Freakingly Fabulous Friday!

IMG_5778
The Freakingly Fabulous Diana!

My eldest daughter arrives home for a visit today. Isn’t that freakin’ fabulous?

My sister flew in last night. yup. F.F.

Tomorrow night, we will celebrate my mother’s 92nd birthday — all of us together.  My sisters, daughters, C.C., his daughter and her boyfriend – How freakingly fabulous is that?

The only ones missing will be C.C.’s son who is at The Peak Performance Band Camp, (more freakin’ fabulous stuff!) and of course, my nieces who live far away.

Yesterday, I met up with the amazing Diana of Talk to Diana for a glass of wine, a nibbly and lots of wonderful conversation. More freakin’ fabulosity!

I met Diana when I was working at a homeless shelter here in the city and she was the Director of Fund Development for a different shelter. We hit it off right away. From her compassionate approach to finding common ground, to her sharp intuitive ability to divine what’s really at stake, Diana makes a difference in my life, and the world.

One of the things I admire most about Diana is her capacity to see the big picture, and still keep the ‘little guy’ in the frame. Whether its the small not for profit agency struggling to execute on their mission or the charitable juggernaut striking new ground in the philanthropic sweepstakes, Diana can see how all the pieces fit together and understands the value of each perspective and their interrelatedness. Diana cares about making the world a better place, and lives by example. Big time.

A couple of hours with Diana and I find myself refreshed and reinvigorated. I want to take on the world and create better with every breath I take. It is one of her many gifts. To inspire people to embrace the truth of their capacity to make a difference.

As I walked back downtown to where my car was parked, I felt lighter, sunnier, calmer. Don’t you love spending time with someone who inspires you and lifts you up? Yup. Freakin’ Fabulous!

This morning, I will drop my sister off to visit our mother while I go off to pick up Alexis at the airport. From there, Alexis and I will drive to the hospice where her father’s mother is being cared for. Five weeks ago, she was told she had a week to live. While the prognosis has not changed, she has hung on long enough for Alexis to get here to say a final goodbye. And I think that is freakin’ fabulous. My daughters’ other grandmother turned 94 at the beginning of the month, a few days after the doctors gave her the final diagnosis. It has been a stressful and sad time for both my daughters to see the lives of their grandmothers inevitably towards their endings.

And yet, what a gift.

They have been blessed with having these two remarkable women in their lives for 26 and 28 years. They have lived the value of family ties unbroken through their childhood into teens and now into young women striking off to carve their own paths through life.

Both their grandmothers have played active roles in their formative years. From summer holidays spent wandering the beaches of Vancouver Island to playing dress-up and listening to stories of exotic places, through time spent with their grandmothers and their aunts, my daughters have had the gift of time with generations of women who love and care for them beyond my greatest imaginings.

I only met my mother’s mother once when she came from India to visit us for three months when we were living in France and I was in my early teens. My father had a distant and strained relationship with his mother and we never met her, even though, for awhile, we lived in England where she lived too.

I wanted different for my daughters. I wanted them to know their roots ran deep, their family ties were indestructible. Because of these two women, they have lived with the value of family ties binding them through the generations. And I think that is freakin’ fabulous!

This evening, while my daughters go off to a friend’s birthday party, my eldest sister, Jackie, is coming over to join Anne and me in the studio to help in the making of paper butterflies for mom’s party tomorrow night.

I have a vision. I’m going to drape a sheer blue cloth above the table and hanging starlights above it. We’ll suspend the butterflies we’ll be making tonight on the other side of the cloth and with flowers and photos, create a mystical, magical scene for mom to enjoy.

I’m looking for freakin’ fabulous! And I know, it won’t be the decor that makes it so. It will be family (though making it beautiful is so freakin’ fun it sure makes a difference!)

How blessed I am.

And grateful.

May you have a freakingly fabulous weekend. May it be filled with wonder and awe, and may you find your heart skipping wildly in love with the world around you.

