I was quite close to my Grandparents as well as my great Aunt and Uncle while they were alive. Unfortunately, I lost them numerous years ago. So many fond memories of playing horseshoes with my Uncle Paul, baking homemade rolls with my Grandmother, making vegetable soup from scratch with my Aunt Pauline, picking raspberries in my Grandfather’s patch and eating them on the spot or making wooden boats in his workshop to float down the small creeks winding along roads and under culverts as we ran beside them on the grassy banks.

When I was young, I had a hard time being alone with them at the beginning because I wanted to stay with my Mom. I cried for what seemed like hours after she left me with my Grandfather or Great Aunt. But, what I remember even better, was the space they all gave me to feel sad. To cry. To stew, brew and think. They would never force me to taste the homemade vegetable soup I adamantly and repeatedly said I wouldn’t like. My Aunt Pauline would just say, “You might just like it” and then she would slowly dip her wooden spoon into the large pot on the stove and take a test taste as I watched the smile come across her face. “It’s quite delicious.”

On one occasion my Grandfather came to our house while my Mom ran around town doing adult things. After being left with my Grandfather, I felt sad and knew there was no way I could survive until the afternoon. He wanted to build us a bike rack made of wood so we could store them with some semblance of organization. He told me what he was doing and he could use my help, but I wanted no part of it. He didn’t force me or shame me for feeling sad, he just kept going about his business until I was able to get out of my own way. My curiosity grew. I wanted to help him. I eventually got engaged in the work and we built the rack together. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and spending time with him.

When I looked over my shoulder, my Mom was home. “Home so soon?”

Maybe we can all give some space to others so that they’re not only able to feel what they’re going through in that moment, but rise to the occasion and find the best versions of themselves as well. I was given that opportunity and will be forever changed because of it.