Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Joy and Sorrow



A long while ago, one of my dear friends, Fiona was traveling on the West Coast. I missed her lots and so, when this card arrived in the mail, I was blown away. It is from Khalil Gibran and it really meant a lot to me. It came from someone I loved, and it also came at a time when I was mourning the loss of my grandmother. The lines make sense to me, because they speak about balance.

Today was a day of balance as well. I woke up with my face pressed so hard into my pillow I'm amazed I wasn't suffocated. It was like I was trying to physically hang on to sleep for as long as I could. As long as I was in bed, asleep, the day (for me at least) couldn't progress. I wouldn't wake to another day of the reality of my father being gone staring me in the face. Inevitably I had to get up, but it was with a deep reluctance, and slowness; the way a kid will fight all the way against something, dragging their feet, even though there is no point and they will go to bed whether they want to or not.

Clay and I gathered some lunch items, some blank CD's, the old Rideau High School year book that Myra had lent me ages ago, and headed for Keith's place. Keith had agreed to try and transfer some old compilation mixed tapes I had made for my Dad for his birthday (June 3rd, 1990 and 2000). We stopped at Mac's first in Kanata and I topped up my phone (the day I needed it the most, not only were its batteries kacking out, it had like $1.50 left on it. Sigh!) I also picked up a couple of copies of the Citizen that had Dad's Obituary printed in it. Do you know what they ding you for an obit? Like $500! Geez! So, I am happy that they did a good job on it...

We drove up and along Eagleson, and I thought I could use some music. Just as we began merging on the 417, I clicked on CKCU (93.1) and Stan Rogers was singing "The Mary Ellen Carter". My God! I choked right up and sniffled and snurged as I drove. I was ok until the chorus, whereupon I just started sobbing again. Thankfully, the traffic had slowed a bit, so I could cry and kind've drive at the same time... After the song was done, the announcer said it had been a memorial set for someone else, which made it feel again, like it was destined to be heard by me.

"...And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Rise again, rise again - though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again."
--Stan Rogers (1949 - 1983)


For a beautiful piece on YouTube, click here.

By the time I found my parking spot in front of Keith's place on Kent St., I was ok, but still deeply moved by the song, and my spirit somehow felt lighter. It was like, there was a lift that had happened inside and I could see a bit of light and laughter as well.

Keith got started on the tape transfer (btw, I had no idea that something like that could take close to 8-9 hours, depending on how things went. Clay and I had lunch and Keith put on Steve Martin's "the Jerk", which I had never seen. It was wonderful, just being able to laugh together and feel some of my tension release. Keith continued his work, transfering the poor old audio tapes to digital, and checking in on us to make sure we were ok. I sent more notices via email, and also linked Dad's Obituary to my facebook page.

We settled in for a second movie, this one an old favourite of mine when I was a teen, and also I remember Dad getting a good laugh out of it as well: "Amazon Women on the Moon". I think I giggled pretty much through the whole thing. And of course, during some of the more rib-splitting scenes, laughed so hard I started coughing and sounded like I was coming apart.

Fi and Vicki arrived later with a veggie lasagna, timbits and a bottle of Baileys! We just hugged and it felt so good to see them. Fi had been in the car all day coming up from Newmarket, then barely got out to hop into another car to come in to town. It was so good having them there, just talking, reminiscing and laughing.

Eventually we broke it up, after supper. Keith finally finished his audio magic and I had 4 CD's with Dad's music on them for the visitation tomorrow. Fi and Vick headed back for the 1 1/2 hr drive to Portland, and after lots of hugs and heartfelt "thankyous", Clay and I also headed out. We set course for Stittsville though, not Kanata.

Mom and I still had to put together the giant photosheet for the funeral home's frame that they put up in the visitation room for people to look at. We'd gone through a lot of pictures the other day and Mom had gone through a few more, but wanted me to help with the layout. It didn't take too long.. I sorted them in chronological order and then tried to see how they would all fit together. I put in the pic from Myra's yearbook and it looked good. There were pics from Dad as a little boy in 1947, to his army days, his trip to England and Trinity College in Dublin, as well as showing him relaxing on Sanibel Island in Florida. A real collage, showing his life, serious, smiling, looking mischievious, bending over the Lada (which needed eternal repairs) and finally, a picture in the lower right corner of Dad's granddaughters: Bronwyn, Kiara and Rylen.

It looks good.
Night, rest and may sweet sleep bear you to gentle dreamings.
Suzanne.

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