Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Mum,

I called your sister today.  When she answered the phone she sounded a lot like you, only more English.  I told Fran that I missed you.  She misses you as well.  You guys hadn't seen each other for four or five years but I know you guys talked for hours on the phone every couple of weeks.  Fran said that sometimes she thinks of something and wants to ask you about it, something from growing up, and then she realizes she can't ask you anymore.  I get that too.  The other day I wanted to ask you something and then I realized that I couldn't ever ask you and I wondered why I never bothered to ask you while you were alive.

It's getting close to Christmas and it will be my first Christmas without you.  I feel like such a child but I'm missing you a lot.  I was at Safeway today, buying some groceries and I thought of you.  We shopped together at Safeway every weekend.  I was going to buy myself an orchid but I couldn't, they reminded me too much of you.  You were always trying to get those orchids in the plant room to bloom.

The African violet that you bought not long before you died is sitting on my dining room table, in full bloom.  You would have loved it.  The flowers are a pinkish-purple with white edges.  I'll never look at an African violet, or an orchid, without thinking of you.

I was down at the dog park a couple of weeks ago and somebody had hung up homemade bird feeders for the chickadees;  they were flitting about, enjoying the sunflower seeds.  I tried holding some seeds in my hand, hoping that they would eat out of my hand but that didn't happen.   I'm glad we were able to take you down to the river for a weiner roast last fall, so thankful that you got to feed the chickadees out of your hand.  I know you enjoyed that day a great deal.  I think it was your last good day.

I wish I had been more patient with you, not gotten so irritated with waiting for you to put on your gloves or do up your zipper or "quickly" go to the bathroom.  It seems I was always in a hurry, why I don't know.  We are a long time dead and now I have no way of saying "I'm sorry."   I may have been impatient but I never considered you a burden mum, nor did I consider taking care of you a duty.  You were my mum.  What I did for you, I did out of love.

I miss you and I will be thinking of you this Christmas.

Love, D.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

 I'm reading a book right now, "Bodies of Water" by T.  Greenwood.  It is a beautiful love story set in the sixties that includes lesbians, alcoholism, abuse and sisters.  It's the sister that got me.  The main character Billie has a sister who listens to her, loves her and accepts her, just as she is.  The sister filled me with longing.

I have two sisters.  They're twins and a fair bit older than me.  One sister has a brain injury and she pretty much lives her life filter free.  She's often thoughtless but never mean.  My other sister I guess would be considered the eldest.  I've never been really close to either of my sisters.  They married and left home when I was six years old.  The oldest moved in with us when I was about twelve and stayed for about a year.  I often babysat for her when I was a teenager.  I cooked and cleaned and cared for her kids because her husband was not reliable, a polite way of saying that he was often drunk.

But I do remember looking up to my sisters, thinking they were all that.  I wanted to be a part of their world, wanted to be included by them, wanted them to like me.  I imagine that I wanted them to give me what my own parents could not, love and acceptance.  I wanted to feel like I belonged.

My oldest sister did try to be an older sister sometimes but when I got pregnant at twenty that all changed.  She was beyond angry, although how my pregnancy affected her life, I'm not really sure.  I know that she wanted to adopt my son.  She took her family and moved far away by the time my son was a year old.

I didn't see her for six years.  She refused to come to my wedding and I didn't see her again until my middle daughter was born.  Since then we have had an uneasy truce, negotiated and maintained by my mother.

Shortly before my mother died, my oldest sister told my mum that she should move into a nursing home, something that my mum was dead set against.  It was one of her biggest fears, of being dependent.  Six days later my mum died, feeling like she was a burden, knowing that most of her children thought she would be better off in a nursing home.  I disagreed but then I'm the black sheep, the pain in the ass, the rebel, the difficult one.

My oldest sister was my mum's favourite, I know that.  I also know how much it hurt my mum that her daughter would not come out and care for her when she needed help.  My mum would not ask for help.  I think she thought having to ask for your own children to help you was degrading, or maybe that's just my own bias.  My mother helped all of us growing up, caring for grandchildren, providing loans, taking us all in as adults for periods of time.  Until she was no longer able to, she was the family cook and organizer.  And when she needed the most help, at the end of her life, her children did not come, did not help, stayed far away.  Except for me, the difficult one.

I was angry for a long time after mum died.  I told my sister this one day and she was deeply offended.  I guess don't ask unless you honestly want to know.  But I've been thinking about this while I've been reading this book.  I know it's a book, I know it's not real but I also know that there are families where daughters talk to their fathers and where sisters support each other.  That part is real.  And I think I'm angry with my sister for not being the big sister I wanted and needed.

As an adult I realize that my sister did the best she could.  She was raised in the same family as me.  She never got unconditional love or acceptance either, she does not have that to give.  But not all of my anger is because she hurt my mum, it's also because I hurt.     

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Things I'm thankful for today.

I'm playing with my photos, changing them, making them mine, making them look like how I see the world.
The snow, and there is a lot of it.
I bought snowshoes today so I'm looking forward to trying them out and mother nature was kind enough to dump shitload of snow on us this weekend.
Girlfriends, who are coming over tonight to eat and drink and talk and listen.
All the laundry is done and the condo is clean.
A fireplace that turns on with the flick of a switch.
I sold my first photo.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 11, 2013

I saw this on Denise's blog today and it made me want to weep and pray.

Pray for Peace

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

By Ellen Bass

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Winter is upon us here.  The snow has come, the dark, the cold.  It's not forever, I know that but winter is still long here.  I miss being outside, wandering through the river valley, petting strange dogs.  I do miss my dogs.

I have photos to look at and I do.  I print off my photos and hang them up at work for my patients.  The mountains and flowers and waterfalls surround me all day long at work, which helps.

I'm going to replace my kitchen flooring, paint my kitchen, replace the back splash in my kitchen.  All in an effort to get through the cold, dark days. 

This will be the new back splash, 4x4 tiles.

This is the flooring.

I'm not looking forward to Christmas this year, not that I ever do but this year will be the first Christmas, in my entire life, fifty-one years, without my mum.  I'm good most days and I can talk about my mum now without crying.  I'm thankful that she's not suffering anymore but I still miss her.  Just the other day I wanted to ask her something about one of her aunts and then realized I can't ask her, ever.  She took all of her memories with her.

So I do what I normally do when I'm sad, I do.  I keep busy.  Probably not the best way to deal with my loss but there are worse things I could do I suppose.  I can see now why so many cultures have a year of mourning. 

And yesterday my good friend Daphne lost her father to cancer, may he rest in peace.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

i walk beside the river
sky gray, trees bare
the ground littered
with leaves

but today the river is green

snow begins to fall
the flakes melting
as they touch the ground

but today the river is green

next week
or next month
the river will be
frozen over, white

but today the river is green