Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Wide-eyed Wonder.

 

img_4960

The exquisite thing about aging is the reawakening of wide-eyed wonder.

All the oohs and aahs of life seen through my own magical gaze. And not those of my children or grandchildren.

For decades I saw everything through the eyes of the young in my charge. Enchanting as the dust of fairies. Dazzling as the diamonds in the sky. All things spellbinding and sparkly, cast from the wands of wizards.

I saw it all through their crystal-clear unfettered perspective. It was a beautiful awe-inspiring view. A sacred privilege, the memory of which I hold dear in my mind’s eye, and as close to my heart as humanly possibly.

But now, all things fascinating, enthralling and magnificent, dreamy and delightful are again fresh and new, heaven-sent and divine.

Like never before.

I see the world around me as if for the very first time, with my own precious child-eyes. It fills my heart with such gladness.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: It’s in the Blood.

IMG_3kk234lljI have bad blood. Not really bad, as in deadly. But not normal either. Just another one of those things that I came by honestly. This little doozy came compliments of Ma. She most likely inherited it from her father. Blame it on her Italian heritage.

Little back story. Since I was a kid every time I had my blood tested, it revealed that I had anemia. Ma was always giving me iron pills. Or worse, yet cod liver oil. I don’t have to tell you how disgusting that shit is.

I spent my entire childhood, and a better part of my young adulthood, believing this myth and popping iron tablets. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my youngest child, that the truth was discovered. I did not have your regular garden-variety anemia. I was a carrier of this peculiar sounding blood disorder called Thalassemia Minor. Like Ma and my Italian Grandfather. Other than occasional fatigue, bruising easily, and being aerobically challenged, I’m fine.

Good thing The Old Man was Finnish because if he too was Italian, or from some other Mediterranean country or Asia, things could have gotten ugly. It takes two to tango with this blood disorder. With one parent a carrier, you may or may not end up a carrier as well. With two, the odds are 50-50 that you’ll have full-blown Thalassemia. And like it’s evil cousin Sickle Cell, things can be pretty dire, if not downright heartbreaking.

Young MomBut happily that isn’t my story. Nor was it Ma’s and my grandfather’s. My two older children have both been tested, and although they are both carriers as well, they are healthy. And most importantly, they know what they are potentially passing onto the next generation.

My youngest daughter has yet to be tested. At the beginning of summer, I wrote her this poetic letter with the thought in mind that the time has come. Now that she is moving into the stage in her life where she could easily fall in love. Big, hard, deep and forever. She needs to know, what’s in her blood, beyond the unconditional love of her parents.

Hey Beauty,

It’s time to get your blood checked to make sure you aren’t a Thalassemia carrier. Like your Italian grandmother, your mother, big brother and sister.

Even though there’s nothing to worry about right now because you only fall for Anglo-Saxon boys with blue eyes and blond hair.

But one day you may fall hard for a guy who is tall, dark and handsome, the front man for an Indie band, who plays acoustic guitar and writes lyrics worthy of a tattoo on your torso, drinks tequila, rides a 1952 Harley he inherited from his grandfather, eats organic peaches, and most importantly, is of Mediterranean descent.

When you fall, you fall hard.

Boo in B+WJust like your Italian grandmother, your mother, big brother and sister. And because you fall so hard, you might even dream of having a child one day with the guy who is tall, dark and handsome, the front man for an Indie band, who plays acoustic guitar and writes lyrics worthy of a tattoo on your torso, drinks tequila, rides a 1952 Harley he inherited from his grandfather, eats organic peaches, and most importantly, is of Mediterranean descent.

You can picture this child with his father’s dreamy soulful brown eyes, olive complexion and thick dark hair with soft curls around his ears.

And when this happens, you’ll want to know for certain whether or not you’re a Thalassemia carrier. Because if this beautiful guy, who is tall dark and handsome, the front man for an Indie band, who plays acoustic guitar and writes lyrics worthy of a tattoo on your torso, drinks tequila, rides a 1952 Harley he inherited from his grandfather, eats organic peaches, and most importantly, is of Mediterranean descent is also a Thalassemia carrier.  Then Beauty the odds are 50-50 that the child of your dreams will have full-blown Thalassemia.

And Beauty that isn’t something you’d wish on your worst enemy, never mind the child of your dreams.

http://www.thalassemia.ca/

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I Will Always Remember You There.

560852_10150626889916644_990312550_nShe called me Agaluk. I called her MF. Beautiful One. Sweet Butterfly.

I also called her my friend. We were Soul Sisters.

One of my most strongest, steadfast, courageous, creative, bold, brilliant, intelligent, inspiring, wise and wonderful, in every conceivable way, a true Girl Warrior to the core and beyond, died last week.

