Sunday, July 8, 2018

Monkey in the Middle

I have not written a blog entry lately and am trying to fit one in tonight . I am tired. My summer days are busy and full and I do love every minute but time for reflection and time alone is at a premium these days. This morning as I hung out a line of clothes I found myself thinking that I hadn't worried about my Mom for while; a short while really but the thought caught me off guard. I am so concerned for my failing Mom , her well being and that of my Dad trying to care for her under their new circumstances.We are putting things in motion for a nursing home placement which may take a long or short time . It will be a big change and it is not something any of us would choose but life sometimes ( or always) makes choices for us. I strongly believe that we will embrace whatever lies ahead and as a family do the best with what we are given but my heart breaks with the changes. So to realize I'd not thought about it this morning made me think about the other things filling my thoughts. My two granddaughters fill our home and our summer days with love, laughter, activity and obligation. They consume my waking hours requiring lots of energy and attention.I had several things to do after hanging out the clothes, one of which was to go to the city and shop for my youngest grandchild's birthday present. We were over joyed to attend her fifth birthday party this afternoon and the house was bursting with fun and excitement, family and joy. What a gift to behold!So tonight I reflect my place in the middle. I am the daughter, the mother, the grandmother and I am thankful. I am also weary and sometimes overwhelmed.I sometimes am in disbelief that it is me in the middle when just a few short years ago , or so it seems I was the kid,the teenager, the newlywed, the young parent. But this is where today finds me and I celebrate it all. I look toward the uncertain future mourning the mother I still have but miss so deeply. I relish the ages and stages of my own children proudly taking in the adults they have become. I remember the twenty years I got to be Zac's Mom and shed tears for the future he lost. I embrace the ages and uniqueness of each of my five grandchildren.I accept my role of Monkey in the middle and after a good night's sleep I look forward to another day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What's the Point?

Burton and I do not fight much and I still remember one of the big ones. I had made the mistake of asking 'What's the point'? Burton was working two hours away and had been gone for a couple of weeks. He had the afternoon off and drove home to see me knowing he would only be able to stay for about an hour. Actually in recalling the fight it was about twenty minutes he would get to have at home. My reaction was not received well. His response was a powerful defense on the value of any time spent together and he did not take kindly to me not understanding that. The message has stuck and I woke up on this beautiful morning with those words echoing in my head. What's the point? I am tackling the task of planting a garden , dropping tiny seeds in the ground and hoping that despite all the things that can go wrong (chickens, crows, cows, frost, drought,insects, rabbits, weeds to mention a few) a plant will grow and be harvested. What's the point of so much we do?; of sweeping a floor when it will need to be done again tomorrow, of cooking when it gets eaten, of loving an old dog, of writing a book, of mowing a lawn, of doing laundry , of visiting a mother who can't talk to me,of bringing the girls home when they will leave again , of getting my hair cut , of believing what we do matters.Of course there is a point.Twenty minutes does matter. It all matters and is the gift we have been given, the time we are blessed with and the treasure we must not squander.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Special Joy in June

I have had some wonderful school visits this year and I have written about each one. I try for a balance of writing activities and actual writing time. This year I prepared a package for almost every school in the Anglophone South district.After sending the fifty or so envelopes I'd hoped I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew. I find school visits very rewarding but extremely exhausting. I try not to do two back to back. Two a month is perfect. So as we come to the end of another school year I reflect on the visits that were and am perfectly happy with the ones that presented themselves. Some interest in May and June has been put over to the fall and I look forward to following up on them. I went to some repeat schools and some I had never been in before. It was a lovely mix. On Friday I had the pleasure of meeting with a Book and Movie book club at Harry Miller Middle School. It was wonderful. From the moment I walked in the door I felt the welcoming atmosphere. Bonnie Demmons , the principal went out of her way to make my visit special. She leads a great group of kids who love to read and we had a great time together. They chose books of mine to read over the summer and will decide in the fall which one would make the best movie. How fun is that! Chloe, Marin, Olivia , Kaley,Cait, Brooke, Sarah, Abby and Allie along with the librarian and the principal and I had a great time talking books, writing , reading and movies. We had a nice lunch together and I ended my school visit year on a wonderful note. Sorry Eli was sick and couldn't join us and I hope I didn't forget anyone. Have a great summer kids. Swim,travel, play, sleep, dream and read! I know I plan to.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Last Writing Day

