Friday, November 20, 2020

Time

 I feel Time pressing in on me, its cold breath against my neck.  Time embraces me with thin, steely arms and tightens implacably when I struggle, pointlessly against it's bony chest.  I remember when Time was a thought, a nonentity who I ignored and when I noticed it, jeered and dismissed.  Capricious, I ran with gossamer feet through the threads of Time's net and laughed at what I thought it's futile efforts to entangle and imprison me.  


I do remember moments when Time hung heavy, and we lay, beside yet apart gazing at the ceiling soaring above into an endless expanse of sky and moment that stretched into infinity.... my breath at those times loud in the pressing darkness, short, gasping... my eyes vainly seeking the dawn of morning's light to defeat Time's heavy, gross presence.  Then I remember Time felt solid and real and I would feel the bed groan beneath the absolute weight of its reality and I would wail at the infinite stretching of a moment into an hour into an infinity of moments that seemed as if they would never end...

I remember Time when it would contract and flash before me, a blur of movement, of escalating seconds that rushed swiftly through my eyes, capturing hazy thoughts which coalesced and contracted until Time seemed to speed up into a kaleidoscope of colour and movement and thought and then suddenly, slow abruptly and I would look around me, confused, wondering at a landscape so terribly altered I barely recognized my surroundings.

Time softens, for a moment, its embrace and I shiver and look about me and wonder how I never knew that it was there all along, walking beside me, riding my shoulder, its fingers weaving the threads of my life with a skill and dexterity I never believed in until now, here, in the twilight of my life.

I narrow my eyes, and move restlessly, trying to gaze ahead - knowing that the skein of life which lies behind is so much longer than that which lies ahead. That the woven tapestry, at times beautiful, in places tattered and rough, colours muted and in other places vivid and glowing were woven in the space behind my eyes and moistened with the dampness of my obliviousness and flavoured with my indifference.

But Time and I are together now - whether I will it or not and it is only in this soft, grey landscape of my despair that I realize we have always been entwined, Time and I.  That the softness of its early touch was merely a ploy to keep me quiescent, biddable.  That when I ran I thought free and unencumbered, I was in fact running the pattern of Time's pattern, and its skillful fingers were twisting and turning and creating the pattern of a life I thought was mine but was, in the end, its choice.




Sunday, October 11, 2020

She's Gone

 Back the end of May, D and I drove and moved our eldest daughter back home. She had just finished up her Masters (Social Work) and was seeking a job. In a pandemic.  Because that seems to be the story of our lives.  Nothing every comes easy nor simple in our lives.  

It was wonderful. She is an incredible person.  Fiercely brave, strong and passionate. From the time she was born, she was a warrior and her name reflected that.  She had, from birth, an incredible awareness of the world that caused her a lot of anguish and engendered almost an incandescent rage at the unfairness of life.   When she was in kindergarten, I been attempting to explain poverty to her as each day I picked up her from school, she was full of questions as the school was doing a food drive. The day before she had asked "where do poor people live?". I had said, Poor people are just like us -Some live in houses, some live in rooms, some in hostels and the really poor people live on the "streets" which she took literally - and thus "I HATE CARS THEY RUN OVER STREET PEOPLE".

Life has always been challenging for this, my insightful, sensitive child.  In grade 1 she threatened suicide - I eventually figured out the reason - the chaos of her class left her unmoored and ridden with anxiety (thankfully her second grade teacher knew how to deal with her and turned her around).  But I sought professional health and after three sessions, the psychiatrist said she had an awareness WAY beyond her age range, and a HUGE caring heart that only time and experience would teach her to handle... to keep doing "what you're doing" and she would be fine. And she has been.

It has been a wonderful almost 5 months with her - I have had very little time with this my eldest child for many years.  She is so astonishingly brave and adventurous.  A few years ago she moved for a year to Vietnam to teach English - in a Vietnamese school - in Ho Chi Minh - a city that has almost the population of CANADA - speaking no Vietnamese and ended up teaching close to 500 kids WEEKLY - who didn't speak English - and she did amazing.  Sorted things out, found a place to live, figured out the money and taught- successfully - finding time to travel to numerous other countries in the year she was there and coming home speaking conversable Vietnamese (in addition to her native English and fluent French).  Last year she spent 7 months working with refugees in Uganda - and fell in love with the culture and the place. She had been hoping for an international placement and sought that when job seeking but between the pandemic and subsequent economic hit, no jobs are available.  She recently got a job offer in Thunder Bay - a northern Ontario community with a plethora of social ills and a horribly treated Indigenous community and today D. packed a van with her things and left with her on her newest adventure.

