It was easy to leave you - it felt like nothing was at stake. I walked away.

I shattered you into a thousand shards, every one the loneliest.

You pieced yourself back together while I was far away.

Yesterday, we ran into each other by chance. You are more collected than ever. You have grown. Why did you have to wait until I had turned away?

How could you have done this to me?

Friday I went in to work early, Thursday I stayed late, having a job with flexible hours allows me to do motherly things so I made breakfast for my girls and put their hair up after. The other night I bought them barrettes and silicone hair bands. I let them each choose a snack, it was almost nine before we left the store Wednesday night however I have been meaning to spend time shopping with them.

Possessions can never make people happy. Whenever others tell me I am complicated I wish I could live the simple life of nutritious food, clothes that fit well and diverse events that nourish body, mind and spirit. Friday I found out that I may have a new complication to deal with. Denial and grief should be old companions by now although I never miss them when they depart.

After sobbing with my pillow I took a bath hoping that would help. Afterwards I went to bed. Because of some of the things I deal with I can not depend on my body to get the most out of food or rest. Yesterday I could have taken a long walk, instead I did laundry, made some meals with the girls and helped them get ready for their Valentine's Dance with their father.

Coworkers of mine lend me movies they want me to watch. Coincidentally my supervisor watched Exit Through The Gift Shop the same weekend I did. Last night I started with Sixteen Candles and ended with the first three episodes of Pride and Prejudice. I have tried to read Jane Austen before, each time I gave up because I have a hard time following all of the female characters.

Before I started trying to write things of my own I used to read quite a bit. Now I find myself impatient, disinterested or critical. In a way I miss reading, sometimes I wonder if I am growing more shallow. Today my oldest daughter went skiing with her father. I would have liked to have gone with, instead I am at home with my youngest wishing we could both nap.

When my children were younger I didn't know my body wasn't working the way it should. The practitioner I work with specializes in functional medicine. During my first appointment she asked questions that didn't seem relevant. Friday morning I passed a new poster that someone had hung up. Functional medicine focuses on answering the why of a symptom. If you have a rash or cough there may be a larger underlying cause.

Pattern recognition is important in the medical field, if I had that sort of training I think I would be good at identifying what is wrong with some of the people I know. At work, when my family gets together I see people who are struggling and unhappy. My family tells me that I need counseling and therapy. Friday night I discovered a website that advocated seeking support groups and telling your family members and loved ones some of the things you are going through.

Saturday morning I called my mom to see how her shoulder was doing. We have a difficult relationship, neither of us can identify with the other person's point of view, both of us love each other, because she worries about me she tells me what to do and what to avoid. Respecting her input is not easy for me. When I tell her that she should be tested for some of the things I've been diagnosed with she dismisses me and my ideas.

I've been busy at work the past couple of days. Now I have a job where people call me instead of me reaching out to others. The other day I left a message that was in response to an e-mail another department had forwarded to me. After lunch I listened to a voice mail message that was standard fare until the very end. Maybe some day he will get a story of his own.

A Sam Adams commercial I watched said that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. I sent some marketing materials to a man I hope will call me back. My boss handed an account down to my supervisor, eventually it was passed on to me. Typically I do not go into a call with an offer however because of the history with this account that's what my instructions were.

I know we could get this account back, it is a matter of how badly do we want it and how low are we willing to go when it comes to discounting. I hate remembering that I have many things to learn. My boss has been doing this for a long time, she compliments me however my question to myself is why am I so good at developing relationships with people at work and at a loss as to how to develop my own children?

At first I didn't think there would be many similarities between Sixteen Candles and Pride and Prejudice. Both end with a kiss, both elicited similar reactions from me. They both deal with parenting, children, marriage and courtship. The times have changed but the themes are similar. Every day is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to face new challenges, to laugh, love and reflect.

The other day I did something I have never done before. I climbed the overhang at the rock wall. Since I figured that was a fluke I was afraid to try it again. My body spun off when I missed a handhold but I grabbed a different one and made it to the top a second time. The way my body works still confuses me. At times I think I can do more than I think I can. Other times standing over the stove to make pancakes takes more energy than I have.

The best article I read said that I should be active but not overdo it. In the past I wanted to do everything. In my mind I should be able to and it is very frustrating to my family, friends and coworkers because I am eager but unpredictable. Now I have new strategies to help me cope. I've always been a snacker, now I have to have small frequent meals because my heart does not effectively control my blood pressure the way that it should.

I had to sit down with my supervisor and explain some of this to her. Living with a disease is unlike an illness because typically your body recovers from sickness. What I lost I will never regain however I can't spend my time feeling sorry for myself no matter how many times I start crying when I learn something new. I want to go to the doctor and hear that I am a working mother with two children and being weak or exhausted is normal.

