In silence we stand
In silence did not
Who gave their all
So we may
In silence stand
I usually watch the remembrance ceremony on TV, in such a disconnected way. Usually flipping between the Ottawa and Vancouver telecasts. I should say disconnected, but there is always something that stirs in me, brings the tears to my eyes. Last year, we moved and now we are only a couple blocks from the Victory Square cenotaph. Alas last year I watched it on TV, lazy me.
But this morning I felt I should go join the others gathered at the Victory Square cenotaph. I went down there and joined the crowd.
It was such a great connection there in the midst of the crowd and it was chilly, but the rain held off and everyone with their friends, children quietly listening to the speeches, to the choirs, the bagpipes. My emotions were swirling standing in the midst of so many people. Had a bit of a struggle to keep from weeping openly, damn these sentimental emotions of mine.
Then at the eleventh hour a singular trumpet “Last Post” played, accompanied by a fly over of military and civilian aircraft, and the booming of the 21 gun salute. It was as the drone of the aircraft faded a lone train horn, I assume from the train station at main street, broke the silence and echoed through the buildings around us. In this moment I looked around and saw the many tears. Indeed it’s such a noble thing to share with a great many people a singular note of emotion.
I walked the streets this morning as my beautiful wife had to work. So I’ll take advantage by stopping by Starbucks at the corner of Robson and Thurlow to sit in the hum of the crowd and do some writing.
The poppies everyone’s wearing forever remind me of my dad. I still hear his gravel baritone voice, cheering on his hockey/baseball team. Such memories of late-fall and winter Sunday’s in the early 70’s, sitting around the tube watching a game on Hockey Night in Canada. I am my father’s son. I watch a hockey (Vancouver Canucks!) game with the same shouting bravado, turning the room blue when they’d get scored on. Such moments were the only time my father showed any palpable emotion. And I wonder to this day where I got my stormy emotionalism… wasn’t from him. Maybe it was in some form of emotional rebellion. Maybe.
Back to the poppies, my mind travels to the wars around the world that in this age how we call ourselves civilized yet we are so far away from the true humanity that kind civility comprises. See a list of wars ongoing around the world here: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/
The philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Such is the cycles of humanity, we keep making the same mistakes, have the same fights/skirmishes/wars/genocides over tiny pieces of land, over power, over money, over people. I struggle with the thought that while there are many in the world doing so much good, there are many more who don’t give a shit except for their own want. *sigh*
© 2010 by DC Lessoway
All the notions of the world
All the travels weathered
Along the life before us
All to be considered
Whether the wind or
Guides of the sun
Lead us on this
Path to follow
How the day flows
How the love knows the
Gentle nourishment needed
Holding us aloft
Far below land
Fertile, layered, unknown
Draws our dreams
To lie, rest, mull over
Every year it rolls around, I think about the unimaginable horror, sacrifice, the men and woman of our armed forces have made on our behalf.
I recently read the short WWII war diary of a Canadian Métis solider James Brady, as he took part in the campaigns in Europe. How he landed on the beaches of France, then over a year made his way, with his artillery company, though the tough fight and to the defeat of the German army. There are many diaries of war, but I felt Brady’s humanity and socialist beliefs shine through and gave these diaries a unique look into the soul of a man having to deal with the horrors of war. You can read the “James Brady War Diary” here: http://www.metismuseum.ca/resource.php/03832
This morning on my walk to work I ran across the man who sells poppies at the corner of Robson and Seymour every year. He was standing in the pouring rain, dressed in what looks like an antique WWI uniform. Every time I see him my heart jumps. He looks just like my dad. The slim frame, gray hair, arched back. He’s been on this corner for years and each year I give him a toonie and he, with a shaky hand, pins it on my lapel. Then I always walk away misty-eyed, memories of my dad’s hand on my shoulder. My father passed away on November 9, 2004.
November has some memories I’ll never forget. It was in early November in 1998 when our family gathered in Edmonton. My sister Marion had with cancer and we learned a new word: metastasized. We gathered around her in that, cold room. I remember staying up the whole night, a lot of it holding her hand. I was batting my own secular spirituality, asking god to either cure her or be merciful and do that which I couldn’t bring the words, or even the thoughts to say. That morning we gathered. All of us except for two brothers, a sister and my mom and dad, all gathered to wait. I’ll never forget the last moments. I won’t describe them except this: it was both the most beautiful and horrendous moment I’ve ever lived through, it was November 6.
