It’s true. I won the most important lottery – I was born Canadian.

True North, strong and free and all that jazz. My sister gets the credit for saying this first. I stole it, because it resonated and it’s true. The more I travel and get to see the world (42 countries so far), the more I understand this. We have so many more opportunities and rights and freedoms at birth than most other humans on the planet. So that’s an observation. But here’s another observation – we tend to spend our lives working our butts off until we die. Well, as I sit here and think about all that, I realized that life has a way of passing us by. Then I started thinking about funerals and death. My husband and I are both “no funeral” types of people. My childhood best friend and I (she’s still my best friend, FYI) always said we wanted to be morticians. Someone has to do it and we thought we could. If we ever did the funeral business, we’d be “celebration of life types”. I don’t like funerals and I don’t want one. When I die, take what you can use, burn the rest and pour me out somewhere YOU want to. I”m dead, it doesn’t matter to me. This is morbid, but I’m going somewhere.

I was thinking about how people pour their hearts out to their loved ones to a room full of people, after they die. How many people say they wish they could’ve said those things when their loved one was still here? Well, my husband knows how much I appreciate him every day and he knows my life is better because of him, and I know he feels the same. We both tell each other all the time, it has been an amazing and full life and no regrets at all (in case the inevitable should happen sooner than we like). So this is not for him, it’s for my parents.

Did you know Aaron’s parents passed away just over a year apart, recently? First his father, just after retiring, at 65 years young – a sudden heart attack. Then a little over a year later, right after his mother moved to Belize with us, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and she passed away within 2 months of diagnosis, at 71 years old. Neither one wanted or had a funeral – they made their wishes clear.

My parents are both still alive (and sane!) So I can’t help but realize I’m lucky to have both my parents still. Aaron’s are gone, and he was an only child. This makes me realize that I don’t want to tell my parents how much I appreciated them after they’re gone. I want to tell them now.

Nobody’s family is perfect. People don’t talk about imperfections at funerals. They talk about good memories and good qualities and the reason is because that’s what matters. One of the most important things I was taught by my parents was that attitude is everything. Positive attitude in life gets positive results. Shitty attitude gets shitty results.

I was a stubborn, strong headed child. I was a smart ass, sassy, right fighter, strong willed, very confident, positive and happy. I’m still all of those things. I’ll spare us all the debate on nature/nurture. What I will say, is that nurture 100% DOES matter. My parents taught me to stand if someone older enters the room and there isn’t a chair. My parents taught me that it’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS what anyone else thinks of me. My parents taught me that I could do anything I wanted with my life. They taught me not to let anyone, ever, ever, ever disrespect me or treat me poorly. They taught me self worth. They told me I could be Prime Minister of Canada, if that’s what I wanted. But, has there ever been a woman in power, I asked? (At the time, no) and they said that didn’t matter. When I wanted to be a Veterinarian because I love all the animals, my parents taught me that vets sometimes have to put animals down, just because they don’t have a home. That job wasn’t for me. They taught me that I was beautiful, even though chubby! They taught me that I was talented, and smart. I didn’t win any medals in sports, I wasn’t the best! Some of my friends were and that was awesome. I didn’t need a medal, that wasn’t my talent – it was someone else’s. No problem, I got to cheer my friends on.

My dad taught me to drive. That was pretty easy. But….I couldn’t borrow their car, until I could back up at 60 km/hr without moving the quarter dad put on the dashboard. That was hard. I did it after about 12 million tries. Then I borrowed the car. Later I smashed the car. I was driving forward.

My mom almost murdered me when I almost flunked my first semester in University (I thought I was so smart I didn’t have to study). I graduated University on the Dean’s list. She scared me a little.

I told mom I was going to get a tattoo and she couldn’t stop me. Well, turns out mom was smarter than I was. She said “go right ahead. I can’t stop you. But I do know you will regret it and all I can do is not support your decision by cutting you off financially. I won’t give you a dime while you’re in university. But if you do it, I still love you of course.” I didn’t get that Limp Bizkit tattoo between my boobs. Oh my God mom, I love you. Thank you for knowing exactly what to say.

