Just Jazzy 174

“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”
― Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales

One Christmas my brother and I sang this :  Deck the halls with poison ivy, fa la la la la la la la la.  Santa will get red and hivey, fa la la la la la la la la.  Well.  We were kids, not poets.

One Christmas my brother and I sang this song : Deck the halls with poison ivy, fa la la la la la la la la. Santa will get all red and hivey, fa la la la la la la la la. Well – we were kids, not poets.

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

April Friday

In my mind, April is my brothers month, just like May is mine, and June and November belong to  my sisters.  He was born on the 19th, a Good Friday in 1946.  It’s been half a year already since he was ‘stolen’ from us, no longer a child of course, but still a child of the earth and the universe and lost to us much too soon.

So here’s a rather melancholy tune for our last April Friday.  Poetry set to music.  I guess I’m still in my saudade mood.  Bring on the rain.

A fairy offering wishes, illustration by John ...

A fairy offering wishes, illustration by John Bauer to Alfred Smedberg’s The seven wishes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Stolen Child

(Words by W.B.Yeats-Music by Loreena McKennitt)

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats
There we’ve hid our faery vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries

Come away, O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

 

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
By far off furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
Whilst the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.

Dream Fairy

Dream Fairy (Photo credit: Alexandria LaNier)

Come away, O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

 

 

 

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams

The Visit (Loreena McKennitt album)

The Visit (Loreena McKennitt album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Come away, O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

 

 

 

 

Away with us he’s going
The solemn-eyed
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.

For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

Sunday Morning, Praise the Dawning

My morning has been spent catching up on stuff.  I don’t feel like being any more specific than that because it’s Sunday morning and Sundays are made for being vague and brain-dead.  It’s a new rule I made up just now.  My best rules are spur of the moment nonsense meant to rationalize whatever I’m up to.  Or not up to.  So feel free to borrow them, break them, forget them, or adhere to them strictly.  I’m pretty open on that.

Yesterday morning I drove W to the airport (five o’clock in the morning…here am I…driving out to the airport, wishing I could fly….) (apologies to Leann Rimes and the song Blue). I have discovered that making up my own song lyrics is a great way to stay awake while driving.  But only when there’s no passengers involved in the creative process.

W is off to Ontario once again, this time on a rather sad mission, to wrap up his responsibilities for his brother who left this world quietly on January 3rd.   He fought the good fight, but it was a long and tiring one and I’m sad but thankful he was able to give it up at last. I truly believe he is in a better place now.

We were talking on the way out there about how you get to an age where the people you know and love start leaving this world on a rather regular basis.  I guess we’ve reached that age.  I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring, but I remember whenever I talked to my mom and she’d rhyme off a list of all the people she knew who had passed away recently I’d get annoyed.  I suppose it’s a necessary evil of living so long yourself, but I found it an uncomfortable subject.  Maybe I need to get used to it.  The alternative I suppose is to not be around myself to witness these sad events.

So I’m on my own again for a couple of weeks, and the first thing I did to celebrate that was to blow up the microwave.  There is something about me and microwaves that defies compatibility.  I really thought this one was a keeper, but there you go.  It did last longer than its predecessors so that’s something.  Although not much to brag about I suppose.

There are still things to be grateful for, although having to buy yet another appliance of indeterminate life span is maybe not one of them.  The weather is mild, it is gently snowing, the house is warm and quiet.  My neighbor is shovelling our driveway.  How incredibly thoughtful and kind that is.  This insane cold bug I caught days and days ago seems to finally be loosening its grip on me.  I must say I will miss the sexy deep singing voice that came with it, but not the breathy nasal part or the part where I cough up my lungs between verses.

Here’s a Sunday morning song and a virtual drive in the snow.  I don’t really get the lyrics to this one, but then nobody really gets mine either.  So, watch out, the world’s behind you.  Maybe that means nothing at all.

Sunday morning
praise the dawning
It’s just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning
Sunday morning
It’s just the wasted years so close behind
Watch out the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all

Sunday morning
And I’m falling
I’ve got a feeling I don’t want to know
Early dawning
Sunday morning
It’s all the streets you crossed, not so long ago
Watch out the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all

Pictures From Moms Kitchen (Part One)

The end of our wedding day, in moms kitchen doorway.

Finding a few favourite pictures taken in moms kitchen has turned into a treasure chest of memories.  We spent a lot of time there whenever we went to visit the farm.  It’s a place we didn’t appreciate enough when we were growing up, and then a place we could hardly wait to return to after we moved away.  It was where our family (which grew) sat down to eat the best meals ever.  It was all about us, until it became all about our kids.

Our baby daughter with my brothers oldest son.

Only at grandmas could you get away with crawling around on top of the kitchen table.
The kitchen wall paper was faux brick for a lot of years.  I think my love of red and orange must have come from my mother’s side of the family.  It was a strange old house – on the other side of this window was the built on “back kitchen” where mom put the old blue cupboards after she got new ones, and all kinds of old tables and cabinets and chairs that were almost worn out.  You never threw anything away until it was completely worn out.  It got shuffled off to the back kitchen where it could sit for years, waiting for that to happen to it.

