Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the missing green cords

"I don't have a clue where they could be," I said in a matter-of-fact tone. "Sure you do and if I find out you had something to do with them disappearing, you will regret it. Got me?" she snarled.

I wiped the sweat off my forehead as she turned away and stomped out of my bedroom. I quickly closed the door and peered out my bedroom window. I could still see the dirt piled up where I had buried them the day before. I closed the light and tried to calm myself away to dreamland so I could escape my guilt.

The morning came. The guilt hurried back. I looked out the window again. I shuttered and headed downstairs for breakfast.

Having a big sister had its priveleges. I could wear her stylish clothes, copy her latest hair-do's and even try on her bra when she wasn't around - wishing for the day to come that I could have one of my very own.

This time I knew I blew it. We both loved those green cords. They were light green and had laces at the bottom to tie up. Sounds gross now but they were very cool back then. I knew when she warned me that morning to take care of them, I was taking a big chance. I was somewhat careless and clumsy at the best of times. I decided to take the short-cut to school and without a care in the world, I jumped the fence. I almost peeed myself. "R-R-R-R-R-I-P". There was a huge tear from my bum all the way down to my ankle. I actually got stuck on the fence and had to pull the wire out that had ended the short life of my sister's favourite pants. The green cords. The now missing green cords.

I wonder if they are still buried in our backyard on Norway Avenue??????


It was a cold February evening- Valentine's Day. I was 19 at the time and on my way home from work. A modest paying job for a gal my age - $10 per hour as I recall. I sat on the bus with my arms full of gifts - mostly chocolate. I could hardly see out the window because they were all steamed up. The bus was full of passengers. Many were left standing. I always looked forward to the ride past my old neighbourhood. I would look up Ashford Boulevard at my best friend Siobbhan's old house and smile from ear to ear. The 7/11 store still stood on the corner where we would load up on candy each day before school - Siobbhan always had more change than me. She had a steady source from her Dad's stash of coins he would leave on the kitchen table. We would share our penny candy, sucking on each one and saving the sour cherries for last. They were my favourite!

I peered out the bus window this time and couldn't believe my eyes! There was "Lenny". I hadn't seen him in YEARS! He was walking by the 7/11 store where I met him for the first time when we were kids! I could've cried. I think I did. "Lenny" was a homeless man who walked back and forth down Main Street all day long near our school. He was older then but now he looked even more fragile. What was he doing still homeless, I thought. "Lenny" shuffled down the snow-filled street in his shoes that were all torn up. I peered down at him from the bus window and I was overcome with emotion. I quickly pulled the bell and got off at the next stop. I ran up the street towards him and shouted "Lenny, Lenny!" He turned around and looked at me with a blank gaze. "Are you talking to me", he said quietly. I then regained my composure and realized why he had not responded to my calling out to him. I had never learned of "Lenny's" real name. I gave him this name when I met him years ago and would run into him often on the street. He would simply humour me and go along. "Hi Sir", I said, this time in my adult voice. He smiled. I emptied all of the remaining money out of my wallet. It did not amount to very much since I just spent it all on chocolate. "Here you go, please buy yourself some hot coffee and get warmed up." "Lenny" opened his cold, red, chapped hands and held them out as I stuffed them with money. He looked up at me and said "Thanks sunshine". My heart melted. He used to say that to me as a kid when I would share my Skittles and Smarties with him on the bench outside 7/11.

"Lenny" began to shuffle away as I called out to him again. This time I didn't slip with his name. "Sir, would you like some chocolate too?", I asked. "Always", he said.

I watched him walk away into the night and I knew that would probably be my last sighting of "Lenny". He had been homeless for many years. As a child I could never understand how people could not have a house to go home to.

I still couldn't understand at 19.

Wherever you are now Lenny, I hope you are warm.

Monday, November 27, 2006

the life of a flyfisher

The sunrise greeted him from the east as he slowly walked through the calm and shallow water in hopes of a good day on the river. He could see his "friends" rising in the distance for their morning feed. He smiled. With his walking stick in hand, he entered the deeper water with his waders shielding him from the frigid water. It was a cool autumn morning. His favourite time of year. The bright orange leaves still on their branches overlooking the riverbank. The scenery perfect and serene. He paused, looked around and sighed. He takes it all in.

His first cast is always as graceful as ever. Strong, smooth, consistent. He is now fishing. The line running downstream; fly in sight. He repeats a few casts while he enjoys the solitude. A time for reflection. A time to give thanks. Suddenly, a jolt, a splash. A beautiful brown trout! He brings it in quickly; wide grin on face, steady hand. He gently releases his friend back into the water and bids him a fine farewell until next time.

