The river flows (haibun)

Patient river flows

Rich and fertile

Ever slowly

After reading a chapter from a friend’s book on her years of trying to have a child filled with losses, disappointments, frustrations, self-denigration to a miracle, I was inspired to go over my own journey. Of course I did not suffer like so many women have and do to have a family but I do remember my personal hopes and desires to become a mom…

Motherhood

God’s gift to humanity

Perfect miracle

I remember when I felt ready to start a family. We had married young. I was a 19 year old bride, having married my teenage sweetheart I had met at 15. He was just 21. Our marriage started on rocky grounds but when the paths seemed smoother, I felt ready. I still don’t know why I changed my mind since going back to university to get my degree had always been on my mind but my body was begging for something different. And why not, I thought to myself. Most of my friends were just getting out of university and starting their careers but my new friends I made had started from the age of 18 to 24 years old. So I guess there was no right or wrong here but what suited each person…in a unique way. For me, my biological clock was ticking, oh so early, and yet, it was blocking the sounds of logic and long lost career dreams. I could become a teacher or counsellor later, that’s all. What did I have to complain about? At 22 I was working for the CEOs of a multi-million dollar steel company? People dreamed to get so far at a much older age…and so my journey began.

The first two years, I blamed my inability to conceive to those damn contraceptive pills. They were so damn strong in the ‘70’s! Women were such guinea pigs in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s on so many levels. And we continued to hand over our bodies and minds (how my mother was exploited with her mind and stuffed with valium). In those days, most doctors did not listen to women but they shut them up with pills.

After over a year I started getting hormone shots. The doctor never explained how this might affect my moods…you did not dare ask too many questions then either…and so I endured the shots and discomfort it gave me in my thigh and my legs. After several rounds of shots and multiple “negative” pregnancy tests, I was almost ready to give up.

Let’s step back a moment to talk about those tests. There were not any home pregnancy tests then…at least I was not aware of it and I would go to the same pharmacy because monsieur Lasalle had such a sympathetic face when he would come back to whisper to me discreetly with a sympathetic look on his face, tilting his head to the side, “C’est négatif, chère madame.”

The first few times, I was disappointed but since this Pharmacie was in the town where I worked, I was able to busy myself in my work.

Another year went by and I could not understand what was going on. Everyone was telling me that I thought about it too much. Some would laugh about it. One of my good friends who also happened to be my friend and HR manager at work told me her story. She had tried to conceive for 10 years and finally she and her husband gave up and planned a trip to Western Canada. When she returned she was pregnant. Moral of that story, according to every friggin busybody who pissed me off was that you just have to relax and stop worrying. I was so angry that everyone was blaming my mind and worry nature (GAD was not a term anyone used at that time) for not conceiving. My mind, apparently, was controlling my body, my ovaries, my womb. Fine! I was getting frustrated. When I would see a woman who was pregnant walking on the street, I started crossing the street to not cross paths with this fertile queen. It made me feel so sorry for myself. I was a mess.

Then I heard from our local CLSC (Local Service Community Clinic) that some women were using the Billing’s Method as a natural contraceptive. Hmmm, that might be interesting to take my temperature every morning to see when I DO ovulate. So when most women knew, “tonight is too dangerous”, my motto had begun, “Tonight is the night!” I still do not understand why the first doctor I saw never suggested I do this to understand my cycle. I had never been regular…it was always 35 to 56 to 65 to 90 days between cycles. I was quite ignorant but slowly began to take things in my own hands to get to know my body better. Lord only knows my maternal GrandMaman who was midwife tried to explain to me how to examine myself to see the difference when I was ovulating but I just did not get it.

Within six months I learned that I always ovulated between 14 to 18 days from the first day of my periods. Well, now, there is something consistent here. I also learned to see how the lines on this temperature graph would stay up and steady for severe days and weeks (sometimes) and then dip suddenly when I started my period. Alrighty now, there is a plan of action on my part here. I felt a bit more in control. I knew when was the most optimal time to conceive!

