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All posts for the month February, 2014

In Memoria Mum

Published February 25, 2014 by megdedwards

In memory of ‘Mom’, known as ‘Nana’ to her grand children and ‘Nananat’ to her hordes or admiring younger women friends and ‘Nat’ or “Natalie’ to her cohorts in her own age group,

I shall quote from a journal dated 1960.  On the opening pages of a date book it is inscribed M D Edwards, Production (Radio) Radio Building 305 and Mom has lightly scratched out Dad’s name and written Old Lady.

The first page has a list of her children and their sizes for her sewing projects.

The second page begins with a quote in capital letters:

AFTER ALL, A MAN WHO HATES DOGS AND CHILDREN CAN’T BE ALL BAD…

W C FIELDS

This is followed by,

” I try to look forward gaily to the 60’s but the thought of the next ten years…strikes terror..”

That one sentences reminded me of a painful patch of mine when I was dragging myself through anxiety and depression. I kept smiling while barely eating or sleeping.

You know when you are in love and every time you meet someone or talk to someone you wonder if they are in love? Or when you are pregnant and you see pregnant women everywhere? Well anxiety and depression has a similar effect. You wonder how people get to old age, and why. Every individual encounter leaves you wondering what keeps that person going.

When I read Mom’s sentence I realized she must have been exhausted. She could not picture getting my brother Rhys (who was very sick on and off) from seven to seventeen.

How does it happen? And then it does! And everything changes in ten years in ways you never would have expected.

From the first page you know the rest of the journal  is going to be interesting, and it is. Her insights do reassure young mothers and ‘homewives’  (as my child calls me)  even now.

Natalie is an industrious wife; painting, cleaning,sorting and budgeting madly while caring for her 3 little children. She is thoughtful about her faults and her diary is interspersed with information on the children and their development, comments about marriage, reviews of theater and books, and recounting many parties and informal gatherings of drinking.

A comment on my Dad that I find more funny than depressing because, well, I am married.

“Murray off to Guelph – thank heavens! Phew. He’s been worse than impossible to live with lately. Furious at catching ‘my’ cold ( but of course he always catches everyone’s and mad as hops at me for daring to get ANOTHER!) – and no doubt worried and concerned very much (and this I think is it) over his folks arrival and the problems he will have to face – and added to this the continual thesis – the thesis he scarcely works on and yet is always there – – .. so Let’s hope he enjoys his trip away as much as I think I will.”

Then she moves on to one of her bursts of honest self analysis:

” A horrible conclusion today – struck me as a result of something I happened to read  – that I am one of those women who see their ‘job’ primarily as a shopper and cook; a housekeeper, cleaner etc. – as opposed to those who see themselves first as wife, companion and mother of their children. I do indeed think of my value as useful, economic etc. – how capably I shop is far too important. Why? On reflection, to consider my value from the human standpoint is certainly preferable. I’ll think more on this – perhaps the key to change in me is right here.”

“I try, of course, to rationalize myself out of this and look for some way in which it could be the OM (Old Man) ‘s fault. (if he didn’t think of me that way I ..) but realize it’s quite useless. All too obviously this relates only to me – and I think I’ve made an obvious and a stupid error, underestimating my self and giving little value compared to what I could by a different outlook to Murray and children.”

She continues, “Colds are loathsome and so in my temper. Rhys does 100,000 disobedient things – resort to wooden spoon. All unhappy”.

The details of her diary bring the sixties housewife to life. Well, this sixties housewife. She is always taking on huge jobs while juggling the three little children. And then having a party. She delights in recounting good meals and good theater. She writes down what flowers she has planted and what colour she has painted the back entry. She writes some details about the children’s health and school.

She has a house cleaner. (Oh, what I would give for a woman to help me clean my massive house too, it is not just the extra hands but the company).

“Mrs Mueller cleans up and we all feel  better for it – also things better too and I keep distance and try to hold temper. On verge – if I ‘m good I’ll get children on my side and then OK ,of course. Mustn’t be so  nervous and irritable –  Just like my Dad! Ah if only I could recapture that sweet calm negligent attitude of pregnancy for other times!”

The next page:

“Paint the kitchen radiator from 2- 2:30 solid (use aluminum paint). Then sand and paint the little tricycle for Kate.  Spent nearly all a.m. repairing trikes: fixed the pedal back on Rhys’ (Liz’s now) and then drilled holes in Kate’s saddle and bolted seat back on and repaired pedal etc. Feel clever and useful. (smiley face). Bake an angel food cake too. And don’t lose temper at all (face with halo over it, smiling). ”

She also worries and frets and feels anxious about cost of new dryer until they finally decide what to buy and have it in installed. (No she does not install it herself).

“Laundered- oh blessed dryer! What a joy!! What a difference it makes to  my work- and I can dry anytime- and laundering seems so little effort now- ha heaven! (big smiley face!)”

Can you believe that I don’t have a dryer? Well, I don’t. Have not had one for ten years and I have got used to it. But, blessed dryer, you could dry any old time!

