Monday, November 16, 2009

Worries


The pastel above, by artist Paul Murray, hangs over the front desk at Ste. Anne's. I purchased a copy at an art exhibit many years ago at the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. Most of the art on display was of wildlife and outdoor scenes, so this particular piece really stood out for me. Aunt Emily's eyes say so much. I placed it at the front desk because it serves as a reminder of our patron Ste. Anne - the grandmother of Jesus. I was lucky enough to know both of my grandmothers, Nano (maternal) and Grandma (paternal). They were as different as night and day, but they both shared one quality that seems to be genetically hardwired into grandmothers; unconditional love for their children and grandchildren. They showed their love in different ways, just as they lived their lives. Grandma lived in Niagara Falls in a modest apartment, while Nano was a little more up market in her accommodation, with a farm near Oakville, and a condo in Rosedale. I love them both, think of them often and miss them. Another grandmother friend of mine sent me an email recently. Her son has been diagnosed with a terrible disease that will probably subject him to an early and difficult departure from this life. This has been a source of great pain for my friend. She would do anything to take her son's place or to improve her son's prognosis, but at this point, all she can do is hope and pray. Like so many, my friend and her son suffer in solitude - they don't want others to know about their struggle. Like you, I have other friends who are suffering as a result of as yet incurable disease, many of whom suffer alone for fear of what others might say or think. I've often wondered what would happen if we spent as much on medical research as we spend on the military. Which is a greater enemy, a cruel disease or a despot dictator? My grandmother friend's request was a simple one - go to this website, and sign a charter in support of stem cell research.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the Fallen

On this day last year, I was upbraided by a guest who was appalled that Ste. Anne's didn't acknowledge Remembrance Day in any significant way. My initial response was to be defensive, after all, I had attended the ceremony at the cenotaph in Grafton, I had worn red every Friday, I purchased my poppy and I felt that the way in which a person acknowledges the sacrifices of our war heroes was a personal choice. Looking back, I know that I can never even begin to comprehend the range of emotions felt not only by those who have served our country, but also by their loved ones who have been left behind to proudly mourn their loss and celebrate their achievement. There are so many cliches that I could use; "war is a terrible thing", "never again", but all I know for sure is that I hope I never have to know the fear, the pain, the grief, the loss, or the pride of fighting for my country. All I can do - all the vast majority of us who benefit from the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform can do is to pause and give thanks. Today, Robert, a principled young man who works here at the spa and has become fast friends with many staff and guests, was up at the crack of dawn, on his knees pinning hundreds of poppies in the courtyard at the spa in memory of his father, who fought in the war. Thank you Robert for helping us find a dignified way to acknowledge this special day. I suppose I still feel that the acknowledgement of this special day should be a personal choice, but a subtle little nudge to those who haven't been privileged to experience true loss and sacrifice for the greater good is perhaps the least we can do.