Saturday, February 07, 2009

In Reflection

Well, I was about to go to bed. I have spent the evening on the phone and reading my favourite blogs - vegging after a day at the farmer's market. But then as I secured the door, I noticed that I had neglected to put my chickens to bed. And of course, once I set my foot out the door, the baa-ing began in the sheep pen and I had to stop by to give a chin scratch or two. Valley bottom cloud is briefly banished and the moon is bright tonight - on its way to being full. The bare black locust, maple and linden trees are casting their moonshadows on the snow. And the beauty of it all revived me and I thought I might was well not put this post off any longer.

I have been processing my grandfather's death. Full of thoughts of him and at times deeply berieved. I went to his memorial service in Nanaimo (for photos see here). In the end, Erin, Kaetlyn, Drew and Rhiannon all wanted to come so we packed up the van and headed South. It was a very fast trip. We left Thursday after skiing. Thank God for Erin because I was hard hit by the flu and basically flopped into the back seat and dozed in and out all the way there as she drove. There were some dicey moments by 'The Summit' (formerly known as the toll booths) where the roads were greasy with slushy snow at which point I felt compelled to sit up and tell her how to drive (which she tolerated fairly well - better than I would have). We arrived at my brother Doug's at 10:30pm. (Oh, yah, Laura, that is what else I was going to say... quit calling my little brother dough!) Upon opening the door,small, pale blonde children hurtled down the stairs and threw themselves at me.... I love being an aunt!

The next morning we raced to the ferry in classic Clarke style following Doug's van and barely made it on. On the ferry, we first found my cousin Eugene and two of his 7 children. Although he was like a big brother to me growing up (both protective and annoying), it had been a very long time since I had seen him. And then we spotted my grandpa's younger brother, also on the ferry and before long, my sister Laura turned up.

I thought my grandpa's service was wonderful. It was at the Unitarian church in Nanaimo. All but two of his grandchildren and many of his great-grandchildren were there. I managed to get up to speak during the 'open mic' segment. I have never really had a problem with public speaking but to get up and speak about my grandpa was more emotional than I had anticipated. It didn't quite come out as poetic as I prepared in my journal but I managed to get out my main point - which was to acknowledge his unconditional love and acceptance. Erin sang "Imagine" with my brother. Hearing the emotion in my brother's voice brought tears to my eyes.

I am very glad I went It has been interesting processing all of that since I've been home. I know I have been lucky to have had my grandpa for 43 years. And I remember how he always encouraged my creativity. And his own discipline is an example to me and his courage in putting his own creativity out there. I have brought some momentos of him into my 'studio' to encourage me.

My grandma Clarke (my paternal grandmother) died 5 years ago. She lived with us for most of my teen age years in Terrace and before that we lived in the same town and she gave me my first job. She helped pay for me to go to University. But when she died, she hadn't been speaking to me for 15 years. Yet when she died, I felt a huge release. I knew that she now understood everything between us perfectly. And I often feel her around me. She is there when I am knitting and crocheting (which she taught me to do and would fix my mistakes and decipher patterns for me). And she is with me in my crafting and bread making and food preserving. She loved all those things, too. I feel like her spirit lingers around her family still and when I need her, she is there. Yet my grandpa (my maternal grandfather) who always maintained contact with me, I don't feel near me. I think he has moved on to whatever is next for his soul. I know he worked very hard in this life to resolve things. I don't feel like there are unsaid words between us. He knew how I felt about him and I know how he feels about me. Listening to the tapes of his stories, particularly the tape "The Wind Is From the South" I am reminded of how well he understood the human psyche in general and his own in particular. He was a man well ahead of his time or perhaps a person who knows themselves so well and accepts and loves themselves is unusual at anytime. I feel certain that his crossing of the veil was a joyful one; a welcome one and his soul has moved on to the next part of his journey. And I feel that odd sensation as I am left with only one grandparent living and my parents' mortality draws closer as well as my own. When my grandmothers were my age they were grandmothers..... they are hard to put into words, these big, epic thoughts and impressions. I am sure that one of the reasons I have been so sick with the flu this week is so I could lay around and contemplate all these things.

As I let my grandpa go and say 'good bye' in my own way - and in many ways - I remember the part of me that is him. He is my inspiration as I strive to find the courage of my creativity. It helps me cut through all my internal 'bs' and get to work. He reminds me that I have a work - a something that only I can contribute. And I grieve that I can't sit down to write a letter and tell him my thoughts on creativity and myself and see what he will say in response. It is all wrapped up...ribbons of thought and emotion that he, himself, would love unravelling.


sheila said...

I'm also feeling weirdly reflective. We were at a funeral a week or so ago, and it was SO sad, but it also made me contemplate my own mortality in ways I hadn't up til then. And now I feel so, err, morbid about this phase of my life. Not in a bad way, but in a very graphic way. Could be all these crappy tooth issues I'm having, too, I guess. Nothing like a little constant pain to remind me of death.

I love that first bit of this post, where you describe the trees and the night. Lovely.

Samantha said...

Although I haven't lost anyone dear lately, I am also feeling weirdly reflective. Could be because I'm processing the loss of a dream... Thank you for sharing your thoughts Andrea. Your posts always draw such emotion, be it laughter, thoughtfulness, sadness.
I love the new changes as well. Very crisp, cool and wintery :-)