What strange times we are living in, all perpetuated by this overwhelming Coronavirus. There are a lot of us who feel that its a unique crisis and yet I am looking back to the early 1900s when my grandmother was a young child – she lived through s similar pandemic, the Spanish Flu.

Her mother, my “Granny”, was a woman of deep spiritual (not religious) beliefs and in their tiny town in Hungary my Granny selflessly went from neighbour-to-neighbour, bravely caring for and tending to people while they were so terribly ill. She felt that when you did something from the depth of your heart and soul you were somehow protected. After each visit she would go outside and walk around the small town square, believing that the fresh air would clear her lungs from any germs. Seems she was lucky because she never got sick…yeah, lucky – I guess…

Flash forward to today – self-isolation has left us all without the human contact that we both desire and need. A few days ago, I absolutely had to go out to pick up some medical necessities from our neighbourhood pharmacy – so my husband and I took the dog along with us for a walk on that lovely spring afternoon. Like my Granny, I felt as though my lungs were being refreshed by the fresh air but my heart was also being warmed by the neighbours I’ve never met before who also out in the spring sunshine. We exchanged waves and smiles all at the appropriate social distance of course. There was a strange comfort and kinship in knowing that we are all in this together….which is an unexpected positive gift as a result of this crisis.

As we neared the shops, we ran into an old friend that we haven’t seen since he lost his wife last spring. I instinctively took a step towards him to give a hug but the hesitation in his eyes stopped me short – reminding me that I could not….and it left me with a momentary sense of emptiness. It just felt wrong not to share the embrace – but this has become a part of the way that we are living our lives…at least for the time being.

Note to Granny – I think I will go out for a walk in the sunshine today and breathe that fresh spring air in, nice and deep….who knows? Maybe I will be filled with your blessings of health because I am pretty sure that you are with me these days, keeping a close watch.

Sweet Meat

July 20, 2019

OMG. What is it about me?!

This morning’s scene: my sweet husband informs me that i’s a relatively lovely morning (in light of the extreme heat warning) in our glorious tree lined backyard – so let’s have our coffee out on the deck together…..oooooh, romance!

Ok – out we go. It’s humid but definitely doable. We sit together and begin to chat, dream and plan about things we’d like to do in our lives together (hello romance). First my one arm goes up to brush it off. The it circles my head, land on my leg, swoops around to my back. By now I have both arms swinging around my upper body. I am waving maniacally – my hair is messed up from all the thrashing and my entire body wrenching around as if I am suffering from uncontrollable spasms – which I am not – I am just suffering from being “Sweet Meat” (sadly not in the sexy way – especially at this moment!).

What are my neighbours thinking as they look out their kitchen windows?

Meanwhile, my husband is sitting calmly beside me, sipping on his coffee just watching me somewhat bemused. As you can imagine I have to put the kibosh on the romantic coffee-for-two moment and run inside before I pull a muscle.

I don’t get it. I venture outside and within 5 minutes (or less!) I am bitten yet my husband can sit out, 3 feet from me and only wave the occasional mosquito away – meanwhile I am literally a human buffet.

I always wear bug spray – I have to! I remember going to a friend’s annual summer BBQ and a man who was standing beside me remarked on my perfume and asked me what it was…I replied “Off”, excluding the “bug repellent” part but adding the “citrus scent”- as if that made it sound more attractive.

Oh summer….sigh.

Joe

July 10, 2019

Last month I lost a friend. It was unexpected and sad, yet there was a certain beauty and magic at the same time and this loss has taken me a month to put any words down because truly, a big chuck of my heart left the planet when he did.

There isn’t a space big enough to describe Joe. Not a tall man in stature but absolutely huge when he walked into a room. He loved his family, he loved his angel wife, he loved people – everyone was “beautiful” to Joe. Everyone who ever met him – never forgot him. “Joe” was synonymous with bringing together people together for a good time, good food and good wine.

