Monday, March 31, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Moves

Ten years later, Danny is still present in my friend’s life. She hovers on the edge of every conversation and we have shared many wet faces over the years. Last year they moved to a new house and my friend had to pack up Danny’s room which had remained in the same condition as the day she had died. Her work schedule remained on her bed; her clothes hung neatly away, her makeup arranged on her dressing table. I don’t know how my friend managed, I didn’t want to ask, but I know it broke her heart. And ten years ago it helped in breaking mine.

Every time we met or talked on the phone brought a flood of tears and I was constantly wracked with grief. I was glad she was seeing a psychiatrist and going to meetings for parents who had lost their children. I felt so inadequate and at a loss to come up with words that might help. All I could do was offer my arms to wrap around her and hold her for brief moments of time. I hold tightly to my last vision of Danny, laughing with her friends in front of our store as they guiltily ate a box of chocolates. It is a precious memory for me.

Our store was in a large and popular mall in the big city and we had accepted the offer from the management to try out a poor location for a few years without a lease. It had proven to be a good idea and a good move from the downtown location where the store had been for 15 years. The mall management now approached my mother and I and talked to us about the plans the mall had. With the changes they had in mind, the large anchor store next to us would be moving and that space would be taken over by another large anchor store, but one that carried a much lower quality of merchandise. It meant that it would draw a different class of customer and one that wouldn’t be suitable to our higher class of merchandise.

You have to remember, my mother was a furrier and the business had originated as a fur store. Then PETA came along and put many furriers and trappers out of business and effectively wiped out many lives and livelihoods. We heard of many suicides in the fur industry. The business was in a quandary as sales of furs had slowed, and I was surprised when my parents listened to my suggestion of expanding our merchandise to include every type of coat made. That suggestion saved the business.

We carried a lovely selection of outerwear and insisted to our manufacturers that we would not carry the coats the large chains offered. And with that in mind, the mall management suggested a move to the other end of the mall where the higher-end anchor store was found. This move entailed an architect and a designer and we had to travel to Calgary to get the plans approved by the higher-ups who owned the mall. When the approval came, my mother turned to my brother and myself and told us to go and build it.

Normally, contractors are hired to do this work, but my mother would do anything to save money. My brother and I knew we needed more help and I insisted that D be part of the work crew and that he be paid. Then the three of us took possession of the keys to a vacated store, and we demolished it. Mall management expected us to move within 4 weeks, and we knew we were going to be pressed to our limits. But we didn’t know just how overextended we would become. We put in 18 hours every single day in an effort to build this store to the specifications, and four weeks stretched to six weeks before we had it completed. The three of us accomplished everything except for the electrical, the ceiling, and the front entrance. We called on our cousin to help with the flooring and a contractor built a beautiful curved counter and display case. D and I lived on cottage cheese and tuna on rice cakes for 6 weeks and our clothes hung on us when we were done. When my brother couldn’t eat that any longer, he headed down the mall and ate with Mom.

During the last days we ran everywhere in our attempt to get it all finished and the stock moved from one location to the other. Then we had to figure out how we were going to display it all and we rearranged the entire store multiple times.

Cut, bruised and exhausted, we opened the doors to a glorious reception.

(I'm sorry I do not have photos to show here - I looked everywhere for the four I know I have - but I couldn't find them. If I ever do - I'll post them.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Sunday Means Another Award Day

As is my wont - I like to use Sundays to thank the wonderfully kind people who have thought of me when it comes to handing out awards.

Today I am thanking Canadian Flake and Daryl e for giving me my two new awards. I am always incredibly humbled by an award and get all awkward feeling - but I am truly grateful and proud to post them on my sidebar.

Speaking of which - The Man has changed my sidebar and there is now a lovely little slideshow that contains the awards I have received. So thanks to The Man as well.

And finally - but with much pomp and ceremony as well - I want to thank Stinking Billy for nominating this blog for The Best Of Blogs Award. That contest comes up later in April and I will keep you posted about it when I find out more.

Thank you all for your patience and perseverance in reading my story. It has been (and will be) longwinded...but what can I say?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Life's Struggles

And here we go again. If I look like I am struggling – I am. I have come to recognize these signs so clearly and I am sure everyone who has been reading along can as well. However, I’ll try to struggle through the fog as best I can.

To be honest, my memories of the next year are a bit blurry. Some events stand out more than others, and the memory of my reactions to them stand out even more. D was a long time recuperating from Mono. He slept – a lot. I am the first to admit that I treated him poorly. And why? I honestly don’t know. The times we had previously shared together were so full of love and the desire to always be together. Yet when I came home from work I railed at him over every single detail. I got to the point where I never thought about his being sick - I only thought about myself. And I am so ashamed. Given the chance now I would take it all back. I would shower him with love and patience. I would have nursed him through the months it took for him to feel ‘normal’ again. Instead I screamed that my supper wasn’t ready! I screamed that the house wasn’t spotless! I screamed that I was working my ass off and then coming home to what!

And still he stayed.

And he endured that abuse that I heaped on his head with a front-end loader. And he refused to fight with me when I attacked. And that only made me angrier. I wanted to shout and stomp about and hurl sharp barbed words that would cut and wound. And I wanted to win! But he never said a word. He would close his mouth and look at me with eyes that betrayed an inner sorrow. And it was that inner sorrow that I wanted to flay to pieces so I could claim myself the conqueror.

And still he stayed.

At work my mother mocked my relationship with a ‘kid’ and berated me for having turned down Cid. The constant belittling only stopped when computer work needed to be done and D was called in to solve the problems. Then he was great. D on the other hand, always treated her with respect and kindness and patiently taught her how to use the new point of sale system. I listened as he gently laughed at her comments about being ‘too old to learn to use a computer’ and got her to admit that she was indeed smart enough to learn. In time his student proved him right.

I was still working 12-hour days for my mother’s business on a salary that didn’t increase even though I consistently put in those kinds of hours. I was now supporting three people in a huge house that I was renovating. Fortunately my nephew was out of school and working and I didn’t have to buy his clothes anymore. But I still fed him and D who was unable to work. I felt like I was living in a pressure cooker and the release valve was beginning to jiggle.

I kept in touch with my friend who had lost her daughter. Conversations with her over the phone never failed to leave me in tears and I was shocked when she came to visit me at work. She had lost an incredible amount of weight and her face was ravaged with her grief. Yet her attitude had me puzzled. She giggled like a little girl when she told me she spent every day at her daughter’s grave and that she took fresh rose petals daily to spread over the spot where her daughter rested. One day she drew me aside as if she was afraid someone else might hear – and told me she snuck into the cemetery every night before they locked the gates. She then spread her sleeping bag over the snow-covered grave and slept there. Her words shocked me, yet I held her tight and sobbed along with her, my worry giving way to our shared grief.

