Obituary – The Send Off – Love, Loss and Grief

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of an incredible man, a wonderful Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, and Brother. George Joseph Gerald Gies passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 with his loving wife by his side, Deborah Gies (Cub).

 

Things we see and say that stay

 

The hardest part is getting over the visuals of you drifting a little further away from me daily. And looking into your eyes as they wanted to say so much, as pieces of you disappeared daily. I know your beautiful smiling face. I know that face that lights up whenever I’m in your presence. I still knew that face that could no longer speak, but you spoke with your eyes. You know I always knew what you meant, even if you couldn’t articulate it properly to me. I read your pain, I read your sadness, your fear, and your undying love for me remained always in your eyes. When your voice left us, I asked a million questions that you could still nod yes or no to. Until the day you died, when you couldn’t even do that anymore.

You couldn’t speak the last week you were here. I still scream and cry when I think about every little part of you God took away from me, a little each day. At first you could no longer walk, the very next day, you could no longer speak. But then I remembered our little hand signal we made up for each other. I still can’t remember how it came to be, but I think it was me who once said – as a joke- that in case something ever happened to you or I and we couldn’t talk, we had our own secret hand signal for ‘I love you’. I pulled that old trick out of the bag and would make that signal to you and you did the same back to me. You see, after all, my silly little games did come in handy.

You ate your last meal six days before you died, the day you came home from your last hospital stint, six days before you would die at home in our bed. I know I got lucky one morning after and fed you oatmeal. There was no more after that. I fed you your juice, water, gingerale in short sips, til another day passed and I’d cut the straws to help you sip the liquid your constantly dry mouth yearned for. The next day you blew bubbles in the glass, no longer having the strength to suck up through the straw. But I was well-armed with ideas. The next day I fed you water by teaspoon, like a battered little bird, mama bird did her best to get liquids into you. The next day I was resolved to dipping the sponge sticks in water to get some liquid into you. Eventually, you couldn’t suck on that anymore either. I kept putting Vaseline on your parched lips, intermittent between my kisses. I lost count on how many times a day and night I told you, “I love you Puppy”. I never felt it was enough. I never wanted you to forget. Kind of like one night only two weeks before when we could still converse and even make the odd joke. You stirred in your sleep that night and woke over a dozen times calling me, “Cub, Cub.” I snapped my head up in fear and asked, what’s the matter honey, and you’d reply the same thing each time I asked.

“I love you Cub.” Maybe it was two dozen times, I didn’t think then to count, but I’ll always remember that night you felt compelled to tell me you loved me, many times over, as though urgent that I know. But I know. And I knew. I always knew because you never ever let one day pass without kissing me, hugging, and telling me how much you loved me. In my worst and ugliest moments, you had the face to still call me your ‘beauty queen’. I was the luckiest girl in the whole world to be so loved by one man. And now I’m only the loneliest girl in the world.

 

shattered

 

I held your hand in your hour of passing. I shared your pillow and wrapped my arm around you and kissed your ashened, boney face – the face that was once full chipmunk cheeked with an always rosey complexion that had become a mere little boy face. You struggled to breathe as the fluid was drowning your lungs. I knew God was taking you away that morning. I never left your side. The gurgling brook within you stopped, I felt your heart flutter for an instant and your throat appeared as though there was a golf ball in it. And you went silent. Only then did I give you permission to leave. I jumped off the bed and opened the window wide and set your soul free to be taken by the angels. And that was the last moment of US.

There are no other words to describe the boulder that resides in my chest now. The boulder that is crushing my heart and making it difficult to breathe so many times a day – and night. Is it any wonder I don’t eat? Who can eat when they’re perpetually full – full of heartache, crushing pain filling me up where the digestion system usually alerts to feeding time. I’m blocked in head and heart. And the pain is unrelenting.

sadness

 

I’m so far from acceptance as I still talk to you and hug your pillow anytime I walk into our bedroom. The loss of you will never be filled by anything or anyone else. I love you too much, as I know you loved me. You know I always worried about you, and that doesn’t stop. Or, it won’t stop until I receive a sign or visit from you, so that you can let me know you’re all better and in your new life, and perhaps you could leave little signs that you are around and you will watch over me. Just maybe then I can stop playing those movie reels of your sufferance over and over in my mind if you come back and let me know you are in peace. Maybe then my own hell will begin to ease, and with patient baby steps, I may finally reach that bridge to acceptance that you are really gone.

 

I love you to the moon my Puppy.

