Thoughts of a Lost World Before 9/11

Wow. 14212593_10154365369305734_330423464906877604_n

15 yrs today since 9/11. 15 yrs since the world I remember swung right and there’s an entire generation of kids in Canada and America that can’t think of a time when we weren’t at war with someone in the Middle East. (And 25 yrs since the Desert Storm…)

I was filling out patient forms that morning, back in my early hospital days. Nothing got done that day. All the TV’s suddenly switched to the view of one of the Twin Towers burning. No one knew what was going on… And then saw the 2nd plane hit the 2nd. And then reports of the plane crashing into a field. And then… And then….

I miss those days of gentle innocence. I miss a time when a 10 yr old little boy like me got to visit the Captain and flight crew in the cockpit and talk to him about how awesome it was to fly. I miss being an 11 yr old boy bring able to visit a national monument and not be subjected to metal detectors. I miss a time when I could look at the faces of the people around me and not assume every person with the name Muhammed is possibly a terrorist. How I miss those times of given trust and simple joys.

I want to inspire hope. I want to inspire tolerance. I want to be a person who inspires compassion. I want our kids and the next generation to come to feel that simple innocence we all lost and surrendered in the name of fear, of security, of suspicion and racial / religious lines.

I don’t know if I am that person. I know I’m trying to be. In a world where terror seems to come from every corner, I don’t even know if it’s even possible.

But I’m trying. I’m trying so very very hard. And it’s my promise to keep it up to rebuild that lost innocence we all lost 15 yrs ago when the towers came crumbling down.

It’s a promise from a Dreamer… to all of you.

 

The Days Before Tomorrow. 30 Years Later and a Call to Action

It’s now 11 years and a week or so since she passed, and now 30 years since that fateful summer when we first met. That special relationship put myself and her children on a path that I never could have foreseen.

Though lovers be lost

Though lovers be lost. I never forgot this poem as it always reminded me of her.

I haven’t written much about the kids this year, especially as I’ve only seen them twice. As I’ve explained, they’re not mine through blood or law, but they are of my heart nevertheless. In every way that truly matters to me and to them, we are family, and they’ve taught me so much about how it is to be a proud father.

Terry completed his stage in Las Vegas, and then extended it, and then extended it once again. He’s on leave of absence from culinary school now, simply because he was encouraged to travel and learn under some of the best in the culinary world. He’s in England, doing a stage on a culinary level that simply stuns me. There are no words I can express to describe the heights he will achieve.

Georgia is in year 2 studying law, the very degree her own mother couldn’t complete due to the events long ago. In a moment of face palm humor and frustration, she continues to show the stubbornness, passion and brilliance that her mom possessed. You see, she introduced to me her new boyfriend, another Chinese kid who I swear resembles me a little. But this time, he seems to genuinely love her, and they met through the same law program. Of course, I warned him as a father to take good care of her or else, but he already knew better than to upset her. She’s going to be brilliant, but I admittedly look forward to see her walk the aisle in a white dress.

Every Dad's Dream

Every Dad’s Dream

But that’s not the purpose of this blog, and why I returned to the Days. The real story is why that chance meeting 30 years ago continues to guide my life even now.

As you’ve probably read, I’m running for office now. I wasn’t planning to, but I discovered that I had to. There’s the classic saying, “All it takes for Evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” But while I subscribe to such dramatic thoughts, I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it far better:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve always tried to be a defender for others. I see that the highest aspiration of a person is to serve his or her fellow citizen and found that the problems we see in life is very often rooted in silence. I simply want to serve my city, my home and make it just a little better each day, and to speak out to hopefully inspire others to act and do the same.

Now, I have a chance to serve and make a real difference on a great scale. There are so many causes that matter to me. Education. Equality rights. The future of Calgary. Small business. My friends and family. So many and more… and to make a difference, I choose to stop being someone who spoke from the audience into someone who wants to speak truth to power. This truly unique opportunity has come up, an invitation to run for office and have a voice where it matters.

Why am I standing up for what I believe in, when others could have been content from the sidelines? It was Terry who inspired me. He took the chance and had the bravery to come out to me, telling me a truth where so many other children found themselves ostracized, beaten, abused or even banished as my friend, photographer Kelly Hofer. With this decision, he showed me what true bravery was, and why I fight now.

One summer long ago, my first love and I kissed. It was a cheeky french kiss at a time where I was helpless while pretending to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. It was a kiss full of mischief, joy and bold acts of young love and sweet moments. It put me on a path, through her legacy, that guided me to this moment of perfect clarity and the bravery to act.

The First Kiss

The First Kiss

To my wife, my friends, my city, the people of Calgary-Glenmore, and the bravery of a young man who I love as my own son, I dedicate myself to serve, to inspire others, and most importantly, I choose to lead. I am Terry Lo, a dreamer fighting to make a great Calgary into reality, and I want to be your MLA.  And this is a call to action to all, and I beg of you to stop being neutral or silent. Help me, be brave and stand up and act.