I woke up early anticipating the day.I so well remember the thrill of the last day of school. June was always a frenzy of activity. Report cards to write. , school trips , events and special days, hot weather and kids excited for summer. By the time the last day came I was counting the minutes. Goodbyes, emotions , water gun fights, finally seeing the kids on the bus and watching the bus pull away were the countdown moments to summer. Relief followed as I packed up my classroom and put another year behind me. Now for the last nine years I have had the privilege of following a much different routine. The years have gone by just as quickly and the rewards though much different have been just as great. So today I woke excited to start my last day. I told Burton my boss expected me to be at work early and I may have to work late because today is my last writing day and I plan on hitting send on a manuscript I have worked faithfully to prepare. The small seed for this book was planted when my friend Kathy and I boarded a boat to take a Thousand Island cruise in 2011. I wrote the draft and have rewritten it several times. I will spend the day making sure it is ready to let go. Today there will be no closing ceremonies, no gifts,no hugs goodbye, no tears just the wonderful feeling of completion and the hope of having another first day of writing in August. I look forward to all the tasks and joys of summer.Seeds will be planted in the soil and I will watch them grow. I will watch my grandchildren blossom and thrive. I will swim and allow my lake to replenish and fill my soul. I walk away from my writing with a sigh of regret that another year has passed, with the deep feeling of gratitude that another book has been released and will find its place in reader's hearts and minds, and that I will be given another beautiful summer. So much to do to step into the next season but right now my boss is saying get to work . "Books don't write themselves you know."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

For Everything a Season

What a beautiful May morning. The green is the greenest , the blue the bluest and the air is bursting with the promise of summer. I see the end of May speedily approaching and have already sat this morning and complied my June list. Oh my June list.I make it with mixed feelings.I have said many times just how much I love the seasons. Each one is ripe with blessings and challenges.As June comes into view I see the end of another writing season. From late August(when the teachers go back) until the end of May I take such pleasure in my writing days. I know I am my own boss and if I wanted to write all summer I certainly could but instead I give myself over to summer and take a rest allowing my mind and my heart to fill up and replenish. I am writing long hours in these closing days attempting to finish a manuscript I have re written at least five times. My revisions are fluid and I do not have stacks of drafts to bear witness to its evolution but the story I am about to complete has seen many changes. A work well crafted should bear that quality. So in a few short days I will walk away from my writing and immerse myself in different tasks. Number one will be to get the gardens planted.Then I must put my outside in order. Open up the cottage so to speak. I must prepare for my girls to arrive and permeate our summer . Oh how I look forward to every minute of that , from the first pad of their feet on the floor in the morning, their glee to run out the door with their bathing suits on heading to the lake, their inside /outside activities, our road trips, our bedtime stories, the laughter , tears, meltdowns and snuggles. I look forward to every bit of it. This will be Emma's seventh summer and Paige's fifth.And this summer Emma and Paige will begin relationships with their cousins and I can not wait to watch that unfolding. This is summer for Grampie and me and for those two precious girls. How lucky we are to be given that gift. So my writing season comes to an end and my summer season waits to greet me with the lake, the garden, coffee on the veranda, the wonderful exhaustion a nine year old and six year old bring and with the knowledge that whatever each day gives us it will be added to the already rich memory stash I am blessed to possess. My writing reservoir for sure.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

