Making do

Growing up in rural Nova Scotia often meant making do until we got into Amherst to get groceries on payday week.

We were a family of sweet tooths so come Wednesday night it was not uncommon for mom to make us some simple homemade egg nog as the treat cupboard grew bare.

She called this “making do” until grocery day.

I found myself using that same phrase in a text to a friend recently; it was concerning Patrick.

I just want him to be at peace, I wrote. We will make do down here.

I always, always picture Pat resting and happy, wherever he is in his heavenly space. I cannot think God intends our departed loved ones, whose struggles on earth are done, to continue struggling in their non-mortal state.

Thus I pray that he is fishing his favorite rivers, and spending time with loved ones. It is also not improbable that he is helping out wherever help is needed. That was always his way.

We can make do down here without him.

In no way am I playing the martyr when I say this either. I would much rather have mortal Patrick with us right now. His sweet smile. His boyish charm, wearing his baseball cap. But, here we are, so– it is his time to be content. And while he would be the first to say he had a wonderful life going on, it was not without its serious struggles, and I think of those so much now, in light of our own trauma. I do not think it would be right then that he be living our sadness and our pain. He is not.

I have spoken to you about finally experiencing Pat’s presence in an earlier blog. I have craved for his attention in my loneliest hours and seemingly got nothing.

I have realized that his voice does come through on the clearest of days, however; after I have had a chance to get out, to take a drive, or on the walk back from the elementary school after being with the littles.

It’s like he chooses the moments when my reception is at its best. I’ve a clear mind and a full heart. He always loved to see me happy, and laughing, and doing things.

Because we laughed together everyday. I am not so sure that it wasn’t his objective in life.

This past Saturday I hauled out a selection from my favorite collection of craft magazines and went to work green taping pages of possible projects. Bea worked with me while we drank coffee, and ate toast and peanut butter in bed.

It was us making do.

I think if there is one thing Patrick’s death and this pandemic has instilled in us, it is the fact that this is the bowl of cherries we have got, so what can we do with them? And in our case personally, it has to do with what can we do to always commemorate the man who kept us going and brought us up when we were not so good.

We make do. We make. We draw. We rearrange furniture. We listen to crazy YouTube-ers of our daughter’s generation, that Pat would have absolutely loved.

We build a life that works for us, right now.

And when we do that , we find him.

Praise God. And our Saint, Patrick.

“When the stars take their ride”

Perhaps one of the most melodious singer/songwriters for me has to be Gordon Lightfoot. On a morning drives to school this week, I couldn’t help but be close to overwhelmed by the combination of his words, his voice and his music.

His use of figurative language in combination with strong images is poetry and story. Each song is an adventure that has a strong beginning, a memorable middle, with a definite ending. Many are riveting ballads that repeat the first stanza for the closing sequence of events; but lots more tell a simple narrative, with simplistic language, yet pull a powerful punch.

When I was still living with my mom, and we were getting ready for school in the morning, I would often listen to Gordon Lightfoot as she made my bed and I puttered about my room doing God knows what. One day “Rainy Day People” was playing. It got to the part when he sang:

Rainy day people all know there’s no sorrow they can’t rise above

And my mom said, he doesn’t often write something positive, does he? That is very lovely.

I guess it was, but first I had to get over the surprise that my mom was listening to what I was playing! Lol! I never hear that line but what I think of her and that moment. And it is a beautiful sentiment and it makes me think about who my rainy day people are, who I thought they were, and was mistaken. It makes me also ponder what it takes to be a rainy day person, and if indeed I am one, or could be one, when asked or for that matter, not asked.

My aunt, who is a big Lightfoot fan, loved his song “Mother of a Miner’s Child”. It’s on his Old Dan’s Records album, one I used to borrow from her quite often until I was able to purchase Gord’s Gold, a fabulous compilation of his work. She drew my attention to its soft melody and beauty. And again, my thoughts turn to her and that conversation when I listen to it. There are 2 very poignant lines for me, She will never fail me ’cause I know/I watched her grow, poignant because I think of Pat and his patience with me as I grew from a somewhat spoiled, self-serving individual into a soul who valued his patience and guidance as I navigated this world as a too innocent, too trusting woman.


