Wednesday, April 27, 2011

old loves

What is it about recalling long-ago love that causes such delicious pain? Why do we hang on to our happy-sad memories, cling to thoughts of past love affairs, muse about old lovers with fondness and regret, even when we are perfectly happy with what we have now? Is it some twisted form of self-torture? Is it an example of our eternal ingratitude; is it sign of our grasping greedy times?

Recently, I heard news of an old boyfriend. He sounded much nicer than when I dated him. It seems he has grown up and changed (not so surprising, since it was almost 20 years ago that we dated!). Since part of the way I had gotten over him, all those years ago, was to remind myself of what a jerk he was, this news of his seeming kindness and stability was somewhat disturbing. I found myself wondering what he is like now, and I caught myself remembering some of the good times we had, long ago. Then I felt guilty, because that seemed treacherous. I love my husband, I think he's gorgeous in every sense of the word, and he and I just fit. I can't imagine being married to anyone else. So what's with the daydreaming of lost love?

I am remembering what it felt like to be infatuated. That silly, idolising, heady sort of love. That immature, not-always-self-respecting, slightly-obsessive sort of love. It usually ends in pain for someone, but it is exciting and exhilarating and it mostly happens when you're young. It seems to me that what this is really about is me being nostalgic about my silly, giddy, anything-is-possible youth. These days I am middle-aged, my right knee keeps hurting, I am getting jowls, and my husband rolls his eyes at most of my jokes, but back then I was a fresh-faced, willowy strawberry blond who was smart and passionate and funny, and it seemed like the world was just unfolding in front of me in all its wonder.

My ex-boyfriend seems to have turned out to be a decent enough sort of man. I'm glad he has made a good life for himself. I remember the fun we had together, but I also remember that he didn't make me feel adored; there was no constancy. We were wrong together. We didn't fit.

I remember my long-ago love with a certain fondness, but it is like a garment outgrown or worn thin. It used to be my favourite shirt, but now it is shabby and faded and I can hardly remember why I liked it so much. I fold it and put it away at the back of the cupboard. It is only a rag now (but I can't quite throw it out).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


An update on the floods:

Our house remains unaffected by floodwaters, but others nearby are not so lucky. Floodwaters are expected to peak in about 2 hours, and then reach an even higher peak in another 14 hours. Already the road at the end of our street is under water. The suburb next to us has required some evacuations. Our neighbours are housing friends whose house is ruined by flood.

We are so sad for those who have lost homes, vehicles, businesses, and even loved ones. We are thankful that we are ok.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

beginning all over again

How can it be the end of December already? I'm sure it was June just the other day. And I'm not alone in this sense of bewilderment ... I've heard this sentiment repeated countless times by others. How could the entire year have all but slipped away? My heart is beating faster than usual, and I have a nagging sensation that I've forgotten something.

I have actually forgotten a few things. I've forgotten to be more patient with my kids. I've forgotten to visit my grandfather more often. I've somehow forgotten to write regularly - to record thoughts and moments and stories. I've forgotten to shut my mouth in that moment before it gets me into trouble, and I've forgotten to meditate every night. How did this happen? To be honest, I didn't even totally forget - I just didn't quite bother to do all these things.

Oddly, I don't feel too daunted by my failures. I feel a little regret, yes, but right along with that is a great whack of hope, of energy, of purpose. Because a new year is coming - a brand new, wrapped-in-plastic, never-been-opened set of 365 days lies ahead. Never mind that the start of this 'new' set of days is arbitrarily designed, never mind that in reality one could pick any set of three hundred odd days and call it a new year. Never mind all that! Soon it will be 2011, and that means everything will be different. Or at least, it could be different. It can be different if I make it so. If we all make it so.

I wish you joy in 2011.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

for Pa

Pa. It's strange to think you are gone. I can still hear you humming hymns as you pottered about your house. I can still feel your favourite cardigan under my fingers as we hugged. I can see you yet, sitting deep in thought, your hand absent-mindedly smoothing down your silver hair.

I remember raucous games of cards around the kitchen table, and your astute and daring plays. I recall your speech at our wedding - a rambling discourse full of love and pride. You liked radishes with your lunch. You took your coffee black, two heaped sugars.

You had a sweetness and a generosity and a naivete about you that moved me to the verge of tears whenever we parted from you - even before you fell ill. You were quick to tears, too; you wore your heart on your sleeve.

You brought up your son, my husband, to be the strong and gentle and honest man that he is. He misses you.

Wherever you are, Pa, I hope you can feel how much you are loved. I hope our affection and adoration surrounds you, holds you up, keeps you warm and safe. May you rest in peace.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


My daughter asked me the other day if I believed in magic. She knows me to be a sceptic, a person not readily convinced of fanciful ideas. And yet there are many everyday occurrences that seem to me unexplainable and astonishing. So while I don't believe that David Copperfield's performances are real and true, I told Laura that I do believe in magic. And this is the example I gave her:

A middle-aged man sat wringing his hands by his father's hospital bedside. The silver-haired father tossed and turned, muttering and grumbling. His mind was affected by his pneumonia, and he was confused and agitated. Over and over, the dark-haired son patiently explained to his father where they were, what was happening. He pushed the oxygen prongs back into place. He quietly beseeched his father to take his medication. The father scowled and refused.

With his wrinkled right hand, the father reached out in front of him, grasping at something that wasn't there. He muttered to himself, bitterly, "They're trying to poison me, I know they are." The son sighed. "No, Dad," he reasoned. "They're trying to help you get better." The old man continued to pick and grab at nothing, his tired arms working as he reached and reached for some imagined object.

