Monday, April 18, 2011

There Is Life After Death...

This statement is true for me and Ron.  Ron has moved on to his new life.  I too must move on to my new life. 

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement in writing this blog.  Ron and I did not know we would garner so much attention for our journeyinto words.  When it all started (August 2010), Ron only wanted some good to come from the writings; inspiring someone, assisting someone through their own journey or just plain old sharing to enlighten. Judging by your comments and feedback,  I do believe that we achieved what we set out to do.

Ron's journey on this earth has come to an end and so must his blog.  It with great hesitation and sadness that I do so because it is yet again another marker, another reminder that my husband is no longer holding my hand, no longer giving me gentle kisses, no longer here to make me laugh.  I no longer have Ron to hold his hand, to give him gentle kisses or to make him laugh.  The void I am experiencing is larger than life.

I have had a tough nine weeks albeit easier because of family and friends.  I do not know what I would do without you.  I also know that I must move on from the US to the I.  I must reach inside and find the strength to forge ahead - hence there will be life for me after Ron's death.  I do not know what it looks like.  It will unfold with each passing moment.  The moments will turn into minutes and the minutes into days. Sailors would say, "One wave at a time." 

As we said good-bye to Ron in Hawaii I felt it appropriate to use Hawaiian influence to name my new blog,  Ha Makai.  You can find me at 

Aloha and Mahalo

Every Wave, Every Ripple

Ron has always told me that he wanted his ashes to be spread somewhere warm.  Warm it will be!  During Ron’s last couple of days I promised I would take him sailing again.  This put a smile on his face and he nodded approval.  Hawaii, I asked.  Another smile, another nod of approval. 
Ron and I always talked about how we are not the type of people to hang on to ashes.  They need to be freed to end the journey on this earth as we know it.  Soon after setting the date for Ron’s Celebration I started thinking about taking his ashes to Hawaii.  Why Hawaii, you might ask.  On our first visit to Hawaii together, Ron and I renewed our wedding vows. That, my friends, is another story for another time.   Hawaii is also warm especially compared to Victoria in February, March.  I had settled on the fact that I would be prepared to go alone.  It is not that I wanted to go alone, it is just that I didn’t have the energy to organize a trip for other people.  When I announced to Bill and Leanne I was going to Hawaii, and very soon, they announced they were coming along.  It would be me, Leanne, Bill and Gracie.  After I announced to the kids I was going to Hawaii with Ron’s ashes, it was not long before Meghan announced that she had time off work and money – she too was coming along.  OK, I said.  Bill and Leanne took charge of accommodation.  I was flying airmiles and it was not difficult to get Meghan on the same flight.  I took charge of chartering a sailboat.  Meghan took charge of entertaining me while in Hawaii.  Accommodation booked – check, flights booked – check, passports in order – check, rules about Pixie Dust – check.  All good to go.  All this was about to happen just four days after Ron’s Celebration.
We all flew out of Seattle on the same flight.  It was exciting to be going to Hawaii but the reason was sombre.  I had to get through customs and security with Ron in ‘the box’.  Customs was no problem as we drove to Seattle the day before the flight.  Security on the morning of the flight decided they wanted to box opened to see what was inside.  I drew a deep breath not sure how I was going to handle it.  The Security fella was very good about it.  We repacked the box into my luggage and carried on. 
While I was prepared to go to Hawaii myself, I didn’t know how happy I would be to be with Meghan and the Stegalls’.  I would have been happy to be with most people.  It just so happened that it worked for Meg, Leanne, Bill and Gracie to be with me.
Smooth flight to and touchdown in Hawaii.  It was so deliciously warm that immediately none of us wanted to go home.  We hopped in the rental car and made our way to Ko Olina.  Good job on the accommodation Bill.  Being on the fifteenth floor offered its comfort during the tsunami warning. 
We arrived on Friday.  I had chartered a 42’ Beneteau sailboat complete with skipper for Monday afternoon.  It was decided that we would wear something Hawaiian.  It was only appropriate as Ron was dressed in his Hawaiian shirt and Dickie shorts in which he renewed his vows to me.  I donned my dress that matched his shirt.  I purchased leis for everyone including Ron and the skipper.  We packed snacks, Corona and a bottle of Clancy’s wine for Ron.  Again it was and exciting yet sombre experience. 
We pushed off at 1530.  The winds were building.  I am not used to such strong winds that pack a lot of warmth.  It felt medicinal, therapeutic.  We had an exhilarating sail complete with whales.  If we stayed on course we would have been in Fiji.  Sounded good to me!  As it was getting near sunset, we headed closer to short, just off Diamond Head.  There was less wind.  This is a consideration when releasing pixie dust into the ocean. 
The mood switched from amazing to solemn.  The moment had come to release Ron.  I moved Ron and his box to the stern of the boat.  I sat there numb and paralyzed.  It was tough to swallow.  While planning this farewell it all seemed ideal; just like his celebration.  Now I was not sure if I could let go.  I took a deep breath then, in the gentle breeze, freed Ron to the ocean.  I sprinkled his pixie dust  into the warm and blue waves.  Flower petals followed.  Symbolically I removed my lei and tossed it and all my love to Ron.  It was a goodbye I will never forget. 
Our skipper circled Ron and the flowers three times.  We were still and silent, bidding Ron our own personal farewell.  Then to follow was the Clancy’s fine wine.  I took a drink from the bottle and poured the rest for Ron and wishing for fair winds and smooth sailing. 
Our personal ceremony and tribute to Ron was stunning; warm breezes, blue seas and a setting sun.  It was breathtaking, appropriate and amazing. 
When you are near the ocean remember these gentle words of our good friend Lawrence, “Ron will forever more be a part of every wave, every ripple and every warm surge of water.”  He will also whisper in the breeze and watch us from the sky. 
Na hoku nona kiu oka lani – The stars are the eyes of heaven. 
Ronald, my love, save a spot for me.  When it is my time we will be together again.
A hui hou – Until we meet again.

