Family

Posted on 06 July 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007

Today my daughter arrives. I haven’t seen her since Christmas and how I have missed her. My world seems quieter without her – not that she is noisy but we would often meet at four, five, six in the morning – both insomniacs – and say a few words as the coffee brewed or the kettle boiled. I miss her dragging me to the grocery store that I hate and she loves and watching her fill a cart with fresh fruit and vegetables – always the right amount, nothing goes in the garbage – and such stuff as couscous and tofu that I haven’t a clue how to prepare. (On the odd occasion, when I have tons of time, I do enjoy preparing a feast but not often. I say it is because I had to feed children for over twenty years and now it’s my time to be served but I’m not even sure this is it. My mother and father just left for my sister’s house and over the past week, I’ve watched my mother lingering over cook books. She’d call me over from time to time and say “doesn’t this look delicious?” and I’d say yah or doesn’t excite me. And she’d shake her head. She oftens wonders aloud where I came from. “You’re different from your sisters.”)

She adores her granddaughter who is more like her than her daughter. Why am I thinking of food? Perhaps because I just read Gill’s latest blog: Confessions of a Young Woman. I love how she describes family meals. I’ve forgotten the time when I insisted that dinners had to be an occasion, how I’d light dozens of candles, and Rob would play music.

I love my quiet house now without children. I sometimes forget that I am a mother. I go about my business – usually out in my little house, writing or whatever, and am rarely called from the big house. Hours drift by and I can follow thoughts to conclusion. But there are moments every week when I miss my kids. I am happy that they are creating their own lives but I love it when they call me just to talk or make the time to grab a cup of coffee with me.

Food also reminds me of Marlene who came to dinner last night and brought most of it with her – curried lentals, potato salad with olive oil and feta, stir-fried vegetables – and muffins for breakfast the next morning. She’s amazing in the kitchen. (She cooks in quantity so she won’t have to cook every day.) But then she’s amazing at everything she does. I remember when I first met her in a classroom a UBC. I walked into the room and there is this author of a book I had just finished and loved, sitting quietly, hands together on the table, with the loveliest of smiles – might sound corny – but I knew immediately she was someone special. And then, quite unlike myself – I am usually too shy and intimidated to speak in a university classroom, I began to talk fast, told her how I loved her book, how I was overwhelmed by the women (I think most are women) she had quoted – even Marion Milner who I arrogantly thought I was the only one who had read her in North America. And her smile widened.

I was simply trying to find my way back to writing, had started one autobiography class and dropped it, and thought this one – on journal writing – would be light and easy. I didn’t know that it would change my life, that somehow this author and teacher and the women she attracted to her class (Vaughan, Wenda, and Shirley – my plums – to name a few) would touch me so deeply. (Shit, I don’t know how to describe the immensity of what happened to me and what evolved from that first exposure to Marlene… how I kept taking her classes though I was often terrified of the secrets I would spew out and how her quiet acceptance and those of many others over a long period of time gave me courage to be truer to myself in my writing and in my relationships with others.)

It still surprises me how I start writing about one thing – food, here – and end up somewhere totally different.

***

I wrote the above at a leisurely pace then drove to the airport and picked up my brother and his daughter who I adore, brought them back to my house, and then headed to the airport again for Gill.

I find it difficult describing love because I don’t want to sink into sentimental cliches – and love… it’s impossible. I went to the airport, stood watching the people come through the door from the restricted area – looking for a tall blond beauty. Gill always stands out – appears one of a kind – and there she is. I want to observe her before she sees me. Is it just because I’m her mother that I find her so stunning? I think not. People keep telling me how beautiful she is. And I am in awe looking at her and then she sees me and comes running, throws her arms around me, hugs me tight, kisses me, keeps kissing me – even on the mouth that always surprises me – and I know she’s my girl/woman.

We get her bag and drive home, calling bad drivers names or simply “stupid, stupid, stupid” as we always do when we’re together.

(Gotta run to the hairdressers with Gill – hopefully will have time to add a few more lines later but it’s a pretty busy household at the moment.)


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