Tag Archives: memories

Metal head and the missed opportunity

Last week The Musician had an orthodontist appointment.  He has many, many orthodontist appointments, and he is always a rockstar before, during and after them.  I don’t know if there is a kid alive who is more into his braces and what they’re going to do for him than he is.  He has some serious jaw and alignment problems, so this whole process is going to take the better part of about 6 years….we’re just into year 2, I think.  So yeah, it’s a long haul.

Anyway this latest appointment was a doozy – they made some adjustments, put spacers between his molars, so now he can’t actually close his mouth all the way, and did a bunch of other stuff to him.  And, as I said before, rockstar.  He’s awesome.  Later though, his mouth and head started to hurt, and he couldn’t really eat anything that wasn’t the consistency of porridge.  Still he soldiered on.  The next morning, he just looked so sad.  He was tired, and his mouth hurt.  Tried to eat a soft egg and bread – no toast, too crunchy – and he sort of was able to get that down.  We gave him some Tylenol and he went to school with something just as soft in his lunch.  Poor kid.

Later that day I was talking to a friend who has a little guy who is almost 2.  She said he was getting his molars, so that was throwing off his routine with sleep and eating and all that.  And I started thinking about my boy – almost 13, but with similar symptoms, just a very different cause. 

And it makes sense that when I saw him come downstairs looking so sad and tired I just wanted to scoop him up and get his blanky and cuddle him on the couch.  Which is what I would have done when he was 2 and teething and feeling so yucky.  And I can still do that, of course.  He does like a good cuddle even now.  But there’s just less time for that, especially in the mornings when there are lunches to make, homework to finish, showers to be had, and all those school and work day morning things.

By the end of the day he was feeling much better – the Tylenol worked, he had started to get used to the spacers and the feeling of all the adjustments.  Dinner was no problem, he went to karate and hung out with this friends.

And I had missed my chance to cuddle a rockstar.  It’s a good lesson to have learned, though.  Time.  There never seems to be enough, but it’s important to use the time you’ve got wisely.  Because you just never know.

We hope you will enjoy the show…

Are you excited about The Beatles being available through iTunes?  At first, I have to admit, I was all “well that’s cool, but I have Beatles CDs, so whatever”.  But I moved very quickly into the “holy crap, I really need A LOT of this RIGHT NOW!”  I think for me, the thing about The Beatles is that they’ve been with me for my entire life, and I think I know just about every song, every note, every word…every everything.  And then I pull up the Magical Mystery Tour on iTunes and lose my shit because I forgot about that song!  And that one!  And holy crap Let it Be is way more brilliant than I ever remember! 

So yeah.  I’m excited.

Like any type of music, what you get out of it when you’re young is going to be a whole lot different when you get older, and because – as I mentioned above – I’ve known about and been a fan of The Beatles since I was really little, my appreciation of their music has undergone substantial shifts over the years.

For example.  As a 7-year old, didn’t I just love the early hits – She Loves You, Please Please Me, Twist and Shout.  As a young teen, my level of sophistication just shot right up (according to me, of course) and those early hits?  Far too juvenile.  No, for me at age 13 it was all about Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road and their ilk, and looking for the hidden meanings in I Am The Walrus and Strawberry Fields Forever, and debating whether or not Paul really was dead.    Later still I was more about the rarities and the German versions and the live recordings and the solo works of each member. 

And then?  Flash forward to the parenting years and introducing the boys to popular music, and gaining a new appreciation for the early hits, listening to them sing along to I Saw Her Standing There and enjoying those all over again. 

When I had just turned 13, my grandfather died.  He was my last grandparent so it was the end of an era.  My brother and I, in the hours leading up to his funeral, sat in our basement in our dress clothes and listened to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band until it was time to leave.  Listening for clues in the music and lyrics, looking for meanings and codes. 

Back in May, while we were getting ready to head to my mum’s memorial service, The Musician and The Artist were both at the computer in our dining room with iTunes open, listening to music for a bit before it was time to leave.  At one point I walked by and recognized a song, and it stopped me in my tracks.

me: what are you guys listening to?

