Grandfather

I can’t tell you what wild impulse it was that made me ask Keith to turn into the small country cemetery behind the United church in York. We were out for a drive, taking the long way to Port Dover by way of the country roads along the Grand River. This is the area that my mother, uncle and aunt grew up in, and my grandmother before them.

It was a pretty mild day for February, the sun that filtered between the pines was warm. We wandered around the headstones, looking at dates and wondering at the lives. Was it a romantic tale behind the 23-year-old girl who came from Ireland in 1880, only to die a year later? The story is all too clear on some marker; one bore the names of three children, none older than two, and an infant who’s date of death was the same as his 30-year-old-mother.

And there in the newer section in the back is a headstone that bears only the most basic of information. Unlike the other headstones in this section, there are no flowers laid on it, plastic or otherwise. The inscription offers no wishes for a peaceful afterlife, no mention of bereaved children or grandchildren, or of a spouse who will hold him in her memories lovingly and forever. It needs a cleaning; the inscription is filling with dirt and moss and last year’s leaves and lawn cuttings lie dead and brown where they fell. It looks forlorn; no one comes here to tend it.

Why? Because my maternal grandfather was a prick. A racist, bigoted, misogynistic, abusive, selfish, impatient, volatile and perverse prick.

I guess he must have had some good qualities; he had friends after all. Perhaps he was just never meant to be a family man; he did not seem to care much for my grandmother or his children based on what I had heard about him. Oh, yeah, I know the stories. they are not really mine to tell.

I still don’t quite know why I asked Keith to stop. I do know that I won’t again. My mother kept him out of my life for a reason, and I don’t need him as an example of what not to be. My Grandma Rose with her grace, strength and resourcefulness has always been a much better role model.

19/366

Stayed home since I had a version of the plague today. Snot monsters > my immune system, alas.

There are things that stopped today from totally sucking:

  1. A hot water bottle at the end of the bed to keep my toes warm.
  2. The cat snuggled up against me, keeping me company while I napped and read
  3. Being wrapped up in my dad’s old hoodie, the clothing equivalent of comfort food. It’s been around forever; I don’t know what I’m going to do when it finally falls apart.

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unChristmas is over for another year

We did another unChristmas this year, since last year’s was such a success, i.e. I didn’t cry during the holidays at all. I kept trying to hold onto the past. I don’t have children, all my family are gone or far away, Keith truly doesn’t care one way or the other, and Christmas just doesn’t work the way I want it to with me trying to keep the family traditions alive. So we left the boxes with the decorations in the storage locker, stayed out of malls and made only one foray to the grocery store.

There were nods to former holidays. I made a batch of my Mum’s nuts & bolts. I started unChristmas Day with a healthy shot of Drambuie in my coffee the way my Dad always did. I watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and How The Grinch Stole Christmas remembering all the times I watched them with my brother, curled up on the couch in the rec room downstairs. And I watched Nightmare Before Christmas for no other reason that because I like it.

We visited family, and I reconnected with an uncle & aunt I’d lost touch with a year ago. We traveled up North to spend a few days with my brother & sister-in-law and hung out with my nephew, his wife and their two kids. Being around kids at Christmas is hilarious, and these two are funny, smart and lively. It was a great time truly, but we were both happy to hit the highway and head for home quiet home.

What a great day it was yesterday for a drive, cold and sunny. I sat watching the aspects of the Canadian Shield slip past my window (rocks, lakes, trees, repeat) taking pictures with my phone. It made me curse for the millionth time that moment of inattention back in April that caused me to miss getting up there even for day trips.  Even in the cold of winter, these empty spaces fill me with something I can’t describe, but definitely need.

 

 

17 days of holidays

Feeling a little slow this morning. I didn’t go out, but I feel like I did. I asked Keith this morning if it still counts as drinking alone if I’m on the phone, texting, playing Words With Friends and chatting online with friends while I knock back some wobbly pops in celebration of making it through the first term; he assures me that it doesn’t, “at least not virtually”. Whatever. It would have been more fun if we were all in one room, drinking and carrying on but let’s face it, when your drinking buddies live thousands of miles and two or three time zones away, you take what you can get.

The “I will stop being a hermit” project is shaping up nicely. I’ve gone from 17 days of holidays with nothing planned other than family dinners to a pretty full calendar. I had to put it in my Google calendar so I can keep it all straight.

  • 23rd (today) – meeting Jeany at the Headstones show tonight for a night of dancing, drinking and reliving part of a misspent youth
  • 24th – off to Stratford for dinner with Keith’s dad
  • 25th – large, noisy and joyous Christmas dinner at my uncle’s
  • 26th through 28th- Up North to see my brother and his family for a few days
  • 30th – lunch with former boy-toy turned good friend, Dave
  • 31st – New Year’s comedy show at Massey Hall. Keith is on the audio team again this year and it looks like he can get me in gratis. I hope so; it will nicely bookend A Year of My Life in Shitty iPhone Pictures since the first one was at last year’s show.
  • 2nd – brunch with former student turned good friend, Ayesha then dinner to reconnect with Tawny
  • 3rd  – meeting PokerTart for lunch
  • 4th through 6th – cottage getaway with Keith. Three days of sitting in front of the fireplace, playing card and board games, going for walks and reading; two nights of sitting in the outdoor hot tub watching the stars come out over the frozen lake. They’ve just put in WiFi throughout the resort, but I’m going to pretend they didn’t. I’m going to pretend they don’t have cell service either.
  • 7th – Intro to Meditation. I’ve found I’m happier when I do this.
  • 8th – I need to finish my Courses of Study and other teaching paperwork that was due back in September. Yes, September. Love teaching; hate the paperwork. And I do love the whooshing sound that deadlines make as they fly by again and again, don’t you? While it’s a personal challenge to see how long I can go without having to do this tedious paperwork (didn’t do them at all last year!), the demand for them is becoming increasingly stern. Time to suck it up and immerse myself in Ministry of Education curriculum and expectations.
I look through that list and it makes me tired, and think about going back to bed. No, wait. It was getting to sleep at 3 and having the cat waking me up at the usual time of 6 that’s making me tired. I see a nap in my future.
But first, I have to do laundry, go work out and then compose an ode in haiku format for a Words With Friends opponent – prop bets always seem like such a good idea when you’re in the lead.