I have been fortunate to see Gordon Lightfoot in live concert three times. Once as a university student in Halifax. My Auntie from Annapolis Royal treated my friend and I to the show at the Rebecca Cohen. He wore black jeans and a soft white, long-sleeved shirt, and we sat in the balcony enjoying the sights and sounds. I figure he was close to 50 years old at that time, handsome, in fine figure, and strong voice.

Then, approximately 4 years later, I brought my new beau, a fella named Pat, to a Lightfoot concert at the Moncton Coliseum. Well, to be fair, he brought me, but I paid for the tickets. It was a lovely night. I remember how impressed Patrick’s brother Paul was with the idea that a girl would choose a Gordon Lightfoot concert as a date!!

He played his East of Midnight material unplugged, which was, in a word, heavenly, and so much more suitable than it’s original arrangement. “I’ll Tag Along” became Patrick’s favorite, and he told me later how his feelings for me grew so much more after listening to that piece, sitting beside me that night. How does a girl get so lucky to have a guy in her life that would think that, let alone tell her?

The third time I saw him, Pat and I took my Aunt Joan to Halifax, where we met up with her son, my cousin, and his wife, to enjoy a Lightfoot performance at the Halifax Civic Centre, a very large venue. His voice was not very strong, but if you closed your eyes and really listened, you could hear the familiar lilts to his voice, and that was enough.

Incidentally, we had a a fine supper at my cousin’s home and we had a great visit. I am so glad that happened.

My love affair with Lightfoot and his music began (I think) when I started my university career. My father enjoyed his music, especially songs like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” that had a historical significance. In fact Dad loved this part from the famous ballad:

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin’
“Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”
At seven PM, a main hatchway caved in, he said
“Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (G. Lightfoot)

CKDH, Amherst, often played this song on weekday mornings, and the image of my father drinking his tea in his rocking chair, always comes to mind when I play this song.

I had a huge crush on Gordon Lightfoot really. Looking back, I am sure it had to do with missing my father, and the grieving process, and wanting to stay connected with his memory any way that I could. I saw Lightfoot as that connection. It’s not that surprising now that I know so much more about the grieving process, my sensitive nature, and the typical characteristics of an introverted personality (which involve celebrity and fictional character adoration).

I have so many defining Lightfoot favorites, that it is hard to narrow it down to just one. I am going to leave you with a playlist, however, should you be interested in having a listen. The one I am going to actually attach to the blog is called “It’s Worth Believin'”. I love the line, when the stars take their ride, because I have done so much communing with the stars and that heavenly space lately.

It also mentions the family cat coming in for the night, and how relatable it that? Just sayin’.

And in closing, I have to mention the voice of this man, Gordon Lightfoot. At times strained, and so very different from his early debut as a folk artist, it’s late 60’s /70’s sound was incredible. Maybe it was the booze and cigarettes, I don’t know, but it was divine.

Enjoy the music. I do and will, along with the memories it invokes within me. I close with a personal playlist of favorites, shortlisted. Please add your own if commenting on Facebook or in the comment section if you follow my blog directly. I would love to know your favorite Lightfoot song.

  • Rainy Day People
  • Mother of a Miner’s Child
  • The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Carefree Highway (a challenge to play on guitar according to my brother)
  • Now and Then
  • Circle Is Small
  • If You Need Me
  • I’ll Tag Along

It’s decidedly so

When I was young I had a Magic 8 ball of which you could ask questions of a simple yes or no answer. It could respond in a rather ambiguous nature: “as I see it, yes” or “most likely”. It might also be more foreboding with its quips saying, “better not tell you now” or “outlook not so good”.