——————————–
The Story of the Days Before Tomorrow and the Children

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow, The 10th Anniversary of Her Passing

The State of Terry 2014 – A Unique Year

(This is more of a personal musing on a life overly lived this past year. It may be of interest, it may not. But in the end, it’s an insight into the life of a quirky lover of Calgary.) Wow. As of Oct 15, I’ve spent 44 yrs. on this dusty ol’ planet of ours. 44 years where I got to see my waistline go from 0 to an astounding 48 and settle on 34. 44 yrs where I had to live with the knowledge of the lives I’ve saved, failed to, and outright lost through tragedy and simple fate. And 44 yrs to see my life evolve once more from someone who served a few to one who found a new path to help. Oh, and 44 yrs where I learned to write in overly sentimentalist terms. Ok, enough with the maudlin style of writing. Overly poetic and melodramatic, though the practice would help me get a job scripting the next Thor movie.

Struggling to keep the pants away... (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Struggling to keep the pants away… (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Now let’s see, I turned 44 last week. I’ve helped raise over $40K directly for charity in the last 18 months, and highlighted the Calgary food scene. I’ve left the Investigation business to become a Social Media Manager, and apparently a pretty decent food event creator as well. I’m well regarded in several social media circles, both locally and internationally, and even had a chance to highlight old media skills once more. More importantly, I did this all while wearing pants most of the time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PTLKPx4kHA

In this time, I’ve come to enjoy my new position as a surrogate father to a gay son (go Terry… so proud of you) and a daughter that reminds me an awful lot of her late mom. Dragon boat paddling is still my passion in sports, though as the years go by I’ve started to see that my final years of competition are upon me as my back isn’t what it used to be. I’ve seen some great restaurants come up, and met far more interesting people.

What I have found though… – I’ve definitely become an outspoken atheist. As per my prior posts, I’ve found that the ongoing hypocrisy of organized religion is a far bigger problem than a support. I’m basically burning my political future with this statement, but I would rather be known as being true to my lack of belief than to mollify the sensitivities of theists; – I have so much to learn about being a dad of a LGBT kid. I’m trying though. I’m trying. It’s amazing what that sort of insight has done to my worldview, and I refuse to ever be quiet about their rights ever again as I was during my theist days. If anyone else wants to give me some advice, I’d love to know. – For that matter, I have so much to learn about being a dad of a 19 yr old daughter. In the almost 2 years we’ve gotten back together, she’s had 1 fiance, then a husband, was pregnant, then not, and still managed to succeed in law school. And that’s before I even get to all of the little lessons I’ve been discovering about the mindset of a girl. I always wanted a daughter of my own. Now that I do, I love and cherish her indeed, but I have to admit that it’s been a heck of a roller coaster ride.

The year to come will be a critical year in terms of special plans and personal growth. If you thought YYC Burger Week and YYC Pizza Week was impressive, keep an eye out. This is LITERALLY the start. – A year since the YYC Floods, I love my home city ever more. So where is this post going? I’m really not quite sure myself right now, as when I normally write I do have a tale in mind. Did I learn anything? Probably. Was it anything useful? Probably not. But what I can say… I’m surprised by the numbers of people who I’m proud to call my friends, my family and most importantly, the travellers who follow my path and dreams along the way. For that, I thank you all. And I’ll hopefully see you all soon. Cheers.

Cheers.

Cheers.

The Days Before Tomorrow: The 10th Anniversary of Her Passing

“Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.” – Mitch Albom

“Though lovers be lost love shall not.” – Dylan Thomas

Image

Almost 30 years ago I met her. A bit over 20 years ago I broke both our hearts. 10 years and a few days, she broke mine, and those of “our” children one more time forever, when she was killed by a drunk driver.

The daughter of my heart, if not by genetics and marriage, my dear sweet Georgia will be coming to Calgary in a few days for a friend’s bachelorette party. I’ll see her for an evening, and then she’s back to Vancouver, all 3-4 months pregnant as well. But I know that while our reunion is in her mind, today of all days 10 years past is there as well, as in my son Terry’s too, as it was her death that profoundly changed things in all of our lives those days long ago.

As I think upon her, and of the path not taken, I still wonder what it would have been like to have had her in my life and to have raised the kids as my own. Would we have finally fit in the cosmic scheme of things? Would all doubts I had towards reconciliation broke us apart again? I really just don’t know.

But I do know this, and it’s something I’m simply so amazed by my wife, WK, is so understanding about. There will always be a part of me that was with her, despite the madness, the insanity of the situation and secret unspoken longings that we both shared yet never uttered to one another.

She was my muse of beauty and light, a mystery within, an enigma wrapped in a smile that could dazzle and warm the coldest of hearts. She was a lover of fine music and arts, curious of the glorious stars and galaxies above and a shield maiden to those who threatened her family. She hated high heels and the illusion of fashion, yet stood for all that was right in the world without, even if not satisfied personally within. She was that rare spirit that yearned to be free, yet was determined to be tied to the chains of love and memory. She was a warrior against fate, and saw that fate was in large part what we made of it, and fought for the chance for the both of us to reunite.

In the end…. she was as rare as lightning in a bottle and just as electric to the touch. The memory of her kiss, her skin, the deepness in her eyes, and the simple way … the way she embraced joy in the dance of thunder above still aches in me deep inside. She was my 1st love, and no matter how strange things came to be, I am thankful that she was a part of my life.

Good night my sweet these 10 years now past. While I may not believe in a heaven, if there is one, I hope you have found it and that you have found peace now and forever now that your… no… OUR children and I have been reunited after all this time.

