Tina Szymczak

On February 15, 2017 writer and radio personality Stuart McLean died from cancer.I was saddened by the news of his death, deeply saddened.For him and his family and friends. But also in a selfish way I felt sad there would be no new volumes of work. No more new books and CD’s for Christmas. I wanted to do this post right away but honestly it was hard for me to admit he had died, kind of like when Robin Williams died. Grief and pure disbelief.

I first heard of Stuart probably around the year 2001. Adam and I had been trying to have a baby with no luck. I was heartbroken and trying to see the good in things but mostly I ate bowls of cereal, cried and played Bust a Move. We were moving onto adoption but were waiting for the mandatory classes to begin. We were visiting friends who had experienced their own recent heartbreak and they put us in their guest room. Not able to fall asleep one night (yes there was a time that I didn’t start snoring the moment my head hit the pillow) I pulled down a Vinyl Cafe book by some author unknown to me – Stuart McLean. I read the stories beside my sleeping husband and I laughed so hard I snorted a few times. It felt so good to laugh again. Laughter had been missing from our lives for a long time by then. When Adam woke up in the morning I read aloud one of the funnier pieces and he laughed – his eyes lighting up probably more because of seeing me happy for once than for the story itself (sorry Stuart).

That started a trend. Each Christmas Adam would get me tickets to see Stuart and/or a book of his and/or CD’s to listen to in the van. Some amazing years I got all 3.  The one year Corbin got to be Stuart’s assistant up on stage. Another year all four of us went to see him at University of Toronto, Convocation Hall (Adam’s alma mater).

I would play the CD’s in my car when the boys were with me and they would laugh when the audience laughed on the track. But then there was the day when Corbin legitimately did a full belly laugh that told me now he gets it. Never having been a mom before and not knowing anything about boys I listened closely to Stuart’s stories about young Sam. I took it to heart when he told stories of the shenanigans Sam got up to with his best friend. In a couple of stories Stuart speaks about Sam having his own relationships with people outside of his parents – the next door neighbour Eugene and a fortune teller. This made me seek out special relationships for Corbin to have outside of us – like the postal worker and the school custodian.

When Corbin needed to seek mental health treatment at a centre 2 hours from home I would put the CD’s on and laugh/cry all the way there and back. I must have looked a right sight to anyone passing me on the highway. In the fortune teller story, she tells Sam

“- everything is always all right in the end”

and Sam asks “What if it isn’t?”

“That’s easy. If it doesn’t work out well in the , that means it’s not the end”

I held onto those words during those rough couple of months that Corbin was away. It obviously wasn’t the end.

I hold onto them now. It is obviously not the end.

March 3, 2017

Remembering Stuart McLean

On February 15, 2017 writer and radio personality Stuart McLean died from cancer.I was saddened by the news of his death, deeply saddened.For him and his family and friends. But also in a selfish way I felt sad there would be no new volumes of work. No more new books and CD’s for Christmas. I wanted to do this post right away but honestly it was hard for me to admit he had died, kind of like when Robin Williams died. Grief and pure disbelief. I first heard of Stuart probably around the year 2001. Adam and I had been trying to have a baby with no luck. I was heartbroken and trying to see the good in things but […]
January 31, 2017

Respite

There are 3 things that I feel helped Corbin and our family the most when he was in early years of elementary school. One was Camp Winston ; then there was Occupational Therapy and then respite. According to the Family Respite Services website We are a Windsor-Essex community organization that works with families caring for children under the age of eighteen who have intellectual, physical and mental health disabilities. We facilitate the provision of respite services that contribute to: The sustaining and enriching of a family’s quality of life. Seek the fullest participation of the child in the community. We have always felt it important that respite be viewed more as a way of connecting   Corbin to his community than a break for […]
January 26, 2017

The Words That Almost Take My Life

  Thanks for the concern – the following is an example of how I feel when depression overwhelms me – I am NOT feeling this way now. *** Failure Loser Incapable Unwanted Unworthy Words my mental illness plants in my brain. They sneak in under the cover of dark, rearing their ugly heads when I least expect it. Defences down, I am bowled over by the intensity and severity of the words. I do my best to fight. I do positive self talk and affirmations. I stay away from sad movies and TV. I seek out my husband who counteracts the force of the words. But sometimes, sometimes I can’t fight. They overwhelm me, those words. They tell me I […]
January 24, 2017

The Silent Killer

Diabetes is kicking my ass Really I know I have type 2 so the onus is on me to eat healthier and exercise more. I also have central sleep apnea which doesn’t always respond to my CPAP machine and often leaves me exhausted all day. Who feels like exercising when you have had no sleep? I also have Polycystic Ovaries which wreaks havoc on my hormones and leads to weight gain.  Which then makes the Diabetes worse. I also have depression – at times crippling depression and anxiety that make it hard for me to get out of bed in the morning let alone exercise on purpose. I use food as my emotional crutch.  Feel sad. Eat. Feel scared. Eat. […]
January 21, 2017

A Journey Through Family Centred Care

A few months ago I mentioned that I gave a 1.5 hour talk at a conference. It was at the Ontario Association for Infant and Child Development (OAICD) and the topic was Our Journey: Finding Hope and Courage within Family-Centred Care. The audience was small but perfect for my first solo presentation at a conference. I received the feedback from the conference in late November but was swamped with work and home stuff and didn’t get a chance to post.   Here is what people had to say: Fantastic! Definitely valuable insight that is needed to hear Best presentation in the whole conference! I’ll definitely be checking out her blog. Moving! Absolutely fantastic that Tina would or could share her family’s […]
January 14, 2017

A New Place to Write

I stumbled across a new site – Her View From Home – and if you click on the link it will take you to an article I wrote for the site. Please comment and share – the more unique pageviews for the next 30 days the more I get paid. Thanks in advance 🙂