Suddenly Sometimes

Ever noticed how suddenly-sometimes serendipity seems to occur most when the sun is shining and summer seeps into one’s heart, bubbles over and spills out in splashes all over the garden?  It almost feels as if this sweet summer state of mind creates a catalyst that activates a sublime sequence of inexplicable events.                

Like the time Bernadette called.  “The Town is giving away compost.  Want to go?  I’ll pick you up.”

I went.

The sight of eager townsfolk feverishly shoveling free compost, piled up in the parking lot, into bags and bins didn’t inspire me.  The stream of comings and goings to and from the main building however, was intriguing.                                                                                                        

Woo hoo! Community garage sale …     

 Bernadette laughed when I mumbled, “I’m going to look for treasures for my garden.”

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That’s me!

I heard “Junk Lady” as I hopped out of the vehicle.

My friends know me too well!

 

 

 

I picked up a bunch of beauties for mere coins.  Like these –

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A wall mirror to create the illusion of an open doorway on the fence in the backyard
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A toy scooter to use on the deck as a stand for a flowering potted plant.

 

 

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Three of five forlorn, unclaimed items remaining on the book table.  1917 publications. A century old.

 

 

 

And then I stopped in my tracks as some old books caught my eye.  

Me:  “How much?”

Bored vendor:  “How about a dollar fifty?  Fifty cents each.”

I set the coins down and scooped the volumes up, unable to believe my luck.  There were two others still  languishing on the table. 

“I have a quarter left and a TTC token,” I dared to venture.  “Would that be payment enought for those?”

Bored Vendor:  “Sure.  Someone could make use of the token.  This stuff is junk anyway!”

He was in a hurry to pack up and leave.

I handed over my last coin and the transit system token, picked up my booty and scurried away in case someone should have a sudden change of heart.

James 4:2 You do not have, because you do not ask …

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This rollicking suddenly-sometimes ride commenced a week before, when Evelyn and I sat down to enjoy a Japanese bento box lunch, and the conversation turned to gardens.  

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That’s me!  The only gardener in the family, actually.

Evelyn:  “How’s your garden doing? Done planting yet?     

Me: “No.  Haven’t even started.  I haven’t had time to buy the annuals.”

Evelyn: “Have you tried Costco?”

Me:  “No.  We’re not members.”

Evelyn:  “I am. I’ll take you.”

So off we went.

Nothing caught my eye in the garden centre.

But …

On our way out, we passed the  mobile phone sales centre, and I remembered my phone.  It had been gasping at death’s door for a while. 

I paused.

Me: My phone is a bit of a dinosaur. I need a new one with a good camera, but I’m not willing to go above my present monthly payment.

Pleasant Salesguy:  No problem. How much do you pay now?

I told him.  I had an exceptionally good deal, he said.  I knew that.

Pleasant Salesguy: Are you willing to go ten dollars more a month?

Me:  No!  I don’t use my phone enough to justify a higher monthly payment.

Pleasant Salesguy:  So you want a free new phone with a great camera for the same amount that you pay now – or less – right?

Me:  I know, it sounds like awful cheek, doesn’t it?

I turned to go.

Pleasant Salesguy:  Wait, wait …

He continued to scroll down, squinting at the screen in front of him.

Evelyn assured me she wasn’t in a hurry.  I rolled my eyes and sighed.

Then –

Pleasant Salesguy: Found it! There’s a loyalty deal and you qualify …

Music to my ears …

So I get a  free phone worth $700, and my monthly payment is four dollars less than previously.   My current phone, I’m told, is worth no more than $150, brand new.

Me:  I’ve been to every mobile provider I could think of.  When I tell them what I’m looking for, they look down their nose at me like I’m cheap. Or they talk down to me like I’m someone’s grandma, shrug and turn away.  So how come you found this one for me?

Pleasant Salesguy:  Because the mall guys work on commission.  It’s not in their interest to spend time looking for deals in the customer’s favour.  I’m a paid employee of Costco.  I’m not on commission.

Me:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how would this phone rate against my old one?

Pleasant Salesguy:  It’s an 8!  What’s more, check out the camera.

Evelyn and I pose.  I click.  We look ten years younger, the lines all automatically air-brushed away.

 Me: Wow!  Wow!! What a selfie!  …

 Pleasant  Salesguy’s name is Michael Blumenfeld.

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Michael Blumenfeld, Sales Manager, Wirelessetc.  Superlative, swept-me-off-my-feet customer service

And that’s not all.

I asked for an upgraded phone cover and screen protector and he gave me $125 in Costco gift cards to pay for them.

Me:  How come?

Michael:  Because this is Costco!

And there’s more …

The screen protector I chose was not in stock, so Michael made a call and arranged for me to pick it up from the mall closest to my home.

I’m elated.  Quite weak at the knees, to be honest.  Evelyn’s jaw’s dropping.  We’re both bewildered by the spectacular customer service …

Daughter squeaked when I showed her my phone at the end of the day.  “Where did you get that?  I’ve wanted an LG forever!  They say it takes the best pictures.”

She almost passed out when I told her how little I was paying for it.

I couldn’t stop talking at dinner that night.  About the amazing deal.  About Michael and the unbelievable customer service.

So we all four of us marched into Costco the next weekend with Grandpa and Grandma (and their Costco card) in tow – Husband, daughters and I – waving my contract with Michael’s business card attached to it.

The service was disappointing. Lack-lustre. The two young fellows at the counter seemed to barely tolerate us.  Kind of felt like we were a nuisance.

Daughters exchanged glances and threw me a funny look. 

“So where’s the customer service you kept on about?”

We got the loyalty deal for two more phones.  Husband pays two dollars and fifty cents less than I do, because he’s the second line on my account.  Husband and Daughter also got $125 each in Costco gift cards.  ONLY because I already had my contract through Michael and requested the same deal for the rest of the family.

There was enough left over, after paying for the extras, to buy trays of flowering annuals for the garden, a set of LED walkway lights, and a rose bush for Grandma.  Compliments of Costco. All because Michael Blumenfeld never made me feel stupid, and took the time to dig out a deal that finally embraced my family as well.

Young Fellows were indifferent, when we were done, and looked relieved to see us go.

I assumed, because of my initial experience, that exceptional customer service was the norm at Costco Wirelessetc.  I understood otherwise on my second visit. It was Michael who went out of his way to make this customer’s day sparkle.

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Husband and Daughter had to return to the location the next day, to pick up their not-in-stock screen protectors.  

“Pick them up from your local mall?  Sorry. No way!”

