Sep. 18th, 2009 at 8:34 PM
The day was crisp and cool at the local county fair the day John died. He had a lifelong weakness for younger women, golf and Ferris wheels. He was the only one sitting in the still damp seat on the broken down ride and some of his legal vultures stood below, seemingly awaiting his final demise. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. But it would come.
John had not moved or spoken in weeks. He was filled with remorse for a life that had been not all that it should be. His daughter joined him and gently touched the thin vein slowly pulsating in his hand. His eyes flashed open as he felt her presence and he said,
“Did you get them?”
She nodded her head.
The doughnuts were hot and coated with sugar as she handed him one from the brown paper bag. His tongue slid into the warm jelly doughnut and smiled. Why couldn’t his life have been this comforting? They both sat motionless in the seat – stalled at the very top. The fog seemed to disappear and he wondered if God could see him better now. Would God forgive him for all his wrong doings? But in his heart, he knew it was too late now and all he could hope for was final forgiveness.
The operator opened the door for John, who was still clutching the rest of his warm donut as he climbed out. Rain began to fall as he slowly took his last steps. His final breath came as he went to purchase another ticket for a ride he would never have. The vultures carried his body into the car and soon he would be laid to rest. It was over.
John’s daughter insisted on sitting next to his lifeless body as they journeyed to the morgue. She remembered the good times, which were few, and the painful moments in her life, which were many.
The day of his funeral, the Ferris wheel did not operate. It was cold, wet and as gloomy as John had always been. The vultures sat in the first row in the massive cathedral and the trophy wives sat behind them. Instead of prayers, whispers circulated like the wind on who was going to get the best morsels. His daughter sat alone and prayed for him. She prayed that God would forgive him for all his poorly chosen roads in life.
The next day she returned to the county fair. She was read the rules about riding the Ferris wheel by a somewhat expressionless man, even though she was the only one sitting in the still damp seat. Not even the changing colour of the leaves and the promise of a rainbow could bring a smile to her face.
She remembers when she and her father were at that same county fair barely days ago. They had tried in his last few minutes to rekindle a relationship that had been splintered by pain and anger. But he was not whole – ravaged by cancer that would rob him of life.
She sat motionless in her seat as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, wondering if her father could see her better as she rode towards the top. She asked God to return him to her for one brief moment so they could say things never said, but deeply felt. No matter how angry they had become towards each other through the years, they had still had love for each other in their hearts.
The operator opened the door and she knew she had no more chances with God or her father. She bought a warm doughnut, and bit into it slowly and lovingly. She smiled and threw the doughnut towards the heavens for her father to share.
He knew. He had always known. She had known. They were one and the same.
The vultures stood by the car and watched her as she walked up to the ticket booth once again.
“One, please” she said.
Once again the expressionless operator read her the rules. Once again she stalled at the top. Once again she looks up to the heavens and cried,
“I love you Dad”
Down from the bottom the aged man running the ferris wheel softly says,
And for one brief second when she looked at him she thought saw her father’s eyes. Sometimes we all learn things too late. The only true time you become an adult is when you finally forgive your parents for being just as flawed as everything else.
Dec. 15th, 2009 at 2:44 PM
It is December 15th, almost a week before Christmas, and you would never know it. I wrote a piece a few years ago called “Searching For Christmas” and it seems, as the years go by, it disappears more and more. The Martha Stewart Christmas CD plays for the umpteenth time, and after 17 Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel I just can’t watch another. Or can I?
I had something happen to me this year that was life altering. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, and it has literally changed my perspective on life. It was almost like learning there was no Santa Claus when I was a child. That innocence that reinforced the goodness of mankind suddenly vanished. So, I sit here and ask myself, how many Christmases do I have left? What if I had not lived, and missed Christmas this year? Well, I did live, and Christmas is almost around the corner.
So I try to snap out of this funk and remember. I remember the smell of Christmas trees and their sharp pine pungent scent, and the smell of home baking in the air. To be honest, the last years of my childhood Christmases were not spent smelling a fresh evergreen tree. It was gazing at the latest model of Sears “best in the line ” decorator trees in my Grandmother’s living room. I remember the delicate fragile glass ornaments that belonged to years gone by and the blue lights on the tree.
I still hear Miss Watson playing the church organ next to the Chrismtas tree at Trinity Anglican Church, which also shone with blue lights. I felt like it was something that was decided upon one Altar Guild Day in one fell swoop of a pact. Can I still hear these women talking with their glasses perched on their noses and fluffing their short tight perms? Did these church ladies decide that blue lights, and only blue lights, should be on a Christmas tree? I am positive that’s what happened and then they all went home and changed their lights to blue in a no nonsense way.
