I have 37,338 words now ... less than 13000 to go and three days to write them ... wish me luck ... I have an ending now but I haven't written it yet and I won't spoil the surprise by posting it before midnight on November 30. Here is the last bit written.
November 27, 2009
Day 27 Continued after lunch
I wonder why I sent this email to him ... he doesn't even check that account most days ... it's the one that contains only letters from me ... the one he looks at when he needs whatever it is I provide.
I am back at the lake ... exhausted physically and emotionally ... but very glad I made the effort to be with Pat at this time.
I kind of think you probably can't understand ... but just in case you are interested ... it was good to be with my friend ... to see her this one last time ... to share laughter and thoughts ... to rub her hands and feet with lotion ... to make cream of carrot soup for her ... to accompany her in the ambulance to the Heart Hospital where her surgery will take place ... to help her pack and sort and put away things ... to brush her hair ... to spend time with her son and his family ...
Was it a dig intended to hurt or to wake him up ... to let him see what friendship is?
I watched "Adam" on the trip home ... the movie about the young man who has Asperger's Syndrome. The ending is beautifully handled ... no fake saccharine improbability ... no romantic nonsense. He tells her he needs her to help him cope ... he says that's why he wants her to come to California with him as he starts this new job ... and she says that is not good enough. He goes on his own and he learns to cope. She had already helped him sort out a good many things and he was able to build on that.
I don't know if Mark has a personality disorder but he is strange ... and he finds it very difficult to cope with the ordinary stresses of life despite being extremely intelligent and good hearted. He has to go to extraordinary lengths to be able to cope. He married a psychiatrist first and an occupational therapist second. The psychiatrist may have driven him a little crazy. The occupational therapist helped him get his foundering life on track. But then she too was unable to sustain a good relationship with him. What makes me think I could do any better than two women educated and trained in dealing with people who cannot cope with life?
The young woman in the movie cared about Adam ... but she didn't marry him ... and I applauded.
I wonder if Mark's ex-wives have seen "Adam" ... and whether they made any connections between this lovely man with Asperger's and Mark. And if they did, did they also applaud the ending?
I think I have found a man with a great many sterling qualities but one who is unable to have a real friendship or conjugal relationship with anyone. And the really scary thing for me is that Mark is not the first such man to whom I have gravitated.
Danny comes to mind immediately. He had to rehearse courteous behaviours and social interactions because they did not come naturally to him. He was not capable of true empathy. And yet it was Danny who made it possible for me to go to Pat. He had learned generosity from his father and has practised it all his life.
That boy Jack ... Boy A ... who grew up in prison after being convicted with his only friend of murdering and raping a girl their own age ... he was lacking all those everyday social skills too ...
That was one tough movie ... one of the ones Mark gave me the last time he was here at the lake.
I've always been fascinated by the violence of youth crime ... remember the two boys from the industrial north of England, the ones who killed the toddler? That seemed to be the precedent for a whole series of very violent crimes committed by children and youth ... I suspect "Boy A" was based on that murder, or on the writer's fascination with the subject.
"Well, I damn well wish you had as much interest in murders committed by greedy women," snorted Grandpa.
"You know that Nana arranged it and you know who actually committed the murder. Isn't that enough?"
"If it were enough I wouldn't be asking you to get off your tush and find out who the other women in the chain were."
"But why does it matter now that you are dead ... and they likely are too?"
"Curiosity, maybe. Tying up loose ends. I need to know. And that'sall you need to know."
I began to think about it. Nana needed to find a killer. It had to be someone she didn't know, someone who would be completely unconnected with her. Someone who, if caught, would not be able to name Nana.
Nana was unconnected with the underbellies of Toronto and Montreal, so she needed to make a series of connections that would have begun with someone she did know. It kept coming back to Eva. But Eva would not have helped Marie kill Paul, not knowingly. I began to play What If? What if Nana told Eva some cock and bull story about wanting to help one of Eva's charity cases? What if Nana formed a tight friendship with this hapless woman who linked her up with one of Grandpa's piano girls. What if the piano girl bore a grudge and the two women talked about the shabby way Paul had treated her and Nana. What if that piano girl knew someone who knew the actual murderer? Nana's physical connection ... her money connection would be with the hapless woman and the piano girl who bore a grudge. There would be no mention of murdering Paul. It would be up to the piano girl to make that ultimate decision. The line is going further and further into the underworld and further and further away from the respectability of Nana. The final two women in the chain before the actual murderer have to be pretty bloody angry at men and at Paul in particular.
"Now you're getting somewhere," said Grandpa.
"Yeah but it's all just speculation, Gramps."
"Don't call me that," he grunted. "Ask Eva who she introduced Marie to."
"Okay," I agreed. But of course, Eva, like Grandpa, comes when it suits her.
I decided to go for a walk in the rain with Kenya who was emitting disgusting anal smells and needed to go out for a long walk. And my head needed to be cleared as well. I donned my yellow slicker and headed off around the lake. The new neighbour's Dogpatch yard was getting worse, not better. Now he had cardboard strewn everywhere and the wind has distributed all kinds of paper and plastic bits and pieces to the neighbouring yards. My house was looking nice from the other side of the lake since the cedar on the north side had been put up. I let Kenya off leash to run and fetch sticks and then at the last house we turned to come home. It was a grey misty day and the wood smoke from our stoves hung in the trees. I could hear the voices of the guys working on the deck next door, and Kenya considered swimming over to visit the little blind dog, Lucky, who was barking. On our way home we stopped to visit Tom. He's on his way to Montreal tomorrow morning ... to have lunch with a friend. When we went past our own place to check out the place next door, I was delighted to see Christmas lights festooning the new deck railing and a Santa Claus ready to attach to a wall leading up to the chimney. I mentioned these and they laughed ... the men had been less than enthusiastic but Carol Ann had insisted. Women know where to place priorities.