“But Michael arranged for me to pick it up from …”

 “Michael is the manager, he can do these things …”

Evelyn mentioned that if she’d chosen to take me to the other Costco location she shops at, the mobile phone sales section would not have been visible from the vicinity of the garden centre. So I’d never have seen it to remember the worn out dud I had in my possession.

Such a smooth-as-silk sequence of events that led me to three valuable vintage books and a brand new top-notch cell phone.

Sweet, surreal, sublime, suddenly-sometimes serendipity …

It was not about Bernadette and free compost, or about Evelyn and the garden centre at Costco after all.  

So thankful.  For Evelyn and her Costco membership.  For Bernadette.  For Michael Blumenfeld at Wirelessetc.  And for my fabulous new phone, of course, and the old, old books …

Love how life works when one leans in and listens. 

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Never miss a moment. (Taken at Walmart.  Most folks are proud pose and flash their captions.)
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On a friend’s coffee table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s more.  Lots and lots! 

Next time!

Until then,  

sincerely

 

 

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Parked outside the doctor’s office

Love Those Bhangra Boys!

 Life is full of appointments – to be kept or missed as one chooses – delicate deviations from the daily script.  Sometimes showing up in the form of inner impelling, an inaudible whisper, they urge one to reach for the moment and grab it by the horns, before it dissolves and vanishes un-met, unrecognized.

Gotta grab that camera  before the light moves on …

Rainbows on the ceiling won’t linger long , nor shadows on the carpet …

So one halts to act. Because such moments will not be put on hold. Because the tide of micro-events ebbs and swells, leaving behind the joy of happy happen-stance embraced or the tragedy of serendipity unrealized.

The timing of such things is fragile, precise and never a coincidence.

NEVER a coincidence …              

                                      ……………………………………………………………………………..                                 

I had a nagging urge one busy afternoon, to check my Facebook page. 

I’m not one of those Feverish Frenzied Facebook Fiends … honest!

 The screen on my phone opened up at a video clip on Cousin Preman’s page.

Click …

Jaunty young men with beards and bright turbans leap and prance, holding hands with a delighted woman.

A birthday Bhangra serenade!

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Maritime Bhangra Group

The woman in the motorized wheelchair beside herself with glee, claps her hands and beams.   

Her eager, electrifying enthusiasm smacked me in the face.

 Check out  the birthday Bhangra dance.   Click here …

I hit like, stabbed the comments section with a forefinger and tap-tapped:

An amazing lady, God bless her.  This resonates with my heartbeat.  I’ve lost two close friends to ALS .

Later that evening my phone went ping.

Email alert …

 A message via this blog’s address from Next Week on Thursday (Sneak Peak) (on the header menu) 

You have made such a difference in my life this afternoon (I read). Your reply to Preman started it all. I SO want to connect with you. I SO want to find out about the next Thursday. Having gone through cancer yourself, you know the deep JOY of living .

Curious, I leapt into her Facebook page.

The intro read –

I am a joyous person LIVING with ALS with my loving husband, Cameron, always at my side.

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Something about the way she smiles … (The Facebook profile picture ‘with Cameron at my side’)

I got punched in the guts.  I’ve lost two good friends to this brute, a cruel, merciless, relentless ogre that steals and destroys –

ALS.  Lou Gherig’s disease … 

 – and I’m passionate about raising awareness.

Who IS this woman?

Surprise!
Who’s that girl?

The name is Judy Starritt

Enjoying the evening
“Who me?”

                     

#3 I choose my joy!
Sky’s the limit, baby!

Codeword:  JOY!  

This says it all
Christmas lights in her yard

 A person like you and me who’s –

       (a) A once-upon-a-time high school math teacher                             

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I didn’t, actually! A Math pun from Judy’s Facebook page.

(b)  Some mother’s beloved daughter

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Two peas in a pod and tea for two. Judy (right) and her mama

  (c)  Her boys’ mom

Left over right
Mama, me and brother makes three … (Judy and two of her three boys)
Our sons or Charlie's angels
Brothers united, Judy’s gems. The three Starritt boys
Timothy's diapers
Comely young mother.  Judy hanging diapers out to dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d) Doting Grandmama and

Grandad, Grandma, Findlay and Eamon
A sampling of Starritt munchkins

(e) Adored wife of –

Drum roll … Ladeez a..a..nd  gentlemen, presenting the one, the only   …

      – Cameron Amos Starritt 

Ya …ay!

#16 My, he looks like Cam
Ta da !  Cam: “I’ll be your leprechaun and sit upon an old toadstool …”  
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Cameron Starritt.  That’s her man.

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many hats Judy wears.  She sparkles, she shines.  She’s extraordinary.

 A wheelchair won’t vanquish her spirit –

New transportation
Off on a summer sortie on the motor scooter
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Steppin’ out of the shadows (Judy, centre)

                                                                                Disease daren’t define her.

Judy:  “I have discovered I haven’t changed, just my body has changed.  I am more intensely aware of both the changes in my body and the JOY that surrounds me …”

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Joy for Judy: Posted on her Facebook page

Shortly after her diagnosis  in 2014, ALS awareness (literally) deluged public awareness in the form of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Judy:  “It was as if ALS suddenly came out of the closet!”

Her firefighter son took on the challenge with gusto –

Click here to watch Judy at Andrew’s side in the Hot Firefighter Ice Bucket Challenge … 

  –  as his mother prepared herself to face the inevitable new normal.

Judy: “I made up a motto for myself and shared it with others … ‘I have faith and hope, I am optimistic and I will find joy every day.’”

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Draped in Joy with Joey Shipley
Loved watching the ocean
And she does …

I so identify with Judy’s resolve.  When late-diagnosis breast cancer crashed-landed on me  in the summer of 2008, I determined to live each day with joy.   However many – or few – of them remained. 

Me to self:  “I won’t waste a single moment of my cancer!”  

Judy won’t waste her ALS.

Kindred spirits or what?

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Come on out of that shell! (Judy pounding a maritime lobster treat)

Judy: “I looked for joy – unexpected happiness – and began to find it in the most unexpected places.”

Judy: “At first I would recite this over and over in my head.  Now I just accept it because I HAVE found JOY and mentioned it is nearer than you think.”

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Joy at the window, xylophone rhapsody by Cam.
Our official onboard photo
Say, “Cheeeeez!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some snippets from e-mail newsletters to family and friends –

“If you are wondering, I did find JOY every day!  I don’t want to sound superhuman … I DO have dark moments about the future at times, but by keeping myself busy and surrounding myself with positive people that love me and knowing I have so many people out there, caring and praying for me, this journey is SO much easier.”

