A deep breath and carry on

Ok it’s been an emotional time, beginning many months back. While attending our mother through her hospital ordeal and her moving etc. over the last year, my brother was quietly attending to a tumor that took possession of his liver. It won on September 8th. He would’ve been 65 in November.

This culminated in some deep introspection with the grief of mourning my second brother to be taken by cancer. My father too in 2003.

It brought up feelings about family, about fulfilling a life, and brought home what it means to say Life Is Too Short. Because it is.

But with this reality there also must come license to do the thing, go to the places, be your best self, blossom, because there is an end here; the one certain thing for all of us. Grief has given me a greater appreciation for my time here and the people who are still here with me.

So head up, eyes clear, heart full, it’s time to get back on the horse  ~

 

 

During this time ~

During this time~ my husband and I crossed a milestone of 25 years of marriage. Our original wedding rings were silver native art works, and over time the engravings of Salmon and Raven had etched away and my husbands ring was so thin it split. So new Native Art bands of gold to carry us another 25 years were quietly exchanged ~

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During this time ~ my brother succumbed to liver cancer and passed away on the morning of September 8th.

Carry on

Well, that was a hiatus-unintentional, but somehow I think my mind decided it needed some time away from transcribing events for a bit. The “mom/elder care” stuff had to sift down and settle into a nice, neat pillow of contentment and ease, which it has since she has moved into extended care a month ago. I think I was bracing for more turmoil due to the move and so couldn’t relax to write; waiting for the next upheaval, upset, or meltdown. But it didn’t come and shows no signs of pending.

And  while it is heart wrenching when she asks about where her home is, and why can’t she go there and asking us, is this where I am going to live? For how long? She has gently come to understand that this is how it is now.

We have gotten her another iPhone too, since hers had gotten tampered with and broken while she was in the hospital two months ago. We didn’t feel we should replace it then because she really wasn’t doing well, and figured she wouldn’t remember how to use it anymore. But since leaving the hospital she’s back to her old self (well, she is 90), and had asked where her phone was.

My sister then resurrected her i4 and gave it to her. This lasted a couple of weeks before it was put through the laundry by housekeeping (who would think to look in a 90 year olds pocket for an iPhone?) so I brought my i3 out of the drawer and handed it over to my brother-in-law who installed a new SIM card and she’s back in business. My sister also bought a strap-on holder to go on the arm of moms wheelchair. No more wash-day mishaps.

We all still do continue to visit her as before and go on outings, but it does feel good to be able to call her when I’m not traveling up to visit, and she doesn’t feel disconnected from us knowing she can call anytime. It also carries with it some autonomy for her, and something to tinker with during the day.

My shoulders have lowered into their relaxed state and I’m breathing deeper ~

 

 

Interloper

Dementia came in and brought its suitcase today. It brought its furniture and all its curios and closed the door on the outside world.

Sheathed in the skin of its host it shone through her eyes with vehement curses, it raised an arm and pushed sincerity and love from its post. Banished all that was once welcome and noble.

It filled in the recesses left there with doubt and defense, with anger. It hissed of betrayals and mocked the heart.

It pulled the shade and allowed no bid farewell.

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Ok. It was a hard day today. Hardest. A cruel appointment with this condition that I have yet witnessed. I am reeling as I sit here having come home from the hospital 2 hours ago. I am alone, but I’m all right that my husband is away working. Even though he would be holding me right now with tears in his eyes saying sincere consoling things, I need to be alone. To process. To write. This helps me sift it all through.

What started as a pleasant day devolved into banishment. All of it directed at me, all of her loses because of me. I am the villain. Hearing her speak of me as she did, turn her face away, but it was her taken over by this is what took the breath out of my lungs.

I won’t take it personally, that is ego and it has no place here, because it’s not her, it’s  not me it’s the disease. But still. It was like a hammer.

I lost her today. But maybe tomorrow she’ll be back and I’ll be reinstated to her heart.

