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Genetics, Connection and Grief

I don’t know very much about genetics, just the basics as my ex-wife used to say often.  I miss hearing her say that. I do know that there is a quality of genetics called expressivity, basically, it’s whether you can observe a given trait or not.  This expressivity can depend on the environment, we see this as humans as factors such as diet and exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease even if there is a family history.  In the wild, my son has pointed out that frogs can change their sex in the wild and expanding that it seems like there are other animals that can change sex or gender, based on the environment.

Going back to humans and in particular this human, I’m trying to make sense of some recent events, both with my health and the sudden passing of my Aunt Wanda on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019.  My health issues culminated around August 13th where fluid loss caused me to check-in to the hospital. My aunt started having issues the following week, oddly enough my condition was getting better at that time.  Some back story, my aunt was diagnosed with diverticulitis last November.  She checked in the hospital on August 20th and after some time in diagnosis went for surgery on August 25th.  She seemed to be recovering and I honestly had sent out the all-clear in my mind that things were going to be alright.  When my mom called me on September 3rd to give me the news I was in shock. I think some moments I still am in shock, and then it hits me.

Yesterday on my bike ride home was one of those moments.  I had gone in to work in the morning and left around 1 PM so I could make it to my son’s school to pick him up and was going to work from home the remainder of the day.  I am grateful that my job gives me that flexibility. On the bike home it was raining, the misty rain that just soaks you to the core. As I rode in that mist I started crying, grateful again because the rain seemed to help me face my grief and offered some camouflage to my tears.  It was a very slow ride home, I finally logged in again at about 2:15 PM, the ride typically takes 45 minutes. As I pedalled up the hill and let myself cry and purge myself of some of the grief, my emotions connecting with the rain.

I think grief connects things in novel ways.  Recently a friend at work reminded us that the mid-autumn festival is approaching, on September 13th, 2019.  I only know a little about the festival, not having grown up with it, and would summarize it to Thanksgiving, with a bit of Valentine’s Day rolled in.  I am looking forward and I see Canadian Thanksgiving also approaching on October 14th and American Thanksgiving on November 28th.  The celebration of Thanksgiving, like most celebrations, is a time for friends and family to get together, it is a happy time for me and I feel so fortunate to live in a time where we can see so readily that across cultures this common desire to get together and give thanks for all that the world has given us.

As I remember my Aunt Wanda today I am trying to focus on that: happiness, coming together of friends and family; the good times.  I feel sad that she has gone, however, I feel that, in some way, she is with her husband who passed a couple of years ago.  I am grateful for all the times we had together, most recently in Gaspe, 2018 and spring 2019 in Vancouver. I smile when I see all of the pictures of her holding a baby.  I remember listening to her talk about working with Autistic children I cherish that we both had that same connection and the rewards that come from working with those special people.  I remember her telling me about fondly about her husband and how he would always make her laugh.  I am truly thankful that I knew such a wonderful, open soul. Goodbye Aunt Wanda, you are loved and will be missed.


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