I love you Gerard, my husband, Fischer's dad, my friend.

a big sister's sage advice

Dear Laur,
I told you, you look different to me since you've had Fischer. Your personal growth is written all over you, and you shine shine shine. These are wonderful days for you indeed. Aunt Sharon said something to me when Alex was first born, when I was overwhelmed with joy and so much love for her that I thought I'd burst. She told me that Motherhood is the absolute ultimate thing in life without a doubt, there are times when you feel like you can conquer every world issue, just you and your baby, but it also has doses of gut wrenching worry and plenty of frustration as kids get older ... all you can do is forgive yourself for your mistakes. You will make plenty. It does become somewhat tainted overtime as children grown up..... Your ideal nutritional plan for them will go out the window when they start school and lunchables and treats are favored over your carefully planned perfectly balanced lunch of raw veggies and 7 grain wheat. You start hearing their "friendisms" in their language. You have to ASK for hugs when they get home from school. The world gets a hold of them and they slowing become their own person and not just an extention of you, safely latched to your breast. I try and teach the kids that if we could all just be responsible for doing one thing everyday, it should be that we're mindful of ourselves, our actions and words and how we treat others, good lives happen.
I love you lots, Care

Sunday, November 26, 2006

cat and mouse

Anna was an elderly neighbour of polish descent. She moved into the home of my good friend who had to move away. I was devasted. Anna was to blame of course, or so I thought. How dare she run Sneznia and her family out of the neighbourhood. She had it coming!

On moving day, Anna snarled at all of us on-lookers. My plan was born and I would be giving my new neighbour my very own heart-felt welcome later on that week when the time was right!

The day came. It was a perfect summer night - black as pitch and not a star in the sky! Excellent conditions for "the job", I thought. As I crept over to the bushes near Anna's, I could see her sitting in a chair. The lights were off but the television flickered through the curtains. Suddenly, Anna bolted up from her chair as an erratic beam of light zapped her in the eye. Wildly, I swirled the flashlight. My heart was pounding. I was laughing uncontrollably and squealing with delight! Anna whipped open her front door - I acted quickly. Out went the light and I crept away into the darkness. Anna stood on her porch and yelled something out in polish. Quickly, she turned back into the house, slamming the door.

Carefully, I waited for Anna to get settled back into her chair before I got carried away again. This time, I laughed even harder as I saw Anna spring from her seat with cat-like agility- she was an old bird but could really move.

I persisted with this game of cat and mouse at least four times! What was I thinking?!? I should've packed it in sooner. I could have boasted a "successful mission" at my next clubhouse meeting and looked like a big shot. Instead, my impulsivity prevailed and so did Anna, I suppose.

On the fourth attempt, Anna discovered the light source and must have crawled past the living room window to her back door. Before I knew it, my squeals of delight lead to my demise. Pulling me out of the bushes by my impish ten-year-old ear, Anna marched me all the way home. She was practically foaming at the mouth as she spewed polish profanities.
I was ashamed but had no regrets. I was a kid.

Fischer, please remember to respect your elders as I do now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A colourful selection...

Dear Fischer,

There are so many things I want to tell you as your mother. As long as you are my young boy, I will give you many opportunities to learn about people. When you are grown up, I hope you continue to do this on your own.

People come in many different shapes, colours and sizes. Choose a colourful selection of people to surround yourself with. It would be boring if you had ten of the same friends who looked the same, thought the same and acted the same. Instead, open yourself up to learning how people live and what's on their minds. Ask lots of questions! Don't be shy. Be respectful and gentle with people's hearts. You will come from a good place and you will be a good friend. I can see it in your eyes already. You are loyal and genuine. Your smile is warm.

The world is big and there are a lot of things about it that are scarey but keep your focus on your world. It is your own. Make it as good as it can be. You can make a difference. Look around you and help someone out. Don't waste time wondering how you will be repaid or who will notice. Just help. Live, Love and Laugh my sweet boy.
I adore you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My friend Ab

I used to take the same route home from school everyday. I would walk past this old, mysterious, stone house. I would never see who lived there. The same light in the living room would be on- day and night. I once peeked in the window and saw a white grand piano and lavish furnishings then a man appeared in the room and I ran! I wondered who he was and what he was like. Was he mean? Who played the piano? Did he have kids? It was kinda spooky how the curtains were always drawn half-way and you could barely see in the place. I wondered why. I would always run past the house now because I thought the man was scarey.

