A Rocky Start

A Rocky Start

Kim and Avery Dune Buggy


Our family just celebrated my son's 19th Birthday.

All birthdays are special as we get to celebrate the miraculous birth of our loved ones, and every birthday is unique to ourselves. My sons, Avery’s, was certainly no exception.

Every year on May 29, I am filled with fevered emotions reliving this eventful day from 19 years ago. Imagine going into labour, (as I'm sure many of you don't need to imagine). It's of course one of the most painful experiences for most, but knowing we are going to soon meet this little person we've been carrying around in our tummy for 9 month or more, it’s totally worth the painstaking contractions and everything else agonizing that goes with labour.

However, once that baby arrives we forget all about the torturous hours that preceded and we marvel in the joy or our creation. I was fortunate to already have had this experience with my first baby, Jesse, but not so much the second time around.

For anyone following my blog, you know that my son was born with a critical heart defect and wasn't expected to survive. This is certainly not what you expect to hear after giving birth.... it's usually, "Congratulations, It's a Boy!" Or, "Congratulations, It's a Girl!"

Instead, coming out of anesthetic, I faintly heard, "You have delivered a baby boy, but he is very sick. We believe he has a serious critical heart defect, and a team of specialists are coming from Children's Hospital to pick him up. I am very sorry."

Nineteen years later, I still remember those words coming out of the nurse’s mouth as though it were yesterday, and can't help the tears falling onto the keyboard and clouding my vision. They are reflections of various kinds of tears. Some are from reliving the day, and feeling completely helpless.

A mom’s job is to protect and comfort, and I've failed on the very first day.

Some, though, are 'Happy Tears' because Avery is still with us and I have had the unique pleasure to watch this determined little soul blossom into a handsome young man.

And some tears are also for remembering the little ones who didn't make it home.

Some days, the only way I could escape delirium was to fantasize about bringing Avery home one day, watching and guiding him as he grows and matures....sitting in the audience watching him walk across the stage at his graduation..... hoping he finds the job and wife of his dreams.

At times, while Avery fought so bravely for his life, those day dreams were all I had to carry on. These are all things I think many of us just simply expect, and may be taken for granted a little because after all, isn't that how things are supposed to go?

Well, albeit Avery had the roughest start of many, I am most grateful because he is still here..... strong and healthy. I always am reminded of a conversation I had with his primary nurse who became one of my best friends. I said to her one day, "Do these heart kids grow up to be so spoiled because the moms and dads are just so happy they lived and they let them do and have whatever they want?"

This was a real fear because it is how we were with Avery.

For his first four years, he probably didn't know what the word no meant. Nurse Bonnie gave a little grin and said, "Actually Kim, these heart kids grow up to be the most happy, caring and gracious people I know."

Well, I am happy to say Bonnie was right, Avery is all that and more. There probably haven’t been more than a few days where I haven't heard, "I love you Mom."

So yes, it was a rocky start, but having seen the outcome of these past nineteen years.... it was more than well worth it. It has been living a miracle and an honored gift to be Avery's mom. He has inspired a better person in me in many ways, and paved the most wonderful life path to follow.

Life gives us unexpected events sometimes, but if we search, and sometimes we must dig deep, we can find the silver lining in any event. It's always a choice.


Mother's Day

Mother's Day

Mothers Day Blog Post Photo Facebook

This past Sunday was Mother's Day and I hope that everyone who is fortunate enough to have their mom live close by had a chance to spend some time together.

I am blessed to have spent every day since I was born celebrating Mother's Day with my mom. Last Sunday was my 50th time and it struck me, for the first time, what a rare privilege this was. Across the world, wherever it may be, what we share is that we have a mom.

However, for many of us, Mother's Day is a sad one. Several of my friends have already lost their mom's, and some never knew their mom at all. Some have had great moms, while others have not. I wish to send a heartfelt blessing to those who don't feel like celebrating Mother's Day.

When we become a mom or dad ourselves, it sure gives a whole new perspective to why we celebrate this day. It's darn hard sometimes. I see why people say it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world ...well, to do it successfully that is.