“Every day became a special one.  I have so many reasons to smile.”

Like them wild chicken stockin’s and a brand new volunteer-constructed ramp …

“As I started out my journey with ALS, I made up a motto that I wanted to represent what I have, what I am and what I want.  As many of you know, I composed the following –

I have hope and faith

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Judy: an infection of joy

I am optimistic

I will find JOY every day.

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And oh, she does …

 

“Just had to look out the back windows to find my joy.  I told you once that JOY is nearer than you think!!”

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Joy out the back window: Cameron and the chickens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I will participate in the ALS walkathon.”

Since she made that last statement above, Judy has inspired three ALS Walk Strong teams to join Halifax and Virtual Walks!

Judy Starritt is probably the unofficial poster girl of the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (www.alsnbns.ca).

Her story is on their blog. 

Click here to read about Judy’s journey: ALS In The Words Of Judy Starrit …

I contacted Kimberly Carter at the the ALS Society  for permission to use information from their website

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With JOY in the background. Judy (left) and Kimberly Carter of the ALS Society New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (seated right)

Me to Kimberly:  Any friend of Judy is a friend of mine.

Kim’s reply:   I’m the same way, any friend of Judy’s is a friend of mine. I just love her half to pieces.

Yes, there’s certainly something about Judy …

 

 

…………………………………………………

It’s ALS Walkathon time of year again on June 10, 2017.

You’d find posted on Judy’s Facebook Page:

MAY the 4TH be with you and me and the ALS Walkathons across Canada. Today is my official starting date to promote my own team. It is called “Judy’s Joys” and Cameron and I and many more family and friends are going to walk beside me.
It is on June 10th at DeWolfe Park in Bedford. Registration is at 11 o’clock and the walk is at 12 o’clock.
To join my team, go to
www.alswalkstrong.ca

I made a donation (of course) and wrote on my page

Wish I could walk alongside you, Judy Starritt. Brave, beautiful, joyful, you inspire me … Rooting for you in memory of two close friends I’ve lost. Keep sparkling, keep being you. You go, girl … GO!

Join me in supporting ALS WalkStrong 2017.  Click here to donate/ support Judy’s team.  She calls them Judy’s Joys …

………………………………………………………..

Mum often said when I was a girl, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Weep and you weep alone.”

Phrased more simply:  “Who wants to be around a miserable grouch?”

Or in Judy’s words (quoting from a newletter update to her circle) –

Find YOUR joy!

You’ll find this picture in her Facebook photo gallery

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So her home is her haven, not a jail.  She made that choice.

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The Starritt summer cottage.  Idyllic.  Pastoral.

Life is her adventure.  It’s not unfair.  She made that choice too.     

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Let you love shine.  Follow your dream.  (Close up of the fabric of her caregiver’s outfit)

It helps immensely, of course, to have a wonderful man at your side.

Judy:  Thank God for big men!

The man behind my joy
The big man standing behind the JOY Christmas illumination.  The man behind her joy – literally!

 

                                             

                                                                   

                       

                                       

                                                                   ……………………………………..

Judy:  Eggs come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re all the same inside.  Just like people.

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From her chickens, with love

Some eggs, like some people,  have stronger shells strengthened not because of, but despite  the circumstances …

Judy wrote on her Facebook page some months back

Since my video went viral, many new and exciting things have happened to me. I tried to read every comment and some just stood out. Selina’s was one of of the them. I replied and a special friendship has developed. Is it serendipity??? Who knows? Who cares?? I delight in her words and she has opened my mind and heart to newer things.

As she has opened my heart  …

Words are powerful. Weapons of destruction or tools of hope.  It all depends on how one chooses to wield them. 

To bless or to curse …

 Judy:  “I will pray that in my lifetime, ALS will become treatable, not terminal …”

Oh, me too!  Me too …

Believers in dreams, you and I, Judy.  With faith, we’ll make them all come true.

1 Corinthians 13:12    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I         know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood …

Through the looking glass in my garden nooks …

Judy Starrit has found her Promised Land — that place within the heart, nestled deep inside the human spirit.

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The Promised Land.  That’s what I named our home.

A believing heart, a humbly yielded spirit …

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BELIEVE in mirror letters 
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Sunlight reflected off mirror BELIEVE, creating an inverted splash of word on the bathroom floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Codeword:  JOY …

Always!

So thankful for Judy’s joy.  Infectious, unforgettable lady.

To help increase ALS awareness and support Judy’s Joys at the Walkathon, please share this post.  (Scroll down and click on one of the share buttons below). Let’s see how far Judy and her cause can travel. Thank you.

Until next time,

sincerely

PS:  Three cheers for Judy’s beloved Maritime Bhangra Group.

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These Sauve sahibs jump for joy
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Hurrah, we made it! On the front cover.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy: “Love those boys!”

Click here  and give her Bhangra Boys a thumbs up on their Facebook page. 

Oh, and if you enjoy gorgeously groan-worthy puns like these – 

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— you must take a leisurely stroll through Judy’s Facebook page !

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Groan!

Her Old Piano

We’ve just driven into town, there’s a piano on the kerb outside our hotel.  A note scrawled on yellow paper, propped against the open lid –

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Unusual sight.  Unprotected piano outside Europa Inn, St. Andrews-by-the-sea, New Brunswick
Signed: Simone Ritter .  Work in progress, she says,  stay tuned …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piano  won’t stay tuned for long, squatting outside in the elements 

Intrigued, curious.

Who’s the lady?  What’s her plan?

We check into Europa Inn, Husband and I.  Two nights.  Delightful auberge in sleepy, small town seaside setting, old fashioned European charm.

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Serenity by the sea.  Yep. That’s what I’d call it.
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Europa Inn: flights of backstairs and balconies full of pink petunias

       

 

 

 

 

Old-world nostalgia and a plethora of      prewar/war-time memorabilia …

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Old iron safe (from town’s namesake church) in quiet backroom of Inn
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Europa Inn.  Famous for signature  eight-course dinner banquet by Chef Markus Ritter. Must-do tourist experience in New Brunswick,  as per travel guide 

 

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Did the road trip instead!

On summer road trip with husband.

Spectacular paintings jostle for elbow room on walls.  Struck by joie de vivre, bright light and vibrant energy in them.

Signed:  Simone Ritter.

Breakfast- a mouthwatering masterpiece.  Friendly host, proud hubby, Chef Markus Ritter, gives glowing account of talented wife’s hobby-turned-profession.  

Simone Ritter Art …   

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Simone Ritter’s  artwork (on display for sale) lines the walls of Europa’s dining room

Leave two days later.  Weather’s changed, sporadic showers.  Piano clothed in plastic protection.