Good night. I miss you. Terry, Georgia and I. We miss you.

——————————–

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

Memories from My Youth – Her Pilgrim Face

I will be returning to the ongoing saga that is my stepchildren and eventually to some of the more interesting cases I had been involved in. My daughter is now in a different quandary, while my son seems to have found his place. But today, as the first snow hits Calgary, this event in my life came to mind, and it was time this story was told.

I hate those days when you’re walking into a wind so fierce that the snow and the rain fly sideways. Days that the wind bites deep, and the skin of your face turns ice-cold. Days like that one long ago, where I was old enough to feel invulnerable and confident. One particular day, when I met her.

I was trudging along Sherbrooke St in my beloved home of Montreal on a miserable February afternoon.  I was just blocks away from the closest Metro station, but it may as well have been miles away based on what I was feeling. Icicles had literally started to form on my eyebrows as the snow melted and froze on my face. It was only 4pm, but the night had already come and the street lights struggled to provide light to lead the way for my fellow pedestrians.

Montrealers are born to the cold, the snow and the tests of winter life. Strangely enough, it’s bred in our DNA to also be defiant to some of the most sensible laws, such as jaywalking. One of my favorite writers once noted, that while waiting for Pierre Trudeau for lunch, Mr. Trudeau had crossed the road in mid-block, and impressed upon my friend on how much a Montrealer that our once Prime Minister was. This was no different, despite the poor conditions, the dark and unfortunately, the miserable road condition that led to a car to careen off the street, and strike a small child who was trying to jaywalk.

Her body had flown a good 10-15 feet down the street, and just near where I stood. The car that struck her had come to a full stop, a stunned driver motionless behind the wheel. As I looked down first at the girl, then from side to side, the enormity of the situation had still not come to realization for anyone near.

I ran to her side and mumbled incoherently to the broken doll on the ground. She still breathed, whimpering at the pain induced upon her, warm tears quickly turning cold. I grabbed her hand, and continued to try to comfort her, though to what kind of effect was debatable at best. But as each moment that passed, the accident had gathered a crowd, all watching from a safe distance while I knelt down onto the icy street to be with her as oncoming traffic still sped by, paying little heed to us both in the dark and the snow.

Seconds ticked by awkwardly as there was naught that I could do, save wait, and hope, and in another lifetime, even prayed silently in my head, still trying to give comfort to the little girl before me. I didn’t care, and hadn’t even given the danger a second thought. All that mattered was her, and as I held her hand tight, the seemingly slow realization that she was already fading. It wasn’t going to be much longer, and while I was useless to her medically and probably even emotionally, I knew that I just wasn’t going to let her pass away alone.

Fortunately, the Queen Elizabeth hospital was near, just a few hundred feet and sadly, a lifetime away. Paramedics arrived and ordered me to give them space. I didn’t. I couldn’t. Even as I tried to comply, I felt her hand grow tighter refusing to let me go. And as time grew tighter, what choice did they have really. There I stayed, and followed her into the waiting ambulance and to the emergency ward.

She was now just speaking in halting terms, not understanding what was happening around her, but I like to think she knew what was to be within. Her breaths became laboured, faster, but just above her oxygen mask, she looked at me. It was just for a few seconds, and there was chaos all around as the medic worked on to keep her around that much longer. But it was there. That look.

And then, as we entered the emergency bay, her eyes closed. And through it all… the medic, the sounds, the adrenaline and the crisis, she closed her eyes as if to sleep. I think she knew it was over, and with that knowledge, a calm, a peace came upon her.

The medic then demanded I release her hand so as they could move her to emergency.  But, he needn’t have bothered. She let go of me, all strength gone from her grip.

I stayed there in the hospital a little longer, having become the custodian of the girl’s backpack. I just sat there, quietly as the aches and pains of a people passed before me. I sat there blankly looking at the reception admit this person for their fever, that person for their hurts, The shock of all that occurred had finally hit me, and all I could do was just sit, feeling the cold sweat running under my clothes, shivering a little although I was far insulated from the wind and the snow. I looked inside her bag, and found a few school books, some markers, crayons, a teen mag featuring the New Kids on the Block and so on. All perfectly normal for a kid in grade 4. A few officers walked in, and after reception pointed me out, they came to me with their questions and so on. I answered as best I could, gave them my info, and as I started to leave, handed them her backpack.

She passed the moment she let go of me. I’m sure of it. The papers reported the accident as the week passed, but she died before me, her hand taking comfort with mine. I didn’t know much more, but her final look to me was one that has always haunted me to this day… one more ghost that hides behind my eyes. But unlike the other spirits I’ve since lost, her’s will always inspire me in a different way.

When she passed, despite her young age, she didn’t show a look of fear or loss. It wasn’t a look based out of pain or agony. What she showed me in mere seconds was a look based in serenity, of acceptance. Her pilgrim face was all the words I could say to describe her, one of innocence and wisdom all at once. And she showed me a bravery I only wish I could have myself.

Do you know me personally? Have you ever shook my hand, shared bread with me or shared in my adventures? When muttering to myself during Dragon Boat practice, I spoke out loud to the imaginary Powers that be, “why does things [weird, exciting or interesting events] always seem to happen to me?” My dear friend Heather quickly replied, that it’s because things don’t just happen, but it’s because I run into them with my arms open wide. She was right. She IS right. And that small little girl a long time ago is why.