Memories then flood my mind of two weeks after Christmas in 1995 when my sons and I stood on top of a water- soaked carpet looking sadly at a completely black Christmas tree. Staring at the remainder of a horrible fire that burned everything the day before, my oldest son wondered if his purchase of one small TY Beanie Baby monkey started the fire that turned our lives upside down for over a year. He is very much like his mother. We dwell on things and don’t give them up. We are good at that.
But Christmas went on the next year and no one was a Negative Nancy. We still watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and baked cookies and hung up stockings and I still left small presents on the door steps of the elderly. So what to do? How do I get out of this Downer Dan mood? I decided to make Butter Tarts–now that would make me feel festive.
Twenty minutes later after listening to Loreena McKennitt singing “Good King Wenceslas” for the umpteenth time, I take the tarts from the oven. They smell wonderful and I know they will be enjoyed. I turn the Martha Stewart Christmas CD off and file it away, not to be played for… let’s say…at least a day. Charlie Brown’s Christmas by Vince Guaraldi fills the air and I dance. I realize the holidays are what you make out of it and not to expect anyone to drop the Holiday spirit outside your bathroom door– because it just ain’t going to happen. Christmas just isn’t a season–it’s a feeling sometimes being torn for the familiar and just a chance to feel old feelings twice.
Author’s Note–This story was my initial awakening call as to why stories and people from the past are important.
August 22, 2006 2:13 am
One sunny Friday afternoon I rescued some things out of random boxes at the Oakland Flea Market. The seller told me that the family of the deceased had left most of his belongings as discards on the street. I could not imagine anyone doing that–it felt heartless to me, now seeing everything spread out on the pavement under the hot blazing sun. Are the remainders of your life only worth a dollar each?
There were mysterious French books and a host of other wonderful things. What caught my eye was an old green cardboard file full of personal correspondence, and I couldn’t wait to get home and start to do research on the internet.
I found out that the box once had belonged to a Professor who had died in San Francisco in 2006. He had written a book about the study of historians in the French Revolution, and after reading some of his received correspondence I learned that he specialized in French Restoration History. The learned man had taught at Yale, UIC, and was renowned by historians everywhere– yet the fate of his belongings lay in a heap on the ground.
I was quite sad to hear that the gentleman had led a sheltered and lonely life. Indeed he had many people that loved and wrote him, but by the tone of the letters he was a recluse and died alone. As I did more research, another professor, who had been one of his students, had written a seven page obituary online about the Professor, obviously out of the great respect he had for him. I was shocked when I read each page that his former student had written, as it was everything I had envisioned about the Professor, yet I had never met him.
In later years the aging Professor became jaded with new students who didn’t seem to care. Yale University had sought him out to teach and he had almost completed a manuscript on Guizot that he just could not seem to hand in for publication.
It broke my heart that this wonderful man who had so many letters in the box from friends and students felt that he was always alone. There was even a note to a woman he barely knew tucked in the lining of the box. The loving man had tenderly wrote that that his words of love would remain in his file forever, never to be seen by her, or known to anyone else.
So what happened to this treasured correspondence file? I wrote a story about it and posted it on my old website, and within a month five different people contacted me, wondering what was I going to do with it.
I knew some of them were inquiring for financial gain as several universities would pay for the items I had. It got vicious at one point with nasty emails directed at me questioning why I had this– when in essence, I had rescued his papers in the first place from the possible landfill site. In the end I decided where its rightful place should be and I sent it to a former love interest of his in the northwest. There, his box of memories sits in privacy on a desk to be cherished by her forever.
The Professor’s manuscript about Guizot was never found, and not a single soul knows where it is. I assume he felt that no one would appreciate it and had hidden it away or gave to someone for safe keeping. But someone did care about him, and there will never be a day that will go by that I do not think about him and how I found his “messages in a bottle”.
This is why I share photos and stories of the past, as eventually all of us will be only memories in photographs and notes. Everything is proof that we all existed once and in reality we become just stories in the end. It was just not anything that I found in an Oakland flea market that day– it was finding something that needed to be saved and cherished. We live as long as we are remembered.