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A raincoat for poor piano on the morning of our departure .

 

 

 

 

 

Never encountered Simone in person. Forgot to ask about the piano. Wish I had.  Kept wondering …

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

My mind is an interesting place I’ve been told.  

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This is my mind, where nothing is impossible!

“It’s about perspective,” I reply,

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She’s too small or the chair’s too big? (Moncton, New Brunswick, 2015)
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It’s how one views things …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– “being able to see where there’s nothing to see.”

When waters swirl sixty feet deep, who’d imagine the possibility of a stroll on the ocean floor?

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Chocolate waters around Flower Pot rocks. (High tide, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick)
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Hard to believe … a walk on the ocean floor?
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Husand (left) standing where waters stood sixty feet high
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Walking the ocean floor. Sixty-foot high waters have receded. 
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Husband standing under centre of arch.  (Check first photo.  This archway was completely submerged)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A parable?  Sort of.

Waters did recede, in spite of what we saw when we first arrived …

Which is the definition of faith.  Sort of.

Hebrews 11: 11  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see … 

………………………………………………………………….

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Seeing beyond the physical reality –

Which brings me back to when eye sees what doesn’t yet exist –

Like knowing when garbage is more than garbage …

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For example –

(1) Old washbasin – just  an unusual lily pond-in-waiting –

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Didn’t throw out the sink. (After fall bathroom renovations)  Hurry up, summer!
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Won’t look like this one, tho’!

 

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For sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)  An ordinary bottle  … a prospective tree ornament, of course!

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Colourful chopstick, shiny marbles and sea shells and … voila! (In my summer garden)

(3)  The old kitchen sink – a perfect container for growing swamp plants 

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After kitchen renovations (In my summer garden)

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(4)  That tired saucepan – an eccentric hanging container for a flowering summer plant

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Rope to hang  it with and hurrah for blooming beauty-to-be!

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Mr. Pot Man (Clay pots are not just for planting in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5)  Ancient pots and pans make whimsical garden ornaments

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Kitchen Corner (In my summer garden)
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Not just a bundle of old twigs (neighbour’s garden)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daughters issue dire edict when ensuite toilet is replaced: “No planting flowers in it, Mom. Not going in our garden.”

I give my word!

See a bath tub tossed out on sidewalk recently, imagination bubbles over.  So tempted. Wish I could carry it home.  

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Threw the old one out!  (There’s a limit to creative art …  even I have my standards!)
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Kerb-side tub.  It looked like this .. would have made a gorgeous garden planter – sigh! (Bed and Breakfast, Annapolis Royale, Nova Scotia)

Which brings me all the way back to Simone’s piano.

A year and a half’s gone by.  Often wondered about it.  Have to know …

Find Simone Ritter on Facebook and shoot off private message. She sends picture of finished work with a note –

Simone writes: It was popular with the passers by during the summer months, even in the unfinished stages.  Unfortunately a storm came through and ripped the plastic off the piano.  The heavy rains made the wood swell and then it could not be played anymore …

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…  her handiwork
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Ta da!

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely breathtaking …

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Gorgeous explosion of creativity.  Well done, Simone!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It’s  all about  knowing how to look –

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… in the most unexpected places
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Husband with tour map 

 

Living in the possibility of the moment –

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Picture of a woman taking a picture of her shadow.  (Happened to look out of high-rise window and captured the moment)

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And honing the inner vision –                                       

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Me reflected in neighbour’s glass door, seen through glass pane of laundry room door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you see what you see?

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A hug or a serpent? (Neighbour’s front yard)
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Dead wood or sculpture?
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Just a car or dawn-in-the-windows? (On the driveway)
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Stars in my eyes. (Reflection in family room mirror)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……………………………………………………………………………….

And that’s Life According To Me, a deliriously expectant resident of  La La Land!

Love living there …

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More than content to be one of the Fools Who Dream 

Because, ultimately, it’s about the final, impossibly possible picture –

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Life’s glorious gifts, hidden in plain sight –

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… just waiting to be unwrapped

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Of course I do !

Unimagined sweetness –

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… and eaten up in a single go!  (Guilty. When Rosalyn brought dessert)
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… just begging to be tasted

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Finally a thaw in the air.  Milder days ahead. 

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So thankful.        IMG_20170226_214313

Until next time,

sincerely

 

PS:  Meet the Ritters of Europa Inn –

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Ritter family. Chef Markus, artist Simone and kids, Saint Andrews-by-the-sea, New Brunswick

And Puppy has the last word –

I do!

Faith We Follow

“There was a crash.  The knife came down, barely missed my eye. Blood everywhere…”

I can almost hear Mum’s voice.  Wish I’d paid more attention to details.

Her tales often commenced with all six of us.  img_8482

Pearl, Ruby, Peter, Dan, Beatrice, Elizabeth …  

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“All six of us” (1976).  Seated (left to right): Beatrice, Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  Standing (extreme left): Peter, (extreme right): Dan, the brothers-in-law behind their wives -(Left to right: Prins, Sub, Prince, Selva)

Mum:  So all six of us climbed into Babby’s cot with the cake Alice baked.  We found it on the kitchen table.  Just as Petes lifted the bread knife and said, ‘Let’s have a piece’, the cot collapsed.  The knife came down on my forehead.  It narrowly missed my eye.”

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Alice, the family retainer who helped cook and keep house, the hapless victim of boyish pranks.

Peter and Dan – Petes and Danma to us nieces and nephews – youthful villains.

Baby Elizabeth was Baba.  Babby to the next generation.

Me: (doing mental calculation) But Mum, if Babby was say … five, and you … eight, the others would have ranged in age from eighteen and under.  How could all six of you have squeezed into a baby’s bed – with a cake and knife?

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Gifted teller of jokes and stories,  writer, mimic par excellence.  Mum loved to laugh.    

 Mum’s a storyteller, not a mathematician.  It’s how she remembers …

Mum:  On Sunday evenings we had family prayers.  On our knees.  They went on forever.

Her eyes are brimming with memories …

Mum:  We quietly slipped away into the kitchen to have a feast.

Me:  All six of you …

Mum: Poor Alice.  No one listened to her protests.  The patties were for the visitors.  She made lovely patties.  We ate everything we could find and crept back to the living room, knelt down and folded our hands.

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They did!

Me: And No one noticed?

Mum:  No.  And E.T.S Aunty was so impressed by our piety,   we all got  toffees.  She said we were good children!