On the rare occasion you would get a definite answer such as “it’s decidedly so”.

My friends and I would often ask questions of a relationship nature or perhaps whether or not we might pass or fail an important exam or test. Eventually it lost its prediction prowess, however, as it was shaken too vigorously one too many times.

This all comes to mind after I received a package of business cards in the mail today which I ordered on a definite whim a week or so ago. I have referred to my dream of owning a small handcrafting business and somehow I talked myself into putting the business cards before the business. Just a bit more of that working from the top down idea, I guess.

It also reminds me of when I established this blog a year ago. I had no clue where I was going with it, but it has been wonderfully good. So I know I can work away at this little handcrafting venture with the intent to bring joy to self and others.

It’s funny, when I lived in Athol, I wanted to buy one of my neighbor’s houses to run as a small shop of curiosities. It would have been the perfect setting: whispering tall trees by the river, sweet empire roof and a wonderfully historical, whimsical feel. Brown roofing shingles, pink clapboard siding, and a raspberry red door. Lace valences in the sun room windows. A delicious looking cupcake.

I wonder, if I had had the magic 8 ball to consult, what it would have said to the question: will I ever own Ruth’s house?

Reply hazy, try again.

Yes. Well.

So maybe Ruth’s house is no longer in the picture. A lot of stuff isn’t. But that doesn’t mean the vision is not. It faded for awhile but it is coming back. My beautiful heart is strengthening to catch up with my mind.

Do you know how hard it is to grieve? And everyone does it so very differently, according to their own creation. For me it has involved reconnecting with my past a lot. Not because I want to live there, but to visit is just fine. In many ways it makes me happy. And I want to build on that happiness.

It is also a place of compassion. I came from a home, a village, a community, of hard working, creative, compassionate people. It was a very special place and a very special time. And everything I write about, create, and envision has its roots there.

Not everyone has had that experience. Some people can hardly wait to grow up and leave home. I was never one of those people. I developed very slowly in that department so I was very lucky to have a patient, loving mother and a husband to die for (to quote my mother).

They provided me with the strength to always move forward despite my challenges of mental wellness and sensitivity.

So when I needed to dig deep I could and I can. Without sacrificing the vision. I just carry it with me, that’s all, in an upgraded version.

So back to the business then. Little pieces of home, lace, ribbon, simple things. Because life is super complicated enough and I know that.

What of it, Magic 8 ball?

Life is tricky bitch, stay in your magic.

Frogging

When knitting, frogging is the act of unraveling your work due to a mistake such as a dropped stitch or a patterning error. Once fixed, it is then usually necessary for the brave knitter to carefully collect their stitches, the same amount they began with, back onto the needle, and proceed with the project.

It’s not a task for the faint of heart. Especially if you are two thirds of the way done your project, and one wrong move could have you drop yet another stitch, which would then mean more unraveling. Literally, a snowball effect.

I kind of see frogging and grieving as being similar.

And probably why I look to knitting as a way to occupy my hands and my time and my thoughts.

The process of regrouping after accepting “what is”, is a monumental one.

So when our true blue fella vanished from our lives, Bea and I began that slow and tedious climb upward; we began picking up our stitches, so to speak.

And of course there have been mistakes, and heartache, and abandoned projects.

Still are.

But I think if you can see similarities between your creative and grieving processes, you have that proverbial light, at the end of a long dark tunnel, at least established.

I have a plastic tote full of half finished handcrafted projects. Ideas scribbled down in various notebooks of things I would like to try. Fabric pieces are all over my dining room table right now because I hope to establish a little home cottage business as retirement looms. It all works to fill a space, a huge hole, that I strive daily to mend. And to cope with those lonely moments when there is seemingly no one there to fill them up.

