I’m late, I’m late, I’m very, very late….such rushing in our lives and all our own fault.

So, the time is here and the time is now to begin to take that stress away. Gosh, can you tell I’ve been reading Dr. Phil? What has brought this on? In part, it is turning 50 next April and the questions asked by September 11th. Who are we? Where are we going? Are we enjoying getting there? (Brenda and I have been a book club of two since January and are enjoying ourselves.)

Part of my year has been spent with a group of people who are enthusiastic and focused on creating a space dedicated to a Theatre. We have so much talent in this area and it would be an opportunity to showcase that talent. I have spent some time with other groups too. My friends from the Catholic Church and I redid the Bridal Fashions Past & Present II. We raised funds to landscape the cemetery and fund a scholarship. I had to rewrite the script as we did not get all the same dresses and we had to add another ten years as it was in part, a celebration of 135 years of history of Canada and our community as told through the history of the family who loaned the dress for the show. Community work gives me great pleasure contributing time and talent making good things happen. I have met so many interesting people and had a chance to learn more about life from being in their company.

One experience was a one-day workshop titled “Building Stronger Communities” with representatives from the not for profit sector including volunteers and those who work in the not for profit sector. (I say work but an important factor here is that the workers are dedicated to the cause and the pay scale is such that it is truly a labour of love.)

Two things I learned. The first, there are a lot of nice young people out there. Two young boys who attended, 12-13 years old , who are our future leaders…were well spoken, had a grasp on life beyond their years and best of all had a sense of humour that was infectious.

The second, there are so many people who are hurting, lonely, joyless and struggling to cope with life. So many people have never been taught how to survive or flourish …because the people who raised them did not have the skills. The most heartening news is in the power of one. Too often we feel what can I do? Here it comes, the answer about the power of one. It is really quite simple …go forth and sprinkle sunshine wherever you go.

At this meeting we were asked to describe our passion. I had to think about that. My answer… “My passion is people”. Growing up we had a book that started with the phrase “I like…”. It described many things that “I like…”. One of them was people…It read: “ I like people, all kinds of people, short people, tall people… and ended as it began, I like people”.

So liking people, we’ve had lots of visitors again this year. Cousin Carol came to visit. We always have a good time together whether sitting around with a cup of tea chatting or off doing things. This was the year that she taught me…to say ah huh. It is good for those moments when you need a phrase that halts your negative thinking so that you can instead spread sunshine.

Aunt Aileen, Uncle Herb and their granddaughter Bethany came to visit. Bethany spread sunshine in our lives as it was great having a teenager around, especially when she and Kimee got along so well. (Arf, Arf…Kimee saying thank you.) Aunt Aileen and Uncle Herb spread sunshine into our lives as they help us recall the many happy memories that we have shared together which is always punctuated by time…while Mum was living and after she died. Janet and I always said we hoped that we would have a sisterly relationship like theirs. From the day these two sisters left their family home they wrote to each other every month…a letter received and then answered in their on-going letter writing for over 50 years.

Bob and Donna Thornton came, our cousins that we met for the first time in Boston at the Thornton Family Reunion in 1995 and then in 2000 at the Thornton Family Reunion in St. Andrews. We invited them back and we’re glad they came. They sprinkled sunshine by coming to share their time with us, discussed the Thornton Family Reunion June 2005 in Philadelphia, where they live and they even fit in a day trip to Grand Manan.

Blaine has a full-time managerial job for which we are thankful. The downside? It’s in Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta. It will be the first time in the 22 years of our marriage that brother Blaine will not be with us for Christmas. E-mail is handy to keep in touch. He was home in September for a visit and to finish some outside chores on his properties before he went back out west. Blaine’s form of sunshine is laughter. We miss him.

“Mady” has had her trials and tribulations. She broke her ankle this spring…shortly after Blaine left for Lake Louise in late March. So…it was surgery, hospital stay and home after Mother’s Day. We are so blessed in New Brunswick with home support (ladies who come to cook, clean, do errands); Extra Mural (who provide hospital without walls so if you need medical assistance they come and do an assessment); Lifeline (the button to press when you’ve fallen and you can’t get up); and family and friends. “Mady” went back in hospital in November as she had bronchitis, pneumonia and heart failure. She has chosen to be home in her own space. While the hospital was noisy I think she misses the comfort of having people around 24 ours a day. It’s lonely being on your own when you need assistance coping with everyday needs.