Her grief weighed on my mind and I found myself crying many times for her terrible loss. Anyone walking through the mall could often find us clinging to each other as we cried and cried each time she visited. Eventually the extent of her grief made me call her husband and ask him if he was aware of what was going on. I had not wanted to do this as I felt guilty about betraying her trust, and I knew his own grief was overwhelming. But my friend’s mental health was now becoming an issue. It wasn’t long before D and I were visiting her on the psyche ward at the hospital. And even though she stayed less than a week – at least she was now under someone’s care. However, her grief and mental anguish clung to my shoulders like a shroud and I couldn’t shake it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Expectations

I know you are expecting me to say that D’s moving in was all rainbows and fireworks and dancing gnomes – but that isn’t how it turned out to be. Cid’s pain haunted me and upset D as well. He felt terrible when I explained what had happened while he was sitting in the viewing car as the train whistled through the night.

Hugging me close he whispered “I’m sorry. It must be really upsetting for both of you.” I sobbed into his shoulder as I tried to tell him of my own agony. And D being D, could see that - and he could see Cid’s. “I could see how upset he was,” he said as he tightened his arms around me, “and I can understand it. I wouldn’t want to be losing you to another man either.” I felt retched as his words brought back to me the shock on Cid’s face. “Give him a little time. From everything you have told me – Cid is a wonderful man – and he won’t be able to stay away from someone like you - even with me here. Just be patient – he’ll come back.” My sobs slowly died off as I listened to his words. I appreciated his view as a man and I tentatively put my trust in it – and waited.

Now I also know that you are expecting me to say that we flung ourselves into each other’s arms and made love passionately for a solid week. But what you are forgetting is that D arrived with Mono and his exhaustion was obvious in everything he tried to do. His face was scarily pale and he had dark blue circles under his eyes. His clothes hung on him and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find that overweight teenager I had first met when I looked at him. He was past his infectious stage but there was no knowing how long it would take for him to recover from this debilitating disease.

So instead of the mad passionate lover’s reunion, we cuddled. And we began that age-old journey of discovery.

Eventually his belongings arrived and we went down to the bus station and collected the boxes that held his entire life so far - or at least what he had decided he needed for his future. D tried his best to carry everything by himself, but his fatigue wouldn’t let him – and neither would I. We hauled everything back to the barn and I left him to unpack and went off to work.

Now let me just say something here – and I do so with great embarrassment and shame – but I’m still going to say it. I wasn’t a ‘nice person’. Thankfully I have changed – and almost completely – but I am ashamed of the person I use to be. Back then I went to work with my head held high thinking I was such a great person. I had two men competing for my love – and one was 21 years younger than me. On top of that I considered myself to be a ‘woman of the world’ who knew so much and was so much smarter than my young lover. I looked at him as someone who had no knowledge of the world because he was too young to have experienced anything. I looked at him as someone who could not possibly be smarter than me. And I am ashamed to say that I treated him like that.

As time went on I forgot how ill he was and I expected him to have done the housework and cooked the supper when I got home from work. I expected him to know what I liked to eat and what I didn’t, and I expected him to do everything just the way I always did it. What I got was someone who was too tired to get out of bed during the day. What I got was my young lover still in his pajamas and housecoat because he just couldn’t do anymore. I know I expected him to snap out of it – but with Mono you just don’t. It drags on and on and just lifting your head off the pillow can be exhausting. But my patience wore out quickly and my expectations were ridiculous. What it boiled down to was that I was treating him badly and that I was nothing but a bitch.

And being a bitch I tried to cover it up with smiles and declarations of love while underneath I wanted him to be everything I expected – no matter what. You live with me – you do this and you act like this. My house – my rules. Just like my parents always said.

Honestly? I don’t know why he stayed. I know I wouldn’t have

Sunday, March 23, 2008

'The Man' Tales - And Then D Arrived

The two-hour drive to the train station in Edmonton was fraught with apprehension and anticipation. I was letting this person into my life and my house and what did I know of him? We had spent less than 20 days together and we were now looking at what? Forever? How were we to know? What if it didn’t work out – where would he go? I’m sure he had gone through all of this before he had asked me if he could move here, but I had said yes without thinking about it. I had said yes as a gut reaction to missing him and always wishing for the end of his schooling. And now today was the day where we had to face each other and our future together.

I arrived at the station just as they announced the arrival of D’s train. Standing on the platform I searched the faces that descended and watched as couples threw themselves into each other’s arms and kissed. I felt like I was in a movie that was set in the 40’s and I was waiting for my man to get off the train. While the smoke billowed from the steam engine that huffed and puffed, I looked fetching in my hat and straight skirt and peephole shoes. In reality my slacks were slightly pilled around the pockets where I hid my hands when I was nervous, and I had been wearing my top for a couple of years and it was beginning to show. But I did look anxiously about like the frantic heroine – my eyes searching each stranger, a pucker forming between my eyebrows.

A train-car away a tall thin stranger stepped down onto the platform and flashed me a weary smile. Cocking my head I looked him over carefully, not sure if it was D or not. He had lost an incredible amount of weight and the skin around his eyes looked bruised and dark. His hair was longer, but it still smelled like pears when a blast of air from the engines blew it across my face. I knew for sure that it was him when he bent his head and kissed me softly and hesitantly. I just knew.

The drive back was a long story about the sights and thrills of traveling across Canada by train. When we pulled into the mall parking lot, D had just about finished his tale. When we walked into the store together, my mother looked up in surprise before asking him what he was doing back.

“I’ve decided to move here permanently and I just got off the train in Edmonton.” He looked down and smiled kindly at my mother who was almost a foot and a half shorter than him. She turned her head and shot me a glance that conveyed a million words that didn’t need to be said. I knew what she was thinking.

“So that is why my daughter is late for work then.”

“Yes. She picked me up.”

“How nice for you – but she should have okayed it with me.” I shook my head and walked away.

That night was the opening night of the dinner theater and I had arranged tickets for Cid, D and my mother. D was still in his traveling clothes and he spent some time in the small washroom in the store freshening up. We arrived a bit early and took our seats at the large round table. When Cid appeared at the door, I presented his ticket to the doorman and directed him to our table and sat him next to D. I managed a quick introduction just before the lights went down and we were swept up in the first act.

"Uh Cid. This is D. He just came in on the train and I picked him up this morning in Edmonton."