But sadly, there are still days after nearly two years, when things still unravel out of control. You do not feel like making things work, or you begin to unravel something, the knots appear and you throw it all out. I have cut out whole sections of unruly, tangled yarn just to put an end to the misery; or I have bagged up every ball of yarn, knitting magazine and pattern, and given it to the Salvation Army, or a co-knitter in crime.

But the urge eventually comes back to take the needles and create something, anything, to relieve that longing for a tangible fix to pain.

And I begin to fill the void and the basket with presents for those whom I love and care about. I just find that with everything there needs to be a break. You cannot knit, hook, read, or grieve all of the time.

But put things in place when the urge hits you to do any one of these things. The notebooks…the the projects yet to be determined, the remembering…they all have a place, be it in my heart or on the dining room table.

It’s what generates hope.

Currently I am working on what I hope to be a lovely wrap that will look dazzling on a special someone next Christmas. It is a divine look right now. I know the pattern so well, I do not have to think about what I am doing and yet I still somehow dropped a stitch which created a “goose egg” in my progress.

I had to go back a few rows and then pick up 89 stitches in order to get back on track. I instantly put it back in the bag.

It was the first thing that came to me the next morning:

You bought the yarn and want to give it as a gift./ I will clean the house and then tackle the mistake./But sometimes you like to take a break and knit between chores./But I might rush it and make an even bigger blunder.

You need to take the risk for your overall well being.

And so I did. What I cannot quite believe is that I was successful in rescuing all 89 stitches within 20 minutes of frogging!

It can be done. Not always, but it can be, nonetheless. And the same holds true for grieving and loss.

I know this because my girl and I have made it this far. And let me tell you it was a climb I thought we would never make.

And yet here we are, functioning, by a warm fire on the other side of winter solstice.

We have challenges ahead: a graduation without a father and husband; family, across the country and across the border; but we also have plans in tiny notebooks and sketchpads. We have love. We have hope. Always hope.

Oh, and knitting.

And frogging.

Singing my Gender

Please join me in experiencing Beatrice’s songwriting. I love her so much. ~Mom xo xo

 I don’t think a lot of people know that I am a songwriter and not just a story writer. I find it’s easier to write songs sometimes, they’re shorter, and require less thought, as well as getting to the heart of my emotions. I have written many songs since I began, which was around grade seven or eight, and it’s always been an emotional release in bad times and a way to keep me on my feet in good times. 

 As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I am deeply passionate about my gender. So, as you could guess, I have written songs about finding myself through my gender and my experiences with it. I don’t have much of a way to share my songs with others, as I’m a little too shy to sing in front of people (though I’m getting better) and have no real means of recording myself, so I think this is the next best thing. In this blog I will share the six songs I have written relating to gender, along with a snippet of the lyrics. I’ll be doing them in order from least to most recent. So without further ado, let’s start the list. I hope you all enjoy it.

I’ve always been like a boy,
Say it’s just the way I am!
I’ve always been like a boy,
Won’t let anybody change that!

I’ve always been like a boy,
Though I don’t wanna be one!
I’ve always been like a boy,
Like a boy,
And I don’t wanna change it!



This was a song I wrote before I even came out as genderqueer, or even considered the possibility that I wasn’t a girl. I wrote it because I always saw myself as acting more like a boy, stereotypically speaking. I was more than okay with that. I felt that the way I acted was just a beautiful part of who I am, and I wanted to express that.

‘Cause she’s a modern woman!
Don't need no man to take care o’ her! 
She’s a modern woman!
She’ll settle down when she’s good and ready!

First she wants her own house and a job that she likes
Only then will she find somebody to keep her warm at night!

This song was originally supposed to be about me. It was also written before I came out, and I was still identifying as female. I later changed the lyrics so they were about someone else; not exactly a specific person, just the embodiment of my respect for women worldwide and everything they do, whether they’re a housewife or a working woman, queer or straight, white or POC, trans or cis, or anything else. This song is now a dedication to all women – I may not be one, but I sure love them!

