How does one measure time? Really! Is it like having a set amount of “currency” when each person is born? Does it accumulate interest if you invest wisely? How old do you start to know what to do? What are the profit margins if you invest/save wisely? Does your childhood have an impact on losing/gaining “funds”? So many questions and too many subjective answers according to each person’s perception but especially according to their life experiences.
I know a few people that keep waiting for their “ship to come in”. Does that mean they have badly invested? Or does it mean they are sitting on a “nest egg” that eventually dissolves? Waiting for that lucky opportunity to come by. Envying others who “appear” to be happy and have fruitful lives. How is “fruitful” measured? It is evaluated according to that monster house you have or the children you have and grandchildren? Is it measured by how much you have helped people in your life despite the fact you may live in a shack…you are rich!
I remember in my mid-thirties, peers telling me how lucky I was to go back to university. Really? You call that luck to go to university, part-time raising two children and working at one to three part-time jobs and volunteering on 3 to 4 committees? No luck there, but hard work and perseverance, lugging psychology books to hockey games and cramming in as much studying when I could.
Then there are people who fight for free daycare,(although I do believe in a pro-ratio system) free university and free this and that pointing ugly fingers at people in the corporate world and lawyers for example. I remember asking one former colleague who had no desire to work more than 21 hours a week at 30 something of age. I could not understand that but then again, I come from a different generation, I guess. Here I am 67 and just starting to cut down my work hours to 21.
I do not expect government to pay everything for me nor do I appreciate getting overtaxed like we are in this province. When I mention that some of these corporate lawyers or business people may work a 16 hour DAY, some people just don’t get it.
Now how did we get to that place of judging life’s accomplishments?! Oh yes, time and how one may measure it. Hmm, I suppose you can waste “time” and miss out on “golden” opportunities. Not everything is “handed down to you”. Not everyone wins the lottery and for those who do, so many end up right back their original way of living a few years later because habits just die hard, don’t they?
Time seems forever when you are a child. Your parents at 30 something seem old and your grandparents seem way too old to imagine you will ever get there and great-grandparents seem to be a wink away from death…to a child I mean, of course.
Last week I watched my uncle as he moved slowly filled with arthritis and osteoporosis. He is 91. His head moves forward and his back is completely bent over as he moves tentatively on his legs that may give way any moment. I am only 23 years younger than him and I wonder if I could live like that. He is so determined and resilient despite the pain he experiences each waking moment. He has his partner to help him. She is already 90 but physically in good form even though her mind may seem to be slowly fading but whose mind is not at that age! You often have to repeat to her but then again when she was 40 or 50 or 60, she did not always listen very well. Heck my mind trails off when someone is talking to me for a while…my kids hate it! They say, “I can’t believe you’re a counsellor when you can’t even listen to me!” Well, on my day off, I suppose, I allow my mind to wander is the only excuse I can give. [chuckles sheepishly]
Listening is not always easy for people. I wonder if my aunt had ADD like I do. Of course I was never diagnosed in the 50’s but just labeled as a dreamer in class. My dear aunt is an artist and creative people can be pretty unique. In the 1940’s to 1960’s, good heavens, most youths did not get diagnosed with any form of learning difference. Why, even people with dyslexia slipped through the cracks in those days. How awful for those people who thought they were just not smart enough to be able to read and savour books like I did. I was a slow reader though and my mind could drift and I would have to reread a page a few times to get the gist of it. It was as if my mind had two or three minds working at the same time in that brain of mine, and all the chatter cluttered that space. I think that is probably the best way to describe me.
If I had to measure “time” spent reading chapters for university, I would guesstimate I took at least three times as long to study and write papers. But I got there eventually starting a new career at 39 years old! All the years prior, I did similar work but as a volunteer…imagine the pride and joy when I got my first “paying” job teaching in a high school for five years! After that, it got tricky to get work and so my uncle and aunt who are now in their 90’s encouraged me to not “waste time” since I was getting older and to start my career over in another province where there were more possibilities and politics was not as much in the way as it was here.
Within a few years, I fast tracked, yes, I was able to be in a place that I would gladly have volunteered…I would have worked here for free because I believe in the service. How lucky is that?
So in the past two decades, “time has flown” by so quickly because I spent most of my “waking time” working in a career I have such passion for. I volunteered as well but always chose areas I wanted to learn, grow and enjoy myself. So when John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I suppose in my case, I am living the life I was once so busy making plans for. And in the process of studying to get there, I was still advocating and volunteering for things I believed in.
