cripsy13

Musings, mutterings from the misguided.


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Greener pastures…

I have a wonderful friend who suffers from debilitating depression.  So much so, there are days she winds up in hospital because she’s scared she’s going to do something to herself.  She is a lovely woman, a beautiful soul and every time this happens, I just wanna pick her up and squeeze her until she feels better.

I wrote her an email yesterday and I tried to differentiate our journeys through depression and it went something like this:

“We have both battled through this our entire lives (sometimes at the same time, sometimes not)…yours seems to be so much more awful than mine and I know that’s your journey – your path, if you will.  It seems to take on the flow of a river, that breaks into streams and occasionally you will take the right stream.  However, that stream sometimes leads you further into the forest of darkness and so you backtrack – but the light is gone and you’re mired in sadness.”

“I get that.  Mine is more like an ocean – it overwhelms me quickly and then it leaves little tide pools behind.  I pick and choose which tide pools I want to explore.”

Interesting.  I guess it’s like having a broken leg – no two breaks are the same, one might be worse than another, but they’re equally as painful to each person.

The one common denominator, I believe, for most folks with depression, is to try and figure out WHY.  WHY they are depressed.  WHY they are so sad.  WHY they feel the way they do.  Some people talk, some people write, some people sit and think.  It can be all consuming, in that it is all that person thinks about.  Yikes.  My friend journals; it’s how she expresses herself – to herself.

Half way through the email I sent, I had an epiphany of sorts…if we spend so much time with all the wondering WHY we are depressed – would that not lead to even more depression?  Sitting there and picking apart our lives, our personalities, our traits that make us who we are – and analyzing them to death – has to be counterproductive.

I’m not saying that we should just all suck it up and carry on like nothing is wrong – but what if we were to subliminal message ourselves?  For every sad thought we have, we try to insert a positive one?

OH LOOK, I’VE CURED DEPRESSION.  Yeah – NO.  If it were that simple, all the psychiatrists of the world would be out of business, as would the pharmaceutical companies AND all of those ‘cheer up’ Facebook posts would disappear.

So does ‘wallowing’ in depression make us better people?  No, not really; it just makes us sadder people.  By spending 24/7 trying to figure it out, we are only feeding the monster of darkness, allowing it to manipulate us and fester within us.  It loves nothing more than to tell us how awful things are, how they are never going to get better and how (in some cases, sadly) we’d be better off dead.

My mother was one of those people who lived her life through her depression; and God forbid should that have been taken away from her.  It was her weapon of choice; we were all taught at a very young age that mom was depressed; therefore, she should be forgiven for every transgression she made.  She never made any attempt to fix it; she thrived on the fact that she could blame everything on her depression and if she didn’t get her way, she’d threaten us with ‘DEPRESSION’ and so we shut up and carried on with life the best we could.  Most of us don’t WANT to be like that; I know I sure as hell don’t.

I try to be positive.  I get up and go to work every day.  I sometimes even make it out for visits with friends, but it depends on my energy level.  I see a counsellor.  But when things overwhelm me, I shut down and don’t talk to anyone.  It’s not that I’m sitting there thinking about how awful things are, I just don’t think about anything.  Which isn’t a good thing.  My friend does the exact opposite and analyzes and talks until she’s found herself sitting in emergency.  Which isn’t a good thing either.  There simply has to be a happy medium. We are in the same county, reaching the same destination, yet our journeys are entirely different from each other.  Here is something else I wrote to her:

“I think you and I are common in that we were raised in dysfunctional families (that’s just a given!) – however, they were complete opposite ends of the spectrum.  Your mom and dad doted on you and your sister and smothered you with love and affection.  I just got smothered (heehee!)…what I learned was that I knew how to take care of myself, a very strong work ethic that my father instilled into me and that if I wanted something, I had to be the one to get it for myself.”

So, I made a challenge to her that I too shall endeavour to work on:  When that black monster starts getting hold of me, I’m going to do my very best to tell it that I’m not interested, and I need to focus on something more positive.  I will always want to learn about myself and who I am and why the way I am, but from now on, I’m going to spend more time on the greener side of the pasture.

lilacs and poppies


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Ah yes.  The inundation of Valentine’s Day is upon us once again.

The ads for jewelry, chocolates, flowers and yes, lingerie – has taken over.  Happy, shiny people looking upon each other with love and awe.  Big, tear filled eyes light up when they see the token diamond ring being presented to them.  Awwwwwwwwwwww?  Isn’t love GRAND?  Everyone on social media expressing their undying love for their partners…gag.

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Okay.  I’m gonna stop right here and say…I hate Valentine’s Day.  Sour grapes?  Maybe a bit.

