In Grade 6 I got serious about my dreams and decided to set up a mobile shop and sell those fluffy pens that Cher Horowitz and Clueless made popular. I planned to buy feather boas from Michaels and use duct tape to secure sections of these boas on pens. DIY duct tape feather pens... does it get more adorably Canadian than that? Those mobile shop dreams fell apart when I couldn't quite figure out how to be mobile and when I saw that Claire's had a monopoly on the fluffy pen market.
Two years later I joined forces with my best friends to move towards mall domination. I had grand visions of opening three stores, aptly named Earth, Sun and Moon. Earth was obviously going to be full of natural tones and textures, Sun would be cheery and loud and Moon would be my favourite because it was going to be a mecca of shiny stuff. I didn't realize that while I was busy dreaming up my multi-faceted retail dream, my two best friends had decided that I would be in charge of... finances. Because I was good at math. Ousted from design by my two very best friends, I let my mall dreams slide away...
After a degree in fashion design at university, I started to think about owning my own store again. I even looked into a little place near our old house, a place where I could sew custom dresses and carry some accessories as well. Thankfully we weren't in a place financially to start that venture. I say thankfully because I would soon realize that making dresses was neither my biggest skill or desire. Also, my style inspiration at the time was a little too heavily influenced by Jessica Simpson...
And then years go by and though having a store always stayed somewhere in the back of my mind, I was busy with life. I landscaped a ton, made some wedding dresses, went to night school for landscape design, started some blog or something and trained my cats to do synchronized back flips... just stayed busy.
And then, all joking aside, Alzheimer's happened to my dad and in many ways that became what defined the last few years. I wrote about it about a year and a half ago and I remember being so broken hearted about what was happening. And now I look back at that post and think 'sweet girl, you have no idea what lies ahead.'
I thought I could write a bit about the last year and a half here but it turns out I can't yet. I tried and then deleted it because it got too messy and complicated. Much like how our lives were back then.
I will say things are different now. My dad moved into a nursing home last June. We had been waiting for an opening for months, tag teaming between members of the family and the professionals who were involved at that point. Taking it day by day to keep my dad safe and my mom sane until we could get into a good home.
He's in a great home now and I am so thankful for that. I naively thought that when he moved in we could continue, to some degree, the relationship we had. I would still take him out for adventures and he would still light up when he saw me. As we had been warned however, he had a serious regression when he moved into the home. I went from being the daughter who knew how to coax at least a smile out of him every time, to the girl fighting back tears, struggling to figure out the stupid brake on the wheelchair her father was slumped over in.
This summer we started a new reality. I had decreased my work schedule two summers ago to help the family and ideally, to give my dad what small joy he could still have, and now I was the one who didn't know how to take care of my dad as the nurses efficiently bustled around us. I guess I lost my job. But mostly, I lost my dad.
I spent the summer careening through emotions. Deep gratefulness for the people who take care of my dad, because as much as we like to remember the good times, the truth is we were barely keeping it together near the end. I also felt a freedom I hadn't felt before; Matt and I went away a lot, without guilt, because I knew my mom wasn't stuck at home watching the minutes pass by, waiting for help to arrive.
Then there was the deep sadness and anger. I didn't think that would fade, the anger. That it had come to this, my handsome dad in the secure ward of a nursing home at 65. His smiling picture in the display case by the front of his room, a reminder of how it once was. With the patience and dedication of my mom, he is back to walking now and he has come out of his shell a bit. He gave me kiss as greeting a few weeks ago and I was so thankful. As the disease progresses, you celebrate the tiniest of moments because sometimes that's all you have...
I was also shocked at my own sadness... It turns out, you don't run out of tears. My dad and I had spent so much time together and even though it was in many ways so complicated because of Alzheimer's, we still had this special bond. I missed the purpose I had felt in my life by being his trusty sidekick. I just missed my dad.
And then one day I woke up and I knew that I couldn't get stuck in this sadness. I prayed for peace. I had to fill the hole in my life with something positive or I would fill it with something negative. The next week I found a little place with potential and a rent that we could afford to take a chance on. It sounds so simple, and while setting up shop was complicated and tiring, making the decision to finally do this was shockingly straight forward. I was ready and it was about time.
(Sign installation... so official. More shop pics coming later this week...)