Archive for June, 2013

Moving through the dark arc of Father’s Day seemed simpler this year.  I avoided the memories and pretended it was just another regular Sunday.  Funny how you push things off and then, two days later, they smack you upside the head and remind you that, no, you aren’t in charge of the echoes of memory or the sharp edge of grief.  It emerges without warning, due to words exchanged or even something forgotten, uncovered in a packed box.  It surprises you when you least expect it….which makes it all the more painful.

On Sunday, I found a box of antique bullets in an old safe of my dad’s.  Pulling them out from a dark corner, I thought “What were you up to here?” and wished he were still around to tell the story that obviously went with both the box and the bullets.  They must have been from the 1940s.  They might have been my grandfather’s.  My dad may have kept them as a keepsake to remind him of his father, or of his own grandfather.  The lineage blurs when you consider what might have been important to one generation, but not necessarily the next.   A friend has agreed to take them because he hunts.  (Better than putting them in the garbage, I think….)

I love the following stanza from the poem, “Confessions:  My Father, Hummingbirds, and Frantz Fanon,” by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  He writes:

There are days
When there are so many storms hovering around
My house that I cannot even see the blue in the sky.
My father loved the sky. He was trying to memorize
The clouds before he died. I confess to being
Jealous of the sky.

I felt like that tonight.   There are so many storms hovering these days….but the promise of something lighter is up ahead.   I wish he were here to give my sister and myself advice about how best to deal with the house that he and my mother came to upon their marriage in 1968.  They loved it.  Expanded it.  Grew a family in it.  Now, it’s time to sell it and that shedding of skin, that leaving behind to move forward, has painful side effects.  The mechanics of selling it isn’t easy, either.  Neither of us has sold a house before, so it’s overwhelming.  We second guess ourselves.  I wonder what Dad would do….and wish I could just ask him in person.   That hurts even more….wishing…when you know it won’t make a difference.

Getting ready to sell this house is like losing Mum and Dad all over again.   Tonight, we recalled both the good and bad times.   I regularly come across photos, or letters, or old pieces of Buster Brown clothing from when we were small (as I’m sorting through things) that rip open heart and tug at soul.  The sight of my mother’s handwriting, or my father’s block printing (because his cursive writing was not as neat as hers), pulls me backwards into time and memory.  Not easy, this moving forward and leaving behind, but necessary.

This life, this loving, means that grief rips holes in hearts.  Metaphorically, certainly, but sometimes it feels literal, too.

I am, these days, jealous of memory, the past, the sky….and the clouds….because they have more of my dad than I do….and that saddens me. But I know he would want us to move forward, kicking and screaming against the undertow of memory and grief.

(I guess I just need a better flutterboard….)




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I was so honoured to have been asked to read at Sudbury’s first annual literary festival, Wordstock, today.  I read alongside former Poet Laureate, Roger Nash, and Massey poet/storyteller, Charlie Smith.  Good company, indeed.  I’ve known Roger since university days, back in the early 1990s, so he’s been a poetic mentor to me for two decades.  Charlie is a great storyteller and poet, akin to Robert Service, if you ask me.  His rhymes and singsong voice are divine.  Plus, his work is rooted in Northern Ontario and I like that a lot, both as a reader and as a writer.

After our hour of poetry and prose, I stuck around and listened to a variety of writers from the Sudbury Writers’ Guild.  Melanie Marttila, a great friend and writer, read from her fantasy novel.  It sounds as if it will be amazing….and I cannot wait to read it!  🙂

It was also great to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a while…Laurence Steven, of Scrivener Press, and one of my favourite university English professors, and his wife Jan.  Then I had a wee chat with Bonnie Kogos, who is up for the summer, visiting Manitoulin Island all the way from New York City.  She’s a creative force to be reckoned with and it is always good to have a chat and catch up.

I’m just so impressed by the organizing committee and the hard work they did to initiate Wordstock in Sudbury.  What a great endeavour!  I already cannot wait until next year!  Good to know the community of writers is alive and well here in the North!  🙂




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