In Grama’s Day.

In the years between 1910 and 1912, a family of 5 was thrown from their home, the children sat upon the mattresses in the back lane contemplating their new state of homelessness.

Their father, a man with a weakness for drink, leave them to return to his family who are well off, with a dairy, lands and money.

The mother and children are unwelcome by his family, and end up in a workhouse.

In the years between 1910 and 1912 the middle daughter (my grandmother) and her 3 year old brother, were sent to Canada by Dr Barnardo’s to…a new family.

They did not wish to go, after all the mother and older sister were still with them even if the father and his family wished them to go. Even with tales of fruit you could pick off the trees on the side of the road and gold findable in the streams they still did not wish to go.

Their arrival to the “new world” was met with much disillusionment and for the girl age 12 it was more the life of a slave to do chores, sleep in the barn and grow up without knowing the family she loved.

My grandmother lived to be 105 years old, through some of the hardest times possible, and she herself went through something akin to what I am…twice.

My grandmother never forgave the people that sent her to the “new world” and would spend a lot of time listening to the audio book “Little Immigrants” whispering that it was worse than that but…”listen to it and you will understand a little”.

To the day she died she wondered what became of her mother, older sister (who she never heard from again)  and younger brother, who she lost track of during the war.

I imagine what she would tell me today, if we could talk.

She would not be happy to know that there is just me left, but then perhaps her going before the rest was  a kindness.

She deserved a lot of those.

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In Memory

Tomorrow would have been my brother’s birthday.

I still remember the last time we spoke and what he said…over and over…funny because at that time I was falling apart, in the process of breaking, and yet of all the things to keep in my mind…I was on my own to deal with moms death, he had to work, women are emotional and men are logical…women are emotional and men are logical…rinse and repeat.

He knew what would happen, if not all some, we both knew, we had discussed what the vultures would be like.

Men are logical, women are emotional.

I was always the odd one out in the family, the boys got out as soon as they legally could but I didn’t.  No biggie, it’s life we live it.

Or not.

To some they would like it to be said that they lived their lives as they wished.

It is a pioneers thought, and we have our name on a memorial as one of the “pioneer families” of the area.

He lived his life as he had been shaped to, never bothering to try to mend the damage of the abuse, not ever letting someone in and while most would say he lived his life as he wished, I think he lived his life as he could.  He never changed the shape that they formed him into all those years ago, merely  hardened his exterior. When he sought help for the pains in his chest, collapsing a few months ago on the doorstep of the emergency department, there was no one there with him to care, call for help or even notify me after.

He was the strong one…and he is missed even if he did not realize it while he was alive.

Forbidden hopes. *

Sometimes when it gets really quiet, and the only company you have is yourself, this is when the shadows of the dreams you had come out to dabble with your mind.

The things you never dared say you wished for because, to speak the words made them real, and the pain of not getting, tenfold worse.

I am not certain what inspires these dreams or hopes.  Is it what we do not have? What we see? Or just how we feel? Perchance it is a combination of all, with each carving a different facet to a hidden aspiration. Eventually shaping a unique gem, glistening within ourselves, representing all the unspoken wishes.

The moments you allow yourself to contemplate these things grows rarer as you convince yourself they won’t, can’t or must not happen…you polish them then hide it all over again, deeper.

These things are to the individual like DNA, as is each step in our life journey, being carved for, or perhaps into us. I think they sometimes leave holes where they were meant to be, each unfulfilled hope an empty space destined to remain a void, ignored or covered over. Forgotten.

These things are individual as well.  You can not make someone else want what you do, no matter how you feel about them, with them, for them…because those hidden yearnings exist inside everyone.  You can not shape theirs anymore than they can shape yours, though that fabled thing called love can alter them a bit. Meld, combine and shift those gems if shared with another.

As we each have such a gem within, and if you are lucky to fulfill yours, they shine brilliantly through you, in your smile, your eyes, and the giving, caring, and loving which radiates out from you.