A year and a half passed with no success. My husband refused to even discuss adoption so I finally decided to go to a fertility clinic. It was interesting to see the people waiting in the waiting room. Everyone seemed so quiet and even a bit self-conscious or perhaps I was projecting my own feelings of inadequacy. I was only 27 but already felt a decade older. That year, I decided to go back to school and took two courses in English literature just to see if I was smart enough to pursue further studies for a degree.

The doctor suggested my husband take the first test since it the most least invasive…just spilling his seeds in a jar seemed quite harmless compared to the poking and prodding women went through. He felt embarrassed but for once, I was sort of happy that he was finally participating in this chapter of our lives. We learned that his sperm count was slow and low, whatever the heck that means. Yet, they said it was not a reason for my not conceiving after I had shown the doctor my ovulating graph.

The doctor examined me from head to toe and when he noticed I had colostrum leaking quite easily from my breasts when he squeezed them a little, he had me hospitalized a few weeks later. Two whole weeks of resident doctors wanting to probe me, squeeze my breasts and then murmur to the side with serious looks on their faces. I was a wreck by the end of the first week and lost 10 pounds. My roommate told me I was allowed to refused to be touched by these doctors since their teacher had already performed several examinations in front of them. So the next time one doctor came up to me to squeeze my breasts, I said NO. He asked, “How are we to learn since this is a teaching hospital?” I still did not budge and simply responded, “You were there when Dr…..performed an examination yesterday. Have you forgotten already?!” I was sore and tired of feeling like a lab rat.

I still did not quite understand why so much blood was taken out of me daily and one day over twenty times in a special unit where there was another girl next to me. I told her excitedly, “I’m here to pass test to get pregnant!” When I asked her why she was here as she seemed so young, I was shocked and confused. “Oh, they’re checking to see about a tumour on my brain.” My mouth dropped…I was passing the exact same tests!

Apparently my doctor felt this must be checked before any further fertility procedures since he felt my pituitary gland was overactive, hence the colostrum easily leaking form my breasts. It took several weeks to get the results but all was well, the doctor announced and I would be going for the real “tests” after the Christmas holidays.

That summer we had planned our first trip abroad. We had never taken an airplane or gone any further than road trips to the Maritimes and New England states. My husband wanted to visit Germany and Austria but I wanted to visit my roots…England, Scotland and Wales where my paternal grandfather was born and gee, wouldn’t it be nice if we conceived in the UK? Okay, it was obviously still on my mind.

What a perfect trip to take since I had finally gone back to school and taking Introduction to English Literature at Concordia University. I had to know first if I passed this course if I was smart enough or college material still at my age.

On our trip we visited Lake District and William Wordsworth’s cottage, Shakespeare’s house and so many places where famous writers and poets had lived.

We also became closer to one couple on our tour that came from Montreal. They were about our parents’ age and they suggested we purchase a home now before the prices go up even more. And so upon our return from this trip, we decided to purchase a home that would be ready the following summer. Since we were both working, it was time to do something with our lives besides trying to have a. baby. And if I did get pregnant, we would be ready with a home.

The holidays passed and no news from the hospital yet. There was a long waiting list. I was still taking my temperature every day, just in case. This time I wanted to save the money for useless pregnancy tests. If the graph showed differently only then, would I take an other test. My neighbour downstairs was four months pregnant and she told me she thought I was as well. She kept saying my eyes were different and so sparkly. I really didn’t want to believe this and be disappointed with a negative test again. She promised to come with me and so the following morning we did go…the pharmacist comes over to me saying the test was “Positif”. I could not believe it! I asked him to repeat it and then asked him to write it on my receipt…POSITIF so I could show this to my husband.

I was so excited that my hands and legs were shaking so much, I could not drive yet so for several long minutes, my friend and I were giggling like silly teenage girls in the car and waited for my shaking to stop. I will never forget that moment…EVER. Just like I will not forget the morning we were in our new home and the basement was flooding and my husband was so irritated. But I had a big goofy smile…it was June 1978 and I felt the movement of my baby bouncing around inside my womb. I could feel life inside of me!

After seven years of marriage, the seventh grandchild in the family, our beautiful eight pound baby boy was born.