 

 

The Need to Vacate the Premises

A day in the sun

On Saturday my sister, her husband and I planned to go kayaking, they have their own and I would rent one, so Saturday morning I called the outlet only to be answered with a recorded message that they are closed for the season.

-C’mon, it’s April already! Didn’t expect that.

I was really looking forward to this, I needed this! A mini adventure, a break from my modus operandi but now that activity dashed I found myself at home with the choice of how I should spend my day, which ironically left me with indecision.

I had been ready for a great day of paddling. It was like being ready to pop a piece of white chocolate in your mouth but it’s white cheddar, tasty yes, but startling to your taste buds. So I’m eating white cheddar.

I wanted to be outside in this gorgeous sunny day, but thought I should maybe spend time at home while I have the chance since I’ve been in constant motion lately, so ok I can immerse myself into my current read in the back yard, find a patch of sun in my predominately shady yard and tuck in. Good.

Not good. My next door neighbor has fired up his chainsaw. So back in. Pace around a bit, thinking.

Hmmm, I guess I could wash the windows, or wash the pollen off the deck or work in the yard, but I really didn’t want to do anything like work today – wait, he’s stopped- alright, step outside- uh, nope, on again. This in an’ out went on a few more times until I decided leaving was the more sane alternative. My husband took the car to work yes, but I had the boat and fortunate to have a big provincial park, which is also an island, right next to me -this is where I would find my peaceful escape.

And I did. I got lots of sunshine and luscious uninterrupted reading time with a tremendous view of the water. To get out and away was just what was needed. Most times it’s the only way to ensure that getting sucked into doing obligatory tasks doesn’t overtake ones need for R&R.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t fence me in

I have a grinding urge to run away.  Unhitch, unload, unlatch – and run. I crave to dissolve, disengage, dismiss, and dismantle. Shake it all lose.

And where would I want to carry this out? Oddly, I suppose, it’s not Mexico or the coast of Croatia, or the Santiago de Compostela – well actually that last one is definitely a strong desire of mine, but no right now the place is Val Marie, Saskatchewan. More accurately, the Grasslands. Humble, unassuming, and utterly breathtaking to me.

Photo courtesy of the internet
Glacial erratics on land within the proposed boundary of Grasslands National Park (West Block), Saskatchewan, Canada

Photo courtesy of internet

5 years ago, stopping in for a day on one of our drives to Ontario, this place immediately  wheedled its way under my skin. And I return to it in my heart often.

I suppose it must be the limitless sky, somehow perhaps symbolic of freedom, openness, expansion. Feeling as I am at the moment, perhaps all the things I perceive are missing currently in my day to day.

This is where I would wish to set up camp for an entire summer. All unnecessary accouterments stripped away. Just me and that big ‘ol sky all day and a blue-black dome filled with stars all night.

Okay, Bob can come too.

 

 

 

If we were having coffee (#Weekend Coffee Share)

If we were having coffee you too would have stopped mid-sip and we would lock eyes because we just heard that today is National Sword Swallowing Day as was just announced on the CBC radio program I am listening to this morning.

Apparently it’s a tradition on the wane.

Well, who knew.

So anyway, today I will be jumping in my boat and heading to town soon to my mom’s place up island. She will be meeting with the people who will be moving her to her new sweet suite in the next few days. Can I get a Hallelujah?

This service is supplied by the Assisted Living Village and once the move date is set the action begins. They pack and unpack, AND hang all art work etc. all in one day- and that is fantastic.

The move is a big transition for all concerned, of course, but will have so many benefits for all concerned too, finally having her in our neck of the woods. No more long drives up and back.

Mom and Bob 2016

Seems many my age have stories of “moving a parent.” I see and hear them everywhere. Stands to reason, there are sooo many Boomers out there doing exactly what I’m doing right at this time too.  A zeitgeist perhaps?

It’s the opposite end of the spectrum of a young parent meeting other young parents with small children. Kind of. You share experiences good and bad and talk of challenges rife with concerns, worries, and conflicts.