Namaste.

 

 

 

And my heart skipped a beat

Art Journal Entry August 27, 2014 The Possibility of Flight
Art Journal Entry
August 27, 2014
The Possibility of Flight

I have been exploring open eye meditation. Stepping into the sacred silence with my eyes wide-open.

It is challenging. Being in this place where I am not at ease. Staying in this space where my mind, intent on its mission to see what is beyond, wants to wander away from finding peace.

Like anything new, it takes practice. Patience. Persistence.

Ugh. I’d rather just close my eyes and tune my eyes looking out, inward.

And I prevail.

This morning, as I meditated, a thought went scampering through my mind. Well, actually… truth is, many thoughts scampered through my mind, it’s just this one took hold and begged a question be asked!

Yesterday, C.C. was in Vancouver on business. When he is engaged in working, he is extremely single-minded on what he is doing. Taking time to check-in is not high on his agenda. Yesterday was no exception.

In meditation this morning, that little vignette skittered through my mind. I noticed how I am not holding onto resentment or anger over what in the past I have judged as lack of consideration, thoughtlessness, or awareness of my presence in his life. I did notice however that my awareness of its happening was still with me. I noticed that underneath the situation, there is a current, a thread, a belief that is unrelated to what is happening now.

“What about this situation is connecting to something from the past?”, my curious mind asked.

A feeling arose from within me. It had no name, no label. All it had was tears.

Ahh, my heart whispered. You are remembering feeling invisible, unseen, unimportant.

My tears whispered back a quiet, ‘yes’.

Are you invisible? my heart gently asked.

No, my tears responded.

So you know the truth, my heart stated. You are not invisible. Unseen. Unimportant.

Awoken to the truth, my mind had no problem responding. Yes. That is true.

What is underneath the lie? my heart prodded.

The answer slipped in with the ease of an autumn leaf falling to the ground. Sadness.

Slip into it, my heart urged. Wear it. Embrace it. Become this sadness. Explore it. How deep is it? What colour? Texture? Can you see in it? Through it? Over it?

And I slipped quietly into the sea of sadness that lay calmly beneath the surface of my awareness. It did not flow. It simply held space. Warm. Serene. A misty blue, it felt silky against my skin. It was not deep. I could easily slip through it to the other side where sunshine flooded a field of wildflowers gently swaying in the breeze.

Knowing its limits, I rested silently in its presence, breathing into its essence within me.

Is it all of you? my heart asked.

I smiled. No. It is simply a presence. An element of my being that sometimes surfaces to remind me that within me is a sea of memory that holds sway when I let go of what is true for me today.

And what is true for you today? my heart asked.

And I breathed deeply, a sigh of relief flooding my body in the remembering of my truth.

I am loved. I am loving. I am Love.

And my heart skipped a beat and leapt for joy.

Not bad for a girl who was resisting meditating with her eyes wide-open!

 

A gift from the quiet hours before the dawn

coyote

In a burst of exuberance, the wind swept down from the mountains 
whispering stories of faraway places.

“Runaway with me and I will show you the world!” the wind called out and Coyote laughed.
“Here is where I run free,” he told the wind. And the wind blew on and Coyote ran free.

Art Journal Entry, August 26, 2014

There was a time when she believed if she could just be somewhere else other than where she was, everything would be okay.

There was a time when she wished for nothing more than to be someone else other than who she was.

What she couldn’t see in looking for another way of being is that no matter what she wished for, she could never be anyone else other than who she was.

What she couldn’t see was that the parts of her that didn’t fit her well in this place, would not fit her any better in another.

Fearful that she would never find her way, she attempted to jettison her past, extricate herself from being herself to become someone she thought others wanted her to be. “Perhaps if you change directions, or even just your clothes, you’ll find yourself another way,” her nimble mind whispered like the wind blowing down from the mountains, calling her to run away.