The universe smiles

Bonding with her bundle of joy

Blue eyed treasure

© Tournesol ‘19/02/23

summoning reverie ~ troibun Daily Moments Dec 1, 2018



message 
in my dream 
alerting me 
 
message 
urgency 
life and death 

in my dream 
you slept next to me 
then awakened me 
 
alerting me 
over and over again 
then I knew 
 

November 30th, 2014 I dreamed the same dream three times.  It was scary but you were there with me in my bed, trying to save a child from death.  

I forced myself awake for it scared me so…then slipped back into slumber and the same scene appeared two more times. And so, at four in the morning, on December 1st, I waited until dawn to call the nursing home.  I knew there had to be something wrong…no one had warned me. Not one relative had called me but I knew because you came to me and I knew you wanted me by your side. 

The nurse at the nursing home said softly “Come quick, she does not have much longer.”  The taxi took so long to get there or maybe I just wished he could have gone over the speed limit.  But an hour later, I was by your side all day and  all night until passed midnight…you raised your head slightly and turned towards me, taking your last breath.  


Blessed I am 
you could not speak 
you found a way 
 
blessed I am 
to be  
by your side 
 
you could not speak 
but acted out your plea 
in my sleep 
 
you found a way 
with the grace of God 
to summon me.   
 
© Tournesol ‘18-12-01 

Daily Moments December 1 2018  Summoning reveries   Troibun

Visitation  ( haibun ) 

 It was late one night in December 2014.  Christmas was a few weeks away.  She turned off the sounds of Christmas carols since it felt blasphemy to hear lyrics of “comfort and joy”.   She streamed movies to escape her thoughts when writing was too painful. But in the wee hours of the morning, she would lower the sound so her neighbours could sleep through the night.  “Lucky them,”she often thought.  How she wished she could turn off her brain and sleep.  What a world would be for her to fill her mind with “nothingness”.   

She sat in her lazyboy looking out the window at the snow falling.  Each snowflake different from the other.  How amazing is that? she wondered.  And then she heard her coffee maker making spits and spats.  It was three in the morning.  What the heck is going on? 

She got up and unplugged her coffee maker and said aloud, “Okay, Mom, that was weird.  How the heck did you do that?”   She sat in the old antique chair in the kitchen and felt a presence…her presence.  A cool breeze was blowing her way and she closed her eyes and thought in her mind, “It’s okay, Mom, I’m not scared.  How I miss your hugs!” Tears streaming down her cheeks she felt a coldness pass through her entire body slowly.  How amazing is that?!  Her mother was able to communicate her unconditional love to her even from the afterlife.  Was it her spirit?  Was it her phantom?  Whatever it was, it appeased her knowing her mother was still sticking around for her before travelling in other mysterious spheres.   

breathing
frigid air through her chest
touched by an angel

(c) Tournesol’18-11-03

Her mother passed December 2nd, 2014

Bodily functions (SoCS)

A chat about bodily functions is our prompt today at Linda Hill’s SoCS, which brought to mind a funny story.  When my daughter was pregnant in 2004, I was starting menopause.  We would go shopping together and suddenly she would let out gas and then move aisle very quickly whispering to me why. We would giggle because I was starting the same problem.  So here we were at both ends of the spectrum of womanhood, farting away at our leisure and not caring at all.  Is fart a bad word, by the way?  I am part French, so we are bit more open about our language and translated in English may sound rude, so I apologize if that is not easy to read.

On to another memory with my daughter again seeing her singing in The South Shore Children’s Chorus.  The choir would sing songs from Les Miserable and they sounded so beautiful that I could not hold back my tears.  At the end of the show, she came up to me, tight lipped and squinting eyes, asking why I was crying!  I tried to explain to her that when Mommy is overwhelmed with beauty, I am moved to tears.  Well! this 10-year-old was having nothing of it.  On future presentations, I sat further away so she would not see me weep of joy.  What can I say?  I cry when I am happy, moved, tired of pain and sad.