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SO I’ll let you go cause it is the weekend and I know you have a lot to do, getting outside to make the most of this (almost) spring day. Here on the West coast we have some sun and the birds have come back from winter, a welcome sound!

Enjoy your day~ 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Fallen Angel

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I looked out the window to my backyard and noticed my Garden Angel had become liberated from the fence she hung upon.

To hell with it, she might have said, I just have to smell that lavender bush.

I totally empathize.

A long goodbye

 

One day in the final week before my retirement from my position at the University I took a stroll over to the Fine Arts building on the campus.

It’s been a long time since I visited this department even though it’s a short jaunt up the hill from the culinary department where I work. And it was a bit sentimental because I and this institution have a deeply personal history and I felt like I needed to revisit my “roots” and say goodbye.

My relationship to this campus isn’t only for the duration of my employment here of the last 7 years, but all the way back to 1976 when it was a college. This is where at 18 I began my Fine Arts degree, right here.

I opened the big glass door and stood in the foyer and memories came flooding back. The couch over there against the wall where we took breaks from our painting to have a smoke and talk with the instructor. The studios forested with easels, the smell of acrylics and oils, graphite and charcoal. My fingers stained with whatever medium I had been working with. I walked over to where the printing studio was but it no longer held the big press I had used for Lithographs and the silk screen frames were no longer there, it was now full of what looked like set design maquettes. I entered the vacant sculpture studio and saw that it hasn’t changed at all, the pleasant memory of working with the Lost Wax Method where I made a bronze cast of a bear in a cave, that I still have, and the unpleasant memory of working with resins. Nothing good came from that. I walked across the hall and peered in through the glass window in the door at the ceramics studio full of engaged students talking, laughing or quietly focused on the wheel. It looked just as I had left it. To add, this is where my mom when in her 50’s taught pottery in the evenings to Community Ed students.

It’s a heady place this campus. It witnessed many of my life changes and growth; a pivotal place. Every decade of my adult life is attached to this place. 

This is where in my first year I moved out of my parents home and together with my boyfriend of 3 years also a fellow art student, and another art student got our first apartment. The second year my boyfriend went on a student exchange to Florida and left me on my own. His sister and a two of our friends, also students, shared a large house to finish out the second year. When my boyfriend came back for a visit we agreed to marry the following year. My mom and I window shopped for wedding dresses, but it had been a long year apart, and consequently I branched out socially; when he returned my feelings had changed and I broke up with him.

I had during that second year become involved in a small theatre group during my second year headed by an English Professor who wrote satirical musicals and this campus theatre is where I performed and sang in those plays publicly in my first ever stage appearance. I also fell in love with the piano player. Our little theatre group segued into a working band of 10 musicians and we played gigs that consisted of all original songs all over town developing a sizable following. Both the piano player, our lead singer, as well as our slide guitarist have continued on in very successful musical careers.

This campus is where we held our practice sessions, and when our drummer left for the Caribbean to work for Club Med another drummer came to try out and stayed. Turned out I would spend 5 years with this man and have a daughter. To add, a colleague I recently shared my office space with for the last seven years had years ago bought the house he had built in 1975, before he  joined our band and when he was married. She bought it from his ex-wife. She and I discovered this when conversing over coffee break one day.

Of course woven through those happy events are some bitter lessons, some bad decisions, and maybe even a regret or two, but the truth of the matter is they were deep and in many ways profoundly enriching. So were the good times. Very much so.

This campus saw me return again in my 30’s to enroll to become a Baker, during which time my brother was dying from bowel cancer, and I returned again in my 40’s to become a chef. Then to return again in my 50’s as an employee working as a chef assistant.

Every decade of my adult life is attached to this place.

And now here I am. Was and was.

