Aging

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Metamorphosis

Published May 24, 2015 by megdedwards

meg writing

I wrote poems when I was a child. I remember one that was pretty straight forward. It was about my life plan. I wanted children and then I wanted to write. At least that was the gist.

When I mentioned this at breakfast the other day my husband said, ‘Be careful what you wish for, they say, because you just might get it’, but then he smiled because he must have wished for a sexy wife and a happy home with delightful children.

Then I had an epiphany. I had to stop and think; place my index finger on my lips and frown. All the whirring sounds of breakfast, a child asking where her brush was, a cheap dishwasher taking off like a jet engine, faded away and my mind focused on one point: had I been pursuing this plan all along? Was I living out a lifeline that I had set up when I was ten years old? I had to shake my head. I had to smile.

What really took me by surprise was that I have spent much of my life quietly thinking that I had failed; that I had not lived my dream life. I was critical of myself for not having ‘become a writer”. What I didn’t realize was that I was a writer, and always had been. My own child self had given me plenty of time to find a good man and create beautiful children and write and think all along the way.

I have always been writing, thinking about writing, reading, and writing some more. I wrote for myself, I wrote for academics, I wrote for the free ranging feminist community. I wrote on film, art, theater, computer technology, medical topics and local politics and events. I wrote about everything and anything as a freelance journalist. I wrote cover stories on everything from chocolate to female impersonators.

I have never stopped writing and one of the classic photos my kids took of me is of the back of my head, my hair casually clipped up, typing away at the computer. I had a Mom just like that – typing, frowning, placing her finger in her upper lip while she was thinking. We were trained to wait til she had finished her thought before interrupting.

And like all writers I also wrote poetry and stories. Files, folders and black journals full of emotions and ideas formed into words. It does not matter if anyone noticed. I have been following that plan like a blueprint. I do have the happy home that I imagined. It is becoming more possible to do more writing as they grow older.

Later that same day while I was wandering aimlessly around Facebook I saw the image of a donkey tied to a plastic chair and under it was written, ‘Sometimes the obstacles you imagine are not as big as you thought’. I think I heard a chorus of hallelujah in my brain. Second level to the epiphany!

The next day I stared writing a novel. I jumped in with no plan and no particular structure. I wrote and I wrote and at about 10,000 words (thank you Nanowrimo for getting me going) I re- thought the main character and introduced another character and kept going. At about 30,000 words I knew who I was writing about, why I was writing and how it was going to end.

I have long dreamed of this moment. I am ecstatically happy and not in a temporary way in which you expect that sad drop of disappointment later. I can’t be disappointed about results or expectations because I am entirely happy about recognizing who I am and acting on it. I have acknowledged my childhood plan.

Characters and scenes from short stories that I wrote long ago are queuing up. Some of them want to be in this novel, some of them want their own novel. I am enjoying the big canvas; I am taking my time building characters and scenes. I am having fun doing it and I know someone else will have fun reading it.

I am confident about my created world. It reminds me of the process of my rug hooking, a hobby I began last winter when I was homeschooling my youngest. I enjoy the process; the visual concept, the gathering of the wool, the painting in colors and textures. While I am pulling strips of hand cut wool up through the holes of the burlap my mind relaxes and indulges in day dreaming. I listen to music and I think about things. Halfway through one rug I have an idea for the next one.

And this is how I feel about my stories now. Working in an entirely different medium helped bring about this commitment to the novel. Just as I always finished every rug I began, even when I had thought of an even better idea for the next one, I know I have to finish this story before I begin the next one.

It is incredibly satisfying to recognize that all my earlier writing is not wasted. It had its place in the forming of my characters and visions. I don’t need those dusty files anymore because the characters have burst out of their tight little short story forms and lunged forth into characters who want more space to develop. Poems, images, and dreams are becoming living thoughts in my fictional characters.

When I was a child I wrote because I loved to and that spirit is returning. Writing is my friend. I am writing because I want to. Sometimes it does take discipline to sit down and write but it is work I was meant to do.

