Ode to Ike – Persistence, Positivity, Patience and Presence

Henry Ford Quote

Whether you THINK you CAN or you CAN’T, either way you are RIGHT!!!

My brother was the one that first brought my attention to this quote.  I use it here because it completely describes my grandfather’s approach to life.

Last Cruise

My dear grandpa, Isaac (Ike) Doerksen, finally found a place of peace a few days ago after 103 years of life on this earth.  I don’t believe that there was any part of his life in which he did NOT believe that if he decided to do something, then he would.  The last week of his life was not easy.  As his ability to eat, drink water, and even get up slipped away, my family and I watched this man who had been such a strong figure in our lives slowly decline.  As his physical being lost it’s strength and became a weak shell of what it used to be, I watched in what was nothing less than total amazement as the strength of mind, soul and spirit emanating from him literally infused the entire room.  He didn’t once complain.  When I told him I loved him, he used what he had left to tell me he loved me too.  He often reached for the loving hand of whoever was sitting with him and gave a healthy squeeze.  He displayed such grace right to the end.  And as he did his entire life, he didn’t give up easily.  He simply lived true perseverance as he always had.

During one afternoon as I sat with my dad and my grandpa, my dad shared with me some details of my grandpa’s life that I had not been aware of.  He came into the world at 13 pounds!!!  He was once sick for an entire year, yet pulled through like the trooper that he always was.  At a very young age, he lived through things that I will never experience in my life.  One of the stories that he used to tell me that most sticks in my mind is his account of his family living days at a time without food.  When they finally did get some bread he could barely finish a whole piece, as his stomach was accustomed to not eating. What I didn’t know, and my dad filled me in on, was that his family had to hide in the basement for days given the severity the political situation in Russia, where, as Germans, they resided.  My dad also shared with me that the bread they ate was a result of my grandpa’s father agreeing to help mill the grain that another man had brought so that they could all eat.  This was a huge and dangerous risk they took – but they had no choice but to take it.

When he was barely a teen, his family escaped and made the long journey to Canada.  I can’t even fathom what that would be like.  With a whole slew of barriers in front of him including only a few years of education (meaning about a grade three level), language limitations, and a complete lack of resources, he found a way.  He always found a way to do what he needed to do, to make it.  He was without support at a much younger age than I was.  And I really, truly cannot even imagine what the conditions of his situation had  really been like.  He did whatever work he could find.  He saved up and enrolled in a certification program to become a barber.  When he ran out of money, he still persevered.  He wanted his own shop.  In an extremely saturated market he found a way.  He built a thriving business.  He found decided to do it, and he did.

This little summary is just a piece of all of the things that he persevered through.

Every memory of my grandfather is filled with thoughts positivity, patience and presence. I don’t have a single memory of my grandfather ever saying an unpleasant word or exuding an ounce of negativity.  He used to sing to me:

you are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, you’ll never know dear how much I love you, oh please don’t take my sunshine away’.

Ike chose sunshine over grey in everything he said and everything he did.  He just said things that made you feel like it would all work out, that you could do it, and that there was a way.  He simply infused the air with a feeling of positivity and happiness.  He decided to do things, to live life, to be!!!

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To quote my favourite band,

‘all we need is a little patience’.

I don’t think I have ever known a more patient person than my grandfather.  He knew how to step back, reflect, and take time to do it right.  He always made me feel like we had all the time in the world!!!  What a gift he gave me to feel that way.  What a gift he had to be able to make people feel that way.

Presence.  Presence is something that many of us dream of being able to feel.  Recently in my life, I have had the amazing opportunity to really learn how to be more present, more often.  I realize now how presence was a way of life for my grandfather.  Whenever I was with him, I felt like he was completely there.  Completely with me, completely in the moment.  The last afternoon I spent alone with my grandfather, we talked, he held my hand, he told me he loved me, and he thanked me for being there.  We listened to music, I sung to him, and I read to him.  I absolutely relished the opportunity to be completely there for him.  To give him the gift of presence that he gave to me so many times in my life.