Now lastly, since I have been struggling so much over the years and even more so in the past two years, my joint pain is something I dream of finding relief EVEN if it were for once a week. Once a week not having the pain wake me up when I roll over. Once a week when I get up, I don’t feel knives jabbing in my knees.  For over thirty years I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of my neck along with Fibromyalgia. Finally, I found a rheumatologist who found I had rheumatism on my collar bones (hence why my shoulders hurt so much and is not because I type too much), a mix of osteoarthritis, arthritis and rheumatism made me sigh with relief because those conditions are considered more real than Fibromyalgia (in society and the medical field).   The sad part is my GP does not want to treat me, just suggests I retire which has no way of making my body feel better and I am waiting for a new rheumatologist since the other one moved.

But, on a good note, I am hopeful.  Last May I went to Vancouver, BC. where cannabis is sold in many shops and purchased a jar of MJ cream to see if that might relieve the pain. It did nothing but  a tiny tingle on my neck, nothing on my knees or shoulders.   So, when I came back to Montreal, I asked my GP if she would consider giving me a prescription for cannabis.  That was June 20th and I only received a response from one dispensary in response to my request for membership along with my doctor’s prescription.  They certainly took their time.  But I want to try different things to find some relief. When I say try something, I certainly am not interested in the THC high however I realize in some of the teas or creams have to have a little bit.  Well, we shall see when I drop by sometime this week to check out Club Compassion.  Wish me luck!

(c) Cheryl-Lynn Roberts

 

Written for the Friday Prompt for Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness.

Dear Emma, and a Cherita

Dear Emma,

When I was a child, I remember picking up my bellbottom pants at the dressmaker one time. In the early 60’s I could not find any kind of long pants or jeans that were long enough and slim enough. In those days, Marilyn Monroe was the fashionable shape. Although Twiggy was slowly becoming a trend, in my part of the world, it was still more common for women to be shorter and curvier. Alas, I was pretty much a straight line more like Olive Oil at between twelve and fourteen.

Another client was just leaving the dressmaker as I was entering and she asked me how my mother and grandmother were doing. Of course, I shared the latest updates on my newly divorced mother and lifesaver grandmother who had taken us in not realizing I may have been a bit too open. Being naïve, then, was just assuming that people always inquired about you because they cared.

I remember trying on the charcoal grey bellbottoms and was so excited they fit like a glove and were long enough to wear with a boot or higher healed show. That was the beauty of tailor made clothes. Fortunately, her fees were very reasonable and in fact, less expensive than going to a designer shop to purchase clothes.

As I was leaving, the dressmaker looked at me seriously and said, “You must be careful. You are such an open book and you never know the true intentions of people when inquiring about you and your family.” I could tell she was concerned for me and I always tried to remember her wise words, but still, it is still difficult for me to think anyone would want to hurt me intentionally. And so years went by and I learned the hard way. I find learning through life experience teaches more, don’t you? What have you learned better through experience rather than through teachings of another person?

( a cherita)

a child runs freely through the woods

Stumbling on hidden roots and branches
Scraping arms and knees along the way

Fastforward several decades
Walking through the woods, listening to the birds singing
Leaves rustling, she leans on her walking stick

© Cheryl-Lynn ‘18/09/06

Daily Moments with Emma – August 9th, 2018

mile high ride (haibun)

Sitting in the back of the plane, they held tight during take off. As soon as the light went on to unbuckle the seat-belt, they both lit up their Mark Ten cigarettes. It was 1977 and people could still smoke in the back rows of a plane in those days.

It was their first trip overseas. Heck, it was their first time in a plane. They had booked a tour of England, Scotland and Wales for two weeks. The wife’s ulterior motive was to conceive their first child in the UK, the birthplace of her paternal grandparents.

After a few hours, the plane felt like it was going over pot holes on Quebec roads. The couple were scared and did not realize that turbulence can do that but does not mean there was any danger. The woman seated next to them on the aisle tried to reassure the couple who looked out the window with doe eyes. One could not mistake it was their very trip in the air.

By the time they arrived at Heathrow Airport, they were so relieved they had landed! They still had to take the train into London, then a taxi to their hotel. They were staying at the Green Park Hotel just across the park that brings you to Buckingham Palace. But they didn’t know that yet.

They looked like typical tourists walking on the streets of London, hesitating crossing the the street, not knowing which side to look in their matching bright yellow and green hoodies.

