Today I have another one of those delicious all-at-home-free-to-do-whatever-I-like days. But with no blog to HAVE to write to fulfill my daily obligation. So what do I do but write a blog! This is a deeper one that I had thought about around mid-April. An aha moment in the shower of all places! Lol. This particular one is for my lovely friend, Louise, who said she looked forward to my blog everyday and would miss reading it as part of her routine.
My mother had a special gift which endeared her to many people: she was an excellent listener. Perhaps because she was quiet, more an observer, people gravitated towards her. She was also non-judgmental and believed that people eventually discovered their own leveling place given the chance. Strangers would tell her all their troubles in the butcher's queue or on a bus ride and they would part happier. They had been heard. And Mam went on her merry way.
Growing up, I believed that I could talk to her about anything. We often had great discussions: me sat on the tall red vinyl stool in the kitchen after school while Mam chopped potatoes. Ironically, I remember us talking about adoption. I was maybe 9 or 10 and my stance was that all adoptees had the right to find out who their birth parents were and to contact them. Mam saw things as being more complicated, greyer, and said that there were times when that would cause so much hurt all around it would be better to have no contact. I understand now, after finding out that Dad wasn't my birth father as I'd been led to believe, why Mam felt that way and possibly why she never did tell me the truth or at least not until her final few days when she planted a seed. Overall, in our often philosophical chats, I grew to appreciate that there were many sides to every story and situation. I learned immense tolerance and acceptance from Mam. I miss her.
But I remember a time in my life when I so wanted to talk to her and didn't know how. I was in a controlling relationship and I needed help. I suggested to Mam that we have weekly or was it monthly tea breaks, a chat and get together at a coffee shop. She didn't want to. Perhaps she knew I was in over my head. Perhaps she couldn't deal with that. Perhaps she had too much going on in her own life. Perhaps she sensed too much negativity from my situation. I never knew why but I felt a little cast adrift at that time. Mam always had this policy that if someone wanted to talk about something then they would without prompting. But especially at this particular time, I couldn't do that. My emotions were like a dam but I couldn't, for whatever reason, be the first to openly acknowledge that. If she had questioned me, perhaps I could have talked to her about it, perhaps she could have helped. I remember situations (although I can't bring specifics to mind) where I had hinted at something with her, something I wanted to talk about with her, needing her to ask a direct question, to open things up. But she didn't. So much lay unsaid and unexamined by us in those moments.
I thought that was a fault of hers, this belief that people would let her know if something was troubling them, if they wanted to talk about it. The fault, if there even was one, lay more with me not just jumping in without testing the waters first...seeing how receptive she really would be. I believe that sometimes if people are hesitant to talk about something yet they really want to, they need a nudge, an indicator that the other person is available and that they will listen without judgment, without advice, merely to support. That's a tall order. I understand now that, especially when I was in the verbally abusive relationship (as it became), Mam maybe needed to practice self preservation. She hated to interfere. She had no real idea as to the extent of any of it. She had to trust that I knew she was there and that I would reach out if I needed her.
So, the other week in the shower, for whatever reason, this all played out in my mind. As clear as I felt that Mam's belief in people talking without prompting was a fault, I felt that me believing that my friends always know how much I love and care for them even though I can be infrequent with correspondence and contact is also a fault. I noticed a parallel. Who doesn't like to be told they're loved and cared for, that they matter? Who doesn't like to be shown that by a letter, a phone call, a card out of the blue? A simple act of reaching out. I trust that friends know this but sometimes in the deepest dark of night, such knowledge can be fleeting as starlight and of little comfort.
I used to write long handwritten letters to friends before emails and before my writing became too difficult to read. So now if I write, it's long letters printed from the computer. But they're still heartfelt. They still matter. And a card every now and again, a text, a phone call (even though that is my least favourite way of reaching out) can fit into my busiest of days.
Yesterday an old friend (my British boyfriend at the time I emigrated from Britain) sent me a photo of my parents' house in Vancouver, the house I lived in when I first moved to Canada 42 years ago. He was there on a conference (from Britain) and had a vague interest in seeing where all his many letters from all those years ago had gone. The house looked totally different. But I had a truckload of emotions arrive with the photo! It felt strange, somehow how I imagine human life looks to someone who has died or how a time traveler could feel: two of my worlds had bumped into each other yet I had nothing to do with either of them! Perhaps that makes no sense to anyone else!
But seeing the house also made me remember my dependence on and eagerness for letters from friends in England in those early days. I so appreciated their news and that fact that they remembered me and cared about me enough to write. I found it dreadfully lonely when I first arrived in Canada. It started a strange phenomenon that I carry to this day: I resist answering letters straight away so I can hold onto their sentiments longer. Once I mail the letter it seems like that person's last letter doesn't count any more. I sense that this might also be a desire for control on my part...another aha moment.
So, in the time that I have dedicated to my blog each day, I can just as easily write a quick note to a friend, wrap and mail a now belated pressie ( I'm so sorry, Souley!xx), send a card or an email or a text. My friends are precious and they need to know that.
Louise and I connected through tai chi. She is one of those super thoughtful people who is aware of what's going on in the lives of her friends, especially areas they may be struggling in or issues that they're dealing with. And she's there 110%. When I got my OAC grant for writing my novel, Louise gave me the beautiful pen in the photo with a note about perseverance and talent and going at something everyday even on those uninspired days. She is one of the biggest believing mirrors in my life.
Also, this morning in the mail I got a beautiful anniversary card from my dear friend, Val. We just spent time together on Monday yet she took the time and effort to send an anniversary card (Rob and I barely acknowledge the day ourselves!) with a loving sentiment about us being dear friends and deserving the best.
I'm so blessed with my beautiful friends. They are also my greatest teachers.
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.