Anyone can be a mom. To be a really good one, it takes patience, unconditional love, tolerance, sacrifice and so much more. We wear multiple hats..... teacher, janitor, taxi driver, chef, maid, and a string of others!

When I became a mom, it was the most exciting day of my life. Of course, the exciting part was only after the horrendously painstaking 17 hours of labour and what I thought to be near death. But once I recovered from that, I felt like I was a natural. I guess that was because I had learned from the best.

My Mom and Grandma were the most remarkable role models I could have ever learned from.

But over the years, being a mom hasn't been so easy for me. My daughter, Jesse, who is now a happy twenty-two-year-old, was diagnosed with autism when she was a toddler. This was the beginning of many frustrating years trying to deal with inclusion and a daughter who didn't fit in.

My son, Avery, was born with a critical heart defect. We almost lost him many times, but now he is a handsome 18-year-old high school honors graduate – even winning the Nelson Mandela Hardest Working Student Award – and is currently in university.

Yes, it has been challenging at times... sometimes very challenging. But it’s the rewards of having two healthy and happy children who fill my life with love and joy that have made it all worthwhile. It’s an honor to be called their mom.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, with not great pay, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have become a better person from knowing them, and I'm happy they chose me to be their mom.

We All Need Mentors

We All Need Mentors

Facebook MentorsI have been overwhelmed with wonderful heartwarming calls, emails, and messages from people who have heard my TEDx Talk!

One of my favourites was from a lady who, after she read my book, Bravery, said she was inspired to follow her dreams, and now has her own successful hair salon and spa. It's a wonderful feeling to inspire someone through my story.

My intent to write Bravery was for using my adversity as a tool, taking my experience and transforming it into a purpose to help others. To hear its positive impact on people is most gratifying.

We all have mentors who have inspired us to be better, to try harder, and perhaps most importantly.... help us believe that anything is possible! I have many mentors, but it was my grandma who left an impression on my life which helped me understand that although we will go through hardships in life, with some very challenging and devastating times, we can become even stronger. We can use our experience, no matter how devastating, and do some marvelous things!

One day my grandma was standing on the sidewalk having a conversation with an old friend when a speeding driver lost control of his car and ran her over. Lying on the sidewalk and bleeding to death, she called out for my mother who was only 14 at the time. Mom was in the car and saw it all happen.

I can only imagine the complete fear and despair she must have felt as she approached grandma! Barely conscious, Grandma looked up to Mom and whispered,

"Barbie, do not worry, I am going to be okay. I won't be leaving you."

She said that as the paramedics prepared her for the ambulance.

However, the doctors told my family that they couldn't save her, they couldn't stop the bleeding... her right leg was completely crushed.

I learned so much from this story, especially that the strength of will can overpower what any doctor or surgeon says because Grandma did survive. A blood clot miraculously formed and stopped the bleeding before it was too late.

I also learned the value and powerful impact of mentors. Grandma lived on to help and support all those in our community who would go through a crisis, or lose a limb. She not only took care of them but, through her example, demonstrated how life can still be wonderful, even missing a part of their body... even if it doesn’t go as we expected or planned.

Growing up, I was fortunate to spend a lot of weekends at my grandma’s farm. I vividly recall waking up and being lured into the kitchen with the delicious smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the griddle. Every time she saw me she would say, "Oh, good morning's another beautiful day!” I often remember thinking, “Uhmm, it's raining, what's so great about it???”

It wasn't until years later that I got what she meant. She meant it was another day to eat breakfast with the one's we love; another day to try and do well by others. When tragedy struck my own life, I shudder to think how I would have fared without the precious time I spent with my mentor, my grandma.