That’s all the lesson I needed or wanted to know as a teen. Time is fleeting, and the fates that be can be cruel and sudden, so do what can be done. And when my time comes, it will be with bravery inspired by her.

The State of Terry 2013: Taking Stock… One Hell of a Year

Wow.  43. I’m surprised I made it.

In this year, I’ve hit some pretty interesting milestones, some that were kinda expected, but most that had blindsided me entirely. Most have been a true honour to have accomplished or achieved, and some are still pending. But as is, it’s probably going to be one of the most memorable as life goes.

This year:

– After years of dragon boating (I started in my late 20s!!!), my team, The Red Eyes Paddling Club, has finally come out into it’s own, and has taken a festival outright. No consolation, B, C, D, E or whatever… it’s a clear outright win.  Only a few weeks later, we followed up with that by being clearly the Bronze winner in another. Incredible.

– I’ve taken the social media lessons I learned the summer of 2012 and ran with it. I’ve always been comfortable as being a relatively altruistic type of person, but usually in the shadows. With social media, those same actions have led me into a whole new world where I can actually influence opinion and help on a scale I never could have reached before. (Yes, it’s probably a bit narcissistic as well, but damn it, to me if whatever I can do can genuinely have an impact, then why not.)

– Employment… well… I’m still here at Spy, though I’ve long since branched out into investigations. The difference before was that in the past, I did the work based purely on the odd occasional referral. Now I get regular requests for P.I. stuff all the time (I still pick and choose though).

– YYC Burger Week – now THAT was a hell of an experience. One of the co-founders of an honest to goodness city-wide festival! I had 3 tv appearances while the big brain herself, Sabahat, had 2 tv ones and a bunch of newspaper and radio ones as well. More importantly, we raised over $7000, sold over 6000 burgers, and gave 16 charities and restaurants a ton of free publicity. I’m seriously looking forward to year 2.

– Health – well, there’s always a sword of Damocles out there, but at least I managed to avoid any outright serious illnesses this year thus far. I could be writing this a bit early, but for now, it’ll do.

– Connections – this is a bit related to Social Media, but I’m shocked by the number of connections I’ve made over the year. Honoured with the ING ambassador scarf again, still a Yelp Elite, a member of Awesome Foundation – Calgary’s task force (during the floods) and more, I’m an actual known quantity in the city. And a number of my peers paid me the best compliment ever… that I represent the best that is in Calgary. I was, and still floored by the compliment. There’s quite a few I would say who are far more deserving, but it’s something I hold quite dear to my heart in many ways. As is, it’s inspired me to reach out even more into the Calgary sphere. It’s also inspired my writing, my blog and my new position as the Stories From Our Streets editor of Calgary is Awesome.com.

– Discovery – this was the first year I truly felt that I came out into my own.  In one way, it meant that after so many many years of aspiring to be a knight, this is probably the first year I truly feel I am. There was a classic line that I always took to heart, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to stay silent.”  Well, once and for all, I took a stand against everything I was against in one way or another…. so much so, that I was described as an activist even.  Unfortunately, as I know it caused pain to my family, it also included one final affirmation against what I perceive to be a form of injustice in one controversial HUGE aspect of my life… I rejected religion once and for all, and declared that I am an athiest. From pretty staunch beliefs as a Catholic to a 32 yr journey (starting from the sacrement of Confirmation) to secular humanism, for the first time in decades, I honestly ceased to hate myself in a lot of ways. And in this, I found a new found freedom that I never expected.

– the Floods and Home – Despite living here for 10 years, the floods have shown me for the first time that I truly am home. The pure sentiment of other Calgarians trying to help is something I still can’t forget, and still haunts me today. But, Calgary is truly my home, and I want to do my best to help others aspire to that ideal.

And last and definately not least….

– Terry and Georgia. I still have to keep a lot of info about them under wraps, as I want them to have as much of a normal private life as possible. Right now, my readers of their tale number into the hundreds, but as this story unfolds still, it can possibly explode into far far more. All of the anger, sorrow, loss and tears that came from my very odd relationship with my 1st true love, has developed into a new family dynamic, where I get to try my hand at something very new… fatherhood. I’ll never have my chance to be a father with my own kids, but with T & G, I’ve learned that there are different types of parents and different types of familial love. They’re both still young, and they’re learning the mistakes I made. There’s some even bigger revelations which is coming in the next “New Frontiers”, one that I’ve been afforded a singular honour that I embrace wholeheartedly. And as the years go by, and as they eventually will be revealed to the world entire as my “kids”, I can only look forward to the time to come.

So that was the year that was.  As for the year to come?

I’ve got a huge decision coming up. 2014 will be a very different year for me as I’ve found my true passion… one that I plan to follow.  Life with progress with YYC burger week, and me growing and evolving in Calgary life… but for now, it’s a story that will be written with every morning breath.

To my friends, family, and my ever patient gal WK…. it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But with all of you alongside, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The New Frontiers : Iceberg Ahead

(This is an update of the 29 yr. saga of a boy, me, who loved a girl, and how we lost each other, and the consequences since. To read the whole story, links to The Days Before Tomorrow can be found at the end of this post.)