We were so pleased when she decided to attend a reception being held by our MP for those people in St. Andrews who were recipients of the Queens’ Golden Jubilee Medal. “Mady” received this award which was well deserved, for her lifetime dedication to the Charlotte County Cancer Society. As usual she enjoyed being out amongst her friends and neighbours. She said it wore her out and she couldn’t sleep that night because she was so keyed up…and well she might be. While it is not necessary It is nice to be recognized for community work. “Mady” has sprinkled us with the sunshine of the importance of giving back to your community.

Dad…is Dad. Dad brings sunshine into our life with his presence and his presents. The fruits of his labours continue to keep us in wood (my dowry is now in its 22nd year), potatoes (no black spots in ours), squash which I occasionally turn into a pie for him (in all honesty I have lost my touch with pie crust but he valiantly says …”Oh, its not that bad”), and he and I went to Saint John a couple of months ago to take possession of his new Ford Escort Wagon. We are so pleased that Dad has a lady friend. Shirley has brought sunshine into his life. Having children is great but having a friend who is your peer, that’s even better. Again this year, Shirley will be a part of our Christmas. She has a wicked sense of humour so fits right in.

Janet…well, I don’t know why but that girl seems addicted to having hip surgeries. Her sunshine sprinkles are I can get through this, I can get through this, I can get through this. Faith has brought her through again…her pain tolerance is quite incredible and really the only complaint I had when she came out of surgery …this thick voiced person saying ever so s l o w l y w h a t t I m e i s i t…if not once, a hundred times. Coming out of the haze of anaesthetic is not a fun trip. She had a five hour surgery on one Tuesday at 8 am and the following Tuesday I bundled her in the car and took her home. She has HomeHelp, Extra Mural, LifeLine, family and friends. Janet and “Mady” were in different hospitals at the same time!

Group of Seven still is. The big news of Group of Seven…Cindy built her house and Cathy got a big promotion. Even groups evolve. One person who is not part of The Group of Seven states: “Groups am stupid”. Mind you, it is sheer jealousy on her part as the criteria for this is very narrow…you must be either Ruth Hastey, Betty Hamilton or Marjorie Emerson whose connection was the Hitching side of the family or a female descendant of theirs. The group as it stands will dissolve with the passage of time as we are the end of the female line.

The month of April was quite the month for us. We went to Samoset in Rockport, Maine which we always enjoy. Our only responsibility is to get back home at the end of the stay so in between going and coming we do whatever we want, whenever we want. Then we went to Toronto to the T. R. Meighen Foundation meeting which is a trip we always enjoy as the folks involved all have a great sense of humour. I did retire in August from the Board. I miss the people but everything has a beginning and an end. The last week of April we went to New York for HMS. While there we saw The Producers, went to Museums, had lunch at Tavern on the Green, went to Jazz night at a Club and had dinner with Ferd to help him celebrate his 99th birthday. He is amazing. We plan to join him on his 100th.

Each year we try to do something at our house. This year as we were selling the house we own next door we landscaped to divide the two properties. Thanks to the help of many people as well as our friend Phebe Leighton our backyard is …well, an oasis within a busy streetscape. Even in winter it looks beautiful with Christmas lights twinkling and snow waving over the mounds of shrubbery. A winter wonderland in the back yard.

In closing, while it was over forty years ago I well remember a Christmas Sunday School Concert when Marion McCann was superintendent. I along with several other wee little girls were dressed in crepe paper outfits that were sunshine yellow to sing ‘I’ll be a Sunbeam”. The chorus is:
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, I’ll be a sunbeam for Him. The verses:
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, To shine for Him each day;
In every way try to please Him, At home, at school, at play.
Jesus wants me to be loving, And kind to all I see;
Showing how pleasant and happy His little one can be.
I will ask Jesus to help me To keep my heart from sin,
Ever reflecting his goodness, And always shine for Him.
I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus; I can if I but try;
Serving him moment by moment, Then live with Him on high.

So, go forth and spread your sunbeams around the world.