Dec 26, 2011
Less than a week left in 2011. What a year it’s been. I’m writing this from the tiny computer desk in the spare room of my mom’s condo. This is our 6th Christmas without Dad. We still miss him, but every year it seems his presence recedes a bit more. it’s okay, he’s dead, and the living have so many demands, the dead cannot possibly care or trouble about them. Who knows what the dead are up to? Shawn wishes that Dad would come to him in a dream. But if Shawn is like me, (and he is, like it or not), he does not remember his dreams. So Dad may have come many times, and Shawn does not know it. Do the visits count, then? I wish I would see him again, my dad. I wish i would feel his hand holding mine again, my dad. I wish i would hear him chuckle. He always laughed when I was around. He loved to laugh. Who doesn’t?
It’s been a beautiful day. Another beautiful day. Yesterday Shawn and I walked their dogs together, today i went to the gym. I haven’t been outside at all but for that walk yesterday, and it wasn’t where i wanted to go. I wanted to go to the graveyard, because i love graveyards (my dad is in Regina). I wanted to go by the river, because i love that river. That is my river, the Red Deer river. Many times it held me as I skied along it. Many times it held us as we rode our snowmobiles back and forth, from Great Chief Park to the old gravel pit, from the edge of the golf course to the campsite near Blackfalds. Many times i would walk along Maskapatoon road and climb along the sandstone bank to fold myself into a hollow under a cliff and watch the swallows swoop along the banks of that slow moving river. Now it does not freeze in the winter. Not since they built the dam, where did they build the dam? now the river doesn’t freeze. So then in the spring, it doesn’t break up, and that was always such a drama. People would line the bridge to watch the ice crack and fissure and make way for the water to flow. Now they don’t. No one pays attention, not anymore. The river flows. it’s not as deep as it was, it’s not as fertile at the banks. But i think people still go tubing in the summer.
I love being home, but i’ve been too long inside. I have to get out and walk under the sky. Now i can’t walk along Maskapatoon road and fold myself into the sandstone under the cliff over the bank. In the late summer no kids ride their bikes down that road to pick the Saskatoon berries–eating as they go, but still bringing home enough for jam and a few pies and a a bowl of sugared berries with cream after dinner. There are houses there, now. They’re big houses, in quiet cul-de-sacs and they are built in a horseshoe around a man-made lake. it’s made by men, that lake. The river is made by the river. The river and the sandstone and the poplar trees at the bank are made to move over for the man-made stuff. people gotta live somewhere, i guess.
But i wish i could walk along that dirt road that ran above the river and past that beautiful neat yellow farmhouse. the people who lived at that farm used to ride their horses down Maskapatoon road into town sometimes. Because it was a small town, a farming community, and you could ride your horses along the river road and into town when you wanted to. It was that kind of place. I don’t remember when i stopped seeing the people from that farm on their horses.
December 31, 2011–
I left home yesterday to fly home. The flight was delayed, so it was dark when we finally took off. The lights of Calgary went forever and ever across the prairie. The moon was a perfect crescent in the clear indigo sky. When i hugged my brother and my mother good bye, i teared up a little. I get impatient with my mom. she forgets things, she repeats herself, sometimes it seems like she’s not paying attention. But that’s not right, it’s me who is not paying attention. I forget how draining it is to live with constant pain, and the threat of more as you take each step…She’s paying attention. One day she said, “Erin, you need to be more patient!” I said, “Mom! i’m trying to be helpful, and i’m not likely to get more patient, i’m nearly your age finally, and this is as good as it’s likely to get.”
She laughed, but said that it’s never too late to change.
that’s true, eh?