“On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world” – John Mayer

“If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons”. – James A. Baldwin

For those of you following the saga of my “adopted” children as I learn the lessons of unofficial fatherhood, well, here’s a bit of an update.  Due to very unusual circumstances, I can’t fully explain the full story. I promise though, once I am in a position to, the tale will be there for all.  After all, it’s been 29 years so far ever since this whole epic tale began, so what’s a few more months I suppose.

First, on the weekend of September 22nd, my daughter Georgia, despite my pleading for sanity and time, my attempts at bribes and more, had married her Shanghai fiancé at the tender age of 18.  Despite HER requests, calls, texts, letters and emails, I stuck to my guns and did not attend the ceremony so long as her natural father and grandmother were unwelcome themselves.

In the months since our reunion in June, the canyon between her and her father grew ever wider as her outrage by his treatment of me was apparently unforgivable. As the one she now sees as father, she had truly believed that I might cave and be there to give her away. Armed with literally hundreds of love letters dating back to the 80s and 90s, she would remind me of one memory or another almost every day in the hope that nostalgia would rule the day. But, I refuse to be the reason for a wedge between father and daughter, and more importantly, I still believe it was a mistake, but it’s one that seems to be karma. In so many ways, I realize that she, out of love, did a drastic act out of love despite the consequences, so much like that fateful day when I did the same to break up with her mother. Life IS a circle, and it looks like history is doomed to repeat once more.

Now as for my new “son-in-law”, well, he’s from Shanghai, and has studied in schools in Europe and Canada. I don’t know what the hell he’s going to do with a Fine Arts degree exactly, but so long as Georgia isn’t footing the bill for the both of them and he can prove to me that he can pull his own weight, then I will keep an open mind as best I can. I still wish my old friend and the true dad would get his act together and help his daughter, but it’s not my place in the end. All I can do is love her, as best I can as if she’s my own kid.

But this wedding and everything that’s happened in the background is causing all sorts of other issues that I can’t elaborate on. But it looks like I might well have to take an active hand in this, and plan to go back to Vancouver for a few days for a special trip. Fair enough, as I like the city, have some friends there (especially the most awesome Alexandria and Kimm), and it’ll be nice to explore and see what’s going on there.

As for my “son”, I couldn’t be prouder. His internship in Whistler is almost over, and at one of the best restaurants in the country. Once complete, he’ll be back in Vancouver for a few months of studies before looking at starting another internship. So far, his 3 choices are at home in Vancouver, to be with me in Calgary or take up an offer in Vegas. I really want to get to know him, and I’m personally hoping he’ll choose Calgary, especially with my newfound friendships and associations with the food industry in town. With his pedigree, I have little doubt he’ll get a chance to work at some of the best places in town. Buuuut, I would thoroughly understand if he chooses Vegas instead. I mean, would you give up the chance to work in Todd English’s Olives, or any of Ramsey’s restaurants and so on??

But even there, there’s a special tempest up ahead, and I hope that Terry can find a path to safe harbour. Again, I can’t explain what exactly, but there WILL be an update on this event way way sooner. If my old friend and his dad reads this, your son needs to talk to you, and I want to remind you that your kid is absolutely awesome. Keep that in mind, and thank for raising him to be such a dedicated, focused young man. He’ll be great.

Soooo… that’s about the best I can say in public for now. Come what may… I am proud of these two kids. Sure, there’s a lot of drama, unbelievable emotions all of us had to go through this past year, and I know that it can only get worse. But in the end… I love them as my own kids. And I will do my best to be there still for them, disagreements or not. It’s what she would have wanted, and it’s what I do.

Back soon all.

————————

For new readers who would like to understand the whole story…

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

#MondayBlogs – Rants on Faith: “What went wrong” Pt 1.

I just spent a weekend for a sad duty, but one that was enlightening as well. My best friend’s mother had passed, and as he is my brother in every way that matters to me except biologically, I had to come to offer my support for him and his family. His mom was a pleasant, charismatic woman, a teacher, a seeker of knowledge and one who I always regarded with warm feelings and pleasant thoughts. She was a woman who loved, whether it be her son and daughters, her husband, or their large family of grandchildren, brothers, sisters and extended members. But I learned for the first time, how that love was extended to people in need, her students, fellow church goers and more, and I can only laud her that much more as she was loved deeply as well by all. Good on you Mrs. P, as I believe that the measure of a person can only be seen in the end by the tears of those left behind. As such, she was truly a wonderful, cherished person and I am proud to have ever made your acquaintance.

But this put me directly back into the path of faith and belief, as people who know me, know that I am very much an anti-theist. I see that religion is not so much a solution to problems as it is the source of those problems. But more on that later.

This was the second funeral I had attended in as many months. The first, was a tragic death of a friend of my gal from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and not long after the birth of her first child as well. She was one of faith, like most in the Filipino community usually are. But her memorial service actually angered me, infuriated me to a point that I would have walked out if it wasn’t for decorum. From the readings, to the psalms to everything said and told by the people (except for one unfortunately monotone presentation of the late person’s life), every single message was thanks be to God for making this woman’s life a living hell with this disease, and that everyone should be thankful. And as I looked around, every single thing that this woman represented wasn’t because she herself was a good woman, but because it was God who made her so and all credit belonged to God, not her. I saw this as an insult to her memory, and definitely one that demeaned her, made her achievements, her joys and her sorrows not of one of a remarkable young woman who fought against the oncoming tide, but one that it was all great because God had all the credit in making her act as she did. It had struck something fundamental in me, as credit was being stolen and more so, and I’ll get back to this shortly.