Several years ago at a dinner party in our home he was being his usual boisterous self – preceding his exclamations with a  loud “woah!!!” and my youngest daughter who was 4 at the time and trying to sleep upstairs called me up…”Mama – I’m afraid.” I asked her, afraid of what? She said ” Woah Joe is scaring me”…. and after that night he became known as Woah Joe.

My husband and I threw many a party and Joe was always in there, taking over the kitchen and the bar – but never in the obtrusive way. His prime motivation was to make sure that everyone was served and satisfied. After our first Christmas party I received 4 phone calls the next morning asking me where I had hired him…I had to tell them that he was not a bartender…he was a guest! He also had the gift of finding the shy, uncomfortable person in the room and sitting with them – drawing them in and making them feel a part of the social event.

I met Joe and his wife when I was 18…and on that night, I was that shy and out of place person …a  40 years later we were the best of friends – he and his wife vacationing twice a year together with us and sharing countless dinners and events in between.

He suffered from COPD and had had a heart attack about 7 years ago – but that did not dampen his party personality – his joie de vivre. Then in the early winter he was diagnosed with lung cancer, requiring an operation. Despite this news we had  dinner in February with the usual shenanigans ensuing….little did I know that his would be our  last “party” together.

He went into the hospital at the end of April and the lung operation went relatively well…however, coming out of it and breathing on his own was an issue…then he caught pneumonia – twice. Full recovery was looking rough, still – we wanted to visit. His wife said that it wasn’t a good idea just then, he just wasn’t up to seeing guests.  As the weeks went on, I felt a pressing need to seeing him and one Friday she said “Yes – you should.”  my husband and I  planned to go after work that evening but something told me that morning not to wait and I was overcome by this urgency to see him at lunchtime. So my co-workers moved heaven and earth to organize the time off for me.

We got tot he hospital where the family was gathered and went into room W (for “Woah Joe” my husband an I nervously joked). He was hooked up to all kinds of machines and seemingly unconscious – this gregarious, full of life party man so still and quiet – how? What could I do? What does one say in a moment like that?

I told him that my husband and I were there – I told him I was kind of annoyed about him being in this situation…then I put my hand in his as I had many a time and I whispered that we loved him, truly loved him…and he every so slightly squeezed my hand and my husband gasped and said that his monitor jumped, registering that he somehow heard me. We took a break and went back to comfort the family for a bit.

Before leaving to go back to work, I went back into see him, alone. I told him thatI didn’t know what to do or say and that I expected him to be my guardian angel now…and then, unable to think of anything else to say I whispered in his ear – “I love you Joe and…I guess I’ll see you on the other side.” Gave him a soft kiss on the cheek and left.

Less than 1 hour later…he left this earth.

What a privilege and a gift to be able to say goodbye right on the cusp of the departure of my friends’s soul. I will carry that beautiful, magical moment in my heart always – right alongside his with laughter, joy and generous friendship.

Perfectly Imperfect

February 24, 2019

I have learned that you cannot be truly honest – although I would never tell my children that.

Honesty can be a painful, bare, stripping down of your soul…and that generally comes at a tremendous cost – no matter how much the person you trust is promising you that you are safe…there is an invisible price tag that they are don’t even know they are holding in their pocket…then again, maybe they do – who knows?

Human nature is so simple and complicated all at the same time. Ultimately – we are ALL so incredibly imperfect and we spend so much energy and time denying that…

Sometimes it’s hard to go to sleep…

As I get older…I feel strangely younger. I seem to remember those days past so clearly.

I hate being older because, inside – deep inside – I still feel 25…ok..maybe 35….

I wonder what happened over the years when I was selflessly, happily giving my young years to my children – making sure they had the most magical childhood that they could carry on into their adult lives.

So here I am..older, wiser..mostly older

But I am still Me inside. The Me, who went to crazy parties, the Me who took chances and dares, the Me who turned heads and was listened to -as in every word, every dream…someone always seemed to care about what I thought.