And she ran, and ran and still she found herself where ever she was at, trying to run away from the one she could never leave behind, herself.

“Perhaps if you simply stand true to who you are, stay present to what is here in this moment, you’ll find yourself right where you’re at,” her loving heart whispered into the howling of the wind.

Frightened by her heart’s calling and tired of constantly running away, she fell to the ground and rested right where she was at. And in her sleep, her heart beat strong, and her mind grew restful as the truth of who she is set her free to run wild like the wind through her dreams.

“There is nothing to fear in being you,” her heart whispered. “Who you are is who you’ve always been. Perfectly human in all your human imperfections. Beauty and the beast. Loving and loved. A child of the universe, seeking her way into the light of her own brilliance shining brightly on the path of her creation.”

Like coyote and the wind, there is always a calling to venture into another space, some distant place where what is here will not be there. It isn’t until I quit searching for somewhere else to be that I discover, everything I need to be free is here right now, because, no matter where I go, I am where ever I am at.

**************************

The painting and story above came from my meditation. Like the caterpillar story yesterday which came from a dream where I awoke with the image of the unhappy caterpillar and his desire to be anything other than himself,  the image of the coyote slipped through my mind as I sat in silence.

I was seeking a peaceful mind and still the wind blew in.

I tried to push it away. Instead, it insisted on leaving its mark in the form of a coyote, the trickster of Native American lore. I asked coyote what he had to tell me, and the image and story were born.

In my practice, both here on the written page and on my art journal page, I have learned to trust in the process. To allow the words, and images, to appear without trying to discern them before they flow.

It can be challenging. I like to control. I like to dictate, to organize, to force and cajole things into being, just so. I also like to judge what I create. Measure its worth against some unseen yardstick in my mind.

Learning to trust in the process without judgement means, learning to trust in me.

A big leap.

Which is probably why, when I awoke at 3:30 this morning with the image of a cliff in my mind, the words appeared, “Leaping off the edge of what she knew to be true, she found herself believing in the possibility of flight.”

What a lovely gift to find upon awakening in the quiet hours before the dawn.

How to spin your own dreams

Art Journal August 24, 2014 The caterpillar cannot fly free, until it learns to spin its own dreams
Art Journal August 24, 2014
The caterpillar cannot fly free, until it learns to spin its own dreams

When my daughters were little I wrote them a story about an unhappy caterpillar who cried and cried all the time. One day, his tears fell on a leaf fairy sleeping on a leaf. Surprised by the sudden rain pouring on her head, she awoke and demanded to know why the caterpillar was crying.

“I hate being a caterpillar,” the unhappy fellow wailed. “I hate it. Hate it,” and he shook his tiny body ferociously and cried some more.

“If you weren’t a caterpillar what would you rather be?” asked the leaf fairy.

“What a stupid question,” said the caterpillar. “How can I be anything else? I’m stuck in this body.”

“Well, I’m a fairy and I’ve got magic and I can turn you into anything you want,” the leaf fairy told him. She wasn’t used to being questioned so she had a bit of attitude around her response.

The Caterpillar thought about this for a moment. Magic. Hmmm… Anything he wanted…. Well in that case. “A rose,” the caterpillar promptly replied and poof, she changed him into a beautiful red rose.

Alas, the rose was prickly and thorny. No one could get close to him. He wanted to be more… likeable. He cried again and asked to be turned into an iris.

The iris, however, was too blue. He was tired of being blue all the time and wanted something happier. Like being a bright, sunny faced daisy he pleaded with the leaf fairy.

The leaf fairy agreed to do it (but he was wearing her out) but even then the caterpillar was dissatisfied. The daisy had lots of arms to reach out and touch people with, but it was rooted to the ground.

Just then a brilliantly coloured butterfly flitted by. The caterpillar watched her in awe and then he knew what he really wanted to be. He wanted to be a beautiful butterfly with gossamer wings that shimmered in the sun, free to fly wherever he wanted.

