Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Quest of the Goose

The days following my mother's death have been turbulent. I have struggled to keep my balance; it has not been easy and I've failed miserably sometimes.

But such is the way of it. Grief knows no bounds, it is very like the waves of Ocean that crash to the beach. Some waves are bigger than others, and they must be ridden out. During the first few days, the waves are usually large, dark and stormy, full of debris.

As time goes on, those waves grow slower, gentler...more accepting. And here is where I find some serenity, when my heart has ridden out those destructive first waves of grief.

Early this morning, before Sun had risen over the treetops, Goose flew over, at the head of a long V formation. Wings tipped with gold, from Sun that had not yet shown his face to the rest of us, Grandmother Goose led the flock to the West...the place of rebirth on the Medicine Wheel. The West direction tells me of my responsibility to all things...and to each other. West is the direction of Wisdom.

It is a week since my mother died. As I sat on my stoop, in the early Morning stillness, I sent blessings with Goose...and thanked her for her message.

Grandmother Goose teaches how to navigate great turbulence in life. She tells me it is time for an inner quest, one where I learn, once again, that I can change nothing in others, only in myself. It is a difficult lesson for me to learn, seemingly, since I am caught up in it consistently.

She tells me of loyalty and how sometimes, loyalty can blind me to the true facts. She's also telling me this is all part of the journey of life; that I have the tools and abilities to make it through.

And suddenly, my intuition tells me I do.

It is a blinding realization.

Have I ever entered any traumatic situation as well-balanced and with as many tools as I have been given in this one? Recognizable tools?

I think I am making progress. I think my studies of messages given from the Universe are bearing fruit. Fruit that is still in the ripening stage, granted; however, I have faced family disruption these last few days with relative calm.

Families that lose the last surviving parent can go into free fall, I was told by a nurse last week. Instead of pulling together, siblings tear each other apart. That is the situation that occurred in my family last week. But it was not just my mother's death that brought about the strife, which is not new...it has always been thus.

Will that last unfortunate blowout be the end of it? I don't think so. I think each member of my family still wants to be heard, wants to be validated. I think each sibling is still clamouring for Mom's attention. And I think my mother wanted it that way, during her convoluted life.

My mother and I grew close, during the last couple of years. We grew close because I would not get involved in the strife that fueled my Mom and her daughters; I would change the subject, talk about other things. In that way, I made a conscious decision to ignore the bad and embrace the good about my mother.

My mother gradually realized the error of her ways, when she entered the Care Residence. She then had contact with others who did not believe in stirring strife in family members, for attention and diversion. But for my mother, that epiphany came too late...after a lifetime of pushing painful buttons in each daughter, only distrust met her overtures of love and apology.

And it seems only distrust remains.

But it is early days yet. My eternal flame of optimism lets me fantasize that her daughters will see that Mom tried, towards the end of her life, to walk a loving, gentle path, instead of the torturous, mountainous route she had chosen most of her life. Unfortunately, she made a Will, in an angry state, that continues to fuel the fray...one that controls generations not yet born. One that pits children against parents, one that will continue to remind her family of a mother that used control and anger and manipulation to bring her daughters in line.

Hours before her death, she asked me to write a book about her...Make them understand, she said. It is an enormous request, one that will take me on a journey that will follow my mother's life, one that will take me into a tortured mind.

And at the end of it, perhaps I will understand.

Grandmother Goose, with her message of the great quest to come, tells me I will.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Final Goodbye

"Death is simply a shedding of the physical body, like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon...It's like putting away your winter coat when Spring comes." Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I received the telephone call from the care home an hour ago. My mother heeded Death's call...she died at 11:40 PM on July 26, her birthday.

She was in great pain at the end of her life...she taught me, as her body contorted from Osteoarthritis and bed sores, what courage and strength in the face of such agony is really like.

She was aware of all of us until the very end...she would groan in agreement to whatever was said. When her family was there, Mom ignored the morphine dreams...and still attempted to communicate her feelings.

I noticed a change this evening, as I meditated with her. I told her what a good mother she had been, and that there was no need to be afraid...that Heaven was preparing the greatest birthday celebration she had ever had. I told her no one blamed her...I knew she had been greatly worried about her capacity as a Mother.

I told her that when she died, she could run. Without medications, her walker or her wheelchair. I told her she could run through fields of Flowers, more kinds than she could ever imagine. I told her she would never be cold, hungry, tired or in pain again, once she traveled all the way to the end of that Golden Highway she was on.

I took her to the Boat that crosses that deep and very wide River, at the end of the Highway. I told her, when she felt the time was right, to step onto that wondrous, shimmering Vessel and sail off, into the distant Sunset.

I reminded her of those who had gone before. She would see her mother and father, her sister, her granddaughter...and all of her husbands. She made an mmmph sound, by blowing air through her mouth. I'm not sure she will necessarily want to see all of her husbands.

