Remember this man, your father Al?
Me at Aunt Paula’s
Memere on Nordic Empress with me
It was an interesting night last night (Wednesday). I found my father on Facebook and sent him several messages. I also sent him the link to this blog, so I thought I’d post some pictures in case he got lost, to remind him who he is and who I am today, and who is most important to me.
Over my life, I have had omens appear throughout my life. I have had visitations from family members that have passed on to the other side. They not only have happened to me, but to other family members as well, thousands of miles apart happening at the same time. I cannot explain them as they happened.
The first one to appear was when I was a teenager. My grandfather (my father’s father) died on year and mysteriously a red headed woodpecker appeared at my bedroom window. And he pecked at the window. continuously …
It got very aggravating after while. The bird, the pecking and my parents besides themselves wondering what the hell was going on.
The bird would follow me from the house to my bus stop at the end of our block every day. This went on for weeks and weeks. The bird would then follow around the house to whatever room I was in. I could open the window and tell ( AL ) to quit, and the bird would go. I could also stand outside and call ( AL ) and the bird would appear.
Soon after, my uncle Paul died, thousands of miles from Miami Florida. He lived and died in Connecticut. Where my family originated. One day my uncle John was black topping the driveway and a blue jay appeared on the lawn.
Now, Blue Jays are known for being ornery birds. But this one was different. Like the wood pecker, the blue jay followed my uncle around the house to whatever room he was in and would peck at the window. This went on for weeks and weeks.
There was discussion between Miami and Newington about this occurrence.
Two deaths, two birds, miles apart, but telling the same message.
After a while, our woodpecker decided to go. We did not see him again. A few weeks later, my uncle called us to tell us that a woodpecker had appeared at his window along with the blue jay. They stayed for some time together pecking at the windows and following people around the house and yard.
After some time, both birds disappeared. Never to be seen again.
When my grandmother, (my father’s mother) died, I brought home flowers from the funeral home and put them in my bedroom. That is when she began to appear in my bedroom. I always caught sight of her standing at the end of my bed. At first she freaked me out, but she returned nevertheless.
That took place over a period of time. But she was persistent.
Years later, I had moved to Fort Lauderdale Florida. I got sick and shit went down. I lived in a one bedroom apartment, with an ac unit in the bedroom. I always slept with the bedroom door closed.
That is when I began to notice things being moved or shifted.
Magazines on the living room table would fall to the floor. Pictures on the wall would be tilted. I could never explain it. But it happened over a period of weeks.
I was seeing a friend who was intuitive and a tarot card reader. I asked him to come over the house and tell me what was going on. We stepped into the apartment, and he said that a woman with red hair was in the apartment. And he also said that she told him to tell me not to sleep with the door closed.
It seemed that she could not get through the door, for whatever reason. But she could move things.
He did not know my grandmother, or that she was dead. I did not tell him anything about the situation, aside from the moved items. He explained the woman he saw down to a T. Yes, that was my grandmother. Early in her life she had red hair, she appeared as she had as a younger version of herself.
I never slept with the door closed ever again. And to this day, the bedroom door is always open.
Years later, when my grandmother (my mother’s mother) died, my mother forbade me to go to the funeral. God forbid someone see me in my sickly state.
For weeks after the funeral, Memere appeared to me. I would sit and write letters in her voice to my mother. In her handwriting. Signed with her name. As the letters were completed, I would mail them.
I am sure my mother kept them and never spoke about them, she probably thought I was going crazy and that it was me doing this stunt. She never mentioned the letters ever.
I moved to Canada in 2002. I worked very hard at a relationship with my family over two years time. I wrote every two weeks. A letter to get there took a week, and a return would take another week. I got no replies, ever.
The last thing my mother said to me in our final conversation was that if either she or my father died, nobody would call me, and I would not be told where they were buried. And that was that.
Fast forward to 2005…
One night, sometime after we got married I was in my bedroom, and I saw my mother appear standing in the room. She said she was sick, and that she was going to die. I attempted to prove this by calling, and got no response, in either case.
I cannot confirm nor deny that that actually happened. My father would never give me the satisfaction of that proof. He would continue punishing me for my adult decisions.
My Aunt Georgette was a Grey Nun, who I met when I first moved here. My mother, miraculously, gave me that introduction. So we met and began a relationship that lasted a number of years.
She ended up in the hospital after being diagnosed with inoperable Cancer. They had tried a surgery, but it was too far spread to help, so they closed her up and sorted her out into the intensive care unit.
On her last night of life, she was all hooked up to machines with bells and whistles. That scared her too much, so they turned them all off and hooked her up to a morphine drip that took her life. (cue assisted suicide).
I sat with her all night, reading the Tibetan Book of the dead, while she wasted away. At 3 a.m. she spoke her last words. She wanted a priest, said the devil was trying to take her and that she was afraid. I could not find a priest in the middle of the night, so I prayed with her. She closed her eyes and went off.
At 8 in the morning the nuns from the house came to her. The nurse cleaned her up and sorted her out. I said to her that I was going home and that I would return soon. I came home and showered and laid down for a nap.
