I just want to get it done

There is so much stuff in my house, and I know I will feel better once I get rid of some it.  It’s not as easy as that.  There are ties to everything.  The stupidest things can derail me.

Today I am working my way through the basement.  I had a flood there on Easter weekend and I moved a bunch of stuff and now it is either time to put it back or get rid of it.  I am trying to pitch as much of the stuff that I can but Lordy it’s hard.

There are two crutches in the basement.  I figure, meh, won’t need those again, I’ll give them to my daughter to put in her yard sale.  That was what I was thinking until I picked them up.  There on the side, in typical Kevin scrawl, was a message: “I just want the attention”.  He was such an idiot.  I loved him so.  So now the crutch isn’t just a thing anymore is it?  It becomes a tangible connection to the man who was.

God, this is still so hard.  When does it get easier?

 

Words never fail to communicate, they always say something

As the weather changes and we head into warmer times, I realize how much of last summer I missed.  I can’t recall much of anything – it’s the darnedest thing.  I will have to read my earlier entries for this time period to even comprehend how I was feeling back then.  Time – that’s what it does to you, when you look back in time it seems to smooths things out, and where it can’t smooth them out, at least in my case, it has either blurred them or blocked them.

We held the first presentation of Kev’s art award, and it was in October of last year, that I do recall.  So I was surprised when I got a notice this week that the particular competition is being held earlier.  Awards will be made in July this year, submissions are due by the end of June.  How pleased Kevin would be.  Art was such a huge part of his life.  Often I would hear his thoughts on how important a society’s commitment to the arts is.  That in years down the road, our generation will be judged by the cultural markers we leave behind.  Paintings, sculpture, music, writing and the like – they preserve the values of our generation long after we are gone.  This was Kevin’s passion, keeping the energy and interest in the arts strong; promoting creativity, whatever shape it took. He lived what he preached.  Some of his artwork or music may have left people wondering about what actually went on in his brain, but his energy, passion and intellectual interest shone through.

So, it was out of this respect for his fearlessness, his strength in putting himself out there that we created his award.  It is a brave thing that any artist does, when they share their work with the world.  To allow others to assess, judge, criticize or praise a creation that is personal and intimate.  Especially now, when it appears that most of the world doesn’t understand the meaning of respect – for others or themselves.  Say/write what you want because you can. This is made even easier through the means we have to offer up our expression.  Means that can be impersonal, disconnected, faceless, or detached.  I believe that, for the most part, this undermines social responsibility.  We have become detached bits and bytes in some colossal tide of technology.  Anyone’s opinion can get ink.

So on the upside, there’s more connected-ness throughout the world, more sharing, more awareness and increased presence of all individuals (if they want); a promise of freedom.  On the down side a whole new segment of vulnerability has opened up – the protective layers of family and friends are stripped away when one wades into social media.  Who knows who’s really who on the internet.  Words written are captured forever, pictures too. Information can become both our enemy and our friend.  We should teach and encourage responsibility and awareness when using this type of communication. Words are the strongest weapon we have, whatever form they take – spoken or written.  Words can incite and words can defuse.

Going back to where I started, which was pondering over what the hell I did last summer, I have images and I have questions in my mind, but ultimately I process them as words.  And I have the words that I wrote over the past summer which captured my thoughts for ever.  People, time, thoughts, seasons, they are in constant movement – but words, written words, are etched, imprinted, stationary.  Use them wisely.

 

What was and what is

We are teetering into the first year marker since Kevin’s death.  It’s a rocky path.  For the last couple of weeks I have had 2015 and 2016 running in tandem in my mind.  I think about today and then I think about this day last year; then the tears come.  I think it is an inevitable reality that one goes through, comparing what was with what is.

This time last year I had called some of Kevin’s friends and suggested that they stop by for their final farewells.  He had pretty much slipped away from lucidity but he was still there.  I know that for a fact.  I recall when his buddy gave him a kiss on his cheek, we saw tears trickle down from the corners of Kevin’s closed eyes.  He was very much with us, just so weak that all he could do was lie silently, waiting for final resolution.

I think about how hard it was for all of us, but particularly the kids, to see such a strong vibrant man diminished so totally.  In health Kevin pulsed with life, with energy, interest and passion. When he was diagnosed with cancer he faced it bravely, prepared to battle — as long as it didn’t take his mind.  His biggest fear was that it would take his mind.  It didn’t.  It didn’t take his voice until the last couple of days.  He did remarkable, he was remarkable.  I miss that voice.

It’s Father’s Day – Just Relax and Go With It

Venus - a good listener.

Venus – a good listener.