One more bit, but this could go on all day:

“Had a dream – woke up after hysterical screaming ( in sleeping – not real) and all I can recall now was that Rhys had died- I kept realizing I’d never feel his soft skin and his hair. I couldn’t get over the awful horror of him gone; couldn’t believe – oh it was a hideous dream – and also in my dream someone else died soon before and I remember feeling I was losing everyone. And then I woke up – my anguished screaming still resounding in my head- and slowly became aware of the truth – the lovely sweet truth! I lay still and appreciated it quietly and peacefully – and then I went up to see Rhys and we lay and talked and I touched the soft skin and the hair and we smiled at each other. How wonderful! In my dream I recall he looked so young and soft and little, and surely he is – just a little boy. It was a good dream and I hope it has done me good- for I forget how close everything can be to the end at anytime; I forget to appreciate. ”

All right, you have heard from time vault today. The 1960’s appeared before your eyes. Your house wife,even while cleaning and drilling holes in tricycles, was most likely wearing a pretty dress that she had sewn herself, tight around her tiny waist. She had on large black glasses and her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She was proud of her house and her dramatic and moody husband working in theater and radio. She loved her beautiful children, especially when they were good. When she dressed up she wore red lipstick and put foundation on her nose, which she considered big and red.

Now  I must run off and clean and cook. By the time I was a young maturing girl my Mom had left this sixties housewife life long behind. She left a different legacy with me. When I was 13 she was changing her life – it was all about writing and working and loving, but more of that later.

Bummer, Blues and Visions of a Radiated Sea

Published February 15, 2014 by megdedwards

murmurationI had some good thoughts yesterday but I have forgotten them now.  I am thinking in colours and textures.

Did I have an insight about death? No, nothing there,  just a flash of darkness that passes through me. But not an actual thought. 

We are approaching the first year since my Mom died and I have some pretty strong memories of her cold body. Physical memories that hang around inside of me like shadows.

I find I cannot articulate the sheer outrage of having a soul pass away into the air, leaving a body that gets so cold it is colder than the air. Becomes icy and waxy. I thought that having talked to her and said good bye and seen her body move from life to death would make it easier to mourn. Maybe it has. But it sure is weird. I cannot express it.

I had a dream about trying to warm a small old female cat by the fire. Her legs were so cold I could I thought it was too late. The cold was in her bones.

Mom was one to experience life very intensely. I know she was right there until the moment she opened her eyes one last time. She might have been frightened, but I think she was more curious than scared. She had a brain that was capable of scientific inquiry while her heart raged and her eyes teared.

She died and knew what it felt like to die. She always told me all her terrible nightmares and her thoughts so I am waiting to hear from her. Her death would become an anecdote at a dinner party. She might even get a wobbly chin as she told us. But she is gone, with no looking back, she is off adventuring in some other time and space.

We have boxes of photos and files of writings. We have family history and genealogy. She kept it all so fastidiously, but never did anything with it. Now my sister and I are breaking into boxes marked ‘precious’ and pulling out crumbing letters, shaking out dresses from the 1930’s reeking of mothballs.

A cat broke one of her precious bowls the other day and I was somewhat relieved. One more precious thing that is free.

I was feeling so tired and questioning of myself yesterday. Parenting, in all its glory, was wearing me out. I wanted to talk to my Mom, not for comfort but just for company. It is hard to lose someone who knew you so well that you did not even have to say anything for them to know you don’t feel well.

She would have complimented me and said that I was doing everything very well and I would have felt good that she enjoyed my call. We would have made each other happy by being nice to each other.

I started dancing to music yesterday and it was very nice at first and then it just made me want to cry. It is as if my sadness is bound up in my body and when I move it to music it releases it. It makes me realize that I am holding down the fortress on any given day and emotions are boiling away just under the surface.

I tried a dance work shop a week after my Mom died and the more I released my body to the music the more I wanted to cry. Well I did cry, and my friends were nice enough to not mention it. I just want to talk to my Mom about all that. Take some Vitamin B or D or something,  she would say.

I don’t know why I continue to blog. I don’t need to add my voice to the masses. In the past I would have written in a journal, as my Mom did. Why do I add to this public domain?  No good reason, I am just trained into it now and I feel that some people are comforted to hear a voice that they recognize.

I am overwhelmed by the madding crowd chattering away about so many things. People getting outraged. people stating their opinion, people having opinions about subjects they know so little about. People complaining about this and that. It is exhausting.

We all know the amplification of the voices is exhausting. It is very hard to tell what is important. Everyone’s cause is so important and we need to ‘share’ everything all the time. It makes nothing important, it flattens the horizon; it is white noise.

I had a horrible foreshadowing vision regarding Japan’s radiation of the ocean. I saw quite clearly that we will have to stop eating what comes from the sea, and that one day I may have to tell my daughter not to swim in the sea in case it makes her sick. I don’t want to dwell on this because it is too terrible. It is more important than ‘fracking’ and train accidents even though those are important. But we go ahead with plans to re-open our nuclear plant in New Brunswick, now that it is ‘fixed’.

What a bummer. Sorry, will try to rally and think of a brighter future.

When I first wrote this I decided not to publish it on the blog because I felt bad about being depressing. But I will publish it today because it is here and it is true, and I have written about all the other stages of grief.

But I have to say more.  Is it my change of life, or is something else happening to me? I am feeling a lot of joy. I am celebrating every moment with my loved ones and I feel joy, joy so deep and layered  like the earth’s many layers from crust to burning center. 

We are going to have a party to celebrate a year since my Mom’s home death. It will be nice to see all her friends and family because we all recognize her in each other.

She was confident, proud, beautiful, and a little unpredictable. A talk -too- much, put your foot in your mouth quality. A  snazzy style that was a bit shabby, a challenging mix of indifference and independence and a simple  joie de vivre that lit the eyes.  That was Natalie, she had an effect. It is fun to see her effect ripple through life.

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