As I was laying in bed, I felt her move through me. Like a wave or a breeze. I could actually smell her move past me. A little while later the phone rung and it was the hospital telling me that Sister Georgette was dead, and if I wanted to come up to see her, I told them I would see her at the Mother House.
*** *** *** ***
Now we are in 2014.
We live in a high rise apartment building. And there is a building to our right hand side that is not as tall as our building. There is a flock of about 30 pigeons that sit on the building side every day. I see them daily.
I’m laying in bed one morning, not long ago, and I hear cooing from outside the window, on the balcony. There on the balcony floor are TWO pigeons.
They stayed for a while.
We’ve never had pigeons come on to the balcony before. Ever.
But here they were. I did not think much of it, I thought that one pigeon was chasing the other one around and ended up on the balcony for some reason. So I dismissed the sighting. Thought it coincidence. And let it go.
The pigeons returned over a number of days. Always in the morning, while I was in my bed. And never during the day. (hmmm… strange).
They have not returned, however the pigeons still roost on the building next door. But none of them have come over to our balcony again.
Lately, I’ve been pondering the omens. And came to the conclusion that the visitation is truth and that the message is clear. Nobody called, yet something must have happened.
Because TWO pigeons appeared, not one. That is a solid message.
Me thinks not.
I’ve always thought about this happening and what I would do if I could confirm that my parents died and nobody called. (cue pent up anger and rage).
If I am a portal and that all these omens DID take place throughout my life, not only to me but other family members, then the omens speak and have spoken.
God help the person on the other end of rage if I ever get the news directly.
So that is my omen story.
Courtesy: SummerDiaryProject – Jase
It has been a busy week. The rains came this evening. Kind of raining in between coming and going. Hit and Miss rain that ended before the meeting ended.
The past few days, we’ve been on information assimilation concerning “the work.” We have all picked apart the best and the worst from the roundup now. Me thinks that they should bring in a new source, let’s say Akron, or Cleveland, or The Pacific Group in California. we may have had our fill of New York City, and the fact that the weekend was mediocre at best, seems to be the common buzz word.
I hit a bunch of meetings, hoping to hook up with a possible pigeon, but he was a no show on Monday night, and I won’t get another chance to see him until Saturday.
My guys are amid their step work. I am mid way through my 4th, waiting on my sponsor to finish with HIS sponsor, so we can move ahead. Lots of good stuff.
Which leads nicely into tonight’s topic and discussion.
We read from the Appendix 2 – and Spiritual Experience.
In A.A. it is enforced that a psychic change or spiritual experience must take place where in a change in attitude and outlook happens, this change guarantees that sobriety is possible.
In the M.A. book, it says that a spiritual experience is not necessary to get clean. it goes on, when working steps that you are allowed to “create” and find a power greater than yourself. For some, that is not always God, in the Deity spectrum.
Something my guys struggle with. My sponsor is of the mind that there are many ways to work a program and that “one way” is not always the “right way.” And sometimes you need to do something else, and We have done that.
I was thinking about Spiritual Experience. And turning my will and my life over to the God of my understanding.
A long time ago, in a church that was familiar to me and my grandmother, one afternoon she took me to church and set me on the altar and prayed, and in my memory it was as if she was turning my life over to the care of God as she understood him. This is one of my first memories that I tracked working my 4th step.
God was always present. For the whole of my life.
The second time I got a pass at turning it over was in High School on a retreat, the first of many over three years time. The One on One retreat where we were introduced to Jesus and at the end we were committing our lives to him, many of us came home on a high, and we learned how to live that commitment in our daily lives. Being a Christian in high school was quite the chore. Because the odds were against us. Carry a bible in ones bag was suspect.
I had several more passes by God in Seminary and in the Vatican itself.
When I came to my last drink the second time, I knew it was coming. The signs were there, and I had began to communicate with God. So that decision to quit was a conscious decision. Bolstered by prayer and a commitment to getting back, but I needed an escort to take me back, and I have written before that that did happen.
The most important spiritual experience this time around always involves other people. Committing to one room, committing to “the Stay” and spending time with others getting sober, watching others have spiritual experiences, is where I have mine, because it is in those moments that I see God.
I know who God is, and I know who God is not.
A university education gave me that, and spending time in the rooms has opened my eyes to the God of many’s understandings. For every human being there is a concept, some are the same, some are different.
My faith is solid so embracing other concepts do not threaten my faith or my spiritual journey.
You see this in real life issues in the world. New takes on religion, spirituality, homosexuality, equal rights and equality, these things shake up the pot of belief and you watch people who think they have a handle on their faith and practice, but if you speak these words to them, their entire lives are turned upside down.
People who do not have a solid handle on their faith and belief are easily rocked when they are asked to consider something more than they know. Hence this new movement of God and the gay Christian. This has totally upturned the apple cart of the belief systems of evangelical Christianity.
It is quite something to watch.
But, Um, Sputtering, total confusion, duh !!!!
Somewhere up there, God is taking the piss …
God is or He isn’t.
I live for spiritual experience, especially when I get to share them with my friends.
That is God in action.
It was a good night, and it has been a good week.
More to come, stay tuned…
Today’s Post is brought to you by Target Canada.
