Thursday evening Russ got a message. It was from a woman sitting in the front row in the theatre at the Canadian College of Performing Arts. She was awaiting the start of “Love and Information” on its opening night. Meanwhile our girl Gina was backstage, ready and waiting for her cue to enter. The message sent was a picture of a foot nearing the stage and just two words, “front seat”. At intermission we received an asssessment of the first half. The woman is Tammy Shaw, she was raised in the same small town near here that Gina called home for the first 3 months of her life. Tammy lives in Victoria and has been generous and kind towards Gina, very mindful of the connections we share. The connection is pretty solid. When I pulled into Gainsborough, Saskatchewan on June 28th, 1999 as the brand new minister who had never met a soul out here, my assignment was to go to Tammy’s Mom’s insurance business, meet Cheryl-Anne and get the keys to my new home, the United Church manse. Cheryl-Anne gave a wonderful warm welcome, I could not have imagined then that her daughter and my daughter would be sharing the moments they did this past weekend.
This picture is part of the first scene that Gina was in, that is Gina on the left side. It was a scene where she needed to make eye contact with an audience member. It was Tammy who was in the right spot to be that person. That really pleased Gina and she made sure to tell us about this.
When the show was over Tammy and her daughter waited to talk with Gina and they presented her with flowers. This impressed me so much, it was just so thoughtful.
The thing is that Russell and I had planned to be in Victoria and to attend the show. We thought we had a window where we could make it happen. Covid and cold weather conspired against us. I am beyond thrilled that on opening night Gina had fans in the crowd. We made sure to be in touch with Tammy afterwards so that she could know how much her support meant to us. Tammy relayed that she wasn’t doing a big thing, because for her it was a connection to home, and she needed that too. So Tammy, this next picture is for you. This is young Gina, on the back step at the manse in Gainsborough, taking in the summer sun from that particular corner of the world. You know all about it.
The next night Gina had a triple whammy of support. Her Aunt Janet and Uncle Ray were watching the livestream in Vancouver, we were watching the livestream with the Connelly’s, and in person in the theatre were Miles and Shelley Vass. They are friends we worship with here in Carnduff and our connections of friend, family, and ranching go way back. Shelley’s Dad Jack was the first person I told in the church community about dating Russell. I remember saying to him, “Jack, I have something to tell you, (he was a member of the Ministry & Personnell Committee) I have been spending time with Russell Bayliss, it maybe doesn’t make sense but…..” he cut me off, “it makes perfect sense to me!” I needed to hear that. Jack was among my circle of support for the rest of his years.
It was great to hear from Shelley after the show that they had loved it and were so glad they were there. She reported back “we had a hug and a chat with your star!” Oh that does a Mama good to think about her girl getting that warmth and adoration from home. Shelley sent this picture of the program.
Saturday evening, closing night, my sister Margie and her family were watching from their home just outside of Saskatoon. I know that Gina was encouraged by the simple knowledge that people are with her in this big journey she is on.
My appreciation for the support that Gina received is the reason “super-thankful” appears in the title of this blog. It really is the heart of this blog entry. I want to celebrate that the ties that connect us to each other are so life-giving. Especially in these times of increased isolation I feel like we should take note every time they show up and reveal to us the importance they really do carry. The ties that connect us are maybe the binding that allows us to keep well amid very trying or new or discouraging or big developments. They are the ties that bind. They are the ties that keep us from becoming frayed. They are sometimes not obvious until they are. I am thankful, so thankful for them.
There are other words in the blog title……..sentimental being one of them. Gina and I had a pretty big visit on the phone this weekend, I was puttering and talking, putting away Christmas decor (not the tree, Jill wants that up til April at least…..), but shelf ornaments were getting wrapped and boxed. Long ago I started keeping some of the favorite clothes of the kids’ childhood to use as protective wrap for our special Christmas things. As Gina and I reviewed the highs and lows of the show experiences I was pulling these very small and very memorable clothes from a box and getting the job done. I broke into the conversation, “oh Gina, I just pulled your striped pants out, you know I have a memory of a picture of you wearing these pants and looking in that full length mirror that was in the hallway. You were really checking yourself out, getting very aware of your own physicality. I don’t think I could have imagined this moment now back then.” It was a really poignant moment in the conversation for me. As I handled those old pants, remembering the little girl who once wore them it felt like a celebration of growth and giftedness. I couldn’t find that picture but I found this one. These are the striped pants that will protect my favorite nativity figurine all year long.
As I looked for the striped pants picture I had in mind I came across a few other noteable ones. When Gina was 2 we took her and baby Jill to see Sesame Street Live. This picture represents her first encounter with a stage. The shirt she is wearing here is one of our favorites from the olden days. It has a story that goes with it, we call it her “troubles Daddy!” shirt. Last week the cat wore it.
Sometimes I enjoy puzzling over how things come to be. I do that alot actually. I was struck looking at pictures today, of how at a very young age Gina was surrounded by somewhat unusual action. Here at the age of almost 4 months she finds herself in the midst of lunch on a horse chase. I wonder what went through her head as Blaine peeked at her with that big horse looming so near.
These horses were milling in the ditch beside her. What leads a country girl to have strength and fearlessness on stage? Do moments like these contribute? I don’t know but its interesting to think about.
Pictures of livestock help to transition to the last word in the title of the blog……snassy. This also is a pivot from dwelling on Gina’s experiences and turns us to Morgan for a bit of humor. Morgan loves to use the word “sassy” and he pronounces it with zest. In itself it is not a funny word really, but the way Morgan brings it into use it just has a humorous tone to it, all the time. Well on Saturday we took advantage of mild temperatures and being home and we got a big job done. With the help of Laurie and Dawson we put our heifers and late calves through the chute and gave them a treatment to prevent parasites and skin bugs. It was an all afternoon job and held both monotony and rodeo type excitement at times. At one point I looked at Morgan and noted that it seemed he was wearing his good jeans. I hassled him about this. He assured me these looked like good jeans but in fact had very inconvenient “air conditioning” (a bad and not stylish hole). Then it was his turn to hassle me, he told me I was being snippy, I said, “yeah especially because it seems I am wearing my good jeans!” “Well Mom!” Morgan said, “you are being snippy and sassy!” And there and then in the midst of that monotonous work a new word was born, “snassy” and it gave us something to smile about then and since.
This was a long blog. If you got this far, thank you for your endurance. I just couldn’t leave any part out. I think for me being sentimental is one of the ways I nourish the ties that exist between me and the people and things of the past. I seem to need that. Expressing gratitude is how I nurture the ties that bind in the current moment. Its a big part of my faith. When people say thank you to me I notice it, I feel it, I know it has nourishing power. I try to offer it back as much as possible. I could do better with that though. And how could I leave out snassy? If we didn’t get to celebrate humor I am not sure we could carry on around here.
Super thankful, sentimental and snassy……..thats me.
P.S. The new characters on the blog tonight gave their permission to me to use their names here.