Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Laborious, Notorious, Glorious – Go THANK Yourself! #10Thankful

“No man ever was glorious, who was not laborious.”
–Benjamin Franklin

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Someone asked me how my Labor Day was going and I wanted to answer with a little something different:

“laborious,” I replied.

🙂

A lot went on this week, both in my life and in my mind. School’s back in session, for my niece and my brother, and for me, in a way too.

September 11th was also remembered this week. I can’t believe it’s been fourteen years since 9/11 happened.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
–Winston Churchill

It is thought that twenty-six Canadians lost their lives that day.

On the eve of 9/11, a rainbow appears in the sky over One World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my latest travel writing piece to be published on the travel blog of someone I really admire.

Can you travel blind, crossing Ireland’s Carrick-a-rede- rope bridge?

Thank you, Megan, for giving me a second spot on your travel blog.

It has gotten dozens of RT’s on Twitter in the last week.

First it was our interview.

Can blind people travel?

Of course we can!

And now my guest post where I explain what taking a risk, is like, for me.

Night Swimming

It’s a little like swimming at night. I’ve long wanted to do this and I thought of it, again, on Labor Day.

It’s a bit of a frightening thing, the thought of being out there, at night. I guess it’s the way I live most of my life, stepping out, in the darkness of the unknown, but taking the plunge anyway.

For the chance to spend, what was said to be the hottest day of the year, in the water and so I didn’t even notice the heat they spoke of.

We decided to spend our Labor Day at the lake. We are lucky to live so close to all those fresh water sources.

For my flexibility.

In life, sure, I’m improving. However, I mean that literally because I have been told, by doctors on more than one occasion, that I am incredibly flexible. My muscular skeletal system can bend in strange directions.

So, when I decided to jump in the sand, right along with my nephew, I just so happened to land on a log that was sticking out at my feet.

Luckily my ankles are one of those highly flexible parts of my body and although I went down, landing hard in the sand, my ankle did turn over but did not sprain badly. I felt it go over sideways, but I have stretched out those muscles so much over the years, leaving little to no pain as a result.

The opportunity to chase seagulls with my nephew wasn’t to be missed. Just thankful I walked away from that and did not have to crawl back to the car on hands and knees.

🙂

For literacy and education.

International Literacy Day, 2015

I would be lost otherwise.

For the education we’re lucky enough to have in Canada, as my niece begins kindergarten this week.

She is smart and sharp and bright. She learns so much and loves to share it. She surprises us all with the things she’s learning everyday. and I know she will do amazing things as she grows.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=207&v=CQ2noSR1qdY

It’s a good thing John Oliver is not her teacher.

For the premier of the newest in late night television.

Late Show Recap

Stephen Colbert makes me smile and I look forward to his jokes and his unique style of interviews.

One of his first guests, on his very first week, was George Clooney. They discussed and even showed a clip of George’s new film: Decision Strike!

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Well, don’t go looking for it in theatres in the coming weeks or months, as it is only a fictional movie, as he did not actually have anything real to promote. Sounds impressive anyway.

With all the talk of the heating up of the late night show wars, now that Colbert has thrown his own hat into the ring, Stephen made light of this when he mentioned all the thoughtful first-week gifts the other late night comedians have been sending him. He joked that they could all be expecting the best thank you card ever, with the words: GO THANK YOURSELF, written in them.

TAKE THAT! … Jimmy, Jimmy, Conan, John, and the rest.

🙂

For whatever it was that got me a replacement battery for my iPhone 5 and finally, after talking about doing it for months.

I put it off for too long. Not sure why. I can actually go a whole day and my phone does not die, a beautiful thing. This will be necessary for my trip to Toronto later this month.

I went in one of those crazy Apple stores, so hip and which make me feel very uncool. They have the genius bar. Well, I was informed of some loophole which made it so I did not have to pay the $100 for a new battery. Okay by me.

🙂

It just so happened to be September 9th and the big reveal day for Apple. I did not upgrade to the newly revealed iPhone 6S. My iPhone 5 works just fine, but it’s amazing just how revolutionary the iPhone has been for so many, but for anyone who is visually impaired especially.

For the people, in my life, who have gone through the loss of a loved one to suicide. They teach me things, all the time, about survival and resilience.

World Suicide Prevention Day, 2015

Sometimes prevention isn’t possible, upon looking back, no matter what anyone could have done. That doesn’t mean we stop trying.

I know life is forever altered for them. It isn’t easy and life will never feel happy, truly happy again. I just hope they know someone is thinking about them, always.

Everybody Hurts

The day was such a beautiful one this year, the weather anyway.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
–Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

For a dream come true – a dream of clarity, reason, and shape.

😉

First I was accepted into an anthology, with my short story: One Last Kiss.

Then it came out, on Amazon, but first only as an ebook.

It wasn’t until this week, finally, that I actually got to hold a print copy of the book in my own hands. I could feel the weight of it, turn the pages, and smell that signature bookish smell, all knowing my words could be found within. It is an indescribable feeling, a dream come true for me, and I will never forget what that felt like.

kerrsbook-closeup-2015-09-12-11-45.jpg

For a friend, somebody there on the day the book arrived in the mail. Someone to celebrate with.

We got Dairy Queen confetti cake blizzards to celebrate. Her five-month-old daughter sat, in her carrier, staring at me and I wanted to share, but unfortunately she isn’t eating ice cream, not just yet. I loved celebrating with her too, all the same.

🙂

Thanks, Mom, for bringing the book over.

For the best, most loving parents my nephew could ever have. And it all began on that warm day in September, back in 2009 – Happy Anniversary guys!

I will never forget that summer, that day, as long as I live. It was the day my sister had worked so hard for and looked so forward to. I got to be in the wedding party and was happy she allowed me to give a speech at the reception.

Storybook Love

My sister’s favourite movie is The Princess Bride and she wanted my uncle to sing the theme song from the film, at the wedding. It made it special, unique, and all hers. She wanted to get married in our back yard, of the home we grew up in. It was a wedding at home and meant so much to all of us.

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

For rainbows, literacy, firsts, celebrations, dreams, and anniversaries.

I am thankful I’ve gotten to share my words, more and more, in recent days and weeks. I guess, for me, the need to share my words with the world goes back to all that stuff I said about night swimming.

It’s scary, certainly, but the idea of being swept up and away, washed out there and with no sign or footprint to show that I was ever here, that is what I am most afraid of.

Sure, the chance for rejection is ever present in the present, but not nearly as great as that there could be no proof that I ever existed in the first place.

“I don’t know how long I kept at it…
I felt reasonably safe, stretched out on the floor, and lay quite still.
It didn’t seem to be summer anymore.”
–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions

In The News and On My Mind: School’s Back In Session

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!”
–JEG

Labor Day was Monday and now it’s back to school. This week is, thought by many, to be the end of summer.

A lot of what’s been going on in the news, I’m not sure, should be talked about. I’m not sure those I am referring to deserve to be mentioned by name, so I am going to try my best not to.

Instead, because these stories are still on my mind and, many are extremely bothersome, I will focus on recognizing those who do deserve it, just to balance things out a little.

***

Not sure how I feel about the British monarchy, but I did watch

“The Queen”

in theatres, on its release, and again, on television the other night.

It’s sixty years of Queen Elizabeth and Britain is celebrating her this week.

At the moment, those making the news with names I hesitate to mention include: a “comedian” who believes fat shaming is acceptable, another “comedian” who has gone on the record and defended rape, and the continuation of the circus around next year’s US elections.

There is a difference between honesty and bullying behaviour. It’s a fine line and I don’t know where that line is. We’re much too serious these days, we must learn to laugh at ourselves, but that can hurt when you constantly feel as if you are the one being laughed at and the universe always seems to be making jokes at your expense.

I don’t know what right anyone has to say any woman is “unrapeable”. I’m sick and tired of men like this, making stupid statements like that, falling back on the “innocent until proven guilty” line. I also don’t care how important of a TV sitcom doctor/father icon anyone was for the African American community during the eighties.

As for all talk of building a wall and kicking people out, splitting families up, this is likely a non issue anyway, but, I must admit, I do look forward to Colbert’s Trump jokes over the coming months.

Then there’s the judge who is becoming some kind of right fighter for the cause of religion and biblical belief. She has the right not to do anything she doesn’t feel sits well with her and her God of course, but she does not have the right to go against the newly set law of United States, as it has been set. The world is becoming a more accepting place, overall, and those who wish to fight this will get left in the dust of the past. Why do we seem so keen to stop progress and challenge love? It’s fear. We can’t let fear rule over common sense.

