Thursday, September 29, 2016

the space between your fear......

this is where i spend most of my time... trying to keep my balance in this tiny space, but i am a rotund, tight-rope walker with smallest of possible feet say the least it is a challenge say the least it is a time consuming occupation.

where have i been - god only knows. i don't even know who i am anymore. i, as they say, must reinvent myself. i must find purpose and meaning in this new frontier. i must find money. i, as they say, have become a woman of reduced circumstances..... not to say it was a long drop. 

i have come east, back to my ancestral home. back to sea. back to a sea that is not so impressed with how i've spent the last 30 years away from her. i stand on the beach and stare out -

she says - "really, this is all you've got." 
"you," she says, "have not changed. you are still that bossy child who talked incessantly." 
 "yes, i know," i say, "change is hard." 
"yes, she says, tell me about it."

i have travelled east with my youngest daughter who is going to college here. i have traveled east to spend time with my ailing mother. i know what you're thinking, "oh my god, what wrong with your mom?" well i'm not telling you yet, because then you'll feel all sorry for her and say things like "the nerve, talking about her poor mother that way" - get over yourselves! my mother is over 90 but less than 100 years old. you cannot possibly make me feel any more guilt than i do. 

why oh why does she annoy me so. why can i not maintain my compassion. why do i want to stick a fork in her arm some days.

there i got that out! jesus christ, my mother is becoming that really poorly behaved 5 or 6 year old that other parents talk about. i feel the judgmental glare from the crowd as they silently hiss at me "for god sakes, get your mother under control!" it at those times i feel defiant, and hiss back "kiss my ass, you let her in. deal with it" 

but when we're at home alone together and she starts to wind up, i think, jesus, marj, calm your effing ass down. there's no crowd to play to. you're not a gladiator and i'm certainly not a christian. 

just knit and watch the wheel of fortune. the show is over.

if only it were that easy....
if only i didn't egg her on - slightly...
if only despite it all - she wasn't so god damn entertaining....

i will tell you all old women including my mother are obsessed with 
- the weather
- baseball
- the wheel of fortune
- find-a-word puzzles
- other old people

 obsessions seemingly particular to my mother 
- the mail
- counting things

my mother's medial temporal lobe must be the size of truck! the sheer number of facts and information she has on everything and everyone is frightening. i mean, i take it she telling the truth but who the hell knows maybe she making it all up. i personally don't know how many times vanna white has appeared in pants on the wheel of fortune and what the mail lady eats in her car....

my mother likes to watch tv sporting events with the sound muted
for two reasons
1. like many old people, she believes "playing" the tv with no sound saves power... 
2. she likes to do her own commentary.  and she's mean! as an athlete you get no praise from my mother. she does not things like "nice hit"  she says things like "well, it's about time" she calls them out on all their "dido's" as she calls them.  saying things like "have you ever seen anyone go through so many dido's just to throw a baseball..... and, if you're watching with her - be quiet - my mother doesn't like anyone in the booth with her.

but by far the most embarrassing, inexcusable but unavoidable behaviour has to be her geriatric racial/people profiling... this on it own that makes me want to wear a t-shirt saying I AM SO SORRY

i don't know where it comes from. i was raised in a very liberal household but somewhere along the way to 100 my mother has lost her social graces. i still love her and look upon with tender adornment but...... holy mary mother of god, my heart races when we are out. i know it's coming! i just brace myself and think about the baby jesus.

- she calls all people of asian descent "chinese" 
- she calls all people of colour "coloured"

when we sit down in a restaurant her head rotates like a great, horned owl looking for prey because that's exactly what she's doing.  she blinks and pounces...... 

"why is that chinese man eating fish and chips. chinese people eat chinese food. 

i say things like "mum we mustn't point" "SHHH"

she says the most outrageous things in her "opera whisper" which is not in fact a whisper at all. the little nuggets just roll of her tongue...

"look at that fat woman" " there's a crippled person" "i have never seen a man as black as that before"

i can't shut her up! i can only look on in amazement, knowing that in the big game of "whack a mole" i have become the mole and my mother loves to bring the hammer down.


