Thursday, June 25, 2009

His Mother's Son...

Michael Jackson died today. He was 50 years old.

I won't pretend to be saddened by news of his death. I did not know him, nor love him. Nor will I miss him. I acknowledge that his contribution to music was huge and long-reaching and will likely continue to be for generations to come. He was enormously talented...and terribly broken. His death has stunned the world and as I write this, the world thinks only, it seems, of him.

I, however, am thinking of three others: My brother, my mother, and his mother.

Through these Mama lenses, through which I now filter every aspect of my world, I mourn another mother's loss. That Michael Jackson was a troubled, tortured soul is well-documented. But he was Katherine's son - by some accounts her most beloved and for her, I ache.

Watching the news tonight: everywhere, on every station footage of the boy he was, the man he morphed into and speculation about what might have been his future life, abounds. And I sat here, agog, watching, waiting...feeling a viciousness and weird, out-of-place sense of familiarity with the story unfolding before me, practically in real time.

Like my brother, Michael died of a heart attack, found not breathing at his home. Like my brother, he was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Another brother, gone too soon. Someone else's brother, taken so swiftly, with so much left unsaid, undone. Secrets.

And I chuckled darkly, as it dawned on me that I was not saddened, even as I saw hundreds gather outside the hospital where he lays now, cold and alone. I was pissed.

Pissed because THIS is how it should have been, how it felt, when my brother died, taken so swiftly, with so much left unsaid, undone. I wanted then, as I do now, for the world to simply stop. My brother is dead, my brother is DEAD, I wanted to scream at strangers - be quiet! Be silent. Be STILL.

For Michael Jackson, it seems, the world has stopped, if only to catch its collective breath, to gasp in surprise, in shock. I even took a perverse sort of pleasure in flinging open the front door as my husband arrived home this evening to announce, "Michael Jackson died!"

Children of the 80's both, Mark and I watched the news, awash in memories, quietly trading commentary on the commentary. Mark, typically chilled and watchful, absorbing. Me, not-so-typically cynical and spewing venom. Pissed.

And then suddenly the anger faded as I made the connection between Michael Jackson and my darling Andrew and I sort of wilted and stopped talking altogether. Thought about my Mum and wondered if she's watching the news, if she'd even know who Michael Jackson is (was) and if she'd be sad, too, thinking of Andrew.

Thought about Michael's mother and realized that the only truth that matters is this: No matter what sort of man Michael Jackson was (or wasn't), what he did (or didn't do) and whether or not we agree with the lifestyle he chose, he was still somebody's son.

My prayers tonight are for her - simply a mother, bidding her son farewell.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Dear Dad,

You know the movie "As Good As It Gets?" In it, Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt that she makes him want to be a better man.

Well, you make me want to be a better daughter - because of me, because of Andrew, for you. For Mum. For Andrew. For me.

Always, you have been my rock, my solace and my touchstone - a solid and dependable place to simply "be" as I've become me. But unlike years past, this year your true strength and grit shone through as you bid Andrew goodbye and my heart is filled with pride, even as it breaks for you.

You have borne the loss of your son with dignity and forthrightness, absorbing shock and grief - your own, from us, because of him. Quietly, as is your way, you've been here, listening, watching, waiting, protecting - all of us, the way a good father does. The way you always have. Despite everything, you remain my pillar, my sticking place, my beloved Daddy and it simply amazes me.

Somehow, you muster the patience and energy to entertain the boys - endlessly busy, endlessly inquisitive, endlessly LOUD. And smile throughout. Mornings come too early, on the heels of tiny feet pattering into your room to whack your head and holler, "Papa! Papa!" with unabashed glee. And yet you rise and smile and greet the day with them. For them.

Watching you with them, I wonder how we ever got so lucky, to have found our way to you - to have been given the pleasure of calling for you, "Dad! Papa!" and having you answer, every time. Luke loves you best, of anyone. Truly. It makes my heart ache a little bit, so happy that you and he have forged such a wonderful, magical bond. I hope it helps to ease the ache in yours.

