Deanne Ouest, Author

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2014-08-14

Created by Deanne Ouest

What am I thankful for? A tribute to my father

 


 

Reflecting on what I am thankful for many things come to mind. One, is that my family is heathy when many are not. I’m also thankful to have wonderful memories of thanksgiving past that were spent with my parents who are no longer with us. My mother was one of my best friends and I miss her every day but my father was something a little extra special. I am truly thankful for having the father that I had. Dad found joy in life and through that taught us all something. From a young boy, dad’s life had not been easy and sometimes it had been downright difficult but he always persevered and somehow, someway always found something to be happy about.

My father didn’t preach to us and he didn’t lecture us, he always showed us the kind of person you should be. Ironic for someone who now is embarking on a career as a writer, where show, not tell is so important. So this thanksgiving I reflect on his last few years and what he showed to everyone whose life he touched.

My father never got to experience his last thanksgiving as he was too heavily medicated and at the end stage of ALS. I will always remember that thanksgiving as we sat by his bed in vigil. I recall dropping into my in-laws that year to have turkey – we didn’t feel particularly thankful that year watching and waiting as my father wasted away, his only option to end his suffering. It was 13 long days and nights. He died the Friday after thanksgiving – it’s been five years since he left us.

Having watched what my father endured with grace and as much dignity as was humanly possible given his condition, I will always be thankful for my health. My aches and pains are but a drop in the ocean of pain and discomfort he suffered over several years as his body failed him in so many ways while leaving his intelligence and awareness intact until almost the end when medication made it so. The amazing thing was during all of this, he more often than not, had a smile on his face, trying to live each day to his fullest ability no matter his increasing limitations. Dad was extremely fortunate as he had an incredible group of friends that assisted him in his many adventures those last few years. They recall being the fortunate ones to have known him which is a true testament to the person he was.

Dad’s friends would help him into his motorized wheelchair and load him into the old decrepit wheelchair van he had purchased and off they would go, rambling down country roads all across this province. Dad was strapped into his chair bumping around in the back, stopping along the way when they took a fancy. How he survived all the bouncing around, I will never know, but for him, it was a means to an end. Dad’s friends rallied around him and dad was dependent upon them for everything on these journeys, as at this point he had lost all use of his arms and legs, and most of his speech. The headed out on a trip a week, who ever was available going along for the ride. Dad took his last trip in late August 2009, his body failing him to the point that he could no longer be moved out of his bed.

During all of this, instead of drawing from the strength of those around him, dad by his very demeanour, courage and stubbornness, gave us all the strength to meet each day with him and for that I will be eternally grateful and thankful. My dad was an inspiration to us and those who knew him and all who met him during those last few years. I can only hope that if I should ever become as ill as he, I will be able to do so with the courage and dignity he did.

Given his circumstances my dad could have been a bitter and miserable person but he wasn’t. Even as his condition worsened, dad still managed to bring happiness to those around him. Dad always made sure there were treats in his room for the nursing and care staff as a thank you. Dad always the jokester, always tried to make them laugh. What dad gave, he received back tenfold, as he was always sincere in his giving and expected nothing in return. Dad wasn’t perfect, he did have his black moments, who wouldn’t, but those were out numbered by all the little joys he found and shared.

I am eternally thankful to have had the privilege of having such an incredible person as my father, who through his actions to the very end, showed me that the only obstacle in your way is yourself and that there are no limits until your body fails you – only those you put on yourself. That happiness comes from within and no matter what life throws at you, you can decide to be miserable and wallow in self-pity or embrace each day and make It the best you can no matter the circumstance. This is what he showed to everyone he met. Through it all, a smile could always be found, a twinkle in his eye, always reaching for that bit of happiness. Even as he physically weakened and changed, the smile and twinkle remained as brilliant as ever.

I am thankful for having had such an amazing man as my father. Always in my heart and mind.

Fall is in the air

The hours of daylight are getting shorter and the wind is getting brisker. Even with the sun shining brightly the wind whips through you. It is time to hunker down and start hitting the keys.

It’s been a busy end to summer. School is back in, extracurricular activities for the kids are starting and scheduling is becoming an art form. It’s going to be a very busy year.

And now, finding the time to write and to relax is a nocturnal activity in itself. I’ve revisited the story I’ve been fretting away at these last months. It’s not going into the scrap heap but it’s going to get a major renovation.

I learned a lot this summer. Attending the RWA conference was a boon. Between sessions I attend and audio recordings I’ve listened to since, I’ve realized that there is much more to do.

One of the more informative sessions I attended was on world building. I took a lot away from this session. Listening to the panel discuss where they’ve been and what they would do the next time was extremely helpful. It was encouraging to learn the missteps they’ve made even with all their experience – there is hope for me. Whether it was discussing a bold new world based on fantasy or one based in a contemporary setting, there were still many things to consider.

For those built on fantasy, the rules you create for your world are the rules that restrained the progression of your story. They dictate what can and cannot happen and if you’re doing a series they will come back to haunt you.

For contemporary settings they can limit the number and way in which the characters interact and your ability to introduce new ones in a series. For example, an island only has so much room and limits ways for people to be drawn to that particular place.

The fantasy world whether it be earth-bound or in the stars, I took away, was easier if it was outlined. The panel talked about having a reference guide to their world where they logged the rules for ease of reference. That it was much easier to keep running notes as the story developed then having to go back at the end and pull the information out. They related that often the first few chapters were redone, to allow for more flexibility when a series was being contemplated. They were also quick to point out that fans remember everything, so you better get it right.

Which brings me back to my story. As I said I’m not scrapping it, I still hunger to write it, but I now know that I have to put a bit more effort into fleshing out my world and tagging those things that will limit where the story can go from its end if I want a series.

So back to the drawing board, to fill in those nooks and crannies. Make some decisions on where else I might want to go before my travel itinerary is unchangeable and my course is set.

It’s time to build my world. May you find your HEA between the pages.

Learning to blog

What to write? That is the perplexing question. Random thoughts, gentle musings, or well thought out prose. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’m still trying to find my voice. What to share. What not to share? When is it TMI?  How much of myself do I want to reveal? Thoughts, feelings, opinions, observations? I’m still pondering. . .

Social Media and Housework

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I’m slowing getting a handle on the social media. Facebook, Twitter, blogging and webpages. Trying to schedule it in amongst the available hours to write when working full-time and other family obligations isn’t easy. I’m making progress though. After many years of waffling, I finally have someone who comes to the house once a week and takes care of those mundane household chores that I dread and avoid as long as I can till it has to be done or else. It has left me with some time I wouldn’t otherwise have.

She is a good friend and I consider her a domestic goddess. She enjoys cleaning and finds it stress reducing. I let her do her thing. My house has never been cleaner. The fridge gets cleaned out and wiped down once a week, all the linens get done, the oven gets cleaned, and the dusting is under control. The kitchen and bathrooms have never been cleaner. My linen closet is neat and tidy and everything fits in – I have never accomplished that. I know it is in the way she folds things but I just don’t have patience.

I’m no longer stressed out and overwhelmed by the household chores when I get home. It may seem like a small thing but to me, it’s a major relief. Thank you to my domestic goddess for lightening my load and giving me the time to do things that reduce my stress.

Under Construction

Please excuse the mess as I learn to navigate WordPress. I’m excited to be getting started but a little overwhelmed with the choices.

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