REPORT A PROBLEM
if it were only me I could would have already cancelled, or not a plane trip, and yet–truthfully–it is much easier not to go since my brothers will and a plane is only a plane and somehow imagining that paul should could fix it by not going to work was equally um lame but a nice try it is my choice not his and though he would never suggest it there is a fair division of labor of contribution that said whether or not he would or wouldn’t go to work does not get me off the hook, nice try
dying or not he is plenty sick and
there is a season
of dying one–one way or another–I would be dishonored to miss
it is a season a call, a call to witness, to be present to stand up for what is right for what is good, for our family, for me
amazing how many red herrings pop up, how many tricks there are on the road to deciding, or not and there it is, tricky business defaults, it was much clearer once I wondered instead why I would go when there was husbandry to be done here now first
woke up wrestling–with the default–as if there were I had no choice
I’d learned this once before after the fact my heart broken leaving my boyfriend–to become husband–at sweet sixteen to go away for the summer having decided this before he was really my boyfriend bawling my head off hearing my mother say to my friend there with us at the train station glaring at my mother as if this had been her doing she didn’t have to go if she didn’t want to, she knew that
not until that minute did I
but there it was, on me
she didn’t go because of her cat
and no–one as bad as misunderstood as the other, neither child surrogate nor–simply–pet, part of the our framework, companion compatriot beholden to by any other name loving, in the best sense of the word, gus a perfectly extra or not ordinary tabby cat who’s shared our home for fifteen years; floods house raising brother loss brain tumors both our fathers dead, his own brother loss, 2 other cat losses shoulder surgery knee surgery more floods more death surfing banjo madness in and out now, on and off the bed, all of ever
I must confess I’m–still–greatly appreciating my not browngray hair and couldn’t get away from wondering–asking in her stead what changed–what happened to my stalwart belief in and dogged penchant for flaunting my gray/ing hair which of course au courant brings to mind, especially in this season of name calling flip-flopping expedient changes of heart not to mention change of hearts, the process of change of changing ones mind or at least me changing mine and of course called forth ourfather–guardian of stringent criteria for causality–whose banner was ‘it’s multi-factorial’
that said–the short version–of the what I came to is, counterpoint
off to winnipeg. ourmother died. breathed out, c'est tout, among friends. 4 years–practically–to the day–ourfather died. can't say I was surprised, I’d planned to be there, postponed because my husbandry was needed here, our middle-two brothers who've backseated along the way were upfront, you're not mad at gus–our 15 year old tabby whose ass yet again needed pulling off the precipice–paul asked. nope but more to the point I hope he's not mad at me, he took the hit, clearly it wasnot–just yet–my place,
leaving ourbrothers room to sort out their lasts
we convene now
ain't life just a trip,
Dvora Marcuse (nee Wiseman) born Montreal 1921, passed away Winnipeg Feb.6,2008. Lovingly remembered by her children, Karl(Janet), Judi(Paul) Gary(Betsy) and David(Jude); grandchildren Erik and Sagan; nieces; nephews; students; colleagues; and friends. Predeceased by her beloveds, Nate(Goldberg), Freddy(Marcuse), and her brother Gedalyah Wiseman. The family extends heartfelt thanks to caregivers from TuxedoVilla and GentleTouch, with special thanks to Tahira Skrumeda. In honour of Dvora's wish her body has been donated to the University of Manitoba Human Anatomy Department. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Dvora to Virtuosi Concerts, Winnipeg,MB
Orphan but not orphaned bereft or abandoned not even really without parents though I was in the air unattached heading on my way here toward no one particular where there had up until now been in fact (a) certain particularity though certainly there is the bosom of our yet standing family and the embrace of community her community to be sure but and we sit at the table with more than just a pass we will represent an additional loss, and they too truth told, are a loss; standing as backdrop for the organic dynamic living nature of this transit
it left–as I think about it the morning after our final celebration–not just our brothers but her community her circle of close–which doesn’t even begin to describe it–friends (which in the end are harder to surrogate than family, truth be told) to breathe through it, leaving room for dvora to stage her final performance
we were only the family–in the best sense to be sure–but and in the end she chose to stay the course in her community
fact is had I been there I would have been the focal point it would have been about me–TheDaughter dvoira’s tochter–the bereaved
the hardest part of –my mother died– has been having to answer the –how are you question– it begets a queer blankness, and wordlessness, on some level no matter the personal feeling, fitting or not, I have come to believe that motherloss is hardwired and there is no say, the body navigates some fundamental default which like it or not then recalibrates the you of how are you and so even though you think you are fine and you are in fact fine–well,
–there ain’t no such thing, or maybe it’s that there’s no such thing as an easy answer
back to counterpoint
the counterpoint then–in the face of many onslaughts bracketed on one side by menopause and on the other a brain surgery and its concomitant losses–was, I’m okay as I am
almost eight years later, life now back to only sweet ups and downs, mother-loss withstanding the counterpoint is, (the luxury of) I can be can do can have anything I want
and there it is by god, the tapestry of hopefulness; by any other name breathing room never mind a woman’s prerogative, and flip-damn-flopping is a bird of a different feather–it just, as michelle obama might say–is
"What do you mean she wasn’t there?" I asked, pleasantly distracted by the airport noise in the background knowing full well what she meant but it gave me the time of a few really deep breaths before I had to grapple with it and it was going to be a grapple and a community and a family clove in at least two but first things first. "Did she even get on the plane?"