She had refused water...she had refused all sustenance for days; but her body shell continued to cling to life.

I left her, with the image of climbing aboard the shimmering Sailboat, after she received another dose of medication. She seemed to rally after that dose, slipping into a quiet, rested, peaceful sleep. Sleep that had eluded her, even with the morphine. Selfishly, I felt hopeful, when I left, that there might be another day or two in her company...

And now, my mother waves her final goodbye from the sparkling, silver Boat, as she sails off into the distant, golden horizon.

I stay on the beach, my work here not yet done, and watch her until she is no longer visible...

"Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves and Immortality." Emily Dickinson

In memory of Gisela, my mother ( July 26, 1921 - July 26, 2007)

Rest in Peace, Mama...I miss you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Weaver of Dreams

After a few days of hot weather, Spider has been busy weaving her web across almost every pathway in my garden. They are small, yet, the webs...the Spiders who make them are still young themselves.

But those webs are still sticky enough to get caught in my glass frames, in my hair and every place on my body that touches them. And most times, there is a passenger in the figure of Spider that catches a ride to wherever I'm going.

Usually, this doesn't bother me. I will brush off the insect; I am not afraid of these wondrous eight- legged beings. After all, my life path number is an 8...

It is when Spider tries to get my attention by inflicting a bite or two on my person, when enormous Spiders show up, right in my path, when Spider webs become too numerous to ignore...this is when I know Spider is trying to send a message.

Sometimes, when a message or portent shows up, I ignore them. Sometimes, I just get plain tired of deciphering the many messengers that herald transformation, change and miraculous rebirth. And sometimes, there is fear inside of me...if I ignore these missives, perhaps I can, somehow, still deny them...

But Spider, now...Grandmother Spider manifested the World, when she wove the dream of the physical reality. Spider is the weaver of words...the writer's totem.

Was I going to ignore and deny Grand- mother Spider?

I don't think so.

There are many Spiders around just now, everywhere. Usually, I am not terribly cognizant of them...they are just there.

But now I was remembering each and every encounter...they were becoming extraordinary, in a world of many.

I remembered Grandmother Spider's mantra...create, create, create. She reminds me I am infinite, that I will continue to weave the patterns of life throughout eternity, that this life is only a drop in the limitless Universe.

When she took a chunk out of my leg, she was insistent I listen. There were opportunities arriving that I was going to miss, if I did not become more aware of what I was trying to create. If I forgot, before life's involvement got in the way, that I was creating a new phase in my life.

But I felt there was more.

I asked Spider for a dream, at night before I drifted off to sleep. I asked every night for a few days...and then the dream appeared.

It was a good one. I was in a golden Wheat field, with a vast deep blue Sky and billowing, silver-rimmed Clouds drifting across Sun. I was warm, almost a prickly warmth...the kind of sensitivity that occurs just before perspiration breaks. Wind's presence was barely detectable.

The World hummed along. No civilized sounds broke the silence...only a deep, abiding thrum of energy waves. I was barely breathing, it seemed I did not have the same urgency to breathe as normal beings do.

I was surrounded by the Wheat, standing straight and tall...it seemed I was looking up at the seed heads. And I noticed the fine webbing, touching each and every stalk of Wheat. Some of the webbing was thicker in places than others. Some were finer. But they were all connected, a few obviously mended...but on the whole unbroken...a perfect, intricate web.

I could not move. I could not make a positive move in any direction. That prickly sensation intensified if I tried. I felt bound and very limited, rather resentful...and yet, there was acceptance, too. Here is where I found myself; this was a phase in my life, as well.

Spider appeared, swinging and weaving from place to place, amongst the long, golden stalks of Wheat. She was very tiny, a pinprick of shimmering light at the head of her string.

Petulantly, I asked Grandmother Spider why I couldn't move. I had no fear of her; rather, she annoyed me...what was the point of all this?

I heard a throaty chuckle... a deep in the woods kind of sound...and the words, which echoed and swirled around me, like a whirling storm...

Bound and tied, Grandmother Spider said with glee, Bound and tied.

My sulky behaviour disappeared. Fear reared up instead. Grandmother was giving words to a scarcely heard voice in my soul, one that had been denied an audience.

The acceptance of my place in the scheme of things kept the fear at a manageable level. Intrinsically, I understood I was in a dream, that Grandmother Spider, no matter in what way, was giving me a gift. It was my choice whether I would accept her offering.

Resentment at being tied faded away...instead, I decided to find creative means to overcome the hurdles and boulders appearing in my way. And perhaps, some of the ties were of my own making.

Suddenly, I was regarding the Wheat field from above, seeing a shimmering golden sweep of colour that melted into the distant horizon. I watched Grandmother Spider spinning, spinning her Web, her story, until she and the field became one.

I was hot, when I awoke. The days had been most uncomfortably warm; the house had not cooled by Ocean breezes during the night. I went outside, and sat on my stoop. The town chimes rang...4 AM.