TEDx Talk: The Value of Human Connections - Unplugged

Well I did it! I actually presented a successful TEDx Talk without passing out or having a heart attack. The days leading up to the event were increasingly getting more anxious for me.....What if I freeze??? What if I forget part of my talk??? There was so much to be nervous about, but I couldn't understand why.....I was beyond prepared! I knew my talk inside and out, so why did my blood pressure sky rocket every time I thought about it? I started to Google tips to ease panic and nerves before delivering a public speech....which is kind of ironic since some my talk is about technology getting in the way of human connection. Except I do say....what we need is balance, and the internet can be a great resource as well as misleading and ambiguous. Anyway, I made a revelling discovery when I was reading how much of our fear can be based on a past incident that we don't even recall in our conscious memory, when all of a sudden I unearthed a shattering, horrendous memory from grade one. I remembered being in front of the class and being asked a question. I don't remember the question, but I do remember being humilated and feeling stupid when my teacher belittled me by making me feel dumb for not knowing the answer, and leaving me stand up front for what seemed like a painfully long and anguishing time! All over again, the feeling of humiliation and shame filled my senses the same as they did that day. And I finally realized why I was so petrified to public speak without any notes or answers held in my hands. It was't my incompetency or lack of intelligence at was because of a mean old teacher. And that mean old teacher couldn't humiliate me anymore! What an incredible breakthrough that allowed me to deliver my TEDx Talk with passion and conviction! This realization also reminded me of another pompass arrogant teacher I had in first year English Literary Proffessor. He basically told me I had no creative writing talent. When we are young, we are often insecure and lack self esteem, so we tend to believe what our role models or proffessionals say. I almost didn't write my book, Bravery, because of the influence his words had on me. Thank goodness, I finally pushed those feelings of self doubt aside, and began to write my story. I'm so glad I did because Bravery would become published to help and inspire so many people who have met with great adversity in their life. I guess that is why I pushed through all those years of fear to become a public speaker and send my message to as many people as possible. My message is more powerful than my fear! Now it is a passion of mine to speak at schools, and tell all these bright eyed and ambitious young people to never let anyone squash their dreams! If we feel a strong purpose and have the desire...then anything is possible, and any goal can be reached, no matter what anyone says.  


I answered the phone the other day and an elderly man resonded to my Hello. He said, "Are you Kim Gemmell?" "Yes I am", I replied. He proceeded to tell me he read my book Bravery, and was very touched by it. He thanked me for sharing my story and began to tell me that 18 years ago today, he lost his only granchild...his little baby grandaughter to a heart defect similar to my son Avery's. I thought how poignant that his wife brought this book home on the 18th birthday of their grandaughter. He told me that he stayed up till 1:30 am reading Bravery because he couldn't put it down, and how it kept the memories of his grandaughter alive and dear to his heart because our stories were so similar. They didn't have her but for only a few months, yet, those few months were most precious and memorable. We talked on the phone close to an hour while we shared our vulnerable stories, and silently I wept as I felt empathy for him and his family. I wept as I relived many of the memories when we almost lost Avery. I suspect a few tears leaked from him too. Today....almost 19 years later, I keep my promise to be one of the happiest moms in the world if I was able to take Avery home, and my promise to transform my experience into a purpose to help others facing adversity. I feel honoured to have spoken with this grandfather. I am grateful he took the time to call me to tell me his story, and I am grateful he found some solice in mine.

TED Talk

I was cleaning out one of my drawers the other day and came across an old list from 2013. It was a list of goals I hoped to achieve, and one of them was to do a TED Talk, and now I am! How fantastic that The Law of Attraction is working for me....... Thoughts do become things!  After studying it for many years, I think I've finally got it! Now that the time to present my TED Talk at the GW Graham Theatre is fastly approaching, I hope I can keep my nerves in check. However, I am prepared and very pleased with how my talk has come together. I really am  look forward to creating a little more awareness on the value of relationships and human connection. It's interesting and a little scary to see the direction we are going with the effects of modern technology, but I hope to demonstrate that we can all live happily adjusted lives in this world that is so wrappped up in our devices. For me personally, the greatest reward has been to realize that I am actually doing and following my life's dream.....using my experience's and transforming them into a purpose to help others. And the greatest realization's never too late!  


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