Dad and Sandy have been busily sorting through stuff at Dad's, getting ready for new flooring in November. They had a pile of poetry books for me to sort through and Mam's collection of bells to take. When I visited, Dad was pale and weak and shaky.
"I don't think your dad's feeling well today," Sandy whispered to me. "He keeps going upstairs."
I made a cuppa. So British. No one else wanted one. Some of the stuff for me to sort through was hard: a 2013 journal that Mam had been recording the daily weather in. The entries stopped on 7th October, the day Mam went into the hospital for the final time. I put in on the 'To bring home' pile.
In talking to me about the process of sorting, Dad began to cry...and went upstairs. I made another cuppa, this time for everyone and Sandy pulled some homemade peanut butter cookies from the freezer. We all took a break and sat and chatted. Later, I suggested to Dad that yes he needed to clear things but didn't necessarily need to sort them at such an emotionally hard level straightaway. He could clear in layers. When I left he seemed steadier on his feet and he had more colour in his face. And he seemed more at peace.
At home I sorted through the bells that Sandy had carefully wrapped in paper. I found the one I was looking for--the one that started Mam's whole bell collection. I had thought it was brass, but it looks more like copper. It is a lovely light-sounding bell that Jean, the eldest of Mam's sisters, gave to Mam when Mam was leaving Britain to come and live in Canada.
Jean had said, "If you need me, just ring."
I imagine there were many lonely hours when Mam wished time zones didn't exist and it was really that simple. But at some point the sisters developed a weekly phone chat habit. To this day, Dad continues that habit with Shelagh, the remaining sister.
When Jean visited Canada some years later, I know another bell was exchanged--a brass one with a carved squirrel on top. Whether Mam bought this one for Jean or vice versa I'm not sure. The squirrel represented all the squirrels in our yard. I haven't run across this one yet so perhaps it was for Jean and she took it home to Britain. I'll check with my cousins.
A delightful discovery in amongst some linens was a sepia-toned photo of my Grandpa Boag, Mam's dad. He died when Mam was 14 or 15 so I never knew him but this photo sat on my Nanna's bedside table all through the years. And Nanna lived with us for 15 years before she had to move out on her own when Mam and Dad emigrated. So to receive this photo thrilled me no end. Like bringing a piece of my childhood home to my present home. I didn't know Mam had it and for some reason I don't think she did either as she had gone back to Britain for Nanna's funeral hoping to find the photo. Perhaps someone tucked it into some tea towels but forgot to mention it to her? I intend to find a lovely photo of my Nanna as a young woman that I have and put the two photos together.
I finished the painting I had talked about in my last post. It feels very magical to me and I have noticed a lightness and a feeling of empowerment re sorting through things since completing it. The painting came out pretty much as I imagined it and it depicts me sifting through gold (representing physical stuff), keeping some and releasing more which turn into stars in a night sky. The figure (me) is silver, clad in silver but also with silver skin, and releases emotional and mental stuff which sheds like scales to fatten the moon. If I have to explain so much, perhaps the painting doesn't work. But it works for me. I completely understand it. In the end, that's all that matters. The theme is 'Keep & Release'. Positive words. And somewhat fitting for today.
Dane, my son, had his interview for his green card today and was accepted! Needless to say, he and Jonathan were thrilled. This has been a long journey and a long time apart for them both. I'm so pleased for them. This is the way things should be with them together. Of course I'll miss Dane, miss having him so close even though his job has pushed him away some with all its travel, but this is a good time for me to practice releasing while keeping all the lovely memories of having him in town for this past year.
I also released something into the world today which was hugely rewarding. I make prisms as a fundraiser for Kitty Kare (might have mentioned this in an earlier post) as a comfort for people who have lost pets. I read a facebook post a month or so ago about a local store owner who had lost 4 dogs in the span of 15 months and my heart went out to her. So I made her (and 'bought') a prism. I took it to her store, The Mystic Garden, today and left it with the lady behind the counter. Apparently it was her cousin. I got the most beautiful response from the owner on the store's facebook page (look it up on facebook if you get chance, she has a picture of it there. I couldn't seem to copy the picture. A local lighting store, Kuhl's Lighting, donated this particular prism):
To Sue who gifted me this beautiful prism due to the loss of all of my dogs. I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. What an absolutely beautiful and kind gesture. You made me tear up. I miss them more than I can even say. Thank you so very much. <3 Please message me here if you can as I am wondering if you could sell me some for the shop. They are beautiful. :) PS I wish I were here so thank you in person. I was the one who asked you if you had been here long this morning.
It's late (11pm) as finish this up but I feel motivated to do a little clearing before bed. What will you keep and release today? Sometimes it's not what you expect.
Of course we all know that on some level, today is a new day, but how often do we actually embrace it? My days often start with tendrils of yesterday's cobwebs still clinging to my mind or my heart or both. I picked up a little medallion a couple of weeks back that appealed to me and spoke to what I was feeling. It said, of course: Today is a new day. I bought it for myself but felt nudged to give it to a friend instead. She seemed quite moved by it. I can always get another.
Sleep used to come deep and easy to me but these days I can no longer count on it. The night before I woke up between 3:30 am and 4am and couldn't go back to sleep. I had to work 7am to 5pm and felt exhausted by the end of my workday. Last night, to compensate, I went to bed earlier although I didn't try to sleep until about midnight. But oh what a delicious sleep.
I caught up with my email before I went to sleep and wrote a short sentimental email to a friend who is emigrating tomorrow...going first to her place in Arizona then to live in England. She has been a believing mirror to me and an unswerving supporter of me and my writing. I will miss her being so close.