The Musician: Oh, I ripped your Sgt. Pepper CD to iTunes

The Artist:  yeah, it’s really good!

me:  it is, I know

The Musician:  do you want to listen with us?

me: yes, yes I do.

So I told them that was the exact record their uncle and I were listening to before our granddad’s funeral.  And their reaction was “Huh. Cool.”  The significance?  Kind of lost on them now.  But years from now, I know they’ll remember what they were listening to before the went to their nana’s memorial, just like I remembered.

The Beatles.  They’ve been there for it all, haven’t they?  And they will continue to be.  If you’re a fan, you can’t ask for much more than that.

S-A-TUR-D-….oh forget it

So it’s Saturday night… and if you’re like me, you can’t even say Saturday night without conjuring up the original Tartan Terrors the Bay City Rollers and their big hit from 1975-76, amirite?

And yeah, it was huge and yeah I was one of their biggest fans and yes, I had the tartan socks and a sash I think, but I was not nearly as kitted out as my friend Helen who had several BCR outfits, and also had a Scottish mother which totally added to her cred.

Anyway, Saturday Night was a good song and all, but if you were a true Rollers girl, this would have been your favourite.  Trust me on this, ok?

Really, you can keep on dancing to the rock and roll OR you can run in the sun having fun with the one that you really love?  No contest.  Happy S-S-S-Saturday night, blogfriends.  Walk hand in hand on the sand with the boy that you met on vacation.  Or something.

Melancholy turkey

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us.  I know, I go through this every year for my US-based blogfriends, apologizing for having Thanksgiving in October.  It’s what we do, as Canadians. 

The actual holiday is Monday – day off work, school, banks and beer stores closed, etc., but most people I know – my family included – have their big dinner on Sunday.  I guess it gives you that extra 24 hours to digest the 3 pumpkin pies and 20 kilos of mashed potatoes we all seem to ingest, as well as a bit of extra time to try to remain upright for an hour or so at a stretch.  Seriously, it’s all about gorging isn’t it?  That’s what we have to be thankful for!  

Ok, but seriously, it’s a great holiday and for me it kind of signifies the true beginning of the autumn season.  By now the leaves are close to their colourful best, the air is cool in the mornings, but warming up by afternoon, followed by a nice crisp evening.  The forecast from today onwards is sun and warm temperatures and a whole lotta awesomeness, so there’s that to be thankful for too!

This also marks another “first” in this year of “firsts” that began when my mum died in May.  First Thanksgiving weekend without her.  By now, if she were alive, I would have been over there helping her do the shopping, picking up the turkey, planning the menu, helping her decide what little favours she’d put at everyone’s place.  We’d be laughing about how much wine we needed to buy (a lot) and how much beer my one cousin would bring (4 cans, which he would drink, and take the empties with him) and the godawful wine that my other cousins would bring (Maria Christina) and how maybe we should open that first and make them drink it, and save the good stuff for ourselves.  She’d have the menu written out and posted on the range with a magnet so she could keep track of anything.  She’d probably have made cabbage rolls by now – pork and beef for the most part, but a nice sized casserole dish of tvp ones just for me.  She’d be agonizing over how to arrange the tables and who should sit where.  She would be cleaning and cooking sometimes simultaneously, and if she was exhausted by the time the guests started to arrive, she’d never show it.  Every year she’d say “Christ, never again” and yet by January, she’d be planning Easter dinner – for 18 or 20  – again.

This Sunday, The Genealogist, The Musician, The Artist and I will be driving to The Genealogist’s parents’ place for a quiet dinner, just the six of us.  I am bringing a salad which requires very little preparation.  And the only conversations with my mum will be the ones in my memory, and in my imagination.  It will be a very different occasion, that’s for sure.  But I am grateful we’ve been invited, and we’ll have a lovely time, I’m sure.