The prickly heat sensation disappeared in the breeze that finally appeared. I thought about my limitations and resentment of them, that I had applied to myself. I thought about Grandmother Spider and her words and what they meant to me. Entanglement in the web of my life is strictly of my own choosing; it has little to do with others or circumstances when I place them there, all by myself.

Instead of feeling angry, perhaps I can change my outlook into a more creative one, one where I find joy and movement, instead of stagnation and sadness.

And an outlook where I feel gratitude, instead of disinterest and annoyance, to a totem as powerful as Grandmother Spider, when we meet, would be something I might try to cultivate.

Grandmother Spider, after all, is the Weaver of Dreams, making those Dreams a reality...and she is very worthy of respect.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Taking time off...the very phrase leaves a hollow feeling in my gut. To do so is difficult for me to achieve, at the best of times; if I don't stay in the present moment, it is impossible to achieve.

The weather turned hot, at the beginning of our "time off", when our friends arrived. It was really the first time in awhile that I had seen a warm Sun; it oiled my bones and made it easier for me to move...

But the heat slowed us down, in another sense, and the inclination was to sit in the shade of Grandfather Tree, where it is always just the right temperature, with Wind whispering a soft message in the sound of the Wind chimes. And where world problems, memories and confidences were exchanged, with as much energy as the hot day allowed.

When I worked outside my home, holidays were more like what the word implies to me. I was away from my "place of work", and was able to leave it there, in that distant office. When my office is in my home, I have discovered that taking relaxation, taking leisure time is not quite as easy.

Especially when my work at the present time is also my passion. Writing is breathing to me; all manner of strange behaviour occurs when I don't write. Because then I write in my head. And sometimes, if I am in the company of others, I 'wander off'...and when I return from my imagination, my inner world...all kinds of subjects of conversation have passed me by.

I find this to be such a disservice to others, who believe I am listening and are including me in what is being said, only to find that I have really no clue.

I tell myself to listen, to focus, and if the discussion holds my interest...I am there, in the present. Should my interest fade and my attention wander, even just a little, I must be vigilant in returning. Sometimes it becomes hard work.

It's difficult for me, at times, to listen and focus for any length of time on conversations. My mind jumps from pillar to post...it's a job to rein it in and concentrate. The smallest thing will dislodge my attention from matters at hand.

And others can find it disconcerting, when I offer an opinion on a subject nobody was anywhere near discussing. When I notice confused faces, I realize I have done it again...imagined a scenario, solved it and given the opinion that caused confusion. I try to explain; it is like walking through a watery maze, as I follow the circuitous route my mind has taken to reach the conclusion I just gave.

Solitude is common for me; I am good at meditating whilst I weed or do some routine task. I also amuse myself for hours with differing scenarios streaming out of all the small, ordinary events of the day. I imagine conversations...he'll say this, I'll reply with that, only the conversation takes place in my mind.

People watching gives me wonderful inspiration.

Whole generational stories have evolved in my mind over a couple who are innocently sitting on a large log, washed up in a ocean bay. I wonder about what they do, where they live, what their parents were like, what did they learn from their grandparents...on and on it goes.

Difficult to return to the present, when the imagined world is so fascinating.

When I am on a writing schedule, I work and write until a little while before company is to arrive. And then I bring myself out of the "zone", and slowly, will become more conscious of the world around me. By the time friends arrive, I am well and firmly grounded and have no trouble with drifting off into another world.

When I take a break, take a holiday, I no longer take the time to write. Instead, I am stern with myself. No more office, no more computer, no more writing for at least a week.

It begins okay. For three or four days, I ignore my favourite room in the house...my office. Then, insidiously, my thoughts turn to whatever I might be writing at the time, or what I intend to write, or what might be a good subject to research. Given a few more days, and I am exhibiting the behavior previously described.

I have decided, if I am at home during a holiday, that it just works out far better for all concerned if I take a few hours and write. It clears my mind. All the bits and pieces of my mind that belongs to the writing world come tumbling to the forefront, eager as puppies to be let out of confinement.

I also know that a few days away from writing will allow these bits and pieces of my mind to refresh and renew. I have decided a few days away is good, giving my muse a glass of clear, cold, sparkling water instead of a glass of cloudy, muddy liquid to work with.

And I have decided that I am who I am...a writer. I am lucky in that I have understanding friends and a partner who allow me to be. They might be a little confused at times, understandably, but mostly there is just acceptance and very little judgment.

I am grateful. Because I don't believe I can change my behaviour. I can temper it, tone it down, do what I have to do to become more hospitable and in the present, but I can't/won't stop the muse.

Doing that would spell disaster for any writing I hope to do.

So leisure time, even as it renews and rests the soul, can sometimes be too much of a good thing, for me, if it means I must ignore the insistent muse.

The office door beckons and the world begs to be written about...relaxation brings about a re-kindling of my creativity.

No matter how I do it.