Last night, my home class sat outside on the deck for the first time, with birdsong and the scent of lilac. John and I had spent much of the afternoon on house projects, including an hour putting up the pergola in anticipation of the hot sun which will surely arrive – and stay arrived – any day now. Bill spent much of Wednesday cleaning windows and scouring out the very full eavestroughs, and Dan finished painting the front porch and door. The garden is coming together slowly, though the guy who usually helps me with it has vanished, so I’m on my own. My mother used to talk about the “little men” who helped her. “I’ve found a little man to do that,” she’d say; though he often was six foot tall weighing 250 pounds, he was always little. I too am utterly dependent on my raft of little men, without whom I would not be living here. Many thanks to you all, guys. Gardening helper needed, asap!
Anna texted me yesterday: What time was Ben born, do you remember? I knew it was very early in the morning but not exactly – it’s a blur, for some strange reason – so went to my blog. There, in July 2015, all the details – just after 2 a.m., 6 pounds 10 ounces. It’s a wonderful thing to have your life’s chronicle at your fingertips.
I’m gearing up for three big events: the Wayson memorial on Sunday, getting the house ready for a family who are moving in Wednesday to stay while I’m away, and my departure to Anna’s Wednesday night and to Vancouver Thursday morning. Right now, getting the garden in shape for the memorial attendees and going over the many hundreds of emails I have from Wayson to pick a few to read, to share his voice. People who can’t attend have been sending me beautiful notes to read. I gather that the main event for him will be at the International Authors’ Festival in October. I’m glad we’re gathering to celebrate and remember now.
Looking out – the hot pink bleeding heart showering its delicate beauty, the mauve lilac, the shining white lilies of the valley and dogwood in full bloom, and mostly the million shades of green, the birds at the feeder, a few veggies planted, Wayson’s gardenia in bud, getting ready to flower – and l am profoundly glad and grateful to live here still, in my own paradise. Yes, a paradise that is constantly disintegrating, time-consuming, enraging sometimes, but thanks to my little men, is standing. More than that, is beautiful. As the world gets uglier, incomprehensibly more filled with hatred – just read an article about the rise of the far-right worldwide – it’s more important than ever to try to find and relish beauty and neighborhood and kindness. My daughter is spending today renting and driving a U-Haul to help a friend, a woman who left an abusive husband and spent 3 weeks living at Anna’s with her son, to move. She puts her time where her heart is.
The other day, as I rode the Dundas streetcar to Ryerson, there was a father with a little boy in a wheelchair. Two stops later, another family got on with an older boy in a power wheelchair. The first dad flipped up the side bank of seats to make a space for the new chair, and the dads chatted about Sick Kids – “What an awesome place,” about their boys’ surgeries there. Eventually, everyone around them was chatting and smiling. We’re watching Toronto bond, too, over the Raptors – a fantastic picture in the Star of the crowd outside the arena last night, every colour under the sun.
It’s good to take heart, because it’s easy to lose heart, too.