Memoir and Reflections, Spotlight Sunday, Writing

Lumos

It has been an emotional month, or a few months actually. I don’t know how I am feeling from moment to moment still. When what I thought my life was going to be suddenly changed I had to pick up the pieces from a broken heart and decide what I would do. This might all sound cliche, but it is true nonetheless.

This is why when I suddenly decided to get a kitten and when I told my family they thought I was nuts, even a bit concerned for me probably. I have been thinking about getting one in the past. We talked about it. So last week when the opportunity suddenly presented itself, I jumped at it.

We were dog people growing up in my household. There was the mysterious stray who would magically appear out of the bushes on our back patio when I was young. It only seemed to like me and my brother and would run away again when other members of the family would come out. We played with it and fed it and I even started bringing it inside. This came to a tragic end when we came home one day to find the door of the bird cage wide open, our bird nowhere to be found, except for some scattered feathers. Oops!

Then there was the stray who showed up a few times when I was in high school. I begged my mom to keep him and I named him Homey, but he didn’t stick around for long.

Finally there was the neighbourhood cat who began sunning itself on the warm stones of our front walk last summer and soon moved on to the comfort of the front porch swing. I began to come out to find it hanging out, every day at around noon and we became fast friends. It never made it into the house and soon the coldest of cold winters would drive it back to whichever nearby house it lived.

There is debate now why I got Lumos and if I truly know of the extra responsibility this will place on my shoulders. Dobby is already a handful and sending him to live with my sister and brother-in-law is no longer an option like in the past. I love them both now and it’s the three of us against the world.

I ask myself why like the others. Is it because I had been drinking at my brother’s open mic the night before and I was still a mess from a hang-over, not thinking clearly? Is it because I am still reeling from loss and rejection, causing me to made a rash decision which I will one day regret? Is it because I fear I will never have children, a family of my own, and someone to love and Dobby and Lumos are my way of having someone to take care of? Or is it that I am one step away from turning into

Crazy Cat Lady

from The Simpsons?

Perhaps it is some of this or none at all. We all have skeletons in the closet, monsters under the bed, and those voices inside our heads. Mine nag at me and taunt me and tell me I am no good and destined to end up alone. I have been using writing to help me cope and perhaps having the two of them to wake up in the morning for, knowing they need me…maybe that is what I need right now. Whatever else is to come I want to be someone who takes chances and experiences life. I know a lot of times I am the introverted writer who writes and reads about other people experiencing all the world has to offer, but I am constantly working on putting myself out there to have the kinds of experiences, in love and life, that will help me write with more clarity and direction.

I was reminded about all the cat hair I would have to clean up and I hear that person’s reminder loud and clear. Sometimes I care and I see how it is important to clean, if I ever want to have guests over. It is hard though, sometimes, to care too much about it. When I go about my day, most times, I don’t see the hair building in corners and all over the floor. It isn’t until I get down on the ground that I notice it. I often go about my day and think there are more important things to worry about. I am often stuck in my own head and unaware of my external environment. I look at the big picture and I now have one of each.

I debated over the name and, predictably, I went with a literary name to match the dog. I decided, in the end, to stick with the Harry Potter theme. I have previously written )on HerHeadache) with such titles as:

The Dark Mark

and

Dementor

I thought it was time I used a term from J. K. Rowling’s novels for something sweet and adorable. Lumos is a spell which is used to produce light with a wizard’s wand. I like to think of my new little kitten as a bright spot of light in some of the darkness I have been experiencing lately and hope, with the love and companionship of both animals, to climb out of some of that darkness and find my way forward.

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Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions

Angels

Today is a day to celebrate!

It’s one year since Brian’s kidney transplant and I wanted to share something I wrote only days afterward. There are ways to write a letter to the family of a donor. I hope I am not stepping over a line here, but this is my way of speaking to the people who gave my brother his life back.

***

July 20, 2013

Dear Anonymous Angels,

I will try my best to keep this letter brief, but because my gratitude to you is both endless and boundless, it can’t possibly really be expressed using any words to any real satisfaction. Yet, here I go anyway …

This is fresh because I am writing to you all one week after it happened, after the accident that would change your life forever…and the gift you would give to my family as a result. I go back and forth as to whether or not I want to write this, at all, but I am doing so now because I need to say this. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to hear it, but maybe that’s just my own guilt talking; maybe you’d grasp for what I have to say…if only because it is something to show for your loss, when there is nothing I nor anyone else could ever truly say to make your pain any less.

