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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Church Signs - Wasaga

Goodness!  It has been a very long and snowy winter.  I was feeling quite grumpy about that until I saw this: 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Proposal

Happy news!  Earvin proposed to me on New Year's Day.  I, of course, said YES!  We seem to recall the happy moment a little differently. Here's how it went down, according to both of us.

Faiza:  Last year on New Year's Day, I started a jar of gratitude. A few times a week, I would take a brightly coloured piece of paper and write down something I was thankful for. I used a set of Sharpies that Vanessa gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  They are strung up on a key chain Minaz gave me from her last trip to Africa.  I showed the jar to Earvin the first time he visited me in Toronto.  At many times throughout the year, he would contribute to the jar too.  It quickly filled up notes, ticket stubs, photos and random items that marked happy moments throughout the year.

Earvin: The day Faiza explained her J.O.G. to me (Jar of Gratitude... I really enjoy acronyms) I said to myself, "What a creative and intelligent method of capturing memorable moments throughout the year!" At that moment I had no clue that I'd be making a special contribution of my own to it in a year's time.

Faiza:  I told Earvin that I would open the jar on January 1, 2014 and start the year by reading about all the wonderful things that had happened in the year that just went by.  So on New Year's Day, we emptied the jar onto our dining room table.  

Earvin: After tossing around several proposal ideas for months, a thought sprang out of nowhere one evening in late September... THE JAR OF GRATITUDE!!! It was almost too perfect - We'd be sitting next to each other, reminiscing about how far we'd come together, while revisiting all the wonderful memories that have helped to shape not only where we are but also who we are today... Without another moment of thought, I composed the note and placed it inside of the jar (NOTE: For those who didn't know, keeping an engagement ring hidden and a proposal note unread for 90+ days is pretty stressful stuff - Don't believe anyone who says otherwise, they'd be lying!)... Then on New Year's Day, the moment came.

Faiza:  I started reading aloud to Earvin one note at a time. It was so special to read about our first kiss, meeting each other's families, trips we had taken and times we had shared with friends and family.  I was definitely feeling grateful. I tried to get Earvin to take his pick of notes and read some too but he was content to let me take the lead here.

Faiza:  As we neared the end, I opened up one of the pieces of paper and it said "Will you marry me?"   I was confused so I showed the paper to Earvin and said something along the lines of "Hey, you wrote this. When did you fake propose to me?"  Earvin, ever so cool, said some wonderfully sweet things, pulled out a gorgeous ring and asked me to marry him.  I was so shocked!  I started shaking and crying.  I just couldn't believe it. I jumped onto his lap and held him tight and kissed him.  I kept asking him if he was serious. When it finally sunk in, he asked me whether my reaction meant "yes?"  OF COURSE IT DID!

Earvin: Over 100+ memories later, Faiza reached out and grabbed 'The Note'. At that moment I said to myself , "Please don't ask me to open this one... Please!" - Then she opened it herself and I was more than relieved. With my left hand out of sight clutching a brand-new diamond engagement ring, I received the most unexpected reaction after Faiza read my note... "Hey, I think you wrote this one. When did you fake propose to me?" - I didn't plan for this reaction at all - It wasn't one of the 574 scenarios I rehearsed in my mind! After a few heartfelt words and the presentation of her new hardware, I received the reaction I was looking for with a verbal "Yes" shortly thereafter... Hey, better late than never!

Faiza:  I gave Earvin the third degree and demystified the romance of his proposal (not really) by finding out when he put the note in the jar, where he kept the ring hidden in our home and how he had asked my parents for permission.

Faiza: And here we are in a perfectly good food coma.  Earvin had planned a romantic dinner on top of the Trump Tower.  He even had gorgeous roses waiting for us at our table.  My love is handsome.  I am so happy that I get to marry him. 

Later that night while we were sleeping, Earvin muttered in his sleep, "You took so long to say yes..."  I gave him a hug and thought to myself, "I waited so long for you.  Yes, yes, yes!"

Friday, January 10, 2014

WESTGATE: The Tale of a Survivor by Tashmin Kassam Khamis

Today is my Rozy Mumma's birthday.  She would have been 73.  She left us in October 2012 and she is missed.  Today I am feeling thankful that I had a strong female role model like her in my life.  Her influence is evident in her children, my cousins, Tashi and Faisal.  Both are intelligent, hilarious, mischievous and compassionate, like their Mom.

Every year, on September 11th, we wish Faisal a happy birthday.  He escaped the horror of the World Trade Centres that day in 2001 and Rozy Mumma coined it his new birthday.  What are the odds that his sister would have to face a similar horror?  Tashi survived September 2013's terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall.  Unfortunately, my father's cousin and her daughter did not.

Tashi has always used poetry to express some of her most private thoughts. Here is her recently published account of  surviving Westgate.

WESTGATE: The Tale of a SurvivorThe shots firing a barrage of confusion in my mind
To run, a safe hiding place to find.
Hunted rabbits crouched upon a floor
Is there any point in locking a glass door?
A group dynamic begins to form
Of six strangers amid this crazy storm
No room to lie down, they’ll see our feet!
In the silence we hear our own heartbeat.
The shots non-stop ring in our head
Phones, a life-line or to ask ‘Who’s dead?’
We pray fervently, Muslim, Christian, Jew
His Hand upon us feels so True.
Alas, as time passes we lose our faith
Is help coming before we become bait?
They are in, KDF – the GSU!
The battle begins, who will get who?
The first scream is heard, a profanity
Calls himself ‘Muslim’ – how can that be?
“Allah hu Akbar”, we hear a cry
I plan my death whilst I’m still alive.
Five hours pass, more shots more shouts
Men running corridors, chaos about.
Finally, the dreaded knock on the door
Do we answer or hide some more?
As I approach a Somali face
Beckoning me out, Haji’s embrace
‘Put your head down and run’
A rabbit once more, we are not done!
For six weeks later, every loud sound
Makes me feel once more I have been found
The dreams of cousins who have passed
Of being hunted –they continue to last…
Will I ever be whole again?
My old self –a grieving pain.
To clutch that distant memory
Of whom I once used to be.
But then I draw upon a strength
Did I not feel the protection of His Hand?
A time to reflect of why I live
And realize what more I need to give.

Tashmin Kassam Khamis, A Westgate Survivor amongst many.

Throwback pic of Tashi and Rozy Mumma.

On my Mumma's birthday, I am especially thankful for Tashi's safety, the bonds of family and Mumma's love. It remains even though she is gone.