Wednesday, 28 May 2014
I've been learning about a couple things these last couple weeks.
My novel is at the editors, I'm still waiting. Trying to be patient and not OCD all over the place. I get how busy life can get (See first paragraph) so I am hardly one to speak but I hate waiting. I'm obsessive about not being tardy in my mundane life. I will arrive up to an hour early "just in case" for appointments, work, all that stuff. Because the thought that something could happen and I would end up arriving behind schedule sets my hair on fire and my mind in a complete panic. Mr. Gloria has been *cough* politely spoken too (okay who am I kidding I've completely lost it on him) for being late to pick me up when he said he would. I try to be understanding, I try to be empathetic. Try. That's the operative word. I'm not. I hate waiting.
So this week has been a real trial for me, waiting. Patiently. Understanding that when the manuscript arrives it does. Me freaking out over it, doesn't help in the least. It certainly doesn't help get it here any quicker. I've been working on other projects in a futile attempt to distract myself, but I keep getting distracted from my distraction with thoughts of the first novel. I also must admit I'd rather the editor took her time rather than rushed the job. So I wait. Biting my tongue, tapping my fingers on the desk, obsessively checking my email, but being as patient as I can.
The second lesson of the week is on letting go. Thing 2, my youngest, is 13 now. Which means "grade-eight-end-of-the-year-trip-of-epic-proportions-to-oh-my-god-Quebec!". (In case you couldn't hear my voice in your head just there - I was channeling my inner teenager and paraphrasing my daughter) She left yesterday morning, on a bus, whisked away. It's not like we haven't been apart before - I am not a clingy mother. She's gone to summer camps, friends places, weekends away and all sorts of events. But I dropped her off. I knew where she was. This is something else entirely. She's growing up, becoming the person she was meant to be. Which is all great and dandy, and I am so proud of her for being the individual she is, it's still scary as shit. What happened to my baby? The little girl whose hair I styled, who looked at me as though I was the best thing in the world. The little girl who danced and sang with me in the living room, who's hand I held when she went in for her heart surgery. The sweetheart who hugged me when my mom died, trying to comfort me. What happened to her?
She's thirteen, which means in September she goes to HIGH SCHOOL! She's thirteen, which according to everyone I talk to, means I have about six months until she turns into a raging ball of angry, hate filled, know it all teeny bopper. Then I will have to wait at least four years until the teen monster dies and she turns back into a human being.
This feels like the beginning of the end. The end of agreeing about music, television, books. If I say the lake is cold, she'll disagree, just to be difficult. The end of her thinking I hung the moon. The end of her being my little girl.
So, I've let her go. She needs the time to be the monster, to hang out with her friends, to crush on boys, to have her heart broken. She needs the time to learn to be the person she will become. I can only hope that I've taught her enough. That Mr. Gloria and I have taught her all that she needs to know, and that she knows we are here for her always. I will let her go, with pain inside me. Knowing any day could be the last before I lose my beautiful, happy go lucky child. And it might be years until I see her again.
But until the day she does disappear into the wild ways of high school, I will enjoy the moments we have.
I've forbidden myself from contacting her - knowing this trip is a right of passage that she deserves. It's definitely within the rules for me to respond to the texts she sends me, of which there have already been several, which makes me smile. The "Good morning mom, I miss you." text from this morning had me tearing up and I of course responded with a smile: until she turns into a monster, I'm a happy mom. She may grow up, but as all mothers say, she'll always be my baby.
Saturday, 10 May 2014
I stood waiting with the other bridesmaids as harp music floated gently across the air, everyone was fussing with their hair or pulling on the red dresses we each wore to varying degrees of success. As the first bridesmaid began her walk I glanced behind me still shocked to see my sister, looking radiant in her quiet agony filled joy. She wore a white wedding dress that magically turned a pretty girl into a breathtaking vision of ethereal beauty. Mistakenly I allowed my gaze to touch on her face and she looked directly back at me, tears simultaneously filling our matching eyes, so identical to our Mom’s, I nodded a chin up gesture and with a deep breath I stepped out of the building, staring across the football length field to see the destination – a wooden castle built for the occasion.
The late September afternoon breeze ruffled the hem of my long dress as I followed the girls making their way towards the tiny blurred crowd in the distance. Behind me I could hear my son and nephew arguing quietly over the banner they jointly carried in lieu of rings. I felt the heat of the afternoon sun warming my face, heard the soft murmur of water lapping gently on the shore from the pond to my right. As I marched my way across the freshly cut grass holding tight to the candle lantern that I carried my mind wandered and tears streamed unchecked down my face as memories took hold.
It was only last year that we found out that Mom was sick. Impossible as it had seemed at the time, she had breast cancer. My Mom, the glue in our family, the artistic, wild child, fun-loving woman was deathly ill.
The best friend who I had lunch out with every week, who sang Janis Joplin while cleaning (loudly and out of tune but still she sang), the woman who drank my friends under the table with her infamous tequila poppers, had cancer. Impossible. But it became our reality. Chemotherapy, radiation, cancelled surgeries, doctors and naturopaths, we tried it all.