Years later, I was asked to take care of an elderly gentleman who lived in my old neighbourhood. I was intrigued and I happily agreed. I drove up to find that very same and now older, mysterious, stone house. I couldn't believe it!

I later learned that the man I saw in the window at least 15 years earlier was the man I would be taking care of today. A fine Jewish man was he. Ab Walters was his name. I enjoyed his company every Saturday and Sunday for the last two of his remaining years on this earth. I made him the same thing everyday for lunch and dinner. Lunch consisted of boiled broccoli and potatoes and a piece of baked fish. Dessert was a must- usually a streudel of some sort served with hot, hot coffee. Dinner was soup and toast. Dessert, again, was a must. He had a real sweet tooth. I also had the privilege of preparing his Sabbath meal on Fridays when his son-in-law Gordon would join us at 7pm. We would light the candles, drink the sweet wine and I would even eat the gafelta fish. Mr. Walters was delighted! We would cling our glasses together and in unison say "La Hiehm", cheers in Yiddish.

One day I watched him sleep soundly during his afternoon nap at 3pm. I wondered what he dreamt about since he would make the odd grumble or squeak in his sleep. Suddenly, I was captivated by this vision. As I looked closer, my eyes were transfixed. His wrinkles were gone and he was a middle aged man like the picture I had seen of him downstairs. I blinked again and there he was. A seasoned grandfather who was getting tired. The wear and tear on his body was catching up with him. In his 90's, Ab was doing well. His mind was clear and his overall health was good. I couldn't help but wonder though how long my friend would continue to be around to entertain me with his humour, song and wit. I had grown quite fond of Ab and his antics. Singing was one of our favourite past-times together. I think he liked the fact that I was a young person who had an appreciation for Al Jolson- thanks to my father. He would take my hands and dance with me in his living room- he would shift from side to side but never move his feet. We'd laugh often.

Our time together would go by so quickly. Before I knew it, the evening was here and our night routine was underway. He was all about routines. I could still remember each step clearly- he would wash up, change into his "bed-clothes" which consisted of a pair of long johns, an undershirt, socks, a crisp white dress shirt and suit jacket. I kid you not. I would tuck him in like a little child. The blankets had to be tucked snuggly under his feet and around his body so he wouldn't catch a draft.

He would always end our day together with a thank you.

Thank you Mr. Walters. Rest in Peace my friend.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Tonight may be a sleepless night...not for the reasons one may think. Yes, I am a new mother and it comes with the territory. However, tonight feels different. It is my husband's birthday and it got me thinking. Nearly forty something years ago I wonder if Gerard's mother felt the same thing I do tonight. Did she look into her newborn's eyes and feel both fearful and fearless. In one moment did she feel she was all grown up and could conquer the world and a split second later feel like curling up into a little ball and hiding in a corner until she was rescued by her father, wishing she were a little girl again?

I see the world completely different now. Did I really think that all of this grown up stuff- buying a new home, getting married, having children was all that it was cracked up to be? Now that I am here, I travel back and forth through time into the past, present and future. In the past, I am a vulnerable but spunky child to my parents, in the present I am a new and excited mother to Fischer and in the future I am a wise and seasoned grandmother. Though I cannot wait for my son's life to unfold, there is a huge part of me that yearns for time to stand still, for right now I have everything I need. A loving husband whose gaze I catch from across a room and get instant butterflies, parents who are still young enough to run circles around me and old enough to know better, a sister who is in her thirties and is coming into her own, a feisty grandmother who I can sit with for endless hours and laugh about her past romances and a son who is so new that his skin has no signs of sun damage or laugh lines yet.

Life is more complicated than we like to admit. We always want to speed things up and get to the good parts- to speed up dating and get a ring on our finger, to hurry up and pay our mortgages off, to finally have enough money to buy the car we always wanted and to have our parents get off our backs. Today I would wish for a thousand more dates with Gerard as my boyfriend, an apartment with a good landlord, a beat up jeep that I could pack a dozen girlfriends in with a really good stereo and a lecturing parent saying "be sure to pay your student loan on time and drive carefully".

There are no regrets- if I could sum it all up I would say... a part of me wants to freeze time and still be wet behind the ears. I want to play in mud puddles and dance in the rain until I hear my mother calling me home. I wish I could have known back then what was in store for me as a wife and mother because I wouldn't have wasted all of those tears on past boyfriends knowing Gerard & Fischer were just around the corner.

Our blessings in life are so plentiful if we just pay attention to them and savor the moment. If anyone has any weird or wonderful advice on how to put this all into perspective, I am all ears. Bye for now and good night. Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite.