Tag Archives: Kieran

September, 2011

One year ago today, I was an unmarried man. I was twenty-two, unofficial stepdad to two, and in the midst of James Clavell’s Shogun. We had lost Carol only two months earlier, and Aura was still recovering from surgery. Kieran was starting grade two.

I was still in a daze, that September. Winters had always been difficult for me, but that summer put all winters to shame. It was almost as though the universe was shouting at me: You may be getting better, but boy, do I have a lot to throw at you yet!

And yet, what I went through that summer was nothing next to what my sweet girl had to endure.

All was not so hard, though. One thing you learn with kids is that no matter how wild the sea of life becomes, they’ll keep on playing in the bilge water. No storm is bad enough to stir their confidence in Mommy and Daddy, although they may worry about those silly old fools in their own way.

In early June of 2011, Carol – Aura’s mother – had still been faring reasonably well. We had been warned that her time with us was nearing it’s end, but we’d been told that for two and a half years. Carol never lost hope, and continued to live upstairs in her own apartment. By mid June, she had taken a couple of nasty falls, and been checked in to the palliative care unit for around the clock assistance. It was a difficult decision, and we didn’t want it to be permanent – but we just couldn’t see a way for us to provide the care she needed at home. We will never forget the kindness and compassion shown us by the medical staff there.

On July 9, 2011, Carol left this world forever. Aura and I were there sleeping in her room that night; in the morning, she passed away. We held her hands and looked on, helpless to prevent the single greatest loss a child can face: the death of a parent.

Aura had had her hysterectomy only two weeks previously. At the time, we still thought all was going to be well, for the time being. Carol had arranged to stay with my mom for the summer, and they were both looking forward to it. I had encouraged Aura to go through with her much-needed surgery, pinting out that if not now, then when? A busy year was ahead of us. I would have eaten my words, later, if I could have.

In August, we went to my grandparents’ place in Quebec, seeking refuge from swollen emotion. Aura was in a state of ongoing shock. She slept and cried. I did what I could to be there for her, but what could I possibly do?

The boys had a wonderful summer. We had Kieran in camp, and Emery in daycare – he called it “school-park“, a conjunction of two things he understood better. Quebec was then, as it was this summer, a perfect getaway for all of us; and it was the first time Aura and the boys had been there at all. We made sweet memories.

August ended, and September began. Kieran was struggling deeply over the loss of his grandma – they had been so close. I had introduced Kieran to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s more kidfriendly films by that time, and he had introduced them to Carol. They spent many hours wtth my hero, cuddled up on Grandma’s couch. His suffering was deep.

Emery wasn’t phased. Too young to feel the loss, but old enough to care that we were hurting, he tended assiduously to his mom and brother. As much as Aura tried to keep her tears away from her kids, Emery always knew when Mommy needed a bright smile and a silly game.

I always tried to be the strong guy; she wasn’t my mother, after all, I reasoned. I needed to be there for my wife and boys, all of whom had lost more than me. But it was hard for me, too – harder than I realised.

Cancer is a terrible curse. I don’t believe it was cast by anyone, and I don’t believe anyone deserves it; nevertheless, seeing my mother-in-law being consumed with it made me want to lash out. Those last few months were full of anger, for me. Old anger resurfaced at a Creator I did not understand; fresh anger at the loss of a kind and giving soul. She was supposed to have been mine, too – part of the package I signed up for when I committed myself to her daughter.

Cancer took her away, and no one could restore her. September was a month when the theft was still very fresh, and out hearts were in turmoil.

But September was also a month of hope, and gladness.

Kieran was starting grade two. He had made so much progress, socially, the year before; we looked forward to another year of small victories – and we were not disapointed. Kieran continued to grow and mature, as a student, as a brother, as a son. He made us very proud – we will always love him, of course, but it’s thrilling to see a child excel.

Emery went to school-park a while longer, and then the funds began to dry up. This was just before Christmas. But you know, Emery took the change in stride – and we ended up having a lot of quality time with him at home. He was Aura’s ray of light in a dark place.