He pleaded his case one more time with the leaf fairy. “Okay,” she said, “but you’re tiring me out. This is the last magic I can do for you today.”

The caterpillar closed his eyes and waited. The leaf fairy spoke the magic words, sprinkled leaf dust all over him and when he opened his eyes anticipating wings to fly free, the caterpillar wailed in dismay. He was a caterpillar once again.

“I told you I wanted to be a butterfly,” he cried. “I hate being a caterpillar.”

“You are a butterfly,” the leaf fairy told him. “Inside you there is a beautiful pair of wings waiting to be free. But first, you must learn to spin your own dreams.”

Sometimes, I have not believed I could fly. Sometimes, I have clung to my disbelief in the possibility of change as I held steadfast to my resistance to dream. Sometimes, I have embraced the lie that I am not powerful enough to make my dreams come true, and sometimes, I have grounded myself so deeply in my fear of flying, I haven’t even bothered to try to stretch my wings for fear I will fall.

Regardless of the reasons why I haven’t catapulted my dreams into reality, when my dreams don’t come true the way I want them to, I have a choice. To find value in what is, or…. to hold still, take a deep breath, and keep on spinning my dreams into reality.

When dreams don’t come true, it’s because the dreamer spun in a different direction, changed their course, or simply gave up spinning in any direction at all or perhaps it’s because they were spinning cotton, not silk.

Today, I commit to spinning my dreams in the direction of my goals. Today, I choose to affirm, my dreams are mine to spin in every colour of the rainbow.

Today, I commit to spreading my wings. I don’t know their full extent until I reach beyond the edges of my imagination, out into the universe where dreams come true because I’m willing to spin my own dreams.

Dancing on the Hands of Time

Art Journal August 23, 2014 Dancing on the hands of time
Art Journal
August 23, 2014
Dancing on the hands of time

“Stealing a glance at time passing away, she awoke.”

I took my mother some coloured pens and other drawing materials yesterday. Don’t you love it when you have a spark of brilliance — later rather than sooner? 🙂

I remember her telling me long ago how when she was young, she loved to draw and paint. It must run in the family. Her brother,  my Uncle Jojo as well as one of her sisters, Auntie Evelyn, both love to paint as well, as do some of my cousins.

It’s in my blood.

Like so many aspects of me, my preferences today are founded on the learnings of the past, those connections that tie me inextricably to the family circle into which I was born.

While I was visiting with her yesterday, I showed her the supplies I brought, and true to my mother, the first thing she wants to make is a card for a friend of my sister, who has as my mother says, “Never forgotten my birthday.”

My mother is big on gratitude. Always.

I like gratitude too. Gratitude is good for my heart. It lightens my spirit and fills my day with blessings.

Last night, as I was leaving the hospital, I stuck my parking pass into the big machine by the parkade’s front door and waited for the instruction to insert my credit card. At the machine beside me, a woman muttered to herself as she tried to figure out what to do. Speaking to the machine and waving her credit card in the air in front of it, she asked, “so where am I supposed to put this?”

“It goes here,” I said and showed her the slot which happened to be the same slot the parking pass went into. It wasn’t very well indicated as to its dual purpose.

“Oh thank you,” she said with a sheepish grin. “I’m from Olds. I’m just a country bumpkin.” (Olds is a small town about an hours drive north of the city.)

“I’ve done it too,” I told her. “They don’t mark it very well.”

She smiled and thanked me and we parted.

It is such a simple phrase. “Thank you.” And yet, it can make the heart so light.

Last week, while at the United Way to give a presentation, I was handed an envelope someone had sent me, using the United Way’s address for my contact. It was from a man who was in one of the courses I used to teach at the homeless shelter when I worked there. He had been in a presentation I’d given last spring to at a workplace campaign. In his note he told me how well he’s doing in his life now, and how he thanks me for playing a key role in his moving out of where he was at into his life today. “Keep poking people,” he wrote. “It works.”

