Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Getting (more) Real - Seven Years Ago This Month

And speaking of warts ...

I'm being pulled to write this post, not from any external source, but the more I pray about it, pointing out to God that I use this blog for flippancy, the stronger the feeling that I need to write this post. So I'm writing this post.

Seven years ago tomorrow, we said goodbye to my father. He wasn't sick, or overweight, he didn't have high blood pressure, he was on no medications. He was 66, and he just dropped dead. It was a lovely funeral - and I managed to recite Tennyson's Crossing The Bar without breaking down. I had memorized it years before, planning to recite it at my grandfather's funeral, but my father's funeral came first. It was, in a strange and redeeming way, a good day. The five days leading up to that? Not so good.

Here's a poem.

Wednesday Morning

giggling with my daughter over Cheerios
counting chickadees and flickers through the kitchen window
the phone rings and my mother's quiet voice
shrieks the morning to shreds
paramedics no pulse heart attack widow

how do you go to a death?
what do you pack?
call your brother, my husband says
Dad can call him tonight, I argue
he dials the number hands me the phone

high above the prairies
my brother and I trade toneless cliches
at least he didn't have to suffer
he's in a better place now

I search my parents' house for some hint of him
a scent of his breath
a clue as to how the unthinkable could happen
find nothing but my mother's lap
soaked with my grief

so much crying so many people
bearing food
come to feed on our grief
Thank God for support, my mother says
Is there anything to eat?
I'll never eat lasagne again

I slip into his office, rest
my fingers on his keyboard


That's pretty much how it was, except I left out the part where I acted abominably. My mother called and asked me to pray. Said there were paramedics working on my father in the living room.

"Doing what?", I asked, with the world's most skeptical voice.

"He has no pulse", she said, as gently as possible.

I believe my exact next words were "What do you mean, HE HAS NO PULSE? This is my FATHER you are talking about!"

One of us hung up right after that, because clearly, the conversation was getting us nowhere.

She called back, or I did, several minutes later. I was even more obnoxious, if that's possible. The only sentence I remember from that phone call is where she said "It's just so weird - one minute I'm married, the next I'm a widow." I interrupted her.

"You can't make me talk about that!"

And then I hung up. On a purely visceral level, I realized later, I was making a choice between "my father is dead" and "my mother is over-reacting". (because, as you know, it's so easy to over-react to "we can't find a pulse.")

My husband was working from home that morning. He came outside to where I was screaming and throwing lawn chairs around the back yard, in my nightgown, in the middle of February, and made me come inside. He pointed out to me that my brother needed to know, and I was the only one who knew his cell phone number. I walked away from him. "Dad can call him tonight when this is all over", I said. He followed me with the phone in his hand, compassion written all over his face, and just stood there holding the phone out.

I finally dialled the number. My brother answered, instantly on the alert because I was calling him at work. I rolled my eyes and spat out "Mom thinks Dad just died!" My brother took a few breaths and then asked to speak to my husband.

Somehow we ended up on a plane. I believe my husband started the shower and stood me in it and dressed me afterwards. And packed for me. And drove me to the airport and I don't remember any of it. I remember looking into A's face, (she was three at the time) and thinking "How can I be anyone's mother in this state????"

And we landed in Winnipeg and it was two years before I stopped hating that airport. My brother's friend had come to drive us out to Mom and Dad's - I was dreading that drive. I don't know R very well, and I was so raw I couldn't imagine spending an hour making small talk. I stood as far away from everyone as I could, waiting for my luggage, and the first of the incredible moments of comfort that God sends in our grief happened.

I looked down the terminal and saw someone running towards me, in a desperate hurry, afraid she'd missed me - my husband's sister, who is one of my closest friends. There is no way I can describe the relief I felt. I collapsed into her soft green winter coat and sobbed and sobbed. She drove me out to my parents' house and stayed until I could stand to let her out of my sight.

I'll never forget that, H - you know that. You came because you couldn't stand not to come to me then - you had no idea what I'd need or even if you could do anything for me, but you came. And you came with tears streaming down your face.

To everyone else reading this: this is what God does for us. For whatever reason, when He can't, or won't, take the hard things away, He sends comfort. There is always comfort. We need to teach ourselves to look for it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Get Real (cranky) Day

Amanda has relayed a challenge - you know how we tend to be all little Miss Merry Sunshine/Woman from Proverbs on our blogs? Time to let the warts show! That's a really crude paraphrase but my mouse is being a big stupid baby and I can't cut and paste so you'll have to go looking up the rabbit trail of links yourself.

Anyway in the interest of joining in the fun, I'd post a picture of my kitchen right now but I don't know how to download pictures to the computer from the digital camera. No matter, I could take a picture next week and it would be the same. I don't do dishes, much. Nobody does. It's slovenly and a bad example and it makes me mad on the inside but what do I do about it? Leave the house, mostly.