If there is a bright spot in this people rarely die from what I have. Even if I have what I think I have it is an uncommon cause of death. We are all mortal, everyone has their own cross to bear just as we each possess different gifts and talents. I admire grundoon for being able to speak so freely about her medical conditions, for realizing the toll it takes on her family and for her willingness to share that with others.

I want to, if even one other person reads it and identifies with me then I feel it will be worthwhile. I have read things I could have written myself, every time I try it doesn't come out the way I want it to, at some level I must be afraid of sharing this. I have new ideas for fiction on a daily basis. They rarely go anywhere outside of my mind but trying to sort out a good plan of action exhausts me.

Then I sit back to watch a movie I didn't know I would enjoy so much. I have time with my daughters, they are interesting young women that I am privileged to know. I can not solve the problems of the world, sometimes I can't even identify major issues in my own life which is why I count on the good friends who reveal them to me. Thank you for being there for me.

I have chosen to record the piece as written. I recognize the audience has changed.



August 15, 1930-February 9, 2011


The obituary reminds us she had an extensive career in nursing, and retired as Director of Nursing. She belonged to the Board of Governors for Sault College for six years, two as Chair. She later chaired, for two years, the Council of Governors of the Association of Colleges and Applied Arts Technology of Ontario1—and had numerous other involvements besides these. She belonged to St. Gregory's Parish for many years, where she took an active role on numerous committees, sewed bibs for baptisms, and played the church organ. I could go on, but you could read the obituary. These things tell you a good deal about our mother, but as positively and accurately as they reflect her character, they don't tell you who she was. I don't know that I'll accomplish that, either, but I'd like to try.

Some time in my childhood, the tv advertised A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.2 Mom told me it had been her favorite movie when she was a girl. I cannot recall if she got to see it again on that occasion; I know I didn't. Watching a tree grow didn't sound very exciting. I didn't see the film myself until just a few years ago.

Doreen would have been fourteen when it played the theaters. The story concerns a young girl from a working-class neighbourhood whose family often struggles to make ends meet. The girl dreams of making her mark in the world. She has the support of her family, she works hard, she attends a well-regarded high school despite the fact that some of her classmates do not regard too highly the neighbourhood she comes from, and she never stops dreaming. Rounding out the story we have a love-match, a good match, but one not everyone approves. At the film's end, she sees that a tree she thought would die has started to grow towards the sky again. We understand that she will overcome whatever hardships she may find.

Many differences may be found between the life of our mother and the life of the film's fictional heroine, but I see why she identified with her.

Because we know, at times, her mother and father had to struggle to make ends meet. We know, at times, she encountered prejudice in high school from people who believed themselves better-heeled. And we know that at the time of her marriage, some people believed—for reasons of culture and religion—she had not found a good match. I don't need to tell this crowd how entirely wrong those individuals were about the people she came from and the man she married.

You also must know that anyone who ever doubted that Doreen would accomplish what she set her mind to accomplishing also erred in their judgment.

She succeeded in her career, she served her God, and she loved her family.

She brought love and authenticity to everything she did. Whether you knew her as a grandmother who baked cookies and cooked turkey, a nurse who administered aid, the friend who lent a concerned ear, the mother who told you to wear a sweater because she was cold, or the Chair of the Association of Governors who spoke before the Premier, you got Doreen. And, as my wife says, she put her hands where her heart and words were. You may have received best wishes from Doreen, but that's rarely all you received. She loved, and where she loved, she acted. I won't give you an example, because if you're hearing this, you have one of your own.

If you take comfort in the belief in an afterlife or you if just take stock of the effects of Doreen's life—you will see that the tree continues to grow. We are poorer for her absence—an absence which, because of the disease that afflicted her final years, we have felt for some time—but we are so much richer for having known her. As we inscribed on our father's gravestone, so can we say of our mother: she is too well loved to be forgotten.

Thank you, mom.

Your work is done.

May you rest in peace.




1. The governing body now has a different name.

2. Adapted from the novel by Betty Smith. The novel covers a considerable greater period of history than the few months depicted in the film.

3. (There is no third footnote) After the funeral, I had a fascinating conversation with my great uncle, who is 99. He recalls holding her as a newborn and comments with melancholy that he's "here at the end."

February 14th is the day I have joined Everything2. It is the day I did a lot, not all of which I am proud of. I do not know how things will turn out, but for now, it has begun. I would like very much for me and you to become very good friends, Everything2. Perhaps even with another user like myself. Alas, though - I am cutting into my precious sleep hours, and trailing off, lost in though and constant typos. Here's hoping tomorrow brings a bit more good into this world - perhaps even some of my own.

