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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Meeting up with old friends

Last Friday I took my friend to the airport on my way to the college to return a data projector and video camera that I borrowed for Dad's memorial service.  I was feeling particularly despondent after dropping him off because he was such a big help with preparing the food for the services and he was one of the people who Dad had one of his last games of dominoes with. 

I decided to go to the beauty supplier to get some hair care products for Sunita and I.  I was looking at one of the shelves when I looked up and saw one of my students from many years ago. I remembered her name - Nicky - don't even ask how given the number of students I taught in my teaching career.  I called out her name and she looked at me hesitantly and said "Sandra?"  When I smiled and said yes, she came right over and hugged me.  She was as happy to see me as I was her.  We started talking and I was truly amazed at the things she remembered about me.  I talked first though, telling her what I remembered about her.  I recalled one day in school when she would have been no more than 18 or 19 and she was laughing about something but promptly covered her mouth.  Why?  She had a very small mouth crowded with teeth so they were very crooked and crossed over each other.  She was embarrassed about her smile so each time she smiled or laughed she covered her mouth.  I told her that day that no one who smiles as much as she does should be embarrassed.  She told me that if she could afford to, she would get her teeth fixed.  I told her that if that was something important for her, then she should find an orthodontist and get her teeth fixed, no matter the cost because she will have that for the rest of her life.

A year later, she came back to school and told me that her aunt had loaned her $1000 toward her orthodontist costs and she set aside some money each month to pay for the rest of it.  Today she has a beautiful smile - in fact - a beautiful laugh.  She was surprised that I would remember that but I did. She said that it was because of me that she has this lovely smile. She then told me some other amazing things.  She remembered that I had a beautiful smile, that I was always smiling and that my lips were glossy and they still were. She remembered that one day I was doing her make-up and after I was done, I gave her a beauty mark near her left eye with an eyebrow pencil and said she looked beautiful.  15 years later, she is still putting on that beauty mark but I think it's now tattooed onto her face. She remembered that in 1997, I took all my students to my friend's home to sandbag her home so it wouldn't be flooded during the spring floods that Manitoba is infamous for.  I said that I remembered that it was a cold day but we all went and she remembered that I was working alongside the students to pile the sandbags.  I said that it was my way of telling my students that they were not simply learning how to cut hair but learning to be part of a community and to give back to the community when help was needed.  She remembered that I used to take my students to the Victoria Hospital to volunteer to work with geriatric patients who could not afford to pay for hair and nail services and she was disappointed that the school stopped doing that when I left. She remembered that I liked travelling so she joined a cruise ship several years ago for two years and travelled all over the world including Venezuela which she knows is close to Guyana.  She remembered that I had a salon in my home so I could stay home with my kids when they were young so she is now doing the same.

She said that I was a great influence on her life and she is now teaching at the same school that she attended when I was teaching.  She is also taking some teaching courses to become a certified teacher and it's at the same college where I am presently working. With luck, I may even be teaching her again. 

Why am I telling you this story?  Well, these are the things I used to talk to my dad about.  He would listen to anything I had to say with such rapt interest that you would think I was saying something important.  To him, anything I said was important - at least that was the way he paid attention to what I was saying and he could recollect it years later. 

I cried all the way home from the supplier, parked my car on the driveway, wiped my eyes and came into the house trying to pretend that I was fine (even with puffy eyes).  I was emotional because of my realization that I would have these great stories but no one to tell them to - not anyone who would be as interested as Dad was. So my stories will stay as that - stories in my head - not appreciated in the same way as dad did. 

Nicky is what makes teaching rewarding and that I met her on Friday when I needed to hear that I made a difference in one person's life was a gift that I will cherish.  I recalled Dad telling me several  years ago when I lent some money to a student to pay her tuition fees and she didn't pay me back that I could not save the world.  I told him that I wasn't trying to save the world but if I can make a difference in one person's life, then my reason for being here would be worthwhile. I needed to hear that on Friday and live Mom says' God is in the midst of everything.  He walked with me that day and gave me something to smile about when I needed it most.

sandra

Monday, May 02, 2011

Back to work; not back to routine though

It's a sort of a strange day.  I woke up this morning at 5:30am feeling tired but thinking that I had to do something.  For a minute I organized my day in my head starting with a hospice visit before I went to work and wondering what the traffic would be like this morning.  It finally dawned on me that I had no hospice visits to make now and my days would be different.  I rolled over intending to go back to sleep but it's the first time in two weeks that I have allowed myself to think just how much my life has changed.  I am feeling a bit lost as if I should be doing something else but I don't know what that is.  