Last, but certainly not least, Aura and I were talking about marriage. We had discussed it all with Carol, earlier on – she’d been overjoyed. Some of the ladies at her Hospice group asked if we would consider having an earlier wedding right in palliative care, when Carol moved in, but everything was just so hectic. We knew, and Carol knew, that the timing wasn’t right, and the place wasn’t right. She was just so happy to know about our plans.

We debated getting married in the tiny public library down in my mom and dad’s neighborhood, but our guest list quickly became too large. I hold Aura responsible for that.

We ended up settling on the Baker’s Hill Banquet Centre, an unspectacular sight at the corner of Parkhill and Television roads. On the inside, though, it was beautiful – fit for the day we were starting to plan.

The process of organising for this concentration of joy was vital to our sanity over the next two months. Without the knowledge that something wonderful was in the works, I don’t see how Aura and I could have coped. We kept very busy, and it kept our friends and family busy with us. We were not alone – we were surrounded by love and light. And it never left our minds that somehow, Carol was looking on with approval.

That September was a focal point for so many radically conflicting forces. It astonishes me to think that we had the energy to pull through. There are some times that just seem to be overshadowed by things larger than yourself – and you just go along with that, for better or for worse.

Where were you in September, 2011?


Becoming Dad

Somewhere along the line, in these past few years, I became Dad.

Not my dad, much as I love him. Not the dad, since there are in theory two of those in my boys’ lives. What started out as a domestic partnership became a family, and I went from Dan – to Daddy Dan – to Daddy.

I often struggle with the sense that I don’t deserve any of this. As a stepdad, I must also deal with the fact that although blood’s legendary consistency is much less considerable in this age of mixed families, I nevertheless am, in some sense, an outsider.

Ask any of my darling three if I am a stranger, and I expect you will be met with a prompt dismissal; but a stranger I am. I came in from the shadows of the outside world, intruding on their established lives, and built a bridge of love with which to enter and claim that family as my own. I could say I never meant to disrupt things for them, but I knew when I had found my girl that I would overcome anything that stood in our way. And we did, together.

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Aura will tell you that her family life had been flawed, for years. This is absolutely true, to the best of my knowledge. Daddy was not all he ought to have been, and Mommy wasn’t happy. But the boys knew nothing different. Who was I to intrude?

One of the very first times I met with my future wife outside of work, it had occurred to her that the best way to serve me a hefty portion of reality was to have her baby with her. I arrived at a friend’s house to meet her, and there he was: Emery, age one. He crawled on me, he made baby noises, he made baby smells. And I loved him, too. Aura’s first and best line of defense had backfired.

After we had moved in together, it took me some time to adjust. In addition to the challenges I was facing in terms of the soundness of my body and mind, I was now the adult male in a young family home. I was in a relationship with the lady of the house, and so faced a new truth: my destiny lay either in fatherhood, or failure in this new context.

The emergence of Daddy Dan took place sometime in the second year of my new family situation. In fact, it had ceased to be altogether new, and I was settling into a role. It took time to find my feet, to find my place in the family. I have always loved kids, however, and these ones seemed to like me as well; the development of our relationship was quite natural.

The boys gradually took up a larger portion of my heart. I am prone to thinking that my heart has room for all the good people in my life – but these kids were pushing me to make a special commitment. They needed more of me than I had ever given to a single other person. They demanded more of me even than their mother required. I began to see the real extent of what it was to love a child, my child. My children.

Kieran and Emery have taken to calling me Daddy. In Kieran’s case, it’s often Dad. Emery, ever operating on a level all his own, once called me a Dumb Dirty Buffalo. Thankfully, I am not identified with this filthy critter on a daily basis.

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Today, water flows thicker than blood, or at least as thickly. Popular adage seems to deny me that privilege, but I would propose that like in Moses’ time, the water has become a blood of its own – and it is that much more potent for the magic that effected the transformation.

How is it that I can stand in the threshold – my eternal vigil in life – looking in on my sleeping boys, and melt inside? How is it that with their laughter and tears they carve their names into my very bones? If they hurt, I hurt; when they feel joy, I rejoice.

I was the outsider, but they have brought me in and made me their own. They have made me Dad.