As a kid, everyone at school had the little construction paper envelopes made up so that they could receive Valentine’s Day cards from their classmates.  How exciting it was to watch someone plunk one in your envelope!  Wait – who was that kid?  Are we in the same class?  Huh.  Then you’d go home and covet them, singling the one out from the cutest boy in Grade 3 (which, you knew was only because his mom made him make them out to EVERYONE in the class).  Remember this?

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Yeah, poor Ralphie.  Lisa broke his little booger filled heart.  It was the best of intentions for her to give him a card – nobody else would.  Broken hearts and promises at the ripe old age of Grade 2.

Junior High – the introduction of Harlequin Romances and heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods.  Girl meets boy (girl is usually blonde, blue eyed with perfect measurements; boy is tall, handsome, rich and a CEO of some giant corporation and had a sexy name like Rock or Thorne – there were no Bobs or Mikes in HR) and they would fall madly in love, have 2.5 kids and live in a house with a white picket fence.  Ah…how romantic!  I couldn’t wait for that to happen to ME!

(INSERT THE SCRATCH OF A NEEDLE ON AN ALBUM HERE – young people, look up ‘music album’ on Google)

My very first real boyfriend ever was in Grade 10.  I thought it was going to last forever…well, it did until he dumped me for the school tramp.  But that’s not in the Harlequin Romances!  WTF?

My 20’s didn’t fare much better…met and fell in head over heels love with someone, only to find out (eventually) that he was engaged and dating several other women at the time.  And then there was the guy who was married (that I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT) as he had a cell phone (this was back in the early 90’s when they looked like the shoe phone from Maxwell Smart (young people – look up ‘Maxwell Smart shoe phone on Google) and was always at my place).  Then there was my ex brother in law’s brother (got that?) whom I was dating for a while – I went away for a couple of days to visit a friend and came back and found out he’d been sleeping with my roommate (that ended with me actually punching him the face and breaking my thumb).  That was ALSO not in the romance novels.  How about the guy I’d started seeing at work who failed to tell me he had Hepatitis B and that I only found out because the nice lady in Human Resources at the time, broke the confidentiality clause to tell me about it?  And wasn’t that fun having to get shots and praying to the universe that I never started to exhibit signs of having it (thankfully – nothing so far).  That was certainly NOT in any romance novel I’ve ever read.

So, I have to say:  ROMANCE?  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?  The only thing I’ve ever received from a guy on Valentine’s Day was a card that said “Happy VD” on it.  Flowers?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Jewelry?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Chocolate?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’d put myself out there, only to get knocked down again, so at the ripe old age of about 40, I said SCREW IT!  I’ve got a good life, great job, roof over my head, amazing friends – what more could I possibly need?  (Okay, well the occasional night out would be nice, but meh – I have Netflix).

So yes, I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to Valentine’s Day and all its’ promises of love and romance.  Me?  You’ll find me curled up on the couch with a glass of wine, with my birds singing their little hearts out, as I watch a cheesy horror movie.  But hey, feel free to slip me a Valentine’s Day card in the construction paper envelope I have hanging on my door 🙂


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Finding My Religion (with apologies to REM)

**THIS IS NOT A ‘RELIGIOUS’ BLOG**

I grew up in a non-religious home.  We never went to church and when I asked my parents about it when I was in my 20’s, they told me that it was up to me to decide who, when, how and what I wanted to worship.  Oh, um…okay.  I also remember taking a course on Tibetan Buddhism and my mother warned me ‘not to tell my father’ – which indicated to me, that they considered themselves Christians, but just didn’t admit to it.

As a kid, I would occasionally go to Sunday school with a friend of mine – she belonged to an Anglican church and yeah, I lost interest pretty quickly.  Then, a few years later, another friend came along and her family were devout members of a Pentecostal church and I think I might have gone once and well, that was some scary shit, right there.  Yikes.  All that yelling and weeping and wailing and flailing of arms – uh, no thanks.

So, I was sort of left to my own to decide what I believed in.  Hmm.  Good question.

I never put much thought into it, to be honest.  I just assumed there was God and Jesus and for the most part – what I learned about religion was based on Jesus Christ Superstar (I still freakin’ love that movie).

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About 15 years ago, my family all went to see the Passion Play in the badlands of Alberta.  I wanted to go because it was set outdoors and it was supposed to be quite spectacular – and indeed, it was (if anyone is interested, here is the website:  http://canadianpassionplay.com/).  I laughed, I cried, I was moved – it was I suppose, a religious experience.  I’ve been back once since then, and I’d go see it again in a heartbeat.  It’s an amazing story.  I also remember my sister and I having a heated discussion on the way there – I asked her about her beliefs and she declared herself an Athiest and I couldn’t figure out why the hell she’d want to go see the story of Christ.  Ah, good times.

