Monday, 6 January 2014

Before It's Too Late

Kate is visiting me. I love it when my kids come to visit, yet I am so at a loss as to what to do with them here, with me. I have this life, this set of activities; it is full and busy and active. Yet most of what I do is uninteresting to someone who is an interloper, not a part of it on an ongoing basis. If you only go to one of my trivia nights or Name That Tune with me on rare occasions, there is not enough time to get the real point of the exercise, getting to know the other people there, enjoying the human part of the equation.

It's not that there are not interesting things to do in Calgary. It's that I want my children to understand and see my life, know the people in it, understand why I am here and how much I enjoy the community of friends I have surrounding me. I want them to see that some of these people care for me in such powerful and practical ways that I am never really alone. I want them to know that I am happy, and why I am happy here.

There are museums and zoos and shops and attractions in every city, in every country of the world. Visiting a museum here or an art gallery there is certainly interesting but it shows nothing of my life, neither the simple nor complex parts of it. I think my children learn more about my life by going grocery shopping with me, by seeing me navigate my life in my wheelchair, but watching me work my way through the stores, getting a power shopping cart, reaching things on the high store shelves. A zoo is an attraction and a distraction, creating an artificial experience that lacks any exposure to how I really live.

Sometimes the best memories of a visit are those captured minutes shared in the interstices of activity, when the minuscule gap between activities leaves a void where some penetrating or insightful conversation craftily slides in, nature, as she is wont to do, abhorring the vacuum. The best parts are those that happen in between the artificially created attractions and distractions, those moments when our guard is down and our mind is open, vacant of those things which would draw it elsewhere. Then we talk about things that matter, quickly, briefly, the conversation tumbling about like rapids in a mountain stream, seemingly needing to expend this large amount of emotional sharing in the fastest way possible.

I like having my children around me, not so much for what we do as for the time we have together. I don't have much time; whether I spend it with them driving to Drumheller, visiting the zoo, or sitting at home watching a hockey game, the best times are the small ones where we really get to share things about life. I want my children to know me, and for me to know them, before it's too late.

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