Your forever Cub. 💕

 

@DGKaye2021

 

Miss you

 

Memoir Byte: The Old Fur Coat in Rome #Terrorism

 

 

Memoir Byte: The old fur coat in Rome

 

27 December 1985, Rome, Vienna

Four members of the Abu Nidal Organisation attacked an El Al counter at Rome Airport, killing sixteen and injuring sixty-seven people. A similar simultaneous attack at Vienna Airport resulted in two deaths and forty-seven injuries.

Source: https://www.ict.org.il/Article/893/Terrorist-Incidents-against-Jewish-Communities-and-Israeli-Citizens-Abroad-1968-2003#gsc.tab=0

 

 

Fur coat in Rome
December 1985 – Pescara, Italy

 

 

 

On the day of the full moon on December 27th, 1985, I was on an Alitalia flight from my hometown in Toronto headed for Rome. I was going to meet up with my then boyfriend who was already there and was to meet me at the airport with his brother who would then drive us to Pescara on the Adriatic coast where the family lived, approximately a 2 1/2 hour drive away from Rome. I’ve always been a stickler for following rules and being on time. And I promised my dad I’d call him as soon as I landed.

Being the end of December, it was winter in Rome just as it was was back home, only not nearly as wintry. I wore my long silver fox fur coat, my pride and joy coat I’d treated myself to with a small inheritance I received from my grandmother a few years prior. I was excited to be spending New Years in beautiful Roma where all the beautiful people dressed immaculately when strolling the streets and cafes. I’d already been to Rome once before and fell in love with the ambiance of the country, the people and the shopping!

Nine hours later we landed. I was excited to get off the plane and see my boyfriend and begin our adventure. But many minutes had passed after we landed in the middle of the tarmac at Fiumicino International Airport,  ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ Airport. Not a peep from the airline staff or pilot. Nobody yet suspected there was anything wrong until a good 20 mins had passed then the natives began getting restless, including myself. Everyone peered out the windows to see what the hold up was, yet there was nothing unusual to see. It wasn’t until passengers, including myself, began bombarding the stewards with questions when the plane was getting stuffy and we just wanted to get off.

A good hour had passed until we learned there was a bombing inside the airport. We were kept on the tarmac for approximately 3 hours before we were released. I was feeling quite anxious as I was walked from the plane, worrying that my father –  the worry wart, had possibly seen the news, or maybe he hadn’t, but nonetheless I was concerned because I should have called him 3 hours prior to inform him I’ve landed safely. I could sense my father’s worry deep within my intuitive gut. I visualized him listening to the news – he was a news junky, and hearing about a bombing at Rome airport where his daughter was headed, while not hearing a word from that daughter for hours after he’d expected her to land.

I was happy to be comforted in my boyfriend’s arms after the ordeal and just wanted to get out of the crazy airport. We still had a 2  hour plus drive to Pescara before I knew I’d get to a phone. Too nervous to enjoy the beautiful country sights on the drive, or to stretch my ‘try to understand Italian’ thinking muscles, and not to mention it was now early afternoon after landing in the morning which was still the middle of the night on my body Toronto time and hadn’t slept on the plane. I remained tired and anxious and filled with a stomach full of angst, quiet.

At long last we arrived at the flat and with feigned interest at all the familial introductions and greetings, I just wanted to scream just take me to your telephone. Finally, my nervous fingers were dialing my dad. And then the floodgates opened up. The sound of my father’s voice had unleashed all the emotions and pent up anxiety in a stream of sobs I’d contained for hours. My father did the same. It took us both a few moments before we could actually converse with words between sobs. And as I had gone through my own journey of worry and a nagging sensation of urgency to call my father all the while stranded until I could get to a phone, I learned about the panic my father lived through.

My Aunty Sherry had seen the breaking news when the terrorists bombed El Al at Rome airport. According to my father, she’d seen many bodies sprawled out on the ground in the airport – some dead, some taking cover, and then she noticed a young blond woman wearing a long silver fox coat lying on the ground as the camera quickly panned over.

My aunt had called my father in hysterics alerting him to what she had just seen and was eager to find out if he’d heard from me yet. But he hadn’t. And two of the most important people in my family life panicked and prayed together that the blond woman in the fur coat wasn’t me lying dead in a Rome airport. All their anxiety had come through to me as the hours passed while I waited to be able to make that call. And God was good to me that day.

Some things we just never forget.

 

©DGKaye2020

 

Q & A with D.G. Kaye Features Judith Barrow – The Memory

Welcome to the first of May’s Q and A author features, today I’m excited to have friend and author Judith Barrow over to share some of herself, her writing and her powerful new book, which I can’t wait to sink my eyes into – The Memory. Judith writes historical fiction and family sagas, like her Howarth family books series, and has taken a different approach with her newest book. As a writer who delves into family – and particularly ‘mother’ issues, I have no doubts I will love this book.