She didn’t answer.
"When was the last time we knew where she was?" But then–of course–the real question is does she know where the hell she is?"
No! Abigail said hating the defiance.
It’s her mother, he said softly.
The operative word being her. I can’t believe you are even thinking about the possibility...you’re going to invite her to stay here, aren’t you? She can’t. What about that great hotel we love?
He sat down.
What? She asked.
We’re going to help in any way we can.
Because we are reasonable people and helping is the reasonable thing to do.
It’s more complicated than that.
Marty, she’s your ex-wife.
He said nothing.
You don’t owe her...
It’s her mother, he said again.
Ceele, I better make some calls.
Don’t envy you that, she said.
You suppose the airline can help? She can’t be the first person gone astray, god that sounds bad; Simon’s going to just shit.
I’m thinking he’s going to do more than that! Mmm, Fly said standing straighter just thinking of it. And her mother. Well, c’est la vie...
...or la guerre, Celia said.
Thanks for everything, Fly said.
You mean for not saying ‘I told you!’ right off the bat?
I’ve got to ask, Celia said, do you think this was purposeful on her part, or...
I don’t know. Maybe she got sick, or she was late and she doesn’t know how to get in touch with us, or god knows...hopefully the airline will give us that information.
Just so you know, Celia said, though I disagreed, I don’t think this is your fault.
But others will...
You’re only passing on the information, Fly.
She was going no matter what.
Listen, Celia said tenderly, you did everything possible to make it foolproof.
So what happened? Fly asked.
She’s only old, not a fool.
You thinking what I am? You mean that story she always told...
..the one about what’s his name taking out his sailboat when he got old, Celia said. And how if he made it back, he clearly wasn’t too old, and if he didn’t how she couldn’t think of a better way to die--
...than doing the particular thing you were passionate about, Fly finished.
Celia heard her gasp. What?
Gives me an idea! Oh my god, look I’ve got to talk to Simon. I’ll get back to you after I speak to my brother. She hung up.
Hey Simon, it’s Fly.
She wasn’t on the plane.
You’re kidding, right?
the last mother daughter dance it’s not because the sun has gone into Pisces that I dream about improvising and my ex-husband it is the unbraiding the disentangling from a particular constellation, that is the baffle not so much her dying it’s not that I am motherless the tapestry the point of view changes I stand in a field of wild oats, ripened heads blowing in the hot August wind the ivy so long wrapped around my trunk withers, falls away each time I leave home I am closer to the wind and the final irony my shape incorporates hers
it’s not that I’m a stranger to self-absorption but just the same I found it odd took exception to experienced righteous pique at not having heard from her on the occasion of ourmother’s death as if she out of the lot of them owed me and much like the time after not having heard from my mother on the occasion of my birth I called in the middle of her night to say happy birthday I found myself on the brink of calling her, my once best friend&cousin, to offer my condolences on the occasion of her self-importance, no really
after all, even I mistress of there was a time I couldn’t be bothered or thought it too hallmark whorish or exmotherinlawish for words to offer condolence now know better and she more than me was raised especially to better comportment not to mention that her mother my aunt her father her two sisters who participated on the occasion of ourfather’s death and her oldest sister whom I haven’t seen for thirty years called so I spun fingered worked my way round to compassion wondering–again how it is those who love her intervene on the occasion of her stinginess–and isolation
is it too personal she wondered, by which she meant no easy access to the reader, no clear place for them to feel included though in part the story is about creating or discerning just that sense of inclusion and the credentialing that backs it up and it is about confusion just the other side of clarity and the me just this side of not me and the ways we recognize ourselves sell ourselves and sell ourselves short and the myriad ways we fool ourselves into believing our own publicity even if it’s all lies
it’s an alltoo common story
for my part I wonder what is taken away by giving too much, but I understand from experience the difficulty of taking the first bite into an apple; I offer
I imagined the south another country ... was prepared to be an outsider, on my best behavior. But it wasn’t necessary. We recognized the each other in us just fine except for the ghosts and the apologies... and them treating me as if I was some sort of a demi-goddess. From the land of Oz. ‘Instead of the not so common commoner I am. From California. At a work related workshop.’