Also we are building a retaining wall in our walk-in closet, primarily out of unwashed clothing. It's keeping the suitcases safe from ...from ...whatever dangers suitcases face. VERY safe. They're feeling very secure.

The challenge-that-I-wanted-to-cut-and-paste-but-couldn't also said "then tell us one thing about yourself that will surprise us." This has me at a loss - people are people, and "there's nowt as queer as folk". But just in case you've never met me or been in my house, or indeed, just driven by on the street -

my Christmas tree is still up.

Quote of the Day

"Delusions of grandeur make me feel a lot better about myself."
Jane Wagner (whoever that is/was)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I couldn't help myself ...

I almost never post the results of these bloggy quizzy things but "you pull off 'weird' well - hardly anyone notices" was just too apt to ignore.

Your Hair Should Be Orange

Expressive, deep, and one of a kind.
You pull off "weird" well - hardly anyone notices.

Quick wit, anyone?

We're sitting at supper.

"Please pass the milk." says A.*

"It's right in front of you!" says B.

"If it'd been a bear, it'a bit ya." says TechnoDad, quoting someone we met once but danged if we can remember who.

A doesn't miss a beat.

"If it'd been a bear," she says "I'd'a NOTICED it."

*this might have been "gimme the milk" but I have creative license on this blog!

Why A is baking cupcakes

Last minute farewell party for her teacher, who is 33 weeks pregnant and has been told to go home and sit down for the rest of her pregnancy, in hopes that bedrest will stop the pre-term labour.

Those of you who storm the gates of heaven - go.

Over-reaction, anyone?

"So what are you writing these days?" my mother asks, on the phone.

I make a face (even though she can't see it, cause I'm just that bright). "Eh." I say.

She laughs. "Just relax, honey. It'll come."

And that's when I realized that it's never ever EVER a good idea to say "just relax" to an infertile woman, no matter what you're referring to, how far past childbearing she is, or how happy she is with her current life.

Some random things

1. YAY Canada! YAY Shannon Kleibrink, Amy Nixon, Christine Keshen, Glenys Bakker and Sandra Jenkins!!!!

2. Blog when there are Olympics to be watched? Surely you jest.

3. It is snowing and snowing and snowing and snowing and the forecast is for days of snow until Monday, when it will AGAIN be above freezing, because now all that snow has to MELT. The weather this year is driving me MENTAL. Except for the part where it's a Canadian winter and I rarely have to wear a jacket or boots.

4. I'm leading a poetry workshop at the Alexandra Centre on Saturday. As many times as I've thought "Wow wouldn't that be fun?", I am now thinking "Who do I think I'm kidding?" Hopefully there will be no lynch mob afterwards.

5. I'm sitting here at the kitchen table blogging while my beautiful blossoming daughter bakes cupcakes. Why she's baking cupcakes is a story for a separate post, because I want everyone who is a praying person to pay attention to it.

6. Have I mentionned YAY CANADA!!!! ? And YAY Canadian curling women???

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Confessions of a ...

sporadic overachiever. Although it's been a long time since I did a marathon "must get this done" on anything - there just don't seem to be any free minutes in my life. If one things falls behind, it stays behind until it self-destructs, it seems.

Also I am the cham-peen of Great Ideas That Never Go Anywhere. So when we all went to meet my newest niece, and I saw that her nursery was Curious George themed, I went poking around on eBay and found a panel for a cloth book for sale that I thought would make a cool quilt. I've never made a quilt, but I thought I would make a plain old boring blanket and then use the book pages as appliques. So I ordered the book, and when it came, lo and behold, the cloth panel had instructions for making a quilt! so I bought some fabric in lovely bright colours and I was going to give the finished quilt to my SIL when she got here for their recent visit.

Yeah, okay.

What really happened was she arrived Tuesday, and I finished it Saturday a few hours before she left. HOWEVER, I did manage to get it done in three days, and it looks like a quilt! And it's cute! and I made a quilt! And now you all have to look at a picture of it! (and that's the darling I made it for, smack dab in the middle. Isn't she SMART?)

False Alarm

It blizzarded for ten minutes then read my blog and changed its mind.

Of all the nerve

There is a howling raging snowstorm just outside my window.

What do they think this is, a Canadian winter or something??????

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Moment of Domestic Triumph

(and if you believe that ...)

A bit ago, B's class had a pj party. Come in your pj's, from 6:30 to 7:30, bring your parents and whatever other assorted family members want to come, read books to each other, listen to the teacher read a few books, eat cookies, drink hot chocolate, go home happy and loving books.

So we're ready to go when B looks at me. "Where are your pajamas?" he asks. I stand there nonplussed. (I don't exactly know what that means, but I think it's a more refined version of "gobsmacked". If that's not what it usually means, that's what it means RIGHT NOW.)
"My pajamas? No, no, that's for the kids!"
B is adamant.