Tata!

...Alright, then. I guess a bit of reading help pages first is required, or suggested - I didn't try twice. Now that I've read a few documents, I'll submit this piece, once I've finished making tomorrow-me hate myself. I do that a lot. Most people do, but I like to think most of them don't have as humorous of a way of confessing to this. I am going to be anonymous here, by the way. I wasn't going to say even that, to protect my identity as a loser, but whatever - I'm writing things. I sure hope someone finds this interesting (Not really - I'm not writing for anyone else yet, but again, whatever) - and this isn't deleted, as that would suck. Please let "Write anything you like." be true.
Thanks,
Bye

Happy Valentine's, happy Monday, happy 2011, happy 5:11 am here.

I'm going to Eugene today to do round three of the Mad as Hell Doctors, wanting health care dollars to go to health care, not to insurance companies.

I'll be returning via Portland Wednesday night.....any noders around there I could see? I'm hoping to stay with old friends, but they may be out of town. Msg me if anyone is free....

Concert on Friday and yesterday. I've been in chorus with my father for 11 years. He is frailer and frailer. The practices started in September and he only made it to a bit more than half the rehearsals. He often sat down during them and brought his oxygen.

He didn't make it to the concert on Friday. Did not feel well enough. The director told both him and me that he'd already contributed a lot to the basses. My father has emphysema, worsening fast this year. But he is the one who does the entrances beautifully, even if he can't sustain.

Sunday morning I called him and he said he would be there. I got to the church at 2 for the warm-up. A friend told me that he had called her, and was not going to make it after all. I cried during the warm-up. The director saw my face and carefully didn't look at me again. She cries easily, and usually cries in our concerts. I was able to put it aside during the concert and sing, and even enjoy it. Though with a deep well of sadness. I've been singing with my dad since I could first make noise.

I called him after the concert. He sounded ok. I didn't feel I had to drive out and drag him to the emergency room, as I've done twice before. I'll go by today on my way to Eugene.

I went to a friend's and cried. She fed me cheese and nuts and tea. I picked up my daughter and we had dinner and I fell asleep on the couch, toes tucked under her while she read.

A choral member said, "In two weeks you'll be talking about this at the church." We're doing a program at the church on end of life issues. Close to the bone right now. Close to the heart.

Oh what the hell.

I've loved and lost so many times it isn't funny. Might as well write down the next step in the ongoing saga, right? You see, I've met this woman...

DOOMED! you say, DOOMED!, right from the start. Ah, you may be so right. The truth is, I have no sense of the rightness of a relationship any more. I used to be confident in my abilities to assess people, but now? Nothing. The future is unknowable. So here's the story so far, and then you can decide for yourself how the rest of the story is going to play out.

Tonight is our third date. A Valentine's Day dinner at a place in Reston, VA. If you see a man grinning like an idiot, that would be me. If you see a cute little blonde, 5'4", patiently sitting with him, that would be her. If you see him sliding a card to her and you're wondering what's in it, that would be a poem I wrote for her. It's like my other poems, nothing more than doggerel and moochie-pooch. No use of the L word. (As I get older, I'm getting the concept of 'restraint'.) If you see her sliding a card to him and you're wondering what's in it, I won't know until tonight of course, but it would probably be a Hallmark card, and when I open it up, black panties will slide out and fall to the floor, and the card would say "Saturday." She's like that. Disconcertingly direct.

I happened to run across a photo of her on Plenty of Fish, one of the legions of sites for dating. Older adults love it, mostly because it's free, and because you don't have to fill out tons of annoying questions. Her self-description was brief and intriguing. I messaged her just to say hello. That's how these things get started.

She must have read my profile. I described my archetypal woman: brainy, yet buxom. Could talk to janitors as well as kings. Loved the outdoors, yet also loved dressing up. Sociable, but also needed her quiet time. Outgoing, yet literate. Gracious and proper, yet could tell stories that would make a bartender blush. Someone you don't find in real life. All the qualities were too self-contradictory. She wrote back and said "I'm the woman in your profile."

This was an interesting response, and I'll tell you why. Most women, when they do write back, and it's not full of invectives, will say "I'm that woman, but I'm not built like a model," or "Hey you sound fun but whats 'Chaucer'? 'Dante'? Your pretty smart huh. Dont worry Im a good kissr." Makes me want to take an electric drill to my temple. But she, this mystery woman, did not qualify. She said she was that woman, and furthermore she was intrigued by any man who could describe her just like that.