...that’s our worst fear realized, Simon said. God damn it I knew we shouldn’t have let her go.
It was idle then and not helpful now, Fly said. We did everything we could’ve.
Except for chaperone her every minute.
For all practical purposes we did just that.
So what the hell happened, Fly?
Maybe she missed her connection.
Celia’s talking to folks at the airport.
What good will that do?
Not sure, but I can’t imagine this is the first person gone off course.
God damn you. God damn her!
It was her right.
It will be our fault.
So that’s what you’re worried about?
Don’t go stupid and catty on me, Fly. Simon said. It was on us to exercise good judgement.
It’s a sticky wicket, independence.
That’s just it, she didn’t do it independently. She couldn’t have done it without help.
Simon, we did what was right. She was going with or without our help, and not helping would have been our fault. Would have been churlish and peevish.
Would have been right.
Wouldn’t have stopped her.
She wasn’t thinking clearly.
It was not within our right–or power–to stop her.
And now she’s missing, he said.
To see what happens.
And to find out the last time and place she was known to have been.
Do we know anything? Simon asked all of a sudden very weary.
We need to get into her safety deposit box–
Wait, you said, and now all of a sudden you’re into her safety deposit box. Just seemed funny. Where are you going with this, Fly?
Can we get into it, if we need to?
Do you think we need to?
Simon, what if she did this on purpose?
the sense of whelm lessens, I guess after all it was a shock, or hugely stunning
not sad or lost happy or found, but certainly less stunned, can’t say it was harder than I thought but certainly bigger and something that I really knew nothing about, one of those not so much you don't understand but can’t properly imagine, protective oh hell yes even at 60 or 59 for crying out loud and I suppose by now I’m less tender and glad not to have had to re-enter sooner than I might have been prepared, wow
not that it’s done
the other day it was christmas and now it’s march, and just like that poof it’s used up, I used to walk around the block four or five times a day, I’ve not in recent months walked around the block five times, my stamina–the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort,(originally in the sense of ‘rudiments’, from Latin, plural of stamens in the sense of ‘threads spun the Fates’–is not yet restored, the new order not yet created, the new perspective not yet tried;
I have yet to look out over the valley from the mountain top, soon soon
I can’t believe she called!
Listen Abs, Marty said, she didn’t. It was Spit.
He shook his head. Cele. It was Celia, I haven’t spoken to Fly yet.
Yeah, he grinned, that’s what we called her.
You still in love with her?
I have known her all my life. We were best friends, Cele, Fly and me.
And then you got married!
Biggest mistake either of us ever made. But yes I still include her as kin. As kith. And even more to the point, as I’ve been saying, it’s her mother.
I don’t understand.
I promised her...
Who?...Grounder?...there’s no Grounder here, Emerson snickered into the phone.
I’ll take it! Marty said almost grabbing the phone out of his son’s hand. Spit! that you?
Grounder? Celia answered.
It’s been a long time, Marty said.
It was a long time ago. And, of course it’s of no essence in the scheme of things, you and Abby good?
That Emerson all grown up who answered the phone?
The same. Grown up is another story.
Cele laughed. As it was for all of us. Listen...
Oh God. Marty said, is Ma okay? Is it Fly? What’s going on?
and the bath prize was mine, will you wash my hair she asked doling out the favor as if it were pure gold, and getting as I did in the shower taking her back to front we stepped she and I into a bloodline tapped into our lineage, taking a place on the strand of mothers daughters sisters joined, and for a moment we were free we were she&I temple sisters on the brink for a moment virgin maiden crone we stood atop mount parnassos overlooking delphi peaking around the corner we saw death heard music laughed; came clean
The Tip Jar