"This morning? In Edmonton?" He shook D's hand and I could see the questions written all across his face.

When the lights came up for intermission, Cid was staring at me. He looked from me to D and then back at me. My heart ached with the pain that was written across his face. I tried to speak with him at the dessert table but he turned away.

When the play ended, we decided to go to a nearby restaurant for tea. Cid’s face was etched in stone as he watched D get into my car for the short drive to the restaurant. When we arrived at the parking lot – Cid pulled in next to us and rolled down his window.

“I’m not coming in – I’m just going home.”

“Wait!” I said, but he shook his head. “At least let me explain,” I begged.

“I think it is too late for any of that now,” he said and pulled out into the traffic. I let the tears run down my face and didn’t bother hiding them from D.

“He’ll get over it eventually,” D said quietly as he put his arm around me.

I shook my head slowly before I said, “There’s something I have to tell you that happened while you were on the train.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Oh Cid!

In the silence that followed, I sat and stared at the stars as they twinkled down on us. I thought of all the years I had spent wishing for this moment, longing for a life with Cid, yearning for him to want me as much as I had always wanted him. I thought of all the nights I had spent aching when he had kissed me and headed off home. I thought of the joy his presence brought to me every single time I saw him. I thought of his kindness that he had wrapped around me like a huge protective blanket. I thought of how his voice thrilled me to the tip of my toes and how much I loved him. And I thought about how much he loved me. Then I thought of D as he took his first step up onto the train that whistled through the night, its headlights searching for what lay ahead as it rumbled towards me.

“Oh Cid! Why now?”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about us. How happy we are together, how you make me laugh. And I want to take it further.”

“Why did you take so long Cid?”

“I really don’t know. Stupid I guess. But I know now.”

A train whistled far off across the prairies and the sound drifted in on a nighthawk’s wings. It brought to me the image of D, sitting on a train marked with an arrow, its tracks running straight towards my heart.

“I think our life together would be wonderful – I really do. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve finally got my nerve up to ask you. So will you? Will you marry me?”

Tears kept me from answering for a long time and he put his arm around my shoulders and hugged me close while he waited. Never did that stupid cliché of being caught between a rock and a hard place seem more suited to my life right at this moment. Knowing what I had to do – I sagged against him for a few moments and sucked up his warmth. Taking a deep breath I turned towards him and took his face in-between my hands and kissed him long and softly. Looking into his deep brown eyes I thought momentarily of the peyto blue ones that were dreaming of me – and I cried again. The pain was almost physical and I wanted to hurry and get it over with so I could deal with the results.

“I can’t Cid. Not at this time. I’m sorry.”

Cid looked away into the darkness for a bit and took a deep breath before he answered me. “That’s okay. Really.”

“No – it isn’t okay Cid. You have no idea how much I have longed to hear those words from you – and for so many years. But right now – I can’t. And I can’t explain it to you either.”

We held hands under the blanket and as my tears fell into the wool, the smell of wet sheep rose into the night air and encircled us. I sat there and thought of how much I loved this man and how much it hurt me to hurt him. In a few days he would know why, and I felt sick with the knowledge that I was too much of a coward to tell him why I had turned him down.

We sat there for another half hour and watched the stars whirl around us. When a shooting star flashed over our heads we laughed and made a wish before mashing our lips frantically together.

“I love you Cid. I love you so much it hurts. Especially right now. But I do.” His lips tasted bittersweet and I wondered if he would quit coming around once D arrived. I sincerely hoped not. Returning home he made sure I was safe and sound inside the big blue barn before he gathered his things to make the trip back to Edmonton. At the front door I clung to him, unable to let him go without telling him once more how I felt.

“I love you Cid. I really do. Remember this okay?”

“I don’t understand, but I’ll try. Goodnight sweetheart.”

As his taillights vanished into the night I slumped against the door and sobbed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'The Man' Tales - An Ending and a Beginning

This time around I wanted to make sure I did not fall for another smooth-talking/dirty dancing guy who came my way. One of the staff talked me into volunteering for a dinner theater company and getting involved with the play she was directing. I took on the job of head of stage decoration and spent all my spare time painting and hunting up furniture for the set. In my earlier years I had studied interior decorating and I threw myself into this project with much joy and abandonment – eager to let my creativity flow. I was in the middle of this when I was informed of the death of a close friend’s daughter who had died in her sleep.

My friend fell apart and it was the saddest funeral I have ever attended. Danielle was in her late 20’s and had always had medical problems. The church was packed and my brother and I slid into one of the last seats remaining. We had stopped at the beautiful white casket and I had pressed my hand against Danielle’s arm as I bent over and whispered, “Oh Danny”. As the ceremony progressed, her sleeping visage haunted me and I tried to wipe away the feel of her rigid body from my hand. Seeing my friend staggering down the aisle as she was supported by her husband and son was almost too much to bear.

We followed the white hearse out to the gravesite and I watched my friend closely, aware that she had slipped past reality and into a place where her daughter still lived. However, it was the silver balloons that haunted me the most. The three remaining members of their little family stood on a little knoll after the ceremony and each of them released a balloon into the brilliant blue sky of an October afternoon. Somehow I knew that my friend had chosen the balloons to symbolize their hearts, and I watched as they lifted into the sky to join Danny somewhere beyond the blue. Not only did those three balloons mark the end of my friend’s life with her lovely daughter, but they also became a turning point for me as well.

Danny loved roses more than any other flower. Her family had chosen a beautiful white marble casket with a lid that was a carved white rose, so she would lay underneath her favorite flower forever. When I returned to the stage I was creating, I stenciled roses across the top of the set - for Danny. Some of the roses were a little blurry as my tears mixed with the paint – but I didn’t care. I was the only one who knew what they meant, but they looked stunning against the pale green walls of the set. Comments came out later that proclaimed it one of the most beautiful sets the dinner theater had ever seen.

On the other side of the country, D struggled with Mono. Days and weeks went by when he couldn’t make it to class or even to the grocery store to get some food. By mid-November he knew he could never catch up with everything he had missed and he applied to have his year refunded. I was happy he had taken these steps, but inwardly I groaned that another year would be added to the long wait ahead of us.

D saw it another way. Sick and beyond tired, he took a look at his life plan and made some changes. “I’ve decided I’m going to pack up everything and move out west.”

“What do you mean by ‘out west’?”

“Well – if you’ll have me – I was hoping to move out west - and in with you.”

In the silence that followed we listened to the sound of buzzing wires as they stretched the 4000kms between us. We listened to the silence – each of us hardly breathing. D held his breath wondering if he had made a mistake. I held my breath, too stunned to do anything else.