E.T.S Granny (always known by her initials), Grandpa’s widowed sister, frequent visitor, devout, determined lady, given to eloquent, lengthy prayers.     

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Lo-o-ong prayers

Mum:  One Sunday evening, Geo Uncle came to visit.

Me: At prayer time?

She’s chuckling …

Mum:  Petes used a coat hanger to start Uncle’s car.  We all climbed in.

Me:  All six of you …

Mum:  He drove to Geo Uncle and Malar Aunty’s house.  We ate all the goodies Malar Aunty fed us and drove back home again.

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George  (Geo Uncle, poet, man of letters) and Malar Perinpanayagam on holiday in hill country with Beatrice (Mum)  She spent a lot of time with them in their early married life.

Me:  And their eyes were closed, they were still praying?

I’m laughing with her …

 Mum:  He never knew!

Me:  And Malar Aunty?

Mum:  I don’t think she ever told him.

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Lest we forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Shadrach Samuel Esquire, aspiring businessman aged 32, won the hand of Miss. Mercy Newton of Chundikuli, Jaffna.  As legend has it, the friends of the sixteen-year-old bride called out over the fence as she walked past the schoolyard of the local girls’ school, on her way to church to be married.         

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Miss Mercy Newton, second daughter of Charles and Rose Newton of Chundikuli, Jaffna

Shadrach and Mercy set up home in Colombo, sleepy metropolis of colonial Ceylon.  

He founded the iconic engineering firm, Samuel Sons.  

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Samuel Sons, founded 1922.  70th anniversary commemorative mug.  Uncle Peter, an artist, designed the logo.

                                 

 

 

 

The union produced six children.

  A seventh, Mum remembers as Bertie, succumbs to an untimely demise as an infant …                                                       

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Shadrach & Mercy Samuel and offspring.  Left to right:  Ruby, Pearl (seated), Dan (seated) and Peter.  Baby Beatrice held by Dad.  (Elizabeth was born a year or two later)

Grandma Mercy died in her sleep at age 33.  Cause of death unknown.

Mum recalls asthma and a family history of heart disease  …

Rajes Aunty, seventeen-year-old bride, moved in with new husband, Thurai Perinpanayagam (Grandma Mercy’s cousin) to help take care of a brood of children, some of them almost her age. 

To this day, Rajes Aunty occupies a special place in all our hearts.

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Looking good!  Aunty Rajes Perinpanayagam celebrates 90 years (2015)  Husband and I made a detour on a summer road trip, to attend the surprise party at her son’s home in Connecticut

The siblings grew closer to one another.                         img_20150805_222918

All six of us …  

Grandpa Shadrack never recovered from his loss.  Well meaning aunties and clucking grannies suggested umpteen prospective brides to grace his hearth and mother the children.

Mum:  He always said, “There was only one woman for me.  God who took her away from me will take care of my children.”

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Grandpa’s was. (Photo of picture hanging in friend Evelyn’s home.  Painted by her niece.)

Me:  Do you remember her, Mum?

Mum:  Of course!  She was slim and pretty, darling, gentle, soft-spoken, a lady through and though. Always simply and tastefully attired. She was an artist, she painted beautifully.  I remember whenever she baked a cake, she let me stir the batter and lick the spoon.  I got a new dress every year, for my birthday.  She cut it out herself and made me turn the wheel of the sewing machine for her.  She used to call me Pambaram.

Me:  Pambaram?

Mum:  Because I was a tomboy.  I could never sit still.  It means spinning top in Tamil.  She played the piano.  On Sundays, all six of us would stand ‘round and sing hymns.

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Tomboy Beatrice.  How she was allowed to pose for a formal picture dressed like this is a mystery.

Me:  It must have been awful after she died.

Mum:   We had Daddy.  We loved him. He was strict, of course, but such a kind, generous man. He helped everyone.  Babby and I secretly called him Dixie Daddy from a song on the radio hit parade.  We giggled every time we said it.

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Dixie Daddy!
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Super Daddy Samuel …

 

 

 

Me:  Did you miss having a mother, Mum?

Mum:  Of course, darling.  On the day she died, I  asked God why he took my mummy away.  I was six.  Babby was only three.  I made up my mind to eat all my vegetables and grow strong, so I would be fit and well and never die and leave my children all alone.  But we had each other, it was a happy home.

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All six of us …

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Picture of Dixie Daddy on Mum’s autograph album
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1954.  Grandpa’s signature in Mum’s album:  S.C. Samuel.  He wrote:  “Let kind thoughts, words, wishes and deeds and the spirits thereof be ours and of those around us.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church was an important part of family life.

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St. Paul’s Milagiriya, Colombo, where the Samuel family worshiped and most of the children and grandchildren (myself included) were married.  (Mum and Dad in bridal car, Beatrice’s wedding, 1961)
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Dad at St. Paul’s after morning service on his 80th birthday (2016)

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And faith.

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Malar Aunty wrote in Mum’s album in 1955: “Behind life’s darkest clouds, God’s love is always shining …”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

As cousins, we have childhood memories of our mothers and aunts talking for ages on the phone.  Cousin Dileeni and I often recreated these conversations – to loud applause and gales of laughter – at family-gathering kid-concerts, 

“How are you, dear?” ” Did Alice come today?”  “Can you believe the price of sugar these days?”

They couldn’t do without each other.            

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Sisters:  (Standing left to right) Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  (Seated)  Beatrice

Time marched on. 

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Pearl and Sub (Dr & Mrs J.T. Subramaniam)
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Ruby and Prince (Dr & Mrs R.P. Rajakone)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl and Ruby married their doctors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter and Dan sailed off to the United Kingdom to pursue engineering degrees.

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Dashing sportsman, artist, dreamer.  Uncle Peter (left) engineering student in  England. (1950s)
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A brilliant mind.  Uncle Dan (front left),  also engineering student, England (1950s)

   

             

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Uncle Dan never married.  There were whispers of a mysterious Swedish lady who  broke his heart.

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum kept house for Grandpa and played doting aunty to a growing circle of adoring nieces and  nephews.

They called her Bety …

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The tribe of Samuel grandchildren at Mum and Dad’s engagement party.  Waiting to be born: Sister and Me, and Shiro (Babby’s daughter)

Tragedy struck again.  Grandpa Shadrach died unexpectedly, after routine surgery.  He was only 63.  Mum was 19 years old, Babby just 16.        

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Newspaper clipping.  Obituary notice.

Shadrach and Mercy united in death, buried side by side ….