Two Boys

On December 10th, 2004, and January 29th, 2008, the two best things I ever missed took place: Kieran and Emery, respectively, were born. These two, as you may know already, are my unnatural offspring- my nongenetic progeny. They’ve given me a lot to think about, and a lot to laugh about. Today it is my intention to show their greatness to the world- and the greatness of their impact on me.

Kieran Dennis James is destined, at one point or another, to be called ‘DJ’. This has never disturbed my very tranquil sleep, but for his mother it is an undying nightmare. You’ll have to ask her about it- I don’t completely understand.

Kieran (we won’t stoop so low, my love- fear not) was born, as was his brother three years later, to Aura Delorme and Nondescript White Guy. In his case, we will indeed stick to ‘NWG’. His generosity as a donor of healthy genes is something I never cease to be thankful for. His ongoing contributions are less favorable, but we do manage. He did, after all, set me up with the best family around.

I mentioned Kieran’s cautious nature in my opening post. Let me expand on that a little: Kieran has a great big heart and a razor-keen mind, and his body seems to serve primarily in housing them. As a result, my oldest boy is always conscientious about avoiding scraped knees and bonked heads. We have him in basketball and swimming this summer, because of course he still needs a strong and healthy vehicle.

Kieran, at seven freakin’ years old, is already burning through the Hardy Boys and anything else I foist on him. He was at the head of the reading herd in school this year, and implores me to read to him when he finds something he’s just not quite ready to take on on his own. This, as you can imagine, is a boy after my own heart.

This is also a child of many questions. Strangely, he likes most of all to ask his most poignant, searching questions about two minutes before bedtime. I mean, these evening questions are of the “Where did Grandma go after she died?” and the “How do kids get made?” variety. I’m absolutely, unconditionally ready to sit down and help him find his way, but I do sometimes get the feeling a violin must get when it’s being picked up and dusted off by a king among players.

Emery was only born a year before my entry onto the scene. He grew up in a world where I was Daddy Dan and he was Emeroo, courtesy of my penchant to create nicknames. I had a little song I used to sing to him, and still do if I want to get him totally indignant:

Emeroo, Emeroo
If you poo, I will change you
If I pooed, would you change me too?

Thankfully, there is a lot less public defecation these days.

Emery doesn’t have the proverbial off switch. He really doesn’t- I’ve thrown movies, snacks, walks and quality conversation at him, and it all only serves to wind him up further. I cordially invite any one of you to come over and try it yourselves. Lately I simply channel it, rather than resisting it directly. I’m still trying to come up with a way that we can save on hydro with this kid’s incredible output. He runs, and falls, and gets up, and runs, and bounces off things. He loves to climb on his great uncle Steve. He loves to climb on anything available.

In Emery’s world, DDDs are played on the DDD player. Cats mow (say: m-OWW). Reckless climbers go crumbling back down the mountain. And when Daddy Dan says it’s bedtime, he’s saying the wrong words. When this happens, Daddy Dan is not Emery’s favorite guy anymore.

My policy with the boys is quite simple. Their mother and I provide the nurturing care and firm discipline, and the boys provide the fun. I don’t want replicas of myself, nor do I wish to do everything for them. I can’t live through them as they get older, and neither can they live through me as children. I want them to experience any number of small screw-ups, and I want them to be ready to acid the big screw-ups as a result. I encourage them, in the words of Miss Frizzle, to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” Mommy doesn’t like that last part as much as me.

Let me add that while Dan is always the boss, period, he will always listen, period. It goes almost without saying that the Boss behind the boss is the Mommy behind the Dan- but she lets me play.

This summer we have the boys in camp for two weeks each, and in swimming lessons and sports weekly. We spent a gorgeous week in Quebec at their great-grandparents’ place, and we’ll travel to a few more especially neat places before the sunny days run out. Above all, however, it’s the days where we simply spend our time in each others’ company that I value most highly. These days happen once, and are gone. Because I spend them with you, little ones, they will always be sacred to me- each one.

Here’s a quote, in closing, from my enthusiastic and loving spouse: “You could punch me in the face fifty times, and I wouldn’t care. But you touch one hair on the head of my guys, and I’ll beat you senseless.” Better keep away from those cute little noggins, folks.