I smiled when I got his note. My heart was thankful and my spirit felt bright.

I don’t remember specifically what happened with this man. the details are not important. What is important is the time he took to express his gratitude and the gratefulness my heart feels in receiving his gift. I am grateful that in his remembering me, my heart has been touched by gratitude. Both for the opportunity to make a difference, and to know that difference moved someone to step beyond the boundaries of where they were at, to live free of the past.

We never know what we do or say that will touch someone in a way that will help them open their eyes and see possibility.

Once, when I was in the deep, deep darkness of that relationship that was killing me, a police detective told me that what I was experiencing wasn’t love. “Love doesn’t hurt like that,” he said.

At the time, I wasn’t ready or able to hear his words, but, once the man was arrested and I got my life back, it was his words that gave me the courage to step out from under the darkness of abuse into living freely.

I have never been able to personally thank that detective so instead, I made the commitment years ago, to express my gratitude through acts of service that make a difference in the world. It feeds my heart and lightens my spirit.

It is one of the many blessings of being free. I can choose to be and do in the world more of what I want to have — joy, love, peace, harmony — and let go of the things I don’t want, the things that don’t serve me, or the world, well — regret, sorrow, bitterness, anger…

I am grateful today for the lives I’ve touched and the lives that have touched me — all of them. Because that’s the thing about gratitude, even the touches that hurt have value. Their gift is found in the freedom I know today.

Blessings on your day.

PS. We are hopeful mom will be out of the hospital tomorrow. I am grateful for the amazing care she has received and the kindness and prayers and well-wishes of all of you here, and on FB. Thank you.

 

 

Today’s Quote

Love this quote — so very powerful.

Soul Gatherings

impact

I am only one,
but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

~ Edward Everett Hale ~
_____________________________

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The bridge of compassion

She put on lipstick.

Brushed her hair.

Applied a little blush.

“You look beautiful,” I told my mother when I arrived to visit her at the hospital yesterday.

Definitely much better than on Tuesday when my sister and I wondered if she’d ever be able to get out of bed again.

That is the thing about blessings and kindness (and good medical care). When the heart is open to receive, Love flows freely. And with its flow, in no time at all, healing begins.

She is getting out of bed. They’ve taken out the IV, and she is eating better than she has in a long while. Even though “the food is terrible,” she says. And she scrunches up her face into a look of disgust, waves her arthritic fingers in the air as if brushing away something foul.

Which given her estimation of the culinary efforts of the hospital kitchen, is probably what my mother is doing, brushing away an ill-smelling memory.

It is one of her habitual responses — to throw her hands into the air, brush away imaginary cobwebs of confusion and say,  “Let’s not talk about that.”  or “Let’s not bring that up again.”

And while my mother and I have many similar traits, this is the one that sits between us, irritating whatever fragile peace we’d managed to claim in our often turbulent relationship.

I want to ‘deal with things’, get them out in the open, deconstruct and dissect to discard. My mother would rather just leap to the discard.

In the past, I have judged her harshly for her desire to discard. How can something heal if you do not acknowledge its existence? I’d ask when she would ask me why I have to bring that up, again.

Because to learn from it, I need to see what it is, I would reply.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore. What’s done is done. Nothing can change it.

Yes but…

And I would insist on pushing into it, pulling it apart, pushing it through to the other side.

For my mother, that felt harsh, cruel, mean.

For me, it felt constructive. It wasn’t personal. I simply needed to understand in order to learn. Believing that I cannot heal or change what I do not acknowledge, I wanted to speak of what it was that was causing me so much distress.

Except, when looking to heal a relationship, or build a bridge between two differing points of view, talking over the other person’s point of view only creates more of what caused the rift in the first place — discord, differing points of view, decidedly different perspectives.

It isn’t that either point of view is wrong. it is simply that they are different.