About the Cha Cha Cha Changes

Published March 14, 2015 by megdedwards

killer whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody’s change is different.  But change we do; we do change.

Adolescence is the first change. Little children start to morph right before our eyes. Tiny waif like boys fill out, voices dropping, shoulders forming.  Girls grow curves and budding breasts and the chemistry begins.  So we could call the beginning of adolescence, menoprimo, the beginning of change.

Then we go through our reproductive stage. Hormones take charge of the body and drive us through this next section of life. Let’s just call this next stage ‘meno’ and for women that stands for menstruation or non-menstruation, which is also known as ‘pregnancy’. Those are your two choices.

Then the beginning of the end; menopause. Men and women, pause. Change.

The waning of the hormones. The decrease in oestrogen and testosterone can feel pretty intense as the body  bravely tries to adjust. The list of symptoms for menopause covers pretty much anything that feels bad.

Anxiety, asthma, allergies, and arthritis can all be described as possible side effects of menopause. When the happy hormones stop the whole show changes. I gave birth fairly late at forty years and then breast fed for three years, so when the Change began I was in a free fall from happy hormones. It felt like I had returned from the moon.

Men experience the change too. I can see changes in my partner. And that’s cool because we are changing together.  We are not meant to reproduce anymore. And that’s good because we are a lot less energetic than we used to be.

The time of Change can be seen as a positive development, as long as you don’t mind the fact that you are actually getting closer to dying.

The woman’s body can rest from the rigor of monthly cycles and blood letting. She can grow a few chin hairs and have more time to take on the world.  If the man sticks with his wife he can also rest peacefully knowing that his baby making wife has retired from that job. He can mellow out and make cookies.

I did not mind the bleeding or the births. That was all pretty natural and made sense to me. It grounded me and made me feel like I was a part of the animal world in a cathartic and feral way.  Bleeding and birthing were intense bloody experiences.

When I was reaching the end days of the reproductive cycle I had massive blood lettings. The cycle would start with a minimal and discreet sort of blood; dark, scant and without pain. But it would build in intensity until I felt my muscles scraping every bit of blood from my lower body leaving me weak in the knees and pale.

The blood of the last few cycles was bright red as if from a wound. Stop now, I would say to my body, this is not menstrual  blood, you are just trying to kill me. And it stopped. Gradually the cycles slowed down, once every three months, twice a year. Once a year?

I have not heard from my womb in a long time. It is pretty quiet. It is no longer calling out the months, transforming my breasts, engineering my moods.

I am enjoying this Change. I am being transformed into a non-reproductive woman.  I am becoming a hag and a crone, a woman not weighted by sexiness or babies.

I feel strong. like a old bear waking up from a sleep, not about to take any shit from anyone.  Also, as the baby years recede behind me I feel a childish joy in the return of my own personal time.

Time to myself to write! And 50,000 words into a novel, I can honesty say I am writing. To create! Fifteen hooked rugs in the last few years and now I am planning a series of rugs and a show. To dream! I have ideas and concepts for plays, films, radio shows. The more time I have the more plans I have.

The hot flashes still surge through my body during the night. Sometimes my joints feel loose and like my hips could fall out of place. Things are changing and adjusting within me.

But I find that the sweating leaves my skin dewy and refreshed, and I believe that the heat of the flashes acts like a mid life protective fever, cleaning my body of bad chemicals and realigning my hormone levels for the next forty years of stable womanhood.

Like my girl friend the matriarchal Orca, or Killer Whale, I intend to lead the pod with my acquired wisdom.

 

 

 

 

Photo copied from skepchick.org (insights-into-menopause-come-from-killer-whales)  With thanks!

 

Kit Currie – Missing Woman and my Thoughts

Published August 26, 2014 by megdedwards

Fair Play or Foul Play – Awaken my Rage against Violence Against Women

Kit Currie - missing since August 14th - Last seen on Queen and Bathurst inToronto

Kit Currie – missing since August 14th – Last seen at  Queen and Bathurst in Toronto

I am re-posting this post about a missing woman who was last seen at Queen and Bathurst in downtown Toronto, jumping on her bike. As soon as I saw her photo with her wide smile and two braids I thought of a friend of mine. When I saw where she lived and read that she did art modeling like me, I felt an extra affinity.

