Friday, 17 June 2011
To the Men in My Life
I love this painting by Diego Rivera. It is called "El Vendador De Alcatraces", but in my family we refer to it as "A Burden of Lilies". When I got my first teaching job, my dad took me out to buy a print for my classroom. Papa Skov feels very strongly that all classrooms need artwork in them because they encourage people to think. This is the one I chose, and now that I am no longer teaching, it sits above my favourite chair in the living room and reminds me to think!
I relate to the woman in this painting. Like her, I too feel weighted down by the burden of lilies I carry upon my back. And like her, my burdens are just that, lillies. Beautiful lilies that really do not weigh much, but nonetheless, bring me to my knees and overwhelm me. I feel life! Every gesture, every thought, every flicker of emotion, leaves its imprint upon me and, although, this means I am acutely aware of the beauty and joy that surrounds me, it also means I feel with intensity every frown, every unkind word, and every sorrow. This is the load I bear, an empathetic spirit. My load is light compared to those that others are encumbered with. I am so blessed to have had only brief encounters with death, disease, poverty, and unhappiness, burdens which truly place strain upon their bearers, but I feel the pain of others. And sometimes, it is too much for me to bear.
When my dad and I went shopping that day, I pointed out this painting, and he laughed. He said, "it is perfect for you!". It struck me that my dad recognized the connection I shared with this woman. He pointed out that I am often weighed down by the cares of the world, and that, like this woman, I was not alone to bear my burdens.
I looked closer at the painting, and finally saw what my dad did. A man standing behind the woman and her basket. All you can see is the top of his bald head, his large feet, and his hands grasping the edge of the basket, but you know that he loves her. He cares for her. You know that he is there to help her carry her burdens, and to make her loads lighter no matter what she is carrying!
At that moment, I knew this was my painting! I was so caught up in feeling the pain of this woman and the weight of her responsibilities that I neglected to see that she was not alone. And like this woman, I, too, often neglect to recognize that I am not alone. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and wants to help me carry my burdens, but He can not be here. So in His absence, He has sent me this fella:
and this fella:
I really do not know what I would do without these men in my life!
My dad is very dear to me, and I have so many fond memories of growing up with him. In the summer, dad would take my sister and I on bikes rides to the park, where we would fly kites, swing on the swings, and hike the trails down to the ocean floor. While Hilary and I were waiting, impatiently mind you, for the coals on our BBQ to become hot enough to cook supper, dad would always throw on a couple pieces of bologna to subside our hunger pains. I don't think anything could ever taste as good as that piece of BBQ'ed bologna!
In the winter, he would pull us to the school on the toboggan so we could slide down the monster of a hill that was just out front. He taught us how to make monkey cookies by inserting an unsuspecting person's, usually mine and Hilary's, face into the snow, and how to throw playing cards so that they would stand upright against the wall. These are valuable skills, folks!
More importantly, he shared his love of reading and writing with us. Remember The Hobbit and The Nietzsche Reader? If not, read Bedtime Stories. On the days when dad was not entertaining us or teasing the heck out of us, he would be sitting downstairs at his desk writing poetry. I can still remember hearing the typewriter go clickety, clack, clickety clack across his paper. I marvelled at how fast he would type! Sometimes I would slip quietly down the stairs, and just watch him at his craft. When he wasn't typing, he would be staring out the window with his knuckle in his mouth, like he always does when he is thinking, and I would wonder what was going through his head. I was so proud of my dad, the poet!
When I won my own award at a university conference for "Best Analytical Essay", I couldn't wait to tell my dad! I was so excited to be recognized for my writing ability, and to finally join my dad as a writer! So, I really shouldn't have been surprised when it was my dad, who bought me my laptop for Christmas. It was like he was telling me, "Krista, it is time to get back at it", and so, like any obedient daughter, I did just that and started my blog. Do you want to know the real reason why I get up at 5am each morning to write my blog, and not simply wait until a more decent hour, like after the kids go to school? I do it for my dad! He told me once that my blog has become part of his morning routine, and so each day I make sure that my post goes up before 7am so as not to disrupt his day. I feel it is the least I can do for all that he has done for me. I love you, Papa Skov!
Oh, and isn't this blog the most wonderful Father's Day gift? Tee hee!
The other man in my life is Mr. Level-Headed:
What can I say? I have spent twenty of my thirty-five years on earth with this man, and I love him dearly. He is going to kill me for this. Derrick is highly opposed to all forms of PDA (Public Displays of Affection for my less-cool readers . . . tee hee!) We have grown up together, made mistakes together, and have laughed together. He is the one who takes care of the all the things that make my head hurt like the bills, the plumbing, and middle of the night puke parties. He is the one who listens to my hair-brained schemes, who encourages me to follow them through, and who holds me when they come crashing down, which embarrassingly enough happens more times than not. But not "The Vision"! This one is golden! He is the one who greets me each morning with "there she is" and ends my day with "goodnight, beautiful!". And although my dad is the one who equipped me with the tools to write this blog, Derrick is the one who encouraged me, and who provided me with my inspiration:
He is the man, hidden behind my basket of lilies, and affectionately carrying the brunt of my burdens. Like last night, it was my first time having to coach my U14 team all by myself, and they are great kids, but very rambunctious! I felt sick about this assignment. I wanted to do a great job, but I wasn't sure if they would listen to me, or if I could make the practice worth their while. Many of these kids know more than me, when it comes to soccer, and are very skilled! So, as I was feeling the weight of this particular lily bearing down on me, Derrick took one look at me and asked, "How can I help?". Instantly, I felt his large hands pick up my basket, and everything seemed more manageable. After talking for awhile, we decided that Derrick would run them. I knew the drills I wanted to work on, and I can coach their scrimmage, but I needed him to wear them out. And he did just that! Man, a few of the kids almost puked, but I can honestly tell you that I have never seen them more well-behaved. At one point they whined about something I asked them to do, and I said, "Oh, do you want me to bring Coach Derrick back?". And they replied with a loud, emphatic "NOOOOOOO!", and then went forward compliantly and with enthusiasm to their task. Tee hee! For this and so much more that words can not express, I love you, babe! I couldn't run Shenanigans Inc. without you, and neither would I want to!
So, when you feel like the world is too much to bear, look inside your basket. Is it simply filled with lilies and you have forgotten how to stop and smell them? Or, is it your turn to bear one of the more serious burdens in life? No matter what your load is, look closely because I can promise you that you are not alone in carrying it, and perhaps it is time for you to give that special someone the acknowledgement they deserve!
Happy Father's Day to all those wonderful men out there who take the time to make someone else's burden a little lighter!