Yesterday, as I sat and chatted with my mother and my youngest daughter who was visiting with her boyfriend, I marvelled at how different the view is when no matter my perspective, I step out of judgement to see the people around me through a compassionate and loving heart.

When I let go of having to prove I’m right, the world rights itself to that place where it is not our differences that connect us, it is the thing we share that can never be broken, our family circle united in Love.

 

 

Tougher than I think

She is doing better.

C.C. and I went to visit my mother last night. We were later than anticipated. We both had early evening meetings and by the time we met up, neither of us had had dinner (or lunch for that matter). So we stopped at one of our favourite French Bistro’s and shared a glass of wine, delicious food and stories of our day.

Seated at our window table, we watched people run through a sudden downpour, skipping over puddles and dodging umbrellas of passers-by. We watched a man stop his car in the middle of the street, get out and have a conversation with someone on the sidewalk as the drivers behind him veered around, waving arms and honking horns. A visibly homeless man pushed a shopping cart overloaded with personal possessions, stopping every once in a while to rummage through streetside garbage bins. Dog-owners, home from work, walked their soggy pooches along the street as those ill-prepared for the rain, gave up all pretense of trying to stay dry and simply kept walking as if it didn’t matter.

After dinner, we drove to the hospital to visit my mom and found her in much better spirits than when I’d seen her yesterday.

The pain is gone, she told us, her tiny body wrapped in a hospital blue blanket. They had moved her from the floor she was originally on to a ‘medical’ ward. Her bed is by the window, where she could look out at the grey, sodden world and be happy to be warm and dry inside.

Talkative, chatty, (she loves it when handsome men come to visit) she shared tidbits of her day. In her hands that fluttered while she spoke, and her voice that rose and fell with the lilting singsong of her French accent she has never quite lost, I caught glimmers of the woman she used to be before depression carved its way into her daily routine.

Chatty, curious, and very sweet, my mother was always filled with little conversations about people she’d met and things she’d seen throughout her day. She’d often wonder about this person or that, why they did, this or that, what happened to create this or how did that become. As loss and time dug away at her peace of mind, her world moved from outwardly focused to internally centric ruminations that devolved again and again around the things that have happened that hurt her. And, with the narrowing of her perspective, her capacity to see beyond the personal, narrowed too. Never adept at shaking off lifes arrows (she has a very gentle, sensitive heart), her capacity to handle life’s travails lessened as her worldview shrank.

It has been the sad reality of the narrowing of her world. From daily happenings that involved giving to others and sharing her talents, time and treasures with the world, her life has become a singular focus on the immediate world around her, a place where the past is the only place she can visit to be reminded of the meaning she once had in a life to which she gave her best and created meaning in her doing.

I see it whenever I visit the lodge where she lives. Once broad lives narrowing down to singular focus on days filled with card-playing, gossip, meals together and routine that seldom varies from the calendar posted on the wall announcing various  ‘space filler’ activities designed to keep minds and bodies active — with little opportunity for external connections to be made and maintained.

I hear it in the voices of the well-intentioned staff who give their all to ensure the residents are well-cared for and tended to, but who inevitably use the same voice they’d use to speak to children.

And I am reminded of what one woman told me at the homeless shelter where I used to work when I was explaining to her about a video we were shooting. “Just because I’m hard of hearing doesn’t mean I’m stupid, dear,” she said after I’d consciously chosen simple words to explain the project.

I have been condescending with my mother in the past. While not intentional, I have given her my 13 year-old attitude assuming that age has rendered her incapable of understanding the simplest of things. At 13 I thought she was incapable of understanding life. I thought she was fragile, naive, old-fashioned and not with the times. Funny thing is, back then, she knew more than I thought and was tougher than I gave her credit for.

No surprise, at 92, she’s still tougher than I think.

She is never grouchy.

I am at the hospital where my mother has just been brought by ambulance. There is no bed yet in the Emergency area so my sister and I sit on chairs in the hallway where she is lies on a stretcher.

