32 years ago today my life changed abruptly. I didn’t totally understand what was going on and for a moment I was caught up in the hype. The only home I had known was a flurry of activity and most of our worldly possessions were either packed into boxes or being auctioned off. It was a bit of a blustery day, much like today. I only have two vivid memories from that day.
1. Helping our neighbour ladies serve homemade pie slices to concession customers through our dining room window.
2. Watching a little girl walk away with MY tin doll house(I sure wish I had that now. It was the coolest thing and so vintage).
We were moving. We slept on homemade mattresses that night under the new tied-quilts my mom had made. The horse trailer was loaded with all that we owned and cherished. I looked for my cat, Chocolatebar(she was a brown calico) the next day but she was no where to be found. She must have known the jig was up and purposely made sure she was not a part of it. We all cried that day as we drove away from the family ranch. My grandma was in tears; she could barely talk.
Looking back, I know there was way more going on than my sisters and I could comprehend. It took another 20 years for me to figure most of it out. With the farming and ranching business being so volatile in those years and interest rates through the roof, no one was doing very well financially. The winds of change were blowing and my dad had an itch to move on. But that day, May 3, was the last day that our family was the family I knew from birth. Everything changed after that.
If you knew me then, you would know I was a quiet, shy and extremely introverted child. The upheaval of leaving our secluded country life in Northern Sask/AB(we lived on the border) and moving to a city where I was thrown into a culture I neither asked for or liked was devastating. It was so devastating I threatened my parents that they could NEVER, EVER do this to me again. I refused to be a part of whatever plans or schemes they had. Of course, I was nine; what did I know? I probably shed quiet tears in my room at night. I tried my best to make friends, and I did. But I hated the city. I missed the farm. I missed my family and friends and our old life. I don’t think that I really accepted our new life for several years.
With this traumatic event came the separation of my parents and a new life of my mom and my 2 sisters living a difficult life where we often had little to eat and certainly there was no money for shopping or frivolous expenditures. This is the time I grew up. I got my first babysitting job at 11 years of age(barely 11). That became my bread and butter and my escape for the next 8 years. I loved kids. I loved the money I made.( $1 an hour!) I loved the responsibility and the ability to be in charge when much of my life seemed so not within my control.
Looking back now, I am thankful for those years but there was much pain. I stopped showing emotion and crying. I saw too much pain within my family and I couldn’t add to it or join in. So I shut down. I didn’t release any of that emotion until I met my husband. Poor guy. He had no idea what he was in for. But for the first time in more than 10 years I felt free and safe enough with someone to let him know all of the pain of growing up in a single-parent home and all of the fears I had carried. We had only been dating for a short time when I let it all out and I COULD. NOT. STOP. I shocked myself. Bless his heart, he stuck it out with me! And I haven’t really stopped showing emotion since! (Like I say~the guy is a saint!).
So here we are, on the 32nd anniversary of the day that changed my life. I am so thankful for that move in spite of the hard years and pain. If we had never moved, I would not be the person I am today. I would never have met my husband or so many of the friends and mentors who have helped shape and guide me into being the person I am today.
And now, as we are on the cusp of moving our kids for the 3rd time in 6 years, I can only hope and pray that they are old enough to remember and acknowledge that painful, traumatic events can be character building turning points. They make you or they break you. And even if they break you, you come out stronger in the end. We don’t grow when life is good. We don’t find out our strengths and abilities when we’re not challenged and pushed. My dad was telling me last week that drought is what makes a good wheat crop. In times of flooding and rainy springs, seeds that are planted do not form deep roots. The seed doesn’t need to burrow down deep because the water is plentiful. So when the storms and winds come, the plant is wiped out. It has no strength and can’t hang on. Seeds that are planted in dry soil have to form deep roots to find enough moisture to germinate and grow. Often it may seem like there is nothing happening; no growth is seen because it’s so dry. But under the soil, in the dark places, the roots are bearing down before the plant is ready to burst through the tough, dry ground. The difference for the seeds planted during drought is that they are so strong and able to withstand any storm, heavy rains, winds and pressure.
This is my life right now. I feel like we’ve been in a drought much like my life was in the 80s. The advantage is now, as an adult, I can see that I am burrowing down deep and forming roots. It feels like I will never see a breakthrough but it’s beginning to rain. And the breakthrough is imminent.
I can’t We WON’T be staying this way much longer. The roots that God has been forming in our lives are the exact things we’re going to need to sustain us in the coming years. And I pray that my kids will benefit as well.