“Will you have me?” he whispered.

I laughed and squealed and I think I said ‘of course’. He packed his few belongings and sent them on ahead by bus. Then he went and said good-bye to his family. His father gave him a letter and asked that he read it once he got on his way. He had chosen the joy of traveling across Canada by train as a special treat and he used his student status to get a cheaper rate. Once all the good-byes were said, he went and spent a night in a hotel in Ottawa as he waited for his train. He set his alarm clock and fell asleep.

On the same day that D woke to catch his train, 4000 kms away, Cid arrived to take me out for a drive in the country. We spent the day hiking alongside the river, holding hands when we could or walking arm in arm when the trail was even wider. We talked of the funeral and I asked Cid if he would come down for the opening night of the play. We laughed and kissed as we always did, and had a late supper sitting at a wooden table nestled in a group of trees. With our picnic spread out before us, Cid surprised me with two ceramic goblets and a bottle of wine. When the day gave way to the oncoming night, we wrapped ourselves in a blanket and watched the stars come out. In the silence that so often settled on us as it does with great friends, I thought of D catching the train and setting his sights for the west. A soft wind tickled the leaves around us and brought to us the sound of the river as it tumbled over its rocky bottom. Beside me, Cid cleared his throat.

“Will you marry me?” he asked.

Monday, March 17, 2008

'The Man' Tales - 7 Days = An Eternity of Memories

At the airport gate I leaned wearily against the wall, still not fully recovered. My legs felt like jelly and so did my heart. It quivered with the excitement of seeing D one more time. Our eyes met when he came through the doors and I batted weakly against the tide as I tried to make my way to him. When we got close enough he dropped his knapsack and reached for me with his long arms and wrapped me tightly inside them. The world fell away and I forgot about my illness as I listened to his heart as it hammered beneath my ear. His face was blurry as I looked up and let the tears stream down my face, and when his lips met mine – I sighed.

We let the work at the store wait for the rest of that day. Instead, we unplugged the telephones and locked the doors and pulled the drapes – safe inside our own little world. There was time enough for work another day.

D’s concern over my unexplained illness was just what I needed and I started to feel better immediately. I recounted the event and told him how the doctors and my family had called my girlfriend and grilled her on every move we had made. He was intrigued the specialist had ordered a vial of my blood be kept frozen at the hospital in case I became ill again. As I cuddled up against him I could feel my strength returning with every breath he took.

We spent the next week undoing all the sleep I had gained while I was in the hospital. We worked 16-hour days in the store as we endeavored to get a system up and running that would keep both locations organized and connected. Most of the other 8 hours left in the day we spent exploring each other once more. As the clock ticked down the final days I was overwhelmed once more with my impending loss and inevitable loneliness. I tried to hide it from him, but it became obvious that he was feeling the same way. Sometimes we just stood holding on to each other, my head pressed against his chest and his arms holding me tight. I tried to memorize the color of his eyes and the sound of his voice. As he slept I listened to his breathing filling the room and watched his eyelids flicker. I tried to imprint it all on my brain so I would always be able to draw on the memory when I needed it.

With the computer problems solved and behind us, we stood once more at the security gate. Our pain was written across our faces in letters so huge that people who glanced in our direction, quickly looked away again – unwilling to witness it. Our fingertips searched for each other’s, grasping at the fading memories those hands had created. I wanted each second to be an eternity before he was whisked away again – out of my reach. We didn’t know when we might see each other again or if we ever would – and that knowledge burned at our hearts. He had two more years of university that would take up all his time. I had our memories.

When the phone rang and I heard his voice coming to me from 4000kms away – I cried. Our last kiss lingered on my lips like a scorch mark and I licked them, trying to taste him once more. His fatigue from the flight cut our conversation short, but at least we had the phone and the computer to keep in touch. University started in a couple of days and he had to catch up on the preparations he had put aside during his week with me. At least he had moved into Ottawa and was no longer living at home. He could walk to the university from his lodgings and was close to all that interested him. Except for me.

Every day his emails detailed his life at school and his love for me. They also were full of his fatigue and headaches that had plagued him since his return. As the weeks went by I could see that his health was deteriorating quickly and I encouraged him to see the doctor at the university. The doctor believed he had been subjected to something on the plane and in that confined space it would have been easy to be infected by anything contagious.

Blood tests revealed he had Mononucleosis.

(Just a note here - As I can see by the comments that are already being made - I just want to clarify that the doctors tested me for this as well as everything else they could think of. It was never resolved. I could have that blood sample tested now for West Nile Virus - but as one doctor told me quite bluntly - 'Why bother? Once you have had WNV you can never get it again. Testing would only be a waste of time and money.')

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Award Weekend

Another weekend – and another day to say Thank You for two new awards. For those of you who notice – I have had these two awards posted for a while and I haven’t yet got around to thanking the two wonderful ladies who gave them to me.

First of all I would like to say thank you to Sweet Irene over at Sweet Wood Talking for her Busy Bee award. And also a big thank you to Lane over at Lane’s Write for her Less Than Three Award. I have to admit that one took me a while to figure out – well to be completely honest – The Man had to show me what it meant. Turn it sideways and you’ll see a heart….isn’t that sweet?

This past week I had my world rocked by a discovery I made while browsing my sitemeter. I kept coming across a search to my blog through The Upon further investigation I found that they had chosen my post about My Father’s Funeral to make their list of The Best of the Blogosphere.

Here is a quote from The editors at The Issue act as a human filter to the unregulated blogosphere, sifting through thousands of untamed blog posts to compile the genius of the wisest people into a simple, easy-to-read newspaper format. The Issue combines the first-rate editorial standards of a news daily with the perceptive observations of bloggers to form a fusion between the quality of your trusted newspaper and the unabashed insight of the best blogs.

I was flabbergasted to say the least when I learned that they had chosen one of my posts out of the thousands that they read to feature on the Best of the Blogosphere. I can only say a humble Thank You to them as well.

I have said this before, but I need to say this again here. I am humbled when I receive an award. But the actual thoughts – and now the inclusion of one of my posts – help goad me to keep up with the writing. The Wailings (my book in progress) is a long way from the end of this writing journey. But I am hoping that when it is finished, it will be of a quality that someone will find it worth publishing. Not for the act of ‘being published’ but that my journey through hell will help those who are lost in that land where asking for help is almost impossible. And that it will show those that are abused that there is hope somewhere – somehow. That eventually – the beatings – mental and physical – will end. And finally – that life on the other side of that door is well worth living.

Thank you all for your continued readership and support.