Fast forward to first date. It was a movie and then drinks at the Ritz. We meet at Tyson's Corner mall by the movie theater. The movie theater is a megaplex, which happens to be adjacent to a food court (visualize: unwashed masses) and a children's play area (visualize: grubby urchins with unwashed hands, offspring of the unwashed masses). OK? Got the visual? Not a promising place to meet. We chose this place because it was close to her, close to the Ritz, and it had the movie I wanted to see, The King's Speech. I have no expectations, and I don't even remember what she looks like. I get there at 3:30, the movie starts at 4:00. Waiting. Looking around. Waiting. Waiting. Maybe she stood me up. At 3:55 she messages and says, Had trouble finding a parking spot. Pls dont be mad. R U still there? Hurrying in.

The message was reassuring, but I'm still baffled. At this point, everyone starts looking alike, and she's going to have to walk up to me because of my mind-wipe memory. Plus, the movie crowd is beginning to walk in, and I'm getting nervous. Want to get a good seat!

4 o'clock comes and goes. 4:05. They're starting to show movie previews. I'm dying. I love the previews. Then I look up.

A woman detaches herself from the crowd. These are the first things I see: Mane of blonde hair. Bright red coat. Nice legs. Black stockings. Bright red heels. She looks far better than her grainy photos, and she sure knows how to make an entrance. She's not nervous or self conscious. She looks like she's done this a million times.

She grabs my arm and walks me into the theater. "I hope I'm not too late. It's the first time I've had to park for this theater. Are you mad?"

I look at her eyes. She has green eyes.

No honey, I'm not mad. How could I be mad? I can barely talk.

We get seats in the up-front rows, where we're pretty much looking straight up at the screen. She takes off her leather gloves. Have you ever seen a nice looking woman take off black kid-leather gloves? One finger at a time. It's worth the price of a movie ticket. Oh. My. God. She holds my hand. Unexpected, that. She has a ring with a big rock on her finger. What's that, I ask? Oh that, she says. That's just so men don't bother me.

After the movie, which we both loved, we head out for drinks and conversation. Finally! I get a chance to talk with her.

The Ritz Carlton has a quiet bar with couches and big screen televisions. More importantly, the waiters are invisible until you want them. So they get us drinks and leave us alone. She immediately apologizes for being late again. She has a smoky voice. It sounds like gin and cigarettes, but she doesn't smoke and she rarely drinks. She's wearing a red dress. She sits an appropriate distance away - not too close. It's our first date. After a few drinks, we sit closer.

She had written me, before that first date, that a perfect first date would have the man asking her for a second date. So I did. Would she have Valentine's Day dinner with me? Her response, "Why honey sure, but that's too far into the future. Why don't we try something sooner?"


The second date went well too.


So here we are, Valentine's Day. She told me a week ago she would like me to write her a poem. I'm still scratching my head. No pressure. I think about those green eyes. She studied classical literature and biochemistry at William & Mary. She's read Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe. She likes Byron, Shelley and Keats.

She mentioned she has next weekend free. I asked her to spend the night with me. She said sure.

This is how you do things when you are in your midlife years. You see the sands of time falling, and there's no way of turning that hourglass upside down. You're in a hurry.


I got to thinking about that first night together, and I wrote her and said, That first night is going be full of fail. I won't be comfortable, you will be nervous. So let's just assume that our first night together won't be terribly satisfying. I'm hedging my bets. It's what old guys do.

She wrote back and said, "If it's not, you're not trying hard enough."

Ha ha ha. Got to love that positive attitude. Now I'll REALLY be worried.


Who knows what will happen? I'm going for a run. Perhaps a head-clearing run will grant me clarity about the future.

Green eyes. Green eyes and blonde hair.

If you haven't met anyone with green eyes and blonde hair, you should try it some time. It's a pleasing combination.

I hate Valentine's Day. In the past, I have written stories mocking the "holiday" which seems primarily dedicated to selling cards, flowers and restaurant reservations. To be sure no holiday is more wrapped in commercialism then Valentine's Day. While Christmas has become a marketing machine, with music and advertising carefully calculated to make us feel guilty if we aren't spending, Christmas is also about memories of family members coming back home to celebrate together, and being with people you loved. For most of my life, Valentine's Day was about being alone, unwanted and unloved. I had one fifteen year stretch where the only woman to send me a Valentine was my Mother. Valentine's Day stood for commercialism combined with loneliness and rejection. It was proof that I wasn't Good Enough.

This year is different.

This year I got to slide my ring down her finger. This year I got to see her hold it up, smiling, admiring it enjoying the sight of it on her finger. This year she wearing it to work, wanting to show everyone.

This year somebody loves me.

And everything is different.

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