Upon entering the pageant I was asked what was unique about my family. My family has always been very important to me, they are my support network and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. I thought, what was unique? I have generations of war veterans, my great-great grandfather Finnie was in WWI and lived to be 100. That was unique. We have a family full of loggers, tug boat operators, engineers and fisherman, this has been part of my family history, but was it unique? What I settled on however, was something that is unique. Something I am proud of. I am a product of the Vanstone-Vosper-Arnett-Sawan family. You read that right, I have three dads. I have a biological father, an adoptive father and my new stepfather. Some people may find this confusing, but I view it as a gift. I am blessed to know each of these men and to have the benefit of being embraced and loved by all of their families.
Last summer I finally met my biological father, my half sister and my paternal grandparents. This is the Vosper side of me. They are generous, goofy, love the sea and are very accepting. My father, Danny is the funniest man I’ve met and will often call me at 6 a.m. when his tug boat is docked and sing a message on my voice mail. My half sister, Leanna, was the first of the Vosper family to reach out to me. She’s quirky, beautiful, has a kind heart, and is really a spectacular big sister. In the short time I’ve known her she’s supported me, been involved with my mother’s side of my family and has connected me with my half brother Nicholas (who I am still getting to know). I am still getting used to having siblings (I have a younger step-sister Brooke) and sometimes my “only child status” shows through.
For years everyone wondered where I got my love for farms and the outdoors, well apparently it was inherited through my Vosper lineage. When I met my grandparents, Pat and Fred, they were the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Pat sat me down at the kitchen table and we looked at family photo albums for hours. She showed me all of the family history and pictures of everyone (much to my surprise I have six blonde uncles). It was comforting to see pictures of people who looked like me and was relaxing and I felt at home. One of the best moments with my grandmother came when we were washing dishes. She reached for my hand and said “you and I have the same wonky pinky fingers”. It was true. I have always had these bent and wonky pinkies and my Grandma Pat has the same ones. I feel that I have come full circle and now have a better understanding of where I come from and where I belong.
The man I call ‘dad’ (Corey) has been there for me since I was a toddler and has seen my growth and development. He’s continuously helped me work through the skills I lack, like math, and has taught me I can’t be good at everything and that’s o.k. I remember dancing with him in the hallway at night, standing on his toes as he taught me to two-step. He encourages me to be who I am and accepts my quirks and uniqueness.
The video below is our current project, teaching me to play guitar. See, my dad is a musician at heart. Music has always been his release and his comfort. For Christmas he bought me guitar and for his birthday last year I sung him a birthday tune and attempted to play the guitar. I was heading off to Alaska for the summer and would not be home to wish him happy birthday, so I recorded this. I should warn you to turn your volume down if you’re going to watch the video – I am in no way ready to compete on the next “Canadian Idol”.
The man who is my step-father has taught me about his aboriginal culture and shares his knowledge with me. He encourages me to do things that are outside of my comfort zone and to live my life my way. He shows me daily by example. His famous words are ‘risk-reward’. Is the risk worth the reward? He is the one who helped me make the decision to enter the pageant. I had the choice of moving out on my own or taking part in a once in a lifetime opportunity, the Miss Teenage Canada pageant. We all know what I decided. Marc is an adventure seeker and supports me testing my adventurous side, something I used to be afraid to do. In the past few years that I’ve known him, he’s encouraged me to attempt boogey boarding, graduate a year early, use a power saw, participate in the Sandspit Loggers Sports Day, complete my level III First Aid, travel to Alaska for work, aid in the birth of a foal, participate in a pageant and now work in the steam plant of a pulp mill. Every day he is showing me how to explore my adventurous side, all the while reminding me how to be safe while doing so.
One of the hardest things to write about is my mother. Not because there is nothing to write or because there’s nothing nice to say, but because there is so much to say and too many good things and memories to talk about in just one paragraph. I would be a completely different person if I had a different mom. I would not be the kind hearted compassionate person I’ve been told I am without her guidance. It is nurture, we learn through doing and seeing. Through her I have developed my love for shoes, my need to sing in the car, and a quest for independence. She has always been there for me, through my stupid decisions and my smart ones. In school when I was battling depression and having a difficult time making friends, she was a constant and I don’t think I would have gotten through it without her. She has helped encourage my strengths and help shape me into the person I am, but she is the person I aspire to most emulate. She is my rock on a beach full of sand, my drop of rain in a desert and my sunrise in the dark. What I’m trying to say is she’s one in a million, my light when I’m lost and I am so lucky to call her my mom.
I am the product of four wonderful parents and a bevy of grandparents, aunts and uncles, half-siblings and step siblings. It is something I have now learned to embrace. I always have someone to talk to, someone to take advice from and a lot of support behind me. Mary, Corey, Marc and Danny, you have all had an impact on the person I am becoming. I hope by reading this post children and young adults going through a parental separation can realize that a divorce is nothing to be embarrassed about. Sometimes there is the opportunity for somebody new to enter your life and have a positive impact that you did not expect.
True, North, Strong.