Friday, March 14, 2008

'The Man' Tales - In The End

Three weeks before D was to arrive, my friend from Guelph came for a holiday with her daughter and son aged 4 and 5. I’m not sure if my mother offered me her motor home because she liked my girlfriend, or because she didn’t want the little children to be cold out ‘camping’ – but I had never been offered the use of it before. Whatever her reasons were, I wasn’t going to refuse and off we went on an adventure into the Rocky Mountains. We camped in some of the most beautiful spots in the world, secure from the bears and creatures in the motor home. We traveled up to Banff National Park where we camped at Johnson Canyon and then moved on to Marble Canyon. In the mornings we rose early and watched the mist rise off the river as we sat in our lawn chairs and drank our tea – wrapped in our blankets and sporting our slippers. We let our supper cook in the oven as we drove from one breathtaking camping spot to another, delighting in the simple fact that our meal was ready for us when we settled for the evening. We escaped!

At the end of a week filled with laughter in a friendship that had only grown deeper with time – I took them to the airport and dropped them off. As I saw them off at the gate, I rubbed myself with glee knowing that D would be coming into this same airport in a couple of weeks. Somewhere between the airport and my home, I started to get a headache. By the time I staggered up the walk to the big blue barn, it was all I could do to get myself up to the third floor and onto my bed. I don’t know how or when my cousin found me curled on top of the comforter, but I do remember him carrying me back down the sidewalk and taking me to the local hospital.

The doctor on call took one look at me and thought it was Meningitis and suggested it would be faster for my cousin to race me to the big city then it would be for him to get the ambulance. He picked me up once more and put me in his car and raced for the next hospital. I remember that. The next thing I remember is waking in a hospital bed and saying I was hot. A nurse was sitting beside my bed and immediately took my temperature before racing for ice and fans. I remember thinking how cold I was before sinking into the blackness once more.

The next time I awoke my mother and younger sister were sitting on chairs beside the bed and were in the middle of a prayer when I opened my eyes. I was surprised to see them there and to find that I was indeed in a hospital. My brother appeared for a while at the foot of the bed and his face made me wonder if something was wrong, but it all faded again as I slipped away into the darkness. The next time I awoke my brother was gone but my sister and mother were again deep in prayer, but they had changed their clothes. I became aware of bags and tubes and monitors everywhere, but somehow I couldn’t relate it to me. My mother kept asking me where my friend and I had been and what we had done. I thought that perhaps I had damaged the motor home and didn’t know it – but that didn’t seem to be the case. However, it just seemed easier to slip back into that dark place then answer any more questions.

Another time I woke to find my cousin sitting with my mother and sister and he beamed at me when I became aware of their presence. I had no idea that a week had passed while they came in and out of my room and said their prayers. After that I began to get some strength back and could stay awake for longer periods of time. My mother came every day and held my hand while she visited. Her kindness and attitude overwhelmed me and I often found myself in tears when she departed.

Slowly my strength returned and I was allowed to walk the halls with a nurse. The doctors had no idea what had caused my illness. After they ruled out Meningitis they wondered if I had Malaria. When that was ruled out they wondered if I had been infected by a mosquito. As this was before West Nile Virus was named – they didn’t have much to go on and could only react to my symptoms. I had been in the hospital long enough to interfere with the arrival of D and the plans that we would work together on the store computers. When my worrying about missing D started to affect my health, the specialist wrote a letter to the airline and they let him change his flight.

There came a day when I was strong enough to walk the halls without the walker they had parked beside my bed. Putting on my housecoat and slippers I set off down the long corridor with my hand trailing against the wall in case I weakened. When I got to the end I turned the corner and kept going – happy to be able to go a little further. Down this corridor I came across a little room where they served tea and cookies to patients and visitors. With my strength waning quickly, I slipped into a chair and accepted a hot cup of tea and listened while someone played the piano that sat in the corner. I kept wishing my mother was there to share a cup of tea with me and listen to the pianist. When I finally got up enough strength, I made the long slow journey back to my room and climbed up onto my bed.

Weary but triumphant over my gathering strength, I was surprised when a nurse came in a told me she had a message for me. My mother had been to visit as usual and could not find me. They had paged me several times over the PA system but I didn’t hear anything over the piano in the tearoom. When I didn’t return to my room she told the nurses to tell me that since I hadn’t come when they called, that she would never return. And she didn’t.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Time Ticked On

After he went through security I raced to a spot where people parked their cars and watched the planes take off. It was at the end of the runway where the planes turn and get themselves into position before laying on the thrusters and launching into the ether. I stood in front of my little red sports car and waved like mad as his plane taxied into position. I had no idea if he had a window seat or if he could even see me – but I didn’t care. I didn’t care either that the rest of the people parked there were staring at me instead of watching the plane take off. But it was all for nothing. He didn’t see me – there wasn’t a hand waving back or a handkerchief flapping at a window. I was alone once more. My eyes needed their own set of windshield wipers as I drove away, while my heart was being pulled to the east somewhere in a silver tube that flashed through the skies.

Back at work my mother scoffed at my sadness and my relationship with a ‘kid’. She called him that over and over – ‘a kid’. She had been nice to his face during his visit as he worked his magic on our computer and answered and fixed everything that she brought up. He had given his expertise freely and willingly and she had taken it greedily. But – as soon as he had left, she cut him down.

Yesterday I hauled out those daily emails I had printed off to reread and relive that time. Those emails were filled with the abuse I endured from my mother as I spilled my anguish to D across the miles. I could barely stand to be in the same room as her as it inevitably led to fighting. She made sure I knew that I was nothing in her eyes. But I stayed because I was good at my job and loved every aspect except that I had to deal with my mother. On more than one occasion she told me that I had no say in anything to do with the business – even though I was the manager. I searched for another job and went for a couple of interviews – but my fear of losing my house hampered me.

The arrival of spring brought around the beginning of a frantic summer spent answering the rafting phones once more and spending every weekend out on the river cooking for my brother’s guests and helping out. Although my mother expected me to help my brother – she had no sympathy that I was worn out from working 7 days a week. If I came in to work one minute late on Monday mornings, I heard about it and so did everyone else. She never treated her other children in this manner nor any of the staff. I don’t know why I was so special.

The store that my father had opened in Calgary was still operating under my brother and younger sister. Money had been left to them by my father and they had put it into the store. I wasn’t left anything at all – although my mother pointed out that he had paid $500 to some man to do the drywalling. Compared with the $30,000 given to my siblings – well needless to say - it hurt. On top of the hurt came the responsibility to ensure that this second store could operate smoothly. I had to do all the buying and make sure inventory was properly kept so no mix-ups happened. Every single coat had to be checked for flaws and tagged before it was sent off to the Calgary store. All they had to do was steam it and hang it up on a hanger. This more than doubled my workload – but my mother didn’t care. She just wanted things to go easily for the Calgary location.