Receiving the news so abruptly. Incomprehensible. The loss for those who loved her. Immeasurable. The gaping hole in our hearts. Irreparable.

Little Back Story. We met in the most unlikely of places. Old Fort William. Decades ago. Free spirits. Wild hearts. Fierce warriors. Intelligent and introspective young girls on the cusp of becoming the women we are today.

530446_10150626890261644_650726391_nMF and I were from different worlds. She was from Southern Ontario, the part of the province with the big cities and prestigious universities. She was an intellectual. Well-read and world-wise, even then. Sophisticated beyond her years. She was eloquent and articulate.

I often wondered what she saw in me. I was smart enough but by no means an intellectual. I loved reading but in a million years I couldn’t tackle the books MF read. I was far from sophisticated, more of a small-town bumpkin. My speech was typical of the region, with its Scandinavian-Canadian twang, every sentence peppered with the non-word utterance, “eh”. And I was born and raised just across town from where we worked. I was all too familiar with the summer stench and acrid bitterness of the Abitibi Mill.

We managed to stave off adulthood that glorious summer by the shores of the Kaministikquia River.

544764_10150626890401644_450351427_nMF and I were part a ragtag troop of young vagabonds and hippies, who dressed up every day like it was 1815. We worked, and played, in the Tradesman’s Square at Old Fort William.

The young men in The Square worked as blacksmiths, tinsmiths, carpenters, coopers, and of course, the birch bark canoe builders. Many came to The Fort with these skills in tow, but by summer’s end they all knew how to handle the tools of their historic trade.

MF and I were among the “Native” wives of these rough and ready Tradesmen. Dressed in traditional garb, with our long hair braided in side pigtails or down our backs, we spent our time hand stitching garments and beading necklaces. We were called Historical Interpreters, which basically meant we told the story of the Fur Trading Post belonging to the North West Company, and the men who worked in The Square. We regaled the flocks of tourists, who streamed in and out of our log buildings, with tales of life in 1815 Northwestern Ontario.

OFW-Tradesman 5MF and I often worked together in the Tradesman’s sleeping quarters. Between tourist visits, we gabbed endlessly about all the grand things of life, all the while our hands were ever-busy making the wool felt leggings and strands of colorful beads that we wore so ubiquitously.

In this backdrop of historic Old Fort William, our friendship grew. Born out of conversations that were deep and engrossing. Sometimes silly. Often extraordinary. Yet so divinely unforgettable.

MF and I lost track of each other after that summer. There were the occasional blips on the radar. But for the most part we moved on with our lives. It didn’t help that geographically we would end up thousands of miles apart, with MF in Southern Ontario and me on the West Coast.

Then, a few years ago through the wonders of social media, MF reached out to me. First on LinkedIn and then through Facebook.

It was like no time had passed. We picked up where we left off. It was as natural as the flow of the Kaministikquia River. Although many years had passed, and on the surface our personal and professional lives appeared so very different; but in our hearts, and all the places that mattered, we were kin.

It was no surprise to discover we had both spent our lives embracing all things spiritual and creative. We were both wisdom seekers, with love our abiding compass, the beacon in the dark, the light, and the way.

DSCN1131For the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around MF not being here. In this very physical place we call earth. Then this gentle thought came to me this morning, upon the first delicate rays of early morning sunshine. Like a heart-gift filled with grace.

Since I’ve known her, right back to the days of Old Fort William, MF shone from within. Her face literally glowed with the lightness of being. She was adroit at traversing both worlds. MF possessed a huge life force and energy field. She was always growing and ever-expanding, crossing boundaries and skipping borders with ease. There was this earth place that she loved so dearly, and embraced with wide-open arms, and then this other place where she is right now, which she understood with a breathtaking profundity. She did not fear it. Not this place. Nor that. For it is all the same. One.

And she encouraged us all to do the same. This was her mantra. Fear not. For we create our own lives. Weave our own destinies. Manifest our own worlds. Hug life and squeeze every ounce of joy out. Then push it back out. Pay it forward.

MF was/is one of the rare beings, who possessed the key to the door to wonder. She saw it all. This and that. Here and there. Now and forever. Eternity in the palm of her hand. Her hand in the hand of the everlasting.

See you later Sweet Soul Sister Beautiful Butterfly.

Love you always, Agaluk.

Footnote:

The night before she died, MF made this last post on Facebook, including a link to Hallelujah – Choir of King’s College, Cambridge live performance of Handel’s Messiah.  Extraordinary.

