When I was young I learned that snow berry are sacred plants. I learned that their berries hold the spirits of our ancestors. I learned that to sit among snow … Continue reading Among Snow Berry
17 years ago this spring my daughter, Jessy Lee, and I moved into our home in the Avenues.
Tomorrow she comes home from university for what may likely be her final summer at home. And, two weeks from now, my partner, Alan, and his dog Felix, move in.
My home/world changing forever. I could not be more happy.
Tonight though, my final night alone, in many ways, and certainly in this home, I remember the past 17 years.
Jessy Lee and I arrived here when she was 4 1/2 years old. I looked at homes while she was at preschool. I looked at 27 homes before this home chose us. Here, standing in the back yard, surrounded by five giant evergreens, the trees sang to me. Then, I had felt so lost. Still only 6 months separated, scared of everything, and certainly change, the wind in the trees sang me home.
Oh, The Song of The Avenues.
Here, Jessy Lee and I grew up. Here, she was surrounded by friends. For many years, five houses in a row with kids the same age, same grade, same school down the way. For a few years, Dad puttered, when Mom allowed days in town, I wrote and shuffled between school and soccer, and wrapped my healing tightly around being the best mom.
We grew up here. I remember my first day of orientation for my undergraduate degree, my peers brought their parents; someone asked if I had brought someone. I remember thinking that Jess had school.
I remember that I only missed one soccer game in all the years. I remember the Sukanen hauntings, and years of halloween decorating that ran 70 plus carved pumpkins strong. I remember my sister and I hosting birthday party-sleepovers for 30 eight year olds, and later, for 20 teenagers.
I remember scavenger hunts, murder parties, tent forts, movie weekends, lego adventures, clue weekends, games days, kick the can, man tracker, open mic, soccer games, practices, tournaments, playoffs, fundraisers, coaching; I remember friends and late nights, and fondu, and dill dip, and musicals, and rope curling hair, and speeches, stories and poems and slide shows, and late night reading, and patio coffee sharing, and card making, much laughter and endless love.
We grew up here. And I am not sad. Neither is Jess. The House Down the Street with the Large Mailbox has cared for us well. We grew up here. Jess and I both became independent here.
Here, we learned to know our roots. Here, we learned to know ourselves.
The trees have taught us their Home Lessons.
Thank you my whispering friends. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for seventeen years of fine friendship.
Tonight I honour your twinkle-light-Avenue-porch-listening-evergreen-wind-song one final time.
I am thinking about love and trauma and time and trust. I am thinking about love. March 27th, 2014. It is almost four years since Dad’s stroke. I stumbled across … Continue reading Unrelenting Light
On December 23 my daughter and I were downtown, getting coffee. I shared a story of when I attended the University of British Columbia. My daughter was surprised to learn I had attended UBC. I was certain she knew the story, that she had always known the story in the same way the important people in my world know my ‘stories.’ I mean my students know I had attended UBC. They know I left that school one Wednesday in January many years ago with what I believed was a migraine and then spent the following three years in hospital.
I know my daughter lives the effects of the story of hospital, but I guess my attendance at UBC has become a non-essential. And I guess she’s correct.
This winter holiday I have spent a few hours every day hiking near the lake with my dad. I spent every breath of those moments listening. One day we hiked out to the woods with a bucket of warm turkey parts, treats for the coyotes. One day my dad and I snooped around an abandoned cabin, sitting in the sun on its upper deck, watching the birds. One day we shuffled through the wet brown leaves gathered near the willows by the beach, without words, dad and I breathing in the scent of leaves.
Today, dad and I walked along the beach path I walked as a girl. We walked the beach a long, long way. Almost, it felt, until we met the horizon. Almost, it felt, until everything was clear.
That’s the way it is with dad. He is a storyteller. He is my storyteller.
December 24th, after returning from Christmas Eve mass, my family began sharing tales of years gone by. Dad shared that when he was a boy, on Christmas Eve, he went to the early movie, the late movie and then to mid-night mass. His story did not strike me as odd. Dad’s Christian faith has always been steadfast. Then, mom wondered if that had been a time he had had to attend the movies alone, mass alone. This was information, a connection, I knew, but had taken for granted.
I had not been listening.
I knew my dad had been homeless, had raised himself from the time he was in grade eight. I knew he had sometimes found warmth curled in church windows, church services, with a kind-hearted family. I had forgotten how movies and restaurants and church had acted as family for my dad.
I have never before heard his December 24th story. I turned to dad and told him I loved him.
There I was sitting in my parents’ cozy home, the home they have created for my sister and me, for my daughter, for each other. The home they continue to create for us every day; I mean when my students are giving a performance or heading out for a basketball tournament, they ask if my dad may attend.
Today, dad and I walked along the beach path I walked as a girl. I heard stories I had never heard before, or maybe I heard them like I never had before. Maybe I was simply ready to hear them. I know as we wound our way by the cottonwoods, both our eyes were filled with tears.
I am 39 years old. I have many more stories to hear, a lifetime of strolls to learn. I love my dad.
The best gift anyone has ever given to me is the gift of storytelling-time.
I hope I listen well enough to give the same…