Sunday, March 29, 2009

I am a woman sixty years old

I am a woman sixty years old and of no special courage...

Everyday - I have work to do:
I feel my body rising through the water
not much more than a leaf;
and I feel like the child, crazed by beauty
or filled to bursting with woe;
and I am the snail in the universe of the leaves
trudging upwards... 

Marlene spent hours trying to find this poem for me (by Mary Oliver.)

It is understandable why, like so many,
I find pleasure
in your acts of language...

What the heart endures
is difficult to order in vowels
and consonants... 

Helen included this poem by Gloria Oden in a beautiful handmade book she gave me yesterday.

My daughter, my friends, call me sexy at sixty. So many lush loving descriptions of a woman who is a little like me but much more vibrant, less fearful.  

And I sit in my little house in the garden, thinking I'm sixty now - a senior. If I wanted to I could collect an old age pension... 

I am a woman of sixty, I tell myself over and over, and I am still not quite ready to accept it though I have little choice. 

Rob calls out that my father is on the phone. I return to the big house and talk to both my parents who wish me well, and are as astonished as I am that I have reached this age. "I remember the day you were born," my father says.

When I hang up, Rob hands me two gifts but asks me to wait a minute while he plays this song.
While the music is playing, I open the first slim wrapped parcel. It is a guide book to Marrakech along with a promissory note. We shall visit this exotic city in the fall. The second parcel is my favourite perfume. I am stunned by these presents. I wanted to give you something special, he tells me, and when I asked your friends what you would like, all said travel. 

As if that weren't enough, my nephew and his wife come back from a walk with 2 bottles of champagne. And then my daughter (a surprise gift from my sister who paid her flight) comes in with a friend and a huge bouquet of exotic flowers and a second one of lovely pink tulips from Mary who visited last week. And I receive a gift certificate for Amazon from my son Michael and his fiancee - and a beautiful poem by e.e. cummings and a kaiku Michael wrote himself. 

if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses...

Gill and her friend prepare a breakfast feast of spicy potatoes, eggs, and chorizo sausage. My nephew serves Mimosas. Gill tells me that when she was at the flower shop, the woman who wrapped the flowers told her that when she turned sixty, her life got better and better. 

I hope so. I imagine, after this morning, that this could happen. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

There's Something about Mary

Last week, Rob and I welcomed Mary S-T into our home with the same generosity of spirit as Mary showed when she welcomed Gill into her home months ago. There's something about Mary that is impossible not to love. Every time she appears in a room I want to hug her. And do. 

What is it about Mary that inspires warmth, trust, and laughter? What is it about her that calls forth my most mischievous self? Why do I feel comfortable spelling out her initials with fallen tulip petals? 

Mary is one of the most loving generous woman I've ever met. She walked into our house (with her equally gorgeous brother) laughing, embraced me as if we were old friends, and the entire evening was full of laughter and stories. As was the next day and the next. She didn't even complain when we served her the same thing for dinner that we had for lunch. 
Mary is the wife of Patrick, Rob's mentor who died last fall. Mary says their relationship was a 27 year romance. Understandably, she misses her crazy wonderful poetry-quoting man, especially the cuddles. She has her "Patrick moments" when the tears start to fall but still she feels his presence everywhere. 

There is something about Mary that is quite extraordinary. In just a few days, we befriended each other for life. I once again feel blessed. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pen and I

Pen and her daughter flew into Vancouver at 5:30 am on Thursday. I met them at the airport. Several hours later, after we had dropped Isobel at her home, Pen and I were on our way to Whistler where we spent several quiet days at my sister Bev's cabin (an understatement). Though I moaned and groaned when Pen made me walk to the village and back, several times, I enjoyed myself. I love the quiet of the area and being with this woman whom I've know longer than any other, who dropped in after five months travelling so we could celebrate our 60th birthdays together. We decided at 65, we will be much more adventurous.

In the early morning of the day we were to return, it snowed wildly - 10 beautiful, treacherous inches - and, after shoveling the driveway, I climbed behind the wheel of my VW Jetta, without snow tires, and cautiously drove home. (I was terrified for the first half of the drive.)

We made it in time to attend the matinee performance of "Blackbird" by Scottish playwright, David Harrower. Thank goodness. It was a potent piece of theatre - the reunion of a middle-aged man and a young woman, with whom he had an affair when she was twelve - precociously twelve, I'd say, as she had pursued him. Love? Who sets the rules? It's a curious tale, creepy at times, and the ending stung me. I didn't like it though I think Pen and Rob did which led to some interesting dialogue later on. 

Sunday, after a trip to Ikea, Pen flew home. Since then I've been lost in paperwork for the government.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Same mother, same father

I've spent the last five days with my sisters thanks to Gael who flew in from Ontario for a conference at the Empress in Victoria and shared her harbour view room with two of us before returning to the mainland and adding another sister to the equation. As our oldest sister couldn't join us, I was the eldest but my giggly siblings did not treat me as if I were older and wiser, they just wanted to have fun and so we did in true Wetherall fashion - luxuriating at the fancy hotel, swimming morning and evening at the hotel's health spa, shopping (buying little),  dining well, drinking too well one evening, and laughing - so much laughter. "How many lovers have you had," asked one? "That many?" "No fair," said another. (And being the oldest, I didn't bother counting - too easy. I lie and love the incredulous looks they all give me.)

There were also moments of serious discussion, asking the other or others for advice on aging, children, and career.  Although we are different ages (I am 15 years older than my youngest sister) and are in different financial positions with differing tastes and desires, we are comfortable discussing most things with each other.  We accept that one sister will spend $10,000 on a fridge and another the same on a vacation. (One frets about the cost. The other doesn't. For two of us, neither is an option or a priority though the discussion interests me.) 

It's easy to see our differences. Our similarities, beyond looks, are less obvious and I need some time to reflect on this but there is something special about blood ties. What? I'm not sure but I trust them to love me, no matter what. As I love them. 

On Saturday evening, our last two together, Rob and a sister-in-law join us at the Red Door for a farewell feast.  

Tuesday, March 03, 2009