“I’ll get us tea” I tell my sister J. who is there with me. And I head off to find the coffee shop.

I order our teas and when I walk over to the condiments area there is a priest carefully placing a lid atop his tea.

I smile at him, take a breath and ask, “Are you just finishing visiting someone at the hospital?”

“Yes,” he replies.

“Do you visit people in hospital a lot?”

“Not as much as I used to. There is a hospital priest who is assigned here,” he tells me.

“Oh…” I hesitate and then quickly add. “My mother was just brought in by ambulance. She’s not on her deathbed but it would make her really happy and give her peace of mind if you were able to come and say hello.”

He doesn’t hesitate at all. “Of course. What room is she in?”

“She’s not in a room,” I tell him. “She’s on a stretcher in the hallway in Emergency.”

His smile is warm and caring. “Then lead the way. I’ll follow you.”

As we walk I tell him how my mother will be so very happy and grateful to see him. “As long as she doesn’t think you’re coming to give her last rites,” I add, nervously.

He laughs and tells me he will keep it light, happy.

By the time we find the corridor in the emergency area where my mother was placed, it is empty. They’ve already found her a cubicle.

Father Wilbert enters the small curtained room with me, takes my mother’s hand and asks if she would like him to say a prayer of well-being.

Her entire being beams. One hand grips the gold crucifix she wears around her neck and she whispers, “Yes. Please.”

And he anoints her and blesses her and prays over her and my sister and I stand on the opposite side of the bed, heads bowed as he says aloud the words of a prayer we have known since young children when my mother would make us kneel in front of the crucifix above the mantel in our living room and pray the rosary. “Our Father who are in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name…”

It is a moment of grace in a frightening situation.

Earlier in the day, the nurse at the lodge where my mother lives had gone to check up on her. “I think you should take your mother for a chest x-ray,” she told my sister when she phoned. “I hear a rattle.”

The rattle was pneumonia. And an infection in her chest cavity. The doctor’s office called an ambulance. My sister called me and we both met at Emergency.

When the Emerg Dr. came to see her, she took one look at my mother’s tiny body and said, “You are just a wee mite, aren’t you?”

And she is. Her bones protrude. Her skin is sunken in the cavities between the edges.

“She doesn’t eat much,” I told the doctor.

“I can see,” she replied and as she left, she smiled and said, “I think there comes an age when we get to be grouchy if we want.”

“My mother is never grouchy,” I told the doctor. “Just sad. Very, very sad.”

She was admitted last night. Tiny. Frail. She is receiving the best of care.

My eldest daughter and my middle sister arrive next week. They were already booked to come and celebrate mom’s 92nd birthday on the 30th.

“Should I change my flight?” they both asked when I spoke with them.

“Let’s wait to see what happens at the hospital,” I tell them.

The admitting doctor was optimistic. The antibiotics should kick in within 48 hours and she should feel the improvement within a few short days.

She should be home for her birthday.

We will all be together to celebrate.

And she will not be grouchy. It is not who she is. It is not who she has ever been.

She will be sad, and I believe, within that sadness, will be the joy of having her three daughters, two of her four granddaughters, as well as their husbands and boyfriends around her to celebrate her special day.

And in that joy she will be embraced by what she cherishes the most, family.

 

That Woman

When my cell phone rings I gingerly press ANSWER. I don’t want to get paint on it.

“Hey! What are you up to?”  It is my girlfriend Tamz.

“I’m in the studio,” I reply. “Aren’t you at the Bruno Mars concert? What time does it start?

“Eight. And we have a single ticket free. Why don’t you come?”

I glance at the time. 7:30.

I glance at my paint covered hands. My painterly clothes.

“I’m in the studio.”

“And he’s at the Saddledome,” she replies.

I hem and haw. My brain goes into hyper-drive.

I am contentedly painting in the quiet of the studio. I have no intention of going out. I am enjoying myself.