The last time I saw my mom was the first time she met my wife. My mom was in the hospital. Her body was slowly dying. She was weak but lucid enough to understand us and say a few words. I introduced my wife to my mom and she said my wife has beautiful long and black hair and just like her own when she was young. Then I had one of those moments you’d see in a movie where the son reconciles with the dying parent. I hadn’t seen my mom since my dad died four years before. It’s a long story but she wasn’t there much for me, I always said that when my dad died I felt I became an orphan. The short of it is my mom left when I was a baby and she and dad reunited when I was about to leave home. I never had that connection to her in a mother-son way. And it was in those last few minutes and hours with my mom that all the regrets, all the dark feelings directed towards her welled up and kicked my ass. I felt horrible for every thought. We returned home and a little over a month later my mom passed away, it was November 13, 2008.
So yeah, November is a month of deep emotions for me.
Title: WWI Lament
© 2010 by DC Lessoway
I stood when
My country called
When she was threatened
When she laid
In my arms bare
Tools to fight
On the other side
I wonder if
Instead of war
In peace reside
Would the millions
Be still alive
Would it all
Have made a difference?
@nazimaali spoke of how far we’ve come in technology over the past 40 years. Then I look back on my mom and dad and all they’ve seen in their life. My mom was born in northern Alberta in 1918 and my father was born in 1912 in Russia. Yeah, they were of a far different era. They have, alas, both moved on to the prairie in the sky.
Imagine in the 1920’s, a northern Alberta village where a large family, of eight children at the time (her family grew to 13 kids!!) and living in a one room homesteading cottage. My mom told me how her mom used to burn birch wood and spread the ashes on the floor. And how they used to ride horses to school in the winter and if they were first to arrive? They had to start the fire in the school stove. Then in the spring they used to walk across the creek on the backs of the thousands of fish. But if you got sick! My mom told me of when her sister broke her leg they had to hire a horse and buggy to ride 20 miles through muddy roads to a doctor. I ain’t making this up! Google the book “Ten Dollars and a Dream” and look for the Houle stories. One of my mom’s uncles was a member of the Louis Riel rebellion in Manitoba too!
My dad’s father was an Imperial Guard for the Tsar in Kiev and they had to escape the red terror (I’ve written a script around this – well fictionalized anyway), so they came to Canada. They ended up homesteading in Saskatchewan. Dad told me stories of working on farms during the 20’s and 30’s, the steam combines and teams of horses. But alas, unlike my mom’s family, there wasn’t much documentation on my dad’s history. Just a few, sparse stories. Breaks my heart that I just never had the wherewithal in my youth to capture my father’s history…
The last time I visited my dad was a few months before he passed away. At his house where my mom and my sister took care of him. He was 91 and Dementia was taking hold. But I was so grateful for the few lucid moments. We spoke of the time at his cabin, or his time in the army (he was stationed in Vancouver at Point Grey in WWII!!), but mostly his years being a barber (he started in WWII and didn’t retire until he was 82!) and how I used to hang out there. Then we talked about all the changes that occurred since his steam combine days… so much change…
Mind you there was probably more change since my childhood in the late 60’s to now then from the 20’s to the 60’s. Wow… so much changes…
Title: My Joy
Ode to my funny valentine
How she makes me smile
With a simple turn of her mouth
My heart flies
I chuckle along with her heart
I giggle with her sweet laugh
Her sense of humour makes
My ribs ache
I share my life with her as
She fills the day with mirth
Happy moments imbued with
How scorned one is
How bitter one becomes
How when hate finds its way
Into a heart, how it eats
How it consumes one’s soul
Until nothing is left
But a sadness of fate
© 2010 by DC Lessoway
I want to look back a moment in my life where I experienced what I could only call pure, unconditional love…
I woke up at 6:30 am on August 8, 2008, a sunny, joyful morning. The day I was to marry my Marina. Tired, didn’t sleep too well, maybe jitters, but it clearly was the excitement of a full-blown church wedding and reception! That and Marina and I were up late decorating the reception room at the hotel.
I quickly dressed and went out for a coffee and a quiet, contemplative moment on a bench at English Bay. I kept imagining that Marina will have so much tashcala (meaning “craziness” in Armenian) around her before the wedding. I knew she’d be at her brother’s house getting ready. The whole works: hair, makeup, dress, everything. Her whole family was going to be around her. While on that bench I began to feel a bit sorry for myself as I wasn’t getting the same attention. Only my best man, my nephew Brent, was coming over for lunch, then to help me run a few errands, then get ready and head to the church. I had to get up and walk a bit to push away these feelings. I got a coffee and walked around a bit.
Later that afternoon Brent and I did have lunch and ran the errands. One of which was to pick up a photographer for us and then to stop Marina’s brother’s to drop off something. I didn’t get to see her, but I heard her “Love you!” through the wall of in-laws who didn’t want me to see her before the church.
We went back to my apartment to get ready. Snapped a few pictures around our place, one other site, then, off to the wedding!
We were getting married at this small orthodox Armenian church in Richmond. It’s situated on top of a hall at five road and Westminster highway. We pulled into the parking lot and I ran upstairs to the church as I didn’t want to see Marina before she was to walk down the aisle!