There’s been more news, stories every day, about the flooding of mostly Syrian refugees, into neighbouring, European countries. Boat. Train. On Foot. They keep on coming.

Images are powerful. I heard something about the image of a dead child on a beach. I can’t see it, but the visual in my head is still heartbreaking.

Germany is being praised for its acceptance of these people, so desperately in need and so is Iceland.

What about Canada? Would we here step up as well? What if I had to flee my home? Wouldn’t I want a safe place to open their arms wide for me and my family?

The decline of the once so self righteous Ashley Madison cheating website continues and I was, admittedly, happy about it from the start.

Then, last week, a literary website that featured a short essay of mine back at Christmas ran into some issues. There was a hack or a virus and the person running the site wasn’t sure everything would survive.

How Cranky is Our Little Editor? – Brevity Magazine: Precise Literary Nonfiction

I have included a link, in a past blog post of my own, to my essay on that site. I was worried that would be lost forever, as sometimes backlinks fail. This has happened with things I’ve written, guest posts I’ve done previously.

Surely, my glee at the misfortune Ashley Madison’s been having wasn’t resulting in karma being directed right back at me, was it?

🙂

I offered up that possibility, on Brevity’s Facebook page, that it may have all been down to it being my fault, and thus issuing my sincere apologies to them, assuming this might be the case.

All the names of those caught using the cheating website have slowly been released. This included a member of America’s most notorious TLC family of religion, and multiple children, so recently known to have been outed for sexually abusing his sisters over the years. Not to mention, the head of the cheating website himself.

He swore, although he ran it, he never used it personally. Yeah right!

One of my favourite late night television segments joked about the hack:

Jimmy’s Thank You Notes – Ashley Madison

Although the fate of Ashley Madison may be in question, Jimmy is right. Like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, it could always become OKStupid! This is because I believe people would continue to share their private details and take foolish risks and engage in secret keeping against those they claim to love.

Again, I hate to pick on them and specifically the guy who ran it. Anyone who can convince so many men and women to hand over their most precious personal information (names, addresses, credit card info, fantasies) may think he’s clever, but may not be making the wisest of choices, even for himself.

As the new school year begins, there is more of an uproar on the newly revised sex education curriculum in the schools here, last updated back in 98 and as school has begun, certain parents are keeping their children out of the classroom.

I don’t know what these parents are imagining. It’s as if they are picturing daily sex ed classes, all day every day, all year, from September until June, with a continuous bombardment of sexually descriptive indoctrination, but, from what I heard, the sex ed program is only days long and isn’t even scheduled to begin until the spring. So, these children aren’t missing anything, right now, other than the usual: math, science, and language arts. The only damage being done is that the children are pulled out of regular classes, with their peers and friends, into a make-shift class, organized by the fearful parents themselves.

I like how Canada and the US seem to be so afraid of the proper education, our priorities so horribly messed up on so many things, but something as important as sexual health and physical safety are left up to the internet and tales told out on the playground. Maybe we should have Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver explain the whole thing to us all:

This week, not only has school resumed, but the late night TV wars are beginning.

I like Stephen Colbert and I have been looking forward to his taking over of David Letterman’s spot.

I watched the premier and it didn’t feel all that different. Speaking of the cheating website’s troubles:

“With this show, I begin to search for the real Stephen Colbert. I just hope I don’t find him on Ashley Madison.”

Sure, he is now no longer playing a role, but just being himself. I just couldn’t tell. The tone in his voice and his style of speaking were very nearly what they were on The Colbert Report. I am glad because that’s what I like about him, all political affiliations aside.

I’ve always loved Conan and Fallon is always entertaining. I rarely have stayed up until midnight to watch, often preferring to check specific clips out on Facebook and YouTube after-the-fact:

Letters From Kids – Suggestions For Jimmy

A lot of these shows have been bringing the children into their skits lately. The other Jimmy has been asking kids a lot of interesting questions in his segments. It’s always a slam dunk with the audience.

***

I just saw a goofily-captioned picture of a puppy right next to a photo-story about the awful things we did in Hiroshima 70 years ago. How can we be the same species who loves cute puppies and came up with such a terrible idea as an atomic bomb? This being human is a strange thing.

Indeed, JEG, indeed it is. Let the stories about cute puppies and children always be there to balance out the horrible headlines about injustice and hatred.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, SoCS

SoCS: Kerry with a Capital K!

