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celebrating a young life and a vanished life

Two beautiful events this week: a tenth birthday party, and a memorial for a friend. Plus much much gardening.

My older grandson is now ten, wearing size 12. Anna told me, “I have to buy him deodorant. I’m not ready for this!” The party, after school on Friday, was the usual organized yet free-flowing madhouse, a United Nations of children piling into the yard and the laneway behind, for basketball, skateboarding, biking, trampolining, and some game invented by Eli. Anna kept producing food and the kids kept going, while a few parents had a beer in the shade. Anna tells parents if they want to leave their kids and go off to enjoy some quiet time, please do. And they do. 

Choosing music on the iPad

Bandit found some mud to roll in and chased everyone joyfully

Some game Eli invented. 

I know something now about these kids, those on the autism spectrum or with severe anxiety, or who’ve had to flee an abusive father or rarely see their father or are being raised by grandma because mother is working. Most extraordinarily, I heard two eight-year-olds on the trampoline; one said to the other in response to a question, as they bounced, “I’m non-binary,” and they had a discussion about being non-binary. That is indeed a child who’s known since sentience the body enclosing the soul was wrong, has always lived and dressed as the other sex. 
What a complex world they’re growing up in. How proud I am Anna takes care of them all, including a mother and son there who, in crisis a few years ago, lived with Anna and family for over a month.

Birthday boy and his dad Thomas.

One of Eli’s birthday presents from his mama and me is a trip for him, Anna, and Ben to Nova Scotia next week, to visit dear friends there. And from Holly, the thrill of a Jays game for the whole family. 

And a Jay did! The Jays won. Eli was born on Victoria Day; there are fireworks on his birthday every year. 
My friend Annie has been planning for months a memorial event for her husband Jim, who died suddenly a year ago of a heart attack. Jim was a screenwriter, so Annie and her kids invited 150 friends to view Jim’s entertaining, quirky first film Destiny to Order at the Fox Cinema in the Beach, and then to gather at a nearby church hall. It was a marvellous assortment of people: Annie’s friends from Catholic social activism, filmmakers, actors – Jim ran a TO theatre company for many years – Annie’s family from England, Beach neighbours. There were tears not just for Jim but for our beloved friend Patsy, who died with MAID last year, since she’d worked in Jim’s company, and many who knew her were there, including the wonderful, reclusive Nancy Beatty. Eating, talking, remembering. 

Miranda, Dorothy, Sue. Through the years I heard so much about beautiful Miranda from Patsy; what joy to meet her at last.

Only a few hours before the event, Ontarians received an emergency notice from the government – a huge thunderstorm heading our way, even possibly a hurricane or tornado. It descended – darkness, violent winds, howling rain. I thought, poor Annie, how can people get through this? About ten minutes later, it was over, and the afternoon was lovely. Apparently, the storm was so powerful, trees were torn up and at least four people died. But there was mild sun when we gathered, as human beings must and do, to celebrate a life. 

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2 Responses to “celebrating a young life and a vanished life”

  1. theresa says:

    What a lovely post, from the wild joy of the birthday party to the celebration of a precious life. And in the midst of a storm too!

  2. beth says:

    We thought maybe Jim was letting us know he was watching. It was a dramatic day all round.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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