For eight immeasurable months she fought, withering before our eyes, pain and weariness bowing her back like a woman 40 years older than she was, until she couldn’t walk, then still we pushed her in her wheelchair, and still she fought. Until the end.
On January 16th of this year we lost the battle. My Mother whose larger than life shadow I had lived in for so long, who shadow I was happy to stay in, was gone. My Mom, who everyone knew and loved, whose unique spirit touched all that she met, who I longed to be like, was gone. No more would I hear her belly deep laugh, talk with her late into the night, get advice from, dress up for Halloween with, smile at and see my own future reflection. Gone forever.
She was 46 years old, too young to die that way. Too young to die at all. She should have been here; she should have lived long enough to see her grandkids grow old. That was the expected bonus she got for starting her family at fifteen. But no – life – fate - the gods - whatever - decided to take her from us.
Her one demand was, and it was a demand not a wish, that Lindsay go ahead with the wedding as planned. We argued, Lindsay couldn’t fathom a wedding without Mom there and talked about cancelling, postponing or eloping. But Mom won, as she seemed to win most arguments, she got her way and we all promised to make it the best wedding we could.
For the last nine months we had worked feverishly to achieve the fantasy, “The perfect wedding”. We built and we ordered, we crafted and we cried. Our tears were shed in secret – away from each other. We put on a brave face to one another, which was essential for survival. Our sorrow was overwhelming but we forced it back, having a common goal. Get through the wedding then we can grieve. Life had changed so drastically none of us knew how to deal with it; all we could do was ride the wave and hope that we didn’t drown. Now the day was here, tomorrow it was time to face reality, to face a life without Mom, to fall apart.
Abruptly I came back to the present, as I approached the no longer blurry faces of the crowd, many whose eyes streamed tears. Tears of joy and of intense sadness, such a mixture of opposing emotions held the day hostage. I could read their faces as clearly as they could read my own. Happy that Lindsay was starting her life with Brian, the boy she had loved since she was fifteen, broken that we had to celebrate without Mom.
As I passed down the aisle, I focused on what people were wearing to avoid looking at their faces, I was taken aback by the number of people in costume, our medieval theme had been supported by many. I saw corsets, headpieces, men in tights,and even chainmail. It felt like I had been transported into the past as I topped the small rise and approached the castle, its draw bridge down and resting in the grass beside Brian and my brothers, who also had tears on their cheeks that they steadfastly ignored. The sun glinted on the edge of the false towers we had painstakingly built and painted to look authentic.
I took my place, studiously evading eye contact – if I pretended I wasn’t crying then everyone else could as well. I turned and watched as my sister, stunning as she was, made herfinal ascent up the aisle. Dad held her arm gently, tears shaking his entire body until it was no longer apparent who was supporting whom. Finally he kissed her cheek and bravely took his lonely seat at the front.
The ceremony blurred for me, words were said, tears were shed, vows given and loud sniffling from the audience was common, as it was at all weddings.
Then just before the exchange of rings, for me, it was as though the world held its breath for one moment that stretched eternally, all sound disappeared and we were held in a moment outside of time. The officiant stopped speaking and everyone looked up as a monarch butterfly flew in from nowhere. Its bright orange and black wings flapping majestically, glistening in the sunlight as it flew directly to Dad, after circling his head once the beautiful being then went to my children and nephew whirling around each of them. After its route there the butterfly rocketed straight to my brothers. It then approached me, and I found myself knowing without a doubt that this was no normal butterfly. Finally the butterfly flew to Lindsay, its bright orange wings framed by the white lace on her gown. Around each of us the monarch spiraled once, and then with a final joyous sweep past the members of my family it flew off into the distance and was gone. With clarity inside my mind like I’d never known before my siblings and I met eyes in turn, each of us having experienced the same thing. As one we silently sighed a single word, “Mom.”
As though that was a signal, time sped back up to normal and everyone began to breathe again, rustling from the crowd invaded. The ceremony was sealed with a kiss as marriages have been sealed for a millennia and the applause was thunderous and mixed with a plethora of tears.
I moved down into the chattering crowd of people allowing myself to be swallowed by their noise and taking a breath of their energy as I calmed my warring emotions. A tap on myshoulder turned me to see my Uncle, his face still damp, evidence that his stoic personality was only a show.
“Gloria, that butterfly, it was your Mom.”
“I know.” I whispered holding back the tears that still threatened.
“No you don’t understand.” He almost growled at me. “Butterflies are out of season. All the monarchs migrate.” I nodded, still confused and a little astounded at his knowledge of the habits of butterflies, but he continued, “They migrated four weeks ago. That little beastie shouldn’t have been either here or alive, and yet it was. Your Mom was here.”