Now – I have beautiful, successful grown children…I have a lovely 30+ year marriage and yet I go into a room to be alone in mediation and call on the invisible spirits to join me because in some strange way – I too, am invisible.

I guess I never thought that I would end up here – at this place…..it’s not terrible, it really isn’t…..it’s that I feel kind of lost and I am not sure that anyone will every really bother to look to find me.

Mothers

January 13, 2019

My mom is 90…she would kill me if she knew that I “exposed” her age, Lol!

Two years ago she lost her love-match, her best friend, her partner of 65 years on this journey of life – my Dad, and is now struggling to find her way…struggling to find her way – 10 years off of 100.

I try my best to help – to listen – to comfort…but here I am with a still growing family, a husband who I adore…a full life. I don’t know (as hard as I  may try) what it must be like to have outlived all of your peers…does anyone really understand you anymore at this point?

Two of my dearest friends lost a parent in the last month. One, a father, with whom she reconnected after many years – and served to ignite a part of her growing up that she may not have fully understood until recently….what a gift!!

The other friend was very close to her mother. They shared so much….I understand this fully. My mother and I are two VERY different people – different “types” and yet we found this wonderful common ground. We had so many fabulously fun times doing the mundane….grocery shopping, clothes shopping and coffee shops…sharing in the everyday lives of my children. No one has ever been as interested in the minute details of my life as my mother has been….and now – there is a strange and lonely divide.

She is, at times  – slipping away from me. Oh, she still has all her faculties…but since my Dad has been gone – there has been an absence of joy…that carefree joy that we shared when we would have a laugh and endless conversation over coffee then go shopping …and keep laughing….

Things are changing  – and as grown-up as I am…I am still my mother’s child…and I miss the ease of the conversation and laughter…I miss my “old” mom…my friend.

Winds of Change

September 21, 2018

I have felt the gentle stirring from the wind of change which has suddenly begun to blow through again, bringing with it many moments to pause and reflect on everything around me – and everyone.

I always resist these winds of change at first. I mean, no one really likes change – at least not at the start. I like my life comfortable, warm and cozy. I like the people around me to be accountable, inspirational and genuine. These winds of change always start off as a gentle breeze of suggestion and end up as somewhat forceful gusts that blow certain feelings that I had always held true, high up into the clouds…mainly because the winds arrive at a time when I feel I can no longer hold on certain things – certain friendships…the string at the end of these lovely balloons becomes too thin and I just have to let go –  I guess that I begin to feel as though I can’t hold on to people anymore or  maybe part of the truth is that I don’t want to end up with rope burns….

… I am someone who hates letting go. I am strangely loyal to my different relationships, friends and how they fit and fill my life. I like my life as it is – but then, I also have liked my life as it was – over and over again – when the last winds of change blew through.

Perhaps I will try to hold on just a little while longer.

My Gary Bell

June 8, 2018

I lost a piece of my eighteen-year old self this past week when a dear friend died unexpectedly. He was 11 years older than I am which, by the way, isn’t old. We had a running joke – being the “kid” in our group, I used to tease him that I was “catching up ” to him in age – he’d always break into a soft sideways smile…now however, I guess the joke’s over and I will indeed have caught up.

He was a true free spirit, loving nothing better than getting on his motorcycle and taking off – wind  blowing all around him. Confinement was a word that never quite fit into his vocabulary – other than being held tight in the arms of his perfect partner, best friend and the love of his life – his wife (and one of my dearest friends) Shannon or his precious children and probably the 4 walls of a radio broadcasting studio where he would let his creative spirit and soul run wild and free – which he did for more years than I can count.

He and his wife were my first “adult friends.” We worked together at my first job in radio. He was the seasoned announcer and I was the newbie in the music library….but he never made me feel less than he was – he just gently guided.