This also meant that we needed to rearrange our whole computer system to insure the inventory was kept accurate. We needed a computer person to come in and make this happen. In an email to D I asked him if he thought he could write a program and get this working. Then I went and pitched this proposal to my mother who in turn asked my brother for his opinion. All it would cost the business was his flight. What it would give me would be another week with him. My brother’s opinion mattered to my mother more than mine and somehow it turned my idea into theirs – but in the long run I didn’t care. I was going to see D again! The arrangements were made for the beginning of August and I marked the calendar.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

'The Man' Tales - From That Beginning

From that beginning, emails and phone calls flew back and forth across the country daily. However, for anyone who has never been in a long-distance relationship – it is incredibly hard to endure. For those moments when you are lonely and need to feel those special arms around you – you can only close your eyes and wrap yourself tight. At night, when you crawl into bed and want to snuggle – there is only the pillow. When you need a kiss – there is nothing. When you need another opinion – there is a phone bill at the end of it all. When all you do is yearn and ache for even the simple touch of a fingertip – you must imagine and dream.

This time though, we were determined to get through the time and the distance, no matter how hard it was. With another two years of school still ahead after the end of this school year – the task was daunting. Every email that came I printed out at the store and took it home with me to read again. I stayed at the store late again so I could chat with D when he got out of classes and was done his labs. I pushed my loneliness to the back of my mind and reveled in his affirmations of love. Where I was weak, his strength buoyed me up and got me through another 24 hours.

One evening I returned to the store to be able to get online and chat with him. What I found was a staff member going through my emails. I had not put a lock on anything as most of the staff didn’t know how to use a computer. The look on her face made it clear she had not only read everything there was to read, but that she was also afraid I was going to fire her. I went and sat at my desk for a while and thought about what I should do. In the end I laughed and hoped that she had enjoyed herself and let it go. When I found D later in our chat room, I made sure he taught me how to block prying eyes and minds from what was ours.

One day as I sat at my desk, the fax machine kicked into action and spewed out some paper that had an attention to me on it. Picking up the paper I could see that a copy of an airline ticket was printed on it. Looking closely I could read D’s arrival time in Calgary and my mouth fell open. When I finally got him on the phone I squealed like a little girl when he confirmed that he was coming. Yet I was stunned. University students don’t have extra money to spend on flights across the country – yet he had done just that to prove how he felt about me.

Standing at the gate I watched the people stream into the airport as they disembarked from their flight. I searched every face, trying to remember what he looked like and wondering if he would know me as well. When a tall stranger strode through the door, I gasped. Was this him? He had lost a considerable amount of weight and his hair was long and curly and pulled into a ponytail. He was taller than I remembered and his eyes searched over the crowd, but I had taken a position behind a pillar so he wouldn’t see me before I saw him. When he walked past I slipped in beside him and asked if he needed a ride. When his arm came around me – I knew I had the right guy.

I would love to tell you that those first moments turned into eternal bliss, but that isn’t the way it happened at all. In fact, the first two days were strained as we tried to work our way through the interruptions to our relationship. My guilt was almost overwhelming and yet I was angry that he had then gone on in his life and met Shadow Dancer. I didn’t make sense, even to me, but it took me more than 48 hours to realize it. On the third day I awoke and looked in the mirror and made the discovery that I was an idiot. D was only here for 7 days and I had already wasted 2 of them with unwarranted jealousy. I had been keeping him at arms length so I wouldn’t be hurt one more time. Yet all I wanted to do was give in and be with him. I felt like a fool.

D had not complained when I refused his advances, but was happy to just wrap his arms around me and watch me sleep. On that third day he told me if this was all that our relationship was going to be – then he would be happy with it – as long as he could just be with me. Turning from the mirror I threw myself into his arms and covered him with kisses. We spent the next 5 days lost in each other and oblivious to the real world. It was there – I still had to go to work during the day – but we were so caught up in each other that we hardly noticed.

At the end of 7 days of the best life I had ever lived – taking him to the airport then almost did me in. Standing at the gate with my head pressed against his chest and his arms wrapped around me for one last time – I tried to absorb his essence into my body. I knew he couldn’t stay and all I wanted to do was beg – but I didn’t. The top of my head was wet where his tears had landed as they rolled off his chin and disappeared into my hair. His shirt had a wet patch on it as he stepped away at the last moment to go through security and I could barely hear his words through my crying -

“Please wait for me. I’ll be back. I promise you that.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Maybe Everything Wasn't Lost

Time eroded away at my life like water does with sand. I felt like I was standing on a beach and the water was pulling my life out from under my toes and washing it out to sea. I found myself wondering what was the matter with me – was I expecting too much out of life? I even questioned leaving The Beater – perhaps a life of being beaten every single day was what I deserved. Perhaps I really was a bad person that no one would ever be interested in or truly love. When I was growing up I never imagined in a thousand years that I would still be single in my 40’s. I would catch myself watching couples – especially happy couples - and my heart would ache. I would stare at their hands clasped together and imagine someone holding mine. I would unconsciously lean forward as they kissed; closing my eyes as I remembered what it was like. I smiled for the outside world, but every night, alone in my bed, I cried myself to sleep.

My friendship with Cid remained a friendship and I didn’t press him for more. I figured that if he was going to fall in love with me – he would have years ago. We spent every weekend doing something on one of the days and the rest of the week we talked on the phone. It wasn’t unusual for us to talk for a couple of hours a night or three and four times a day. My Mom had gotten use to his phone calls at work and had even turned to him many times for legal advice, especially since Dad had died. The employees all believed that Cid and I had ‘gone all the way’ and refused to believe me when I told them we were ‘just friends’. I would think about this in the small hours of the morning, and wonder why Cid had never progressed beyond the hugs and kisses we enjoyed. It made me question my ‘lovability’ even more.

One night as I sat in front of the fire, the phone rang and rang. I thought it was for my nephew and I let it ring for a bit before finally picking it up. Exasperated I said an abrupt “Hello?”

“Um….Hello. It’s me.”



“Is everything okay? Are you okay?”

“Yes – Everything is fine.”

“Wow. Okay then. Well – I never expected to hear from you again.”

“That’s why I’m calling. I made a mistake too.”

“What do you mean you made a mistake?”

“Well. You remember I said I had found someone else?”

“That was hard to forget.”

