Birds in Flight

A little less than two months ago Jill came to the kitchen and with a bit of trepidation (it seemed to me) said, “Mom I want to move out.” I sensed she thought I would resist this, perhaps suggest it wasn’t the right thing to do. But how could I do that? To be honest, I was relieved. It meant positive things were percolating in Jill. For a long while Jill has been playing things safe. That is what she needed. It seems evident now that Jill needed some space. The demands of high school, the ranch, Covid nastiness, grief and being a teenager all piled up. Jill grabbed some time for herself and good stuff flowed from that time.

What followed from that kitchen conversation was action. There was a hunt for an apartment which had some dramatic parts to it. The hunt for a job. The need to assess what she needed and what she had and then packing. Finally this past week, on December 1st, she got moved into her own apartment in Regina.

It’s quiet around here.

10 days ago all three kids were here. We are down to Morgan. Gina is having a good start in Toronto, Jill seemed delighted after her first full day in Regina. I am appreciating the quiet sometimes. Mostly it all seems hard to believe.

Jill starts work on Monday, she has a week of training and soon will be a Barista on duty at the Starbucks in the Chapters bookstore. She is thrilled by this.

I am proud of these girls. Russell …. well if you know Russell you know….he is beside himself with pride and missing them. I said to Russ on the way home from Regina on Thursday, “Russ, Tanya said Gina is quiet, Jill’s interviewer encouraged her to loosen up and be less self conscious, but you know what’s cool, we both know what will flow once they do relax and open up, the people around them are in for a treat, it’s like they are unwrapping something precious.” Jill is so zesty and funny when she is ready. She is soooo caring. Gina is passionate and principled and loving. They are both brave and curious and capable. I know once they each take the awkward steps thru these beginning days they will be okay. I think I will be ok. I think Russ will be too. And Morgan, well, he is enjoying trying out being an only child, so far it suits him okay. I suspect though that we all have some bumpy days ahead.

Some favorite teachers and their families joined us for supper the night before Jill left.
It was a decent day to pack a car.
Grandma Shirley sent us off with some of her delicious cookies!
We dealt with a train derailment and some pretty heavy snow before getting to Regina. Safely arrived, here Jill waits to meet her landlady.
Meanwhile, Russ and Morgan left super early with the Expedition loaded. They took in Agribition and then met us at the apartment. If you read last week’s post about Morgan’s roping obsession you will understand this quote from Morg who sauntered in with his recent rope purchase in hand, “Well Jill, is it time to break in your new apartment?”
He made his loop.

Russ and I are super grateful. Kids that grow up in rural Canada often have to make big changes happen to get access to broader opportunities. Jill has decided the changes are worth it. She has flown our coop and seems to have landed well. I love her apartment. She has a cozy place in a great location. It has character, a mid-century modern vibe. Jill will be stretching her wings beyond her comfort zone, she is poised to discover much about herself and the world. This is life and it is so good. Our nest will always be here.

Let It Go Elsa!

On Friday night I sat in the Strand theatre in Melita, Manitoba with a bit of nervous anticipation.   Our girl Jill would soon be on stage with the cast of Frozen for a production they pulled together in 9 days at a theatre camp.   I was so proud of Jill before the curtain even rose.  Having just graduated from high school she was surely the oldest member of the cast, that didn’t hold her back.  She heard about the opportunity and knew immediately she wanted to sign up.   She is in a bit of limbo in her life, not sure what the next steps need to be, but she knows she loves musical theatre.  She hoped for the part of Elsa, one of two female leads, she got it.  She spent her days working on her part and riding the waves that come when sharing a project with children of many ages. 

Once the curtain rose there was much to take in.  The lead characters Anna and Elsa were played by three pairs of actresses, to relay the passing of time.  The little ones were so cute and showed much promise as performers.   Many familiar faces were part of the cast and that made it extra interesting.  The staging of a musical with little time or budget involves a lot of dedication and creativity, it was very interesting to see how it all came together.   The point where Jill and Amelia came on as the adult Anna and Elsa was notable.  Both these girls attended the first ever theatre camp back in 2016, they both love it, they were both strong performers who carried their lines and the emotion within their parts very well.  As an audience I think it was clear we could relax with the understanding, “they got this.”  That is a big deal.

Our friend Sue-lynn had front row seats and got this picture from that vantage point. Thanks for sharing Sue-lynn!

Jill basically blew me away.  I have not had the chance to see her perform like this for so very long.  Three years?  The combination of her maturity, experience, inner spirit and ability meant she took to the stage with confidence and was very effective.  I was so proud of her, she claimed her space as a performer.  What do I mean when I say this?   Its like the performer says within themselves, “I am here, with all that I am, I have a story to tell, I am letting you see something within me, I am dramatic, I may not be what you are expecting, but I am here and I am not leaving till I have given every last drop to get my message across.”  I know from experience that this is not easy to do but it makes the difference between an average and an excellent performance.  One of Jill’s fans was embarrassed by the tears that fell when taking in what Jill had to offer.  I wasn’t surprised.  They seeped from my eyes too.

I asked Jill if I could share the videos I took of her solos.  She was not so comfortable with that.  So you will have to trust me that her singing was lovely. 

Beyond the chance to learn and perform, as a parent I find myself with hopes that my kids make friends in activities like this.   It was therefore quite fun to drive home with Jill after the first performance and hear stories, not about the show, but the people in the show, the kids interacted with Jill in fun ways and it was heartwarming to hear how that all unfolded.   Jill didn’t come home with a new best friend but she was enfolded in a little community and that matters. 

Our friends and family were supportive of Jill, there were a lot of good feelings that flowed from seeing familiar faces and hearing words of support and affirmation.  The long distance family lent their support from afar through the family chat.   There are so many things that have made life challenging over the last couple years but without a doubt the chance to see faces and feel hugs and stand close for pictures makes a person think, “we are going to make it!”

Here are a selection of pictures we grabbed to remember the moments and the love.

This picture betrays Grandma Shirley’s usually sunny spirit. I am including it because I am wearing my Mom’s shirt. I wore one of her shirts to every one of Gina’s Shrek shows, to symbolize her presence in our lives in some way. I wore it to this 2nd show of Jill’s. Mom spent many hours in the theatre at Melita watching all the kids in these drama performances. Behind Shirley and I is a friend from Oxbow, Donna was able to sneak in the performance during time she was already in Melita, thanks to Facebook she knew about it. It was so nice to see her.

We are thankful to Brittany Walker and the Antler River Recreation Department for creating opportunities that have meant alot to our family, especially Gina and Jill. We are really proud of them both, its Jill’s time to shine!