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.

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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.

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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 New Frontiers – 1 Year Since We Met Again

Almost 10 years ago, the woman I first loved had died in a stupid car accident. She left me her 2 kids to care for as my own, only to have those plans torn apart, and divided them from me supposedly for good.

Last Christmas, after finding and watching me on social media, they contacted me in the hopes to rebuild a relationship though in what nature, only time will say.

As can be read in the New Frontiers, we’ve met in Vancouver. It was awkward. very strange but liberating as well. Even though the two weren’t raised by me, I can see my influence in their deeds and the way they act. More importantly, when I look into their eyes, I can so see the eyes of their mother in my mind’s eye. In some ways… it genuinely hurts, as every time I look at them, I wonder about the path not taken and the ghosts of Christmas past.

Terry, the older one, has turned out to be the son of my heart. As my fellow Calgarians can attest to, I’ve become a recognized foodie in the city (no, not a famous one, but it’s nice to be one of the crowd). Terry has turned out to be quite a chef-in-making, and is well on his way of getting his red seal while still completing his culinary studies. He’s apprenticed at 2 of Canada’s best restaurants, and now has an opportunity to work in Las Vegas under a truly legendary chef. Needless to say, you’ll hear about him a decade from now. I’m sure of it. Strangely enough, he’s actually working on a unique style that can only be found in the streets of New Orleans, a Cajun/Creole/Asian style. His crawfish po-boy with hoisin sauce is still a work in progress, but his updated version of bread pudding using Asian steamed bread is honestly to die for.

Georgia… ah Georgia… She’s her mom’s daughter. She’s smart, pretty, opinionated and multi-talented like heck. She’s mastered the flute, guitar and piano, loves cheesy movies and has some pretty interesting dance moves. More importantly, she’s taken the path not taken by her mom, and Is actually studying law on a full scholarship. Unfortunately, she’s also willful, headstrong and given to passionate actions that aren’t particularly well thought through. Yep… that’s her mom in there. Strangely enough, that’s exactly how I always expected a daughter of mine would be like.

What can I say, I love them both, though I’ve tried to establish the ground rules that I’m NOT their dad. That ship has long passed as I wasn’t there when It mattered. But, they both still insist to call me Dad as well… and they know that somewhere in my heart, I always wanted them to be mine.

Since the last update, it’s been an interesting time. I’m still learning all about them, and they’ve become open with their thoughts, their beliefs and their secrets. For example, Terry, it turns out is gay. He had the bravery to finally come out in October, and is now proudly showing that he’s accepted himself for who he is, and I couldn’t be happier for him. Fortunately, he’s also talking to a “Dad” Terry of 2013/2014 who has rejected religion altogether, which is in large part because of the stance against the LBGT community. I am proud to be the “dad” of a gay son, because it’s him at his essence. His boyfriend seems to be a nice sort, though I admittedly have no clue how to act in some ways. I always ran the scenarios of meeting the boyfriend with a daughter in mind over the years in my head, so it just feels a little odd to apply the same questions knowing it’s for a son instead. Still, they seem like a good couple, and let’s see where this goes.

Georgia, well, that’s a new story altogether. I can’t really explain the whole story STILL because there are some legal implications, but she’s happily married at 18 (note: I reallllly didn’t approve of it officially, but mostly because I think she’s so young). She had gotten married literally a few months ago, and had expected me to give her away. I had refused because I didn’t think it was my place, after all, her real dad is still around. In the end, NEITHER father attended since we both were in agreement that we didn’t think this was right. But, I did make the effort to at least call and talk to her. Her father didn’t. I guess that’s why Georgia and I are still on speaking terms.

How she can manage a part time job as a waitress, study at law school, and still be such a young wife at her age is still totally beyond me. Just in case, the economy box of condoms I passed on to her for Christmas should give her the hint to be sure to not get pregnant for now! (And YES, I DID send that for Xmas… and flowers). Her husband, well…. I see him as a bit of a flake really, but that’s more due to the fact that I really can’t relate to him. He sees the world from the eyes of an artist, a painter, while I tend to try to see things in a more straightforward manner. Ah well, when I visit in January, maybe I’ll drag him out to a bar and get him really blotto so I can interrogate him properly.

As for me? I’m about to start a new adventure of my own after 7 years in investigations and security. Hopefully this will give me more time to properly explore my relationship with my kids. Being in different cities makes it difficult, but not impossible. But either way… they are my kids in every way that matters. I love them… and I really especially thank my wife for being so understanding in a situation she never expected or wanted… but supports me anyways.

In the meantime, thanks for following the Days, the Frontiers and the rest. The story continues on….

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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 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.

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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: 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

The New Frontiers: Countdown, Last Thoughts, and the Calgary Flood of 2013

This is a quickie add-on.  As you all know, I’m am now literally hours away from seeing my kids.  But, I’m having some mild guilt as well right now.  As you all have probably been watching on the news, my city Is being hit by one of the largest floods ever experienced.

Right now, Sled Island, Enbridge Ride for Cancer, Banff Marathon, Pacekids Run, and many many more events have been cancelled.  Even worse, the Trans-Canada Highways and the related rail lines have been totally washed out near Canmore.  As such, many of the supplies that keep Calgary stocked in cheap Chinese manufactured products, fruits, vegetables (I mean the green leafy types, not the BC liberal and green politicians), and so on will be in short supply for weeks to come.

A LOT of my friends in the social media world and more have been doing their best to help, or will help if the waters recede enough to allow a clean up.  But I can’t be there. I’ve been waiting over 9 years for this moment tonight with my kids, and a bit longer also to meet a dear friend as well.  So yes, I feel like I’m abandoning my town in it’s time of need right now.