I’M BACK BABY!

YAY!!!

socs-badge-2015-05-23-15-11.jpg

***

Nothing keeps this chick down for long.

I would have taken part more in the last few SoCS posts, but I have been blogging from my phone or from my brother’s laptop these last weeks.

I destroyed my own laptop and have had to rely on the kindness of others ever since.

What would I do without those who have stepped up to help me? More about that tomorrow.

I missed a previous prompt on names and I had a story all about my name’s origin all ready to go.

Instead I was left to stick to one-liners and jokes, which had their own distinct charms.

I have a working laptop again and just in time for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt: “ke”.

I don’t need to use it in any other sentence or word because it stares me right in the face.

Or rather, it is my face.

🙂

Why, my name of course.

I don’t usually like to speak in third person and don’t plan on it again anytime soon, but Kerry is back and happier than ever to have this blog.

***

The prompt and instructions can be found at Linda’s blog.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, RIP, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

My Free Five

It’s been a while, two weeks in fact, since my last post for

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

As a refresher, my previous post for the challenge, on Memoir Monday two weeks back:

Indefinable, Undefinable? Definitely

This week I am given free rein to speak on whatever just so happens to be on my mind.

🙂

***

#1 Emily’s Oz

On Facebook I came across a post about a commercial that would be aired during the Academy Awards. I watched the Canadian broadcast and saw no sign of what they were talking about all evening, but that is where the internet is so wonderful.

🙂

I am including both commercials: with descriptive and without,

(Emily’s Oz, without descriptive).

I recommend watching both short commercials, paying attention to compare the difference between what it’s like to watch, with and without the descriptive track.

It reminds me of those commercials: one has a woman arriving home with a bag of groceries and being frightened by something and the other is a woman panting and yelling and being told to push.

These are to advertise the need for descriptive services for television and films.

In the former, is she being frightened by a mouse or by a child?

In the latter, is she helping to move furniture or is she having a baby?

🙂

Just this weekend I tried to watch an important documentary on a brutal attack on a woman in India. I found I was unable to watch for a lot of the hour because there were only subtitles, which caused me to miss out on more than half of what was being said.

Of course, the example I give here is much more lighthearted, but I just wish something like descriptive for watching any programming wasn’t still so hard to come by.

Anyway, I thought that Emily was pretty cute and figured today was a good time to share her and the project built around her.

For a behind the scenes for the making of…check out:

The Making of Emily’s Oz

#2 TED Talk On Why Disability Does Not Equal Inspiration

I immediately heard the term this Australian comedian used, “Disability Porn” and I was drawn in, but not for what it might seem like.

🙂

All icky jokes aside, she makes some excellent points in her talk, of which I highly recommend.

Disability Porn – Definition: The objectification of one group of people (living with a disability) for the benefit of another group of people

She believes that having a disability does not make someone exceptional, but questioning what we’ve been taught to believe about disability does.

I couldn’t agree with this more.

I have grown very uncomfortable of late with the idea of being seen as overly inspiring by others.

I know. I know. This probably makes me come off as a bit self deprecating and the rest. I don’t mean to seem like I am being bashful or unwilling to accept praise when given it. I have been called inspirational before.

I just wish, sometimes, it was not all because people are so amazed I can function at any sustainable level. Yes, I can brush my own teeth, hair, dress myself, and cook a meal. Shock of shocks.

Just because someone can’t themselves imagine how they would do these things if they could not see, does not mean I should be praised for something I am saying I have no problem doing. If I say it I mean it.

Stella says in her talk that someone wanted to present her with an achievement award as a teenager, but her parents turned it down because, in their eyes, their daughter hadn’t done all that much to deserve special attention and praise.

This could be seen as mean-spirited or unfair, but I “admire” her parents for taking a stand, when they showed others that they didn’t really think of their daughter having done anything all that spectacular.

Others might not have taken such a stance, but I applaud them for not singling her out. We hear the word inspiring and that automatically must be a positive thing, right?

I may be called ungrateful or a jerk for seeming to push away a well-meaning compliment, but just think about what Stella and myself are proposing.

It isn’t our job as people, who just so happen to be living lives others can hardly fathom, to be here solely to inspire.

I myself have been guilty of it: of saying I must be grateful when looking at someone who has it worse off than me because it could always be worse.