I woke up to an overcast day.  It’s a shame really, this is one day that I would have loved to see sunny and bright.  Thoughts flow through my mind about my father-in-law, my father, my own husband.  The memories: my father-in-law with his ever present pipe clenched between his teeth, rocking with my eldest son, puffing away on his pipe while he recited, “horsey, horsey, don’t you stop….”  My own father playing  cards at the kitchen table, slamming down his hand to win the game – we changed the name of Canasta to Ca-nasty just for him.  Then my own husband …

I see him in my mind, at the school across the street from one of our earliest homes, the three kids in tow.  Teaching the youngest to ride his bike, trying to prevent the eldest from jumping off a climber that was too high, all the while attempting to control our whirling dervish of a daughter.  I picture him at our dining room table giving my eldest son and his first serious girlfriend the “talk” about the birds and the bees – unfortunately, animated speaker that he was, Kevin also used hand gestures.  Funny, it was so funny.   I remember how excited he was to take our daughter with him to the UK.  Granted it was for a funeral and under sad circumstances, but he so wanted her to meet his family.  Then there was the youngest son who watched and observed how the elder two fared trying to get around their father, he’d try to outsmart his old man – but it never worked.  Kevin would always laugh saying, “What a rookie.  He has no idea about most of the crap I did when I was a kid.”

Our kids, his pride and joy – they put us through the rigours of parenthood, the highs and the lows, the pleasure and the pain.  As they got more independent and less receptive to his guidance and instruction (the kids might call this interference) he’d turn it up a notch.  The conversations could be quite stimulating, and in our house you either stood up for yourself or got steamrollered.  The kids learned to challenge assumptions and defend positions, how to debate and how to communicate. That’s the legacy of having Kevin for a husband and a father. Their father was not passive when it came to anything in life.  Even as his health was failing, his mind was not.  As he got frailer, he took on an oversight role.  When anyone was doing anything Kevin would have to supervise; it slowed progress down immensely since he would chatter incessantly – a 20 minute job could take hours.  Actually, that last statement applies to when Kevin was healthy as well.  He simply loved to talk.

These were the types of thoughts that I woke with today, on Father’s Day.  On this day last year he still was my Kevin, no idea that he had lung cancer.  A year ago, the phone would be ringing and he would get that contented smile, knowing one of the kids was calling to chat.  The food would be purchased and he’d be double checking to make sure I had everything for an incredible meal.  Then he’d take his coffee and go sit out on the deck, I’d join him, and he would reflect on how great life was.  That’s where I am headed now, to the deck, cup of tea in hand.  I’ll have a little chat to no one in particular, perhaps with the statue of Venus, a Father’s Day from years past.  I will try and count my blessings, and let love be the order of the day.

Memories won’t fade unless you let them

I lived in the eye of a hurricane.  I think this is the part that eludes most people.   For many, aging can be a mellowing, an easing into a gentler, kinder lifestyle.  This was not my experience in my marriage with Kevin.  He was a man who was keenly interested in history, art, culture and geography.  He possessed incredible energy and could go on very little sleep.  He’d perfected this capacity through years of playing in bars to all hours of the night and then taking the party home afterwards.  This happened before our marriage and it happened throughout our marriage.  When we travelled he tried to fit in far more than was physically possible, at least it seemed so to me, but somehow he’d squeeze it all in.  There was no time for rest, there were things to do and places to see.

Then he got sick.  It frustrated him to no end that he was incapacitated.  There were things that needed to be done before he could rest, finally rest.  The list of items was long, and at one point included selling the house and moving into something smaller – more manageable for me.  Problem was, he couldn’t do any of it, but he could think up lots of things to do.  He pushed hard, and most of them got done with the help of friends and family.  Looking back I realize all he wanted to do was take care of me and make sure that I would be okay.  Kevin, whose self-proclaimed role in our marriage was “to socialize and protect”, was doing his best to protect me right to the end.

This is what I have to contend with.  That palpable drive that filled the room is gone and I am left in an absolute vacuum.   Kevin’s presence was so large, his spirit immense.  As I walk through my house there is not a room that doesn’t have his unique imprint.  His artwork, cds, tapes, books – they fill the rooms of the house.  His opinions and interests fill my mind still because he was vocal and passionate and expressive.  I don’t have to wonder what he would think, because I know exactly what he would think and say.  I am confident our kids would agree with this statement too. 

Today one of Kevin’s long-time friends stopped by for a visit.  Over a cup of tea we talked about Kevin and my worry about retaining my memories of him.  It was a comforting conversation from someone who shared memories that he had made with Kevin more than 40 years ago.  A gentle nudge to reassure me that memories don’t fade unless you let them.  It did ease my mind. I realize that my memories are mine to keep and share as I wish, and they will live within me for as long as my mind permits.