I admire her so very, very much. My warrior, my social justice child, my heart.

I am so grateful we had these past few months to touch base, spend time with each other, relearn our mother/daughter relationship and forge new ties of adult friendship.  

A new journey awaits my warrior child and i know this one, like the many she has had in the past, will cut, will teach, will evolve and add to the amazing person she is....

But my god, I'm going to miss her.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Home...

 I've thought at length about the word, but more the feeling of "Home" - it is a word I've used in the past to myself when things got frantic and awful, a dream of "Home" - where things are predictable, safe and comfortable, where one feels that almost instant knowing that you are where you are meant to be.  

I do tend to sometimes see life in terms of metaphors and in that sense, I feel like a kite sometimes.  A well used practical type of kite with a myriad of ribbons extending from me... I'm visual I realized recently and often create pictures and stories in my head.  Pictures and stories rich in detail and embellished and styled with all the things that have import and meaning to me.

And the kite metaphor just seems to work for how i feel.  Tattered, well used, worn but still up there flying... but the ribbons have frayed and many of them snapped and there isn't a whole lot tethering me to the ground anymore.  Unfortunately, there's a fierce storm building and a very good chance that instead of being reeled in and safely rolled and stowed, those few last tethers will snap and I will end up being torn to pieces by the winds and rent by lightening...

I do feel being an emigrant factors into my sense of aimlessness - and recognize that childhood memories have in part created that vision of "Home" that I have always retreated to in my head.  When a teen, and particularly in the first years after leaving my parents' home in Montreal, "Home" was their house - but primarily in the sense of that is where my parents lived, not so much the brick and mortar of the edifice itself.  The reality is I lived there briefly at around 6/7, then returned to it around 14 and left at 18- not many years in the scheme of those I have lived.  And while there were pangs when I dismantled my mother's home last fall - 50 years of life and living, I can't say it was all THAT difficult. Granted, I was still working through how I felt after her death, worried sick about money, about my scattered, most likely autistic sister, grappling with practicalities and realities, so the hard physical labour actually helped to alleviate the mental and emotional labour I was experiencing.

But when I think of my childhood, I think of Ireland because because even after moving here, my elder sister and I were sent most summers "home" to Ireland. We spent our time between my mother's two wonderful sisters, my Auntie Ei in Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) and my Auntie Mo in Ballytore, a small farming community in Kildare.  

Such vivid memories I have of those two places!  When I think of Ei's I think first of her kitchen and the warm smell of gas and sunlight pouring in through her kitchen windows, of hot milk over corn flakes and smell of lemon in her well stocked pantry.  My Gaga (grandfather) would insist on the aforementioned hot milk over cornflakes (which we abhorred but were too well bred to refuse!) then in the warm parlour with two bars of the electric fireplace glowing red, would sit us down for our "lessons".  We had writing (BRUTAL for me - I definitely have some fine motor skills issues!), some math sums, some history and then some literature ... really not more than half an hour or 40 minutes in total!  Then we would get our shilling and be on our own for the balance of the day until Ei and my Uncle Jerry with his peg leg came home from work.

We wandered the byways of Dublin like two urchins (but better dressed!) with a freedom foreign to children today now that awareness of the evils out there are so much better known.  I have so many memories of those halcyon days... one memory that comes brilliant and clear is playing in a park and suddenly feeling the thunder of hooves and hearing yelling.  Through the park came a thundering cacophony of hooves and neighs, and flashing by was a herd of horses, red in the sunlight, black as night, pale, dappled hides and strong white teeth, shaggy legs churning into mud the green turf and clinging to the backs, with a simple halter to guide, strong brown legs clinging to the heaving flanks, teeth white in dark faces, tumbling black curls held back with bright kerchiefs... it was what we then (wrongly I know now) called the Tinkers... (it's like using the N word and I'm ashamed but it was what we called the Romany people back in the ignorant 60s) bringing their horses to their new grounds.

I remember the absolute exhilaration I felt watching the cavalcade thunder by with a fillip of fear because as children, when being naughty, we were told the "Tinkers would take us" - and even then, in my 8 year old breast, feeling a yearning for the absolute wonder of it all and a fleeting wish to run and grab a flowing mane and throw myself on the strong, sweating back of one of those horses and run like the wind .... and then a moment later there was the echo in the distance of the dancing, beautiful herd and the fading cries of their shepherds...