Saturday, June 25, 2011

Passing the time

The view from Beachcomber park, the beach where my grandmother taught me to swim.

I'm sitting up in bed and have just had my first giant yellow bowl of delicious Gemelli tea, eaten my toast and apricot jam, had a teeth and face scrub and combed my hair and it's not quite eight am and I'm feeling ok.

Once again, the staff at the Gemelli have impressed me with their kindness and attentiveness. I came in late yesterday, and more or less terrified of chemo. I had spent the day before coming here to have last minute blood tests which, although they started early in the morning, with the train ride into and out of town, took up most of the useful parts of the day.

I hate coming home from any trip to a messy house, and I knew that chemo would probably put me in a non-doing of housework sort of mood. I also knew that I was incapable of doing anything with my brain like writing or drawing. Physical movement was required, so I bustled about: made sure that all the laundry was done, clothes all hung up, towels folded, clean sheets on the beds, clean bathroom, plants watered, surfaces dusted, all the dishes done and put away, and all my 50 sq kilometers of marble floors at least dustmopped and cleaned. After that, I cooked. Beef and lentil stew, fried chicken breasts, Thai chicken curry and frumenty. Simple stuff put in tubs and in the freezer so I won't have to do any cooking next week.

All the domestic busyness did succeed in keeping my mind off things. That and endless episodes of bad American Syfy channel tv shows played from the net. I was literally carrying my Mac into every room as I worked.

The next day, I woke up with a shock. I had spent the night dreaming, again, I was home again in my grandmother's house in Nanoose Bay, and woke with such a feeling of loss that I found I was calling for her.

This time of year, she would be sending me into the garden to fetch things for her to put into the dinner. Mint for the new potatoes from the herb patch in the shaded courtyard. Scarlet runner beans from the vines growing up the side of the veranda. Flowers for the table from the rose beds.

We would be going to the rocky beach down the lane so you could roll a log into the icy Pacific water and use it as a canoe, then come out and lie without a towel on the sizzling flat black shale pebbles. When you lie down on them wet with cold skin, they dry you instantly and stick to your back. When you've roasted enough, while grandma in her black straw hat sits on a white bleached log and sketches the arbutus trees with a stub of conte, you put on your hat and canvass runners and go climbing over the volcanic rocks poking your fingers into the green anemones that lined the tide pools like living velvet.

Then grandma would call you back, and we would pack up our things and climb through the cool forest back up to the road and go have our lunch, sitting at the table in the little dining room, while the crows sit in the Garry Oak in the courtyard, calling out their annoyance that they are not invited.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to discover again, as I have so many other mornings, that it was all gone, the house sold and grandma dead for twelve years. It was not the best moment to remember that I would be going into the hospital for chemotherapy.

More later.



Anonymous said...

Very well written and inspiring recollections although clouded with some sadness. I would try to consider yourself very fortunate for having such a grandmother and to have been taught and spent some of your childhood in this wonderful place. Besides reminding me very greatly of my own grandmother whom I also miss who passed away to the other realm not too long ago, it reminded me how memory of the good can be truly beneficial- to convey these childhood recollections especially when it sounds as if your grandmother truly lived and created such a happy and wholesome life around you. I am glad that you record them for the wider audience. Hardly does one see this kind of tranquility and appreciation for the ordinary anymore, as people are often lost in various difficulties. But even if you are at a hospital and unwell you could fill your mind with these more good recollections. Hopefully you will be well again soon. Margaret

Fr. T. said...

You write like Jack Kerouac, only better.

Martial Artist said...

Miss White,

I am glad to see you posting again, and cheered to hear that the procedures are going well. You are, and will continue, in my prayers. And I second the opinions on your writing of both of the previous commenters on this thread. You are a delight to read.

But I do have one small question. You wrote about the [emphasis mine] "endless episodes of bad American Syfy channel tv shows...." Was it your intent to suggest that there are any good ones?


Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer