Very emotional today. Yes, pain – now self-diagnosed as sciatica, which will pass by itself and requires medication and stretching. But for now, it’s constant.
More importantly, my dear ex-husband is here to stay for five nights. We had a family meal here last night, Uncle Sam tossing the boys into the air and playing badminton in the garden, Ben opening and closing the screen door, calling out the subway stops and chanting, like the TTC lady, “The doors will open on the right.” Eli with a pack of cards wanting in the chaos to play Go Fish. Anna trying to become invisible so they’ll leave her alone for a few minutes, which they did. And the grownups finding great pleasure in conversation, which mostly was apocalyptic, the end of the world, climate change, Trump etc. But still, there we were. Edgar and I were married for ten years and have been divorced for nearly 20. After the kids left, we sat for hours getting caught up – his family and mine, our many old friends. It’s treasure.
He’s off today for a work appointment and then to the Toronto Islands with the gang. I’m taking the day off.
Have been delving into a box I inherited from my pack rat mother – thank God for pack rats. Just discovered some of the cards and telegrams she received on my birth, including from my New York grandparents: Heartiest congratulations all concerned trust Gordin recovers fondest love. (Interesting that their main concern, though humorous, was for my father!) There’s a telegram dated Sept. 1950 from Dad to Mum: Job mine return delayed perhaps two days plane seat unavailable. She was living with my grandparents in their Upper West Side apartment; I was a month old, and he’d gone to Halifax to see about the job at Dalhousie. We moved there a month or two later.
Here’s a piece of paper with my weight and lists of when she breastfed. She told me that in the Polyclinic Hospital in August of 1950, among the many women who’d just given birth, she and one other woman were the only ones trying to breastfeed, with no support from the staff, who thought the practice was vulgar. I’m happy to see I did ingest a little healthy breastmilk, though she started me on the bottle also right away.
There’s the menu from the Queen Mary, Saturday December 18 1948 – she’s on her way to NYC to see if it’ll work out with the handsome Yank she met during the war. She went of course Cabin class, the lowest – I have her battered suitcase – but was invited at some point to dine with the toffs above deck. And here’s a resumé she drew up in 1975, in which she writes “1943-45: Naval Intelligence work on breaking of enemy codes, Foreign Office, London.” Even decades later, she did not write “Bletchley Park.” She hardly ever talked about her work during the war, it was so ingrained that it was top secret. And yet there she is on their website and engraved on their wall: Miss Sylvia M. Leadbeater, Block D Hut 8.
Here on their second date, November 1944, both 22, my mother with what I call her ‘Lauren Bacall smoulder.’ Not inherited by her girlchild.
So this is why I’m emotional – family family family, the ones close to me and here, the ones now gone and yet so present in my heart and soul. Tears.