Forty-five Bottles of Wine... And Counting

Can you believe it?  45 bottles of wine, 2 bottles of fine Scotch and 2 LCB gift cards.  I don’t think that Ron was concerned about storage when he expressed his wish for wine rather than flowers.  Yes, some of the wine has been enjoyed and some is stowed.  The funny thing is that it is stowed in Ron’s drawers with his drawers padding the bottles.  Living on the boat one has to ensure enough padding to prevent breakage.  While I was putting it away and found myself chuckling and saying aloud “You asked for this Harris.” 
All I can say to those of you who gifted wine in the name of Ron, you have fine taste.  Some labels I have never seen so it is truly a delightful experiment to uncork (or unscrew) a bottle.  The Scotch is tasting might fine too. 
Dare I say that Ron had a good idea?  OK, he had a good idea.  I get to toast him with every bottle.  Thank you, Husband.
I came to realize that the wine is not about drinking copious amounts to drown my sorrow.  The wine is about me sharing a bottle with other people and perhaps in particular people that I meet on my new journey in life.  I can make an offering of wine and invite people into my space or be invited and give the gift of wine and stories. 
This thought came about when I was in Canoe Cove.  I met a couple on their sailboat.  They were having some work done and more specifically they had roller furling installed to the two head sails.  He said, “ I am getting tired of hanking on the sails and hauling them up to sail.”  “I am getting tired of bagging them when we are done sailing for the day.”  Wally was his name.  He then stated he was eighty-six years old.  His wife was of like age.  My jaw hit the deck.  He didn’t look a day over seventy.  I cried and he didn’t understand at first.  I went on to briefly explain my story and how he and his wife are who Ron and I wanted to be... sailing together beyond the years. 
The next day Wally and Margaret were leaving for Cortez Island. That evening I presented them with a bottle of wine in honour of Ron and in honour of their inspiration to all who come to know them.  “Fair winds” I said “and smooth sailing to Cortez.” 

Truly A Celebration

Ron’s Celebration of Life was to be just that. When the kids and I got together we knew it had to be up lifting. While we are extremely sad – every day I might add – we knew that Ron would want people to laugh, to smile, to remember and to learn about him.
For Ron’s ashes (pixie dust) I had to have a First Nations Bentwood Box. They are truly a work of art and Ron wanted to purchase one in the summer. Meghan and Kirsten help me research on the internet. Meghan offered her opinion when viewing the boxes. The story of the box and purchasing the box, as they say, is another story for another time. For the Celebration, Ron was there in his handsomely carved box with the Orca and Wolf.

The venue was perfect! Kirsten, excellent choice. No other venue in Victoria would have suited Ron’s Celebration. It was glass, bright, roomy and came with a view of our homeport, WestBay Marine Village. We knew the sun would shine on his day.