Before one week ago you were alive…full of life and laughter and love. You walked and spoke and thought. You had a beating heart. How do I know this? You signed your donor card. You spoke to your family about what your wishes would ever be if the unthinkable happened and your family had to make the ultimate in painful and heart-wrenching choices. The ethics of organ donation are so widely debated, but the real discussions are had between couples, families, and inside each individual’s own thoughts. I have been directly involved in such discussions, on the one side, for years and I still find myself torn deep to my core. Your selflessness is evident, no matter what else I could say or wonder about you. I don’t know you and never will, but I get to know a little piece of you now, inside my loved one.

I went first. I got sick. That wasn’t what I wanted for my little brother. I want you to learn a little bit about the life you’ve just saved:

I have read and heard many a definition of the word “soulmate” and I know what most people think when they hear it. To me, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with romantic interest or attachment. My younger brother is my soulmate. He is one person out of billions that I have an attachment to which I won’t, don’t and will never have with anyone else. He is my brother, my support, my friend, my pal, my conscience, and my hero. He challenges me, calls me out on things, pushes me when needed and pulls back at just the right time. He is my best friend and my toughest critic. People make jokes about how they must be adopted…well I say my brother and I must be twins, but not fraternal or identical: just twins of every other name.

We are the youngest two born out of four: we share the same syndrome, with its lack of sight, damaged kidneys, and the rest. We think so similarly that it often frightens me to think of it. He knows me, sees me, and reads me more clearly than anyone I’ve ever met. We’re family, but so much more…we’re accomplices in crime and two-of-a-kind. We’re quite the pair. I am his protector and he is mine. No one has my back and my best interest at heart like he does. His humour makes me smile whenever I need cheering up. We laugh until our sides hurt, about our own private jokes, the private language we two alone share. We talk and philosophize about the world and everything in it, desperate to understand our place.

I want you to know all this about him because you gave him back to me. You have given him his new lease on life. Nothing will stop him now. His determination and his strength continually astonish me and they are there more than ever; now his physical limitations can’t hold him back.

We’ve done this before, been here before, but that last time was different. There’s no question in a parent’s need and desire to give a kidney to their child; my father and mother…I got his and my brother got hers. This was never the end of the story and we all knew it, but I could never have imagined how it would feel now. I ache for you all; I hurt, and for unnamed and unknown people somewhere out there whom I have never met. You didn’t know us, or have reason to help, but yet here we are and you did. Why …?

***

I realize the abrupt stop above. I got to that point and my emotions took over. That is as far as I got and thought it best to leave it there.

Please! Today take the time to be thankful for the life and health you and your loved ones have. Not everyone has that now.

Thanks for listening.

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Memoir Monday, Special Occasions

The Ties That Bind

When I was a child my grandmother and her younger sister sounded so much alike that I was often confused when they were both nearby. I just couldn’t believe or accept that they weren’t really twins. Their voices sounded so similar and I was sure of it. As I grew I was able to distinguish the subtle nuances that made them separate women, yet still extremely close.

It’s been almost ten years since my grandma died. I used to spend a lot of time with her and other family from her generation. Recently I had the urge to once again spend some time with those who tie me to her and who knew her best. I haven’t seen my two great aunts and my great uncle since my grandfather passed away, since the funeral that cold February day four years ago. There was just no situation in which we had the opportunity to cross paths, but one day I found myself wishing to see them and speak to them once more.

I have reminders of my grandma and grandpa all around me. I have my mother and my uncles, all of whom share their parent’s characteristics in one way or another. I even notice my grandma in myself. I noticed it for the first time a few years ago. One day I heard myself clearing my throat and there she was again, inside of me. However, there’s just something I don’t get from any of this and that is the feelings from my grandparents’ generation. It’s in everything: from how they speak, the sounds of their voices, to the words they say. I realized these people won’t be around forever, just like my grandparents before them and family is what links to the past in a one-of-a-kind way.