I have to go to the chiropractor this afternoon and I'm sure I'll go home to find all kinds of goodies made by my aunts and mom.  I hope Mom had a good day with them and she can spend some time talking about "old time stories." I heard quite a few last night and hope to hear some more.  Some of them though are not the publishable kinds - you know the ones I am referring to - the skeletons in the family closets.  Yes, I've heard a lot of them over the years but they are not my stories to re-tell.   

Saturday I had a very nice early Mother's Day with Sunita.  I started out with a massage appointment that was Sharm's which she gave up for me.  Then Sunita and I went to a movie _Water for Elephants.  That was the book I was reading when we were in Mexico last month.  After the movie, Sunita and I went out for lunch.  I had a great portobello mushroom sandwich and I am finding out that a vegetarian diet could be a very good thing.  I've been an on and off vegetarian for years and I am seriously thinking that I could do it again.  

I am off to my appointment and then for a 5k training walk.  I am now up to $880 towards my Cancercare goal of $2000.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.  My dad would be very happy.

sandra

Sunday, May 01, 2011

13th day pooja completed

We had Dad's 13th day pooja today and it went very well.  Auntie Maggie got up early this morning to fry some potato balls (about 80) and as many pulourie.  Bena was leaving for Calgary at 9:30am so she wanted to take some.  Sunita was also leaving at 4:30pm and she wanted to take some too so that was the need for frying them so early.  We all felt like it was Christmas morning and the presents were potato balls and pulourie.  Every one of us had some and it made me think back to my Nani's kitchen and how much of a good cook she was. I'll have to tell that story some time later.

Anyway, we all worked together again and cooked another early dinner for about 25 people.  Mom, Auntie Rosaline and Auntie Maggie made dhall puri.  I made the potato curry with egglpant.  They made spinach, pumpkin and dhall.  we made rice and I made some killer kheer.  We made parsad and Sunita and Sophie packed the bags for the guests. 

The pandit arrived at about 2pm and the pooja started.  Uncle Ram and Auntie Kay just returned from Trinidad so they attended and sang a Bhajan that Dad wanted them to sing when he was gone.  It was beautiful and reminded me of Dad.  The pandit actually invited me to participate in some of the rituals so that was a good thing.  He was doing part of the pooja and at one point in the service he asked Karran for the names of any of Dad's brothers who were deceased so that he could say a prayer for each of them.  Karran looked at me and I said the names right off the top of my head.  Then he asked Karran the name of my paternal grandfather and again I told him.  He said that Karran was supposed to know this since he was the one to carry on the family name.  Then he asked the name of my great-grandfather and I said his name.  The pandit smiled and told Karran that he is to learn the names.  We went through the names of the maternal grandparents and mom's sisters who are deceased and I gave him those names too.  I think he was surprised that I didn't spend any time thinking about or searching my memory for the names. They rolled off my tongue as if I had rehearsed them. The pandit told Karran that he is to know the names so that when he is doing this kind of pooja, he can pay tribute to the decesased ancestors and family members.  I think he finally realized that I am really the family historian which started over 50 years ago.  He kept referring to me as Savitree-ji.  One of my friends whose name I won't mention (but you know who you are) said that he attended the memorial service on Thursday and he thought the pandit had a "deer in the headlight look" on his face as if he was scared of me and expected me to take over the service anytime.  I thought that was funny! I think the pandit has a new respect for me and the rest of my family now that he has been to my home twice and seen first hand how we live as a family. 

Well the religious rituals are over for me, or at least my part in them are over.  The pandit said that he'll call me tomorrow to tell me what has to be done in the next year regarding other rituals but I'm not sure why he would be telling me when he says that Karran is the one who should know and have to do them.  Karran has to continue to do his part for the next year and I am sure that he will do whatever he has to do.  I am now completely satisfied that I did everything that I could do for Dad and his journey to the next life will be paved with goodness.  We cleaned up the kitchen, and are doing another several loads of laundry so that the house could be back to some semblance of normalcy. The cleaning lady is coming on Wednesday but with the traffic and guests in the house over the last two weeks, the house has been cleaned and recleaned several times already.  I'm not sure what she'll have left to do.  Auntie Maggie and I had a short but nice conversation. She said that I should be proud of what I did for Dad but that's half of the journey.  The other half remains with taking care of Mom and she's right. Mom will have to take some time to grieve and then decide what she'll do with the rest of her life.  

I want to go to sleep for a month but I also realize that I have not done any proper exercise in two weeks so tomorrow I will restart my training for my CancerCare walk on June 11. I'm going to have a nice long shower and go to bed early tonight and I really mean it this time.  

Here is the first picture of memorial presentation. Take care everyone.  Hope you had a nice weekend. 

sandra

December 1952-Dood & Sharie