Back at home my place was nice and cozy and Kenya stretched out before the fire to get dry. I went upstairs to check my email and found a note from Mark which immediately made me forgive him. He is sick with a flu bug. Among other things, he said he felt as I did that a short one evening visit was not working. It had pissed me off. It saddened him.
I think I use anger as a shield when things are not going smoothly in love ... makes it easier to throw the whole thing away without getting hurt. This is the first time in many many years that I have shown any patience at all. Maybe this is the real thing.
"Your propensity to get angry," said Eva, "is why you live alone with your dog at 69! I think it's encouraging that you haven't given up on Mark."
And then I talked to Claire, and any thoughts about Mark or Eva or Grandpa fled.
"Myeloma isn't curable. Nobody has read the book."
"The book they give out at the hospital .. the one that tells about what happens with myeloma."
Claire had said her good byes tonight. She had told Pat she wouldn't be seeing her again unless she could travel to Canada. I said the same thing ... but I would go again if I could or if she needed me ... .
Claire told me what I already knew; that she was surrounded by love ... that Pat was immensely touched by the fact that her best friends from Canada had come to be with her ... and to say good bye ... and I wept ... I want a miracle ... I don't want my best friend to die. ...
I have gone on-line but I can't read through tears. Claire seems certain that this is the end or the beginning of a hell ... I don't trust Claire's perceptions ... or maybe I don't want to believe the worst ... I wish I knew more.
November 28, 2009
Day 28 begins ...
Yesterday ended with an upsetting phone call; today began with a cheerful email from a good friend who is in his eighties. One of the lines was: "I made a resolution not to grumble - I am very lucky. I need to stop Doreen claiming, "Sometimes I wake up grumpy, and sometimes I let him sleep!'" It made me think about all the unhappy faces I'd captured yesterday.
Then I turned to the news on-line. Not happy, most of it ... Child who died at airport was 'always smiling': father ... and my mind juxtaposed the short happy life of this toddler with the grumpiness of old folks who live until disease catches up with them.
But there were also some very puzzling (and contradictory) ... and therefore very human ... items For example:
Night and weekend bus service in Ottawa could be reduced and fares raised under a proposal aimed at keeping next year's property tax hike under four per cent.
Raising fares and reducing service? How is that fair?
And then there were the strange headlines about people who look after unwanted animals ...
Four animals inside the Toronto Humane Society's shelter in the east end of the city had to be euthanized after animal cruelty charges were laid against the president and the board of directors at the facility.
And from Ottawa ... "Cat hoarders charged with cruelty"
I thought about Eva ... looking after women so that unwanted babies would not be aborted and their mothers killed or mutilated. Was she performing an important humanitarian service, or was she adding to the misery of the Depression?
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Eva."
And who are you?" I asked. The woman reminded me of someone. It wasn't like suddenly seeing a Doppleganger, but close.
"I'm not sure what you would call me, but my half sister was your mother. My name is not as important, but it was Wilhemina."
I looked at her more closely. She was a small woman of about my age now. Her face was heart shaped with strong cheek bones and her eyes were a startling blue. "How do you fit into all this?" I asked. "Was Grandpa your father too?"
"Yes, and my mother went by the ungodly name of Velvet Touch when she was still young and dancing."
"So you were brought up by a stripper?"
"No, as a matter of fact, I was brought up by people in the countryside far away from my mother's place of business."
"No, with kind strangers paid by my father. My foster parents became the only family I ever knew."
"So he looked after you?"
"Yes ... and made sure I could look after myself later."
"Did you spend any time with him?"
"Not that I remember. He died soon after I was born."
"So how ..."
"He left a trust fund that covered all my expenses until I was twenty-five. I became a teacher, like you."
"What about your mother?"
"She died in childbirth."
Such irony. Saved from a butcher's knife and killed by a live birth.
"Many women still died in childbirth then," said Wilhemina.
"Did you ever meet my mother?"
"Not till we were both in our forties, when your mother moved to Montreal after the Avro Arrow was murdered by Diefenbaker."
"I remember that time. I'd met my mother by then. I was busy having my own babies."
"She told me. We worried about how you would manage. Sixteen and pregnant ... and no family to fall back on for advice or guidance ... "
"And no examples of mothering to recall," I added. "Did I meet you?"
"Yes but you didn't know we were related. I was simply your mother's friend."
"Why were you so secretive?"
"I'm not sure now. But at the time it seemed important. I was illegitimate, you know."
"Did you have children?"
"Four. Three girls and a boy."
"Not much like you," she smiled. "They led far more tranquil lives than you did."
"Are they still alive? Could I meet them?"
"The oldest died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. I've come to attend his funeral."
"Mary Ann is 65, Sarah is 63, and my remaining son is 61."
"Where are they?" I was hoping I could meet them before it was too late.
"They are scattered all over the country," Wilhemina said. "Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver."
"So I have cousins and nieces and nephews," I said. "I wish I had known."
"You could attend the funeral," she said. "I expect they will all turn up. It will be held in Toronto on Monday."
Odd day for a funeral, I thought. Why not the weekend when everyone could come? I turned to ask her his name, but she had disappeared. I hate the way they just leave without warning.