After I’m Gone

September 29, 2009

A couple of weeks ago my attention was drawn to a post on a blog called, Her Bad Mother (you can read it here), that, in a nutshell, talks about how, after the blogger’s father dies, letters are unearthed that were written to him by a woman he had an affair with. His daughter, the author of the post, grapples with whether to keeps the letters and a photograph of the woman (that her mother found) or not. She also wonders if she would keep her own journals and letter that maybe her own children might find and read one day. In the end, (and really, I am not doing her post justice so read it for yourself) she feels hanging on to her journals would be a way for her children to have a better insight and understanding of who she really is: a person so much more than just a mother or wife. I can completely appreciate that choice, but I also have very mixed feeling about it.

Reading her post, I felt various emotions simultaneously shooting off like firecrackers inside my bloodstream. I (as you may or may not know from reading some of my previous posts) am in the process of destroying old letters and journals (it can be slow going at times – yawn…). After reading Her Bad Mother’s post I still feel good about my decision to do so. Unlike HBM, I’m not a mom, so having to keep in mind my imaginary kid’s impression of me once I’m gone doesn’t weigh in. Still, I’d rather not have anyone read some of the stuff I’ve written over the last thirty plus years. For me, keeping a journal (for the most part) has been about trying to sift through the crap in my life. Kind of like mining for the golden nuggets of my psyche shimmering underneath all the murk and gunk that living one’s life tends to pile on in confusing heaps. Writing has also allowed me to rant about things I’ve needed to diffuse or unload – behind closed doors (until I started blogging. haha.). I don’t think a loved one needs to find out, who knows how many years from now, after I’m gone, that the remark they tossed at me all those years earlier, really hurt my feelings (why didn’t I tell them then? They might wonder). Or, that I never did like that shirt they adored. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love them. What it does mean (for me) is that I found it very helpful to write my feelings down, privately, in order to help me make sense of whatever I was writing about. Does whoever might read my journals after I’m gone need to know how angry I could get, or how vulnerable I felt at times or how pathetic I reacted toward someone or something? Do they need to know what I hated or loved or hick-upped about? Just because they didn’t know every detail doesn’t mean they didn’t really know who I was. I want to be as honest as I can be, with myself and those around me, hopefully giving out a true representation of who I am – while I’m alive. I don’t feel it’s necessary (nor do I want) someone to know every detail of how I got to be this person. Why would it benefit a person to really know who I am once I’m… dead.

Recently, I discovered a few things about my own father, six years after he passed away, that came as quite a shock. I’m not quite ready to put the information out there into Cyberworld since it involves more people than just myself. But, what I will say is, I wish I had known about this while my father was still alive. I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am to have this information, regardless of how it came to pass. But, now that my father’s gone (and yes, I still do miss him) I have no one to answer the many questions I have –  questions only he could answer. I feel, in some ways, leaving these undetonated secrets behind (which is kinda what it’s like when we leave pieces of undisclosed information behind for others to possibly trip over after we’re gone) lacks courage (is this another way of saying cowardly? Ugh… Sorry Dad.). These secrets can be like buried treasures to someone when found several years after the fact. But, they can also be like landmines. If I discovered a really cool aspect of, say, one of my parents after they had passed away, I think I’d feel ripped of. Maybe I would have liked to share that part of who they were with them? Maybe it would have made us closer? On the flip side, revealing something  more painful might make it difficult to digest without that person there to help us process it. It leaves that person (the finder) holding the wrinkled pages of someone’s past, trying to make sense of it in ways that aren’t theirs, really, to make sense of. What if the discovery makes one angry or sad or confused. To whom does that person direct these feelings to?

This is where the mixed feeling come in for me. In my own case, I feel a certain amount of anger, because the impression I had of my father was based on information I didn’t completely have. I love him as much as I always have (can’t touch that) but the person I see when I close my eyes has changed. I forgive him for not sharing and I think in some ways I might even (sometimes?) understand him keeping what he did to himself (sometimes not). But, then again there’s a part of me that feels duped and I’m miffed that I need to figure this stuff out on my own. And by on my own I mean without his input.

My situation didn’t really have to do with a box of journals tucked away. Not really. It was more like a couple of major facts that were pushed to the corner of the closet. But it’s kind of the same thing. Letting someone stumble on this stuff after they’ve gone basically says this to me: I didn’t want you to know about this when I was alive because I didn’t have the strength to do it. Now you deal with it… You deal with it on your own.  And there’s a big part of me that feels this is pretty unfair.

That being said. Would I rather not have this information. No way. If this is the way the information was meant to come to me, then so be it. I’d rather have it now then have never discovered it. But, would I have preferred to know sooner? You bet. Do I have any questions surrounding this situation that my father (and no one else) might have been able to answer for me? Where do I begin?

Is it wrong to keep a secret?  It’s not always easy (or necessary in my opinion) to divulge certain pieces of information about ourselves. I think it depends on what that piece of information is. When is the right time to reveal a juicy bit about ourselves to our families, partners or friends? If there are parts of ourselves we’re reluctant to reveal while we’re living why, we should ask ourselves, is it okay for someone to make this discovery when we’re no longer around, with no one there to help that person truly understand?