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Together forever, Shadrach and Mercy (Anglican Section, Kanatte Cemetry, Colombo)

Mum and Babby clung to each other –

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Beatrice and Elizabeth outside Westholme, Kinross Avenue, the sprawling family home by the sea
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Babby wrote in Mum’s autograph album:  “There’s no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather …” (Signed: Beth)
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Babby, an artist like her mother, probably painted this page for Mum
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Mum’s signature on her autograph album.  Her maiden name.
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Dr Elizabeth Samuel.  Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter took over the headship of the firm.

Elizabeth attended medical school. 

Mum ran the family home for Uncle Peter, wrote wonderfully imaginative short stories that were published in the newspapers, taught Sunday School and created exquisite cakes for nieces and nephews, an abundance of relatives and friends. 

The artistic, thespian, writing/storytelling genes run strong in this family line …

 

…………………………………………………………

Grandpa was a man of faith, a praying man.

His example rubbed off.  Mum was a staunch believer in the power of prayer. 

I remember Sunday evenings with Mum at the old piano of her girlhood (now situated in her own home), singing the same beloved hymns she sang as a child.

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Mum taught Sister and Me this hymn

I remember us as little girls – Sister and I – kneeling by our beds as Mum taught us to pray.  I remember Mum reading from a book of devotionals, holding hands with Dad, Sister and Me (in our tiny school uniforms) and sending us off for the day with a prayer.

Sister and I often made fun, called her Saint Beatrice.

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Mum learned from Grandpa Shadrach. 

They prayed, things happened …

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Hanging in our home

               

   

   I learned from Mum.  

   Much older now, I’m an ardent              believer in  the mountain-moving        power of prayer.

     Faith we follow …

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Worked for Grandpa.  Worked for Mum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Just dialed long distance to talk to Babby – godmother, second mum — in Bethesda, Maryland. 

The pain of missing Mum is less when she and I talk …

Babby is the only one left.  She feels it badly.

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Elizabeth (left) and Beatrice (Babby and Bety).  Mum adored her baby sister.  Babby and Mum were close, right to the end of Mum’s life.

 

Asked about the size of the cot.  Says she slept in it till she was around eight years old. 

All six of us?  

It must have been a humongous piece of baby furniture!

 

 

Called Rajes Aunty some months back, posed questions about the family tree.  She snail-mailed  handwritten details from New York – 

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Appetizer.  Found the Newton/Perinpanayagam connection.  Thank you, Rajes Aunty!

Excited, more curious than ever!

Saw a picture of an ancestor on Facebook recently.

The Perinpanayagam connection, circa 1834  …

 Fascinated.  Impelled to dig deeper into the family tree. 

Mum’s second cousin, Thavo (Geo Uncle’s nephew), e-mailed more puzzle pieces from New Zealand –

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A snippet from a fairly lengthy document put together by Uncle Geo’s brother, Stephen Edgar R. Perinpanayagam.  

Cousin Thavo remembers the Noddy cake Mum made:  ” For my sixth birthday in 1959.  It had Noddy’s car and house and even had 2 milk bottles outside the house” …

Discovered that Grandpa Shadrach and Grandma Mercy were distant relatives.

An exhilarating peep into the past.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

It was misty this morning in Toronto. 

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View from front door

Much brighter/warmer in the land of our birth.

Alas for ugly politics, economics:  the clans are scattered worldwide.

Appetite whetted.  Must know more.

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So which came first, the chicken or the egg?
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The pictures fascinate me

 

 

 

 

 

 

These roots go deep.

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Stay  tuned.  More stories to come as more dots are joined.

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Until then,

sincerely

PS:  If you happen to be a branch/ twig/clipping of the Samuel/ Newton/ Perinpanayagam family trees and have old pictures/information, I’d love to hear from you. 

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… grandchildren AND great grand children!

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And I’d be delighted to share what I’ve gathered, with you.  

Thank you!

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All pictures in this post are clicks on Ipad and phone.

Gimme, Gimmee, Gimmeee!

Puppy adores presents.  Assumes every gift-wrapped package is for him –

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“Gimme, gimmee, gimeee ….” (Puppy and Ruwan)
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“Hey … gimme!”  (Puppy and Reshma)


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Nope!  

                 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got  caught red-handed on Christmas Eve, snooping  around tree.

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“To Pup” … gift tag and tissue flung aside.  Hole in the bag.  He found his present.
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Looks like it
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“Finally, all mine.” (Had to hide the bag till Christmas morning).
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“Don’t remember.  Never graduated !”
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 “Oh, hello Santa, it was you all the time!”
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So who killed Santa?
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Didn’t do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilty …

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Not me!
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    Fine, call the cops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy lives in state of constant joyous expectation.

Fabulous way to live …

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“Something yummy, for sure!” (Puppy and Friend Jim)
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Every moment, no matter what comes along

Living life in Puppy Mode …

Sunshine and shadow – embrace it all.

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Me in splash of sunlight
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Christmas decorations on kitchen wall
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Ivy topiary in foyer
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Orchid on kitchen table

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s treasures – darkness, light; good, the bad, lovely and ugly.

Rich fodder for this writer’s pen, if nothing else …

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Driving home at dusk.  Lamplight over court.

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Life often presents real live parables.  Puppy is mine.

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I have dreams.

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More than one, actually
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BIG DREAMS
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Just did. 

A secret path leads to dreams.  Winds through dusty roads, up dim stairways and rugged steps, along endless corridors.  

Along the way –

  • Jeers, sceptics, wet blankets –
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Mean comments
  • Dead ends, slammed doors –
  • Grim warnings –
  • Unforseen restrictions –
  • Disappointments, endless waits –

And yet –

Impelling urges on, blazing inferno that won’t be quenched.  Lurks just beneath surface of immediate consciousness, hangs like  mist, a veil through which real world is viewed.

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Endless
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Clinic for  weary dreamers?
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As fast or as slow as it takes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still …    

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Yes! (Tiana’s T-shirt)
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That’s me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see … 

Fueled by burning urge to write –

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Really do  
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At my desk
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Out on the deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, no matter how I feel –

Must keep going –

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You want me to … what?
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Hey, it’s freezin’ out here!

                   Okay, all done, and good luck with shoveling up that poop when the snow thaws …

Never mind what they say.

One piggy, second pig, third pig …

and …

Ha! 

Nope!  Long before that …

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Okay.
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A swine state of affairs!

And now –

Don’t know.  

Won’t find out till I try … 

Finally, one sweet day –

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And it was all worth it after all …
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Light at the end of the tunnel 

                                                            Aren’t you glad you made the climb?

Every day is Christmas for Puppy, any moment might bring gifts.

