So much more than an uncle (haibun)

I was away when my cousin was kind enough to phone me about the sad news but I had to write about it…will add photos when I get back home.

He was a father and a friend, a comforter and a teacher but most of all he was my protector since I was a very young child.

I grew up looking up to this handsome “James Dean” lookalike. I followed him everywhere when I could even when he was with his girlfriends. One winter night, it was a full moon and he decided to go out skating with his new girlfriend on the river behind the house. They both invited me to join them. How naïve I was to follow these two lovers but I did and I loved them both even more for it.

One Father’s Day, my sister and I bought him a necktie. He looked so shy and awkward and all he could say was, “But I’m not your father.” That year my parents had temporarily separated, so what did we know, right? Thinking about that now, it must have been odd for a 17 yr old to be looked up to as a father! Ah, kids!

I remember when I was very young before I went to school, my mother punished me for being rude and impatient with my GrandPapa. I responded to him just like my father used to talk to me when he was impatient. My mother probably knew where this was coming from and wanted me to learn that it was not acceptable. She sent me to my uncle’s bedroom to sit there until she felt I had learned. As I was walking to the bedroom, I still remember seeing my GrandPapa rocking in his chair in the living room and smiling at me. I knew then, he had forgiven me.

I sat on my Uncle Bernie’s bed and cried. I did not like being shut in and of course, I just felt sorry for little old me! My uncle came in and sat on the bed next to me and looked so uncomfortable seeing me cry. He offered me a WHOLE dime to stop crying! Now you have to understand that a dime bought a lot for a child my age! I could get a bag of chips and five gum balls!

I remember watching him from the kitchen at GrandMaman’s when he would be getting ready to go out…probably on a date. He smelled so good of Old Spice! My grandmother and he would argue like mothers sometimes do with their older teenager. He must have been about 19 because GrandPapa had already died. Poor Bernie, having lost his father so young. GrandPapa was the best father and grandfather on the planet…no, really!

I remember when I was still quite young and my uncle had seen me trying to take a cigarette from GrandMaman’s pack. I was only about 6! I know, how bad is that?! I loved the smell of fresh tobacco and especially the scent of pipe tobacco. (Uncle Bernie would add a piece of apple in his tobacco pouch to keep it moist but I think it also gave it that nice aroma too.} Anyway, Bernie, lit a cigarette and blew smoke on a tissue to show me the colour it turned into and warned me that that was what would happen to my lungs if ever I smoked. I knew he was worried for me. Yeah, well I did still smoke eventually for three decades. And every time he saw me as an adult, he would say, “You are still smoking…you know it’s not in style anymore, right?”

I remember his wedding so well. I was 14 years old. I had just become a woman that morning (and you ladies all know what that means). I felt so grown-up that day! Later, when I was 17, his wife, Denise and he asked me to be the baby carrier for their first born, Annie’s christening. I felt so proud. I used to babysit Annie since I lived next door at GrandMaman’s. Aunt Denise would ask me what I wanted to get paid for babysitting and I said, a bottle of Pepsi and BBQ chips was fine with me. I would sleep in Annie’s bedroom next to her crib and I loved being awakened by her smiles and cooing. That was the first time I experienced what it was like to wake up with a beautiful baby.

That same year I got engaged. I know, so young and my family were not too pleased but Uncle Bernie and Aunt Denise bought me my first set of sheets for our engagement that Christmas. I felt I had bonded with my Aunt Denise, that year.

Uncle Bernie walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. I felt so proud having him by my side. My legs kept shaking and he kept whispering to me to calm down. It helped, since I was just fine by the time I got to the altar but my husband was the one who seemed dumbstruck.

That year he taught me how to drive. My husband tired but that always ended in tears since he would get too impatient. Uncle Bernie trusted me and I know I did not drive that well but he gave me the impression I was fine. I finally got my license when I was 20.

One spring day my car stalled on a country road. There were no cell phones then. I remember walking to a house nearby and calling him to tell me what I should do. He came over and got on the wet cold ground and temporarily fixed what was wrong (I still have no clue what it was) and told me to go see his friend who was a mechanic, who had a garage, to have it fixed right away. What did I tell you? He was my protector!

A few years later I moved just a half hour away but I would see him less and less by then…life went on, I guess and he was such a homebody. He welcomed everyone to his home but never accepted my dinner invitations. I understood though. My uncle was the type of person who was always used to giving.