Dan & Aura

Aura Lynn Delorme was born on July 2, 1976. When she was halfway through grade six- on December 26, 1988- Daniel William Parrington made his own appearance. At the time, she was not aware of the allure he would later cast over her, entwining her in his sweet and fragrant meshes. Nor did he know about the girl who would eventually annihilate his defenses and utterly rule his heart.

Quite an age gap, as some of you have noticed. Well, let’s get that out there right from the start. Look at it this way: I get the benefit of being married to a woman, a real woman. Never have I had such an understanding or self-assured partner- never have I been with someone so wise to my devious nature. She keeps me accountable, and she bathes me in a warm and worldly love.

Aura, of course, has the dubious privilege of sharing her life with me. She seems to enjoy herself, though.

Well, that little girl did eventually grow up. She got to spend her childhood in the eighties, and her teen years in the nineties- the extent to which I envy her is monumental. Half the music I listen to is from before I was old enough to be listening- or in some cases, before I was ever imagined into existence by my folks. And yes, I know it takes more than imagination to form a child; I don’t dwell on these things.

I grew up, too, although I haven’t been able to quite catch up with Aura. Many of you have been with me through those growing up years, and what you don’t know already, sooner or later I will write about. But right now we need to skip ahead to my nineteenth birthday- December 26, 2008. I was in the midst of my time at Chapters, and I had met Aura very briefly upon her return from maternity leave. She was preparing a family for us, you see.

Not much need be said about the situation within which Aura existed before we finally got together. There was a miserable fellow who shared his misery with anyone who would listen, and he helped to provide us with the makings of a beautiful family. At one point, I suppose, he had had charm to exert; but the charm had long given way to a black cloud. Aura was, in a word, unhappy.

Now, some of you may feel uncomfortable with what happened next. May I assure you, if it helps, that my intentions were always good- and so were Aura’s. Everything was aboveboard, believe it or not, and no irrevocable action was taken by either of us until after Aura had left and severed emotional ties with her then partner.

With the passing of time in a shared workplace, my interest was sparked and burst into flames. This girl had eyes like bottomless pools, a heart as tender as that of a child, and a mind as sharp as the Cutco knives I used to sell. It didn’t hurt that she was prettier than sunrise in the foothills of Alberta. I asked her to lunch, coffee, a staring match- whatever- until she said yes. She needed a friend, I needed a friend, and we found each other.

We saw a lot of each other over the next several months, and it came out that Aura was planning to leave her partner. She was tired of the lousy match, and ready to go her own way. I begged her to let me join her in that journey, and it didn’t take a whole lot of begging before we had come up with a course of action. She moved into 839 Talwood Dr. on April 18th, 2009- and so did I.

Over the next year, I found my life transformed from that of a single working guy to a committed relationship with two kids. It was hard. It was really hard, believe me. But I was happy, too- I was beginning to see that I had found a security and responsibility that I had been craving very deeply without even knowing just how much I wanted it. We helped each other through some hard times, in those early days, and dealt with a lot of drama. Adaptation took time, and Carol had been diagnosed with cancer within weeks of our moving in. Still, we were in love, and the process of becoming family had begun.

A year or so after our getting together, the boys started to see me as a second father. I was getting very attached to them as well, and began to understand that I had two boys. This was by far the most beautiful and difficult process that had taken place yet. Relinquishing sole parenthood, for Aura, must have been tremendously hard- and as she did, I came to see just how total she trusted me. These were her babies, her only children- and she chose to share them with me.

On November 12, 2011, we were made man, wife, and sons. A number of you were there- it is a precious day in our memories, Thank you, by the way, for being there and making it all it was. To those of you who were not with us: your friendship, near and far, past and present, has nevertheless helped us in getting to where we have. And we do apologise for the inexcusably extreme lateness of our Thank You cards! They will show up at some point, as absurd as that might seem now.

That’s about the whole story. My relationship with Aura continues to grow in mutual understanding and affection, and we are making plans to enrich and expand our experience for years to come. With the involvement of our immediate and extended families, and the support and fun provided us by our friends, we have great hopes for a long and happy existence as a family unit.

So again, thanks for the role you’ve played in our story so far. I hope you’ve enjoyed my primer on Dan and Aura. I’ll do a write up specifically on the boys sometime, too. And actually, I plan on writing about a few of you pretty soon. Stay tuned and I’ll see you there-

Cheers, Dan


First among many?