Mrs. P’s service however, still in the same context of God, was a celebration of her life. Sure faith and God might have led Mrs. P into certain decisions, but in the end, she was a person of true and virtuous character. Yes there were the hymns and the readings, but in this context, it showed that this remarkable woman was someone whose loss is something that we will all feel, and all would miss in so many ways.

The next day, I went to visit my parents, and some friends in Montreal. But the 2 very different celebrations was in my thoughts. Conversation with my folks eventually touched upon my relationship with my nephews, and, with faith on my mind, asked my mom’s opinion on whether my change from faith to atheism might affect my relations with my sister. She had chosen to raise the kids as Catholics as well, and I’ve stayed quiet around her as it’s not my place to dictate anything despite personal reservations. Instead, she mentioned to me how upsetting it has been to the both of them and how my activism against religion specifically hurts them, and how they wonder what they did wrong. It’s from this conversation where this blog entry comes.

As I bounced about in the skies above Canada on my way home today, all of these events of faith the last few days, reminding me of my own decisions, and wonder a bit about how that belief had given my friends and family comfort, and how it gave some a direction as well. And most importantly, how I’ll have to make those I care for and love understand why I have left that belief because it was right for me. So the only way I can express myself properly would be through what I know best… my writing.  SOooo… where to start.

The beginnings….

The path from faith and belief to what I like to describe as a growing up stage wasn’t one that was too difficult, but I can’t call it easy either.

I was given the typical Canadian Catholic upbringing.  I was brought to church every Sunday to hear the sermons and sing to the hymns.  I did the altar boy thing, dressed in the robes and brought the wine and the tapioca host circlets to be transformed into the blood and body of Christ.  As I grew up, my role changed to that of one who served to one who taught, and did my bit to spread the word at mass, doing the readings, being a part of the youth faith groups and the occasional forums.

And no one can say that I wasn’t given the right encouragement either.  I went from Catholic elementary school to Catholic high school.  My instructors were priests and deacons. My parents are staunch Catholics, and can only be described as true believers of the faith.  They themselves served the church in as anyway they could.  Dad would help Father Tou of the Chinese Catholic Church with the regular affairs.  Mom would volunteer years of service for convents and the like.  On long car rides, Mom would lead the family into a round of prayers with the rosary, saying the Hail Marys, Our Fathers and proclamations of the mysteries over and over down the highway.  My godparents would lavish religious items from time to time, and celebrate my entry into Catholicism with parties and dinners. My grandmothers, both of them, can only be described also as believers, though in many ways, I would even say zealots to the cause.

I myself, can honestly admit to being a zealot at one point as well.  I went to daily morning masses in High School, would join in on the prayer events at school and home and even considered a calling to priesthood.  I would pray on my own, asking for guidance and strength to be the good Christian, the good Catholic.  I even wondered from time to time what it would be to be like those who would go out into the deepest darkest lands to spread the Good Word, converting the heathens and the unfortunate who would never had the chance to know HIS love, and be envious by their bravery and faith.

I feared Hell, Purgatory and all that, and would go out of my way to do good deeds like every Catholic boy who believed that there is some cosmic ledger out there weighing the good and the bad.  My classmates and I would even go through a weird “who’s the better Catholic” game of oneupmanship unofficially to see who really was the most faithful, the most believing.

In all that, I was fated to be a true believer, a soldier of the faith. Everything that could have been done to me, with me, by me and for me that could make me believe was done after all. So, as my Mom and Dad, plus the other members of the Lo family might ask and wonder why I turned away… I thought it was time for me to answer their question…  exactly “what went wrong”

End of Part 1

The New Frontiers: Breaking the Cycle

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn.”

-T H. White, The Once and Future King, Unknown

Fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, So mothers, be good to your daughters too

– John Mayer, “Daughters”

Since Xmas,it’s been a hell of a roller-coaster life.  Here’s my recap for new readers (you can read the full story in “The Days Before Tomorrow“).

  • 29 years ago, I met a girl who I loved. We never did end up being a true couple, but still ended up in love with one another.
  • Almost 22 years ago, I deliberately broke her heart, and mine, out of what I believed to be the greater good. (Covered in The Days, Pt. 2)
  • 21 years ago, she married a man she liked, not loved, out of confusion, spite and so on. (Covered in The Days, Pt. 3)
  • 20 years ago, she gave birth to my spiritual step-son, Terry, named after me and appointed me as his godfather and guardian should something happen.
  • 18 years ago, she gave birth to my spiritual step-daughter, Georgia, also named after me, and again appointed me godfather.
  • 10 years ago, she divorced that man and tried to reconcile the years with me, of which I was unavailable physically, and as I ponder, possibly even emotionally at that time.
  • 9 years ago, she was killed by a drunk driver, and I was banned from the kids as a possible kidnapping risk (covered in The Days, Pt 4)
  • 2 years ago when Terry turned 18, he looked for me and found me on social media. He then started to watch me from time to time wondering if he should approach me or not (explained in Unintended Consequences)
  • Last Xmas, both kids finally did, and I wrote the Days over several weeks for them to explain the whole story of their mother and me. (explained in The Days, epilogue)
  • Last month, we were reunited for the first time. While it’s wonderful to be back in their lives, I find out that history is about to repeat, as Georgia is very much like her mom. (Covered in The New Frontiers)