I feel a ‘fellowship’ with all women but this woman is very like me. It could have been me. Or my old pal from Toronto. Woman and girls go missing every day and they are of all races and classes and sizes. But this one looks like me and that sort of strikes into my heart a little deeper.

I know it is selfish to feel more empathy for a person who looks like you, but I suppose it is human nature. I can picture my friend hopping on her your bike and heading to .. What happened to her? Where is she?

The thoughts that run through my mind (and the police investigators) are: did she have a crazed ex boyfriend, a weird colleague at work? Was she randomly taken? All these things are possible and have happened recently.

There was a woman in Moncton who was grabbed by a strange man and locked in his basement for a month who escaped and can tell the tale now. There was the woman my age who was stabbed to death early in the morning in the alley a few years ago in Toronto when I was visiting my Mom. They did not know why she had been stabbed and I couldn’t help but think, are middle aged woman being randomly stabbed now? But the murderer turned out to be from her homeland and resentful of her position as manager at their workplace.

Obviously I don’t need to look for specific examples of women killed by their ex spouses.

We are always sort of hoping that our actions and our style of living is the right one for survival. We may not say it aloud when we read the news but a quiet voice is saying, ‘I would have avoided that’. It helps us feel safe. But when a fearless strong trusting woman disappears, it sends a shadow over me.

I know there is threat of violence at all times. Women live with that as a constant. It is our underlying reality. It is always there.

Recently I have had a person calling and hanging up the phone at any hour night and day. If I stayed on the line, they stayed for a while and then hung up. I never talked. I remembered what a police man had told me long ago, that if they don’t say your name then they probably don’t know where or who you are. But it still made me feel under surveillance and harassed.

Eventually I convinced my husband that this was something other than an electronic automatic call gone weird. He could see that it was beginning to upset me. He started answering the phone every time it rang and the calls stopped. A male voice was all I needed.

When the calls were day and night I started looking over my shoulder; what man around my neighborhood had been looking at me weirdly. There was the skinny dude looking me up and down at the gas station… Does he think I need to be taught a lesson? Too confident in my body? Is there a man who has become obsessed or decided he hates me? Enough to harass me?

If a man is attracted to you but hates you, you could be in big trouble.

My effect on misogynists is almost immediate. As soon as they see me they don’t like me and I smell them as soon as they walk in the room. I watch and wait for the signs. How quickly do they demean a women in my presence. Do they always turn to the man in the room when they speak? Do they sort of sneer when I talk? Do I see in their eyes the distinct critical light of a man who feels uncomfortable with my body language?

Ever since I was a young woman I take this as an invitation for a fight. Especially when I was a hot tempered young 20 year old I would speak my mind and speak it clearly and see how they reacted. I remember a very big man arguing with me about something at a party and eventually he was looming over me as I sat on a chair below him. I pointed out his body language to him, ‘look at you showing how much bigger and stronger than me you are’!

His face went all red and he left the room. A bright red face in an argument meant I had won. I took it as a flag of triumph if a man who thought he was superior to me would get all red in the face when arguing with me. I would think to myself, well, aren’t you all upset because I have not agreed with you.

If a man tries to push me about I stand up as strong as I can. If there is the presumption that I should be too scared to look him in the eye. That is what I do. I look him in the eye.

I puff up like an angry cat that will not be brought down easily. I swear to God that if I am ever raped and murdered, if that is the way I am going to die, I am going down fighting. I will fight til I die. I will not go down quietly. I will knee the groin and stomp the top of the foot, I will poke eyes out and jam my hand in the throat. I will do some goddamn damage. Just so you know.

I am not weak and I will fight to the death. That is what I start thinking about when I hear of a fifty year old woman disappearing. All of us women do.