How do you or I think that makes that other person feel to hear that? Oh, so they think we’re inspirational or they are just glad they aren’t us.

This speaker, unfortunately, has passed away now, but this awesome and cut-to-thecore TED talk made me think and it was just the sort of radical idea I guess I had been looking for myself, although I just couldn’t vocalize it in the way she did.

RIP Stella

#3
DRUMSTICK FOR A BLIND MAN, PLEASE!!!

One thing I like least is hypocrisy, but I am as guilty as the next person of exhibiting it.

As I grow older, I suppose, I become more and more uncomfortable with things like my number three today.

I even recently answered a question for this very challenge about the

Blind Bonus

sometimes given to myself and others.

When I was sixteen I got a trip to California from an organization who awards wishes and dream trips to young people with disabilities. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything now, but as I look back I feel a strange discomfort.

A blind man holds up a sign, like they would have done hundreds of years ago, as beggars on a street corner. This feels wrong to me.

Don’t get me wrong…Dave Grohl was a stand-up dude for fulfilling the guy’s request, my own blind brother received a pair of drumsticks from R.E.M. once, but I just wish we didn’t have to use such a thing to get attention and gifts.

I make jokes and I share this story because it really was a nice thing to do and supposedly the Foo Fighter’s front man is known for granting such favours; there’s nothing wrong with giving a dying cancer patient something they greatly long for. I don’t mean to take it all so seriously.

Take what we can get, is the “blind bonus” motto, but I honestly don’t think, as an adult, I would want to hold up any sign.

#4 Would You Rather?

I recently came across a Facebook status on an author’s page. The game of “Would You Rather?” is played often on such FB pages.

This time the question was:

Would you rather…be unable to speak or be unable to see?

I generally do not like these kinds of questions. I have often thought would I rather be blind or deaf…and I guess that’s a question for another day’s post.

😉

I wasn’t so bothered by the question, in this case however, as I was to read the responses and to see that nine out of ten people said they would rather be unable to speak than see.

It just sort of shocked and saddened me to realize how much fear there is out there about losing one’s sight. I thought, to be unable to communicate one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs through words might be more of a concern to those answering.

A common response I saw was: “I could still write down what I wanted to say. At least if I couldn’t speak I could still read. I need to be able to read books.”

Coming from those on an author’s FB page I wasn’t so surprised to hear that, but I did reply with the solution that I assumed might be more well-known. There is always the technology to read without sight. Audio books are becoming more and more common. These things don’t immediately occur to most people and I get that.

I just know that people take for granted being able to relay to someone else what they want. I know of people who can not do this and I have seen how hard that is, for everyone involved.

The fear of blindness is just so common and I am left feeling like the monster everyone is afraid of. I realize it is the blindness not the person they are referring to, but here I share my biggest fears with disability. That is what this challenge is all about.

I will tackle the question of how I feel about my own blindness and whether I would choose to see if I could, in a few weeks time here.

#5 Disability Confident: Rethinking Disabilities

“Would you like to have higher employee retention, lower absenteeism, greater innovation, and profitability? It’s possible…if you change your thinking.”

Who wouldn’t want this, right?

🙂

This was the pitch by the Ontario Disability Employment Network to attract businesses to attend their one-day conference on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

At the start of February I was watching a program on my local television channel here in Ontario:

TVO.org – Creating a Barrier Free Ontario – On The Agenda with Steve Paikin

On their nightly program they focused on a conference being held the day after my birthday, at a hotel in Toronto, and I immediately perked up. It definitely sounded like something I would like to attend.

Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) – Rethinking Disabilities Conference, Toronto

It goes on to say the benefits already found are that companies who hire those with disabilities are found to:

**revolutionize their workforces and delivering bottom line results.

And at the conference attendees would be:

**Learning how to leverage the latest in progressive employment practices to put your organization at the forefront of a new movement.

**You’ll hear from business leaders from across North America who have embraced this new approach to hiring and are now disability confident.

**Build your knowledge and learn about a whole new way to create an inclusive workplace and gain a strong competitive advantage through improved culture, loyalty and employee innovation.

Disability confident…hmmm.

I was intrigued to listen to the program and maybe even attend the conference. I knew it was for employers more than myself, and was happy to hear about the fact that these conferences were happening, but maybe if I were there I could represent more of those who are in need of the chances to prove our skills and worth.