This in fact is NOT Alexis Nihon but a stock photo.
It was a bright and sunny day. However I am hearing complaints across the board about oppressive heat and humidity. As has been the case, September is just a few days away. And hopefully the temps will moderate and fall, hence the turning will begin.
I set out as usual and I am pleased to report that Alexis Nihon is coming along quite nicely. The escalator casing has been stripped and I assume that they are installing an elevator in front of the stairs. The up and down escalator sits in the center of the ground floor with the stairs in the center of the casing.
There is a (newly built addition) retail space going in on the left hand side (ala the down escalator) side (on the ground floor) which extend probably 20 feet from the center (square). The new storefronts on that side of the ground floor are still dark and have yet to be revealed.
But one good reveal is this … We now know what the store front for Target will look like with the reveal of most of the storefront. The entrance, it looks like, is far to the right of center with a roll door and a glass enclosure to the left and center of the front.
They have tiled almost all of the ground floor in white tile, but the old support columns have been re-boarded and spackled have yet to be finished. More work is continuing on the mezzanine floor where the IGA and Pharmaprix is located. The ceiling is all a mess of wires and hanging light fixtures with no ceiling put in place yet, there is a drop tile ceiling on the ground floor.
*** *** *** ***
It was another banner night for Changing Attitudes. Our business meeting was painless and once again this month we made rent and there is money in the kitty. Most of our opening expenses have been paid out, which means now the seventh tradition is going directly to the group as prudent reserve and rent.
We sat 15 folks. I even went as far as to set out extra tables this evening hoping that we would see guests that came last week. Others came in their place. It was good to see new and returning faces – a good sign.
Our group now has been registered at Inter Group, which means we have passed muster at the area level and that guarantees our placement in the next printing of the meeting booklet.
With a full house and a lot of gratitude, the chair read from As Bill Sees It. This book has become a regular staple at several meetings we go to during the week. We read from page 51 – The Coming of Faith …
“… When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And All was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more.”
Many people in the world are born into some form of religious upbringing. Either by parent or grandparent. And growing up with this infrastructure of faith either fostered or devolved into painful associations and sore feelings of hard done by God and or the church.
We heard a handful of God experiences tonight. Some do not like the word God and most have found their way around the God of institution, and have found for themselves a faith a (as Bill writes in the Big Book – a “God of our understanding.” This one phrase saves the reader of the book, who may be at odds with an institutional God of the church.
I’ve related all my God stories and you can read them in the PAGES section of the blog, —> over to the right a bit a ways down.
My earliest memory of God is Memere presenting me to God in the church when I was a young boy.
Faith was a staple part of my upbringing. I learned about God via osmosis and seeing how faith was practiced by family.
I was faithful to the book and the church to the point of ending up in seminary after high school. And I imagine had I passed muster and the ego test, that I essentially failed, I may have made it to my ordination and all this would have never happened. Alas, it did not.
My addictions grew and I become at odds with God for a long time. However He still knew who I was and was paying attention, at least to deliver me from the many jackpots that I found myself in over the years.
I did not get to ask one of my fellows tonight how he squared his belief in a higher power when he faced his own mortality like I had almost twenty years ago for me. God made himself manifest in my life in the guise of Todd who saved my life from imminent death.
I knew God existed, because I lived…
Going out was a brief departure from faithfulness. I really did not have time to practice faith because I was sunk in the pit of hell until I was extricated from it by friends who had a modicum of care to extend a hand to someone who really needed it and had no way out of hell myself.
I have said, recently, that God was moving in my life, well before I admitted my second bottom, and imbibed my last drink (once again). He moved heaven and earth and put certain people in my path that facilitated, (By divine intervention) my return to the rooms.
A year sober – I returned to university. And what did I choose to study? At first it was psychology, but that was short lived, and I changed my major to Religion. So I was studying God during my days, and learning about my higher power by night in the rooms. Needless to say, I was sandwiched between two heavenly powers.
If I ever left the church of my upbringing, I would have become a Jew. Because that portion of my studies was cathartic. I am still a Catholic at heart, in Mother Teresa’s terms. (read the book).
I don’t attend Catholic Church, yet I practice my faith in the Anglican Communion. My mentor and guide will be ordained on the 8th of September, but I digress …
I have said that I find faith in the rooms. In its people. I go to certain meetings, and by going to certain meetings on a weekly basis, I choose to invest in the group of people who host the meeting and ALL who attend any given meeting on any given night.
I mean you can go to a meeting and warm a chair and do and feel nothing. I’ve seen that happen over the past almost twelve years.
Once you chose a meeting to go to, by default, you have chosen to invest in that meeting, its people and in that space, most likely, will be the familiar church basement. And if you STAY at a meeting long enough, God will manifest himself to you and to countless others.
I find faith and see God as he moves in the lives of our guests. Watching people get sober is an act of faith. It is participatory action. It is a movement. We go for our own well being but we get so much more in return if we stick around long enough.
Eventually, after reading the book, and understanding the Book in the terms of “WHAT THE ORIGINAL WRITERS MEANT IN THE BOOK” and not what YOU think about the book, you will find God, or He will find you. Go to meetings, sit and listen, little by slowly, everybody comes to some understanding of that Power Greater than Themselves.
