Now here is a woman that gave me the very foundation of my life. (Don’t they all?) I’ve spent the better part of seven years researching her family tree, and my father’s family tree, on ancestry.ca. She didn’t know her parents; I didn’t know my father’s family. We felt like lost souls together.
She was also the inspiration for a couple of poems.
Treading Shallow Water
I’ve often wished to be quite young again,
To view most things the way a child would see
His life, through eyes whose years were only three,
When all seemed simple, warm, not yet insane.
I’d sit inside my home and watch the rain
Come dripping through the leaves upon the tree,
And know that, on my Mother’s aproned knee,
The world was soft, secure, and free from pain.
But all too soon I ‘wakened from my dreams,
When harsh realities broke down the door,
As tears began to flow in heated streams,
Which quickly swept my feet from off the floor,
And flooded out my steadfast, thoughtful schemes,
By rusting through the iron suit I wore.
Lonely Times Past
Most times in my life I’ve looked to the past,
Although there’ll be better days ahead;
Right now all things seem better left unsaid,
Yet I’ve had my doubts whether I can last.
Just the other day, all the time slipped past
Ev’ry good intention I had meant instead,
As if my new words must be left unread
Now that events seem to happen so fast.
Today, the one day I live at a time,
Has had more meaning for me with my life
Of new experiences, so unknown.
Reminds me of the time I tried to climb
Poplar trees growing near the House of Fife:
Especially of feeling so alone.
These two poems were part of a series I wrote in 1975, the year I separated from my first wife, Judi, and my son, Derek. I think I was trying to recapture my childhood sense of family, even though that was fragmented even then.
Treading Shallow Water is a memory from my childhood before the age of 5, which is when my mom remarried. She was my security in the world, my buffer from the slings and arrows of later life. I have one particular multi-sensual memory which still takes me back clearly to that time before everything changed: she had a (hand-me-down) mink coat which I used to love snuggling into whenever she wore it. The fur was soft, the smell was clear; the vision of it is so locked into my memory bank that I can even recall the buttons on it. If I want to revisit the past, all I need to do is conjure up that image.
Lonely Times Past is actually a poem about the present, with flashbacks to a very traumatic incident in my youth. There were poplar trees all through Windermere, including the ones running along-side the Windermere House Garage. For purposes of the rhyme in this poem, I reference Fife House which was across the road from Windermere House, but the trees were actually the ones at the side of the manse property. I think one of our many cats, Patrick McCindy, (or it could have been Leonard, I’m not entirely sure now) got himself caught up one of the trees and meowed piteously to be rescued. Well, I attempted the rescue on my own, and discovered why poplar trees aren’t popular for climbing. After my failed attempt, Mom said, “Just leave him there, he’ll come down when he’s ready or when he gets hungry.” There is nothing more soul-destroying than thinking you can do something, trying to, and then failing. And, adding insult to injury, being told that you needn’t have bothered in the first place.
The acrostic for this poem was Mom’s name at that time. It was later that she discovered that her birth name was actually Edith Bryson.
She left this world in May 2003, after turning 80 the previous January. She spent the last 30 years of her life on a spiritual quest, and she has been my inspiration to do the same. I still think about her (as one does), and I think she still thinks about me. Bless.