In the past month since reuniting with “my kids”, I’ve been forced to navigate between my obligation to the kids, loyalty to myself and my own family, and the memory and last wishes of a woman now 9 years gone.  Georgia, upon finding out the full story of her mother, myself and the mistakes made by all parties involved, has distanced herself from her father and grandmother. For better or worse, she has told me that I am, and have always should have been, her father. More so, she, at the tender all knowing age of 18, has decided to marry a 24 yr old Mainland Chinese foreigner who I have no idea if he’s even a Canadian citizen. Finally, as her “one, true dad”, it is my responsibility and duty to give her away at her sudden rush wedding in September.

Damn it. I hate it when people know how much importance I place duty and honor as part of my life. I hate it when my beliefs in modern Chivalry are tested at such extremes. More so, I believe she has a point. Georgia in another world and time, should have been my daughter. She should have been the little girl I’ve always wanted to raise, and be there for her first day at school, her first date and first night at the prom. In her, I see so much of her late mother, and while I have no regrets of the life lived thus far, I do wonder about that path not chosen.

I don’t believe for a second that this is right. I didn’t earn the right to be her dad. I’m not the natural father who did all of those crucial life events with her, but the past is forged with heavy chains that hold us all still.  My love’s ex-husband still refuses to talk to me, and so far as I can tell, wants me to deal with this mess. The grandmother is not an ally either in this matter, as she’s been cast out with her son-in-law. Making matters worse, she still bitterly despises me for my part in the choices that eventually led to her daughter’s death.  Terry, well, he’s a great 20-yr old kid who may know his sis too well, and has advised me on when not to push it too much.

In the end, the choice has been left to me, and I’ve been undecided long enough. September is coming up fast.  Friends who have followed The Days have been advising me, and I came to a conclusion finally.  But it was a conclusion I probably always knew would have to be.

This is wrong. Period.  And 20 minutes before I started writing, I told her. (She’s not a happy camper.)

Probably not to the surprise of anyone despite sage counsel, I will NOT step away. I will not get into a family war, or be the cause of one like before.  But until either her father or Georgia smartens up, or hopefully both, I will support her in any decision that will give her time to properly live a little bit first. If she moves in with the guy, and I get a proper chance to know him, I might even consider giving her away, but ONLY if there’s no hope of reconciliation between her father and herself and I’m satisfied that they’re in it for honest reasons.

All those years ago, extreme choices I made led us all into a place that I could have never imagined possible. Subsequent choices that my 1st love made, turned a tale of lovers lost into an outright Greek tragedy. That was the beginning of a cycle of hurt, of sorrow and lost chances. I can’t let this cycle repeat with her daughter. I won’t. She needs to be free of this legacy of what us, her mom, her dad and myself did.

More so, I need to be free. I just want a fresh start with T & G. Is that really too much to ask?

To Georgia, my beloved goddaughter, this is my decision and my reasons.

I fully believe that any marriage in the here and now, is a mistake, and is a decision based partially on defiance and maybe even anger against the sins of your late mother and your fathers…. both of us.

I WILL support you in any way I can to live a little, travel a little. In the semester to come as you study law, why not consider moving in with him for a little bit. If it’s honestly love, and one worth pursuing, then what’s the harm of a little time to give you a chance to study and live. I need to be assured that he is a good man and this is something that has an honest chance, and that’s something I don’t have right now. I’ve known him for 2 1/2 hours in real face to face time, and to put it honestly, all I want to do right now is to “grab the proverbial shotgun” and chase him off. 

I love you. I always have. I am proud of your achievements. You remind me so much of your mother, my heart honestly aches with the pain of loss and sweet memory.

But I can’t support a mistake, especially one without your true dad at the altar. Georgia, I will be a part of the solution, not one that continues the cycle of mistakes and anger. There may be no hope between your dad, your grandmother or me, as too much has happened. But there’s always hope for you and them, and they acted always to protect and guide you.

Think about it. I’ll be here for you.

The New Frontiers: Repeats, Reunions and Restorations…

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive. It’s pretty dense kids who haven’t figured that out by the time they’re ten…. Most kids can’t afford to go to Harvard and be misinformed.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

Before I go on, I’m still not going to post any pics for the foreseeable future.  Outside of their first names, I want the kids to still have a measure of privacy.  I am writing this with their full knowledge and permission, but I am now trying to be a little more restrained due to circumstances.

Well, it’s happened.  I’ve met my “kids”, and in all honesty, I still don’t know what to think.  The first meeting I had in mind kinda went awry, as WestJet inexplicably flew well over 90+ minutes late.  Add processing and the rest, and my late but still ok 9-something pm landing suddenly became one that happened a little before midnight.  Needless to say, by the time I I got out of the gates, the kids were absolutely exhausted.  Given that Terry had to get back for lunch and dinner service in Whistler the next day, the meeting I wanted to have with them both together pretty much was blown out of the water.  Georgia just went home, and we would find a time to later meet.