Faith without works is dead. We also heard that quoted tonight.
If I don’t / if we don’t spend a bit of time praying daily, the A.M. Please and the P.M. Thank You and a few sprinkled 3,7, and 11, thrown in there with a dash of serenity prayer, then we are not acting out our faith. If I don’t / if we don’t go out and do service and work with others, I / we can’t keep what was freely given.
You might just want to warm a chair for a while. But eventually, we/you find your/our way into a meeting. We find our voices and our faith. We meet God on our terms and we become able to listen to how others see and find God in their lives.
You come, you come to, and you finally arrive.
We are thankful for the many who have arrived, and came tonight.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Make a list of things you’d like to change. Expand one or all of the point into a post. How do they inform one another? What connects them? What does that say about you?
This photo was taken many years ago, I was a young twenty something, and the woman I loved more than life itself was still alive. My Memere …
This was a dream vacation we got to take together because I had a really great job and the ability to take friends and family aboard the ships on the odd occasion. There was no better way to repay her but with a trip to the Bahamas.
Oh by the way, this post is brought to you by Plinky.
It is Christmas. My 45th Christmas. Imagine, I lived to see 45 Christmases.
What would I like to change ???
I saw Sally Field on Oprah last night, speaking about her Human Rights Campaign Award for the Ally for Equality. And in her speech she spoke about her son, Sam. And how much she loved her son and that “God created him” so he’s gay, (then continued … Who the F*ck cares ???”)
And she said about the f bomb, that sometimes it is useful.
The holidays are really hit and miss for me. I love the holidays, and I hate them just the same. I find solace in doing for others on the holiday then reliving the knowledge that my family wants nothing to do with me.
I would change lots of things. I would love to see past resentments finally get rid of in my family. Instead of the way things are. Nobody speaking to each other, however I am in contact with my aunt in Florida. And my cousin in B.C.
Being gay is strike one on me. Being HIV+ is the second strike, and living abroad is the third strike. So what, I made life decisions for myself. It was all about me and not them. However I used them to get where I am today. Just luck my mother was still a citizen when I was born which afforded me a birthright.
I’ve been on the persona non grata list for more than a decade. And I wonder when do we stop punishing each other for growing up and making decisions in our lives. And when do we move from Resentment into Acceptance ???
It’s not all about Me – or all about You. It’s all about Us …
I sent out 25 Christmas cards today. That two boxes of cards, and postage came to more than $50.00 … A nominal expense, but I enjoy cards. Sending them and getting them.
I wrote out one card to my family, in the states. Just my signature and sealed and set it on the pile. Last night I got balsy and tore up that card and wrote out a second card. With an invitation to dialogue.
You know, I am 45 years old. I am past middle age, when it comes to HIV. I am living on borrowed time, as they say. What would you give to hear your mother say that she loves you? Or your father the same. Or your brother say that he was interested in dialogue after more than decades of silence.
I’ve earned every minute of my life. I am a big man. And though my family lived on tit for tat backstabbing, we all played a part in where we are today. Everybody is guilty, for things we did or said, and for things we failed to say and do.
If I could change some things in the past, like knowing what I should have done when my grandparents had their strokes – they might have lived longer and our family would not have self imploded like it did.
My Memere lived a long life. The regret of my life, is not going to her funeral. That is another sore spot, because my mother did not want her infected fag son to be seen by the family. So she barred me from the funeral and burial. What was I going to say, “f*ck you, I’m going anyways???”
People who believe in the bible so hard, they loose sight of what is really the meaning of life, and what the words in the Bible really mean. How can you espouse the bible and never set foot in a church? Did Vatican authority really force you to think, believe and say the things you all said?
Like Holy Mother Church was in the next room !!!
In sobriety we work our steps. And I have been through my steps. I made my lists and spoke to my resentments and pain. Some items on that step 4 list never get removed for good. There is still bitterness and anger. But what can I do, I am powerless over people, places and things.
I know better than to get my hopes up. My 11th sober anniversary is on Sunday and what a sober gift it would be to reconnect.
All you gotta do is Google me. And there I am. I am not hard to find.
What does this say about me? Family is everything, when you have none. No gay boy or girl, should ever be sent away or forced out of their family just for being gay. No way, No how, No argument. No gay adult should feel less than because members of their own family deny they exist because they are gay.
Time is a precious commodity, once wasted it can Never be regained. We all live on borrowed time, we are all going to die, and would you rather go to your grave with resentments in your life, or a clear conscience, surrounded by family?
Shit, I have a great friend in the sphere and on twitter who gave birth to a gay teenager (well he is a gay teenager today) and the second son is (Gender Queer) and son three is still too young to present. And she loves her boys. So does her husband Adam. I would kill to have a mom like Sam.
Times have changed, and You owe me at least respect.
The bible says “Honor thy father and mother.”
I find it hard to honor a human/humans who do not honor me. Love skipped a generation when it came to my parents. It seems they did not get the memo from the grandparents. They all died too soon to impart the message.
