Chrystal clear

Ok...not a tremendously brilliant title for a blog. After all, with a noun for a name one should be able to come up with something a bit more clever. Ah well.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Third Visit with my Homeless Brother

Yesterday I had my third visit with my brother John. This time it was a much longer visit and my husband didn't come with me. I went to the spot that we had agreed to meet and he wasn't there. I had heard that two days prior he had been in the hospital and I was unsure if he had been released yet. After a few phone calls to my dad and the hospital I was able to find out that he had been released from the hospital and I could try and find him through, Ethal, this older woman who kinda looks out for him.
I give this lady a call and she lets me know that she has seen him this morning and he had probably forgot that I was coming and she knew where to find him. (I don't expect my brother to be able to keep track of what day it is) She added that my visits with him really do mean a lot and she would find him for me. It was nice to hear that he had said that about me :) Within 20 minutes she had located my brother and he booted down to our meeting spot to hook up with me.
We spent the first part of our visit chatting with Ethal, who turns out to be a very nice lady and does my brother's laundry. She can see the good heart that my brother has and states that she is very happy that I've come into his life. She says her good-byes and takes her leave.
John and I decide to hop in my van and go for a drive. It's a beautiful day and perfect for just hitting the road for some good music and converstation. However, before we get to far my brother asks me if we can go to an "errand" first. Oh, in case I haven't mentioned ever before, I am a little gullable/ naive. So I say sure....stupid me. We go to Kits to meet up with a "friend" of his who turns out to be......now I know you've figured this one out already....a drug dealer. My brother asks me for money cause he's short. I refuse stating that I am not going to give him money for drugs. So he goes off to do his "deal". I feel really stupid just sitting in my van waiting for my brother to finish his business. I really should have asked before hand where we were going and why.
So that is done and over with and we start down the road again. My brother pipes up and says that he is really offended that I referred to his ###### as "drugs". I looked at him confused and he continues....
John stated "I have be able to quit drinking and smoking pot and all the other drugs that would get me high...but I made a stupid mistake a year ago and tried ######. Now I am hooked and have to take it every day. If I don't then I will end up on the ground throwing up and writhing in pain. I don't take ###### to get high, I take it to maintain my life how it is. This is why I have to go on Methadone, I can't just stop taking ######. It's not a drug, it's the thing that maintains my life. "
I've never had an addict explain ###### addiction from their perspective before. I thanked my brother for explaining to me so I could understand. I still wont ever go on another "drug deal" with him, but at least I better understand where he is coming from.
The rest of the visit went well as we booted over to West Vancouver and took a stroll around Ambleside Park and then went up to Cypress Mountain for a great view of the city. He really opened up to me about some of his experiences over the past few years. It was nice just to hang out and talk.
My husband and I had a chat when I got back he he was concerned about my exposure to the drugs and drug dealer. Since I work for the government I have to keep away from all that activity as my job could be compromised. So the next time I meet up with my brother I'm gonna have to explain to him that I will not be around any more drug deals and that if he comes with me in my van he cannot have drugs on him. If for some reason I was found to have drugs in my van I could get charged with possession, even though they are my brothers drugs. I cannot risk my livelyhood or a charge. It's getting more complicated and I'm not sure how my brother is going to react. I guess we will see.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Second visit with my homeless brother

Two weeks ago I posted about seeing my brother for the first time in years. Yesterday I was blessed to have seen him again. My husband and I tried to see him last week but couldn't find him. It turned out that he had slept in and missed the time that we were going to meet.

How does a person sleep in on a sidewalk? I can't imagine ever being able to sleep on concrete...and I'm glad.

This time my brother was awake and waiting on our designated corner. It was great to see him "light up" when he spotted my husband and I. We went for brunch in this awful diner. He was trying to spare us the expense of at eating at Denny's; however this hole in the wall was horrible. However; the staff were friendly and treated my brother, and the other homeless people who were seeking shelter from the rain, nicely. I could see what attracted my brother to wanting to go there. He wasn't out of place. He could sit in the diner and not feel like people would be staring at him he didn't belong.

He was so happy to introduce me to a friend of his. He said "Rick, this is my REAL sister Chrystal". I was so happy that my brother could speak those words. I realized how much it meant to him to be able to say that.

After brunch we were off to a BC Pre-Trial facility where my brother could pick up his personal property from the last time he was arrested. His clothes were all moldy because they were wet when they had been placed into the plastic storage bags. When I questioned a guard about looking after a persons personal effects he simply stated "That's what you get for going to jail".
I was horrified. I work in the prison system and would never talk to another person that way. It sure did give me some insight on how my brother gets looked upon and treated in society.