 GENDERQUEER WORLD; a fun parody I did to the Barbie Girl song. I quite literally despise that song with every fibre of my being simply because it is so sexist and annoying to listen to. After rethinking my gender several times, I finally came up with these lyrics and spoken intro; 

{a hundred days and a hundred nights I suffered, clinging to the hope that I’d understand myself someday. I broke down so many times, torn between the choices. What am I supposed to be? I guess, in the end, it all came down to one question… when I’m singing this song, changing it’s meaning… what do I wanna say to the people of the world?…}

Genderqueer world, 
Yeah I’m livin’ in my own world!
I ain’t plastic,
But I’m still fantastic!
Hate me if you dare,
I really don’t care!
I got friends who love me,
They don’t think that you’re above me! 

 WHAT AM I?; a song about confusion. This song isn’t exactly just about my gender, but it is one of the issues that went into writing it. This song is also about anxiety, grief, depression, anger management, symptoms of ADHD, loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, missing my past self, and much more, all of which I felt while I was writing it.

And there’s all the songs that I wrote,
All the people I want to cut in the throat,
All the feelings that make me feel like there’s no hope,
Sometimes to get out I’d need one trillion lifeboats!
It’s the pain of losing control,
It’s the pain of my body fighting my soul,
It’s the pain of not knowing the difference between friends and foes! 
What’s sad is that I know everything,  
About everyone,
But when it comes to myself,
It’s like I can’t see the sun! 
So what am I? 
What am I?



 UPTOWN BOY; another parody I did to Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl. It was kind of just a silly thing I made up for my characters, Sam Ryder and Jay Barone, Jay being the ‘Uptown Boy’ and Sam being the singer. Though both characters are actually nonbinary, I just thought it would be interesting to insert them into the song. I had fun with this one.

Uptown boy,
He’s been livin’ in his uptown world,
I bet he never met a small town gal,
I bet his mama never told him why!
I’m gonna try for an uptown boy,
He’s been livin’ in his white boy world, 
And just like any free spirit can,
He’s started lookin’ for a small town gal,
That’s what I am! 
And when he knows,
What he wants,
From his time!
And when he wakes up,
And makes up,
His mind!
He’ll see I’m not so tough,
Just because,
I’m in love,
With an uptown boy!
He knows I’ve seen him in his uptown world, 
He’s gettin’ tired of his high-class toys,
And hangin’ with the other uptown boys, 
He’s got a choice! 



 DON’T CALL ME A LADY; this is one of my current works in progress. It’s a song about how much I hate it when people call me a “young lady” or say things like “act like a lady”. I don’t like these things because the very idea of being “ladylike” is the exact opposite of who I am and who I want to be. When I was younger and someone told me to act ladylike, all it sounded like to me was “stop being who you are, it’s wrong”. I know people don’t mean to hurt me when they say it, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I’ve only finished the chorus so far, but here it is;

Don’t call me a lady 
It’s not who I am 
Don’t say “wear a dress” 
Or misgender my ass 
I ain’t wearin eyeshadow 
Or lipstick for you 
Won’t sit like this
Won’t talk like that 
I won’t be that fake person 
I won’t do what you ask 


 So that just about wraps up my songs about gender. I plan on writing more in the future and maybe someday I’ll write another blog about my new ones, or just another blog about my music in general. I hope you all enjoyed, and thank you for reading, it really means a lot to me.


	

Life Uncommon

Valentine’s weekend. A time to focus on love.

Commercially, a time to focus on couple love which can make it difficult for those of us who are no longer a couple.

The potential then for a sad day full of cynicism and emptiness.

And yet…try walking into a grade 3/4 classroom when they are in the midst of emptying their valentine bags and feel nothing but love and happiness and the overwhelming urge to hug hug hug, even in the time of Covid.

Cuz, you see, I have always loved Valentine’s Day. Before loss, before separation. It can be a time of mystery and secrecy and plain old beautiful friendship. It’s thoughtfulness personified.