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Every day is NOT Christmas (back of scooter taxi, Colombo, Sri Lanka)
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                                                        Christmas Eve. Bone-shaped stocking – guess whose?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for Puppy, a parable of joy and daily expectation.

Gimme, gimmee … gimmeee!

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: The pictures in this post are all random clicks on Ipad and phone.

Toilet Paper Brides

New Year rolls in. 

Brings gifts –

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Soaring postage costs.  Not many Christmas cards last year.

 – three hundred and sixty five days untrodden, all gift-wrapped.

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Reams of resolutions.  High hopes in spite of/ because of …

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What next? 

Then comes …

 Evening news.  Burning building collapses.

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Downtown Tehran. Authorities ignored warnings about structural weakness
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Flaming highrise falls down flat

 

 

 

 

 

Shades of 9/11 …

Pick up phone to text Neighbour–

Me:  (tap, tappity-tap) Hope your family wasn’t near the building that came down in Tehran.

Neighbour (texts):  Thank God, none of my family members was in that area.  I knew this building very well since my father used to have an office there when I was little.  My mother was working, so he would take me to his office after school.  It’s all so sad.

Me: (Tap, tap): Thank God.  Sad, yes.

Avalanche in Italy buries ski resort.  More earthquakes. Tsunami warning. Shooting in Texas mall.

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 Never ends.  So what’s changed?

 Nothing, it seems, but …

  • Must keep looking upward, focus outward, embrace light. 
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Puppy embracing light
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Dawn over neighbours’ homes
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Moonrise above next door’s roof
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Full moon at midnight through bathroom skylight
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Crescent moon and single star above neighbour’s house
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… little star

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 img_20161228_182006

– Must speak LIFE.

Proverbs 18: 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Daughters’ Christmas present hangs by writing desk.  Speaks loud and clear to Heart.  Heart leaps for joy –

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Merry Christmas Mom (that’s me!)             
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Husband’s wife.  Daughters’ mom.  ME.

– Mustimg_20170116_183143 believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes! Just getting started …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Inspired by Puppy’s determination to keep dreaming, believing –

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“Hey, Grams, wanna share? “
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“… it’s gonna fall!”

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When all else fails …

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Yahoo!  Dishwasher time …

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Box of Dreams sits by bedroom door.  Weighs a ton.

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Up to the brim.  Almost twenty years of journals
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Yes, mine.

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Now making entries in journal number thirty six.

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From the wildest dreams of …

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Been scribbling my heart out for years.

A dream catalyses the evolution of Something out of Nothing, sometimes through Unlikely Source.

Like toilet paper wedding gowns …

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Radiant Toilet Paper Brides at Rachel’s bridal shower
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You’ll never know till you try
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Just imagine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plan for the rest of 2017:

(1) Quit skulking  in life’s undergrowth   –

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Puppy’s arch-enemy, lying in wait

…  strive for the stars.    

(2) Look at the bigger picture –     

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Sky’s the limit
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Life in miniature.  Husband peeping into giant doll house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3)  Build more bridges (not fences) –

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Shut out of paradise.  All fenced out

(4) Think outside the box –

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You betcha!
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Too confined
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Don’t go there! (Puppy and friend)
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Oh, come on out!
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No way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5) Break out of the iron bars –

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“Someone lemme out!” (Puppy out of harm’s way during renovations)
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“Come on out. ” (Puppy’s sister, Jesse)
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“Can’t you see the door’s open, silly?”
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Sometimes the keys are in plain sight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what keeps holding you back?

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Unlocking door. (Husband after summer concert in the park)

         

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Endless!

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(6) Wear the weight of passing years like a  million dollar diamond tiara –

 With grace and elegance …

 (6) Resurrect dead dreams –        

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Kanatte Cemetary, Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Dying African violet.  Nursed it back to life.
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                                                                               LEAVE OUT.  DON’T PUT  IN GARAGE     (Sign on neighbour’s lawn)

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(7) Pray more –
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Grace before Christmas dinner

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Puppy’s favourite pausing spot

                                                                                             Dear Me,

                                                                                             The dream finally came true ….                                                                                                                 

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I still write letters

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Who writes letters anymore? (Street corner, Colpetty, Sri Lanka)
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Never believe that

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Philippians 3: 13 But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead …

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Ahoy there!  All aboard …

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Wellawatte railway station, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Oh baby …

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Puppy and Rithika

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Never too early to start

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Me?  Never!

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

Some day soon.

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Some day …

Thankful for dreams.  A reason to leap out of bed each morning.

Until next time,

sincerely

            

 

 

                                     

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

“So Grampi, was it love at first sight when you saw her?”

Daughter’s eyes widen, jaw drops when Maternal Grandpa lets out belly laugh.

Hahahahaha …..

 Her romantic notions of darling-sweep-me-off-my-feet-I’m-yours-forever are shattered.

Sister and I glean bits and pieces over the years.

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Sister and me

Dad’s story –

“I came home from work one evening, and Mother told me I was fixed up.

No further discussion …

(Rumour has it that Paternal Grandma in her heyday was a tough bird.)

Fixed up is a direct translation from the vernacular.  There’s a sense of no-way-out about it. 

Matchmakers are Aunty Ruby’s in-laws.

Dad, up-and-coming young banker, is desperate to see what the girl looks like before formal introduction when he and parents visit her home.   Enlists help of Friend Gunam. Friend and he ride Dad’s scooter up and down Mum’s lane.  Young Lady finally makes an appearance on front porch.

Dad and Friend ride away.  Dad is glum.

Friend Gunam’s version:  “He was speechless.  He fell instantly in love.”

Dad’s version:  “I didn’t know what to say.  She looked like nothing on earth!”

Ouch …

Enormous relief to meet the girl a few days later.  Accomplished.  Demure.  Long dark hair.  Pleasant to behold.

Phew …

Turns out young lady on front porch was Neighbour’s Daughter!

Wrong address!

True story – honest – straight from the horse’s mouth.

Mum’s Story –

Me:  “Mum, so what did you think when you saw him?”

Mum:  “He was so handsome, darling.  My heart skipped a beat!”

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Stars in Mum’s eyes!
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Only after  formal engagement and a ring on her finger
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He’s the man!

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The date is fixed.  Here comes the bride …

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All the world and his wife were invited
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Beatrice.  Blushing bride

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Till death do us part

   

 

 

 

 

Uncle Gunam – comrade, confidante, fellow sleuth – is   Bestman.

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Man and wife.  Confetti, flower garlands and smiles.  Dad and Mum on church steps

Fast forward fifty years.   Golden Wedding Anniversary  celebrations.  