We had a heart to heart at the end of our visit. I explained to him the difficulities that I've had with our immediate and extended family over the years. He was surprised because he thought he was the only one being treated that way by our family. It turns out that we have both been treated like "black sheeps". I told him that I've struggled many years trying to figure out how to have a relationship with those people and realized that those were not the family members in which I should be spending my time on. I want to spend my time getting to know my brother, that is the family that I want to invest in.

So this Saturday I'm going to be spending the day helping my brother get signed up for a methadone program.....now THAT is time well spent!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Every homeless person has a family

Have you ever walked up to someone who was sleeping on a sidewalk, bent down, woke them up and then gave them a hug.....I have.

The last time I saw my brother was years ago. We had a rotten childhood with my brother taking most of the physical abuse from my dad. When you are told for half your life that you are stupid and no good, exactly what heights are you supposed to amount to? We were both in foster care as teenagers and became astranged due to being seperated at young ages. I saw him a bit in my early twenties, but I was busy with my young family and he was drinking and doing drugs. It wasn't the lifestyle that I wanted to expose my family to. Then he kinda drifted out of contact for years.

My dad phoned a couple of weeks ago and said that my brother had just gotten out of jail, was living on the streets, was a ###### addict and told me what corner of downtown Vancouver that my brother peddles on. It was alot to take for one phone call.

So off my husband and I go. We travel to Vancouver and start out from the corner that my dad referenced. We were not able to locate my brother, however; we did talk to a couple of peddlers in the area that new him. It was amazing how friendly and helpful they were. There was one in particular, a man with only one arm, that was the most friendly. He kept appologizing that he couldn't make my brother appear at that moment. He seemed so surprised that we were actually looking for my brother. I asked if he could pass a message onto my brother that we would return again in a week to the same corner. He was more then happy to oblige. I will also add that he never asked us for money or anything for the information, he was just so happy that we gave a damn.

So yesterday we went back to Vancouver to see if we could find my brother. As we approached the street corner there was a person who was sleeping on the ground. No blanket or cardboard box underneath him. I wasn't sure if this was him or not. I haven't seen him in years. I walked around so I could see his head and bent down. I whispered his name..John....no response. I bent down further so I could see his eyes and recognised that it was him. So I said his name louder. Then he took a deep breath, woke up and looked me in the eyes. It was such a precious moment. I had found my brother and he had been camped out waiting for me.

It turns out that the man with no arm was able to get the message to my brother and he had decided to wait there all day for me to arrive. We went for lunch and got caught up. Sitting upright in a booth at Denny's he didn't look any different then every other person there. I showed him pictures of my kids and he told me how he kept warm on the streets in the winter.

When we parted, he told me that this week was going to be challenging for him as he is going to start methadone and counselling to get his life together. He wants to get a job and have a normal life again. I really hope that he was saying that because it was what he was going to do and not what he thought I'd want to hear.

We are going to meet on the same street corner next Sunday and go for lunch. Today is my birthday and I couldn't think of a better birthday present for God to give me then to have found my brother once again.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My answers to Dave's "Tag"

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies? I would have to say color mostly because that is what I am used to. There are some movies that I have enjoyed in black and white, but it isn't my preference.

2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death? I think the only thing that bores me to death is when arrogant people go on and on about themselves...I can't stand it.

3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music? Interesting. I like the quality of CD's, the convienience of tapes (being able to fast forward or rewind to an exact spot, and the fun of records.

4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run? If I was asked this at 16 I would have in a second and NEVER looked back. However, there is no way in the world I would leave my kids, the man I love or my friends now...they are priceless.

5: Seriously, what do you consider the world's most pressing issue now? I think the most pressing problem is greed. I think it rears it's ugly head in our very homes and families all too clearly. Too many families are stretched thin trying to keep up with the Jones's. Why do we need half million dollar homes, expensive cars, and fancy electronics? Why do two parents have to work while someone else raises our children? What are we teaching them by doing this? When did we sell out on the importance of family, character and community for "stuff". I know people who say that they work 60 hour work weeks for their "kids future" but at the end of the day are estranged from them because they didn't spend any time with them. Is money really worth that?

6: How would you rectify the world's most pressing issue? I think the world needs a good dose of perspective. You can't take it with you. Leave a legacy of love, faith, integrity and character for the next generation....not "stuff".

7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be? I have had so many bad experiences in my life. But who is to say that the person I am now would be better if I changed my past. I like who I am now...why risk it. Really....it's a butterfly effect thing.

8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be? Again it's that butterfly effect thing. Who knows if changing one thing would really make things worse or better?