The son turned wearily to his father's bedside table, and picked up his father's bible. In a slow, calm voice, he began to read his father's favourite section of the bible. The son read patiently, steadily, while his father's hands plucked at the air and his father growled and shifted and mumbled to himself. The father showed no sign of listening. Still the son read in his quiet, measured tones - he didn't know what else to do. The son read for an hour, maybe two. It seemed like a long time, reading to his dear Dad, who was too sick and too delusional to understand. It seemed pointless, but he read to his father out of heartbreak and love and despair. When the nurses began to turn the lights off all around him, the son finally closed the bible. He touched his father's hand, and wished him goodnight. The old man didn't even glance his way.

The next morning, the son returned to the hospital to an entirely different scene. His father was sitting up in bed, smiling at his nurse, and eating breakfast. He greeted his son warmly, and his son sat down in a chair near the bedside. They chatted together, father and son, and the son's relief was huge. The father spoke of politics, and of family, and of football. The son was amazed at the change in his father, and he laughed in shaky gratitude at all his Dad's jokes

Towards midday, the dark-haired son stood to leave. The father turned his kind, lined face to his son, his second-born, his much loved grown-up boy.
"Thank you for reading the bible to me last night."

The son's eyes blurred with tears.

(My eyes blurred with tears, too, when I heard this story a few days ago. Because the father is my father-in-law, and my husband is the son.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


That last post, the second part of the story .... that was it! That was the end. Apologies to those of you who don't like ambiguous endings .....

Speaking of endings, it seems this worn out old blog of mine has run its course, reached the end of its natural lifespan. But being the nostalgic person I am, I don't quite seem to have it in me to shut it down altogether. I neglect it, yet I can't face letting go completely.

For those of you who still stop by occasionally, firstly - thank you. Thank you for listening to my ramblings and offering thoughtful, kind and/or funny comments. And secondly, please don't worry that there is anything wrong if I don't post for weeks or even months at a time.

Take care of all your good selves.

Friday, February 26, 2010

game, set and match (continued)

It was only eight o'clock, but Sandy was weary. One of the great delights of her single status was that she could do as she pleased - eat cake for breakfast without causing comment, wear stretched tracksuits at home without rebuke, leave unwashed plates on the coffee table if she so desired. Sandy stretched, and headed to the bathroom. She would shower, and change into pajamas. Perhaps tonight she would finally make some inroads into 'War and Peace'.

Stepping into the shower, Sandy felt a flicker of fear light up in her belly again. Something about standing under the water, both vision and hearing obscured, gave her the creeps. This was one of her least favourite things about living on her own. She blamed the movie 'Psycho'. But she knew she was being melodramatic - after all, she had a shower every night and lived to tell the tale. Sandy gave herself a mental talking-to as she scrubbed her face. What she needed was some reading as distraction.

A few minutes later, with towel-turbanned head and dressed in her flannel PJs, Sandy moved confidently about the flat, switching lights off and checking locks. Her earlier jitters had been soothed by the shower, and by the simple rhythms of her evening pattern. She propped herself up in her soft queen bed, pressed a speed dial button.

"Hi Mum, it's me. I just wanted you to know I'm okay."

Her mother's voice had a definite tone of relief. "Oh love, I'm glad you called. Your Dad and I do worry about you, you know."

"I know Mum. That's why I rang. But I'm safely tucked up in bed, ready for a solid attack on Tolstoy."

Sandy's mother laughed. "Are you still trying to get through that doorstopper?". They chatted for a few minutes, and wished each other sweet dreams before Sandy hung up. Sandy was still smiling as she replaced the phone in its cradle.

It was only when Sandy reached for her thick book that her smile fell away. There, underneath where the book had rested, was a half-open packet of matches, embossed with the words, 'Hotel Forum - Bratislava'. Bratislava, Slovakia. A single match lay loose from the pack, charred at the tip. He had been here, he had lit a match in here, maybe even smoked one of his cigars. Sandy's heart began beating frantically, so loudly she could hear nothing but the frenzied thudding. She let the book fall to the bed beside her. She was more frightened than she'd ever been in her life. Then, from within the haze of her panic, another sense intruded. She could smell his aftershave again, stronger than before. She heard a movement from her walk-in wardrobe. Her mouth was too dry to form words; she could only gasp. Viktor stepped from the shadows, twisting a scarf in his strong brown hands.

Sandy's eyes widened, her breathing erratic, thoughts spinning madly in her head. She could try to yell, and kick, and fight, but the walls of these apartments were thick and sound-proofed for privacy. Viktor was six foot four and muscled, powerful. Her chances of surviving this were almost zero. Sandy's voice choked in her throat; she sat rigid with terror. The game was over and she knew it. Then the phone began to ring.

Viktor glared at her, his face vicious and contorted. "Don't answer that!" he hissed, as he strode forward, pinning her arms to her sides.

Sandy stayed motionless as the phone rang and rang, announcing the caller ID at intervals, "Call from 3434 2612 ...... call from 3434 2612 ....". It was her mother calling. She was checking to be sure Sandy was really alright, double-checking with some sixth sense that a mother often has. She would let the phone ring out, and then she and Sandy's father would come over with their extra key. They were five minutes drive away. Don was a big man himself, and still a strong man despite his age. Sandy was in with a chance. She began to holler, and twist, and kick, and bite.

* This story was written in response to a visual prompt on the fabulous new blog magpie tales (thank you Rel, for your imaginative post, which inspired me to go check it out!). Go visit - it might inspire you to try a tale or two, too!