It’s a chance to show love anonymously, if that is your thing, or to announce your feelings from the rooftops. And any day that is dedicated to love has to be a good thing.

Any day that lends itself to doing and saying those things you wouldn’t otherwise, that is to say, living the life uncommon, is a beautiful day.

And if you can live a life uncommon for one day, you can extend it to more; I know I can.

I have been given the opportunity to live with a freer heart just recently. Our home is a happier one for it. And fuck knows we deserve it.

It has to do with tapping into a new energy and a new way of thinking. It means shedding an old skin, and ridding oneself of the belief that my old life was the only way to live in order to to achieve.

It means letting go of people you liked and really liked, and thought you needed. It’s living with the hope that some will come back around again to provide a different meaning in my life but knowing I will be okay if they do not.

It is about still being yourself and using your God given strengths to help those who need you the most.

It’s still praying for understanding in all I say and do, but it’s not imperative that I receive that complicity in order to move forward.

It’s in the belief that happiness can be overrated. To think that you can maintain contentment though, the knowing that our simple routines of the day and week will be there for us, creates an underlying theme of peace that my heart craves for, and I think always will.

There is a feeling that I recognize in my core now, that lets me know I am okay, and it provides me with the strength and ability to work with my students and support my daughter, and to just be me.

It’s living a life uncommon.

And lend our voices only
To sounds of freedom
No longer lend our strength
To that which we wish
To be free from
Fill your lives
With love and bravery
And we shall lead
A life uncommon

Learning to See

The Bravest – grope a little -And sometimes hit a Tree/Directly in the Forehead -/But as they learn to see -/Either the Darkness alters -/Or something in the sight/Adjusts itself to Midnight -/And Life steps almost straight.

These words from American poet Emily Dickinson are just a few of the so many that resonate with me.

I often wonder when she began to see that living in relative seclusion was going to be her way. I wonder when the tree hit her directly in the forehead?

I have been receiving some awfully powerful messages lately. Really good ones. Part of their power comes from their clarity. The other part comes from what I am doing when the tree hits.

Have you ever watched The Ghost Whisperer, a series that ran for 5 years in the early 2000’s? The very beautiful lead had the power to see and communicate with ghosts, often putting them to rest so they could live peacefully in a new world. I know, it has Melissa written all over it. It does. When her true soul mate died in the series, our protagonist, Melinda Gordon, couldn’t communicate with him for several shows until another crisis occurred. And boom! There he was, ready for a “conflab”.

She hit her head on a tree, figuratively speaking.

So, back to these powerful messages. One was through song, of course. Jewel’s “I’m Sensitive” came through on my Facebook feed one stormy morning. As I listened to it it I thought of Pat, and how if we had been listening to this together at that moment, he would say, that’s you, and I want you to stay that way. Boom! A morning conflab!

Another one came in the form of art: a beautifully soft picture of a woman climbing a ladder to polish the stars. It so reminded me of me… climbing a ladder to at least meet Pat halfway for a conversation. I wish I could polish the stars, I said. And a dear friend responded, “you do each time you share your thoughts with us”. Boom!

I am brave. My mother told me so many times throughout my life you are brave. You can do this. So, I know that I am and I can. I have groped through the darkness looking for a way out of loneliness only to find it where I least expected it. With a woman, a colleague, my administrator, who is not unlike myself, but different, nonetheless. A woman who in her own way has let me know you are kind, you are gentle, but you need to let those who seemingly like and respect you know that you are worthy of that like and respect.

She is saying “you are sensitive, I want you to stay that way, but for God’s sake, set your limits, woman. Do not apologize and attempt to fix what isn’t yours to fix. And I love her for that. I wish I could hug her, but I do not think she is the hugging kind.

Boom! Great fodder for further conflabs!