We will all have our own answer to the question of To Keep Or Not To Keep. I guess it might depend on the type of journals or letters, photographs or details  someone hangs on to or why they’re keeping them in the first place. Are these items personal or something you actually hope someone might read one day. There is no right or wrong answer. And for the record, I don’t think Her Bad Mother is implying there is one. That is her story. This is mine. It was great for me to read her post on this topic because it’s something I’ve thought about – a lot.

All that being said, I am incredibly grateful for the information I’ve been granted access to. Never knowing would have been the real crime. In my case, it’s been a gift. But I so (so, so, so) wish I had received that gift sooner. However, I am realistic (for the most part) and think if that could have happened it would have happened – so this is the way it was meant to be.

Ideally, I hope I can be the type person who shares all of the pieces of who I am (the pieces I ultimately want to share even if doing so might be difficult) – now. But, I know this can be hard, that life is not always ideal and that we all need to do things the way we need to (or are capable of) doing them. And I can respect that.

A MINI UPDATE:

I should add that the glimpses I’ve been given, in relation to my own discovery, have been priceless. A treasure. However shocking as they initially were after the fact. So, I am grateful for the remnants.

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Puffy Headed

September 28, 2009

I’ve been sitting here since 8 this morning working on a post that is thought provoking but incredibly difficult for me to spit out. I realize I’m not ready to let that one go just yet. I need more time to sort through my feelings. It’s making me feel all puffy headed. Hopefully, I’ll get more clear about it soon.

A Change Is Gonna Come…

September 26, 2009

It’s already showing its colours, but it still has a ways to go.

The Rising Son

September 25, 2009

On my way to a 9am dental appointment yesterday morning (my teeth are so clean you need a set of uv protected, polarized sunglasses to behold my smile) my eyes latched on to a family of four – mom, dad, boy, girl – on the same bus that I was on. What peeled my eyes off the book I was reading, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, about, as the book cover reads, “a father’s journey through his son’s addiction”, must have been the “goodbye” I heard shouted across the length of the vehicle as it slowed toward the stop. When I looked up then out the window it was the the boy my eyes first landed on. He was about 5 years old and the early morning sun seemed to beam out of his eyes sockets and out through his smile. These enormous dimples pressed into each of his cheeks as he and his mother hit the sidewalk after exiting through the back door. The dad and daughter (she looked to be around 7 or 8 years old) used the front door to exit and the “goodbye” I had heard a few seconds earlier was the two teams bidding each other farewell when they parted in the center of the bus. They met again eight seconds later for their gigglefest reunion on the sidewalk. Each of them laughed from deep within their bellies  looking so happy to see each other again that is was impossible to contain my own smile. Impossible. They got smaller in the distance as the bus pulled away and I couldn’t help wondering what their scene will look like 1o, 15, 20 years from now. Will they still be so happy to see each other? Will the boy’s dimples still embed themselves so effortlessly into his cheeks at the sight of his mother and father and sis? I hope so. I hope they’re all still smiling.

By the way, I’m really enjoying the book I mentioned earlier. By page twenty-three I had a very strong feeling it will be difficult for me to put the book down. I’m only on page fifty-six of this memoir but so far Sheff has me hooked (so to speak).

Stating The Obvious

September 24, 2009

Waking up at 6:15 before the sun rises because you have to is not as much fun as waking up at 6:15 after the sun has risen because you want to.

Hoeing

September 22, 2009

I’m so tired. I was hoisted out of my sleep by the early morning squeal of the garbage truck making its way down my block. I like to have the green bin at curbside by 7AM but I slept in until 7:25. I never know when the trucks are going start rolling in. It seems that if I put the bin out before 7 the trucks don’t arrive until 3pm. But, if I don’t spring out of bed at the crack of dawn to drag the compostables down to the foot of the driveway the g trucks arrive first thing . Whatever… The most surprising aspect of this mind numbingly boring event was that I was able to get up at all. I spent about four hours yesterday in various spine crunching positions (knee to gravel, butt on gravel, squatted, crouched, hunched) altering a portion of our pea graveled path (oh… the sifting and plucking) into a soil enriched oasis for some plants I need to shift around. The transformation looks pretty good even though I haven’t planted anyhting yet. I have an enormous grass plant located just inside the gate leading to my garden, making it a high risk area for paper-like cuts on bare arms or legs. They don’t call them blades of grass for nothing. I need to move that baby over to the soily area I just exposed and I’m not looking forward to it. You see, I don’t really know what I’m doing when it somes to gardening (among other things). Spring would probably be a better time to do the deed but I have some bulbs I want to shift in its place and I’ve heard the fall is the time for that to happen. Before I move the grass plant over (which I’ll probably do in a couple of weeks) I want to turn keep tilling the earth so the grass plant will feel at home and cozy in its new position. The thought of killing any of my plants upsets me. But, as in life – when tilling a new patch of earth to enrich the soil, sometimes a risk or two must be taken, right? I better just grab that hoe and dig in.