As much as the Thanksgiving dinners my mum hosted were crazy-making ones, I know I’m going to miss them.  I already do.  I think that’s the best part about the family holiday get-togethers.  My family is bananas.  Yours probably is too.  We had lots of dinners and lots of laughs.  My mum kept it going, even after my dad died.  She was the glue that kept us all together, and now that she’s gone, well, you can see the cracks. 

I always said that after she was gone there was no way in hell I’d ever host those enormous family dinners.  No way.  And certainly this year I’m not.  It’s too soon.  But next year, perhaps?  Who knows.  It is family, after all. 

And it’s what I’m thankful for.

Almost spring…almost…

One of the things that I just did not get around to doing this spring/summer was planting my vegetable garden.  I don’t have a very big one, and last summer was my first attempt at growing vegetables in-ground as opposed to just herbs and tomatoes in pots on the deck.  It was small and relatively successful with just a few crops to get me started: tomatillos, cilantro, some lettuces and something else that I can’t quite remember. 

Once everything had been harvested (or picked, I suppose, since I’m not exactly using a combine or anything) I immediately began making plans for the next year’s garden.  By about January I had some plans in place – expand the existing garden, add an herb garden along the side, investigate other veggies to grow, definitely include cherry tomatoes in pots on the deck – excitement!

Then of course by the beginning of April my mother became quite sick, and by the first week of May she was gone.  Spring ran right into summer, and there were plans to make and lawyers to meet with, and bills to pay and a house to clean out and sell.  And gardening?  Well, I’m not going to say I didn’t think about it.  I did.  Daily.  It’s actually, strangely, part of what has kept me going during these sad months.  It’s just that I didn’t have the time or the energy to devote to even sticking a tomato plant in a pot.  I just didn’t.  I have gazed wistfully at my overgrown garden every single day.  Sometimes it makes me sad to see it so neglected, but in other ways it’s been so helpful to keeping me grounded.  Just seeing it there, knowing that I will indeed get back to it as soon as I can, and knowing that I can pick up where I left off, revisit my plans, make additions, changes and ultimately enjoy both the gardening process and the fruits (or, rather veggies) of my labour.

I guess in some ways I see it as a metaphor for what I’ve been going through: sad neglected garden =missing my mum, all the depression and sadness of the past few months vs. loooking ahead to new garden = moving on with things, while still remembering the past, keeping her memory alive.  It might seem corny I suppose, but there it is.  My mum was an exceptional gardener – vegetables and flowers – so there’s that.  She’s the one who taught me to garden, to get excited by sprouts and seed catalogues and garden centres in the dead of winter and the first big garden clean-up of the year when your hands still froze because the soil wasn’t quite warm enough yet, but you could feel it in your bones that you just had to get out there.

So the excitement is back.  The sadness and depression and the anger (yep, there’s still a whole lot of that) is still there, of course.  But even though it’s fall and it’s going to be a long winter, because it always is, spring will come again – both realistically and metaphorically.  And with spring comes all the planning and choosing and digging and planting and eating and enjoying.

And remembering.

It happens every year

I watch the Remembrance Day service from Ottawa and I cry.  Every time.  It never gets any easier.  This year, the televisions in the clinics, which normally play soothing images and music, were tuned to CBC for the service.  So at about 5 minutes to 11, I made my way over, and stood all by myself in an empty clinic and watched.  And cried.

As a memeber of the Canadian Naval Reserves, I participated in many Remembrance Day parades and services.  As a musician, I often had a lot to focus on throughout.  Things like keeping my fingers warm and able to move, draining the water out of my clarinet so it didn’t freeze up, wiggling my toes so that when we finally marched off my feet would actually work, stuff like that.  I would scan the audience when I could for familiar faces, and to gauge the expressions of the people gathered there at the cenotaph.  Hamilton always has a good turnout for these types of things, and I was always impressed by the respect that the crowds showed.  At the same time, I did my best to not focus too closely on the veterans who were assembled.  Because then?  I would cry.  Every time.  So for the sake of not blubbering, I would busy myself with the other things mentioned. 