I plodded along, not paying much particular attention.  I’d go to church for weddings and funerals, but that was about it.  I have very good friends that are Ukrainian Orthodox and the inside of their church is simply beautiful and steeped in tradition.  I was in Paris a few years ago, and two of my favourite places were the insides of Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur.  They were awe inspiring and immensely beautiful in their design and age.

It wasn’t really until after my father died that I started wondering.  I look back now, and I think it was because I of course, was questioning ‘life after death’ and the idea of heaven and all those things that one thinks about upon the death of a loved one.  Was I mad at God?  Well, I was mad, but I realized it wasn’t at God, because I didn’t BELIEVE in God.  Huh…well isn’t THAT interesting.  I realized that I had a spiritual sense – rather – I believed in the spirit of the universe and that we are all energy and connected.  Did I believe in Christ?  Well, I think he was a stand-up guy; he was principled and preached the words of love and kindness.  Did I believe he was the ‘Son of God’?  No.

So, the past several years, I have found a sense of comfort, if you will, in putting my faith into the universe and knowing that everything happens for a reason…if I didn’t have that, I think I’d be in a much different frame of mind (and not in a good way).  When something goes wrong, I get upset, angry (insert emotion here) – but through it, I try to remind myself that it’s the universe’s way of telling me it isn’t the right time, right thing, right person – whatever the case may be.  That helped me through the agonizing grief I had after my father died and a number of other life altering things that have been thrown at me.  Don’t get me wrong – I get good and mad and weepy when something happens – but it’s that little voice telling me to be patient.  Whatever it is that I need, will come to me in its’ own sweet time.

Fast forward to this past week:  I have been invited to join the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.  Wow, really?  Me?  Huh.  So, I did some research and it’s an amazing Order that basically supports those who are sick or poor and can’t help themselves (I paraphrase).  That’s something I could certainly get behind!  It’s an Order that dates back to the Crusades…er…wait a minute…that’s ‘Christian talk’ – and I don’t consider myself a Christian.  Would joining the Order go against my own beliefs, also – would my lack of Christian beliefs offend those already in it?  I had to give this some serious thought.

I spoke with the woman who nominated me and she has assured me that my lack of Christian beliefs were nothing to worry about – the Order requires that one lives ‘by Christian values’ (and by that, I’m assuming they mean the ‘good’ Christian values, not the bad ones – because, there are some of those).  I researched the organization and came across this:  Notwithstanding the order’s devotion to Christian ideals of charity and its official position that the order has a “Christian character”, its Grand Council has since 1999 affirmed that “profession of the Christian Faith should not be a condition of membership of the Order.” The issue of the order’s Christian character and the issue of “inclusive membership” was dealt with in the Grand Council’s Pro Fide Report in 2005, wherein it was said that the order’s life is shaped by Christian faith and values, but that “[r]ather than the emphasis being primarily upon ‘spiritual beliefs or doctrine’ it is on works of mercy rendered through St. John”. Therefore, while the Great Officers are required to profess the Christian faith, the same is “not an essential condition of membership” and “[t]he onus is on the man or woman who is invited to the privilege of membership to decide whether he or she can with a good conscience promise to be faithful to the stated aims and purposes of this Christian lay order of chivalry.” On the subject of inclusive membership, the report stated “Christian hospitality is a criterion which can be applied to the Order’s relationships to persons of other religious faiths,” and “the Order needs to be characterized by a hospitable disposition towards other faith traditions while holding fast to its own origins and foundational identity in Christian faith.”

I have begun the paperwork this morning.  It doesn’t matter WHAT we believe in – as long as we’re all working towards the betterment of humanity.

PS:  For more information on the Order, here is a website:  http://www.sosjinternational.org/


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I tried to get it back

I couldn’t find it

it was gone.

I kept looking

drinking

eating

crying

but it was gone.

I kept hoping

dreaming

praying

begging

but it was gone.

I kept living

sadly

badly

melancholy days and nights

fed the deep, dark recesses

numbness

I tried to get it back,

but it was gone.

in its place

love

hope

beauty

desire

I tried to get it back

but I realized

it had never left me.

 


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On a typical day, I get up, feed the birds, brush my teeth, make myself look relatively presentable and head to work.

I work in a job where I am ‘on’ from the minute I get there until the minute I walk out the door.  I work with some very high level people and part of my job is to schmooze and make nice-nice with the people that come in.  We host meetings, special events, medal ceremonies – you name it, we’ve done it.  And, I can say with great confidence that I SHINE in most of these situations.  You would never know in a million years, that underneath the professional, witty and hysterically funny woman, is a little girl who is just wanting to be liked.

