November 12, 2009
Day 12 and I begin the day with 16,668 words ... about 30% of the way to my goal ... and 19 days in which to write the last 33,000 or so words ... so I have to produce about 2000 words a day. This kind of thinking is unlikely to produce anything worthwhile, so I have decided to forget about the numbers and just write.
Today's entry is called "Changes of Heart" but it could as easily have been called "Fractured Hearts" or "Breaking Hearts" or anything else that might suggest feelings that are completely disengaged from sense.
It all began with a phone call.. Mark called to tell me that he has just finished a massive project that has every chance of being successful and really helping doctors in Africa fight AIDS. He was upbeat and our conversation swirled around taking on a life of its own. I thought briefly about telling him we had to end things and then I was swept up in his enthusiasm, and the vibrant magic we both exude when we are together. His own pleasure made me laugh when he told me about the DVDs he had tucked into his suitcase for me. We discussed his need to hire an intelligent writer with strong computer and website management skills. The conversation sparkled for almost an hour while I ignored the stove's timer buzzer telling me that my dinner was ready, and allowed myself to revel in everything I love about the man. Finally Remi's big head lifted off my lap and he turned wistful brown eyes on me, and I said I really had to feed the dogs and rescue my own dinner from the oven. That led to a few more words about dinner on Tuesday. I could bake an orange cake with vanilla icing for his birthday but he would bring the food. . All my better judgment may have been screaming dire warnings, but the illogical feeling side of me responded as it always does to Mark. I didn't cancel dinner. It is very easy to forget why he pisses me off when we are together because we really do connect in a special way.
While I was eating dinner , Sarah called to discuss Remi. She loves him as much as I love Kenya, and she too is torn between what her heart and head want. Her husband comes down on the side of good sense and no heart ... even though he loves Remi ... She leans toward what her heart tells her, but is better able to balance the two. I tried to balance logic and love (easier when it is not my dog or my man ) and said that no matter what she chose to do, Remi would be fine, whether he ended up with her or me or someone else who loved him. I said that it would be harder work to have him with her than not, but that her family, especially the baby, would benefit from having a dog. She asked whether I thought it was unkind to Remi to be a dog living in a townhouse in the suburbs. I was honest. Any dog would prefer living in the country but the older Remi got, the easier it would be for him. After all, lots of dogs live in the cities and don't have the kind of freedom that Kenya enjoys. And they are certainly not all miserable.
As soon as I got up this morning and put the dogs outside I made a phone call to England. They haven't discovered the primary site of Pat's cancer yet but are planning explorative surgery next week. They think that it started in the lung and then spread to the spine. She has broken ribs and crumbled vertebrae and an infection between the lung and the ribcage that they have been draining and treating with antibiotics. Her pain is being managed well and she has regained some mobility and appetite, and most of all she is being brave and accepting, if not overly hopeful. She has lots of visitors and is cheerful. Her boys are being wonderfully supportive of her partner, and he is hoping that the radiation and aggressive chemotherapy will give her some respite, that the cancer will be forced into remission. Where there's life, there's hope.
Once again I am torn between what my heart wants so desperately to believe, and the memory of Clare whose lung cancer killed her within a year. I wish I had the money to go to see Pat, so that I could deliver in person the hugs I sent via Nolan.
Life is not simple.
"Then why would you expect it to have been easy for us?" I smelled the expensive face powder first, and then she materialized. She was still fashionably thin, still wearing expensive couturier clothing, but her skin was more wrinkled than I remembered and she had a distinct dowager's hump now. The trademark hat and veil and the fox furs, however, were still holding up well.
"Nana," I whispered. "What are you doing here?"
"He told you I had Paul murdered."
"I had to."
"Oh come one, Nana."
"He was gambling away every cent the old man made.And spending it on those floozies. There would have been nothing left if I hadn't put a stop to it."
"But his parents were still alive when he died. The fur factory was still making money, wasn't it?" What in hell was I doing just following her thinking down its twisted path?
I changed direction, became the prim school marm. "There's never a good excuse for murder, Nana, and money has to be the worst possible one."
"You've never been absolutely broke, have you?" she said.
"But you weren't either."
"In Aberdeen my family scraped and scrabbled by. Porridge for breakfast, potatoes for dinner and more porridge for supper. I wanted more. When I finally saved up enough for the passage to Canada, and got a job with a family, I thought I'd finally made it out of the pit. I hadn't been here a year when I was raped by the husband of the woman I was tending. When I told him I was pregnant he threw me out on the street. I know what it's like to have no money, no home, no food , no family to turn to. I know what it is to be absolutely desperate."
"That's when Eva helped you."
"Yes, she saved my life."
"Why didn't you stay there and work at the home?"
"Eva couldn't pay more than a pittance. Her whole life consisted of begging for money to keep the home going. I couldn't stay there. It would have been back to a diet of porridge and potatoes."
"Life made you hard, didn't it?"
"It's called survival. If you don't get tough enough, you'll be eaten alive."
"Maybe." I said, "But what kind of life is it if you can't trust anyone, can't listen to your heart?"
"A safe one," she retorted. "Here's a piece of advice from an old lady who survived. If you have to trust anyone, trust a woman. Men are certainly useful, but don't ever trust them."
No balance of yin and yang in Nana, I thought. Pure cold logic all the way. But who the hell wanted to be like her? She was not a happy woman. All the expensive clothes, trinkets and furs were never enough to make her happy. And there were no friendships, just things that money could buy.
"Who actually shot Grandpa?" I asked., but I was alone again.
At 8:45 the next morning I headed off to teach and discovered that my student was already in a class and I had a couple of hours to kill. Another failure in communication. I decided to remain in the village rather than driving home. I would go for coffee, read the paper and play with my sketch booking journal. When I bit into the scone my tooth crumbled, or its filling fell out. Whatever happened I had what felt like a jagged half molar that my tongue found irresistible. I finished what I was doing and drove over to the dental clinic and made an appointment for the next morning. While I was there I made an appointment with the optometrist for February, paid a visit to Giant Tiger and then stopped in at at Art de la Paix to pick up my cheque. I had just returned to the language school when I met Klaus who was just going for coffee. I gave him a lift to Le Hibou and we chatted over coffee and then came back to River Echo. We worked on the speech he was to give the following day. It was 1 p.m. when I finally left for home. My $60 pay for an entire morning's language teaching would not even cover the dentist's bill.
(But I did get a paragraph for Nanowrimo! :-)-
I spent the afternoon walking and tidying dogs and packaging kindling from the cedar scraps and after supper, called Danny. I told him I wanted to visit Pat ... I didn't even need to ask if he would help ... he offered. How much did I need? Airfare ... I was sure I could stay at Nolan and Pat's ... and Tammy would look after Kenya. I would call Sarah to get Remi taken care of ... either a kennel here or their home ... When would I go? Either November 20-24 or December 9- 14 ... in order to work around the surgery on Shea's leg.