every day, people who have lost everything because their bodies have betrayed them. I would never have believed it before spending twenty years with the chronically ill, but much of the world, does not want to see or hear from the sick.
Dennis and I are an anomaly in this world because we have the resources we need, we have support, and we live a happy, yet challenging, life.
That’s some of my story. Maybe knowing me more will help you give me grace when I am rubbing up against the way you see the world.
This Christmas my heart is yearning for more grace. Not grace so I can finally walk in high-heeled shoes and not look like a Clydesdale attempting to figure skate, but grace so I can fully love.
I cannot fully receive that extravagant gift of the reason for the season, when I am withholding grace from my brothers and sisters. When my hands are held tight in fists of anger and bitterness, I get nothing.
We are all in desperate need of grace right now. Maybe a good place to start is by extending it, and that can begin with, “Tell me your story.”
May this different Christmas be beautiful in its unique way.
Be patient, stay safe.
All my love,
Auntie Lee-Lee, Goose, Mummy
p.s. Tell me your story.