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Diamond ring.  Dad and Mum renewing marriage vows at  altar.  
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Order of Service.  Reception dinner and dancing after.

 

 

They  all said it – grannies and great aunts, aunties and elderly widows:

“Love comes after marriage, that’s how it happens.”

Stable, enduring.

Me to Daughters:  “Safer, more trustworthy than E-Harmony dot com, right?”

Daughters shrug and roll their eyes. 

Whatever …

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Love comes after marriage …

So that’s why Grampi laughed out loud.

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Youthful genes and blue jeans.  Grampi with Granddaughters (too long ago)
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Aging nicely.  Grampi and Peter (Sister’s son)

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Little voice from past echoes in my ear.  “Fall is an untidy season, Mommy …”

Second small voice chimes out in agreement.

Aptly put.

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Amazing how Memory Bank unlocks to release unexpected cameo moments. 

Daughters are all grown up now. 

I remember all over again what a pretty season this is.  

Neighbourhood trees are on fire –

Backyard fence is burning up –

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View from upstairs window
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View from kitchen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s done.  Falling  in love with fall – all over again.

 

Blazing autumn promenades –  

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Husband and Puppy
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Puppy sniffs neighbour’s pumpkins on garbage day.  (No Hallowe’en celebrations at our house.)
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Eek!

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Tiny joy-moments to take one’s breath away …

(1) Pause to observe a single coloured leaf –

(2) Apple-strewn sidewalk –

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  • (3) Smudge of rainbow in grey sky –                         

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    Gasp of delight, unexpected sight
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    Hello brave rose!

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4) Last lonely rose clinging to neighbour’s fence.

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Thought of Mum when I took these pictures –

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Landscape-in-a-window
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Living room reflected in old mirror

She used to say, “Eyes are the mirror of the soul.” 

Mum’s heart was reflected in her eyes.  Childlike, guile-less.  She drew people to her like a magnet.

Me: “Mum, has it ever bothered you that Dad is so … er  … striking?  Have you ever wished you were … maybe … prettier?”

Mum (puzzled):  “No. Why? Never!”

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Debonair Dad.  Twenty-something bachelor.
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Play on words.  Dad’s name is  Prins.

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They called him Omar Sharif in his day.    

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People leave footprints on our lives.  Mum left indelible prints on mine.

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That’s Mum
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By the lake last summer

Thankful for those who’ve touched my life, influenced my thinking. Thankful for Mum. 

Miss you, Mum.  Miss your loving letters …

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Saved every letter Mum ever wrote to me (until she discovered email)

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Chilly morning today.  Found bird’s nest under tree –

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Straw and clay – avian masterpiece

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In church last Sunday

 

 

 

 

I’ll continue to  cling to thankful.  If it’s all that remains, it’s enough.  

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: All the pictures in this post are moments captured on my IPad and phone. 

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If you enjoyed the post, please like this page, follow and share. Thank you.  xxx

Meet Maria

 House is undergoing renovations. 

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Puppy, a nervous wreck. (“Help! Where’s my spot?”)
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Sleep tight, Claire! Overnight guest beds down with paint pots by front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clouds of dust, pails of paint –

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Inside the coat closet

I gasp, run for IPad.  Just remembered something …

Tap. Click.  Got it!

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Take a look at this …

… something Daughter said eight years ago.

Flashback to …

Several dark months when light in home is dimmed while Mother (me) undergoes treatment for late-detected breast cancer. Pretty much confined to bed.  A simple journey to the bathroom and back is long, exhausting.  Endless pilgrimages to hospital and clinics.  Can’t do much else besides.   Completely sapped of strength.

One day Daughter says –

“I guess God allows the pit to get so deep, so we can see how high his ladder can go …”

Bingo!

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How high can it go?
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Not high enough.  

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Grammatically incorrect t-shirt!

Words to heal or kill- power of tongue to build up or destroy …

 

 

Perspective alters instantly.  Pit is deep, very deep – yes – but ladder goes high, so high.  Begin to count blessings.  Endless list.  

People who love and care –  

  • Husband, Daughters, Family, Friends, Church (Kitchen lies idle. Meals come in unsolicited for seven months straight.
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Puppy, constant companion.  If eyes could heal ..
  • Maureen, who accompanies me to chemo sessions, sees me safely into house, remains awhile in driveway crying for me before driving away. 
  • Brother-In-Law, Jonathan, who spends 4 hours a day for a week, driving me to radiation through freezing rain and snow storms, so exhausted husband can have a break..
  • Puppy’s unwavering eyes on me. Doesn’t move from my bedside. (Never wanted a dog.  Can’t do without him now)   
  • Top notch medical care. Stellar surgeon and oncologist.
  • Knowing that everything happens for a reason.
  • Prayer.  Someone IS listening.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

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Husband wakes up each morning and says, “Good morning gorgeous!”

I cry the first time I hear him.  I’m grey,   bloated,  bald as an egg.  

He isn’t joking.

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He’s my man

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Meet Maria –

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I see Maria one morning at the chemo ward.   A pretty woman.  She begins to cry when the needle is inserted into her vein.  My heart aches.  In two weeks she’ll be as bald and as I am, with black nails and all the awful trimmings.  I don’t want her to suffer as I have. 

I place a hand on Maria’s and murmur, “You’ll be all right.”

She says, “How do you do it?”    img_20150801_202032

“You wake up each morning and ask for strength for the day.  At night say ‘thank you’ for the grace that took you through. Live one day at a time.  Don’t think about tomorrow.  It’s too frightening.”

We meet every three weeks at the hospital, talk on the phone.  Dark moments.  Shared strength.

Maria makes it.  So do I.  Sisters. There’s something about shared suffering.  Eight cancer-free years for us both this year.  Oncologist tells me I’m one of her success stories.

How high the ladder goes …

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Celebration time.  Hyrrah for Maria!         

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_20150710_103346                                                   Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness

 Detest the wig.  Makes me itch, gets into eyes –

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Unloved.  Hardly used the wig.

Husband wears it to sixties hippy-themed costume birthday party some weeks back!

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Happy Hippy Husband.  Despised wig finally comes in useful!

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That’s my man!

 

 

 

 

Won’t ever forget that moment when head feels scratchy. Realize hair’s growing back.

What a feeling …

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Gorgeous full moon last week.  

Playing hide-and-seek over neighbour’s roof …

Roses still blooming in Garden –

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                                                                                              Standing tall.  Me in a puddle of sunshine.

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Hope is a precious thing.  Joy is priceless.  

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: The pictures in this post are all clicks from my IPad and phone.  Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.  Thank you for dropping in.