I didn’t want to look at it like that.

I guess though everyone must prove their worth and skill to an employer and I have always wanted equal treatment and consideration.

The term “disability confident” was an interesting one to me, but I couldn’t quite figure out why.

I looked into the specifics of attending and emailed someone in charge. I received a reply very quickly, which was most appreciated.

It looked like they were happy to have me there, if I were willing to pay the price of admission.

I suppose businesses are able to afford hundreds of dollars for a one-day conference which might help them achieve everything I listed above, but I certainly could not afford it. I was not one of the people on Steve Paikin’s program: a lawyer or a politician. I was on fixed government income and assistance and one of those hoping to get off those one day.

This is not to complain because they gave me a discount, but unfortunately it was still more than I could spend, even on a worthy cause.

It was too last minute and they informed me:

Hi Kerry,

So sorry I didn’t respond to your email sooner. I was out of town at the end of the week and it slipped by me while I was trying to catch up.

Unfortunately there’s not much else I can do this time. Typically we try to keep 2 or 3 complementary passes for situations like this but we are running very close to the wire and may even lose money on this particular event. As a not-for-profit without any financial resources, we just can’t afford to do that. Our food costs for the day are running almost $200 alone, plus there’s all the other expenses.

I hope you understand our situation and perhaps we can accommodate you at a future event.

Thanks,

Joe

—–Original Message—–
From: Kerry Kijewski [mailto:kkherheadache@gmail.com]
Sent: February-05-15 9:35 AM
To: Joe Dale
Subject: Re: Inquiry

Hello Again,

Thank you again for looking into this for me and for offering me the discount.

Unfortunately I am unable to come, due to the cost.

This is really a shame because I saw the program on TV the other night and I am very passionate on the subject of it and this conference.

It’s unfortunate, again, because I am not one of the lucky and hardworking few, like on that program the other night, with a well paying career. I am one of the majority of people with disabilities who hasn’t had so much luck finding jobs and thus I am on government assistance and am unable to afford this conference.

I just figured that it might be a positive thing for me to be there, as I am one of those for whom the speakers are going to be speaking about.. I am not happy with the current situation and would love to see improvements on employment opportunities for myself and others with visual impairments.

I am saying this just to explain why I seemed so interested in attending your conference and why I now have to decline.

Is there any other conferences or public forums you could recommend that I could afford, that are about these issues?

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Kerry Kijewski

I included the above email exchange to show that I did my best to inquire and explain my situation and they seemed to do their best to accommodate, however it was not enough and did not work out in the end.

“Join the movement that is changing the face of Canadian businesses and building a powerful new economy.”

http://www.crwdp.ca/en/rdc

I hope to find a conference of some kind, relating to these issues most important to me, sometime in the future. I would like to get involved somehow and am passionate on these issues and thought this would be a good topic to end with for this week’s free posting.

***

Hope you enjoyed my Free Five today. I borrowed the framework and idea from something new I am trying and of which I started a few weeks back, with the following:

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

I hope to continue, on Wednesdays mostly, but have already veered from the plan I had for it when I posted it.

🙂

I don’t know what the future of Redefining Disability is, as these things rarely go as planned when the bloggers who come up with them start out. Like #1000Speak, this one took off and Rose of

http://rosebfischer.com

had no clue anyone would even want to take part in the beginning.

I will go on because I like devoting my Memoir Monday to this topic and because Rose came up with a set of questions such as this one:

What would you tell someone who has recently been diagnosed with your disabilities or disabilities that you are familiar with?

I will answer that one in one week’s time.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions

Ruby Red

Lady In Red, Chris DeBurgh, YouTube

I absolutely love the colour red. Scarlet. Ruby. I love it all. Passion, fiery, love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

On this particular one I’m looking back:

one year,

five years, fifty.

***

I was nervous and excited, both all at once, as we drove to the college. I was taking the course online, Creative Writing, but I still had to show up and report to the Accessibility office to write the exams.

A grammar test, on my 26th birthday? I love writing but have never loved learning all the rules of grammar. This was no birthday present.

Along with the feelings of excitement at my birthday dinner, waiting for me on return from the dreaded grammar exam, there was something else: apprehension, but not at anything grammar related.

My grandfather had been ill for a while. As we drove we received a call on my phone that he wasn’t doing well at all. It all went downhill from there.