And I don’t know if I can teach an old dog new tricks.
I’m bored … and dinner is not ready yet. And the movie wasn’t showing today.
Hubby woke me up this morning with his announcement that he checked the theatre website and our film was not on till tomorrow. So we rescheduled and added a third person to join us on the adventure. So that will be good.
I thought about inviting a friend along with us tomorrow, so I cleared it with my sponsor and made the call. My friend is going through treatment for prostate cancer and I’ve been keeping a close eye on him, calling him and just being kind.
I think it is easy to be complacent – but much more important to be kind.
Well, what do we have here ??? It’s been a long time since I have written a Plinky Prompt. The website is a collection of writing prompts that wordpress encourages us to use to get the “creative juices” flowing.
I don’t think I’ve told this story, so here it is.
This story takes place a long time ago in my timeline. I was a teen-ager living with my parents. Whether or not you believe in the here after is not a question, but this happened to us.
My uncle Paul, lived in Connecticut. He was old and died when I was young. One day my uncle John, was blacktopping the driveway and a Bluejay flew out of a tree and landed right where he was standing.
Birds are birds right, they don’t usually fly up to people for no good reason.
This was just after Paul died.
And where ever my uncle John went in the yard or even in the house, the bird would fly to whatever window was closest and peck on the glass. This pecking went on for weeks and weeks. And at one point uncle John went outside and called to the bird to stop pecking.
The bird stopped pecking …
My grandfather died while I was still living at home. He was suffering from a stroke, alcoholism and fading age.
A couple of days past his funeral, I was in my bedroom doing whatever. And there was a huge tree, well, there were several. A 50 foot oak, a smaller flowering tree and a grapefruit bush.
On that particular day a red headed woodpecker appeared at my window and began to peck. This bird followed me up to the bus stop at the end of the street, it would be there when I got off the bus and it followed me all over the house, pecking on the windows. The pecking went on for weeks and weeks.
It got so aggravating that we would walk out and say to the air, “get out of here Al!” which was my grandfathers name. And the bird would stop pecking. But it did that for a long time.
Weeks and weeks went by and two pecking bird stories were shared by two families 1500 miles apart.
At some point, Al was ready to move on … and he did eventually leave us.
But a couple of weeks later my uncle called from Connecticut saying that Paul was still hanging around the house, and then he added that a woodpecker appeared with the bluejay at their house, 1500 miles away.
They both pecked for a while then they took off. Neither bird was ever seen again.
My grandmother (on my dad’s side) lived a while longer than my grandfather. She had a massive stroke and was disabled when she died. I was living with Gloria not far from my childhood home.
I went to the funeral and it was a very sad time for me because grammy was my whole world. I missed her terribly.
I had brought a couple of flower arrangements back to the house and kept them in my bedroom. I just had a feeling …
It wasn’t long after that that she appeared to me. Grammy would always silently stand at the foot of my bed and watch me. The first time she came she scared the shit out of me, I was like, “don’t do that …”
Her apparition stayed with me for a couple months.
Time would pass, I would move three times, I was in my 26th year of life and I was living in a small apartment not far from the bar I worked at when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994.
It was a one bedroom flat with a living room, kitchen seating area, a walk in closet and a small bedroom. I would sleep at night in my room, with the door shut at night.
Things started happening in the apartment. Pictures on the wall would move, magazines on the tables would move and drop to the floor. I could not explain this, but I was sure I wasn’t alone.
I was seeing a Tarot Card reader at a shop just up the block from home. He was a gifted man whom I trusted for advice. I mentioned the “happenings” to him in passing and he offered to come and see what he could find.
So one afternoon he came over and walked into the apartment and sat down. Almost immediately, he had a face, hair color and the answer to my question.
He saw an older woman with red hair and a kind face. When i was a child, grammy had fire red hair, I have pictures of her from that time period.
He said that she was hanging around watching me and that she asked him to tell me not to sleep with the door shut because for some reason, she couldn’t get through the door. I knew it was her.
Never did I sleep with the door closed again. And she stopped moving things around. She stayed with me for a long while, when I got sick. I needed her strength.
Some years later, my memere died. (my mother’s mother). Again, my world was shaken by her death. My mother did not want me to go to the funeral because of my gayness and my HIV positive state of being, and she made that perfectly clear to me. I had stashed enough cash aside to afford a ticket to fly to Connecticut, but I decided against it.
For weeks after her death, memere visited me. I saw her in my sleep. I had fits of writing compulsively in her hand, with her words. I knew it was her and I progressively wrote these letters to my mother – from her, and the things she wanted me to tell her.
I am sure my mother still has these letters, and that she probably thinks I was crazy, but I will never know anyways.
That’s three for three.
My parents returned with mementos from the funeral. Statues, photographs, paintings from both my grammy and memere. They sat in my personal shrine and they went with me on the slip that almost killed me.
I lost everything that I owned on that slip. Including my mementos.
Fast Forward to Montreal. I met my great aunt Georgette at the Grey Nun’s Convent just up the street from my apartment. I visited often for meals and Eucharistic Celebrations. And she shared stories with me of Memere from when she was a child.