 

 

Author Judith Barrow

 

About Judith:

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines in Yorkshire, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions.. She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the writer in Judith, I invite you read this beautiful article Judith wrote – Something of Ourselves.

 

 

 

Blurb:

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

…A book that is both powerful and moving, exquisitely penetrating. I am drawn in, empathising so intensely with Irene that I feel every twinge of her frustration, resentment, utter weariness and abiding love.” Thorne Moore

Judith Barrow’s greatest strength is her understanding of her characters and the times in which they live; The Memory is a poignant tale of love and hate in which you will feel every emotion experienced by Irene.” Terry Tyler

 

Latest review for The Memory:

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping. Moving. Powerful.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2020

Verified Purchase

 

Now, let us dig a little deeper into  Judith and her writing,

 

If you had the chance to re-do your childhood or teen years to enhance your future in writing, what would you have done differently?

This question intrigued me; it suggests that I would have had some control over those years. It would be too easy to say I would have needed to have been born into a different family. That the writing I did, even as a young child, was something I could have shared. It wasn’t. Because what I wrote about was happening in the family and how I felt about it. I knew I couldn’t share it. It would have hurt my mother and angered my father. And, because it was my father who controlled everything, both emotionally and physically, I learned from an early age not to show how I felt. I knew how to hide, keep secrets. Keep out of the way. And watch.

We lived together and yet, in a way, we lived separately.

I was fascinated in how places were changed by the emotions that filled them. The rooms of our house, the shops in the village, the Methodist chapel I went to every Sunday afternoon, the moors where I wandered for miles on the moors with my dog. School. It’s the feelings of the people who are there at the time and it’s something I am still aware of. Maybe that’s a throwback to my childhood; from being aware. Being wary.

I kept my school life private from my parents and was lucky that neither was interested in my education. Anyway, there were few things I enjoyed about school; I never felt as though I fitted in, especially in my teens. I loved the history lessons, but my true passion was obviously English. And from that evolved my plans for the future; I wanted to work as a journalist.

Every year, with each new English teacher, I strived for approval with my writing. There was one teacher I will never forget. His name was Leslie Ellinore and, as I grew to trust him, I showed him some of the less personal stories and poems I’d written at home. He often entered them into the school magazine and, once, into a competition in the local newspaper. I won with that story. I was devastated when he emigrated to New Zealand but will never forget what he once said to me: “One day, Judith, I know I will read a book that you have written”.

Encouraged by that, and as soon as I passed my exams, I applied in secret for a junior post at that local newspaper. The week before I was due to start there my father discovered how much (or rather how little) I would be paid, and forbid me to go. My wages were needed, so the more I could earn the better. There were many arguments. In the end I gave in and joined the Civil Service.

So, I suppose, and being honest, the answer to what I would have done differently then to enhance my future in writing would have been to have more confidence, to have left home, to be determined enough to begin a career in journalism.

D.G. – Powerful stuff Judith. Just from this response, it gives me so much more insight as to how similar we were in our dreams and thinking and observations as children, and how our aspirations got left to the wayside. Look at us now! ❤

 

How has writing changed your life?

I wonder if, for me, it’s the life I’ve had that actually underlines my writing. As I said earlier, I’ve always written, so I don’t know how else my life would be different. The one big change was from the day I was married; my writing no longer had to be secret. My husband had known before then how important it was to me and has always been a great support, even in the years when I didn’t send anything out into the world. He realises I need to write. It’s the way I get through situations, the way I work out what I’m going to do, how I’m going to tackle something I’m confronted with. And, ultimately the way any of my protagonists face up to anything I put them through.

D.G. – And once again, we were ultimately blessed with good husbands. ❤

 

What prompted you to write in your chosen genre?

I think it was, inevitable that I write family sagas of some form or another. My stories evolved from the diaries I kept in my childhood and reflected situations I lived through; what I saw. And the dynamics of people and how they interact with one another in a set of circumstances fascinates me. And, you know, family sagas can cross genres, so I get the best of all worlds; secrets and mysteries, criminal actions, romance. And family sagas can be written in any era – so can cross over into historical novels. I love researching for my books; giving a good sense of place. Making a world for my characters, being able to see where they walk, what they wear, the homes they live in, is as important as the lives they lead.

D.G. – I love how you insert your slices of your life in your books Judith. Like the old saying goes – there is so much truth in fiction.

 

How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?

I would much rather go out and talk to people about my work. I work part time as a creative writing tutor under a lifelong learning scheme for the local Council. As well as that I also run private workshops where I’m inevitably asked about the way I write and about my books. I also interview other authors about their work for a brilliant online TV company, ShowboatTV; I suppose the promotion of my own books rides on the back of that.