Which led to this moment - large round woman dressed in plaid pajamas, driving and sewing buttons at the same time because there are three buttons missing and the school is only 2 minutes away.

We get there and B says "Tell Dad not to get his pajamas. His pajamas are just his underwear, and I don't think he should come to school like that."

Teach me not to sleep in the nude!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Modern Day Miracle

TechnoLogSawer has almost completely stopped snoring at night.

Or I've gone deaf.

Either way - wow, am I getting a lot of sleep these days!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm still out here somewhere

Busy, breathless, few weeks, it seems. A lot of it spent in pain, if I recall correctly, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

We were in Edmonton for part of the weekend for a Robotics competition that a team from A's school was in. Age range: 9 -14. Average age of the kids on A's team: 9. Final standings: 2nd place for Presentation (this was the Research element, in which the club had to choose a Research question based on the year's theme, answer the question they'd come up with, and give a presentation to a judge. We went to see their presentation - they ROCKED. They'd written a rap song, they all knew exactly who was answering what question - which is even more amazing when you realize they were primarily guessing at what they'd be asked) and FIRST PLACE for Performance. A great day for my girl, and I'm glad I was there to see it.

Also had some good visits with dear friends while we were there.

And speaking of visiting, my sister-in-law and the prettiest baby in creation are visiting for a few days, and what a treat it is to have hours and hours to talk and hold babies. What a lovely, lovely treat. Thanks to the Doting Husband and Father for letting them out of your sight :)

Kraft Dinner should be burned by now - off to serve the kiddos.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fame is so fleeting

I no longer show up if you google FrayChek. It's very disappointing.

However, if you google Walter Yeldham, there I am!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Proof-reading and spell checking bitsies

a) That last post? After I posted it, I read it over and it said "A's eye lit up" which both made me laugh, and creeped me out a little :)

b) earlier today, I was e-mailing a friend who sent me the first draft of her YA novel to read over and I said "Haven't read The Book yet (your The Book, not God's, which I am trying to read in 90 days)" and the spell/grammar checker kept insisting on changing "your The Book" to "you're the Book". Apparently my grammar checker has a philosophical bent.

(I told it to shut up. Without honour on its own computer, and all that)

In the interest of balance

We're walking out of school today, and B is insistently inviting his big sister to his "come in your pj's and read books" party in his classroom tomorrow night. A says "Don't worry, Mom, I'll act like a grade one-er so they don't feel dumb." I told her she just needed to be calm :) and then B said "AND we get hot chocolate and cookies!" and A's eyes lit up.

"If I act like a grade one-er, I can get hot chocolate on my upper lip!"


Later on this evening, while TechnoCoach and B were at hockey, I was telling A I was going to blog the hot chocolate line. I told her I tried to keep the number of stories about them even, but that she was a bit behind. She started telling jokes :) so I said "You know, it can be interesting or smart, too."

She didn't miss a beat. "Whoa. I must be REALLY far behind then!"


That wasn't A story number 2 though - this one is:

My grandfather used to recite a cute little poem that went like this:

I can make a sandwich
I can really cook
so I made up this recipe -
it should be in a book.

First you take some butter
and you give it quite a spread
until you've covered, oh, about
a half a loaf of bread.

You get some pickles and some pineapple
and some strawberry jam
some salami and baloney and
a half a pound of ham

You put some ketchup on it
and you mix the mustard in well -
and it will taste delicious -
if you don't mind the smell.

I happened to use the phrase "it will taste DELICIOUS" while enticing the children to eat tonight, and A piped up with "I can really cook!" and when I challenged her to recite the whole poem, she needed only two small prompts to get through the whole thing.

I shouldn't have to tell you how deeply satisfying that is. Those are the miracles I can't forget, that I can't stop thanking God for - the ways that these children, who are not biologically ours, mirror us in ways that have nothing to do with nurture. A has eyes like mine, my love of words and the sounds of words, and that was born in her. Sure, I've nurtured it, but B doesn't walk around the house, repeating the same word over and over again, playing with cadence and volume for the sheer delight of it.
B is a Boy Who Needs Answers, and if I weren't cut from that cloth myself, I would never be able to understand that need in him, and I would grow impatient a LOT sooner with questions like "Where does Jack's daddy work?"

By the time the babies came along, I was desperate for a child, any child, that I did not have to give back when the sobbing started. All this other stuff is icing on an already more than sufficient cake.

Not that he's putting any pressure on himself, or anything

Walking out of the school with B yesterday.

He looks up at me.

"Can you believe I've been at this school for TWO YEARS already and I don't know all the teachers names?"

I told him he knew the ones he needed to know :)

So much to look forward to

Driving with just B in the van the other day, and we get stopped by a train. B starts counting the cars (starting at one hundred because the train was already going by when we stopped). He suddenly interrupts himself.

"Mom, do you know I have NEVER been the first line to watch a train go by?"

And here I have, and I probably didn't even appreciate it.