It had been a rough month. Our stepfather, who was still mobile at the time, had begun getting up in the night and wandering in and out of other seniors’ rooms. He was – until the very end – such a gentle man that we knew he posed no threat whatsoever to the other people living on his floor, but you cannot explain that to a senior who also has dementia. Waking up to a strange man hovering over you – making strange “huh-huh-huh” sounds over and over since he lost the ability to speak – was very frightening to the other residents. We were informed that our stepfather would be moved to another floor better suited to care for his declining abilities.Continue reading “I Wasn’t a Good Mother”
Tag: Patti Moore Wilson
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
In my country, Canada, today is the second official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
There were 140 federally-run residential schools all across Canada that operated between 1867 and 1996. The intent was to ‘teach the Indian out of the child’: complete assimilation, in other words. The children were forcibly removed from their homes. Their hair was cut; they were forbidden to speak their native tongue; they were forbidden to practice their spirituality and their traditions; they were not allowed to go home and they endured unimaginable abuse: either of neglect, physical and sexual abuse, or worse.
They were sent home when they were eighteen.
And many never made it home at all.Continue reading “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation”
Grocery Store Demon
We never spoke that day
I do not believe our eyes even met.
We kept passing one another:
First in the baking-goods aisle
Then in the canned-foods section
Again, near the frozen goods.
Each time, I could feel a terrified shiver run down my spine.
It has been years since that day,
And still I wonder how I could feel so much evil
Emanating from an ordinary woman
Doing nothing but buying groceries with her child in tow.
I prayed – and still do – that we never cross paths again…
My maternal grandmother could find objects: things that were impossibly lost. When my mother was a teenager, she was outside and lost a ring in the snow. My mother’s family was very poor so this would have been a disaster: you were expected to take good care of your things, and if you lost something special, there would be no money to buy another one. With this in mind, it is no surprise that my teenaged mother came into the house crying hysterically. According to Mom, Grammy walked purposefully out of the house; walked across the dooryard; reached into the snow and brought her hand out – holding the ring. A proverbial needle in a haystack- except that she didn’t have the benefit of knowing which haystack.
And yet still, she found it.Read more: Grocery Store Demon
According to my mother, Grammy could heal burns, too. With just a touch. And a prayer, of course, for added measure. Grammy was a devout and fearful Catholic.
I have absolutely no gift for finding things but I do have a certain knack for healing – especially emotional wounds – and I am one of those people who gets ‘feelings’ about things. As I have heard no other family stories about such things, I have often wondered if these gifts came from my grandmother.
I am not a person to have dozens of friends and a lively social circle but I often connect practically instantaneously to the people who end up becoming my dearest friends. After we have been friends for a while, we will muse at how ‘it just seemed to happen’; no work involved; no real ‘start date’. It just simply ‘is’. As cautious as I can be about building new friendships, every once in a while, I simply throw caution to the winds and forge right in.
I also occasionally get a really bad feeling about an individual. And four times in my life, I have instantly felt a cloud of evil emanating from a person. The strangest – and most terrifying – happened, of all places, in a grocery store. I was wending my way up and down the aisles with my cart at the grocery store when at one point I became aware that I kept ‘meeting’ a woman shopping in the opposite direction: just a normal woman, pushing her cart with a small child in tow.
Every time I saw her approaching, I could feel this awful, black weight on my shoulders and chest. Every single time we passed one another in the aisles, this terrible shuddering shiver would start at my shoulders and course down my spine. I recall trying very hard to keep the shudder from showing. I did not want this woman to know that I was afraid of her. I did not want her to notice me at all. I felt very much as though I were in grave danger.
I have since prayed – many times – that she and I never cross paths again. And I have prayed for the child she had with her – who would be all grown up now. I do not understand what happened but I am sure that something inexplicable – but very real – did indeed take place that day.
To be fair, I have also felt the presence of great good – many times more than I have ever felt such evil as the woman in the grocery store. As I have gotten older, I have started telling the people I meet who send off wonderful light and energy. They always ‘get’ it because, well, they are filled with light: how can they not be aware of it?
But I can tell it always makes their day anyway.
I used to hide this part of myself: people are superstitious and such things smack of the supernatural. But oh, I am tired of hiding. I’m not getting any younger. If I am very lucky, I might have twenty more good years left. I won’t waste another second holding back.
Take me, or leave me. But please, let me be…
p.s. Rawgod/ A New Spirituality: you asked for it: this is as close as I got…©
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com
The Driver’s Licence Photo
I mostly love getting older – I am calmer, far less self-conscious and so much more confident. I’ve embraced my white hair. I accept my glasses. I live with the fact that I never have very much energy. I love that I don’t get hot flashes anymore.
But every once in awhile, getting older can really suck.
Like, how, when I look in the mirror, I still see my twenty-year old self looking back at me. And I swear, she hasn’t changed a bit.Continue reading “The Driver’s Licence Photo”
The Miscellaneous Things We Are Good At
Many years ago, I was a conference in Montreal for literacy teachers and their adult students. During the day, we attended workshops, had lunch together and discussed the many things we were learning, over coffee break. Evenings were free. In a city like Montreal, there was no lack of things to do and places to go. One evening, I ended up with several other conference-goers in a well-known smoked-meat restaurant. We had just finished a delicious meal and were lined up at the cash register to pay when I spotted a friend and colleague – a young teacher – having what was clearly an argument on the sidewalk outside with one of her teenaged students. A tall and physically-imposing young man, he stood head and shoulders over his tiny little teacher. Even under the light of a streetlamp, I could see that she looked frightened and way out of her element.Continue reading “The Miscellaneous Things We Are Good At”
Hunkering Down for the Winter
I am nothing if not a creature of habit.