Cotton candy ride
Bumper cars, roller-coasters
Crossing overseas

© Tournesol ‘18/09/06

Daily Moments July 28 2018 Ebony hair [haibun]

 

Image may contain: flower, plant and nature
(c) Clr ’18

Daily Moments ebony hair Haibun

She passes flowers that remind her of a dear friend. Her friend’s family home used to be next door and tall flowers surrounded their swimming pool. She takes a few steps back to admire the flowers in this stranger’s garden, reminiscing of the happiest times when her children were little.

She notices a daisy set apart from the other lilac petals. Hmmm, she thought. “Daisies are my favourite flowers. I wonder if this is a sign that my friend is also thinking of me today.” That thought puts a smile on her face.

Continuing on her way to work, she keeps this reverie in her mind’s eye. She can hear the giggles, splashing and see herself sitting on the patio with her friend with a cuppa and a ciggie. Good times…good times.

Delicate petals
Bring her back in time
When her friend was here

Delicate petals
Around the swimming pool
Getting splashed

delicate petals
Children diving and giggling
Her friend was still here

Pale fragile petals
Contrast her ebony hair
Her friend’s warm smile

© Tournesol ’18/07/28

Daily Moments – ebony hair (senryu)

Dear Emma IV – BC to Seattle by bus (Haibun)

June 1st ALREADY!!

 

After a delicious veggie skillet breakfast at the Pacific Inn (oh la la, what a place!) I went outside to wait for my bus. This is the last stop the bus makes before crossing the US border which is 2 minutes away.

The driver asked the commuters, “Okay, this is my last time asking this. Do you have any fruits, vegetables or any fooooood!” He emphasized on the “food” part, I wondered about my delicious aged cheddar in my suitcase with crackers. Oh, dear!! What to do?! I did not want to throw it away since I had not even opened the packages. I saved it for moments in the hotel room at the Bellevue Hilton and if I got the munchies (which I always do at night), I would have this. Time is awaiting, I pondered and did not speak up. What the heck, it is no big deal, right?

As we approached the border and got off the bus, the driver told us we had to see the Agriculture inspector and they would X-ray our luggage. “Oh dear!!” I wondered if they could prevent me from going on my trip since they will surely see on X-ray my munchies!! What to do?!!

Everyone’s luggage was unloaded and we each had to enter the customs office one by one with our little piece of paper declaring we did not have anything dangerous or any food!!!! No seeds, especially not any Ginseng…according to the driver, we have to have a permit to carry Ginseng across the border. Really?! Wow!! Good thing I did not have my MJ Pain cream on me eh? Well, I knew I could not have that but I did not think that cheese and crackers were a big deal.

About 10 people were ahead of me. I kept contemplating. I cannot tell a lie without looking guilty and turning red with lips quivering. Oh dear!! I pass to see the first officer or agent, whatever their title is, they are BIG and IMPORTANT when one must cross the border! He certainly did not smile [I wonder if they practice looking bored and mean]…

Officer: Where are you going?

Me: Seattle, staying at Hilton Bellevue, Bellevue, Wa.

Officer: What is the purpose of your visit?

Me: Going on a retreat.

Officer: What kind of retreat?

I was thinking I should not make any jokes about it being a seniors’ nudist retreat. Perhaps that is not a very good idea. I was thinking of asking Amma for guidance but certainly asking her to protect me if I LIE!! was out of the question!

Me: Um…my guru from India is visiting Seattle this weekend.

Officer: [grunts, lowers his head]. Okay…(he hands me back my passport)

I am sort of relieved but I still had to get past the agriculture inspector

Me: [I can’t take this any longer! I am coming clean!] I do have crackers and cheese in my luggage.

Agri. Female
Agent: That’s just fine, and what a perfect snack on your ride over to Seattle

Me: [sigh of relief…it does pay to be honest…I can’t help smiling.]