Posted, September 24 at 12:42am: Taking an exultant drive to my place on the water for sunrise, NOW!. Been stuck in the city waaay too long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3TUWU_yg4s&list=PLlsiuiVOpp3pMgv0vDVk3g2fChthCLbYY

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I’m Down on my Knees Again.

Our daughter A training for The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Our daughter A training for The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

I’ve been brought to my knees.  Countless times over the past year.  In fear. Humility. Frustration. Weakness. In sorrow. To pray. Beg. Plead. Implore.  Ask for mercy and forgiveness.  A bit of kindness.  A dose of compassion.

When I can’t stand this any more, I don’t.  I go down.

I’ve arrived at this place through brokenness and love.  Not just for E.  But for our family and friends.  All that I hold dear and want to preserve.  Ultimately it has been this love that has inspired me to fold. Cave. Crumple. Collapse. Yes, you read that correctly.  Inspired.  For I will do anything for love.  Even that.

Ironically, it is on my knees that I find the relief that I seek so desperately.  Here I am free to surrender all. Rest. Find peace. An illusive whisper these days.

It’s a peculiar thing this Cancer journey.  My heart breaks for E. For us. And all the other Big C pilgrims who know this road all too well.

I am down on my knees today. Not for E and me this time. I’m here because of a recent story in the news. A tragedy beyond words.

Last Sunday, while participating in The Ride To Conquer Cancer a young boy, barely sixteen, and by all accounts the sweetest, died.  A family’s worst nightmare.  A mother’s heart shattered.  A sunny day gone dark.

A young boy and his family doing something so good for a noble and worthwhile cause. I can relate. Three years ago our oldest daughter embarked on this extraordinary ride, for the same reason.  Just like this boy, she was on a sacred mission to do her part, to help the cause. To do something charitable for others she did not know. Altruism at its best.  I admired her courage and strength.  Her loving and caring heart.  Her passionate desire to help.  At the time, cancer had not yet crept into our lives.  It was something that happened to others.  Not us.  Not this close.  Nor this personal.

Just like this tragedy last Sunday morning, bad things happen.  Often to good people. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s not meant to. I can understand this mother’s pain. Profoundly. My heart aches for her, and with her.  This is the inconsolable loss. It’s unimaginable. Inconceivable. Incomprehensible.

Yet not.

The very moment I knew I was pregnant, my imagination flooded with all the possibilities.  I not only pictured all the good and wonderful things that this child would do and enjoy. A life of dreams fulfilled. Adventures embarked.  Accomplishments achieved. But my heart, so loving and tender for this newborn child, also saw the fragility, the tenuous and gossamer nature of humanity.  The randomness with which things happened.  Both good and bad.  This heedless Russian Roulette vulnerability to our earth walk frightened me.  We’re all susceptible.  No matter what.

Ultimately, all we want as parents is for our children to be safe and to joyously experience the cycle of life as it should be.  Say farewell to us.  Not the other way around.

http://donate.bccancerfoundation.com/site/TR?pg=fund&fr_id=1340&pxfid=14708

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: His Mother’s Name was Bessie.

beautiful bessie

Beautiful Bessie, the Bass Man’s Mama.

I’m taking a break from the all consuming Big C conversation for just a moment to share this bit about a sweet lady, E’s Mama Bessie.  He misses her dearly, especially now when confronted by the fragility of life.

On the day before 94-year old Bessie died, she announced to her younger son Larry that she was breaking out.

Clear out of the blue.  A declaration of independence so foreign to her nature that it was unfathomable.  Disarming.

Feeble and frail. Yet in the end, so fierce in her final conviction.

“Where are you going Mom?” he asked

“To New York City!” she proclaimed.

Bessie, who had never been more than one hundred miles from her small county home.

Bessie, who as a young girl spent a week up on the mountain, just a few miles away, was homesick and fearful.  She pined for her mother.  And missed the familiar valley farmland and apple orchards.  To young Bessie, this overgrown hill was much too high and close to the sky. Too far away from her roots and the bosom of the valley bed. It threw off her equilibrium.  Left her shaken and traumatized for life.

Bessie, whose wanderlust didn’t extend beyond a Sunday drive down to Waterville for lunch with Harlan.

Bessie, who had lost most of her sight and hearing, but none of her unpredictable wit and natural intelligence. To the end, razor sharp and fully loaded with an arsenal of quick retorts.

Bessie, who lived a simple life surrounded by “her people.”  Married Harlan and raised her boys just a stone’s throw from her childhood home.

Bessie, who never strayed far.  Always walked the straight and narrow.  Found dignity in the familiar and commonplace.

Yes, this same Bessie, on the Eve of the trip of her lifetime, revealed that she was now ready to travel.

Godspeed Bessie.