I had chores. I had to clean the bathroom. Do a job right, or don’t do it at all. So, I cleaned the stupid bathroom, gross. Mom checked it. Nope. Do it again. So I did it again. Nope, not good enough, do it again. So I cried for 10 minutes. Mom said, the quicker you stop crying and just do it right, the quicker you can go have fun. So I cleaned it again. It was good enough the fourth time, four hours later. Then I always cleaned it good enough. Now, I never do a half assed job at anything. It would make mom sad.

Dad – I remember so many shouting matches when I was a teenager. I don’t know why you didn’t strangle me, Homer vs Bart Simpson style. Thank you for never letting it get the best of you. Thank you for driving us to Montreal to see Limp Bizkit (that was much better than a tattoo). Thank you for making me smoke that cigarette when I was a pre-teen. I nearly choked to death and it was gross, and that was that. Thank your for rubbing my head and tummy when I was sick. I remember it helped.

Thank you both for teaching me about drugs and alcohol and the slippery slope those things can be. Thank you for teaching me about budgets and debt. Thank you for teaching me credit cards don’t mean I can buy things I don’t have the cash to pay for. I have no debt, today. Thank you for waiting up every single time you let me stay out late. Thank you for driving around town checking on me, even though it embarrassed me at the time to see you driving by the skateboard park with all my cool skater friends – it made me feel safe and loved.

Thank you for taking me to Magic Mountain every time I had to get a needle. I would be in a psych ward if it wasn’t for Magic Mountain (I still hate needles). Thank you for making me believe in myself despite what any other human thinks of me. I am me because of you. I love me! Good job, mom and dad. I turned out perfectly. Trina isn’t too bad either, I guess but you really knocked it out of the park with the 2nd kid, I gotta say.

So, here we are – my perfectly, imperfect family. I feel gratitude to be born Canadian to two loving parents. I feel gratitude for your errors because I learned from those, too. My mom stayed at a job she loathed because “that’s what you’re supposed to do, and she had a family to raise” but I know better than that because I watched what it did to you. I left my job when it was time (and by the way this is not a slight against Canadian Natural – that company gave me what I have now and I am forever grateful!) When it is time, it is time. There is no life sentence anyone owes to any job. Life is short. So – Stand up and give your seat to the older folks. It’s the right thing to do. Every time I do it, I feel proud because I know that would make my parents proud. My husband says I still value my parents’ opinions above all others. That’s not weird, is it? I do. Sometimes the stuff they say is batshit crazy – but its my batshit and I wouldn’t trade it. I call my sister and we make fun of them and how they’re getting older….are they losing it yet? Not yet we say, but its looming. One day they will both lose it. One day, they won’t be here. So, I love you both and I had a great childhood and I have a great life and I am happy! My sister is happy, too! I know that’s all you both want. So now you know, I think you did great, even though there’s no damn guidebook on how to raise a kid. Every kid is different and needs different things. Thanks for parenting me in the way that I needed. That’s what I want to tell you.

Losing both of Aaron’s parents, suddenly and unexpectedly was hard and it changed us both. Death does that. You know when someone close dies, and you have that feeling that life is short and you really need to cherish it, etc? Usually that fades after awhile and we go back to the grind of everyday life. For us, it changed everything. We don’t sweat the small stuff. We don’t want to focus on negative or be around negativity. We don’t want to focus on the flaws we all have. We don’t want to complain or add one ounce of negativity to this world. We just want to live the best life while we can!

For some reason I won the life lottery and I won’t waste it! I don’t care about the real lottery at all. I won the only one that matters. I feel compelled to give the credit for most of my happiness to my parents. I love this short little life and I’m doing my darnedest to make it the happiest it can be. If I died unexpectedly – at least they’d know I was happy and at least they’d know what I’d say at their funerals. I’m not a sappy or emotional person. But – I don’t like that we tell our loved ones how much we love them when they’re dead. I encourage you to say what you want to say to who you want to say it to. I encourage you to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing (is it just me or has the whole world gone completely bonkers?) and spend your time and energy on your own life with your loved ones.

I didn’t say much about my husband or my sister here (this was for mom and dad) but you know I love you both more than the other humans.