Pat, the other evening I came across a bare tree with one stray leaf, waving in the wind. It caught my attention. I said, what took you so fucking long? You replied, I have been here all along, you just haven’t settled long enough to listen. And we laughed.

Boom. Instant conflab. Instant relief.

It really didn’t hurt that hard when the tree hit my head.

Red Flannel Hash

Cresting the Athol hill I see the chimney stacks puffing smoke out into the atmosphere of my one-time home.

In the words of Mother Teresa it is an abundance of love type of feeling.

My attachment to the community of Athol is huge, and I am so very grateful for that; it has shaped me so very intensely.

Everything about that community is in me. From the noisy bridge, to sliding hills, to skating parties with cousins, to June services in the church on the hill.

I can remember Roy Hoeg, a stalwart from our community, saying that when he topped that hill from long days of long hauls, he considered himself home.

I get that.

It’s now become the midway point to my destination in the morning, and I guess, at night too. In truth, it gives me greater solace in the early hours of my day.

For 20 years I rose to check for Catherine and Arnold’s light in the middle of the night. And during the winter months I checked for their chimney smoke at first light. It was a very comforting routine. Both are gone now, with Arnold reaching the end of his earthly journey, at the age of 99, just this week.

Catherine and Arnold were an amazing couple. Both were very different in their approach to life but their fundamental belief, of loving for the sake of loving, was the same, and that is what I loved about them. Any neighbor was accepted into the fold.

Including my Patrick. Both Catherine and Arnold meant the world to Pat and I am quite sure they felt the same towards him. When Pat was off work one spring, he did some work for them and Catherine insisted on making her red flannel hash for lunch.

Patrick’s to- the- point, Legere response? It doesn’t look like much Catherine, but it sure tastes good. Now for those of us who knew C that could have gone either way, but Pat got away with it and became a sure friend and neighbor.

I remember one afternoon when Bea was just little, we had been visiting with C and A, and they invited us for supper. At one point Arnold and I met in the kitchen and he gave me this lovely hug. It was an incredible feeling to be hugged by a man who wasn’t that far from my father’s age. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my father until that moment. I wish that I had been able to tell Arnold how much that connection had meant to me.

Maybe he knew.

Catherine had an uncanny ability to provide you with a word or item that you needed before you needed it. I really cannot provide concrete examples of this just now, and it was a bit spooky by times, but just know that this ability she possessed was real.

There was nothing the least bit pretentious about Arnold and Catherine yet they had far reaching friends and connections, and it was due to their kindness. They were rare birds and how fortunate that Athol had them amongst her. They were also extremely aware, dare I say hip? Their connections spanned generations. Their spirits….powerful. Yes, that’s right, they had powerful spirits and now they are powerful spirits whose presence will be felt together, as a team, for us remaining mortals, of that I am sure.

I love you Catherine and Arnold.

I love you Athol.

I love.

belle journée

Road trips are fantastic.

They create so much within me, great (meaning large) feelings.

Today it was Grande Digue, New Brunswick. Acadien territory, near Shediac. I cannot explain it, but it just feels like home to me. It was especially beautiful today as the tress were full of frost and the ocean was a silvery blue. Totally rug hooking material.

I was traveling solo. Beatrice stayed home and was glad to. No fear. We were both happy with the directional decisions we had made this day.

I chose a playlist of songs largely from my past. Its title, “liked songs”. Some are sad, some are happy, all are familiar, and they know me well. It began rather suitably, I thought, with Roch Voisine, and ended with … well, actually I am still listening to it while I am writing!

My destination was an antique and collectibles store called Nadine’s Touch. Today I actually got to meet the proprietor, Nadine, which was, well, in a word, grand. A small woman with dark hair tied back, she spoke to me in a soft french accent of things I love: lace and butter soft colors, linens, and rosaries.

I cannot tell you what that connection meant to me. It is so hard for me to develop relationships with others, other than my students. The past year has been difficult for me in that regard. Fear of loneliness sometimes drives you to unfamiliar territory. But not today.