I wish that I could be a place of solace for you, Dad. I hope you find some comfort in our late-night chats, early-morning rambles. I hope that you will somehow know how very much I love you, especially in the quiet moments, when even I fall silent. Funnily, those are some of my favourite times with you - the quiet, contemplative minutes spent together, just you and me.

I never imagined that it would only ever be you and me on Father's Day. I'm so sad for you, that Andrew isn't here to say so himself, crooked grinned and all. I know that the pain of missing him, and all the missed chances to continue being the best kind of supportive and compassionate father that you are, haunt you. So know this: yours is a wise and compassionate heart and in this life, the best choice Andrew ever made was choosing you as his Dad. No one could have fought harder, given more, or loved him better. Remember that.

Thank you for your wisdom and your generousity of spirit, of time, of compassion, of patience. Thank you being a living example of everything I'd hoped for Andrew and everything I dream that Matthew and Luke will one day be.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

I love you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Random Goodies

This got posted on Camp and I love it so much, I'm posting it here. This girl can GROOVE!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

D'oh! Re, Mi...

The Reds and I went to Cobourg Beach this morning. Waiting for Mark's parents to arrive, the boys raced up the stairs of the empty bandshell, eager to give me their precious and always adorable rendition of "The ABC Song."

Laughing, proud and wishing I'd remembered my camera, I urged them to try "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music, but Ganny and Haha appeared, and my request got lost in all the excitement.

No matter. Ganny snapped a few photos of the giddy pair, while I stood below. Turned to see a dad and daughter duo - she, about two, blond hair, angelic face. He - confident, tall, fit: "Cop. Detective, " flitted through my mind and I smiled a greeting.

"I'm trying to convince them to perform some Sound of Music stuff, but they're just not co-operating," I explained and then grinned as his daughter marched up the stairs to her father's encouraging calls for "Encore, Encore!"

"Oh, really?" he smiled back, something like recognition sparking in his eyes.

"Do Re Mi, actually," I offered, "I'm trying to teach them hand motions but...well...they run amok too much!"

"Have you seen the show?"

"Yes, I have. Just last week, as a matter of fact!" Me: Happy to be able to answer in the affirmative, instinctively wanting to please.

"Did you enjoy it?"

"I did - it was awesome! Although, Captain von Trapp was extremely disappointing, I must say."

"Which production did you see?"

"Uh...a matinee, last Wednesday. She was incredible, the girl playing Maria."

"Yes, Elicia won the contest."

Mr. Cop's eyes were now firmly focused on my face, causing me to babble nervously on:

"I was worried that "Edelweiss" would be forever ruined for me, by this Captain von Trapp, but he utterly saved it. He had a beautiful voice. He just couldn't act."

"Hmmm...really. Do you remember his name?"

"Um, well, no. But he had dark hair and is American, apparently."

"Burke." With absolute certainty he rocked back on his heels, crossing his arms, eyes now on his daughter, but waiting, or so it seemed to me, for me to say more.

"So, you've seen the show, obviously!" I smiled, conspiratorally.

Slight dramatic pause.

"I'm in it."

(Well, shit. Doesn't that just freakin' figure?)

BIG dramatic pause while I willed my cheeks NOT go up in flames and mimicked his stance, as if I could care less that I was just, as usual, wanting the Earth to open up and swallow me whole.

"Really?" I asked, in what I hoped was a casual tone, not the high-pitched, panicked, shrieking one reverberating in my brain. "Who do you play?"

(Please, please, please God, do NOT let him say that HE'S Captain von Trapp....please!!!!!)

"I play The Admiral."

At my confused look, (mostly, I was so relieved that he wasn't the Captain, that if he'd told me that he was Brad Pitt, I'd likely have worn the same expression) he explained that he plays Admiral von Schreiber, the man responsible for giving Captain von Trapp his orders to report following the Salzburg Festival. I remembered Swastika-laden flags suddenly appeared in the audience - a chillingly effective and oddly poignant moment during the production.

We chit-chatted a bit longer (well, he chatted, I gushed, because holy crap, what the heck else wasI gonna do?) and then I escaped to the playground, mentally cursing.

Why, why, why do these things always seem to happen to me? What are the freakin' chances that an actor in a Toronto show that I've only just seen, would be at the Cobourg Beach, just in time for me to open my stupid mouth about it?

