Memoir and Reflections, Poetry, Special Occasions, Writing

Sherry Baby

Two songs in particular come to mind with Sherry in the title and written about a girl just like my friend: “Sherry Baby” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and “Oh Sherry” by Steve Perry. There are very few people I’ve known who stick out in my mind like this particular bride. There are a few girls I have known who have seemed free to me, free spirits who were always attracting people to them with their bright sparkling personalities. This bride always seemed like this, almost like a female super hero who could take on the world and did.

This was unlike any other wedding I had ever attended, a good thing for sure. The real thing was done at City Hall, but a small gathering of family and friends were invited to help celebrate the happy couple, a real life love story to my wild imagination and literary mind. I was lucky to be one of these select few.

I grew up just outside of a small subdivision and, as a child, I was constantly looking in on this place, just up the road. I went to school with the kids here and became friends with many of them. I suppose it wasn’t much different for them than it was for my sister and brother. They pretty much grew up with me, having a blind girl in their class from the very beginning, unlike the kids I would meet at the school we would go on to attend later on. These kids knew me and accepted me, almost from the beginning.

I was never lacking in a friend or two for very long, a bit of a rarity for visually impaired kids in their neighbourhood schools. Many had trouble adjusting and socializing, not meeting and making friends easily. I would meet many of these kids and we would go on to become good friends.

This subdivision had a general store, a baseball diamond, a church, and a grammar school – a perfect start to introduce me to school and socializing. Sherry was one of these good friends. We started going to school together in kindergarten, but it was first grade when we started spending any real time together.

I found myself, the other night, sitting at a table and reminiscing with several of these children, all grown up now. There were inside jokes and old stories, lots of laughs and I felt a nostalgia I couldn’t quite put my finger on – a past long gone now and a simpler time. I was lucky enough to sit in on this remembering and, all those years ago now, on the lives of these people. I would go over to one of their houses and inevitably their neighbours would be other kids we went to school with. We would all play together.

The bride grew up with boys all around her. She had no sisters and her next door neighbours were a family of only boys. She always played with the boys and became one of the boys. I and some of the other girls at school were happy to fill that void; I was lucky. I witnessed and was just happy to tag along, to look in on the many adventures rehashed at that table the other night.

We’re all grown up now of course, but some things never really change. Sometimes the more things change the more they remain the same. Sure, there has been years of education, marriages have taken place, and babies are now the order of the day, but these people are all the same friends and classmates I once knew, including Sherry. We are adults and that’s hard to believe when I looked back on all the time spent with these people when we were just children.

I was honoured to receive a personal invite to this particular wedding celebration. I recently reconnected with Sherry over our love of writing. I looked to her, respecting her views and opinions, to read over the novel I started last fall. She provided essential feedback and a boost of inspiration and motivation. I find inspiration through witnessing her unique brand of creativity. Our little gathering, a dinner after Christmas, allowed us to get to know each other again, just a little. So many years passed and she had found her partner in crime. They make beautiful music together and are taking on the world together.

Listening to her speech I heard her say so much, but it was in her personal choice of every song her guests listened or danced to that I learned the most and felt the most about who Sherry was now and what this all meant to her. This was the soundtrack of her life and future with her husband. All the years we lost touch I could feel being filled in by listening to the songs she chose. Every song had personal and private meaning to her and I could relate with this more than anything because I would want to do the exact same thing. Music, memories, and love are so intertwined to someone as creative and artistic as Sherry and to me as well.

She’d hand-picked every guest in attendance and every song to be played over the evening. Rumour has it she spent ten hours making up the song list and proud of it (her new husband thinking her a little crazy and loving her for it I’m sure), choosing carefully each and every song for its meaning and dedicating specific songs for specific people. Even I got a song. I was touched to hear of the Lana Del Ray she dedicated to me. The music was different from that played at the usual wedding reception with its hired DJ (no Macarena to be heard). The music ranged from 50s and 60s rock and roll to 90s rap: The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Elvis, Frankie Valli, David Bowie, Neil Young, and Paul Simon. Then there was some Lauren Hill, and a little Gangster’s Paradise by Coolio thrown in there for good measure and Onto the most famous artists of today such as Lorde. Everywhere around me there was plenty of laughter, talk and dancing and I felt at home.

This was a wedding celebration of uniqueness, just like the bride herself. It was full of personality, just like the bride. It felt intimate and fun, fun like she always was. In inviting me to her celebration she did more than she could possibly realize. Listening and witnessing the love she has found and seeing all those people who love and care about her there to celebrate this love I felt better than I had in months. She gave me hope and showed me that love does exist and that when it’s right you know it.

Sherry Baby, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

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Special Occasions, Travel Tuesday

Oh Canada

Today is Canada’s 147th Birthday and so I wanted to celebrate by bragging about why I love my country. I don’t usually brag about anything, but Canada is worth it to me.