It’s funny, the things we get used to; the things we come to expect, year in and year out. I would be utterly miserable living in a climate with no crisp fall; no bitterly-cold winter. It’s what I have always known; what I have gotten used to.
There is something exciting, to me, about hunkering down for the winter.
I love how the world changes; sometimes on a dime: one day it is hot and muggy and the next, the year has deliberately done an about-face in a new direction. The air turns chilly, especially at night: the stars come out in bright contrast against the clear blackness of a night sky that is crisp and humidity free. The trees start to change colour – almost imperceptibly at first – and suddenly, the whole world is a riot of brilliant oranges, reds and yellows. The geese get loud again, noisily heading northward every morning in search for food in farmers’ fields and loudly flying southward in the evenings to bed down for the night. They will do this for a good month or more – the flock growing increasingly big and very loud – until one crisp day when you can smell snow on the air, they will head southward and won’t come back until spring.Continue reading “Hunkering Down for the Winter”
I’m watching a band that has come in to perform at my mother’s seniors’ home. Not one of the members of the band looks to be under age seventy and the lead singer is a spry eighty-six-year-old. I pride myself in my very eclectic set of musical tastes but I have to admit to my Mom that I barely know any of the songs they are singing (or playing on the fiddle), and none of them well.
Nonetheless, the music makes your toes tap and we enthusiastically clap along as the band entertains the crowd.Read more: Teachable Moment
At one point, my Mom leans in and tells me, “I know a dirty song to this tune.” And then she proceeds to sing me a few snippets. After my first, surprised, loud belly laugh, I do my best thereafter to only quietly snort my mirth.
As the band is leaving, Mom catches the eye of the lead singer (the eighty-six-year-old J) and he stops to chat with us. Before he even has time to react, Mom is telling him she pays the fiddle as she gently but insistently pulls the fiddle from his hands and puts it in to her chin to play him a little tune she knows. While I’m a little embarrassed, I’m not overly worried (I know Mom won’t be rough with it). I am definitely dismayed for the man, though, as he is clearly not used to handing his beautiful fiddle over to a perfect stranger. I relax as he relaxes; as he notes that Mom knows how to hold it and what to do with the bow. Being very rusty, it doesn’t take her long to hand it back to him in any case.
This is the woman who taught me good manners. This is the woman who showed me how to behave in public; who taught me to be courteous; to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. She behaves as innocently as a child now.
I’ve reflected how an event like this one would have been the perfect time for a ‘teachable moment’ when my children were little: “Next time, sweet pea, make sure you ask the nice man first. People like to be asked before you touch their belongings. And do be polite if he says ‘no’, as is his right.”
As Mom slips further into a rather endearing childhood sweetness, I understand that the days of teachable moments are over for her. All my sister and I can do is hover nearby and quietly apologise for her when it’s appropriate to do so, knowing she is the one who taught us such good manners in the first place.
Luckily, the nice musician understood, and she still talks about how kind he was – the actual lead singer of the band!! – to take the time to stop and talk to her that day; to let her play him a tune.
Perhaps he learned his manners from his Mom, too…
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com
The Day I Learned About Cruelty and Intolerance
I recall clearly that it was a beautiful sunny day: the kind of day that happens on that first day in the spring where everyone goes outside without a coat for the first time and the air smells fresh and new and full of possibility.
I was in grade three, walking hand-in-hand with another little girl, through the school playground. I clearly recall how wonderful it felt, to have a friend who didn’t mind showing the entire world that she liked me enough to hold my hand. I was not a particularly popular child in my early elementary years so any public demonstration of affection was a feather in my cap; a sign that I was popular too (sad, that even at age 8, I already understood the concept of ‘popular’).
“LIZZIES!!! Look at the two lizzies!” shouted an older kid, pointing at us and laughing loudly. At the time, I was sure that every single kid on the playground turned to look.Continue reading “The Day I Learned About Cruelty and Intolerance”
Time for a Reset?
I was videoconferencing my daughter recently and the connection broke at least five times as we talked. “Sorry”, she told me early on. “My phone’s getting old. I really have to get a new model.”
“Gee,” I answered, “It doesn’t seem like you’ve had it that long: it’s just a couple years old, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s ancient.” She sighed. “I got it six years ago, Mom.”Continue reading “Time for a Reset?”
The following is a work on fiction, based on a composite of a generous number of people I have warily watched from a distance over the years. According to statistics (* sources below), 1% of the human population meets the clinical criteria for psychopathy. In my country of 38.1 million people, that means nearly 400,000 people. We always imagine psychopaths as serial killers or other hardened criminals, but in reality, most psychopaths hide in plain sight among us. In order from 1 to 10, the professions that draw the most psychopaths are: CEOs, lawyers, the media, salespersons, surgeons, journalists, police officers, clergy, chefs and civil servants. While the percentage of psychopaths in these professions is still very low (statistics cite anywhere from 3-4% to 10.42%), you have likely met one or two in your lifetime. I know I have…Continue reading “Psychopath”