My great Aunt Georgette’s family in the 1920’s during the Spanish Flu epidemic that killed millions of people had claimed the lives of Memere’s parents, and they took her in and raised her as their own.
I learned all this history from her over the 2 years that she lived, she was well into her 80’s. At one point, I got a call from the convent that she was in hospital and that it was terminal.
The doctors said that they would operate to take out the cancer, so we waited and hours into the operation they came out and told me that it was a no go, that there was way too much cancer and that nothing could be done to save her.
The convent came together and the sisters came to visit her. They were all she had and I was as close to the next of kin as you could get. Her brothers and sisters lived in Atlantic Canada and would eventually come for the funeral service.
When it all got too painful for her, they took her up to the ICU at the Montreal General Hospital and there were machines galore, bells, whistles and flashing lights. She did not like this at all. It scared her. When they tried to place an oxygen mask on her face she went crazy.
Then they decided that the only other choice was Morphine …
They turned off the machines and the lights, and strung her up with an IV line dripping morphine. I sat by her bed through the night I was reading the Bhagavad Gita.
The surgeon who worked on her came by in the middle of the night, prior to our last conversation, to check on her, shouting loudly, as if she was trying to communicate with a dead person.
At 3 a.m. she stirred and grabbed my hand and asked me to find her a priest. I did not know who to call, so I asked her ICU nurse. It was late in the night and she wasn’t sure she could locate one.
I stood over her bed and listened to her tell me that the devil was trying to take her and that she needed a priest and prayers. So I put my book down and began to pray over her and with her. We said the Lords Prayer and she faded off into lala land.
Her eyes had rolled into her head. And she was gone.
The next morning came and the shift nurse came on and the sister’s came for morning watch. I kissed her cheek and said that I would be back shortly. I was going to walk down the hill to home, take a nap and go back.
Around 11 am that morning I was laying in my bed and I felt her move through me and past me. Shortly afterwards the phone rang and the nurse told me that she had passed. I did not return to see he at the hospital, but opted to greet her when we buried her at the Mother House.
I have her picture on my sacred shrine in my bedroom. Along with the items I received from the nuns. A rosary, my relic that she carried close to her heart. And a Marian statue.
Whatever memory remains, must be written down so as not to forget it. They are all I have today. The women who meant the most to me are long since gone. But people are never far away if we remember them on a daily basis.
It is ( 0c ) outside right now. A bit frigid. It is time for Winter to go already.
I’ve been collecting stories to tell you tonight on top of meeting updates and stuff like that there.
It was a sunny day and a good day was had by all. I am ahead of the reading game this week. I am hoping I did somewhat well on my philosophy mid term last Thursday. As of last night, the grades had not been posted on LEA.
I have an oral presentation to do tomorrow night in French. I hate oral presentations. I write them out and copy them into Google translate and then print out what comes out. I did that the last time and it worked for me. I need three minutes of material, like good stand up if you get three good minutes in, then you win.
The end of the month is upon us, and you know what the end of the month means? As long as there is toilet paper in the bathroom everything will be ok.
It was a busy day today, lots of errands to run, a little banking here and there.
Last Thursday on my way to my phone shift I needed to put tickets on my Opus card for the metro. In every station are ticket kiosks. And since we are on Opus now, it is all electronic between you and the bank.
I got to Guy metro and slipped my card into the magnetic reader and went through the motions of recharging my card. I got all the way through once and my transaction was refused. (BUT – the reader took my money anyways) but didn’t spit out tickets. So I tried it a second time, I swiped my card and it took the information, and a second time, (the reader took my money and didn’t spit out any tickets). Total loss $28.50
I was pissed at this moment. So I got on the train and went to PIE IX station in the East end and when I got off the train and came up into the station I stopped at the Opus kiosk there.
I stuck my card in the reader and tried to load my card up a third time. It went through the motions and denied my transaction again. (the reader took my money again, but didn’t spit out any tickets). So this time I tried a fourth time to get the machine to work. That proved fruitless. (the reader took my money and didn’t spit out any tickets.) Total loss $57.00.
Now totally angry I went to the station kiosk and spoke to a woman behind the glass and told her that my card wouldn’t recharge and that I needed to buy tickets. She took my debit card and played with it a bit, stroking the magstrip on the back. She handed back my card and told me to try it again.
So I went back to the kiosk and swiped my card a fifth time. And voila the transaction went through. Total spend $14.25 – Debit spend total $71.25.
When I got to the office I started my shift and logged onto the computer and went to my bank site. I pulled up my transaction record to see what the bank showed. Two of my transactions were refunded back. Gain: $28.50
Two of the transactions that failed still went through, but no refund was pushed back onto my account. The fifth transaction showed on the account as processed. I called the bank to complain about the STM. They could not help me since it wasn’t a bank problem but an STM problem. Which brings me up to this afternoon.
On the way to the church I stopped off at the bank and talked to a rep there. I took with me a copy of my account transactions. She put all the information into the computer and took the transaction number from the successful transfer of tickets/debits. She told me that the bank would contact the STM and check the machine and that it might take 10 days to process …
The STM owes me $28.50.