He had been on his own for nearly five whole years without her. I often wondered how he did it. I don’t mean how did he manage to survive and feed himself without her, but how does anyone truly go on without the one person they spent almost every moment with for over half a century?

Ruby red, like the jewel, rare and one-of-a-kind like she was to him.

She was his Ruby.

They had been married for fifty-five years and had been together for nearly sixty. On this Valentine’s Day and every Valentine’s Day since he died, I think about the meaning of this day.

He did fairly well on his own, at first, in that little house they shared for almost twenty of their married years together. It was the only house I remember them in. It was strange to suddenly go to visit him there, to see how he was making do with looking after himself because she once did so much, but they had been a team.

He cooked his meals and kept himself busy with friends and family. We spent time with him as often as we possibly could, but she was gone and he and the rest of us, we missed her.

After five years of being a widow, he had suffered multiple strokes, his eyesight worsening with each one.

After sharing a driver’s education manual with his sixteen-year-old granddaughter, he passed his renewal driver’s test on his eightieth birthday, but he wouldn’t drive for long after that.

By this particular February, his last, he had been living in a retirement home for a while. He’d given up his little house he’d shared with her and seemed to settle in rather nicely in his new place of residence.

He had a spacious private room and the small table and chairs from their house had been placed by his one window. HE still liked to sit there and watch the birds and the squirrels, one of his favourite pastimes.

Occasionally he would still, even after a few strokes, take his cane and walk around the neighbourhood he now lived in.

I enjoyed having him there on Christmas morning once or twice and the drives out to pick him up for the day, for dinner, they were always enjoyable. He made the time pass with his stories of visitors he’d had that week or jokes he liked to tell.

But now here we were, on my birthday, and only days away from Valentine’s Day and things weren’t looking promising. He was having fluid issues with his heart and I had a feeling that this could be it for him and for our time with him.

It was strange, seeing him lying there. I can’t even really recall the last time I spoke to him and what our conversation was. That makes me feel deeply sad because I usually pride myself on my dependable memory, especially for things like this.

All I do remember is leaving the hospital: on a cold, winter night. All the memories I do have of him and hospitals where he actually was somewhat his usual self, they are blended and muddled.

On one of the last days we visited, but he wasn’t at all like he used to be, no going back.

I remember the sound his breathing made, gasping for breath, as we sat tensely, tapping our feet in that small hospital room. I could feel a cold coming on, a sore throat, as I sat and waited…for what?

For the end?

My parents kept more of a vigil by his bedside, along with my uncles.

I went on with my life, in a strange way, as we all unwillingly waited for the inevitable. I celebrated Valentine’s Day the night before, by going to a movie with my boyfriend; all normal Valentine’s Day stuff, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

I awoke, on Sunday morning, February 14th, and got ready to go out for breakfast when my parents arrived to bring the bad news we all knew was coming.

HE was gone. He had passed away four years and six months after my grandmother, on Valentine’s Day and on my cousin’s birthday, missing mine by four days.

Of course it really didn’t make a difference, but whatever you believe, I choose to believe he left to be with his love, not wishing to spend even one more Valentine’s Day without her.

On this day I choose, not to focus on my own heart and loss or lack of love, but to focus on the love they shared.

In the end, with all the red roses and the red hearts of Valentine’s Day out there, it was his Ruby that he wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with.

***

I am a storyteller, a lover of stories and yes, even romance. I like to look past all the commercialization of this day and remember their love for one another and how they grew up together: in a sense, how they became the love story they’ve come to symbolize for me.

It will always be a romance story in my head, when I think of the two of them.

Picture a little girl, age four, with pigtails. At least, that’s how my grandfather used to tell the story.

Then picture two boys, age eight, one of them being this little girl’s older brother. The two friends are playing together, leaving the little girl to herself.

Jump ahead twelve or so years and that little girl in pigtails is now sixteen and her brother’s friend is twenty.

They date for four years and then are married.

Five children, twenty-one grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren and counting later.

I think of those two little children, and how they met and how their love grew, when I need to believe in the power and the magic of love. It’s on days like today that I need this image the most and it makes me smile.

So today I wish to recognize the man we lost that day and to honour the love of a lifetime: better, to me, than any fictional love story I’ve yet read. I hope I can find a love even half as devoted and true as theirs.

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