I’ll be back Sunday night.  There’s going to be a LOT of cleanup to come, so I’ll get my chance to help and pitch in.  But sigh… it’s a lot to see.  For my friends, I’ll be there Monday on.  Stay safe, and be the best our city can be.

Now back to my kids.  Nerves and all have more or less faded.  I’ve been worried about this for so long, that I’ve decided to just give in to the inevitability and see where it all ends up.  Right now, I know that my “son” will be there, but now there’s a complication that my “daughter” won’t be.  Her grandmother has given her a “it’s me or him” ultimatum, and this can’t be easy for her.  If she makes it, she does.  I’ll always do my best to be there for her from hereon.

That’s pretty much it for now. To my fellow Calgarians, do your best and take care. I’m doing what little I can right now before I leave, and my best wishes to you all when I leave my post tonight.

To my kids. I’ll see you soon.  To Xan, so looking forward.  To Vancouver, to the challenge.

Fortes Fortuna Juvat.  Fortune Favours the Bold. My love to you all.

The New Frontiers: Courage, Children, Comical Circumstances and Catastrophes

It’s been weeks since I touched on the aftermath events since writing the Days Before Tomorrow.  Where I left off, the kids and I had made arrangements to meet at the airport on Friday the 21st where they can finally have a chance to see their would be father, or at least what they once called cool Uncle Terry.  Weeks since I gave the kids the total story of the events that led to their mother falling in love with me, and the catastrophic reactions that has led to the very unusual circumstances we all find ourselves today.

Since then, the countdown has only become smaller.  Time has creeped up on all of us, and there’s only scant days left before I see my kids again.  And yes, I still see and believe them in so many ways to be at least partly mine.  As I learn more about them, I see so much of their mother in them, and how she must have tried to inject a bit of me into them despite genetics and distance.

T is 20 (almost 21 soon), and he’s studying to be a chef.  To put it bluntly, their mom was never a particularly good cook admittedly.  She was skilled in so many ways, such as a keen analytical mind, great dexterity on the volleyball court and a musicality on the piano and cello that had to be seen to be believed.  One of my fondest memories in fact, is when we just quietly played a musical duet with her cello and my flute in a Montreal park one night.

Their dad has a great mind for organization, but he’s not much of a cook himself.  But I’ve been a foodie and home cook every since my teens, and I’m betting that T’s own skills and goals must have been in some way influenced by their mom and me.

G is studying to go to law school.  She possesses an empathy that goes well beyond her young years, and an equally keen mind that can bring truth from shadows with laser like precision.  I’m getting close to her in many ways, as I’ve always wanted a daughter of my own, and I’ve inspired her to follow and complete the footsteps her mother started all those years ago.  My first love never did finish that law degree, and I hope that G can finish that path, or if not that one, then any path that finds her happiness and love.

But my wife was right in one thing… I should have said a bit less when I wrote the Days.  I was so concerned to give the kids the full story, that I didn’t give a proper analysis of the consequences.

Damn.   I really am rusty as an economist.  A good economist can find trends and patterns in the present and the past, and recommend a course of action.  A great economist can take that same data, recommend a course, but also predict the unknown results to the best of anyone’s ability and be ready for the consequences.  I once thought I might’ve had the basics to be a great one, but not having used those mental muscles for so long, I guess I’m just a 1/2 decent one.  Where the heck does all this past paragraph fit in?  Well….

The kids have stopped talking to their dad and their grandmother.  Those two found out that 2 of the pillars of their family life was partially built on lies, and have taken it out on their dad.  They didn’t know about the no contest over custody when their mom and dad divorced.  They didn’t know about the restraining order about me.  That and the whole story on how she and I loved and lost… and they’ve had a LOT to think about over the months.

It probably also didn’t help much that I told the both of them to take their time and try to focus on school and so on.  Both of them had this burden of truth placed upon them just before school finals and so on, which was bad timing on my part.  But now that’s all done, and we’re about to enter a new adventure.

Where am I?  Terrified really.  I’ve loved these two ever since their mom made me their godfather (despite my relatively near total lack in faith strangely enough).  What if I’m not what they envisioned me to be?  Despite the blog and calls, at the end, they still fundamentally have the mind’s image of me from the viewpoint of a 11 yr old boy and a 8 yr old girl.   Do I have a place in their lives?  Do I even have a right to even BE in their lives?  So many doubts, and so many fears and worries.  But I broke my promise to their mom once to be a part of their lives and to be like a father to them.  This is my second chance… and whether they want it or not is entirely up to them.

So with that all now mentioned, I’m going to be a bit self-indulgent and write the following directly to T&G:

Kids. I’m not your dad. I wanted to be your dad, but it just wasn’t to be.  You HAVE a dad.  He was there when you first spoke, your first steps, and your first McD Happy Meal.  Despite a lapse in judgement, he loves you both deeply and has been there and raised you where I couldn’t.  So cut the guy a break, please?  Forgive him?  Because in the end, no matter what, he’s your true family who has looked over you and protected you over your entire lives.  And I will always thank him for that.  Today of all days, FATHER’S DAY, it’s a good day to mend these fences and be a family again.  This is your cool Uncle Terry ordering you and I’ll bribe ya with sushi if it helps the process (kidding… the sushi’s mine… you can have a Japadog though). 

Remember, your mom did love him, as much as she did me.  And you two wonderful kids are the results of that love.  I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of even a moment of your growth, but it’s in large part due to him.  I love you both, and see you soon, but give him a call now or I’ll kick your asses in the airport.  Love, Terry

Ok, as for those of you following this saga… more to follow very very soon.

Fortes Fortuna Juvat.  Fortune Favours the Bold. Wish me luck.