Monday, July 28, 2014

how i live, now......

i imagined i would write this post after the hay had been cut and baled but summer rain is delaying that. i imagined i would write this post after my garden was in and the pickles were made and the canning was done but that seems rather far off. i wanted to present a blog post with my new life mapped out. i wanted to wait until i had my shit together but that seems unlikely. i missed this place and the people i've met here. then i feared that all the people would be gone and i would be alone here - but i must take that chance and record the tale that needs telling.

this new life remains a slow dance. i see the world through my veil. i awake some mornings not realizing right away things are different. i listen for the sound of the tea kettle, wondering if my husband has made me tea... then i remember and i take a deep breath and crawl out of bed. some days are so happy, light, i laugh with my friends until my ribs hurt. some days i am like a robot performing my tasks with only muscle memory. those days are long, everything reminds me of how it used to be. i imagine his work clothes covered in tractor grease and cow shit. the stains i couldn't get out and how much thought i put into that task. i remember them blowing on the clothes line and how vexed i would be that my laundry failures were on display. i don't know what to do with the book he was reading before he died, do i take it off the nightstand or do i continue to dust around it. it seems somehow unlucky somehow to put it back in the bookcase - because at night i still dream of him and perhaps that shadow of my husband looks for the book and won't return if its gone.

life does go on. things are getting done. the cows calved, the garden planted, the lawn mowed, and on and on..... we seem to be moving forward.  we seem to be coping. time will tell if my child and i can run a farm on our own. i imagine time will tell a lot  - but right now i'm telling time that it may not completely rewrite the blueprint of my life. i will hold onto the remains of the day.

i took a knitting course in february and it has stayed with me. hours and hours since then have been devoted to learning and knitting and knitting. i knit in the evenings and watch british tv on bootlegged dvds. i am a tiny bit obsessed with: on the knitting side - brooklyn tweed and jared flood and on the tv side - the great british bake-off and graham norton. it is a happy time for me. my worries and grief get worked into ever lengthening shawls and wraps, sometimes if you look closely you can see them sailing away from me in tiny ships on a sea of wool.

we went on a holiday of sorts in june. we went to see my mother. i am very pleased to report that my mother continues to treat me as if i'm nobody special. for 10 days i was reminded of my many, many shortcomings and failings. it delighted me really........ but what is it with old people and counting. maybe i've mentioned this before but my mother is like the geriatric rainman. she counts everything, especially food on a plate. how many clams did you get with your order, how many pieces of lobster were in the chowder, how many biscuits were put on the table. i could write for 2 days and not cover everything she counted during my visit. i would wake in the morning and hear her on the phone recounting to my aunts the number of bottles of water i had drank the day before and asking "if they had ever heard tell of anyone going through that much water" she counted the number of cars i passed when driving, how many times i said "jesus christ" in a day. the number of times i rolled my eyes at her......

i returned home inspired. i had seen so many small businesses run by women - of course i won't count them for you but trust me it was enough for my heart to catch a clear glimpse of ways of making this new world order work for me. a framework of hope. it is enough for now. because for now there are carrots to pickle, jam to stir, hay to bale and a need inside me to return to this world and tell my tale

bev xx
ps. to those of you i have neglected over the last months i am truly sorry. i thought of each of you so often. sometimes i would lead all of you on an imaginary tour of my home and life. please bear with me as i make my way through the stories that i have missed and the voices i have not heard.

Monday, February 17, 2014

talk pretty to me......

now, i don't normally post pics of my children. but this is relevant to the story and i am trying to participate in 5 on the 5th. from the lovely Monika Wright's blog. it is a monthly post where you post 5 random pics from your life. well, obviously these are not random, they are pics taken of my daughter amy for the christmas cards that i have yet to send but that is neither here nor there. this story has to do with my mother and the pics go along with it - sort of. if you have not met my mother and would like a bit of background. well, she fantastically old, she calls her lady bits her monkey, and when she comes to visit she dries her underpants on my furnace vents. if you would like more info please refer to here and here.

anyway, this past summer my mother came to visit us. it was lovely to see her and i felt that she just might cut me some slack because of the difficult time we were going through. but of course, that was incorrect. my mother practices a strange sort of love. one might call it tough. one might call it heavy.  she doesn't like belly aching. she doesn't like spleeny people, she doesn't care for complaining. she says things like "oh for god's sake would you get over it" 

and so she started one afternoon over tea.......

mom: "you know, amy is quite pretty"

me: " yes, i think she is"

mom: " well, we've never really had a pretty person in our family before"

me: "oh"

then my mother starts going through her eight brothers and sisters and their children and in some incidents their grandchildren

mom: well, there's bob. his kids were not good looking. and there's marion, her kids were all kind of hunchbacks. there's dot and her kids were really... well you may as well come right out and say it. they were homely as sin..........."