Hmm, writing this little piece has allowed me to realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.
endless – infinite
when you’re waiting
a wink away
endless – infinite
in a place called “pain”
when you’re waiting
the mind crawls
a snail’s pace
© Tournesol ‘06/11/2019
Daily Moments – June 11 2019
Thank you to The Muscleheaded for posting Tennesse Wiliams quote which inspired this piece. “Time is the longest distance between two places.”
Celebrating his 91st birthday was truly special. She had taken the train early in the morning to make it to her uncle’s home for dinner. She had time to change at her B & B and arrived for the birthday dinner her cousin had arranged.
Heaviness weighed upon her seeing how much he had changed…so frail yet a mind still vibrant and brilliant.
like I never knew
caregiver – nurturer
like none other
like I never knew
embracing precious moments
he was like my dad
body can stand just so much
trying to hang on
Riding on the train from Montreal to Toronto is a long ride but it’s a train and nothing is more comfortable for long rides up to 5 hours.
She was raised in a train town [hog town they called it for the railroad engineers]. Trains passed through her little town a dozen times a day. There were at least six passenger trains that went to Montreal which was about 40 minutes away and too many freight trains that passed, stopped, shunted and road at a snail’s pace every day. The shunting could wake you up at night sounding like thunder booming in your bedroom…no kidding!
There were freight trains that could hold up the town forever and block streets and prevent people from getting home in time for lunch or home at night in time before curfew…if you had one of those.
Looking back at those days, she considered herself pretty lucky. Her mother would let her and her sister go out weekends and come home when they were ready. She would simply whisper, “I trust you darling.” And THAT killed any mischief they might consider.
So back on this train, she could not get over how comfortable the newer trains were these days. Wow!! So much leg room for an economy class and the seats were leather and sleek…real fancy! What she loved most were the panoramic windows where you could see forever and just stare off in the distance and let your imagination run wild.
She was going to see her family, celebrating her uncle’s 91st birthday today! He was like a dad to her. She had lived with them for a month twenty years ago so she could save first and last month’s rent and found a place less than thirty minutes from her family and fifteen minutes to downtown Toronto. She loved this city. It held so many memories, both good and tough times but still, it was a place she truly grew when she moved here in her mid forties. Now she was just visiting…she would stay in Oakville for a few days to see her family. She would be staying in a B & B just off Lake Ontario.
The rest of her trip would be be in mid-town Toronto in another B & B in the same borough where her dad live the last years before moving on to different dimensions. It would be nice visiting that neighbourhood. She had fond memories of a few places she loved to go dancing not too far from her dad’s complex. His apartment was called ” Montgomery Place” but he joked calling it “Montgomery Morgue” because everyone was over 65 and from the looks of many of the residents, they were well into their late seventies. Many turned in for the night before eight and her dad was a night owl like herself. She wondered if she could stand living in a place like that when life (to her) began after nine at night and ended just before the sun came out the birds started clearing their throats for the day’s concert.
She sat back and looked out at the trees rushing by and allowed time to stand still…
Rumble of the train
Lullaby of her childhood
(c) Tournesol 31/05/2019
Daily Moments – steel melodies
scent of paradise
mid-day dance recital
bouncing off limbs
(c) Tournesol ’19/05/25
They called her Wolf Girl on the psych ward at the hospital . No one had been able to approach her …much. She was like a wild animal. If you came too close to her, she would howl; if she was hungry she would stand at your table, looking at your tray with the puppy dog eyes, no one could refuse her. The staff was curious about her but all, without exception, fell in love with her especially when she would curl up into a ball in the fetus position on the centre of her bed…thumb in mouth, lights ON. If ever a staff member felt pity for anyone sleeping with those bright neon lights and turned it off in her room, she would sit up, howling, eyes wide, holding on to her blanket for dear life.
Her name was Torey. Child services brought her in 3 months ago to Emergency for a check up and after examination by doctors as well as the psycho-educator in chief, they assumed she would get her discharge no later than 3 days (which was customary in “those” cases). But she never got that release and Dr. Shelley, the Psycho-Educator in chief would not release her. She had a different reason at each court hearing…this last one was selective mutism, and that this youth was sexually assaulted multiple times for years.
Torey was 11 by now but what did, “hell did multiple times for years” even mean? Dr. Shelley just knew that this child should NOT be placed in foster care without guarantees she would be safe. The system had failed her in the past when this child had put her trust in adults who should have kept her safe. Dr. Shelley knew there were NO such guarantees. She took it upon herself to ensure she remain the ward of the court and in the children’s psychiatric ward indefinitely. She had hope that some day soon, she just may make a breakthrough. Torey may decide to talk.