Hmmm… Bruno Mars. Love his music. So talented.

Yes, but I’ve told myself I want to have more fun. To be more loose, not just in my painting but in my life.

Bruno Mars. Quiet in the studio.

I tell her I’ll be there by 8. Race upstairs pulling off my paint covered shirt as I go. C.C. is reading in the den. “Hi honey. Tamz has just invited me to the Bruno Mars concert. They’ve got one ticket. Are you okay if I go? Do you mind dropping me at the Saddledome entrance?” Good thing C.C. is knows me well — and is a good sport!. He nods his head, closes the book he’s reading and tells me I’d better get ready.

I am there by 7:55. Not bad given that it’s a 15 minute drive.

As I walk towards the Saddledome to meet Tamz and her friend on the main staircase, I spy a man I know from the shelter where I used to work. He is pan-handling at the edge of the concourse. He sees me, smiles and I walk up to say hello. He gives me a big hug. We chat (he’s finally moving out of the shelter he tells me) and I tell him I’m glad and I have to run. I’m going to the show. We share another hug before we part.

At the show, my seat is AMAZING. Row 20, dead centre of the stage and while I’m sitting by myself, the people around me are friendly. Once the show starts, it doesn’t matter who I’m with. I’m one with twenty-thousand people standing in unison and swaying and clapping and screaming in concert with Bruno Mars.

I leave at the second encore. I want to grab a taxis home and can’t phone Tamz to set a meeting place as planned because, my phone is dead. I want to get home to call her before she gets anxious waiting for me. As I grab the handle of the passenger door of the first cab in the line, two young women behind me scream, “OMG!!!”

I hesitate. Am I stealing their cab? Were they in line?

I turn to ask and one of the young women says, “OMG. OMG. You’re that woman!” Her hands are fluttering around her face. Her eyes are wide.

“That woman?” I ask hesitantly.

Breathlessly, she responds, “The one in the movie. I just saw it on TV. OMG!!!!” And she screams at a friend across the avenue, waving madly for her to come over to where we are standing.

Perhaps it’s the excitement of being in the concert. The thrill of listening to a great musician and getting caught up in the energy of the room. But I do kinda think her response is a bit over the top.

I smile. Tell her yes, I am that woman. We chat for a moment, she is studying criminology, and I get into the cab and give the driver my home address.

He plugs it into the GPS and a soft, melodic woman’s voice gives him directions.

“Could you take 11th Ave instead please?” I ask. “At this time of night it’s faster.”

He sighs, tells me, ‘she’  won’t like it and carries on. She tells him to turn left. The driver tells her he can’t. “My passenger wants to go another way.” When he drives beyond the left she’s dictated, he apologizes to her. Pats the dash. Tells her, ‘it’s okay honey.’ It happens many times along our route. Every time she says turn and he goes another direction, he gently reassures her that it’s okay.

“One day I’d love it if she came and sat beside me so we can have a real chat,” the driver tells me. “I love how she never argues.”

I laugh and tell him I understand.

And I do.

It’s life.

Funny. Messy. Quirky. Screaming fans and awe struck young women. Spontaneous outbursts and quiet interludes. Moments that take your breath away and moments that draw you to tears and ones that simply make you shake your head in wonder.

It’s ins and outs and ups and downs and ‘yes I will’ and ‘no, I won’t’. It’s changing your mind and deciding to join the throngs instead of staying at home in the quiet of your own space to hear your heart breathing as you measure each breath in the joy of being at One within the moment where you’re at.

And it’s going out and coming home to share the stories of the laughter and music with the one I love. It’s the moments that caught me off guard and the ones that made me shake my head and wonder, are we all crazy and knowing the answer to that question is yes and no.

We are all human. We are all connected. We are all travelling this path called life, doing the best we can, where ever we are.

I am blessed. No matter where I go, my heart is where it belongs in the safe embrace of the one I love.