as mom continues on with this "who are the ugly relations reminiscing" i sit quietly sipping my tea and think "god, you've got to love this women" 

then she gets to the more immediate relatives.....

mom: "and my children, well they were certainly nothing to look at"

i pause mid-sip and look at her

me: "jesus mom, i'm sitting right here"

mom: "what, (huge dramatic pause where she turns to face me, knit needle halted) did you think you were pretty?"

me: "well, maybe in my own way."

mom: "now beverly, let's be honest"

me: "thanks mom"

mom: "well its not my fault what you look like"

me: "of course not"

mom: "well some said you were quite clever"

me: "now that makes me feel better"

mom: "of course, i couldn't see it"

and that is that. how it is to be loved by my mother. i look at her with such admiration and awe. this odd little nut has made me who i am.  in my family you are never at risk from delusions of grandeur. your head will never swell with self-pride. you will be reminded that you are loved despite being nobody special.

bev xx

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

a journey of a thousand steps.....

is that right? no, it has something to do with miles and beginning with a single step. well, i have to start small, i can't think of miles right now.

this is the plan. i need to write or i'll go mad. i need to start this new life of mine - somewhere.  i need to focus. i need to breathe. so i thought i would start by keeping a weekly(?) diary of sorts. how i am - where i'm going - that sort of thing. firstly, i need to be kept accountable or at least reminded to continue in a forward direction. secondly, i need to somehow come to terms with the fact that my life is still very sad and will be so for a long time but that my life is also incredibly joyful and happy. i have to find a way to mash the two together without losing sight of either one. i feel like if i write a happy post, everyone, including myself will think "my god, you heartless bitch" but then again if i write depressing things about my grief everyone, including myself will think. " jesus, come on already."  i know this sounds very business-like but i have to start somewhere. i have to, over the coming year, get my shit together. there are practical matters to be dealt with - earning money, the farm, the septic system..... and on and on. there are the children and our ability to carve out some sort of new life. how to be happy and sad at the same time.

so off we go.

i'm fine, i'm really fine. i say that a lot now. i mean it about 80% of the time. people have been so incredibly kind and good to us. our community and family have quite literally given us a financial buffer that allows us to get through this first year without having to think about the power or gas and many, many other things. that gift is such a blessing and i want to remind myself, often, i must make the most of it. i must parlay that into the next phase. i must take those good wishes and hopes and show in the end, that we were worthy to receive them.

our lives right now are ruled by snow. this little part of alberta has received almost 200cm of snow this season. and nearly all of that now has decided to stick around. everything is made near impossible by waist high snowbanks. neighbours plough the driveway and shovel paths to feed the livestock. it snows almost everyday. i'd cry if it wasn't so damn funny. if this snow is a message from god. i'm just not getting it. my goal this week is to go the dump. i've never been. sad, really, that in 30 years of marriage i have not managed to help with garbage. i had to phone my friend and ask her how to do it. i have to find the dump card. i'm weirdly nervous about going but really i can't put it off. i let you know......

that was then - (2 weeks ago)..

this is now. i put off writing. but i read somewhere recently a quote "i will write myself well" i could google to see who thought that gem up, but does it matter? it is stuck in my head now. i did not end up going to the dump - bill, the crusty farmer went. he came over and collected my trash. so it appears i may be starting widowhood as i was in marriage - not taking responsibility for my own shit.

the snow has settled- it only comes to your knees now and so a lot more things seem possible. january is almost over. the sun is holding heat. spring is not far off. the farm ticks along, the children tick along. there is ballet, piano and 4H. i am tired, i will admit that, and i dream of my husband almost every night.

my grief comes in waves of panic. i feel, i'm sure, as a heroin addict feels. i can't breath or think of anything else. i want my life back. i want him back, now. i find if i just sit in that moment it will wash over me and i am ok. the panic passes, the knowledge that you would do anything in that panic to have what you want and then if you just let go, it passes on and leaves you in peace.

there i got that out. i think i'll finish here for today. i have so much more to tell you, funny stuff about my mom. i just want you to know that i'm living, i'm breathing in and out. i see a way forward. i don't know if will turn out to be "the" way but i must step onto the path and see where it leads......

bev xx

ps. i have linked this post with  who is i must say a lovely lady. i have added it to the "Blog your Heart" series. i hope to do more of these sorts of things this year - force my feelings out. i would like to insert a smiley face or say LOL here but i'll restrain myself.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

waiting for time.....