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The silly thing is that people DO like me (insert Stuart Smalley reference here).  I think I’m a pretty good person, I have some really wonderful friends and would give you the shirt off my back if you needed it.  I’ve an acerbic wit that has gotten me in trouble more than a few times, I will bend over backwards to help you – I will even let you share my bag of Doritos (that’s the biggest honour I can bestow upon you).

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So, you would think that I would have all the confidence in the world – that I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, take on a bully, stand up against injustice (thank GOD for news websites that I can rant on) – even show others how to be a confident woman in this world.

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Sadly, I do not.  Have self confidence that is.  Okay, in *some* instances I do, and I get a real charge of positive energy when I am up in front of others, talking about something I’m passionate about.

But it can just take one comment, in one wrong moment to make me want to crawl up into a ball and wait for it to go away.  It’s as easy as someone ignoring me or not answering my email or phone message.  I revert back to the little girl, who never really got any positive reinforcement as a child, but the negative comments came fast and furious.

As that kid, I was trained to be my mother’s slave.  If I disappointed her, I was punished with silence and harsh, abrupt words.  To a little kid, it was pretty confusing, after all – I was trying to do what she wanted me to do, but it was just never right.  I didn’t clean the bathroom properly.  I didn’t wash the ashtrays (yeah, okay, I SO wasn’t going to do that anyhow).  I didn’t make her bed properly.  I didn’t remember to take out the garbage.  The list goes on.  So, as a grown adult, when I feel that I’ve disappointed someone in some way, I go out of my way to make amends.  Now, there is a little voice in my head that says ‘SHUTUP, DON’T MAKE IT WORSE, IT WILL BLOW OVER.”  But I’m also not very good listening to myself, so I ignore it and go ahead and indeed, make things worse.

And, this week – it did just that.  I had called in sick to work because I was having a horrible fibromyalgia pain day – I could barely move.  Now, I’m one of those people that will go to work even if I’m bleeding from an eyeball with pneumonia.  I feel guilty and even while I’m lying there wishing for death, I feel the need to connect with my work place so they know I’m not in Mexico drinking tequila out of some pool boys’ bellybutton.  But they don’t think that.  They think ‘hey, she’s sick, carry on.’

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So, basically I made a bad judgment call on Friday and wound up – what was perceived to be as ‘pestering’ my boss.  He was annoyed, I was freaked out because of his slight and fretted about it all weekend.

I should back pedal a bit by explaining that earlier this year, I needed to take a stress leave.  When I came back, he bent over backwards to accommodate me and our working relationship has grown in leaps and bounds (there are really only two of us in our office).  For the most part, we get along very well.

It’s been a couple of days and things aren’t much better and I’ve apologized for my end of things, which is all I can do.  My insecurities reared their ugly head and now I’m suffering the consequences.

A friend of mine told me today that I’m a very sensitive person and I should learn to not take things so personally – this was said with love, because I know this friend will always have my back.

She’s 100% right.  I need to let the guilty feelings that I grew up with go.  Let the insecurities I have about not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, fit enough, funny enough – go.  My mother might have been the best travel agent for guilt trips, but she’s gone now, and I think I’ll make my own travel arrangements from now on.


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TRUST…WORTHY?

When I was young, I trusted EVERYBODY.  I took everyone at their word and never once did I even consider that someone was being less than truthful with me or wanted to hurt me.  I was an open book; my mother used to tell me that I wore my heart on my sleeve.  You always knew where you stood with me – why would I lie?  Why would I hide my feelings away?

Thanks to lying, cheating men, friends who stabbed me in the back – I have done a complete 360 – I trust NO ONE.  It borders on paranoia.  Someone says something to me, I immediately think ‘can this person be trusted?’ – or, ‘is this true?’  Even people that I love – I have a hard time completely believing them – and believing IN them.  It’s not a conscious decision, rather something that has become ingrained into my psyche.

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If I were to write out all of the relationships I’ve had over the years, I’d have Hollywood writers knocking down my door, because NOBODY has the kind of luck I’ve had with men and this stuff can’t be made up.  From being in a long term relationship with someone who was engaged the whole time (this is where that ‘trust’ thing came into play; I had no idea) – to the guy who was married (yep, didn’t know that either – dumb? trusting?  stupid?  all of the above? – I only found out when I went to change my bird cage and saw the birth announcement of his daughter in the paper – seriously, no word of a lie – ha).  How about the guy who, unbeknownst to me, had hepatitis C and failed to inform me?  The only way I found out about that, was through a colleague at work (we all worked together) who had seen it in his file.  I had to go through the whole process of shots and updates for years.