For any man that does not know that this is the reality of a woman’s life no matter what race or class or religion or part of the world she lives in, take note! This is what we live with when we bravely go to work at night or lock the doors and close the windows of our apartment at night when it would be nice to let in the breeze.

These are the roaming thoughts of a sister. I hope that Kit Currie is alright. As a woman,  my immediate thoughts are of ‘foul play’. Foul Play, what a term. Like there are rules in this game that was not written by or for women. Foul play: unfair or treacherous conduct especially with violence; not playing by the rules of the game.

My deepest wish is that she had a bit of a break down and will be alright soon. Have strength. Fair play to you. Please don’t be another victim of male rage.

If Van Gough was a woman, he would be my friend Kit..

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.

I missed you but I was busy thinking

Published December 2, 2013 by megdedwards

portrati of meg by frankI have gone through a quiet stage. I even hesitate to write in my journal.  Sometimes I feel tired just thinking about putting my thoughts into writing.

But I don’t feel bad or sad at all. I am cruising. I am thinking.

I remember talking with an American cousin of mine about whether natural birth changed the character of the person born. Did the painful and intense process of going through the birth channel make the person different compared to those that were born by opening up the belly and emerging directly into air?

She said something about ‘pra sess’ and I did not know what she said at first but then I recognized the American accent and the word ‘process’.  Now whenever I am thinking about the concept of ‘process’ in  psychological  development I say ‘pra sess’ to myself.

I am ‘pra sessing’.

My Mom died last spring on March 1 st.  I am still thinking about that and what it is like to go forward without a mother for the rest of my life. It did not  happen before time, in fact it happened at a natural time. It all happened very naturally.

Of course, I am shot forward in my head to my death and how many years I have left in my ‘back pocket’ as Mom put it to me one day as I sat in the sun on the phone, and waited for the school bus.

I still cry over missing my Dad. He died five years ago on December 15th. I realize now that his death really broke my heart. I was in such pain I actually felt physical pain in my heart and limbs.  I don’t know why it was so much more painful except that it was more sudden. And he had made he me feel less lonely in this world. Always.

During that time of physical exhaustion and mourning, two adolescent  boys, emerging from sort of squalid childhood hidden behind middle class conventions, sexually assaulted my baby child. We fought back, we protected her, we survived the police, social workers and general ignorance around this issue. 

So here I am, five years later, seriously aged but extremely grateful. In this seemingly short span of time my oldest daughter has grown up entirely and my middle child is turning into a man. My baby is no longer a baby. My marriage is stronger than ever. 

After more than a year looking for work I have given up. The final piece of the puzzle was handed to me when my youngest said she wanted to ‘home school’ again. After a day or two to ‘ pra sess’ I jumped in with my full mind and heart.

We are having a blast of full on love and joy every day. We do crafts and cook and clean. We walk and skate and swim. We talk and dream. Math sneaks its way in with no stress or anxiety. We learn as we go. 

I know that I allowed this time with my other children and I see that my life patterns don’t change. Having a baby at 40 meant extending my type of parenting for another 20 years.

I need to adjust, tighten the belt on the budget, and think about writing for money again!

My Mom moves through me. I feel her enjoyment with my domestic bliss. My Dad smiles on me too. They nod at each other, from their distant peaks,  like faulty Greek Gods, united in their pride.

 

“Looking down and Away”

Published September 23, 2013 by megdedwards

bb 061“I just smiled at a potted plant, thinking it was you”.

She thought she saw me at her table when I was having a long distance phone call with my Mom.

This was when her mind was beginning to go a bit wild.  I did not know it then but it was a sign of things to come.  I could see her in my mind’s eye, smiling at the plant and I felt her affection, it did not matter that the plant was receiving it. We laughed merrily about the absurdity of her giving her glowing loving face to a potted plant.

We laughed a lot in the last years.  We had as much fun as you can have when someone is evidently dying. On my many visits to Toronto the walk from the bathroom to the couch became increasingly like a marathon with pep talks and breaks along the way.  “This is fun”, said Mom, “a sort of fun, if a bit ridiculous…”  as we collapsed on the pillows in exhaustion and giggles.