well, here i am. i hope i have something to say.  my life has been altered, rearranged in a way i never saw coming. my sweet husband is gone. a summer filled with treatments, driving, pain, forms and more forms. a fall filled with long good byes. whispers of a life well lived, of love and laughter. and of course tears.

we never asked why? we never bowed our heads and asked for miracle. we understood from the second it was uttered, the future we had planned was impossible. we instead starting thinking about life in days. our time was no longer a stretch of open prairie, it had become a finite thing. we felt no urgency to rush, we would wait for time.

and then the time came. the unbelievable quietness of death. the flurry of activity that followed. the rituals and rites. and then, quite literally the snow came - over 1 metre of it.  it became the period at the end of the sentence. i was forced to pause. i was forced to look around at this new world order. i was forced to face some hard truths. i was forced stand still for a moment.

so now i wait for time again. people watch me and i in turn watch them. my mother, bless her, waits for me to crack. it gives me hope that i might disappoint her yet again. i cannot grieve in the open. i cannot stand and wail. i cannot take to my bed. instead i find my sadness bobbing on a sea of gratitude. i find that happiness cannot be denied, laughter creeps in through the cracks of my grief. i am blessed to have had 30 years of marriage. i am blessed to watch our children. i am blessed to be surrounded by family and friends. i am blessed to encounter so many kind strangers.

i am told that this is shock. i am told this is denial.  i prefer to think i'm waiting...... i'm waiting for time.


Friday, June 14, 2013

only kindness matters....

quite unexpectedly, sadness and fear have entered our lives. this past week my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas and the prognosis is very grave. surgery and radiation have been ruled out as options. he will begin a course of brutal chemo therapy to try to slow the progress of the tumors and to hopefully buy him a little bit of time.

i ask all of you to be kind to one another. because kindness never fades from memory , it remains around you like a shawl - a layer of love against the sorrow


Monday, May 20, 2013

nancy spots a whale and other tales - personal in nature......

(this is a repost about my last visit home. at the moment i'm up to my ass in children, planting the garden and greenhouse, making stuff for the farmer's markets  and getting cows ready to go to summer pasture...... jesus christ i'm tired)

my oh my, how time flies when your losing your mind. where to start - not the beginning - that's too obvious - not the end..... i think i'll not start at all, i'll just carry on. let's pretend in april i sighed somewhat dramatically, took a sip of tea and then looked pensively out the window for awhile. 

i went on an aeroplane. that practically ruined my entire summer. the anticipation of the crash. of whether i would ultimately sacrifice myself to save other passengers or in the flush of adrenalin i would toss them out in hopes of creating a soft pile to land on.

in the end i went and we did not crash. i hated every second of being on that plane. i sort of forgot about falling from the sky and instead found considerable issue with how uncomfortable i was, how confined and chubby if felt, how goddamn much a mini can of pringles cost, how long it was taking....

but then...
6 days in my mother's house. 6 days of sleeping on feather pillows that were created before WW2. 6 days of not eating any vegetables except canned peas. 6 days of laughing and laughing. 6 days of realizing i no longer belonged in this place. 6 days of soaking up the song of a people that is still my own. 6 days of my dear susan

i grew up among people who value the art of the telling over the art of the tale. which meant we thrived on the details. god how i miss that. i miss the sheer thrill of the tell. where facts are passed over for the more speculative approach. where judgements are passed before plots have unfolded. and to have 6 days of that wonder and recognizing yourself in the words and cadence of those around you is just to lovely for words.

during those 6 days i had use of my mother's car. firstly she said - "i would appreciate if you didn't go over 80km." i didn't see that restriction coming. that's the great thing about my mom - you can't predict her next move. her offensive game is just outstanding. mom had other rules regarding her 1991 ford focus. no driving after dark. no rough roads. no unlocked doors or windows left down. and under no circumstances was i to hit a deer. hmmm...

the first time i sat in the car. i said "ok little ford focus, you better keep your frigging mouth shut about the next 6 days or i'm going to slam your tiny, god damn ass into a deer." 

those 6 days were filled with immaturity and joy. my baby girl got to see humpback whales with here auntie sue. we ate clams and lobster and fish. we slept in the ancient lakelawn motel where we found blood, mysteriously smeared on the door and top sheet. we all had our theories and we felt delighted to have been assigned this family double. we found sea glass and iridescent blue plastic tampon holders on the beach. we picked apples and ate them unwashed. we sang filthy, dirty songs about sailors and german soldiers.

we had the time of our lives. but at times i looked in the face of my friend and found a happiness that i cannot find on my own.