Nodding I walked away to stand by the pond as the fading sunlight glistened over its surface like fairies dancing in the wind, allowing the myriad of thoughts to overtake my mind for a few moments. Finally I gathered myself, returned and mingled with the crowd, my sorrow replaced by a sad peace, knowing Mom had been with us in the only way she could be. I also knew that anytime I felt alone or sad the monarch would be there – that Mom would be there.
This is a photo of me and my Mom on my wedding day.
Friday, 9 May 2014
A while back we were hosting a family gathering at the 'summer getaway' so my brother, sister, dad and the respective families all came out with me to have a good old fashioned bbq. As they drove in and parked in a semi circle surrounding my trailer, I noticed that everyone drives black suv type vehicles. Keep in mind I'm not a car girl - if it has a hatchback to me that is suvesque. Wow, word creation is on high today. Normally I wouldn't have paid attention to something like this, but on this day everyone arrived together. A string of black cars. Anyways, it looked like the FBI (or some other nefarious government organization) was coming to see me. All these big black vehicles surrounding my little red car.
If anything has ever made me feel like an outcast in my own family it was that moment. The second I looked and went, 'huh.' Am I an alien? or adopted? (if only we weren't spitting images of each other I would wonder that) or maybe I was dropped on my head a lot? It was a "one of these things is not like the others" epiphany. Don't misunderstand, I love my family. I'm just different from them.
Individually we match some bits and bobs, like my little brother (who tops my height by a foot- not that that's hard but it makes him being my 'little' brother sound odd.) and I are both geeks, my kid sister and I like to drink together(that doesn't sound good - how about we like to party together. That's better) My Dad and I, we both like him fixing my car and have the same morbid sense of humour. My big brother and I used to like to hang out (since he moved away not so much) but we both hate the phone so I guess that's why we don't talk very much. My baby sister (yes - there's a lot of us) and I are both into the same movies. My bio Dad and I have the same taste in people. We like and dislike the same type of people. What I am saying is that while we have some stuff in common, others, well night and day are more alike.
I've thought a lot about this. My siblings rile me a lot, and I them. We are very individual individuals. We give each other more crap than enemies, but we also give support. Sometimes silent, sometimes verbal. But always there in one way or another.
I also had a conversation about fitting in with my kid sister, and she told me she feels like the outcast. We all have very dark skin and don't need to wear sunscreen and we look like mirror images of one another. Except her. She burns if the sun even thinks about reflecting on her and while she looks like she's related to us, she doesn't pass as twins like the rest of us do. So she has her own insecurities about fitting in. The same way I do. That opened my eyes that maybe more people are insecure about whether they are 'part' of the group than we know about. I would never have guess that she felt that way, she's always been the center of the action, to me the one that fit in the best.
So even if you are the one green cat tossed in amongst a family of calico's - you can still fit in. You can still be a part of the unit. You may not have a lot in common with one another - but you have a shared history, a conjoined sense of responsibility and love that can not be found anywhere else. No one will understand you like family. At least in my humble experience.
I've thought about trying to fit in better - not dying my hair, or buying a boring black car. I really thought about it. Then I threw that thought away. I wouldn't be me without fire engine red hair and car, without my odd make up and off the wall thoughts and 'gloria' moments. And in my own weird way I do fit in.
So if you see a whole slew of black suv's followed by one lonely little red car. It's not the FBI, its just my family and I'm the one in the red and proud of it.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Since Bill Gates made it oh so obvious that being a geek can earn millions, many more people have been flocking the banner. My husband and I have always been geeks, gamers, nerds whatever. We game every week and have for too many years to count. I had a lady in the store tell me that she thinks “it’s so cute that you’re such a geek.” Which made me wonder about the geekiness of today. Todays nerds don’t wear pocket protectors and knee high socks but rather suits or off colour t-shirts.
Think about how things have changed even in how movies portray geeks from the early eighties to now. In 1984, revenge of the nerds came out and you had those geeks to 2010 when the social network comes out. Look at the difference!
Being a geek today is nowhere near the social stigma it was 20 – 10 – hell even 5 years ago. Even the use of the word geek has changed. It used to be that being called a “geek” or “nerd” was synonymous with “loser” Now not so much – it’s a descriptive adjective that is almost as common as “tall” or “short” and not usually intended as demeaning.
It’s becoming apparent that the world is technological, more and more students are going into computer type programs rather than for sports. When I was in school, all the cool kids were on sports teams or going to work in the trades (making them well muscled and therefore so nice to look at) Now it seems like there’s a shift in the scales that balance cool or not. Add to the fact that the nerds of today are nowhere near as nerdy as those in revenge of the nerds, but they are off-colour and different.
I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Today it seems like we as a society on the whole are more accepting of the differences that are innate in everyone. More open to the possibility that there is more than one way to be cool. Our societal eyes have been opened to the fact that we don’t want to be cookie cutters. All the same. BORING! Bring on the different, the unusual, the strange even sometimes the disturbing. I believe in my heart of hearts that if society continues on this trend of acceptance soon we will all have a great place to live.