In my world? Seems the chances are pretty good.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reds at Play...

Went to the park this morning to watch the Reds roam about, delighted to climb and run and shriek (Matthew) and lose shoes and one sock and eat handfuls and handfuls of sand (Luke).

The playground equipment, though typical, wasn't precisely Luke-friendly, though. So while Matthew had no problem scaling climbing walls and monkeying his way up barred stairs, Luke had to content himself by staying on the ground, watching.

He tried to climb up a few bars, got stuck. Cried. And as I raced over, laughing and breathless at the baffled look in his little face, I spied Matthew running from across the sandbox, calling for me.

"Mummy! Mummmyyy! Lukey's stuck, Mummy! He's gonna fall!" and running as fast as his little legs would carry him.

Managed to save Luke from tumbling onto his head, and shoved him up so he could take a turn on the slide, which he did, face-first, belly down, chortling. Matthew hovered for a few minutes while I repeated our new "game": Hoist, Teeter, Belly, Slide. Hoist. Teeter. Belly. Slide.

Eventually, Luke tired of sliding and wandered off to balance on an empty park bench while I returned to my Mummy friends, scattered about the grass soaking in the balmy air and the giddy freedom that comes with early summer mornings, warm and full of promise.

Every once in awhile, I scanned the greens before me, searching for the Reds - their hair like beacons in the sun. There goes Luke, quietly munching on a sand-encrusted banana, following Matthew with his eyes. It's hard to miss Matthew, shrieking with laughter and calling to his friends to watch out for the "Seamonster" lurking beneath the play structure.

Shortly then, Luke decided to brave the BIG slide, the twirly one, that usually requires a parent at the top and the bottom, for pushing and catching, respectively. I stood at the top, eyeing the bottom, trying to gauge how hard Luke would hit the ground if I simply let him go. While I pondered, Matthew bounced into view and grinned up at me.

"I'll catch him, Mummy! Lukey, I'll catch you! Come on down!"

And so down Luke went, tumbling, giggling, into Matthew's outstretched arms. Safe. Protected.

These boys. They make me weep, they are so beautiful. Thank God they chose me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bellymonster's Mama (A Clarification)

is not, in fact MY Mama. She's another Mum to a Red (sweet, darling Georgia) and has her own blog and is actually called Heather.

Last week, I googled "Bellymonster" to see if my blog would come up.

(Yeah, I know, it's sorta dorky and vain. Whatev. I'm bloated and inhaling chocolate. What's yer point?)

Well, MY blog didn't pop up but Heather's did, and once I got over the shock of seeing a Mummy blogger called Bellymonster's Mama, who WASN'T me, I emailed her.

Pretty sure I love her now. Check her out!


That is all. Shameless plugging of other, clearly sort-of-insane-but-in-a-good-way blogger is now complete!

Belly (aka: The NOT Georgia)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Magical Leprechauns Abound!

I have what my husband calls "The Tingle." It's a sort of knowing - mostly random bits of oddness and sometimes, brief wisps of other people's memories. Sometimes, I can see a shimmering light around people too - their aura, as it were. It's passed down on my mother's Irish side, through the blood that runs through my veins and I have long given up trying to explain it away. I am. It is.

This gift, for lack of a better word, was much stronger when I was younger, particularly during my teens, when I was more in tune with emotions - mine, looming large and chaotic and of those around me. It has faded since, and while I do occasionally get a passing "flash" from people, my ability to see past seems to have gotten lost admist the daily challenge of showering whilst listening to the Reds beat each with plastic golf clubs in the playroom.

I don't often mention the Tingle - it either elicts smirks of disbelief or an almost immediate weirded-out expression from those who don't know me well. I can't, and never have been able to read minds, nor can I "see" the future. Well, not exactly.