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole Opry: which do you choose? I'm not sure, I've been to the Opera a couple of times. Is "Show Boat" an Opera or Grand Ole Opry? I guess I would have to say opera.

10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you'd like to solve? I have no idea.

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal? Jerry B. Jenkins, he is one of the authors of the "Left Behind Series". I would serve a variety of appetizers so we could chat easily on his perspective on the book of Revelation.

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky - what's the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact? It would never happen so I wont even go there.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Teen Mom

I had my first child at 17 years old. She just celebrated her 15th Birthday. Wow, how time flies! I was 16 and in foster care and one of my foster parents friends had a particular fascination with the young girls that lived there.
I wasn't even late when I found out. I had been having some abdominal problems for about a year and a half and had gone to several specialists trying to figure out what was wrong. Some blood work was completed and one of those tests was a pregnancy test, which came out positive. I was in shock. How many people find out before their period is due that they are pregnant. So here I was in foster care, pregnant and having no clue what to do. My foster parents told me to either have an abortion or leave. I left.
After spending a while crashing at friends houses I got on my feet (thanks to government programming) and was able to get on welfare. So here I was.....17, on welfare, no high school education, no family help and a baby on the way.
I never thought at that time that I would be where I am today. Ashley is an amazing girl. She is beautiful, generous, and smart as a whip. After the Tsunami hit, she decided to give all money that would go for her birthday to the relief effort. She was able to raise $250 by reminding Grandparents and friends not to give presents, but to donate. I was so amazed. It is one thing to give what you have extra of, it is another to actually sacrifice to give to someone else.
I have since graduated high school and taken a college certificate course which was able to launch me into my career. I am the Deputy Warden's Assistant at a Medium Security Men's Prison in BC. I live in a beautiful 3 story townhouse, have 3 wonderful kids ( and a soon to be step-son), friends I love, and a fiancee that is the perfect man for me. Not a perfect man, but a perfect one for me :P
My whole life really is a testimony as to what God can do. He took a scared little girl who had nobody and nothing and gave her the love, hope and strength she desperately needed to become the woman she is today. Praise God for all his blessings!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Teenagers....Part 1 of ??

I have two teenage daughters....13 and 15. Arghhhhh! What a rollercoaster ride. At times it seems like we are good friends. We goof off together, shop, talk, giggle and give each other fashion advice. Then all of the sudden....flip.....it's like I have teenzilla in the house. These nice young ladies turn into grouchy piles of hormones with thick clouds hanging over them. These thick clouds soon encompass the whole house and then everyone is feeling it.

I left home when I was 15 and never had a healthy, normal teen life. So I have had some struggles in trying to figure out if this is "normal" or if I'm really missing something. I've been reassured by many people that what I am experiencing is "normal" for teenagers to go through.

My oldest is heading into final exams for her first semester in grade 9. It was like pulling teeth to get her to complete work and study. To what extent am I to push? It is her life and her grades, but don't I have some responsibility to be that horrible parent (in the teenagers mind) to nag and nag and put down the consequences if she doesn't try her best to succeed? I encourage and talk with my kids, but when it comes to the hard stuff....the stuff that challenges them or they have struggles with....how hard to you push? Some parents throw up their hands and say "it's your life and your grades do what you want" and some are so controlling that they practically stiffle their kids with rules and expectations. I want to find a middle ground....but since I don't have a lot of "tools in the toolbox" for this type of a situation I'm feeling rather overwhelmed and inadequate.

Anyone got book suggestions??

Sunday, January 29, 2006


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C "H" RYSTAL

What's in a name? How do people get their names? Naming a child is one of the first really stressful responsibilities a parent has. I've named three children and there is so much to consider. Will they suit their name? Can it be rhymed with anything inappropriate? Will they be teased? What will their initials be? (Have to be careful about such things, I know a boy with the initials P.M.S.!!)

My name before I was born was John Adam Christian. Much to my parents horror...I was not a boy. So there I sat nameless for the first few days until a nurse came to my mother and said "We can't keep calling her Baby Girl such and such" you need to name her. Now my mother was in pretty bad shape after having me and had been drugged up for days. This could have been bad. My parents had not ever considered a girls name. They made a on-the-spot decision to name me after my mom's half sister. However my dad did not like how Crystal was spelt because the first three letters spelt "cry".....so he insisted on having a silent "H". So now, I have had to correct countless numbers of misspellings of my name.

In my dad's defence, Chrystal can be spelt in about 30 different ways: Chrystal, Crystal, Christal, Cristal, Krystal, Kristal, Christle, Cristle, Kristle, Chrystol, Crystol, Christole, Cristole, Christol, Cristol, Kristol, Kristole etc.....you get the point.