When I would visit with my children, he would tell me to let them be kids and have fun. He had lots of property at his home and he noticed that I worried too much. My kids…well, especially, my son, loved the freedom running around there. And we all loved Aunt Denise’s fudge. We would call her to say we were coming over and she would have the fresh warm fudge ready by the time we got there!

Time went by…life happened all too quickly and I moved six hours away. I was lucky to see him when I came down to see my mother. He always checked up on her to see if she was okay.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the same year my mother was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. It was sad to see him when he visited my mom because he was surely seeing himself slip away eventually.

He passed just before Valentines, early morning on February 13, 2019.

May he rest In peace and tease my mom and all his siblings now. (Jan. 4 1940 – Feb. 13, 2019)

Another petal
How he will be missed
Has fallen

Another star
Twinkling in the sky
His winning smile

Another angel
A welcome committee
For me

© Tournesol 19/02/17

Goodbye Mr. Monk Troibun Daily Moments

I am going to miss this show. I used to watch it when it first came out when I lived in Toronto. At that time, it just felt too weird watching a man who had similar behaviours that one of my colleagues had. Granted, Mr. Monk’s were more exaggerated but I remember how this particular colleague got on the nerves of many of my peers. He was sweet….no, not Mr. Monk, but my colleague but like Mr. Monk he bordered on annoying, brilliant and absolutely frustrating.

So a month ago I started binging on Mr. Monk’s 8 seasons on Netflix. I laughed, cried, connected and warmed up to this guy in so many ways. Last night was my last episode and I am saddened to have had to say goodbye yet, knew it was time. There are just so many more you can add to his situation of chasing the murderer of his wife, Trudy.

I loved that guy and everyone associated with him. It is a great show on detective work and mostly on tolerance and true friendship.

So tonight, I decided to write a blurb to say Goodbye, Mr. Monk, you will be missed.

routines 
obsessive patterns 
dependable 
 
routines 
repetitive 
safety in numbers 
 
obsessive patterns 
annoying rituals 
yet comforting 
 
dependable 
always accountable 
Goodbye Mr. Monk 
 
© tournesol ‘19-02-05

seeking downy comfort (troibun)

Sleep...that is what she seeks, 
sleep ...that is what she needs 
fall into oblivion 
crib of downy comfort 
sleep...that is what she seeks 
sleep...that is what she needs 
finally at the crack of dawn 
just before those early chirps 
eyelids sealing shut... 
 
 
running aimlessly 
breathing heavily 
strangers in the night 
 
running aimlessly 
hear the sounds of heathens 
searching for the light 
 
breathing heavily 
lethal  inhalations 
fill her lungs with sin 
 
strangers in the night 
flee as she awakens 
nightmares now begin 
 

Image may contain: cat


 
waiting patiently 
steady purring heals the soul 
nature, at its best

(c) Tournesol '19/01/25

snow, another four-letter word (Daily Moments January 23. 2019 Haibun )

It is amazing how much literature there is on the lack of sunlight and darkness affects moods and yet there does not seem to be as much on seeing ONLY WHITE F&$&ing snow. The skies are grey today and yet the brightness of the snow still makes her eyes squint and adds to the jackhammer in her head. It is said that January 21st is the most depressing day of the year. How interesting that it may be the most depressing but that does not mean that the following day it has disappeared. No siree, it lags on and on and on and lurks into February and depression infecting each day forward.

Today, she squints as she looks out the window, debating if she should go out to do some errands which would entail, getting dressed (winterizing with coat, boots, scarf, ski mask, snow pants, gloves or mitts and cleats) to the bus stop, waiting in the wind, avoiding cars splashing the slush on sidewalks and repeating the same thing on her return. It is like shampooing one’s hair: shampoo, rinse, repeat.

Fortunately, today it is a balmy –5C so she can lose the snow pants, ski mask and mitts. What a joy! It is snowing today and she stands at the corner feeling her cheeks blush with each kiss.

“Crunch, Crunch” her boots moan as she approaches destination. Taking a deep breath of the fresh air, she feels a shift in her mood and knows that this brief but effective exercise has fired neurotransmitters that are lifting her spirits. She sighs thinking of those who suffer so much especially this time of year and the risks that may entail…

mid-season blues 
like summer draughts bring despair 
in the dead of winter 
 
blindly seeking respite  
from the wrath of depression 
 
treading warily 
on grief’s temptation 
veering such demise 
 
bundling up with courage 
some may make that phone call 
 
hearing in that voice 
caring and supportive 
may give life a chance 
 
© Tournesol ‘19-01-23

pure addictions. Troiku. Daily Moments Jan 19/19

Sitting in her late mother’s rocking recliner, she pets her black cat gently. The silky fir feels  nice to her touch and the more she takes pleasure in stroking her tiny head and slender body she feels her heart beating slower. The loud steady vibrations of the purring is making her smile.