“Well, when I finally got together with Shadow Dancer --- all I could think of was you.”

“What do you mean by that?” My heart was pounding in my throat and I could hardly breathe by this point – in fact – I forgot about breathing for a bit as I waited for his answer.

“This is so hard for me to say. Shadow Dancer and I got together for a weekend like we did. She came to Ottawa and picked me up.”

I thought of my long drive to Ottawa and my heart clenched when I thought of Dragosani arranging another weekend with someone else. But how could I judge him?! I had done far worse with John, and I was incredibly ashamed about that. All I could say was, “Okay.”

“It was all a mistake, and I knew it.”

“How did Shadow Dancer take it?”

“She wasn’t happy about it – I can tell you that.” The silence stretched a bit as I let his words drift through my brain. “I told her that I was in love with you and that I had needed to find that out.”

My heart leaped up to the moon when I heard those words as tears ran down my face and caught in my smile. “Oh D!”

Friday, March 7, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Had To Try Once More

I avoided the computer for days while I berated myself for succumbing to my loneliness. Memories of Dragosani tortured me and I would find myself living in those few happy moments I had shared with him in the past. While I avoided the computer, I kept reminding myself that I had not actually seen any evidence that Dragosani and Shadow Dancer were together. It had only been a thought that had leaped into my head when I saw how familiar they were with each other.

With that in mind I got up my courage once more and crept back into the Parlor. It only took a few minutes before I saw that they were chatting and had been for some time already that evening. Getting up my nerve, I made my entrance as Ani and went and sat at the bar. I could almost hear Dragosani’s neck crack as his head whipped up when he noticed my name. Taking a deep breath I typed one letter.



‘Um – are you busy?’

‘Ummmm – Yeah Ani – I’m right in the middle of something.’

In little letters I posted, ‘I’m Sorry.’

‘Okay. Nice to see you again,’ he posted.

With a leaden heart I watched as he took up his chat again with Shadow Dancer. Once more I shut down the computer in a hurry and dashed out into the night.

For the next couple of days I beat myself up better than anyone else had ever tried to. How I hated that I had been so lonely that a couple of dances would make me forget about the promises I had made to wait for Dragosani while he finished school. How I hated that I had fallen for such a smooth dancer and talker. I went around in circles as I tried to figure out what the whole John thing had been about. I hated myself for giving in and giving up Dragosani.

Feeling like I had nothing to lose, I decided to call him on the phone. I needed to tell him that I was sorry about John and I needed to hope that I still might have a chance. When I heard his soft voice once more coming across the wire I started to cry.

“D? I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am about everything and about writing you that letter. I was just so lonely and it seemed like we would never be together no matter how much we wanted it. After I wrote it my mother cut off the internet and I couldn’t go online and explain that to you. I’m really sorry D – you don’t know how sorry I am.”

“Yeah – well. I got that letter the day before Christmas. I didn’t speak to anyone during the entire Christmas break. I can’t explain what it did to me.”

“I’m really sorry D. Really. I, um"… The seconds that ticked by sounded like eternity crashing up against the universe and I watched the clock helplessly. "I was wondering if you had found someone else in the meantime?”

“Yes I have.”

As I listened to the silence that stretched between us after those last words, I felt what little hope I had talked myself into, plummet to the ground and die.

“I hope you find happiness then D. Again – I’m really sorry. I guess it’s good-bye then.”

“Yes it is. Good-bye.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Move On

Whatever Mona’s reasons were for telling me about John – I still was grateful. It made moving on with my life so much easier after I found that out. I know I would have agonized over the breakup otherwise. I did get one more call about him around the same time. This one came from the jeweler who was making a special wedding band to go with the unusual setting of the diamond. The band had been John’s project, but he had not called to cancel it after he left. Fortunately for me the jeweler was a kind man and apologized for my situation and told me to forget about the band. I could have been stuck paying for something that would have been useless.

I turned my face forward with a sigh of relief and the feeling that I had just missed stepping off a cliff in the dark. Fortunately ‘N’ had quit going to the country bar now that she was married, as I had no wish to run into John again. Instead I spent most of my evenings working on writing my book The Wailings and sharing life again with my nephew when he was home. I spent most of my weekends with Cid who was always eager to go somewhere new or he took me with him when he went to visit his mother.

At work we had decided to incorporate a ‘point of sale’ system into the store to help with inventory and keeping track of customers. This involved buying a whole new computer and weeks of training. On the salesman’s recommendations, my mother agreed to internet service in the store once more. It sang to me – like a siren’s call – but I managed to ignore it for sometime and kept everything strictly business.

One night after the store was closed, I ventured once more into what was once my favorite chat room in Bianca’s Smut Shack. My hands trembled violently as I waited for the site to load and I found myself in the bathroom feeling sick to my stomach. With my head between my knees, I could see every single word of that good-bye letter to Dragosani as if I were holding it in my hands. After splashing cold water on my face, I stood for a while and looked into the mirror and asked myself if I wanted to do this. I had no right to expect anything but the worst and my stomach confirmed that feeling every time I made the effort to leave the bathroom. Taking a deep breath and reminding myself that only I was to blame – I headed back to the computer.

Unable to bring myself to log in, I just lurked. I sat for a long time with my hands over my mouth and watched the conversations taking place. Some of the people I recognized, but there were many new people in the Parlor. I wasn’t surprised – I had been gone for some time. When Dragosani’s name appeared - I stopped breathing. A flash of heat swept over my body and I could feel the remnants of it in my face. I wanted to run to the bathroom again, but I remained glued to the monitor. As if in a dream, I watched as Shadow Dancer responded to his comment and I knew deep down inside me that they were now together.

Shutting down the computer I locked up the store and headed out into the night

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Life Goes On

While my mother grieved, I went back to running the family business. We had closed the store for a day out of respect for my father and to allow the staff to attend the funeral if they wanted to. I was surprised the mall owners had been so easy to deal with over this. What surprised me more was the number of people who came in to pay their respects. It was obvious that Dad had used a different face for the public than the one he used for his family. It brought to mind events from my youth when he had spent a good deal of time using ‘the strap’ on us – and then he would turn around to the nearest stranger and say what a wonderful family he had. I use to hate him for that.

One day my mother called me at the store and asked me if I had arranged with the nurses to increase his final cocktail. She thought it had looked different from the other ones. I told her that wasn’t something I had the power to do – only the doctors could. She kept insisting that I had arranged to have the painkiller cocktail increased, and the increased dosage had killed him. I knew she was distraught and grieving but I couldn’t understand why she would think I would try to arrange to euthanize him. I could also understand that she would be grasping at any straw immediately after his death – but when this continued for six months….