Okay, so I don’t like maple syrup or poutine, (yes, I realize this could get me kicked out). There are, however, plenty of things I do love in their stead. Here are just ten.

1. My Oma and Opa chose Canada and they came here and worked hard to make a new life. They raised a good family and that is how I came to be here at all. I love that they were welcomed here and that they were given the chances to make all this possible. They were proud to be Canadians and to raise their family here and I am proud because of them.

2. I love our flag. The red and white always made such a bright contrast for a visually impaired person like myself. Maybe my favourite colour is red because of this and my earliest memories of the main symbol of our nation.

3. I love the music Canada has produced. I love artists such as: Sarah McLachlan, Jann Arden, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Chantal Kreviazuk, Diana Krall, Joni Mitchell, Blue Rodeo, and Alanis Morisette. These musicians represent Canada with their beautiful voices, their moving lyrics, and their distinct sounds. I love them for making me smile, making me cry, and for helping me deal with the hard things in life.

4. I love the literature of my country. I love brilliant writers such as: Lucy Maud Montgomery, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro. When Alice won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature I was so very proud and I felt honoured to be a woman, a Canadian, and an aspiring writer.

5. I love the land itself. I love how vast and sweeping it is. I love all the open space and our Canadian north. I love how we value nature and all its natural resources. I love the Great Lakes and the St. Laurence River and the oceans surrounding us. I love the Prairies, the Rockies – from the lush forests to the expansive Arctic .

6. I love the places I’ve traveled and the ones I have yet to explore. I love Niagara and its power which awes me every single time I stand at the railing overlooking the Falls. I love Toronto (Ontario’s capital) for its acceptance of all humans (coming off of 2014’s World Pride celebrations) and for the mixture of cultures and countries it houses all in one city. I love the Maritimes out on our east coast and Vancouver Island out on our west. I love having a little piece of another language and culture right in the middle of all the English-speaking provinces. Quebec is where I received my beloved guide dog all those years ago. I hope to see as much of Canada in the years to come as I possibly can.

7. I love the pride Canadians have in this country and as a result, in themselves. Despite the things the rest of the world think about us and the stereotypes that exist; it is true we are kind and welcoming, for the most part, and are known for it all around the world. We do come off quiet and reserved in contrast with some other countries, but as a quiet and reserved person I feel I am living in the right place. In fact, in my opinion these qualities are highly under-rated. We may not treated our native peoples properly over the years, but it is because of them that Canada is what it is today. I hope we are on the way to making it right and to righting the wrongs of our past. We disagree about the environment, politics, and when it comes to Canada’s role in foreign matters and militarily. Sure we have our problems and don’t always agree. We are by no means perfect but these disagreements just make for a successful democracy.

8. I love how this pride extends to our sports teams. Again, I could get kicked out for admitting I am not quite as enamoured with the game of hockey as the rest of the country, but I do love the image of a backyard or pond rink in winter. I have good memories of Saturdays at the arena with my family or late night roaming an empty one with my siblings while my father played. My brother loved playing hockey in his youth and my father loved being a part of a team as goalie. My family are not Leaf fans or any other Canadian team in particular, but what hockey means to our fellow Canadians it means to us too.

9. I prefer baseball over hockey. I love The Toronto Bluejays and no…I am not just saying this because they happened to win today of all days. I remember sitting tight between my father and brother in our basement, on the couch when Joe Carter scored the home runs to win the 1992 and 1993 World Series and I could hear the pride in their voices as they cheered. The Bluejays are our only team here and we have high hopes for them making the playoffs this year. Going to a game at the Sky dome is an experience in fun and an atmosphere of high energy and enthusiasm.

10. And last but certainly not least, I love the health care we are lucky enough to have here. Again, many could voice their complaints and sure nothing is perfect, but I know of what I speak. I am proud of innovators such as: Dr. Frederick Banting and Tommy Douglas for insulin and universal health care. I know nothing in life is completely free, but after all the surgeries, hospital stays, and medicines my brother and I have needed over the years I am thankful for the universal health care we have. I would feel forever guilt-ridden if I had caused my family to end up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for the care I required. Not all countries around the world would have payed for all the care me and my brother received over the years and my family would be so far in debt if we weren’t living in Canada.

So there are just ten reasons why I love being Canadian. I will now enjoy a wonderful firework display from the comfort of my front porch with my nephew and be thankful I live where I do and enjoy the freedom and the beauty I enjoy.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians today and I want to wish my neighbours to the south an early Happy Fourth of July. We all need to be grateful for the blessings we have and celebrate our countries and how lucky we truly are to live where we live.

What are you most thankful for where you live?

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