Christmas Eve. A warm, silent snow falls in the darkness of a small prairie town. A town centered with one strip mall, two barbers and three bars surrounded by houses and beyond that, farmland.

At this hour, sixty-two year old Henry, single father and the town’s longest serving barber is closing. He takes off his smock, places it neatly on a worn brass door hanger beside his chair. As it happens each and every Christmas Eve, he turns towards the front and expects Madeline to be at the till counting money. It’s been ten Christmas’s and he still yearns for her embrace, flowery perfume, raspy voice, sharp wit, infectious laugh. A dull throb perches on his shoulders as he dresses for the cold. He reaches for the back door then remembers the gift. The one he brought last spring when prices on winter items were cheap. It’d been wrapped for months with wrapping he found on sale in July. Habits he’d learned from once having to count each penny and having little during the great depression. In the back room, he grunts as he moves a chair and lifts a loose floorboard. His secret hiding spot. A last resort to hide gifts from his far-too-curious son. Then it was out the door.

At a street lamp at the furthest reaches from town center Henry’s son, ten-year-old Wayne waits. He’d just walked the seven blocks from his sitters, in anticipation of his dad’s getting home and allowing the opening of at least one gift as was Christmas Eve tradition. Wayne stands at the streetlamp beside his house staring up into the kaleidoscope created by the snow falling through the light above him. He loved doing this and only when conditions were perfect: at night, the temperature just below freezing, low clouds, no wind, and the snow has to be falling in large flakes. And always with some trepidation: he was sure his friends would think he was crazy. But these moments made him feel good, warm.

Sitting in the idling car Henry’s mind wanders…

Madeline gets into the car. “We’re late! Let’s go, you know Wayne will be
waiting. What’s wrong?”

“I forgot to get the gift. Damn it!”

“Is it in the hiding spot?”

“No, I forgot to buy it.”

“I reminded you many times, not on me.”

“What will we get him?”

Madeline pulls out a small wrapped gift. “Always prepared.”

“Oh thanks. Saved my skin again. Did you mean to give him that?”

“Bought it for last year, remember, you misplaced the gift, but found it last second?”

“Oh yes.”

A car horn wakes him. As he drives through the intersection he looks over to the empty seat and smiles.

Henry steers the car through the maze of the new subdivision. His shoulders stop throbbing and he smiles again to see Wayne under the light, jumping up and down.

Azure (c) by DC Lessoway

ever divining abyss
paragon of freedom
singular viewpoint does ordain

those feet firmly mucked
with iron resolve
optimism their raison d’etre
perceive endless warm days

as those ungrounded toes
hesitant, ambiguous
gleefully seek clouds
morose climes

a blue sky is there
our perception
finds its true

Photo and poem (c) 2015 by DC Lessoway

path (c) DC Lessoway

Will you look hitherto
seek regret, for this juncture?
Will you look forth
in dread, dismay, perhaps
death lurks there?
Will you hesitate,
stuck fast, unable to see
a path laying there:
planted in the soil,
written in the stars.
Then unyielding, unrelenting
time, prods you on, forming your
path. Regardless of whether
resolve seizes your heart, bliss
boys your frame, or
grief daggers at your soul.

 

Photo and Poem (c) 2015 by DC Lessoway

Panzano-07

A final toast,
to the buzzing summer
spent strolling cobblestones,
admiring religiosity-soaked oeuvre
in stone, marble and pigment.
The affect, impression upon my eyes,
my heart, lies further to this soul’s
understanding of the grater humanity,
rather than doctrine, dogma.
No matter, here, having
emptied my glass, perhaps
another before ending the evening.
Allow the sublime images, aromas, flavors
imbue my long-term memory; for
instant recall, a tool of repose, possibly
escape from the mundane, the everday.

Panzano-05

photos and poem (c) DC Lessoway

bench-1-jan-25-2014

as the fog of grief
descends, ensconces and detains
what drives the heart
to choose bearing
all while the soul, sundered
is intent on any refuge
any simple escape
its ramshackle carriage
riding muddied ruts of
an unchanging course
pulled by the four horses
of denial, guilt, anger, sorrow
driven to exhaustion, then,
as they fall, one by one
they are replaced
by depression, hope, acceptance
three infinitely stronger horses
directing the carriage towards
better roads, healing
out of the shadows
back into the light

trees-1-jan-25-2014

poem and photos by DC Lessoway

I have nothing but gratitude for our life.

In late 2010 I was laid off, and for a year it was a frustrating search for a job. One of the lowest times in my life, I must have sent out 50 resumes a day, applying to any job I could. Every rejection hurt, and I begun to think I wasn’t going to find a job.

Poor Marina, she worked so hard to keep our head above water. It was a far more difficult time for her as we scraped and had to make some very hard sacrifices to keep the lights on and a roof over our head.

Now, here we are and I wish to express a profound gratitude for my wife, a rewarding job and all we have as we move into our new home that we will own!

There is one more story I want to add that I believe shows there is always greater things a play:

When I first met Marina. I was living downtown Vancouver near English bay. The apartment number was 905. After we married, we moved to an apartment and that number was 3505. Then I lost my job, and as I was striving to find a job, the owner wanted to sell the apartment and we had to move. So we found a place in North Vancouver. The apartment number? 509. The reverse of 905. I suppose a coincidence. Then I found a great job and while we planned to keep renting, we finally decided to buy a place. So the search was on.

