Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Girls are Back in Town!

"If you ain't got team work, you ain't got diddly." (Laverne)
"Words to live by, ay?" (Shirley)

I’ve only had one in my lifetime. Best friend that is. Her name is Kim. She has been my best friend for over 30 years. Over the years our relationship evolved beyond friendship. She is my sister. The only sister I have ever had.

Where were you when Elvis died? Well I was talking to Kim on the phone, when she suddenly said, “Elvis just died”. I replied, “So what?” She has chided me about my lack of respect for “The King” since and I kid her back about even marking the date. I still can’t stand him.

During our tweenster years we shared the same obsessions over Leif Garrett, Donnie Osmond, Parker Stevenson, Shaun Cassidy, Robby Benson, and the “Bay City Rollers”. Tiger Beat centre folds papered our bedroom walls...our bedrooms were masterpieces.

I moved to Toronto from Peterborough when I was 13. We rotated weekend visitation. I went to Peterborough on the Grey Hound weekends 1 & 3 and Kim alternated from Peterborough to Toronto on weekends 2 & 4. We were like peanut butter and jelly or Kids and Kam; “you can’t have one without the other.” Her parents became mine and mine became hers.

We weathered our first loves together. All I can say is “thank God for shoulder pads”. They absorbed the tears we cried on each other. We were camp and youth convention mates. Labour Day weekend, which is, also Kim’s birthday marked our annual pilgrimage to the CNE, which always resulted in Kim barfing after one of the rides. I still go to the CNE every Labour Day weekend. Old habits die-hard.

There were the graduations from grade 6, grade 8, high school, nursing college & university. We became roommates when we moved back to Toronto in our early 20’s. She and I are as different as Laverne & Shirley or Oscar & Felix. Our differences are what unite us in the centre. She collects shoes. She has more shoes than the Bata Shoe Museum and the bloody purses to match. I love coats, coats and more coats. She’s a night owl and I’m a sun riser. I hate blue and it’s her favourite colour. My favourite food is spaghetti. She prefers meat, potatoes, and veggies. She loves Royal Doulton figurines and was the first to have a “hope chest". I always referred to it as the “hopeless chest”. By the way, I have never used the china in my hopeless chest. She was traditional, I was out there. She was obedient and respectful; I wanted to challenge the establishment. So back and forth, we danced with life while vehemently keeping each other in check.

She stood with me on my wedding day. She was there when my dad died. She was my Samson and suffered to hold the pillars while the winds around me blew. She celebrated the birth of my daughter as if she actually had something to do with it.

For some strange reason something happened and we lost our way for a while. This past week we found each other again. As we chatted, it seemed like we had just been apart for a day. The conversation picked up where it left off. I will not let separation ever happen to us again. “What’s peanut butter without jelly?” Besides, I have to try out this damn china and who better on than “my best friend”? Some things aren’t hopeless after all.

It sure feels good to be home again!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Take on Me

"I'm afraid sometimes you'll play lonely games too, games you can't win because you'll play against you"...Dr. Seuss

My daughter has issues with the content of some of my blogs. She would rather that I debate or pontificate on philosophical or political matters. I remind her that historically in our family we don’t talk about sex, money or politics and my philosophical view points are very private.

She kids me about writing about dead people; she thinks I should take up writing obits or watching “Sixth Sense” again and getting it out of my system. What she doesn’t appreciate is that I’m facing a milestone birthday at the end of this year and looking back helps me to forward think.

She has challenged me to write a "meaningful" short story this summer, while enjoying the lazy hazy days of summer at our cottage. I’m accepting her challenge. What she has failed to remember is that competitiveness is my driving primal force. So Luna baby take on me. I’ll keep the rest of you posted.

I Hope You Had the Time of Your Life

I was on vacation planting Rudebekia in my garden when my Steve came out to tell me that there was a call I needed to take. It was exactly 9:13 am on July 22, 2004 when I learned that our Philippe at age 16 was gone from our lives.

The how and the why doesn’t matter. His absence from our lives does.

Philippe, your Rudebekia bloomed a few days early this year. They always remind us of your life & death. They are as unpredictable, beautiful and impish as you were.

So Philippe, I dedicate your favourite song back to you ..."I hope you had the time of your life"...;)))) Shine brightly!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

I live on a corner lot, which means I have a hell of a lot of sidewalk to shovel so the kids can mount the school bus each winter morning. I hate shovelling and corner lots. I do it so I am not fined by the City of Waterloo. The City of Waterloo is psycho. I’ll shake the dust off my feet when I finally leave the pit. My neighbour Betty always made me leave a sprinkle of snow on the sidewalk so she wouldn’t fall. I always did that for her. Just for her.

For many years, I took Hilary to get on that bus. Each morning I was greeted by Betty who escorted her granddaughter Marisha to the bus stop. Betty & I would huddle with our thermal coffee mugs and chat. When I was on shift, Steve would huddle with her. Betty wasn’t just my daughter’s best friend’s grandmother or our neighbour, Betty became our friend. Actually, that’s a lie. She became our Gramma. We called her, “Gramma Betty”!

My daughter has an anaphylactic peanut allergy. We’ve almost lost her a few times. We are loaded with Epipens and we have had to use them. Halloween is always our nightmare before Christmas. Nuts are everywhere and Hilary finds them wherever she goes. Gramma Betty knew my darkest fears and no Halloween was complete until we went to her house. There she’d be with a specially prepared bag of nut free treats, just for Hilary. She would oh and ah over Hilary’s costume and it always ended with a hug and a kiss for each of us. Gramma Betty always took Hilary and Marisha home for lunch. They would enjoy her famous grilled cheese sandwiches and brownies. She always had Cap’n Crunch for the girls. Only Grammas’ stock Cap’n Crunch.

The bus days ended and we stayed connected to Gramma Betty through Marisha and our neighbourhood walks with our dog. She never changed, she was always out there to greet us. Last fall Gramma Betty was getting forgetful and was having difficulty keeping up with her home. Her daughters, Mary Jane and Judy decided it was time for Gramma Betty to make the transition to apartment living. Gramma Betty was not thrilled but she conceded, sold her home, and moved. The neighbourhood hasn’t been the same since she left, neither was she.

In April, Gramma Betty came to see Hilary and Marisha star in their school musical. I was so happy to see her. However, she didn’t remember me anymore. As I hugged her, she saw my Steve and screamed with excitement. Steve triggered her memory. Steve is worth remembering because as Betty always said “Steve is a gift from God.” And so he is Betty.

Last week we all gathered at the Centre in the Square to observe Hilary and Marisha’s graduation from grade 8. There was an empty seat. It was Gramma Betty’s. She died the night before. Nevertheless, she saw Marisha in her grad gown and with her true sense of humour; she wanted her daughters to push her over the Elora Gorge just to save her girls some money. Gotta love her.

On Saturday, we went to Gramma Betty’s funeral. I don’t like funerals, been to too many and they never do justice. I must say that Gramma Betty’s was the most beautiful I have ever been to. It was her; thoughtful, peaceful, unassuming and triumphant.

Humour me by allowing me to believe that I am a better person for having known her and that somehow and in someway Gramma Betty lives in me. Thanks Betty for adopting us. We love you and miss you and as I promised you last fall, I’ll keep an eye on your house and yes I’ll keep shovelling the snow for kids.
P.S. I'll take care of Steve too.