*** *** *** ***
I stopped by Zeller’s to get milk and cookies for the meeting on the way to the bank. People love cookies, and that is a weekly part of the meeting, sweets!!!
I got to the church really early. It was all said and done by 4:30. Which meant I had two hours to kill before the meeting. A good thing I brought classwork and textbooks with me, we are reading KANT this week. A rather tedious read, if I say so myself. I don’t think that one read is gonna do it for me. He didn’t assign questions to go along with the reading so I didn’t highlight anything in the text. Which maybe I need to do before class on Thursday night.
*** *** *** ***
Attendance was slim at the first meeting. We had less than a dozen folks show up, but the discussion went the entire hour. We talked about Higher Power and how we came to find it, what we call it and how that has aided us in sobriety. It was our last beginner’s discussion meeting.
The second meeting showing was a bit better. The lion’s share of the seventh tradition came from the second meeting tonight. We had $25.00 in expenses for the week in literature, milk and cookies. Which basically ate up the bulk of the 7th, at least there was a few bucks to throw into the kitty.
Dave, Rick and I went to a meeting on Saturday night in Verdun and that’s where I found my speaker for tonight. I call him the artist. He spoke for us a few months ago, after an invitation in Laval one night.
There are certain old timers that I never grow weary of listening to. The artist is one of those men. He is sober 28 years and just has the most compelling story that I have ever heard. It was a treat because our group is 53 years old, and many an old timer in the city began their journey’s of recovery in this same church basement, years ago. Our room has seen thousands of people pass through our doors over the last 53 years.
He knocked it out of the park once again. I was just thrilled hearing him and the crowd who came was as well. The visitors from out of town were well represented tonight. Season has begun – as winter comes to an end we will see a lot more traffic coming from out of town. Which is a nice treat.
So the end of an era has come to an end. Next week, Tuesday’s Beginners will embark on a new routine, a new schedule and a new meeting. I need to call the office tomorrow and make sure they change the meeting info in the desk manual. We have a huge notebook with all the meetings listed which is handy for callers, it is a carbon copy of the meeting list, but on a larger scale.
They made the change in the data base and in the blue sheets, so we need them to change it in the book in case people call in the next week looking for a Tuesday meeting. Since the speaker meeting is now closed and the discussion meeting is bumped back to 7 p.m.
*** *** *** ***
I sat and listened to everyone share at the early meeting. Sometimes I find it better to keep my thoughts to myself. Since there were so many thoughts running through my head at that point.
Pondering higher power.
There are many parts to my sober story. People and places. Times and events. Situations and issues. I have a connection to God that began early in my childhood thanks to my Memere. She was the one person who cared about my spiritual education early on as a young boy. (You can find that story in the pages called “Naked and Sacred.”)
I’ve known my whole life who God is. Memere made a pact with God when I was a small child. You see I survived, Many things in my life. When I should have died. This story goes back all the way to my first run at sobriety.
I was sick, facing my own mortality and death in a time that hope was in short supply and death was a daily occurrence. There was one man who took care of me when everybody else walked away. He became my higher power when I really needed it the most. I learned to rely on another human like never before. In that first 18 months, God was tangible in human form. The closest I think I have ever gotten to God came in the form of my mentor Todd. The man I credit my survival.
I always knew who god was as a young person. I was not focused on the god of my upbringing at that point in my life, that would not come until much later, the memory of who I was, in the middle of total tragedy and loss. But God was there when I needed him. And what I needed was tangible evidence that God existed because I was going to die and I didn’t want to go alone.
What gay men of the AIDS era lacked, and I have written this before, was a connection to God. None of the mainstream writers during the height of the AIDS crisis ever mentioned the word God once. Not once…
Churches were turning away the sick. Families were throwing their children into the streets. People were dying left and right, for all intents and purposes, there was no God in the trenches. And I subscribed to that thought as well myself. I called on God to save me, and to protect me, and Todd showed up and it all happened as it did.
It would not come to pass for a few more years that the God of my upbringing would make its return to my life in the form of active religious participation in community, but it did happen. That’s when I met a holy man named Jeff. He changed my life.
I am certain today that God moved in my life in sweeping manners. My relationship to the god of my understanding has morphed over the last 43 years.
On my return to sobriety in 2001, I prayed to God certain prayers and one by one they happened. Call it miracle or not, God came to my assistance once again. I met a group of people in the rooms that second time who would carry me into sobriety once again. Some of those men and women are still part of my life today.
Coming to Montreal was an act of faith. Returning to my roots has carried me on this journey these last nine years. Getting sober this time proved educational.
In my youth, part of this journey of faith took me to a Catholic Seminary for a year where I learned to wait on god and get to know his voice. But that was not to come to fruition.
Fast forward to my move to Montreal and my introduction to family I never knew I had would bring me back to the God of my upbringing as well. I came to a new adoration for God through the eyes of my great aunt Sister Georgette. I had three years to learn from her. She blessed me with stories of family, she knew who I was well before I knew who she was.
Returning to University here in Montreal gave me the opportunity to continue my religious education. I would not take the route through the church but climb the ladder on the outside of the building. I not only have the God of my upbringing, but also the wisdom of six years of religious and theological education to add to that.