Hi folks- Dan here. Some of you may have received an email or linked from my wife’s Facebook account, but for the sake of clarity I’ll just hash out my reasons for starting this blog. And Cam, Tom- yeah, you get the credit for pushing me over the fence.

I have a mind that moves at a few hundred miles an hour. You might not know it to talk to me, though, as it often is drifting somewhere else completely. In short, this is a brain that gets its many kicks out in left field. The best way I’ve ever found to deal with this is to write out my thoughts- this way I can grab hold of a segment of that daily race and tie it to a page (or screen!).

I have an awful lot of opinions, but I’m typically more likely to want to hear yours. I submerge my point of view frequently so that I can get the scoop from someone else. When I write, however, there’s no one to listen to but myself: maybe you’ll get a few of my perspectives this way.

I lead a life that I absolutely love. It’s quiet, it’s demanding, it’s satisfying. Strangely, I haven’t worked in almost two years- I’ve been raising a family full-time instead. Sometimes the lack of outside work drives me a little up the wall. Hopefully this blog will serve as an outlet. I want to share all that I am and have with the people who have shared my life so far. It’s pretty neat being Dan Parrington.

Okay, there’s my motivation. You want a rundown of my life since I last saw you? Hold on, we’ll get there. For the moment, let’s just have a look at my current state of being.

I’m twenty-three now, married and stepfather to two. I have a high school education and fragments of university from U Toronto and Trent. I collect books, and have nearly a thousand on my shelves. They don’t all fit here at my place in town, so I still keep a lot of them at my Mom’s (hi Mom!). When I really want to relax I play video games. When I want a great time I build Lego with my boys- Kieran, 7, and Emery, 4. I’m pretty great in the kitchen, although I can be equally awful. I have some rather fascinating and disruptive mental health concerns that have largely been resolved- but of course things like that are never totally a finished story. I love animals and music. My favourite color is brown in all its shades. I spell words like favor without the u, and realise with an s. I am not a multitasker, at all. I have a dream staircase. I enjoy diagrams. I watch a ton of movies- my favorite is Blade Runner.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really picky. I have my favorites, though. William Faulkner is the author I admire most. I dreamt once that he was staying in the same hotel as me, so I went to see him in his room. He was out, and I was devastated. I still am. I also like twentieth century Russian and American literature. Robertson Davies is my Canadian idol. I have a filthy obsession, usually not talked about socially, with science fiction. I like sic-fi best when it collides with horror. Anyone who comes into my home knows that I hate to see a friend leave without a book, and the same will likely apply to my blog- I hope you don’t mind getting recommended to sometimes.

My family of four, counting me, is the essence of my universe these days. Aura, previously of the Delorme family, provides me with a wellspring of love and care. I try to be the same to her and the boys. Kieran and Emery are very different creatures, and I love to make the comparison. Kieran, soon to be in grade three, is a cautious kid, always prone to apply his mind to a problem long before tackling it head on. He is in the top of his class with reading, which makes me very proud. He has a lot of questions and craves the thorough answer. Emery, who will be in kindergarten next year, is exceptionally bold. Never have I known someone so likely to lean out into an undertaking much further than they can pull back from safely. He’s very bright, bright to the point of constant amazement on my part, but usually prefers action to consideration. So Kieran makes sure Emery is safe, and Emery makes sure Kieran has a good time. I like the combination very much.

Aura is thirty-six as of this past Monday. She tells people she’s twenty-six, and could pass for it, but I am tremendously pleased with my very own cougar. Aura struck me from the beginning with her intuitive nature. She can discern your thoughts and motives at twenty paces. She’s a great organiser, a powerful motivator, and nice to have on a fellow’s arm. She’s pretty any way you package her, but I like her in black or blue, and it especially pleases me when she gets out a sundress. She would be terribly embarrassed to see me writing all this, but she’s absurdly modest on top of everything.

You’ll get to know a little more about me as time goes on, but I hope this hooks you for now. Without any further fuss, let me once again welcome you to the new blog. Check back soon!

Cheers, Dan

p.s. For those as confused as I was, the comment button is at theĀ top of the post.


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