Now though, as a part of the audience, whether TV or live, I have more opportunity to see the old men and women in their legion best who brave the elements to pay homage to their comrades.  And on TV of course, it’s the close-up shots of the aged faces, standing (or wheelchair bound) in brave salute, bowing heads, shaking hands, teary faces.  These images, and the image of the Silver Cross Mother, laying a wreath on behalf of the mothers who have lost children in service, freshly break my heart every year.  They always have, but as I get older, I think a lot of it resonates more with me.  The Silver Cross Mother especially.  What goes through your mind when you hear the news of your child – yes, an adult man or woman but still your child – being killed in the line of duty?  How do you react?  How do you even recover?  If you watch the services from Ottawa, you can’t help but notice that these women seem to get younger every year.  Why?  Here’s a hint:  because we are at war.  Men and women are still dying, and that leads me to think about the oldest veterans at the service; what are they feeling as they spend the day remembering their own war, only to tune in at 6:00 that evening for news of the current war? 

But I guess this has happened before, hasn’t it?  The WWI vets watching WWII happen.  WWII vets watching the Korean War happen.  And now?  Everyone together, watching the war in Afghanistan unfold.

 So.  Never again?  We can only hope.

And this says what about me?

When I was growing up, my parents had this Boxing Day tradition where they would do a big open house for friends and family.  There would be food and drink and Christmas dinner leftovers – just a big ol’ party.  You’re probably thinking “who in their right mind has a gigantic party the day AFTER Christmas, that is just messed up.”  And you’d be right, of course.  It’s crazy.  But it’s a tradition that dates back to the early 70s when my grandma died just before Christmas, and the visitation and all that was on Boxing Day, and my parents lived closest to the funeral home, and had everyone back between the afternoon and evening visitation times – and thus, a tradition was born. 

We lived in a little postwar bungalow and we would sometimes have 60-70 people in the house on that day.  I remember having to go outside frequently to get away from the heat and the cigarette smoke and the crazy relatives.  That was about the only place that didn’t have people in it from noon until whenever all the food was gone or whatever. 

This was mostly my dad’s family – he was one of 10 kids, whereas my mother has only one brother who is divorced and has no kids, so it was my dad’s family that descended upon our place.  And what a madcap cast of characters they were.  One of my dads old aunts was particularly bizarre.  There were lots of rumours about Aunt Nikki (that wasn’t her name, that was just what they called her.  I still don’t know why or even what her real name was) that she’d gone off the deep end after marrying a Protestant (the horror) and felt to make amends or whatever, that she needed to give as much as possible to the church – this often included the family’s furniture, money – a lot of money –  and food for her kids – which the church, rather nicely, would always return to the family posthaste.  She also spent a lot of time at mass, and basically just lost touch with reality and in a lot of ways it was really quite sad.  But she never missed Boxing Day at our house!  She would arrive early – usually by taxi – and stay late – usually by hopping into the car of someone who was leaving – and they’d be compelled to give her a lift home.  Aunt Nikki had a huge purse that she always carried around and it held some of the most amazing things you’d ever want to see – missals, squashed After Eights, photos of children (her grandchildren?  Maybe, maybe not) silverware (we were usually missing a fork or two after Boxing Day festivities) newspaper clippings and obituaries, and many other odd things.  She was wild and hilarious in so many ways, and the contents of the purse was just the icing on the cake, really.

Today I ran some errands at lunch.  I hit the library, the drugstore and the Lebanese grocery store.  Being the environmentally conscious UIG I am, I refused all offers of plastic bags, and instead chose to carry my purchases in… my huge, giant purse.  Let’s take a look, shall we?  Right now, I am carrying a tube of Canesten, a new eye liner brush, a book about knitting, and a package of whole wheat pita.  And if I stopped in to visit a friend after work and and needed to  rummage through the contents to find a picture of my kid to show them? 

Batshit old lady?  I might just have to rethink Aunt Nikki.