Terry

Terry stayed over in Vancouver that night, and met me for a pretty early 6:30am breakfast in a Chinese café-bakery.  (By the way, highly recommend New Town Bakery on E Hastings, it was simple, inexpensive, hot and simply rocked.)  In the brief hour or so that we talked, he was simply a joy.  Obviously a child of the 00’s, his Star Wars was Anakin Skywalker and the Clone Wars.  Linkin Park was his Sting and the Police and he never even heard of The Doctors 1 thru 8.  He’s bright, analytical and determined to be a chef no matter what.  He’ll make it, I have no doubt.  But he’s also a little awkward socially.  His focus on his craft has made him appear to be a little cold, even aloof to an extent.  Still, once you do get to know him, you can’t help but respect him.

Georgia

On Saturday, I had went out to meet an old friend I had never met face to face in 15 years.  It was fun, exciting and a grand old trot down memory lane.  But as all good things, it had to end a little early as I had promised a friend to pick up some Dragon’s Beard Candy from the Richmond Night Market.  On my way there, I noticed a text from Georgia, who was already there and we agreed to meet.

Remember, until this weekend, all of my communications with the kids have been entirely on the phone or via the net.  Everyone has a persona they assume online, whether it be one that’s daring, brave, meek or silent.  But in person… ah, there’s the rub.  The cute little 8 yr old girl I remember is a very different 18 year old girl, and one that I bet her mom would have tore her hair out over.

It’s not that Georgia is a bad girl, or some wild child who drives parents to drink.  It’s that she’s so very much her mother’s daughter.  I see so much of my old love in her, and so many of the special qualities that made me so charmed and enamoured even now over 3 decades.

Georgia is smart and clever, quick witted and open.  She is a caring, loving blossoming woman who you can’t help but fall in love with from the start.  She keeps the same insane schedule that her mom did at this age, with most of her days already prescheduled weeks to months in advance.  It’s that drive that made her mom such a star to UBC, and when properly focused, will make Georgia a contender in the days to come.  The problem is that just like her mom, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and is incredibly pig headed.  Terry told me that once she’s made a decision, it takes a small miracle to make her reconsider.  Like me, she has a flair for the dramatic, and makes life changing decisions at a whim as she will follow her heart.  And more importantly, she has a sense of justice based on her own beliefs and is quite willing to defends those decisions to the death.

Unfortunately, this has led her to three decisions that I wonder how much came from me (somehow) and how much came from my old love.

– After reading “The Days” and finding out so many things about her bio dad, and my deep unusual relationship with her mom, she’s stopped talking to him now altogether.  She assures me that she came to this decision herself, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve traumatized her with the truth.  Problem is that, what choice did I really have as well?  I wasn’t about to lie to protect the false reasons why I was abandoned the kids after the death of their mom, or my complicated feelings for her even after all of these years.  Nevertheless, it’s been months since she has had more than a 3 word conversation with her dad, and I feel so horribly personally responsible for this.

– She’s about to get married in a few months, about the same age when my old love and I had once considered the future together.  Worse, it looks like her taste in men is about the same.  Her fiance was working at the Richmond Night Market (hense the timing), and he’s CHINESE.

– She’s asked ME to be the one to give her away.  She sees it as things going full circle, and that I was supposed to be her dad.  I am honored that she asked me, but it feels quite honestly wrong in a lot of ways.  I don’t deserve this pedestal.  I was with her mom in a quasi lost love relationship for over 7 years. Her real dad raised her for most of her 18 years.  He has cared for her, loved her, and sacrificed so much for her that I can never ever repay.  This is his spot, and his honour not mine.

Now let’s get back to where this mess is about to lead.  I’m not going to comment much on her fiance for now, since I really don’t know the guy at all.  All I know is that he’s from Shanghai, studied in western schools and is 24 years old. I have no idea if he’s getting his citizenship, or if he’s even a landed immigrant.  He speaks english with a bit of an british / chinese accent, and apparently works at that market on the weekends.  He seems to genuinely care for Georgia, but I can’t get over the fact that they started seeing one another only months ago…. and now marriage???

I haven’t had time to really think this all through, but this feels so wrong.  I’m trying to respect her decision, but now I think I have to be her father to try to talk sense as she’s presently lacking one right now.  She won’t talk to me at all abotu how her dad is, and what are his thoughts.  I’m actually a bit surprised that he even let Georgia move out at this age for that matter, assuming he even had a choice.

I’ve gotten advice from a few friends here and there, but I still have to think for now. I can tell already that my wife is going to have some problems with Georgia, which is another consideration I’m will have to factor in. So many lives, so intertwined in the decisions I soon will have to make, and all from a single desperate moment based on an ill-conceived haphazard plan. Wow. If there is some sort of afterlife, I can just imagine my old love just looking on in total puzzlement and disappointment.

But there is one thing for certain… I promised someone special and dear to me that I would always be there to strive to be their father, mentor and friend.  I promised her that I would always be there to try to guide them on a path that would find them their own happiness, and to avoid the mistakes that my old love and I made that will always haunt me.

“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” – Margo Channing, All About Eve