During our search, we were driving out to Port Coquitlam to look at a townhouse. I, following my usual route to work, took a turn I shouldn’t have and we ended up in Coquitlam. I said since we’re here, let’s look at this building I really liked. We went there and they first showed us a place on the 28th floor and it was okay, but not what we where looking for. Then we looked at the floor above and fell in love, made an offer and we get the keys tomorrow! Well, it wasn’t as easy as that of course, there is a certain person I want to strangle who put us through a lot of needless stress, but I will let that go, as we can’t wait to move in!

But, there is one more thing. The suite number. It is 2905. How about that! I like to call it our 2nd 905, the number we had when we first met and fell in love.

I harken back to what I whispered to my wife as we were introduced as man and wife on August 8, 2008: “We are going to have a great life.” And we are!

 

11796380_10152921494056401_5241447877177098902_n

Name:LISSOWAY, FREDERICK Initials:	F Nationality:	Canadian Rank:	Private Regiment/Service:	Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, R.C.I.C. Age:	37 Date of Death:	30/03/1945 Service No:	M/39774 Additional information:	Son of Tom and Mary Lissoway, of Danbury, Saskatchewan. Casualty Type:	Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference:	XIX. D. 13. Cemetery:	GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY
Name: LISSOWAY, FREDERICK
Initials: F
Nationality: Canadian
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, R.C.I.C.
Age: 37
Date of Death: 30/03/1945
Service No: M/39774
Additional information: Son of Tom and Mary Lissoway, of Danbury, Saskatchewan.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: XIX. D. 13.
Cemetery: GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY

To my father who served in WWII and his brother who never made it back. Lest we forget.

“Even unconditional love must be earned.”

Once I had two cats: a tabby (Dmitri) and a blue Russian cross (Vincent). Around 1999 Vincent died of cancer. Poor Dmitri fell into depression, he’d go into the garage yowl and yowl. How my heart broke, clearly the yowl, after so many years, rings clear, painful.

After a few weeks it was time to look for another cat, with the goal to ease Dmitri’s pain. This woman who often babysat my cats also rescued cats in Abbotsford. I ventured out there and found she had all kinds from kittens to old cats, and the moment I entered each one was vying for my attention. Except for a tiny orange ball of fur by the front door.

Of course the ball of fluff had my attention!

He curled into a tighter ball as I touched him. Then he looked at me. He only had one eye! My heart melted.

I wept to hear his story: he’d been rescued from this crazy woman and her basement full of male-only cats. This, clearly, mentally deranged person took cats off the street, threw the poor beings into her basement and would only throw food down at them and nothing else. Apparently in the stink and filth there were many dead cats down there too. The story raised my bile and fortified my wish to rescue this poor soul.

I paid a fee and put him in my pet carrier with a mix of emotions: anger, pity, determination, hope.

On the long drive to the vets he scratched so hard at the carrier door that his paws began to bleed. At the vet, I waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually the vet emerged, saying the cat is in bad shape with a long list of ailments: flees, an immune system problem, inflamed gums, scabby, dry skin, and clearly in constant pain.

The vet suggested two things: take him back to where I got him, or put him down.

There was no hesitation or consideration: I’d take him home. A profound passion, desire, struck me: I want to save him.

A name was found: Duncan. This was after the one-eyed actress Sandy Duncan (sorry, vague reference – see lots of Disney movies in the 1970’s). It fit perfectly.

Entering the house, I placed the carrier in the center of the living room. Dimtri came along, hissing a little at first; but he, well, I like to think that he knew Duncan was in need of love as Dmitri quickly accepted this little orange ball.

For the first six months Duncan never came out from under the bed. Still there are scars on my hands from having to dig Duncan from under the bed for his twice-daily shot of cortisone. This was to try to calm his gum inflammation and immune issues. Only allowed soft food, he had a stunted meow as he couldn’t open his mouth very wide.

In time, many vet visits revealed more about his horrendous past. An x-ray uncovered the side of his skull with the missing eye was slightly flattened. The only plausible explanation: as a kitten, with his skull still soft and forming, he was hit with a blunt object that deformed his skull and likely led to the loss of his eye.

After much patience, love and many vet visits, a solution to ease his immune problems: pull all teeth except a few in the front. It was a tough decision, but the long-term effect of cortisone shots would be harmful to his liver.

With immense trepidation I brought Duncan to the vets for the operation. There were risks, he didn’t have a strong immune system and being so tiny… the vet told me: prepare for the worst as she put him under and pulled teeth.

At home, after the operation, Duncan slept, it seems for about two days. Then, he slowly began to “come alive” as, for the first time really, he explored the house.

Then a short time after the operation something miraculous happened: I was watching TV when Duncan came along and jumped up into my lap!

The only time he’d come close to me is when I went close to him!  Usually during feedings or giving medication.

As he curled up on my lap I froze, not sure what to do and not wanting to scare him away. Hesitantly, I stroked him and he did another miraculous thing, he started to purr. To that point I never heard him purr.

I wept with joy and I still tear up today thinking about that moment.

It was quite clear that those teeth were the source of not only his standoffishness, but his pain. When they were gone his personality changed. He became curious, playful and would scamper around the house so full of joy.

I will never forget this profound lesson in patience, kindness and love; a first-hand example of a being’s resilience in the wake of unspeakable abuse.

It was all a long time ago, in another life, but this will stay with me forever.

Duncan
Duncan
Photo and story © 2015 by DC Lessoway

Rose - DC Lessoway

Sol’s great furnace boils
brims, sloshes, in jubilance
of infinitesimal beings born
of great violence
then, as ballooning spiders
capture solar winds in
their blistering flight
through vacuum and firmament alike
to illuminate shadows
to grace our skin
to show our eye the
beauty of this domain

picture and poem © 2015 by DC Lessoway