The happy stuff first: yesterday was my daughter’s 41st birthday, so the 41st anniversary of the day my heart was cracked open to include other lives, forever. Anna and I had a thrilling time; she got a carshare car and we drove to Ikea and Costco, places I almost never get to, be still my beating heart. I bought her a huge load of groceries, and then we went home to make dinner for the gang: her family, Thomas, Sam and Bandit, and our extended family Holly and Nicole.
Eli with Lego; Ben was playing with many cars and Nicole but he runs away whenever the phone comes out.
The birthday boy, with Holly, is now ten going on fifteen. New haircut which he gels into Mohawk punk.
Son and furry grandson #3, the joy of all. That’s little Nugget’s cage behind, Eli’s Xmas present the dwarf gerbil, who slept through the celebrations. And luckily for us all, Naan the cat-who-refuses-to-die did not throw up during dinner.
As we drove yesterday, Anna told me that because of the climate crisis, she’s resolved almost never to buy new clothing any more, for herself or for the boys. She will go to Value Village instead. She says when the boys are teens and have their own opinions about style, she may have to relent, but until then, it’s second hand all the way. Sam too often buys second hand, though it’s harder to find clothing for someone six foot eight. Have to say, they did learn this from their old mother, who’s been a serious Goodwill shopper for decades; there’s an essay about being a GW junkie in my essay collection.
Proud to have passed the torch. Especially after hearing on CBC about a new firm, Shein, with clothes so cheap, young women buy stuff, put it on to take a selfie for IG, and throw it away. Nauseating.
At our meal, I thought, this moment is a blessed plateau in our family life. For once, for now, everyone is well, mentally and physically; everyone’s life is more or less settled. For now. For now. As for me, I have two great tenants, the house is in good shape, my work is moving along, if glacially as usual, and spring is here. What more can I ask, except our continued good health, and world peace?
I am thinking today, though, of the letter I found in Mum’s papers after she died. It’s November 1947 and she writes to my father, whom she loves but is not even engaged to, about an abortion she had to arrange after they’d spent a week together in the summer. He’s back doing a Master’s in New York but had come to Europe in August to study and to see her; she’s working with the United Nations in war-ravaged northern Germany. Pregnant, she can’t find help from the British sector, her colleagues, who’d be shocked; she can’t seek help from a German doctor since the Germans hate the British. I don’t know what she did; she doesn’t say in the letter and never once mentioned this event to me, even when I told her about my own abortion, coincidentally at exactly the same age, 25.
But she writes about terrible fear and isolation, days of extreme pain and bleeding afterward during which only one friend knew what was wrong; her colleagues were told she had a terrible flu. She writes she’s afraid of permanent damage, though luckily for me and my brother, that was not the case. She hopes my father is not offended by her mentioning this sordid story. Imagine.
What’s happening in the States is beyond grotesque. We all know the Supreme Court cares nothing for the “sanctity of life,” has no regard for actual living children, for health care, education, housing or food or even access to birth control. They simply want to impose evangelical control over the bodies of poor women, since women with means will find a way to terminate unwanted pregnancies, as they have since the dawn of time. It’s so immoral, to focus on the unborn in a world of almost 8 billion people – 8 billion! – vast numbers of whom are starving and homeless, it makes me physically ill.
I’ll be marching. In the meantime, I’ll calm my heart by looking out at the delicate green glowing on the trees. Green, growing, flourishing. The sanctity of life.