The day that my grandpa found peace, my husband, James, and I ventured out for a long walk. We were somewhere with good weather, and by the ocean.  We had walked almost 10 km when we found a peaceful place for lunch.  We walked almost another 10 km before finding a place for happy hour.  We could have taken a car at that point to get back to where we were staying.  But James said to me, it’s only about another 7 km.  I thought about this.  My grandpa used to walk and walk and walk.  He would walk through Nose Hill park in our home town of Calgary for hours.  So why shouldn’t we walk another 7 km, I thought to myself.  So off we went.  We were tired, but we declared ‘for Ike!’, and pressed on.

I love you grandpa.

I will forever miss you.

I wish you all the peace and happiness wherever you are.

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Break on Through to the Other Side

 

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I was completely numb.  My body was numb.  My mind was numb.  Everything was numb.

I could feel myself leaving my body.  It was as if I was looking down at myself, from outside of my physical being.  Everything was hazy.  There was no time.  There almost wasn’t any space…but not quite.  I still knew where I was, but only faintly.

I was drenched in heavy, sticky sweat.  I was so thirsty that I had stopped being thirsty.  All my beings had definitely melded into one.  There was no separation between physical, mental and spiritual.  I was just one single being, floating in the air, looking down at my physical representation and drifting in a weird, hazy existence.  I wondered if this is what Jim Morrison meant by breaking on through to the ‘other side’.

Continue reading “Break on Through to the Other Side”

The Essence of the Mountain Pouring Into My Soul

As I took the first pedal stroke, I looked up at the mountain before me.  As I began to roll, I took in a deep breathe of fresh mountain air.  As I began to ascend, my whole being was present.  I was there, just me and my bike, becoming one with the mountain.  I felt so open, so free.  I thought to myself, this is it, this is the true essence of cycling for me.  This is why I fell in love with riding.

The beauty surrounding me was indescribable.  The sky was true blue and the sun shone down warming everything.  My eye caught the occasional chipmunk bouncing about and chirping away.  The trees were an array of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows.  The mountain opened up before me, grand and snow capped.

My being was in pure heaven.  The purity of the moment filled my heart.

This was it.  This was the true essence of cycling for me.  This was why I fell in love with riding.

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Source: summer.banffnorquay.com

 

There is something so pure about just being out there, me, my bike, and nature.  I see so much, hear so much, and feel so much.

I was only going to be riding in short bursts today.  But, even these short bursts of cycling made me reflect and realize how long my journey has been.  It started with fear and anxiety and evolved into feeling more free than I could ever imagine.  A journey that started with my husband and the road bike that he bought for me shortly after our wedding.  A journey that really got going on a French mountain known as Alpe d’Huez.  A journey that has no end as it has now become a life long path.

So there I was, on the side of this lovely mountain, pedalling away and falling in love all over again.  What timing to be taken back to a place that completely reminded me of why I picked up a bike and started pedaling, why I made my way up that first peak, and why I just keep on pedalling no matter what.

A bike can take you to some amazing places – physically, mentally and spiritually.  A bike can become a friend, and a part of a life long journey.

 

The Path of Peace

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I am on a quest to be in the moment more and more.  I want to be as present as possible as much as possible.  Today in yoga class, my instructor said ‘Peace is not the destination, peace is the path.  I realized that finding my own peace, being present, isn’t something that I will finish and check off of my to do list.  This isn’t a task that I can simply complete.  I will never be finished with it, or done.  It will be a lifelong journey, part of my every day. Continue reading “The Path of Peace”

Don’t Forget to Be In The Moment

IMG_4707That moment when you take a deep breath and your entire being slows down.  The fresh air fills every part of your body, your mind, and your soul.  You look around in a way that perhaps you haven’t for while.  You really see your surroundings.  You drink in everything about the moment.  Everything stops, and a great space is created.  The pressure is lifted, and the confines of life before this space was created are lifted.  It is the most delicious moment. Continue reading “Don’t Forget to Be In The Moment”