Flying a jetpack, seeing a wonder of the world, sleeping on the beach, taking a helicopter flight lesson, giving birth, finding the best Italian restaurant, volunteering for a new organization, and seeing immediate family may seem like an odd grouping, but it’s just part of my 2012 Bucket List. It wasn’t until this month that I’ve been able to accomplish one of the most important items (Obviously under delivering my baby girl). On July 7th, 2012, I returned to eastern Canada so Athena could meet her family. The complete happiness that filled my grandfather as he held her in his arms for the first time was one of the most memorable moments of my life; the look on my mother’s face when she gazed into Athena’s eyes warmed my heart; and watching my little sister, Gabriella, play with Athena like I played with her made me feel like I was in the Lion King and listening to Mufasa talk about the circle of life. Although only number 7 on my 2012 Bucket List, seeing all of my immediate family was one of the greatest highlights of the year.
My grandparents live in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia and they were the first stopping point. My grandfather, who has taught me more in life than any other single person, recently had a triple bypass and at 9 months pregnant, I couldn’t be at his side. It was the first time in my life that we didn’t stand tall together in times of distress. While trying to remain calm to avoid complications during pregnancy, my heart was breaking. Three and a half months later, we were standing on his doorstep. Weak and tired, his entire presence changed as he lifted her from my arms. He instantly became 20 years younger and his pain slipped away. A sigh of relief escaped my lungs. I had my grandfather back.
A similar feeling consumed me as my mother rocked Athena to sleep during their first day together. She held her with such as ease and relaxed manner that Athena couldn’t help but feel complete peace. My mother has a way with children and life that I aspire to achieve. Thinking about the beautiful relationship between my mother and I filled me with hope and excitement for what is to come with Athena.
Then, there’s Gabriella. I remember when she was as tiny as Athena, when she looked up at me with those inquisitive eyes, when she held my hand as we crossed the street, when she caught her first fish…. I was 21 years old when my mother told me she was pregnant with Gabriella. She marked the 6 child in the Samways family and she was obviously a surprise, but she has given all of us more joy and happiness than humanly possible. At 10 years old, she’s a confidant, a best friend, a sister, and a gift from heaven to my entire family. Athena’s smile burst from the seams every time Gabriella looked at her. They were lost in their own little world together and I was proud to witness it.
Seeing Athena with all of my family surprisingly made me feel like a kid again. All of the precious memories that I had with my grandmother came flooding back when I heard her sing foolish songs to Athena; and taking care of my sister, Suzanne was reflected back as she interacted with her new niece as I interacted with her. My family taught me that life is worth living and it’s full of limitless possibilities. It’s because of my family that I continue to live my dreams and now I get to experience them with Athena, and Darren, at my side.