Our August

Augustine was the name chosen
should this new arrival be a girl
but as her mother laboured
she knew, with certainty
there would be no “ine”

She is August, born in May
esteemed and venerable
a name fit for a leader –
I can attest to her ability
to run the show –
definitely rules my heart.

(For Eugi’s Causerie Weekly Prompt: August.)

Laughter Lingers in Memory

The days fold one into another, and the daily phone calls with Mom tend towards reminiscence – not much happening in the present.

We talk about my aunt, her sister-in-law, a colourful figure who lived her life alone – lesbian in a time when homosexuality was considered criminal, and later, a mental illness. Dee, as we called her, would dress as the old man from Laugh-In and crash our childhood birthday parties, shuffling her feet, mumbling and tossing out candies from her deep pockets.

“Everyone wanted Dee to come to their parties!” Mom laughs.

“Remember how she’d threatened to move to Alaska to get away from us all?”

“And how she always came over wearing a name tag?”

“Dad could never get our names right!”

We laugh, each lost in her own memories.

“She looked after me once when I was sick,” Mom says. “She came in wearing one of her moo-moos, offered to make me a cup of tea, and proceeded to do the Tetley tea dance. The thought of it still makes me laugh.”

Then Mom tells me a story about Dee in her final days. With cancer riddling her body, she went from checkup (she avoided doctors for most of her life) to palliative care in a matter of weeks. Family flew out from England to say their goodbyes.

“There she was, dying of cancer, and when her sisters entered her room, she opened her eyes and without missing a beat, said: ‘They tell me I have a twisted twat.'”

Only Dee. Even in memory, she keeps us smiling.

***

This week’s focus was remembering – a fun prompt promoting many sweet stories. Thanks to all who participated:

radhikasreflection
Reena Saxena
I Write Her
Heart to Heart
POETRYPALETTE
parallax
Susan’s Place
Stuff and what if…
nowathome
one letter UP
CURATING THOUGHTS
Sgeoil
Shilpa Nairy

Hope you are all well and staying safe. Bless you to those who must work the front lines. See you tomorrow for a new challenge!.

The Numbers Don’t Tell All

“We only test the front line workers.”

This from Public Health. My daughter has been sick for days with cough. Via video chat, her family doctor says she likely has COVID-19. She prescribed inhalers and cough medicine. It didn’t really help. So she called the doctor again.

“I can’t see you in my office if it’s COVID,” the doc told her, so she called Public Health.

I understand saving resources for frontline workers, but Amanda is a single mom of an eight-year-old and needs help. If it is COVID, I can’t risk being exposed, and her sister has two kids, one of which has asthma. My son said he’d go, but his wife has a sister with MD who they help out regularly.

This is painful.

A nurse friend told her to go to ER. There they did an x-ray and sent her away, saying it’s possible she has the virus, but more likely just Bronchitis.

Her doctor called two days later to say she has infection in her lungs. She’s now on antibiotics. Too early yet to know if it’s working. The ER doc called again to check up on her. She tried to sound hopeful.

Amanda is tough. I have no doubt she will pull through. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. This disease is terrifying.

How many others are there like her – sick, but untested?

Her nurse friend says many. They see it everyday.

The numbers we see on the news don’t tell the whole story. Stay home, and stay safe.

Grateful for Openings

“I bought a turkey roll and frozen stuffing,” Ric announced after a recent grocery shop.

I might have raised an eyebrow.

“Thought we could have it on Christmas day.”

“We’re going to visit Mom on Christmas day,” I reminded him. “At the nursing home.”

As a blended family, Ric and I surrendered Christmas day a long time ago. As long as Ric’s Mom was alive, we’d pick her up and spend the day at a casino, usually ending up with a tuna sandwich in the restaurant. After she passed, Ric and I went alone. Then we started going south, avoiding the day altogether. But when Ric gets something in his head….

So turkey went into the oven as we headed out the door for the forty-minute drive.

What are you doing for dinner? A text from my younger sister.

Ric’s cooking here if you want to come.

They never come. My family of origin doesn’t do holidays anymore. It’s just the way it is.

We’d love to come if it’s not too much work.

We visited Mom, and our eldest daughter showed up with two of our granddaughters. We exchanged gifts and ate goodies, and then moved on to visit my older sister – also in the nursing home. More gifts passed hands.

I texted D as we headed home. Fog had set in. She was worried about it.

Back at home, Ric busied himself with prepping the rest of the meal, and I rested. At five, the doorbell rang. There was my younger sister and her husband bearing gifts.

I can’t remember a Christmas dinner tasting so good. Maybe it was the conversation, or just the sheer joy of sharing it with family.

It’s never too late, I realize, to start new traditions.

Tonight my heart is filled with gratitude, and I am hopeful.

(Thursdays are currently dedicated to gratitude. Image from personal collection.)

Pausing to Revel

Remnants of wrapping paper peek out from under the sofa. Leftover goodies tempt from the countertop. In the aftermath of our family gathering, I pause to enjoy the peace, processing the sweetness of the day.

So many precious moments:

“Grandma, can we have another present?” Three-year-old August, so enthralled with the magic of the day.

“Mom, this soup is the best yet!” So heartwarming to be able to cook for loved ones and witness their enjoyment.

“Who wants to help Grandma?” Three eager faces gathering around.

My heart is full and I am exhausted.

This is the advantage of this stage of life: the ability to imbibe in the pause.

(Thursdays I write about the things that fill me with gratitude. My challenge this week is “pause“. Image from personal collection.)

Paradoxical

Fear and intimidation formed the basis of his power. To this day I tremble, afraid I’ve misstepped – parked the car wrong, forgot to close the door properly, or spoken out of turn. My father was a hand grenade with the pin perpetually pulled.

He was also motivational, citing the works of Carnegie, Peale, Gibran, and even Rumi. His brilliance was a light for me to follow, although I never understand the paradox between this worldly man and the ticking time bomb.

He spoke of love with tears in his eyes, as if he recognized his own failing, as if love was something he didn’t deserve. In his final years, realizing the error of his ways, he cried often.

I didn’t know how to react. The man had broken me in so many ways – broken all around him. I could not just forgive and forget.

Love is paradoxical – its’ contours seldom defined by expectations.

Am I grateful that I had the father I did? Absolutely. I recognize that in his wake I am challenged, but also given the resources to overcome. Many times I wanted to walk away, and yet, I didn’t, sensing that there was more to be uncovered in this dance of love and hate.

Father has been gone for more than a decade. I still wrestle with the paradox.

( Reena’s Exploration this week is paradox. Images are from personal collection. Maple trees and snapdragons remind me of my father.)