My grandma’s only sister was one of the closest people in the world to her and their brother’s wife was a sister just as dear to them as if she had been connected through blood. The three of them spent so much time together and with my grandpa and great uncle too. They loved to get together, to play cards, and to visit and talk for hours. I realized when each of my grandparents died that these three were losing precious family and dear friends all at the same time and that their loss was so much bigger than mine in so many ways.

Now all these years later, on seeing them again, it is as if no time has passed. They asked if I still remembered them and I hugged all three and felt close to my grandparents once more. My great uncle sounded, for the most part, just as he had the last time we spoke. My grandma’s sister always did sound so similar. Once I grew older I was able to recognize the slightly lower pitch. I didn’t know if others could spot it, but I always knew them apart, as my grandma’s voice had a slightly higher lilt to it. As I think about it now, I wonder if I thought today my great aunt sounded more like my grandma, simply because her voice has changed slightly with age or is it only that I have begun to forget, with time, what exactly it was my grandma really sounded like?

A sign of the times – apparent in the photo albums my grandmother’s sister brought with them as nowadays we live in an all-digital photo world on our computers and smart phones. I could not see these old pictures that the rest of them gathered to look through; I instead listened hard to every word my sister read of the poem someone had written for my great-grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a snapshot into the world I hadn’t yet been born into, but of which I would come into and be connected to always.

Time has passed and the three of them are all in their eighties and slowing down, but I smiled as I witnessed my great aunts talking together about all the people they know and of whom my grandparents once knew. My great uncle may not be related by blood, but his way of speaking and his boisterous chuckle was closer than I’ve been to my grandpa since we lost him.

As I stood and talked with my great aunts, my grandma’s sister asked me what I thought my grandma would have thought about things as they are now. I often wonder what she would think about my house and the life I now live. Since recent events I miss her all the more. I know she would have known the absolute right thing to say, the perfect words to make it all better and the right outlook to have on love and loss, with my grandpa’s jolly jokes and sense of humour there to make me smile.

I don’t think anyone knew how much today meant to me, to spend even a few hours with the three people that knew my wonderful grandparents best. I know how nothing lasts forever and how the ones apart of our families and our past won’t always be here. I needed to take the opportunities I still have while I still can, before the past is unreachable and the ones tying me to my childhood and my history are no longer here. I didn’t want to keep thinking about it and talking about it and never making it happen, regret being all I’m left with. On this Memoir Monday I don’t underestimate the value of family, those who came before me, and the connections to the girl I used to be and the woman I am today.

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Memoir Monday

Imaginary Friends

I was the big sister. He would follow me around wherever I went. Sometimes it would drive me crazy, but mostly we were buddies. He was my best friend. We were born three years apart, but we were closer for it. I went first, came first, the blind big sister.
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I hope to have a writing career. fiction writing specifically requires a high level of imagination, but growing up, out of the two of us he was the one with all the imagination. I admired that in him, from an early age.
A train, Kool -Aid lid, a circle with handles, a square…he couldn’t see me or the rest of the family and so he would say each of us was represented by an object, one of those concrete items he could touch and understand what it must look like. This was how he saw us in his mind, a boundless expanse I always wished to comprehend. He had a magic about him and I gravitated toward it.
We would spend hours playing, all sorts of childish games, acting out scenarios, skits, and scenes.
Janice, Banice, Bill and Monster Ace. Lots of children have imaginary friends, but not me. I would borrow his, would join in his games with these strange invisible friends.
“When I was a girl and sixteen, I burned myself on the stove.” Lines like this would pour out of my little brother and all listening would laugh out loud at what had just come out of his mouth. He was fairly silent for the first few years, but one day he came to life and suddenly had plenty to say. I was lucky enough to hear it all.
Slide down the glass,
Over the waterfall,
And open the door for James Bond and Gramma.
He was the one creating the stories and the worlds with characters galore. I envied this deep pool of imagination and he grew to be my hero, handling things he saw happen first to me. He could see his future, from age twelve on, and his imagination was needed more than ever to deal with what was to come.
Now he’s just turned twenty-seven and I don’t know where the time has gone. We are just as close as ever, reading each other like books. I miss those two little siblings and the fun and freedom they used to have. Our lack of sight brought us together. Our connection was cemented from those early days. It baffles me and surprises me every day. He will always be there for me and I him.

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