I stuck to the front, keeping away from the windows as Brent kept a lookout for Marina’s arrival downstairs. Meanwhile I lit a candle for our dad’s who both died well before we met.
Which reminds me: Marina and I felt that there was something special that brought us together. I told her that it was this: That one day in heaven her dad Gregory was out for a walk and met up with my dad Phillip. Gregory then said to him, “My daughter Marina is looking for the love of her life.” Whereas my dad responded, “well I’ve got a son who is single and looking for his soul mate.”
I still tear up to think of this…
The word came, Marina has arrived in her limo. With my heart in my throat I stood at the front and waited, and waited… apparently Marina thought I hadn’t arrived yet and was waiting for me, funny.
Anyway the cello player (Marina surprised me with a this at the wedding – Loved it!) started to play as my new nieces and nephews walked the aisle… then the doors at the back of the wedding closed and Brent whispered to me “breathe”.
Then what I considered to most beautiful piece of music ever written: J.S. Bach Suite no. 1 began (I have to pause a few times to wipe away tears as I still get very overwhelmed writing this).
Whoosh! My heart jumps, my knees weakened as the doors opened and there, the most beautiful women I’d ever seen in an angelic white wedding dress. Her wide, luminous smile and her eyes looking for me. Our eyes met and Brent had to grab me to hold me up.
When those doors opened the feelings, the image was instantly and permanently imbued on my soul as one of those moments of pure, unconditional, unforgettable, profoundly magnificent moments. For the rest of my life it will remain as a signpost in my soul’s rebirth and the start of a wonderful life with Marina.
Below is a poem I wrote for Marina and read at the reception.
How like a rose she doth persuade my eye
How like the summer’s balmy wind I fly
How like the sun her smile ignites my soul
How like the moon I find her with the stars
How like the spring she grows upon my heart
Thus in nature’s beauty she has renown
All I can do is sigh and close my eyes
My spirit sashaying in her blessed step
Infusing moments until the next time
Thus any instant absent from her grace
I am prompted to then recall her face
Her sweet bouquet imbued upon this man
As when the time enwrapped within her arms
My mind exalted alights upon love
All writing © 2010 by DC Lessoway
Okay Sam here it is…
A twitter friend @Samuel_Clemons said get your blog fired back up. Especially as I haven’t blogged since 2007. So here I am. I warned him it’ll not be anything of note or exciting, but it is what it is. I’m grateful he pushed me to do this as I need to find a regular writing project to keep my writing muscles flexed. I plan to post it twice a week for now.
I thought about making it a video blog but to hear that slight lisp in my voice drives me crazy so writing would be far better, on the hearing anyway.
Been thinking about what to write about. I’ll add my poetry, short stories, life experiences as they come up. But today what can I writer about… hmmmm… about writing? We all struggle with that and there is a myriad help for that. About making films? I will later. I’d rather be making them really. I will, just not now. About the current TV Pilot project I’m working on right? No, contractually I can’t do that, for now anyway.
Oh oh oh! How about the emotional trials of a middle-aged, slightly emotionally damaged man? I’ve been in tons of therapy (both private and group) and spilled my internal impairments unto the world; well, enough to function on a fairly reasonable self-awareness level, I think. Aaaaand having said that, they say the blog is an excellent place for narcissistic ramblings and I’ll be no exception.
I’m that quiet guy in the corner
Something far too obvious to my friends, but I’m not great social animal. Never been a social animal at all, never had a large group of friends. Ever. But that’s okay, I’m not for small talk. Just not great at it. I’ll tell you the social networks are a boon for me. Met my wife on one (a story for later) and have lots of virtual friends. Yes, I have a few, “real life” friends too. But I feel so lucky living in a time when I can speak to people around the world. Hear their stories, a wonderful thing. But I digress. I’ve always been shy and never really came out of my shell until I started the deep introspective and then joined an improv theatre group (another story for another time), that was an eye-opening thing. Here a wall flower going on stage and without a script. So fun!
Anyway, I’m going to cut it off there as I have lots more to say… here are a couple of my poems:
A brush to blush
This skin I touch
How my passion rises
Such animatistic lust
My mind vindicates
What my hands exploit
Cutting through curves, through
Valley, dales there hidden by choice
Until that moment, bliss
Explodes on your voice
How then lay we
Spend and sedate
Waiting, waiting, waiting
For the next moment to initiate
Title: Still Beats, My Heart
I, for health
stroll paths, this
all hallows eve, in
waxing, dimmed moon
at, alley’s access
ponder, should I enter
such, sullied lane
pushed, it seems
ache, straining sight
probe, nook, cranny
brave face, in
shadows forming, as
skin’s pallor mine
halt progress, in
echo’s, not my own
breath racing, raging
who, what, there?
there, knife clutched
blazing my soul
I am, I am
All writing © 2010 by DC Lessoway