How often did I walk over to their funky little downtown apartment to spend afternoons that faded into late nights (back when I could actually stay up!)? Gary introduced me to my first Guinness but to be honest, no matter how often I tried afterward, I could only ever manage to swallow a few mouthfuls of the black ale. We went to baseball games together – both professional and for our station team. There was even the occasional game of touch football too (me – touch football – can you imagine?).  We spent many a late night in spirited philosophical discussions – he was always pushing me to examine and re-examine my thoughts and feelings, and challenged me to check my perspective and to spread my wings  – but at the same time, he always showed me a gentle respect.

One of our favorite games to play was to find an old movie on TV and  then turn mute the sound and ad lib our own dialogue. Seemed we which always ended up collapsing in laughter…..(sigh) what fun – what young, innocent fun.

There was the clubbing – punk rock shows, cover bands and the exclusive Club Magique where we rubbed elbow with celebrities…it was our business and it was also the Seventies. One time he insisted that we all go to see Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee because he said that I needed to experience the Blues – for real!

His wife Shannon and I spent so much time together – we were two “beautiful young chicks” and people often mistook us for sisters – which to this day I consider a huge compliment as I always thought she was the most radiant beauty – both inside and out.

I have spent the last week  looking at countless old photographs – each one capturing our magical youth together. He was one in million – a radio legend and a truly unforgettable soul who continues to live on, not only though his children, and his work – but in my heart.

Enjoy the view, Space….

Graduation

May 31, 2018

Well, here we are – Graduation Day. Did I imagine that we would ever get here? Hell yes! I always knew that we’d be here one day….right from that first breath of motherhood. Not because of any fanciful high expectation but rather, from the strange and simple, unexplained sense of knowing that I have felt on several instances in our shared life.

As a tiny baby (refusing to nurse properly in the hospital!) I saw the future. When you begrudgingly wore that little white cardboard cap with the over-sized tassel that kept falling onto your sweaty face as you “graduated” pre-school on a scorching 40C degree afternoon almost 23 years ago, I saw that black cap and gown – although I am positive that an ice cold popscicle was all that you we were imagining at the time. Every childhood graduation since then was merely a (quite honestly, overdone) dress rehearsal  of what was to come…today.

Although both smart and successful people in our own right, you dad and I were never particularly academically inclined. We have always been about arts and communication, so where you got this penchant for the books and driving competitive ambition…who knows? (Pretty sure it wasn’t the mailman – sorry – one of those “back in the day jokes’ – Lol!).

So later today, on this sunny, warm late-spring afternoon, your dad and I – joined by your supportive younger sisters and 90 year old grandmother will all proudly stand by your side ( and pose for about 100 photographs – you know me!) to revel in this long anticipated and most deserving moment of achievement.

We will fete you tonight with some champagne and a celebratory dinner and then, my dearest son…my first born wonder…you are off. I just hope the world is ready for you!

 

Mother’s Day – what a day for reflection. All the sticky kisses (not to mention sticky breakfasts in bed), hand print art and lovingly misshapen clay sculptures. Time has fallen away to lovely brunches, thoughtful gestures of flowers and efforts to cook me a favorite dinner, and as we sit around the table, all the sibling teasing and laughter of shared memories absolutely warms my heart – that’s the real gift.

I love falling asleep (of course I go to be earlier!) to the sound of them laughing hysterically downstairs as they watch movies or play video games together, reminding me of the days long past when they would be playing together in the family room and the sound of their voices (sometimes raised – as in” Mom – he’s touching my stuff!!”) would waft into the kitchen where I would be busy baking sweet treats. The smell of cookies always sending them rushing in for a “test taste.”

Grown now, and spreading their wings as they begin to live their own lives – well, we obviously aren’t all together everyday – but in my case, we so fortunately ARE together quite often on the weekends.

My very favorite thing in life is when I wake up in the middle of the night to traipse down the hall towards the bathroom and pass all three of their bedroom doors, closed. I get back into bed, my head sinking more deeply than usual into my pillow as I drift off to sleep knowing that all of my children are back in the nest – safe and snug in their beds….at least for tonight.