Of course that is my hypothesis of our inner hidden or abandoned dreams, hopes, desires.

To my friend…Advice that falls on deaf ears…

…we all give advice at some point to someone who might be listening, but inside their head there is another thought process going on.

They see the wisdom in what you’re saying, but whatever they are thinking either makes your advice redundant, problematic or impossible to follow.

Hey sometimes they are just stubborn.

Okay, I get it, been there done that.

I had people giving me advice and that voice in my head kept saying why that advice was impossible.

I get it.

As you say to me, “He pushed me into the wall so hard, I had to be taken to the E.R.”

I get why my saying call the Police is not getting through.

As you say, “I don’t want to blow it out of proportion.”

Stunned I stop, because I actually said those very words to a female Police officer, while hiding the majority of the bruises under my house coat.

I went further than you did Cath, I actually said to them, it must be my fault, first serious relationship, he got violent and I over reacted.  I am too sensitive. I blew it all out of proportion…my reaction to being hit repeatedly…and called the Police. Somehow calling the Police after being beaten up, seemed wrong, my fault, so much trouble for just me.

I remember their expressions, as they looked at my bruised face.

Ya, like it’s normal to be beaten up.

I get it.

I remember all of it.

You need to call the Police now.

Pointing out why I am right, meets silence.

It isn’t easy, I know it.  I did it. The very first time he grabbed me and shoved me into a wall, I remember the stunned feeling of disbelief that, that just happened.

I went quiet, my mind working out how this could be happening in this situation, with this person…I imagine the look on my face was somewhat a cross between stunned, shocked, scared and appalled.

Of course that was just the opening volley, your new here girl, that’s not all that is on the itinerary.

You can play back every second and think, “I should have”…but it’s hindsight…20/20 and rosy to boot.

Now I know snagglepuss was a far more brilliant critter than I initially gave him credit for, “Exit stage left” not too shabby advice in some circumstances.

I should have left the apartment, gone to work, called the Police.

See…should have…hindsight…all the stuff that followed that could have been avoided. IF he had let me out of the apartment but…I do not know that for sure do I?

However, when I did get out of being trapped in the bedroom with him, and he left, I did call the Police.

Oh yes, he was so innocent that his friends got him out of the city.

Safely away from the Police.

While his friends, some of which were my bosses, decided to stop by and prevail upon me the view of their community and how they are sure it won’t happen again.

So as my friend says, “I knew he had a temper, and I don’t want him to end up in jail.”

I wince because everyone BUT the Police emphasized how important HE was, what this would do to HIM…

…not on the fact that I was pregnant, alone, hurt and scared.

If not the Police seek help and support for YOU.

You my friend are going through chemo for cancer.

Your not listening to me because that other voice, those other thoughts are busy telling you why I am wrong, what this will do, how he will react, what…

…but as I tell you it’s escalating in a negative way, you stop hearing me.

Even as you agree with everything I say.

Well…I get it…even as I will keep telling you to get help and put yourself first, like I failed to do for too long.

Addendum:

For those who are critical of the Police handling of Domestic Abuse, the Officers that handled the above mentioned incident, and others, were looking for him within an hour of their attending the call.

How do I know?

Because people they spoke to while looking for him, called me, as the Police did not tell them why they were seeking him.

I only found out why he was not located after…apparently they had a wonderful camping trip.

Those involved have to be ready to actually DO something before they can really make changes, get help or just get safe.

Susceptibility is not just a theory…those old horror stories.

It is late, the child that is being babysat is sleeping soundly and the two teenagers (the respective aunt and uncle of the sleeping infant) are watching movies, a typical Friday night except they are actually WATCHING the movie.

On the old 26″ tube TV. there are two young men, leaving a pub and gingerly hot footing it across the fields, howling is heard as the werewolf (they do not know it is a werewolf yet) grows nearer and they rethink their life choices, deciding to head back for the pub.  One bends down and the other is bowled over by a monster, the visuals and sounds of his being torn apart sends the friend running away in terror before he stops, wonders what he is doing and deciding to be a loyal (if foolish) pal, returns to help his friend only to become the entrée himself.