And I got a beautiful one-liner from my dear friend, Fran: Thinking of you and all the changes going on in your life xxxx
It brought tears to my eyes. Fran is one of those rare people who just get things. She understands. She was Mam's friend, confidante in many ways, through email for many years. They met through online genealogy and discovered some connection (I'm sorry, Fran, I can't remember precisely!) but basically they just clicked and liked each other. Fran lives in Tasmania and Mam was always thrilled to get snail mail letters and cards and pressies from her and loved searching for things for her in return. Dad now writes to Fran through email almost everyday, so she has become to know him and his habits well. In her email, Fran is referring to Dad's changes re Sandy and going to Florida to winter and selling the house and Dane getting ready to move through his final steps to getting his green card so he can move to the States. All big changes, good changes, which affect me in varying degrees.
Re Dad, I have been reduced from being a major player in his life to a sideline spectator who sometimes finds the right playing field only by accident. That sounds bitter. I don't mean it to. I don't feel bitter but I do feel hurt sometimes and I think it's important to acknowledge the hurt otherwise it will fester into resentment. What he and Sandy share is a deep love and respect for each other and I wouldn't have that any other way. They are both so obviously happy with each other that it's a delight to be in their presence. It did hurt though when I found out their wedding date by overhearing Dad talk on the phone to a friend while I was visiting. An oversight, I'm sure. Me being too sensitive.
But in any case, to have an unexpected one line email pop up full of compassion and understanding quite simply just made me feel better and validated or witnessed my feelings (I hadn't told Fran about this). And I had a deep, restorative sleep full of comforting dreams in which I was actively making a difference. Fran's words were a balm to my soul.
So I woke up refreshed and eager to start a new day. I woke up with ideas about how what I wanted to paint for Moonshine and ideas about a new moon vow (today is a new vine moon in Virgo). I woke up confident that I have the energy and wherewithal to make a difference in my own life.
This is my vow:
From this new moon to the next, I vow to practice 'keep or release' in sorting through stuff (mental, emotional and physical), recognising that each decision is a privileged choice that only I get to make. And so it is.
The picture I envision painting is something along the lines of me clad in silver sifting through golden minerals, keeping some in the sifter, the rest flying upwards to become stars. And silver scales flying off me to fatten the moon. For now, this is what I have to work with:
A blank page...a splotch or two of paint from previous pages perhaps which I can incorporate or paint over. This is what a new day looks like when we truly embrace it. How beautiful, how meaningful can we make it?
Dad was away at Sandy's for the long weekend and I had agreed to pick up his newspaper so on Saturday after work (at sunset actually cos I forgot right after work) I drove up to his house. In fading light, I strolled around the outside, checked doors and the yard. Dane had been there for a day or two but had left for a friend's camp the day before. The place was deserted (as it should have been) but it really felt like it. Eerie almost. Lonely. It occurred to me that my dad's heart is no longer there. Although it is a relatively busy street, I didn't notice any vehicles drive past. I heard no birds. The purple, pink and white petunias blossomed beautifully along the front walkway. But everything felt still and forlorn as I walked past. I wondered about Tally, Dad's little dog, found myself missing her. At that moment a small bird, a sparrow I thought, swooped in front of me, right in front of my face making me stop. It landed by my ankles on a wooden divider, cocked its head to the side and gazed up at me.
"Hello. How are you?" I whispered.
It cocked its head to the other side, its eyes bright and dark.
I think I said a couple more things to it but I can't remember what. It just stayed still and appeared to listen. When I said, "Thank you," it flew up into the low bush beside it with a flash of olive yellow beneath its wings and disappeared in the bush.
"Thank you," I said again. I felt comforted, collected the papers from the box across the road, passed more birds splashing in a puddle and drove back home with a blazing orange sun behind me.
I told Rob about my encounter. He accepts these things in my life, has been witness to enough strange incidents to never question me or them.
"Instead of 'How are you?' you should have asked 'Who are you?' " he wisely said.
I laughed. I assume it was Tally or someone else letting me know through the little bird that Tally was okay. In any case it was a much treasured 'Hello from the other side.'
* * * * *
A PS came to me tonight as I was pondering writing this post. Years ago, Mam had a sinking feeling about an elderly neighbour that she hadn't seen for a day or two so she went over to see her. There was no answer at the neighbour's door but Mam said that she knew immediately, before she had even knocked on the door, that the lady had died. "There was no life in that house," she said. "I know that feeling when there's no life in a house." She called the police who confirmed her suspicions. Mam often sensed such things. She worried incessantly that the lady had died alone but as far as anyone could tell, the death had been peaceful.
I'm not sure why I feel so compelled to share that but I believe in acting on my intuition as much as possible so there it is.
Our next door neighbour, Morris, died alone in his house on a summer's night when Spook, one of our cats, went missing. I walked past his house, up and down his driveway calling "Spook! Spook!", worrying about the little cat, never sensing that Morris was in distress or that he had possibly died.
The things we tune in to or that capture our attention and our hearts can all be different. I must admit that I prefer my 'gift', which is generally comforting, to my Mam's where she sensed that people, loved ones, were in distress or that something bad had happened to them. Quite the burden for her. In another blog I'll have to talk about her experiences...at least two big ones that I'm aware of.
And you, what gifts do you have? Maybe nothing too far out there (at least not that you're aware of or can admit to yourself even) but I know those of you who encourage me and regularly read my blog are kind beyond measure. That's a good place to start.
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.