Just recently, my life has been blessed with photographs from my youth, when times were better. The people I loved the most were still alive and having those photos once again, tangible evidence of family, has brought me an old joy.
In Christian tradition, relics and photographs are something that connect us to the holy. They remind us of the past. And they carry with them blessings and memories of saints, blesseds, and the holy. You see these venerations at places steeped in religious history: churches, holy sites and grottos.
I carry with me a small satchel of relics from Mere D’Youville, given to me when Sister Georgette died some years ago. It is something that I hold dear. Keepsakes from her are special and I carry them with me where ever I go.
Memere is amongst the holy I venerate. Seeing her again has brought me back to my roots, I see her every day now, not like a memory in my minds eye, that can fade over time, with distance and life. I have that daily tangible reminder of who she was and what she meant to me when she was alive. That memory never left me, but has been reinforced in a way that I can’t explain, you just have to be in this place to get it.
God is never far from my daily routine. Over the years I have expanded my belief in a power greater than myself. I know what I grew up with, I know what I learned in university, and I know what I have experienced throughout my life.
The artist spoke about those events in our lives that in hindsight we know happened, that cannot be explained. The ways god remains anonymous. But people and events happen in our lives by no choice of our own, but by the grace of god.
I know who God is today, and I know who God is not. At least to me.
It may not be the same for you. And that’s ok.
It was a good day.
It is getting late. I need to eat dinner and get some sleep.
More to come, stay tuned …
This photo kind of says it all. Sitting on the sofa, hand on the forehead, is it wonder or exhaustion?
Tonight took us to Verdun for the meeting, I needed to find a speaker for my meeting on Tuesday night, thank goodness it was a hit for the night. No more having to farm speakers any more.
I’ve been thinking a lot about memories the last couple of days, since receiving that package of photos in the mail. I have sorted through them a few times. The ones with me in them, I have been trying to find the specific memory attached to the photograph, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
I thought that if when the specific photo was taken and I had had that photo in front of me all the while, maybe the memory would have stood out in my brain. But the mind is so complicated. I know where many of the photos were taken, but the bits and bobs of the photos are missing.
But it is funny. This blog is a collection of a series of memories from the past, the ones that mean a great deal to me. The memories that have defined me as a man, I spent time writing down everything that I could remember about those times.
I have scattered memories that span the whole of my life. Like places, people, things and events, from my childhood are in tact. I can see them in my minds eye. I can recall them readily.
I can’t recall some memories that I participated in and had photographed. Hence the reason that these photos mean more than words can say, because they give proof that certain events took place in my younger life.
I think as I grew up, the more distance I put between the event and myself, the farther away that memory became. Many life changing events happened since those photographs were made. I think that catastrophic life events took precedence in my brain. Like huge sign posts on the side of the road.
I have lost a certain amount of memory, this disease I have, I think has shrunk my brain in certain ways. I have tried, in many ways to forget certain periods of my life. In sobriety, the past – as it has faded into the past – has lost its sting.
And I think that the medication I also take on a daily basis has some effect on my ability to remember huge amounts of time in the past. That is both a blessing and a curse.
There are things in my life that I remember clearly. And there are things from the past that are but shadows. But there are also entire periods of my life which have been untouched for a long time. And the more that I ponder certain periods of my life, shedding more light on those periods of time, the memories become clearer.
Growing up, over the years, has afforded me many memories. The key memories that I have been trying so hard to recall still elude me. I have specific memories of the people who mean a great deal to me. I have worked to maintain those connections in my minds eye. And receiving a bunch of new photos has begun to jog my memory. I know that I wasn’t very sober during the period of my life where some of these photos were taken, but for brief periods now and then.
I worked for Royal Caribbean for a couple of years. Time that afforded me the ability to travel with friends and family. I have brief bits and pieces of memories from that period of my life, but no specifics.
That was a troubled portion of my life, I was to some degree a functional alcoholic, and it would have been during this time that I offended a great many people with my irresponsibility. I was good, here and there.
One tends to wonder just how much damage we do to ourselves with our drinking, to the degree that which we used to drink? My sponsor says from time to time, that as he gets older, that he has suffered some brain damage because of his penchant addiction to drugs and alcohol in his past.
I don’t know what I could do today to try and find the memories I am looking for in my brain today. I don’t know where to find them, but I wonder if hypnosis would help me find them again?
What about your memories? Are they all in tact? The older I get the more distance is put between me and my memories. The people who mattered the most, are long since dead. The people left in my life, the people that I call family today, are here and there.
The more I write here, the more memories are collected here, and that’s what this is here, the repository of my memory. It has been a labor of love this blog. That’s why I keep writing, because maybe one night I will sit down and a memory might rise to the surface and I will get to write it down.
We shall see …
I was quite dapper in my youth. On Board Nordic Empress, RCI Cruises
Memere aboard Nordic Empress, RCI Cruises
I wish I could have bottled this one too …
Now I get to see her on my desktop.
I got a whole bunch more photos from my aunt in the mail today. There are my favorites. I scanned them into the computer and posted them on my Facebook profile.