My daughter, my brother, his boys.

I love the look on my brothers face – he was a man who loved his sons.  I don’t think it was ever a difficult thing for them to love him back.

The back-splash of orange flowers I remember  vividly.  Because it was vivid.  That space between the top of the cupboards and the ceiling was always covered in a hodge podge display of things that weren’t useful but were just too nice to throw away.  Gifts from well-meaning people and antiques belonging to grandma.  There were ceramic roosters on the other side.  I don’t need a picture to remember those.  Sometimes on a visit we’d climb up there for mom and wash and dust everything and check out the names on the bottom of things.  Grandma was great for writing the names of her relatives on adhesive or masking tape and sticking them on things she thought they might like to have after she was gone.  It’s a great system – certainly easier than writing it all down on paper.  Mom carried on that tradition.  My own cupboards go right up to the ceiling with no space on which to put things.  There are some traditions that aren’t that hard to give up.

Little sister, grandma and W, with nephew Andy bottom left: Christmas dinner circa 1974

I can tell it’s Christmas because of the plastic holly and the tree shaped candle.  But every meal at moms was like a Christmas feast.  Small people were supposed to sit on the bench on the far side of the table, but obviously on this day we got a little mixed up. Funny, no matter how many people showed up to eat, there was always room at the table, and  left overs for later.  It was a magical place.

Brother of Mine

It snowed last year too:  I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I
knocked my brother down and then we had tea.  ~Dylan Thomas

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know
each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private
family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We
live outside the touch of time.  ~Clara Ortega

The day my brother died (really, was it only yesterday?) the phone call woke me up.  I had been expecting it for days and days but still it felt like the extension of some strange unhappy dream.  Those are the saddest words you’ll ever hear, but if you mix them up with a blessing and a relief they lose some of their edge. He was nothing if not strong, and he fought the good fight.  I went to the living room where W was reading the paper and told him.  My brother passed away this morning.  I’m going to cook some bacon.

Of course those two things don’t have anything at all to do with each other.  And even to myself as I said them they sounded like words stating random facts,  coming from a person who didn’t care.  But there were five kids in my house for the Thanksgiving weekend, and I’d promised them the night before that I’d make them bacon and eggs for breakfast.   After all, life does go on.  If you don’t think too hard about it, you can get yourself through just about anything.

I talked to my son, and I talked to my daughter.  Are you okay? they wanted to know.  Of course, don’t worry, I’m fine, I told them.  Don’t worry about me, I’m sad but I’ll be fine.

So no crying through breakfast, or the dishes, or the packing up, or the three cups of coffee, the last-minute hair cuts (I also promised Omayja bangs) and not even any tears when they all trooped out of the house and drove away.  Then there was just one granddaughter left for a couple more hours, not in any hurry to go home.  We did a few things, looked at some old photographs, ate some lunch.  I made travel plans, called work, got mad at W for saying something stupid, although now I don’t remember what it was except for my words being the result of all those pushed down feelings bouncing to the surface.

I kept it together until he left to drive Kenzie home, and then the dam burst.  This is the totally useless thing I do.  It all comes out when I’m alone because I don’t want anybody else to feel bad or feel sorry for me, or for all I know, even suspect that I have any feelings at all.

Finally, finally – when it matters the least,  the guilt and the remorse hit hard.  I wasn’t there for my brother or his wife and family or my siblings when they could have used my support, and without a tremendous amount of prodding I might not even have sent that last e-mail or made that final phone call before it was too late, because this is also what I do.  I go out of my way to avoid the unpleasant things in life.  Stuff it all away somewhere, let other people deal with it, turn my back, write a bunch of meaningless shit about it later.

My brother and I weren’t as close as we might have been all these years. We lived far away, we grew apart, there’s a million things we didn’t know about each other.  But we still share a long history and a lot of family, and there always was an unconditional sibling love. That never stopped, and it won’t stop now.

He was my brother. I did love him, and I will miss him. I should have told him both those things a lot more times.  Maybe he was smart enough to get it after hearing it from me only once or twice.  And I somehow think my stupid bacon comment might have given him a laugh.

We’ll be with the family for the next five days to celebrate my brother’s life.  Somehow I would like to find the strength to give back to them as much comfort as I know they’ll give to me.

How Far We’ve Traveled

Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of
long ago – the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider…. It doesn’t
seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.

(~Jane Mersky Leder)

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories
to the inevitable dusk.

( ~Susan Scarf Merrell)

My Baby Face

Long ago my mother had a camera without a flash.  She was always moving people into the bright sunshine to snap a picture.  There is nothing on my brothers face here except a big dollop of extremely bright light.  Some spots are over exposed and some are left in the shadows.

Mom always told me I was a very content and happy baby.  I liked to eat and sleep and laugh.  Not much has changed, really. But this picture is proof that even the happiest baby can raise a little hell.  Man, what a face.