Jan. 23rd, 2010 at 2:33 PM
When “Poofy Dog” first lived in the building, he was one heck of a Dapper Dandy. Poofy is mostly terrier mixed with a bit of this and some of that. Once upon a time he was better dressed than any Fashionista you have ever seen. Spiffy hats, coats, and quite frankly, a hairstyle that did not quite fit a male dog but he carried it off quite well. Every time I saw him with his human Mum he was not allowed to stop and chat. He was marched outside with precision and decision mixed with very quick steps. I knew deep in his heart he wanted me to pat him and call him all sorts of lovey dovey names but it was just not allowed. Instead he threw me a look from the corner of his eyes as he was rushed out the door which spelled out “maybe next time”.
While in appearance Poofy Dog looked much like a perfectionist, in his heart he was not. He didn’t want the hats, he didn’t want the coats, he just wanted to be a normal dog. Poofy Dog was also a barker. He barked in the morning, he barked at noon, and he barked for the rest of the day. He wanted to be heard, he wanted to be petted, and he wanted out of those clothes. He just did not want to be Poofy Dog–I think he really wanted to be Sloppy Dog.
One day Poofy Dog disappeared from the building. One minute he was there, and the next minute he was not. It was quiet and it was silent. No more plaid dog coats ran down the hall and everyone asked each other, “Where was Poofy Dog?”
Exactly one year later, Poofy Dog returned to the building. He no longer had fancy clothes or the fancy hats. He no longer sported a ponytail or bows on top of his head and his coat was no longer brushed. He saw me and seemed to smile with glee. Poofy Dog was almost close to being the Sloppy Dog he wanted to be and boy, was he happy.
Word on the street was that Poofy Dog’s human Mum and Dad were no longer together. Apparently she had dumped dear old Dad in a pizza parlour, just like that. Making a long story short, Poofy Dog was to live with his Mum and his Dad was supposed to have weekend visitation rights. Poofy Dog had no idea what a break up was all about. All he knew, in his fuzzy little doggie head, was that his dad, the Alpha of the family, came and got him every Friday night. He loved his dad. No hats, coats or ponytails and no more “ouchy” brushing.
As weeks passed, Poofy Dog began to winder if his Mum was not so hot as a “superior” leader. Poofy Dog just wanted to be with his Dad, the ‘big” dog. Poofy Dog became so upset and so sad he became Naughty Dog. In fact he went out of his way to be Naughty Dog. So finally his Mum, the “unsuperior dog” gave him back to his Dad full time. After all, there is only so much barking and “surprises on the carpet” one can take.
To end this silly but very story, Poofy Dog is now back in the building full time. He prances and dances and laughs all the way down the hall. He is finally back where he belongs. Now when I see Poofy Dog I call him and he comes running, pulling his Dad on the other end of the leash. He always rejects the dog cookies I offer him and looks at me quite silly. You see, all Poofy Dog wanted was some loving and to be back “with his pack”. And isn’t that what we all want? Being in a pack. a family pack, with a whole lot of loving and above all, no dressy hats.
Feb. 12th, 2010 at 3:57 PM
I wrote this very true “cat tail” in March of 2009 after reading daily emails from a good friend of mine about the cats she loves. This blog is dedicated to everyone that helps animals, and above all to true love. This story documents Rogue and Selma who were indeed two very real cats from Phoenix, Arizona.
Once upon a time in Phoenix Arizona, there was a very kind lady who looked after cats. There were outdoor cats, inside cats, and cats that just lived wherever they could. Every day the sun shone brightly and it was very very hot. It was a hard life for the outdoor feral cats trying to make it on their own.
Rogue was the most handsome cat of her feral cat crew. Every night he snuck in through the kitchen “kitty door”, climbed on top of her bedroom bureau, and stared at himself in the mirror. Then he would lick his paw, swish it over his head and smile at his reflection. The kind lady loved Rogue and wanted him to stay indoors where it was cool with her other cats but Rogue was Rogue. He had decided in his own kitty mind that he belonged to no one.
One day it became so unbearably hot that Rogue decided to sit next to the kind lady’s home under the bushes where his feral friend Goldie sometimes sat. His furry yellow pal had a friend sitting next to him and he introduced his companion to Rogue. Rogue looked up slowly with those sly dark eyes of his and saw Goldie’s friend. She completely took his breath away. Her name was Selma, and Rogue fell in love with her right at that very second in time.
From that moment on Selma and Rogue were inseparable. They watched the sun rise, and then watched it go down. When the hot noon sun struck Rogue and Selma would sit in the back seat of the kind lady’s Jeep that she purposely left open for them. Days and weeks went by and they never left each other’s side. Selma was Rogue’s Juliet and he would never let anything harm her. Selma became pregnant with “kitty child” and Rogue was even more dutiful as time progressed.