One day I received a phone call from a total stranger.

“Hi! This is Mona. I use to be engaged to John. I was wondering if you would like to get together for a talk. I understand you were engaged to be married to him as well and that he called off the wedding. I have some information for you that you might be interested in.”

Who could pass up something like that? We arranged to meet at a restaurant close to the mall after I closed the store.

Mona told me that she had been engaged to John for a couple of years and had given him back the ring just weeks before I met him. She had kept tabs on him and had heard all the details of our engagement from a mutual friend. I had never heard of Mona before but I made a mental note about telling that particular friend anything else. Mona knew that we had been planning to go to Mexico for our honeymoon and that John had applied for a passport.

“Did he show you the passport when it came in the mail?” she asked me. I thought about it a moment and remembered that he had said it had come, but that he had left it in his truck. I never gave it another thought – just put it down as one more job accomplished.

“So he never actually showed you his passport?”

I wondered where she was going with this.

“John can’t get a passport. He has a record and is not allowed out of the country.”

“What are you talking about? He works at a prison – how could he have a criminal record and work at the prison?”

“Oh,” she said. “He didn’t go to jail – but he can’t leave the country. He never showed you the passport because he can’t get one. And,” and here she almost gloated, “that is why Ruth divorced him.”

“Why exactly did Ruth divorce him?”

“Because he was caught looking in windows and taking pictures while people were having sex. He was charged with being a ‘Peeping Tom’. Or if you want to put it more accurately – ‘A Peeping John’. A lady saw him looking in their bedroom window and she called the police. He ran, but they caught him and hauled him down to the police station. Ruth had to bail him out. It apparently wasn’t the first time and she filed for divorce.”

While Mona sat on her side of the table looking smug, I sat on my side of the table and wondered if I was going to throw up.

Monday, March 3, 2008

'The Man' Tales - My Father's Funeral

I watched in amazement as the family fell apart. I wasn’t surprised by my mother’s reaction – even though she had declared many times that she was going to leave him and wanted a divorce. In the end they were a couple of months short of being married for 50 years. It was my siblings that surprised me so much.

When it became obvious that no one was going to take the responsibility of arranging the funeral, I gathered my strength together once more and headed off to the funeral home. The funeral director was kind and I marveled at his capacity to deal with grieving relatives. I kept asking him if I was doing okay as I blew my nose at unexpected moments. The fact that his body was lying somewhere in the same building kept popping in to my mind and all I could see was the way he looked at the end. Like he was sleeping. I kept thinking he was sleeping inside a coffin somewhere behind me in this huge building.

I had to make all the decisions about the funeral myself and I knew I would be judged on everything I did. I picked out a picture for the front of the little memorial leaflet that reminded me of the country around our tourist resort in Sudbury. I knew my mother and brother would see why I had done that. Then I picked out music that I knew my mother loved – pieces she had played at church. When it came time for me to sign the cremation papers, I hesitated. I had chosen cremation as I knew they didn’t have any plots arranged and I thought that we could perhaps spread his ashes on the farm that he loved so much. But still, that image of him sleeping kept popping into my head and interfering. In the end I scribbled my name and prayed that I wouldn’t be criticized for my choice. Then, as Dad had been a Sergeant in WW2, the director and I arranged for a piper and a honor guard from the Legion.

I was not alone with my tears as the bagpipes wailed Amazing Grace. The sound filled the entire building and reached down inside our hearts. My mother smiled at me gratefully as we sat behind our curtain and watched the Honor Guard march down the center aisle with quiet dignity and pay their respects to my father’s remains. When the minister called on anyone to come up and give their thoughts on my father, I rose and headed to the podium.

“As most of you know, my father was not an easy man to get along with. But because of him, we have all become the people we are today. His strength and determination made us what we are.”

I sat down again knowing I had not been able to say exactly what I meant. But everyone who sat in front of that curtain nodded when I said he was not an easy man to get along with. Behind the curtain was a different story. When I got up the nerve to look over at my mother, she was glaring at me. I knew I would be hearing about it later.

We held the reception at the big blue barn. I had stayed behind to collect the picture of my father and to receive the urn that my brother had made and that now held my father’s ashes. ‘N’ and her husband took me for a drive in the country. I sat with the urn on my lap and screamed that I wanted them to take me to see John’s ex-wife so I could show her what life was all about. When I had regained my composure, they took me back to the barn and the reception.

Cid was serving tea and cake and making the rounds and doing all the right things for me. My siblings and mother were like wooden dolls as they listened to condolences and sipped their tea. When everything finally caught up to me, I lit the fire and collapsed on the couch, finally drifting off into sleep. The heat from the fireplace soon cleared all the visitors and I awoke to find Cid washing china teacups and putting away the desserts. He took us all out for supper and afterwards took me home and sat with his arm around me. I snuggled into his shoulder and inhaled his smell and tasted his lips that offered the condolences I really needed. When I was calm again – he made the long drive back to Edmonton.

The sister who had called repeatedly from Toronto? She didn’t come to the funeral. But two days later she was calling again insisting that she get her share of the farm – then and there. Mom handed the phone to me and I set it aside and ignored the words that came from the earpiece.

I thought his death would be the end and the beginning of so many things in my life – but I was wrong.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Awards Day - I get one and I give one

Sundays are always the best days for me to thank the people who have given me awards. Today that goes to Amy over at Blog to the Bone who has awarded me a Blogger of the World because my blog is 'out of this world'. Thank you Amy! Awards, on one hand make me feel awkward and terribly humbled - but on the other hand they inspire me to keep the words coming. Thank you to all who have thought of me when they pass these out!

For those of you who read this blog and the comments that people take time to give - you may have noticed Popkins who does not blog but who is a faithful reader. This past week she underwent a mastectomy and is recuperating at home under the care of her 84 yr. old mother. She now faces the daunting tasks of reconstruction and whatever else the doctors see fit such as the possibility of chemotherapy.

I would love to give her a lovely made-up award for her courage and strength through all of this. But as she does not blog and has nowhere to post a made-up award - I am giving her the only award that I can. The one that comes from my heart - with love and respect and prayer.

Popkins - you got it wrong when you said I was your role model. It is the other way around. You are mine. I can only hope that if I am ever diagnosed with breast cancer - that I will act with such quiet grace and fortitude as you have. You are a champ! And to your mother - I can only say what a pillar of strength she is during this time. You are very lucky to her have now and always.

For those of you who haven't been to your doctor for a breast exam and a mammogram - go out and get one. We need to keep the fight going and our sisterhood strong!