So now it must certainly be adieu mustn’t it? I really hesitate to be steadfast in anything final. Lets just say I will not be surprised if for some reason I find my footsteps once again carrying me back to embark on yet another enterprise in my 60th decade. But for now I give thanks and honor the memories, and for many ways in being a place of life experience and learning for me.

I’ve done it

My last entry was quite some time ago, and as I write now I realize I just hadn’t felt compelled to come to my computer to write out what I was processing in my mind- which is different for me, writing things out is my usual behavior in matters of gaining mental clarity. In that hiatus I entered my 57th year on this planet, and came to a decision.

After some lengthy deliberation I officially gave my resignation notice as of June 19th. Doing this three years before I had planned gave me small pause, only small. I love where I work and will miss my colleagues, but it is time and I feel good about it. Once I finalized my decision I felt relieved and lightened.

I will have the flexibility now to care for my mother who will be 90 this year and lives on her own 45 minutes up Island-no more renting away from home and husband each winter as in the past three years. No mandatory daily, dark, early morning winter crossings to get to work either, I can go at my leisure.

Time also to bring all those things I left simmering on the back burner to the plate at last. Hopefully nothing vaporized over the years, I won’t know until I lift the lid and have a look ~

Adjustment will of course ensue but I’m ready to meet the challenges!

My Here and There is coming to a close. Sort of.

 

In a couple of days I’ll be vacating my vinyl cabin on the beach, and I’m kind of happy about it- well of course, I’ll be moving back to my own home after 3 months, and who does not want to be in their own home? It’s true I made the best of it, enjoying the simple solitude of my evenings here. No TV, no housework to speak of, nothing that ‘needs’ doing. Just me and my me-ness. This cabin served it’s winter purpose for me, allowing me close proximity to my mom during the shortest days of the year.

But lately I have been dealing with an agitated unsettledness and some emotional episodes of feeling pulled in too many directions; not cracking, but it felt close, which was a signal that I was reaching a saturation point of living in two places each winter over the last three years away from my husband, (but for the weekends) and of the continuous circle run between my mom, work and home. Not much down time.

But I’m now un-agitated and so far un-cracked, so that’s good.

Once back home I will still do the drive up to my mom’s after work to check in with her for a few hours, so I’ll still be Here and There, but the days are getting longer and won’t have to deal with dark boat rides home, and my summer lay off is in a couple of months.

You know it’s funny how in our 30’s and 40’s we never give our parents’ future a second thought. Thinking they’ll always be there, they’ll always have each others company and look after each other, and they’ll always be independent and strong.

We raise our children then turn to care for our parents. Natural order of things is all.

Shutting

I had written about the familial significance of Surfside in a previous blog and now the week before vacating A48 at Surf Side, the trailer I was renting over the past winter just around the corner from where my parents former beach trailer sits, that has since been taken by my oldest brother and his family, a melancholy has surprised me.  

Suddenly so much more poignant remembering it being the place where one day in May dad left for the hospital in Victoria never thinking – none of us thinking- he’d never be returning to the beach. Bowel cancer swiftly took him.  

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This is the place where we scattered his ashes way out past the sand bar that has since become full of coarse beach grass and pale bones of driftwood. 

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This is the place where his memorial bench is placed right about where the old fire pit used to be, 30 years ago, before the corporate changes at the park pushed their home back several feet from the beach.IMG_1273

My sister, mom and I

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 It’s where we held our last family reunion.This place too, the modest little home that they worked on together to make beautiful over 35 years.  He didn’t have money to leave our mother, or big pensions from a hardworking life as a commercial painter to see her into old age , but he had this place, and it was hers, and it was enough.

Because it was where she felt her best, next to the ocean and under an open sky.

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I think of my dad, 11 years gone. I remember him. A gentle, quite, and humble man with the patience of Job mom would say, and it was the truth. And I guess with my leaving here at the end of the month this unexpected rendered heart I feel, it’s as though I’m leaving him too somehow, leaving a life where he was, where they both were last together and happy.

I guess I’m saying good-by and it squeezes my heart.

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