But wait…the hero (?) lives…friend is already dead and the rest of the movie presses on with gore, horror and screams aplenty.

When the movie finishes (An American Werewolf in London 1981 for anyone who does not recognize that infamous scene) and the teens retire to the dining room to play cards.

With each hand of gin rummy the story telling of spooky experiences gets richer, movies, nightmares and ghost stories go on for hours..and then mom arrives home. Of course mom is blithely unaware of the nights activities informs everyone that despite the fact that it is still dark out we are going to go out and pick up freshly cut grass off the side of the road (give the horses in the yard a treat rather than waiting for it to be bailed).

Situation changes as the baby is bundled sleepily into the cab of the half ton, mom is driving, Max and I get to ride in the back (oh the good old days right?).

It is a truly beautiful night, no lights around, no cars, just the stars in the black sky, a gloriously scented breeze, sounds of the frogs and us. The only blemishes on the divine predawn adventure is the Manitoban mosquito and the city slicker moaning.

Of course, Max being a city boy, begins to complain about the bending, the picking up, the carrying, the lifting to place into the back of the half ton and the mosquitoes.

Actually thinking on it, with the cool air, fresh pre-morning dew, there were not that many of the mini vampires about, but if you’re not use to Manitoba mosquitoes, they can seem like hordes. In fact when they do come out in force, you have to stay inside and animals need smudges to withstand the onslaught.

Complaining about the logic of the pioneers for settling in swampland does seem a bit redundant but I have often wondered this myself.

So on the scale of slap happiness (slapping yourself to kill the blood suckers) it was only about a 2.

You can see for miles on the prairie, but in the dark it is a long moonlit view of shadows, tapestries of black melding to blue and you can actually hear the silence of nature.  The smell of the cut grass, feel of your clothes getting wetter with each bundle gathered and the occasional amused comment. At this point, Max is too busy panting to keep up his barrage of dissatisfaction with the environment and activities.

So we all got the chance to appreciate the beauty of the night, surroundings and enjoy the quiet companionship of shared labour.

Of course, par for the course in my life, something stupid has to happen, but we don’t mind really because it gifted us with this enduring memory.

I bend down to gather another armful of grass, and my foot tips into a gopher hole, I lose my balance and as I tumble downwards into the ditch (not a shallow one either)..I do the totally unthinkable, ever regrettable and oh so embarrassing.

I scream.

Oh yes, the shame, the total abject self-disgust of a farm girl doing something do darn feminine.

As my fall halts, I land atop a jaw bone (just the white bone) of some poor animal and let out another squeak, scrambling away from said disgusting artefact. I stand up and of course the first thing I see is my mother, doubled over killing herself laughing but it was not directed at me. I am confused as she is pointing down the highway so I turn to see what is so much more funny than my toppling into the ditch (or screaming).

The sight that greeted me, was one I shall never forget because it was so unexpected that it took me a moment to actually understand what I was seeing.

Max, illuminated by moonlight, running full tilt, down the centre of the highway, away from us.

My embarrassment vanishes as I join my mother in laughing. Together we watch Max eventually stop his headlong dash from terror, and begin his saunter of shame back to the truck. Returning to face the two women laughing so hard that tears are streaming down our faces. As he reaches us, his only comment before resuming picking up grass was: “I am never going to live that down am I?”

Too true Max, oh too true.

However, he was upstaged in the most unexpected way, much to his relief.  As we all clambered into the truck, the youngest among us decided to try to say “Truck”.  His first attempt was greeted with silence, then laughter.

It is to be noted that he was discouraged from saying “Truck” or “Frog” for quite a while, but kids being kids, he did practice to get it right a lot.

Thus Max’s humorous sprint to freedom, was eclipsed with words out of the mouths of a babe, but as is proof by this post, he never did live it down.