It's mostly insignificant stuff that floats through my mind and I usually choose to keep it to myself, or share with my husband as we ready ourselves for bed. It mystified and frustrated Mark for several years, these random flights of fluff - he's a black-and-white sort of fellow and as a chemist, was firmly of the mindset that if science can't prove it, it can't be. Playing card games used to make him crazy and he'd leave the table, seething at my utter lack of skill, yet, strange habit of winning every stinkin' hand, while apologetically explaining it was "like a tingle in my head." These days, however, he's well accustomed to my ramblings and is keen to watch with me, to see if any of my "tingles" come to fruition. (His mum is also a truly gifted healer, a trait which Mark seems to have inherited and grudgingly accepted about himself. )

Good thing, really, as it seems that our beloved Magical Matthew is the newest recruit to "Team Tingle." This kid - he KNOWS shit. Weird, insignificant stuff, just like me, but sometimes, sometimes he gets this look on his face, like he's listening to someone talking intently. Once or twice, I've seen him give a quiet nod or frown, as though acknowledging the end of a conversation, or a thought. Or a memory.

Once I asked him who he was talking to - expecting a host of names, as Matthew has a veritable playground of imaginary friends, who spend a GREAT deal of time getting blamed for naughty behaviour, rescuing other imaginary friends from untold dangers or insisting on sliced cheese and pickles for breakfast, please and thank you. This particular morning, however, Matthew's reply gave me pause: "I'm just listening, Mummy. Sometimes my head tells me things."


Most nights, Matthew hunkers down in my bed for sleep, and I transfer him to his own when I'm ready to call it a day. The routine seldom varies: we arrange blankets and Lamby and Ellliephant into position and then I snuggle him while we recount our favourite parts of the day. Then, we wait for ONE car to pass by outside, and I kiss him, whisper words of love and comfort, thank him for choosing me and amble downstairs. Lately, Matthew has begun to tell me what kind of car will drive by and I'll be damned if he's almost always right.

Some weeks back:

"Mummy, stay for two cars, ok?"
"No, Matthew. I'll stay for one only. You know the rule."
"It's ok, Mummy, there are two cars coming together. Sort of."
"Oh, really?" (Heavy on the disbelieving tone)
"Yes. A white car, like a police car, but different. Different words. And a blue van, like Ryan's Daddy's, but bigger."

I kid you not, no sooner had those words left his mouth, than a WHITE car, a security company logo clearly written on its doors sailed past the closed window and my open mouth. Followed almost immediately by a dark blue van, a Dodge Caravan just like our neighbour drives, only taller, due to the storage box strapped to its roof.

"Wow, Matthew!" Much delighted squealing from me, "How'd you know that?"
An elegant shrug from my yawning son. "I just do."

Does he ever. In the weeks since, Mark and I have both been witness to similar instances of random "knowing". We popped by my inlaws' workplace last week, believing that only my father-in-law would be there, as my mother-in-law was off and chasing appointments that afternoon. We told the boys this as we unstrapped their wriggling little bodies from the confines of their carseats.

"Ganny will be here any minute, Mummy!" Matthew announced, flinging himself out of the car and heading toward to parking lot entrance, away from the office for which we were bound.

"No, Matthew, Ganny won't be here, remember? She's working out of the office today."
"No, Mummy. She's coming here now. She'll be here any minute."
"Matthew!" a bit flustered now, "Ganny is no..."

I stopped talking as I watched Matthew rush toward the car turning into the drive. Ganny.

"Any minute now. Wow." This was Mark, equally stunned.

A few days ago, I escaped the shackles of domesticity for a Weight Watcher's meeting. (Hey, it's the small stuff.) Popped by the grocery store and returned home, less than two hours later. As I came through the door (1.5 pounds lighter) Mark handed me a freshly-brewed coffee. As in, JUST through the filter, literally, into my steaming cup.

"Wow. Great timing, Daddy! Thanks!"

"Oh, don't thank me. Matthew was eating his snack here at the table and turned to me and said, 'Mummy will be home in about six minutes, Daddy'."

Mark gamely put the coffee pot on and four minutes later, watched my car pull into the driveway and a smug, "I-told-you-so!" look settle onto Matthew's freckled face.

Sure, some of this stuff could be explained away. Like, Matthew knowing when I'd be home could just be that he's learning to gauge time and I'm often the same time gone, every Saturday morning. Or Ganny arriving unexpectedly - could just be a fluke.

But me, knowing what I do? Matthew's tingles are strong indeed. What a long, strange, GLORIOUS trip this is gonna be!