Now, the occasional white lie – when appropriate – is okay.  I’m talking the ‘yes, you look AMAZING in those skin tight, white pants and no, I can’t see your happy face underwear through them’ kind of white lie.

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But soul destroying lying – whether it is outright – or lying through omission – is NOT okay.

I have developed a very cynical attitude towards most people.  I question people’s sincerity.  I question their motives.  I question their moral compass.  I feel – subconsciously – that I can no longer trust anyone for anything they say.  If someone says something nice about me, I shift into ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?” – I can’t even accept a proper compliment without getting the shifty eyed ‘you’re lying’ look going.

If someone tells me something that just doesn’t sound right, I don’t say much of anything.  However, I have the memory of an elephant for lies – and if you are lying to me, I WILL catch you.  Imagine how exhausting it is to be suspicious of almost anything anyone says.

I never used to be this bad – it’s only been in the past 9 years or so (since my father died).  I’ve always had a wall, but his death made me build a wall AROUND the wall, put barbed wire up, build a moat with sharks in it and guarded with a fire breathing dragon.

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As you can imagine, this has caused many a rift in friendships.  I have a small handful of people that I call my friends and each one of them is very special to me and I hate the fact that from time to time, I question what they tell me – or what they’re not telling me.

As I continue my journey into healthier living – inside and out, I’m desperately trying to not question what people are saying and/or doing, NOT question their motives and NOT think that they have an ulterior motive when they say something kind to me.  Because – I’m learning that these people are in my life because they give me something – love, friendship, honesty and kindness – and I hope (and I’m not going to question this either) that they think the same of me.

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46 Shades of Grey (hair)

I don’t remember getting here, but I have arrived!

Yep, in less than a week, I will be 46.  That’s one year closer to 50.  

I’m afraid.

To be honest, I’ve never thought about getting old.  I mean, I knew it was going to happen (eventually and obviously) but I’ve really not sat down and thought to myself ‘well, here you are.  I guess it’s time you started buying polyester pants and sweatshirts with kittens on them.’  Or, ‘Don’t forget to put orthotics in your shoes, because you know how much your back hurts when you forget.’

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I think that the big reason that this has come to a head is that I found my very first grey hair about two weeks ago (pun intended).

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Now, I always thought that was stupid.  Really?  A grey hair?  Big deal.  Well, to me it was a big deal.  It made me stop and think that hey, I am getting older and it’s time to stop putting off things that I need and want to do.

Like lose the weight I’ve gained over the past 10 years.  Take myself to Ireland.  Scrimp and save so that I can buy the condo I’ve rented and called home for the last 10 years.  Get my affairs in order (okay, yes I know I’m 46, not 106) – but some of these are things that I’ve never thought that much about.

I’m also realizing that as I get older, my body is starting to rebel against me (okay, let’s just call a spade a spade – it HATES ME).  I went to the doctor yesterday for one issue, and came out with two.  I am scheduled for a minor surgery in two weeks.  Next week I have to see a new doctor about something else.  I’ve some weird rash on my face that I’ve never had before.  In there are more appointments for my Weight Wise program.  Let’s not forget my counsellor!  

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All of it a bit overwhelming to someone who has the memory and attention span of a drunk fruit fly.  Which is where the problem lies.

I’ve found myself this past week trying to take too many things on.  I’m worried that the person I rent my beautiful condo from will want to sell as soon as my lease is up and thanks to my addictive personality, I haven’t saved enough for a down payment.  I’ve finally got a date for my surgery, which is a good thing, however not something I’m looking forward to.  I’ve got a crap load of weight to lose and I’m struggling with that and how I need to make some very serious changes to my lifestyle and I’m not sure if and when I’ll be ready to that (thankfully, next week I meet with the shrink from my WW program and she’ll be able to provide some help).

And, the more these things pile up, the more I push people away and just want to be by myself.

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The Dragon of Depression is breathing fire at me once again and I’m doing my very best to dodge out of the way.  There are so many things I have to do.  There are so many things I regret doing.  There are so many things that I wish I had the courage to do.  There are so many things I wish I could do, had I the self esteem to do them.

There are so many people I miss, who are not here with me as I travel over the hill, but the one I miss most, is my dad.  He’d be standing with me at the top of that hill, holding my hand – smiling – imparting his wisdom – “Kid, sometimes ya just gotta sit down and separate the pepper from the flyshit.”  

And then you know what he’d do?  He’d push me head first down the hill and laugh his ass off.

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Miss you dad.