Choose any of these beginnings:
Once upon a time...
Once in a different lifetime...
Many moons ago...
Over nine years ago...
Oh! The irony!...
They all apply to this blog. I'll choose to combine two.
Oh! The irony! This morning, I read a blog post from my dear friend, Linda, a question about 'clearing'. Physical or spiritual? I decided to write my blog today about my clearing journey...often a very halting one. To do this and to be transparent, I decided to take a photo of what I'm clearing in my bedroom (a huge laundry basket brimming over with books--don't worry, you'll see it here soon). On the floor, unearthed by my clearing of the books into the laundry basket (from several tottering piles on the floor), I found an envelope. Front side up, it said 'Roby'. A card for my husband Rob. Our nicknames for each other are Roby (his middle/Chinese name being Yui-Ming) and Suey (my middle name being Yvonne. Judy, Rob's ex-wife joked once asking if he had ever called me 'Chop Suey'. But this Suey nickname originated from our joint middle initial. Besides, in retrospect, it would be funnier if he had called me some kind of English dish rather than a Chinese dish ).
I have no idea what the card was now. I obviously kept the envelope for what was written on the back. And the irony and magic of finding it today is not lost on me.
Today is Sunday. Usually I visit Dad at 1pm-ish on Sundays. Occasionally I work but try to arrange my schedule around being off on Sundays at one as much as possible. Sometimes something else crops up in my life and our time has to be rearranged. When Dad started going to church at the beginning of this year, I suggested that we choose another, less busy day for him (Sundays originated as a way to break up the weekend for him) but he wanted to keep our visits the same. No worries. Last week as I wrote down my July work schedule for him, I mentioned that I had taken a 7am to 5pm shift on Sunday 1st July, the opportunity of 10 hours at time and a half too much to resist. Hope that's okay? I asked, adding that he might be busy with his ladyfriend, Sandy, at her camp then anyhow. And we could arrange a different time, maybe even after work that day, to visit.
Last Monday, the next day, when I talked to Dad, he mentioned that his Saturday plans with Sandy got rearranged and he was going to her home on Shebandowan Lake on Sunday now. Today. I tried to rearrange but said my Monday was already busy. Dad didn't seem to want to rearrange a visiting day at all. Although that has now changed and we're getting together on Tuesday, at the time I must admit I felt a little put out. Dad didn't mean to make me feel that way and I could have been a lot more grown up about it, but feelings are feelings and I believe in experiencing them as much as possible otherwise they'll just end up as extra pounds on my body or dark holes in my soul. Of course, I said it was fine. And for him to enjoy himself. I sincerely meant that. Sandy is a refreshing breath of fresh air in his life and it is heartwarming to see them together. I also have wonderful friends who could empathise and validate my feelings. One in particular, Fran, said that she hoped i would do something fun and just for me in the time I normally see Dad.
I am. I'm writing this blog. About the importance of that envelope and what was written on the back.
Over nine years ago, Rob had a massive heart attack. On Ontario's very first official stat holiday in February, Family Day. Oh! The irony! What Dad wrote on this envelope is from that day.
I had been at the gym then grocery shopping. No cell phone. No one could reach me. Rob had left for work at Joe's on Arthur, a restaurant, early in the morning. We'd had several days of escalating bickering. We had 4 tickets to see The Rankin Family perform that night. I was looking forward to it as a fun way of spending time together---our schedules too busy, our lives and hearts too far apart for far too long. Somewhere down the line his ex-wife Judy was invited to join us. Much as I like Judy, much as we get along, I didn't want her to be there this night. My jealousy contributed to the arguments.
I drove into my driveway after gym and grocery shopping. The most eventful thing that had happened was that my antiperspirant had slipped from my hands in the shower at the gym and broken on the floor. A police car followed me into the driveway. Shit! Had I been speeding? Had I not seen it follow me home? I got out of the car holding my bags of groceries.
A kind police officer came up to me and verified who I was. She said they'd been trying to find me. Did I have a husband, Rob Lem? Yes. Well, sort of a husband not legally married. Did I say that? Was he okay? I know I said that. Something about being taken to emergency from work. Oh! She asked if I was okay. Yes, I'm fine. Did I want a ride to emergency with her? I held up my hands with the bags of shopping and said, "Oh. I can't. I have groceries." So you can drive yourself? Could I? Sure. She got back into her car. She was really sorry to have to tell me. I went to her window.
"Do you know what happened? He's alive, right?"
"I'm sorry. I don't know. I have no other information other than what I told you. He's been taken to emergency from work and everyone was trying to reach you. I'm so sorry. Are you sure you're okay to drive? You have someone to call?"
"Yes. Yes. Thank you so much."
I took the groceries inside. Left them on the kitchen counter. Maybe I let my dog Rogue out. I know I called Mam and Dad. I told them what I knew and I told them that I was going to the hospital. They offered to meet me there. I insisted I was fine. I was only calling them so someone knew where I was. They asked me to keep them informed. Dane, my son, my emotional rock, who lived with us at the time was in Jamaica.
I drove to the hospital. At one point I couldn't see because of the streams of tears. I promised myself that when I got there I could cry all I wanted but first I had to get there safely. Rob was far from fine but he was alive. Scheduled surgeries were cancelled while the cardiac team tried to steady his heart. He had angioplasty and three stents were put into his arteries. He was unconscious and put into a coma-like state by cooling his body to an almost hypothermic state so the blood flow would be concentrated on his heart and major organs so his heart could heal and not work so hard to heat all areas of his body.
A pastor sat with me while I sobbed uncontrollably. On my behalf, he called a school to alert a teacher friend that I wouldn't be able to keep our dinner date that evening and he called Judy and asked her to call all the kids together. I have never been more relieved to see anyone than I was to see Judy when she walked into the small family room. We hugged and I soaked her coat with tears. At one point, the nurse called for "Mrs Lem" to come in and discuss surgery and to see Rob. I stood up. So did Vanessa, my step-daughter, and Judy. I pleaded with them that I go in. And I did.
I was trying to find someone to take the Rankin Family tickets and had managed to reach one of the people, a customer in Joe's on Arthur, who had given Rob CPR. But he didn't want the tickets, just wanted to know how Rob was. Finally, we found some staff who knew someone who knew someone...
Much later, I remembered to call Mam and Dad. I started to cry all over again. They told me, "Don't cry." But I couldn't stop. Dad needed to do something to help. But there was nothing anyone could do. Mam said Dad needed to feel useful. I remembered the groceries on the table and suggested that Dad could see to them maybe. And he said he would also take Rogue for a walk. I had no idea how much longer I'd be at the hospital. This way I didn't need to worry about anything else.
I came home to the note on the back of the envelope.
Many moons ago. Once in a different lifetime. Once upon a time.
That's how long ago this all seems now. But I found the envelope this morning, on a day when Dad and I usually get together, a day when our regular routine has been interrupted by a new phase in his life. A timely reminder that wherever we are, whatever else is going on, when we need each other, we're right there.
Oh! The irony!
Whew! Such a long post. Thank you for sticking with it. It feels like a very important one. And now I have time to plant my annuals and also to plant some coneflowers and black-eyed Susans that Sandy generously gave me. Another good use of the time that Dad and I usually spend together. Enjoy your time today. Treasure those you hold closest.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.