It’s like getting a booster shot of valium,, a third glass of wine or a few tokes of MJ. The lightheaded feeling makes her smile again and she admires that sweet innocence of her one year old cat.

She feels blessed. Her other cat with her hypnotic eyes also comfort her. She is truly a lucky woman.

Soft silkiness
Chasing worries away
Soothing purrs

Soft silkiness
Scent of a newborn
Melting all hearts

Chasing worries away
Effective and addictive
Like a drug

Soothing purrs
Nature’s gift
To mankind

© Tournesol ‘19/01/19 Daily moments pure addictions. Troiku

Dear Emma, (January 17 2019 ~ lucid dreams) Haibun

breastfeeding nightmare
infants waiting in the queue
sucking me dry

Dear Emma,

I called in sick today, on this 17th day of January 2019. Every joint screamed with pain. As I tried to get back to sleep, I said to myself for the first time in 18 and a half years, “I hate my job!” Just saying it to myself was a shock! You see I am the type of person that talks out loud in my mind. When I read, I talk out loud in my mind. That’s why it takes me forever to read but I read a lot so I guess I have gotten over this attribute about me.

Two weeks ago, I had difficult calls during the week of New Year’s two days in a row. Yep, call after call after call after Live Chat I heard about child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, child neglect and suicide, suicide and more suicide. That last Monday was so heavy that on the following Thursday, I did not feel the energy to go to work without throwing up. Yep, all the shit was stuck in my throat and I was afraid to open my mouth.

This past Sunday and Monday were a bit better since it was not the holiday season anymore but still. Last Monday, I ended my shift with a long 2 hour suicide call which was the third suicide call of the shift. I tried to nonchalantly chat but not requesting to debrief. I had my coat and boots on and just skimmed through parts of that call because I was also pleased that I gave something to this caller…hope. Although chatting about it nonchalantly, as if this was just sharing, I know now, was wrong. I should have debriefed privately to help me process how I felt before leaving home for two days off. Two days of allowing the suffering to fester inside of me.

I wished I had benefits to process this therapeutically with a professional but anyone over 65 is cut off from this support. Another bad employer policy…not supporting the hand that feeds the service.

This morning I woke up several times snoozing my alarm over and over and over until I finally decided that was it today! After I said those words in my head…um, I can’t repeat it here again but you just have to scroll up to the first paragraph…I felt so many emotions. I was sad, angry, frustrated, shocked and really did not want to feel anything. I wanted to roll over and get back to sleep. I got up to let my black cat, Kali, out of her room (my guest room) and made myself a cup of earl grey and came back to bed. I tried to watch a sitcom “Grace Under Fire” but my mind was still spinning. Kali jumped into bed with me and curled up in the curve of my arm and purred so loud, it finally put me to sleep.

When I woke up, Bette, my older friend, a Siberian Mix feline, was sleeping next to me. She never cuddles though. She has issues of space, contact and feeling trapped. I really enjoy her company, nonetheless as she has improved over the years and frankly, if you see her, you would have to admit, she looks like a queen. She is that beautiful!

I felt this way last year too and it was because I was refused time off to rest emotionally from my too demanding job. I had tried to avoid this from happening again this year. I had taken 10 days off in February last year and that helped my mind and soul but my body took months and months to catch up. I planned a summer of lots of time off and saved a week to take during Christmas week.

Unfortunately, the people who count our allowable time off made a huge mistake by 10 days! Yep, so by mid-summer, I was told that I could take 5 of the days I had reserved without pay in August and that was that. I knew December would be a problem. In the past 10 years, I rarely worked during the holidays because I needed to recuperate from demands of my type of work and wanted to see family and friends. In the past three years, however, I no longer even see anyone…I am that drained. I see family Christmas Day and then hibernate in my home, sleeping, writing, reading and vegging on Netflix.

I had reserved 10 days off in February this year, again but without the Christmas break time off, I did not know how much I would be able to endure before cracking. So many of my peers were taking time off, and too many had already quit. That revolving door would NOT stop spinning and as much as I try to give hope and a positive attitude at work, I could feel something I have treasured for decades was sinking into an abyss deep inside the confines of my soul. Nothing shows on the outside. I think that I still look more or less like passionate for the cause, lady, but I am struggling to keep this up.

I have never taken a job JUST for the salary. I know, I know, that may sound unbelievable but for me, it is the position and work environment that has always drawn me. I have left better paying positions to move onto positions where I could grow ; it is sort of like going to school and getting paid. I remember leaving the corporate world to stay home for a few years and type court recordings until my kids went to school.

Going back to college and taking a job as personal support worker; working in the helping field is so fulfilling. Leaving a high paying sales position to finally work full-time as a youth counsellor. Passions filled are bonuses that feed the heart and ensures employee retention. Granted we have gone through many changes and the goals have not changed but the means have. I have always felt when a workplace no longer meets the needs of an employee, it is time to seriously think of moving on. For now the service is still my passion but how long will I be able to swim without a floater?

Today, I admitted something quite frightening and I hope it is JUST the emotional fatigue talking and not a sad reality.

breastfeeding nightmare

infants waiting in the queue

sucking me dry

© Tournesol ‘19-01-17

Daily Moments – lucid dreams haibun

Daily Moments January 14, 2019 dancing diamonds

Walking to work she treads carefully on the slippery path to work.  Certain areas are covered with a thin layer of white crust that catches her eye  and warms her heart.
 
 
Diamonds  
Scores on a backdrop 
dancing underfoot 
 
Diamonds 
Beauty frozen in time 
Giggling on snow 
 
Scores on a backdrop 
Floating in the cosmos 
Granting wishes 
 
Dancing underfoot 
Despite the freezing cold 
Blinding baby blues 
 
© Tournesol ‘19-01-14 
 
Daily Moments January 14, 2019  dancing diamonds   
 
 
 
 
 

sighs of powerlessness ~ Troibun

After snoozing the alarm four times, she rolls over and greets her bff, petting her thick soft fur and whispering “I love you’s”. She then finally rises to the challenge of another new work week. Shuffling to her other bff, she opens the door to the guest room and hears the joyful purrs and meows this unique creature has. Her name is Kali. She runs up to her big, fluffy sister, Bette and is greeted with a hiss. No problem, little Kali seems to be thinking and she runs to her mistress for a pet and then lies on her tummy stretching her front paws about a metre distant from Big Sis and waits for some sign that maybe today will be the day they will play…such a patient little thing!

It is amusing to watch these two felines as she runs a hot bath to oil her old joints and then she moves on to the morning REAL priority: starting the coffee and feeding the cats.

Another week is starting and she tries very hard not think about it. Although she loves the support she offers, she is finding less comfort in the environment which no longer seems to shed enough light. She can literally hear the grumbling from within her peers’ body language and darkness hovering over their heads…

 

relentless 
deafening screams within
daunting reminders
 
relentless
dark clouds casting shadows
foreboding
 
deafening screams within
hearing their disturbing tales
smothered in despair
 
daunting reminders
exhaling melancholy
sighs of helplessness
 
© Tournesol ‘19/01/13
 
bff means best feline friend.

dreaming of springtime (troibun)

© Clr’17

The cold, oh the bitter cold sinks into her bones. The icy streets on her way home make her shuffle like an old lady. Always fearing another fall, she leans tentatively on her cane.

(troiku)

dreaming of springtime
lilacs and cherry blossoms
budding promise

dreaming of springtime
lovers walking hand in hand
kissing under big oak trees

lilacs and cherry blossoms
a butterfly’s delight
scents of her youth

budding promise
garden weddings
happily ever after

(c) Tournesol ’19/01/06

Daily Moments January 6 2019 dreaming of springtime Troibun

Road trips (troiku – daily moments Jan 5, 2019)

(c) OliGagnon 2003
Remembering long ago short family road trips. They had little to say after so many years. The hum of the motor slowly put the children in the back seat to sleep and she was left with her thoughts. She would make up movies in her head where she was another person, vibrant and confidant.

remembering 
family drives 
country roads 
 
remembering 
searching 
from her  window 
 
family drives
muted journeys
movies in her head 
 
country roads 
fields of wild flowers 
endless possibilities 
 
 
© Tournesol ‘19/01/05 
 
Daily Moments January 5 2019  Road Trips