It was December 24th, three and a half months since Torey’s admission, and she was in her daily interview with Dr. Shelley. This therapist had a unique approach with youths with selective mutism. Her past 10 years of experience working solely with teens who had autism spectrum had given her a new skill…EEP. Her colleagues, mostly professors at the local university scoffed at her when she said it was actually a skill that had to be learned with working with “exceptional” youths. EEL stands for Exceptional Empathetic Listening skills. Dr. Shelley had a knack of drawing out the most difficult and resistant child into trusting her enough to start talking…even if it was one hour a day, that was a miracle in many cases she had worked on.
Torey was different. She was brilliant. She had a way of knowing what adults were thinking and what they needed. This is how they discovered her exceptional talent or sixth sense you.
One day, Nurse Grant, who had been working on the pediatric ward on the psychiatric section for 20 years, walked on the floor with a limp wearing tinted glasses. Staff all inquired with sympathy what had happened to her over the weekend and she just brushed them off with a, “Ah just clumsy old me bumped into the glass bus shelter. With the darn sleet and snow mingled, I could not see an inch in front of me and I banged the corner of my left eye and slipped and sprained my ankle. Enough said, no need for pity from anyone, so I got these glasses to avoid your mushy sad looks. Now ya’ll get to work!” She did have a bit of a bark and everyone went back to work. No one asked her again and most of the staff avoided looking at her in the eye…or rather, glasses…except for Torey. She looked at her suspiciously, sucking her thumb. She circled around her looking up at her and raised her eyebrow.
Then she followed Nurse Grant into the nurse’s lobby and sat right next to her on the couch while she sipped her coffee. Torey looked up and did the most surreal thing…she spoke! “He gave it to you, didn’t he?” she said in a raspy voice. Nurse Grant almost spilled her coffee and looked at Torey wide eye, in shock.
“What are you talkin’ about young lady?!”
But Torey did not balk nor did she feel intimidated by Nurse Grant’s harsh tone. She just looked up at her with those puppy dog eyes and gave Nurse Grant a hug, whispering in her ear, “I know what them do to you.”
Nurse Grant froze at first, then relinquished to this precious moment because she had a feeling that Torey did, in fact, know. Torey’s compassion melted her heart.
Later that afternoon, Dr. Shelley was advised about Torey’s first spoken words in private by Nurse Grant who had to come clean of her own personal circumstances.
Dr. Shelley, called Torey to her office.
“Well, now, Torey. You certainly gave us a bit of a surprise today and I have to say a very nice surprise. I want to thank you.”
Torey had arrived arms crossed, ready to keep her silence but was cut off guard when Dr. Shelley was thanking her. She dropped her arms to her side and raised an eyebrow and waited…she was the prize of detectives…she had to know for sure…
Dr. Shelley continued, “Torey, Nurse Grant has been in an abusive relationship for years and no one but no one has ever had the courage to confront her and plead with her to get out and to a safer environment. Today, Nurse Grant came up to me asking to live in the nurses’ quarters for the night staff temporarily until she finds a new apartment. I want to thank you for doing something not one counsellor, nurse, doctor or psychologist was able to do until you did.”
Torey stared at her, sizing what she had just heard, and took her usual seat in front of Dr. Shelly’s arm chair and said, “Yeah, well, it’s about time she left that f…..g loser. She deserves better.”
That was the first session Torey felt she could trust Dr. Shelley and started disclosing the sexual abuse she had been exposed to by her father from the age of 7 to 10 and the abuse in foster care the months following her removal from her home.
Trust had to be earned. Torey was not fool enough to trust just anyone; she knew who could be trusted and she chose to speak to Nurse Grant because she saw an ally…a soldier in the fight against abuse in her. As for Dr. Shelley, well, Torey, knew she had an exceptional way of listening and she was just waiting for the right moment to feel she could actually trust her.
the frog tries to help
a scorpion cross the river
an act of kindness
halfway to the other side
scorpion shows its true nature
smell cunning cruelty
even words soaked in honey
instincts are wiser
I lost my way
until I found her again,
when mother died
I lost my way
searching all the wrong places
dazed and confused
until I found her again
travelling in another time
echoes of her laugh
when mother died
gazing in the looking glass
her smile appeared
(c) Tournesol '19/05/14
Melodies coming back home
Shrill of cicadas
Chicks nestling for midday nap
Hear the chirps of resistance
Smile upon her face
old woman sipping java
her first spring concert
(c) Tournesol ’19/05/06
Daily moments music in her ears. May 6/2019