He would go out scouting for food daily but at dusk you could see Rogue scale the tall fences to find her and stay by her side. The kind lady would go out every day and make sure Selma was out of the sun and that she was okay. Unbeknownst to anyone, Rogue would sit on top of some hidden fence protecting Selma through his watchful eyes.
When the kittens came, Rogue was there for his beloved more than any human could be. This love they had for each other was bigger than life itself. He would nestle beside her some nights while she nursed their kittens and sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ to them in his wee kitty voice. He had learned the song after listening to the kind lady’s music, and now it was a song just for them. It was his way to express his profound and everlasting love for her.
One day the kind lady took their kittens to the vet to make sure they were okay and then found them loving homes. Rogue and Selma were heartbroken, but things had changed over the weeks. Rogue had become ill, and try as the kind lady might, they could not save Rogue. No one spoke about it for weeks. No one ever wanted to speak about it. Rogue had died and Selma was beside herself. Selma had lost her Romeo.
The kind lady tried hard to make Selma come inside but Selma was afraid to share her love again lest it disappear like Rogue. Selma was not herself anymore. She had lost the only kitty she had ever loved and would never ever have that kind of love again. A few weeks later Selma became pregnant with ‘kitty child’ once again and the father disappeared faster than the sun disappearing at night. Goldie the cat tried to persuade her to let the kind lady love and take care of her but she was just too afraid.
One day in the extreme Arizona heat Selma being very pregnant found herself giving up. Was life worth living without Rogue? She saw a small basket and crawled inside and with that the kind lady scooped her up and brought her inside. Selma’s old friend Goldie came in that night and told her she had nothing to worry about, but Selma lay there with sad eyes and gave birth to her kittens.
Selma had three kittens that night. Identical twins and one other male that was so oddly marked the nice lady called him Toon. New life crept into Selma watching these kittens cuddle around her and she knew Rogue’s love was all around them. Goldie became her protector that night and they talked about Rogue and his life. Nothing could ever bring Rogue back but they would both remember him forever.
Months have passed now and Selma is just fine living with the kind lady and yes, Goldie is still by her side. Sometimes, just as the sun goes down they swear they can see the dark shadow of one fine looking cat sitting on the fence. If they listen carefully they can hear a small heavenly voice singing “Nessun Dorma” along with Pavarotti into the warm night air. They both know in their hearts that it is Rogue and he will forever be singing his love on that fence to Selma, his Juliet.
Dedicated to Anne B and just to let everyone know that as of today in 2016, Selma, Toon and Goldie still live on.
Youtube video of Nessun Dorma– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y
February 21st, 2010–12:03 am
With rain on the horizon the visit to the flea market today lasted no more than 12 minutes. The sellers were trying to get rid of their stuff quickly and cheaply in a short span of time. Sometimes that can be a good thing–sometimes not so much.
As I raced down one row something caught my eye. It was a 22 inch Miss Revlon doll from the 1950’s. It was not just any doll either, as it looked exactly like my old doll Candy. The seller wanted one whole dollar for her so I grabbed the doll quickly and put her in my cart. Rain started pounding down at that point, so I ran like the wind to the bus stop making mental memories from days gone by on my sprint back.
Somehow Miss Revlon keeps coming back to haunt me. Years ago she appeared under the family Christmas tree in a huge tall box full of pink straw. My late sister Robin never seemed to care for this doll from the get go. Many times I had to grab the plastic scissors away from her as she tried to trim her hair.
When I lost the Brownies doll clothing fashion contest I wrote about a few weeks ago I felt like an Olympian caught on drug charges. I learned that day never to lie, and I swear that was my turning point in life. My younger sister seeing how upset I was ripped Candy’s head off, and there she sat for years on a shelf headless with her head next to her as a reminder to me that lying was a bad thing.
On the way back I began to think that maybe my late sister sent it to me in a humorous heavenly sort of way. As there are no more Brownie badges to win at my age, maybe someone just needed to give this doll a good home. I’ve tried to replace some of the dolls I had growing up, but it just doesn’t feel the same. I guess sometimes you just can’t go home again. To me in my childhood, elves and fairies were very real things, and my dolls were really my children as I was myself a child.
My granddaughters have lots of dolls but somehow don’t appreciate the clothing, as I keep seeing them hug dolls that don’t have a stitch of clothing on. But, I am reminded that they represent the good in all of us and display the diverse beauty of humankind. As they say: “We are all just little dolls of ourselves who occasionally pull back the curtains to reveal the real us”.
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)