Gifts. Yesterday, I received a small package from Zurich; on the custom’s form was written “Music for a kindred spirit.” Inside a CD entitled “Blue Suburban Skies” – a compilation of songs appreciating the Beatles, sent by a Canadian living in Switzerland who has ordered my memoir. He and two Vancouver friends, musicians and fellow Beatlemaniacs, have made the CD. It’s wonderful – sweet music by lifelong fans. If only I could have sung backup.
Today, longterm student Helen, whose memoir about exile from and return to Czechoslovakia will be finished next year, brought me a gift – a giant, very, very soft polar bear stuffie. It’s ostensibly for Eli, but I have the feeling that squishy bear and I will be exchanging hugs on long winter nights.
One more day of 2014. What a fantastic year for my family if not for the planet: for me, two books out and another with a publisher, and my kids expanding richly into their respective universes and especially their work.
Next year – well, it’s time to talk about what happens next summer. Yesterday I took Eli to the Royal Ontario Museum and back home for dinner while my daughter had an ultrasound and then went to the funeral of a young acquaintance who died by his own hand. Eli and I loved the dinosaur skeletons, the bugs, the teepee, the stuffed creatures – though those were hard for him to understand. “De woof not moving,” he said, looking puzzled at a stuffed wolf, and I tried to explain that this was a non-living but once alive wolf preserved for our edification. Try talking about taxidermy to a bright toddler. Dead? Stuffed? He is already preoccupied with death. He’s two.
Anna brought back an ultrasound picture – yes, a baby. There is a baby due July 14th, Bastille Day. Great, I said to her, a revolutionary! It’s early days yet, but she’s fine. No, there is no husband. Eli’s dad is very much in Eli’s life, and hopefully this new baby’s dad will be very much in his or hers. My daughter will do her damnedest to make sure that’s so, and her damnedest is something powerful. One of the great lessons of my old age: my kids do not live my life, they live their own in their own way, and a most interesting way at that.
So, all being well, next July there will be a baby, and then on August 1st, I turn 65 and have decided to have a party. I believe in celebrating everything possible. Big party Aug. 1 to celebrate getting my pension, as good a reason as any. But more importantly, to celebrate a brand new life and a curious and compassionate three year old, and their 30 year old uncle, and their brave and beautiful mother.
In the meantime, I am starting the official Left-wing Atheists Who Love Pope Francis fan club. I’ll be secretary.
And … think I’ll take up the drums. I have the other two covered.