Today was different and it began with Roch Voisine’s “I’ll always be there”. It grew when I saw the ocean and those dazzling trees. And the realization that my heart and chest were not ready to explode with dread and heaviness.

Do you know it’s okay to cry over songs that make you think of your father? And your handsome husband? That it is therapeutic to visit Acadia-land and buy a handmade creation depicting a crucifix surrounded by rosary beads that your mother-in-law would have been able to explain to you as Nadine did? And that you can set boundaries even though you are desperately afraid to do so?

And that watching Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii is just the ticket on the day you had to set those boundaries? I am telling you that the strength that you need comes from within you, and the promise of a glass of rum and coke doesn’t hurt either.

I have become happy with who I am. I have developed joy from sadness. This year has been difficult and not only because of Covid-19 and missing Patrick, and Beatrice’s struggle. There were other struggles too. I feel deeply and think deeply. I like to please and I am lonely. I saw these as deadly combinations, but in the end, they are really not.

And today’s road trip helped me to see that.

I am leaving you with the final song on my play list. It’s called “I Am…I Said” by Neil Diamond. It is a terrifically happy coincidence that this is where it ends. I hate ellipsis because of that unknown space but I have learned to accept it as perhaps a necessary evil.

Gentle journey.

Melissa xoxo

Living your best life

Just yesterday, Friday, would have been the 86th birthday of Elvis Aaron Presley.

To celebrate Bea and I…well, I, watched Elvis: That’s The Way It is, a documentary concert of his 1969 Vegas concert series of performances . At 34 he was slim, mature, confident and in total control of his onstage activity. He had 8 years of his earthly life left.

This was the one to watch to remember the king.

At one point in the show he performed “Love Me Tender”, and did an impromptu walkabout, kissing lots of women and shaking hands with the guys. I roused Bea from her phone long enough to say “can you imagine that happening today?”

Her reply?

He’s just living his best life. I’d love to be able to do that.

 When I asked her to continue sharing her thoughts for my blog she wrote:

 I’ve often wanted to be a bit like Elvis, someone with a reckless charm and who could flirt with anyone who catches their eye. Someone who people swoon over and get all excited about when they see. I feel I may have left that impression on some people already, as I always try to be funny and charming upon first meeting someone. 

 Maybe I’ll never be singing on a Vegas stage in front of millions of screaming fans, but giving out a free wink and dazzling smile to anyone I pass by is just about as satisfying as walking through a crowd of people looking for a kiss (although as a pansexual I would probably be kissing the men as well as the women).

Hot damn right!

So.

How does one live their best life? And do you only know you have after you’ve gone?

The answer? Well for me it’s all about exploration of self which is hard work until you have one of those aha moments that makes it all worthwhile. How neat that it coincided with the king’s birthday, what?

I have always defined myself in relation to others. Do you know what I mean? I am introverted like my aunt; creative like my other aunt. Sensitive, as was my mom. I look for things of others within me as a way of explaining away my behaviors.

Therefore, I cannot do this because that’s not who I am. Or because I am Bea’s mom, or a teacher, or Pat’s widow. But what if that’s just not so? Am I confusing what’s genuine feeling with a grieving checklist?

Because my aha moment from yesterday, with the help of my therapist, is that the checklist can go away now. I think I am quite well versed in it. I have checked all the boxes and created a few new ones.

I am Melissa and as my daughter so acutely recognized, it’s time to start living my best life again, with all of its joys, warts, stresses and aha moments.

What defines you? What has and does continue to shape you? Do you need to change that? What do you want? Be clear. Pay attention to your vibes. Oh, and please please watch the Love Me Tender walkabout YouTube video I have posted with the blog. It’s really not until the end, when Elvis is back up on stage that you feel “that vibe” from him. Imagine, just imagine the different turns his life might have taken if he had followed the feelings you see emanating from him during that performance.

Long live the king.