At a Loss For Words

Some might doubt I am ever at a loss for words. I will attempt to find the words to say how wonderful the last few days have been. It was book launch weekend and so much more. Meg arrived on Wednesday and squeezed as much into her six day visit as she could. I had encouraged her to make the visit be what she wanted it to be and to not worry about spending time with me. She did what she does best which is visit the people that truly matter to her. We squeezed a family turkey dinner in and of course the main events. One of those main events was Ashlie's university graduation. Friday was a gorgeous day and Ashlie proudly donned her cap and gown and received her Business degree. We are so hugely proud of her accomplishments. A group of family and friends gathered at Churchill's for a celebratory supper. I had to eat and run to get to the Legion for my peninsula launch.FedEx had delivered my books just under the wire and I hadn't actually held Headliner until I walked into the already filling Legion. I paused very briefly to hold my seventh baby. Robbie and Calvin entertained and people gathered, warmly welcoming Headliner and supporting me. I did two readings and had a great time talking to so many of the people who have been by my side every step of the way. The next morning I laid out seven books on my table at the Kingston Farmer's Market and had lots of buyers.My friend Denise gave me a quote I will proudly repeat when talking about my books. " Your books are like a good meal, they take a long time to prepare and a short time to devour." The rest of Saturday was for regrouping, relaxing and a little bit of Royal wedding watching. A walk was more than needed and I processed and gave thanks. Sunday morning was quiet and I was able to prepare my head and heart for the next launch. And what transpired at the Market Square library certainly filled my heart to overflowing. The Saint John String Quartet filled the space with melodious music and set the wonderful tone which was to follow. Three amazing Bayside Middle students took their roles and added to the magic. Emma emceed wonderfully. Hadyn introduced me with her unique flair and any author receiving her words would be thrilled beyond measure. I read four passages and felt the room respond while at the same time knew the deep emotion my husband and kids were feeling.Katelyn closed with humor , confidence and a generosity I will not soon forget.All the while the strings continued to create beauty and emotion. Books were sold and signed. Words were exchanged and my writer's heart was filled to overflowing which will carry me through the isolated days at the keyboard when my confidence wanes and my words hide from me. Then loved ones (which included my dear friend Alice) gathered around a table at Splash and enjoyed Thai food , laughter and conversation. My grandchildren entertained and filled our hearts with joy and pride. Bella and Grampie shared ice cream and we shared time together which is a gift greater than riches. My riches are bountiful. My heart is full and my cup overflows. My daughter has now driven away in her rented tin can and will be boarding her plane soon.Another launch has happened and memories were made. To truly find the words for it all is more than this writer can do, but that of course will not stop me.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Before We Disappear

It is a beautiful sunny , cool and windy Monday morning. I am thrilled to be home. I just had a few busy, somewhat demanding days in a row and the gift of quiet and home shines through brightly this morning.Compared to the extended demands of my teaching years these intense bursts of activity are nothing but in the wonderful , slow and steady life I now lead they stand out. When traveling is required and putting myself out there is expected I can usually step up and pull it off. After the frenzy I always feel so happy to return home and return to the predictability and choice of my days and seasons. I texted my daughter on Saturday voicing my anxiety regarding the fact I had not made a list since Thursday morning . My list making I realize is just an attempt to stay grounded and my need to process and stay in control. I am sure a therapist could have a field day with me but I don't need to have a professional tell me why I do what I do. I do what I do because I need to. My daughter wisely replied. " Mom , sit down somewhere and make a list, go outside and look at the buds on the trees and listen to the birds". She knows me so well.She sees me and that is a gift beyond measure. Yesterday I sat and gazed at my mother. She sat as a queen on her throne dressed in her signature manner, jewelry , a scarf , her clothes somewhat layered possibly not matching but each layer fashionable. She patted her hair and smiled. Every gesture is now open to interpretation as Mom can no longer speak and her thoughts are locked inside. Was her hair touching a comment on how messy she believed it to look, how unhappy she was with the hairdresser or the color, a plea for a compliment or a way to tell me my hair need attending to? In that brief gesture I saw all of who my mother was and still is . It feels like in so many ways she is disappearing right in front of my eyes. She is tiny and elf like, child like I suppose and fading.She no longer has a primary role in the family group.She is not cooking for us , asking questions or making comments. We talk and laugh and our exchange excludes her in many ways. We pull her in to the conversation as one would include a small child , reacting to her body language and following her if she goes outside or into another room. Dad is reluctant to discuss in front of her the challenges and frustrations he is experiencing, trying hard to maintain her dignity and the sanctity of their almost seventy year marriage.Yesterday with my brother, sister in law and my father I looked through pictures laughing and remembering and I was so sad not to be able to ask Mom for details and hear her recollections. I dig very deep to find my beloved mother in the shell of the little woman who sits before me because I know she is still in there. Her disappearance makes my current role as mother and grandmother even more poignant. I left my mother and went to my son and daughter in law's for supper. I absorbed every aspect of that get together. The house was filled with 21 members of the two families who were connected when Chapin married Brianne. Nancy sat in her place of honor as two of her children, six of her grandchildren and eight of her great grandchildren interacted around her. Burton and I reveled in our sons, their life partners and three of our grandchildren. We laughed, we ate , we hugged and told stories and made memories.We saw each other and celebrated family. As I walked home afterwards I listed my reasons to be thankful and it occurred to me that I had a big part ( as did Tricia) in steering the ship that brought us to the moments of family that was Mother's Day 2018.From the youngest to the oldest I see them all and am so privileged to be seen by them. I will fade and disappear but so much will be left behind and will continue to flourish and grow.