I was standing outside the bus waiting for the other commuters to get on and chatted with this gentleman who is from Seattle and was visiting his mother in Richmond, B.C. We got to talking about housing and how the market has really gone up in places like Toronto. I told him my friend in Mississauga was asking $325,000 for her townhouse and she got $625,000 instead. It was a bidding war out there. I sort of wished I had sold my condo in Toronto later before moving back to Montreal. He asks me, “Why would anyone want to move back to Montreal?” I was not too sure how to answer for it was difficult to know what his unspoken reasoning was. I just said, I am from Quebec, born and raised. He said, “But it’s sooooo cold there”. I had not thought of mentioning that today it was 28C in Montreal and it was 14 here in White Rock and Seattle. However, I knew he was referring to our winters. I could tell how we are used to cooler weather as there were several people walking along the beach path I walked this week with ski jackets, whereas I had my sweater wrapped around my waist walking along in my short sleeved shirt.

Okay, now we have boarded the bus and it only delayed us 30 minutes. Hmmm, I must factor that in the next time I travel. We may whine when we go through customs but I sure feel safer knowing security checks all our luggage though.

 

Two hours later, we had arrived in Seattle and the skies were slowly clearing up. I took a Lyft to the hotel and chilled all afternoon in my King Size bed. I really did not want to walk too much today but, for some reason, I thought we were at the same hotel as last year but I circling the hotel and could not recognize any streets.

I finally checked Cheesecake Factory on Google Map and was surprised and disappointed that it was 2 km away…Oh well, up the hill I went and finally turning onto another street, I recognized where I was. I got accosted by a vegan extremist for a few minutes but finally got in the restaurant.

There were more than a dozen patrons waiting in line to get a table. I asked the Maître D if there was too long a wait…nope, not if I am alone and I only waited fifteen minutes. I love travelling alone! I was seated at almost 9 PM.

My intention was to have a salad then gorge into a savoury cheesecake but the Thai coconut chicken looked so good and I did not have dessert but I did have bread. I think I appreciate it more when I hardly eat it. It was getting too dark to walk all the way back so I called Lyft and the ride only cost $3.00. On Google Map the rates are listed for both Uber and Lyft and Uber is a lot more expensive. Interesting!

Being honest
Always pays – and,
Lowers blood pressure

(C) Tournesol ‘18/06/01. Daily Moments

Dear Emma, May 21/18 ( haibun)

(c) clr’18

Dear Emma,

I finally got off my fanny and went out to do a few errands today. After three days of resting, icing several parts of my body, it was time to move or else it will be worse for me. I found 5 fun exercises to strengthen my calves, knees and thighs. I did a few today but have to check that video since I don’t know them by heart yet.

I walked to my pharmacie first but when I approached and noticed not ONE car in the parking lot, I realized that it is a holiday today. But of course [she slips her forehead with her hand] it is la Fete des Patriotes or for outside of Quebec it is May 24 or Victoria weekend. Regardless on what you want to call it, it is the first long weekend where many people drive out to cottage country. Some go camping and I remember in Toronto there were amazing fireworks but there are none here in Quebec. Since Quebec changed the name of the holiday to Patriots Day, you would think they could celebrate that at least…but what do I know.

I decided to walk over to Super C which is a much cheaper grocery store than Metro and picked up more than a few things since they are finally getting a good selection of organic food as well as gluten free products as about 30% cheaper than Metro. So I will walk that extra 1 km for sure now. I had to stop piling things in my basket figuring. How much would fit in my 2 bags and backpack.

Walking a bit slower back, I stopped in front of Mikes Restaurant thinking they would be closing soon as in the winter they often closed at 8pm due to lack of customers. Well, to my delight it is busy and so here I am typing a little message to Emma, sipping my Belgian Moon and waiting for my seafood poutine! Okay, so it is not too healthy but it IS gluten free [she chuckles to herself].

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my podiatrist for my achy toe and feet, then off downtown Montreal to my first appointment with a new chiropractor. I am told she has a holistic approach and I am praying she can treat me for my knees and perhaps my shoulders and neck too. Anything is better than what my GP is doing …which is nothing.

Gotta go now and finish my savoury dinner. Thanks for listening, Emma

twilight dinner
savouring seafood delights
sipping Belgian Moon

(c) Tournesol’ ‘18/05/21

P S for you newbies who do not know who Emma is, she is my personal journal I have been writing to for the past five years on another blog.