“The upside of dying is having your kids come around, a compensation of sorts” said Mom, and also, “I can be insightful, in bizarre moments when I am not making jokes or confessing sins”.  Conversation was intriguing and unpredictable, full of unforgettable images, such as this description of a discussion, “We huddle like rugby players and figure out what next to tackle”.

There were times when her spirits lagged, tired of the tricks of her mind; “I have forgotten why I am here. I don’t know where I am, and, I have forgotten who I am”.

She began to live with one foot in the other world. She saw things; she described images in her mind, as you sat before her. Other images, other times, other space. “I see you looking down and away, most likely at your child ”.  I was sitting beside her, seeing myself in her mind, looking away.

Visions were dreams, objects were symbols, actions or fleeting moments were caught and symbolized. Her mind was making a film, writing a novel, dreaming a poem. Her mind was doing what it was supposed to do, move into the ethereal, leaving behind the earthly limitations of time and space.

My Mom’s main advice to me was to write it down. “You won’t have the energy later. Write it down now”.

I am writing.  And I am thinking about mothers and daughters and what they teach each other. What advice do we act on, what lessons are more bodily memories than lessons. Did my Mom teach me how to make bread or do I just remember her hands and what they did.

What did we learn by accident, what lessons were not meant to be lessons?

My Mom decided that 25 years was long enough for her marriage and that we were all old enough to handle the separation. She would make proud jokes about the 25 year deadline. Once I had been married 25 years I entered a panic. It was as if the due date was over, the marriage was ruined, spoiled, unfit to carry on.

But also I remembered how my Mom thought that her time was up when she was 63 years old, the age her mother died.  We set dates in our minds. I had set myself an invisible deadline.  I felt a surge of emptiness and a dread of the future. I was not sure what I was supposed to do.  I was not sure how to proceed.

When I was a young girl my Mom decided to put aside her married life and become a new woman.  I see now that although her actions destroyed the family unit as it was, it also gave me a very strong sense of what it was to be a woman and look after your own self. Her best gift may have been her destruction of herself as a housewife.

From then on I never questioned looking after myself, my rights, my ability to attract a man, or my right to a good sex life that satisfied me. I felt right about asking for and getting what I wanted. And my beautiful older sisters may have had more trouble with that, being brought up by the good housewife.

I did not question my Mom’s right to live her life fully.  What I did not realize was that I thought that I was disappointing her by living with the same man all my life. I slowly became conscious of my own assumptions about the 25th year of marriage and my own buried wounds.

It was her ball busting moves, limited as they were by her hesitant feminism, and not articulate or entrenched enough to give her a real release from her insecurities, that made me the woman I am today.  I was capable of falling unwisely in love and walking away when I saw the unhealthy nature of that love. Afterwards, I had fun searching for the right man.  I knew when I had found my partner, and I knew when monogamy was worth it.  I knew how to express myself so that we could argue if necessary, and communicate without lying.

Just as my mom must have thought her days were almost over as she aged closer to 63, I had an unconscious unarticulated feeling that my marriage would be over at 25 years. My Mom lived for another 20 years longer than her mother. And she traveled every year, enjoyed her younger boy friend, and did acid in her sixties just to see what it was like.

I see now that I can have the long term marriage that she later spoke of wistfully, watching her old friends who had ‘stuck it out’ in the hard patches and then had loving relationships in their elder years. She wondered what that would have been like. She did not go so far as to regret her actions, but she was not too stubborn or proud to question the path she took.

I recognize that a long term marriage is not a lapse of courage, or an easier path, but a path of my own.  I know she never meant to set up separation and ‘independence’ as the only path.  During the painful process of discovering who she was and what she wanted, she did give me the tools for a real and stable relationship.

She would have been happy to see my husband and me out on our 29th anniversary, laughing and kissing. “Oh Meg”, she says from her location in the ether and energy, “But, of course!  You know, I have always thought Joe was a gem”!  And I smile at our other worldly conversation, and I continue to follow her advice, to write it all down.

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