The memorabilia table was perfect! Ryan’s idea. All the kids contributed to what would go on the table. Stew suggested that we do not forget the Scotch!

The posters were a hit. Thank you Kirsten for your amazing talents. Thank you to everyone who sent Kirsten the photographs to choose from. At the end of the day, there were requests from people to take the posters home. We were honoured.

The kids and I worked with Stephen Swift. Stephen, thank you for your understanding, kindness, patience and coaching. The kids and I are grateful to you for characterizing Ron as if he were your friend. Folks are still talking about the quality of your facilitation. Thank you!

S/Sgt. Marc Lavergne, thank you so much for organizing the Honour Guard and the bugler. Never once during Ron’s illness did he ever say that I was to expect the Honour Guard for his celebration. It was truly unexpected and sincerely appreciated. The kids and I were honoured by the ceremony and truly proud of Ron and the RCMP. I know that many others at Ron’s Celebration would say the same. You and your team released so many emotions during the parade and the playing of the bugle. Ted Smith, thank you for carrying Ron’s stetson. He felt very fortunate to have you and Cheryl enter his life.

And thank you to you who spoke about Ron. Kirsten, Meghan, Lou Goulet, Bill Stegall, Bill Phillips and Len Burton. You each did an amazing job to bring to life Ron as you knew him. You made us laugh, you made us cry. Did you forget it was “NO LEAK ZONE”? As important, we came away knowing Ron better than ever before. He is smiling and thanks you.

For those of you at Ron’s Celebration you will have your own thoughts, feeling, and sentiments. For me and the kids, Ron’s Celebration was just what we planned. Not a thing would be changed or done differently. We did it our way.  We did it Ron's way. We were speechless at the number of people who showed and the number of people who sent their regrets.

Thank you Kirsten, Ryan, Stewart and Meghan for all your help – you did a great job. This celebration was fitting for a great man - your father and step-father, my husband.

Thank you to all who participated in making it a great celebration.  Thank you to all who attended.  And thank you for your encouragement and confidence in me and the kids.

February 28, 2011 was truly a celebration of the life of Ronald B Harris – husband, father, poppa, friend and so much more.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pixie Dust - In The Magical Sense of Tinkerbell

It has been an extremely tough go for the little ones.  We have always been surrounded by our little girls - Rayna (who is not so little anymore), Makayla, Juliet, Amelia and Gracie.    They all love Poppa Ron and Poppa Ron loved them so much.  The kids were drawn to him simply by his presence.  Talking about someone dying is not the difficult part of the conversation - where we believe our loved ones go after death makes it difficult for the younger ones to comprehend.  Talking about cremation and ashes, the why's and where etc was not a conversation I would care to have with little ones.  The questions persisted and the kids deserved a respsonse.  Rather than scare the bejeezers our of them regarding cremation and what it truly means, Leanne came up with a creative response that is not far from the truth - Pixie Dust.  Thanks goodness she was in tune with Peter Pan.   We have been  able to talk about magical Pixie Dust.  Poppa Ron, is now Pixie Dust and he is everywhere.  They know that we have sprinkled his Pixie Dust in the ocean... he is magically in our hearts and we can speak to him anywhere and everywhere.  We love you Poppa Ron.  We miss you Poppa Ron.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Seven weeks and two days since Ron’s passing. You would think that by now I would have updated our blog. Many of you have been checking for updates (some as often as daily. You know that the updates have not appeared and nor would they for the blatant act of feet dragging on my part. Procrastinate – Put off, put on the back burner, leave to another time – you get the picture. It has been no secret that I have been procrastinating when it comes to adding the final entries to the Rootin’ For Ron blog. I will be the first to admit guilt. As I type, it is painful for me to think of the finality of the task. It is one more undertaking that removes Ron from the physical world and transfers him to my spiritual world. My heart is twisted in knots; tears stream from my eyes and I find myself sobbing. Ron and I have always said that you need to walk in another’s shoes to really understand. Let me tell each and every one of you that, in my personal preparation for Ron’s death, I did not come close to imagining how painful this would be; how painful it would be to be so far away from my husband, my st friend, my everything. We are worlds apart and I have never felt such misery. Finalizing the blog is agony but it is yet another stumbling block that I must conquer as a part of the healing process. So in the true fashion of the Ron and Janice you know, let’s just do it and it will be done. In short order I will follow up with a number of entries to share events, thoughts and feelings leading up to and including the spreading of Ron’s ‘pixie dust’.