A hush has fallen over the city now that the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has flipped its last frame for another year. TIFF is big. You can see signs of it everywhere in the core of the city. The number of telephoto lenses I saw this year were astounding. It seemed as if every other person was toting a tripod and mega cam on their shoulder. And, if you were lucky, or unlucky enough, depending on how you feel about clogged sidewalks, paparazzi and movie stars, you might have found yourself dining in the same restaurant as one of your favourite film personalities or espied some big named celeb bathing in the glow and hum of this great city (for the most part) where I’ve lived in for the last 23 years.

I didn’t see too many “names” roaming the streets except for Bono (I’m pretty sure U2 had a gig here a few days ago so technically I’m not sure I can say he was here for the Festival.) I was, however, lured toward Metro Square yesterday, located just west of Roy Thompson Hall (one of the festival venues), by the collective energy of the frenzied crowded who had gathered en masse to swoon over the attractive Indian actor Priyanka Chopra starring in the new film by Ashutosh Gowariker called, What’s Your Raashee. At least, I think it was her. I could barely see her through the swelling crowd. And, when I asked someone, I’m pretty sure that’s what they said. I don’t know much about Priyanka (what a pretty name) but wow, does she have a lot of fans. And double wow, is she ever beautiful. She eventually floated in my direction and, just before I got clobbered on the head by an excited movie goer’s elbow, I managed to sneak a peek. Just for the record, she signed a lot of autographs and made a lot of her fans very happy. There were many smiling faces at Metro Square yesterday. I don’t know much about this flick but if it has even half the charm of one of Gowariker’s other films, Lagaan: Once Apon A Time In India, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. I seriously love Lagaan. It’s of my favourite films. Right up there with Truffaut’s Day For Night and Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. I’ve seen it about three times and am sure I’ll be seeing it again at some point. And it’s long. Like, over three hours long. But it’s one of those films that pulls you right in so the time whizzes by as fast as a freshly smacked cricket ball.  There are puh-lenty of films I absolutely adore and have seen numerous times and I’ll definitely be writing about them sometime in the near-ish future. Just try to contain your excitement and stay tuned.

But for now, all I can say is: So long TIFF. See you the same time next year.

This or That

September 19, 2009

I feel as if someone has taken one of my jumbo knitting needles from its resting place and jammed it through my left eye and down my nose. What the…? I’m gathering this is sinus related but I’m not usually one of those people who have sinus related complaints to deal with. Or, I didn’t used to be.

It’s interesting how one day you’re this person and the next day you’re one of those. I look in the mirror sometimes and see this woman blinking back at me, a little bewildered and somewhat confused, and I have to ask myself, “Where the hell do you come from?!” The problem is, I’m not sure which one of my selves (this one or that) I expect to answer. I’m not even saying I always mind being one of those, or like this (or that depending on where I’m standing), I just don’t know how or when (or even why, sometimes) this happened.

I need to think about that one. Or, is it this one? Man, life can be confusing.

(Ow, my head hurts.)

Standing Ovation Please

September 17, 2009

I love going to the theatre. Whether it be live or on film, sitting back and allowing myself to be swept away by a moving performance,  great writing, smooth camera work, flawless direction, brilliant lighting (you get the picture)… what could be better? I don’t go as much as I used to, though. For one thing, ticket prices have sky rocketed to an astounding degree. I’ll flip out the cash when I have to but I pick and choose carefully what I spend my dollar(s) on. Another major detractor in going to the theatre, is the audience. It’s a case where even though the majority are fine it’s the one or two buffoons that can spoil the experience for me. Cellophane candy wrappers (must you unsheath those now?!!!) and the dry cough at the most quiet moment aside… I’ve heard people, on more than one occasion, having full blown conversations in a “stage whisper” that has made me want to march up the aisle to the gabby offenders, grab them by the lapel and demand them to pay me my hard earned money back. One of the worst experiences I’ve had was at a concert where my boyfriend (man friend? partner? I’m never sure how to express it.) was performing in a decent sized concert hall in Toronto. It was just after intermission and the lights were about to dim. A woman’s cell phone rang (insert Kim baring her teeth and growling at the memory). Instead of turning the phone off and apologizing to the large group attending the concert (not to mention the performers who had already taken the stage. Seriously.) she took the call. Not only that, when the usher told her to hang up or leave the house, she held up her hand as if to say, I’ll be done in a minute (what?!!) and continued talking. People were booing her. It was crazy. When she finally hung up the entire crowd applauded. What nerve, huh?

Yesterday, a friend of mine who likes to peruse the Broadwayworld.com website came across a story about Hugh Jackman stopping a performance of A Steady Rain and basically telling a self absorbed latecomer to cork it. You can read about it here at a site called, Extra Criticum. Hats off to you Hugh. You are my hero. Standing ovation please.

Off (Or On) I Go

September 16, 2009

I had a great day yesterday but the date with myself didn’t last long enough. Went down to the beach and chilled for awhile. So good for the soul.

I’m off  (or should I say on) to the job now and I’m already ten minutes behind schedule. I have a few activities (i.e. chores) planned on my way over. It should be an interesting day.

We’ll see…