I have to admit that most social media does overwhelm me sometimes. When I first started I was on so many platforms; the stress of keeping up with everything finally became too much and I almost walked away from it all. So now I mostly stick to Twitter and Facebook; although I am being told I should really be on Instagram as well. Sigh! I admire anyone who manages the balance of social media with their writing. As for anyone who can produce an interesting blog or a long and insightful review of another author’s book every day, I am in awe. In the early days of my foray into this strange world, I was told that one should follow, promote and discuss only those who write in the same genre, but I can’t see how that is possible. Because I am helped by a disparate array of people I’m very conscious of trying to promote other authors, whatever they write. And a friend once told me not to forget that important word “social”, so, if someone mentions my books, I try to do the same. Then, before I realise it – I’ve lost a couple of hours.

As you may be able to tell, I’m getting stressed out just trying to explain why social media stresses me out! Ha-ha! Perhaps, one day, I’ll stop myself for “scatter gunning” online and work out the best way to promote my books.

D.G. – Your social media dilemma is one many of us writers contend with Judith. I too believe spreading ourselves everywhere becomes too thin and spend most of my social media time on FB and Twitter too. There are only so many hours in a day right?

 

Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?

Well, I hope that once this strange situation that we’re living through at present is over, I will be able to go out to all of the events which have been postponed and I’ll promote my latest book, The Memory. It’s had some wonderful reviews online and, although in a way, I was quite apprehensive about it because it’s so different from my previous books, I’m thrilled by the way it’s been received.

As for future plans, I do have another book coming out with my publishers, Honno, in February 2021. It’s called The Heart Stone, and is a return to my usual genre, historical family saga. It’s based around WW1, the aftermath of a world war, and the struggles of the nineteen twenties.

As for writing, I am at the moment working on two projects. I’m around 40,000 words into a book which centres around three women who work in a cotton factory in the nineteen fifties; a decade when the trade was declining

in the UK. It’s as much about the individual lives of the women as what is happening in the industry. But, of course, as with any character, they don’t live in a vacuum, so world events also affect the relationships within their families and circle of friends.

But that book has been interrupted by a memory that came back to me during one of my sleepless nights. Remembering an event from a long time ago has led on to a story of two sisters and something they were involved in when they were in their early teens. One of them takes the blame for an incident and it’s a secret that lasts for years and has consequences.

The other project which has been put on hold is an anthology that one of my adult classes is producing. I’m very proud of all the hard work the students have put into their writing over the last year so I’m eager for it to be published and to show what they can do. I think it proves that it’s never too late to start writing.

D.G. – Well, that’s one full plate Judith! And the book about sisters and secrets is already intriguing me! I look forward to that book too!

 

Judith shares an Excerpt of: The Memory

 

I was eight when Rose was born. All that summer I’d watched as my mother’s stomach grew larger and rounder. As she moved ever slower, each foot ponderously placed on the ground beneath her. As her face grew tighter with rage and bitterness.

‘She’s tired, Irene,’ Dad said when I asked him what was wrong. We were in the park. It was the week before the autumn term started. The long summer days were behind us, there was a slight chill in the air, but we were making the most of the time that was left.

Thinking about what Dad said, I slowly pushed my foot against the ground. I knew it was more than that; Mum was angry about something.

Normally in summer we went for a week to the seaside. Usually Southport or Morecambe but we hadn’t been anywhere for a holiday that year. Or even for one of our picnics at Bramble Clough, a dip in the hill where a tiny stream gurgled through rocks and crannies, bordered by wimberry bushes and dried heather. Where we’d sit on Dad’s tartan blanket and eat beef paste butties and drink lemonade.

Bending and stretching out my legs to make the swing move, I looked around. It was that time of day when mums had already taken the younger children home for their teas. Over by the river on the far side of the large grassed area, some boys were messing about. They were hanging upside down on two tyres fastened to ropes slung over branches on the trees on the bank. After a hot summer, little water flowed over the grey boulders and shale on the riverbed. At least they wouldn’t get wet if they fell in. I recognised Sam Hargreaves. He’d been my friend since our first year at Hopfield Primary School. And he helped his father deliver newspapers to our house, in holiday time.

I was so high on the swing that the chains slackened and jerked as I passed the bar they were fastened to. Arms straightened, I leant backwards so I had an upside down picture of Dad sitting on the bench, legs straightened, ankles crossed. He’d taken off his jacket and tie and pushed his trilby to the back of his head. He was cradling his pipe in his cupped hand.

‘Looks like the smoke from your pipe is falling down instead of up,’ I said, ‘looks funny.’ I saw him smile. It made me feel good. So I decided it would be all right to say what was bothering me. ‘Why is Mum tired?’ I asked, ‘She doesn’t do much.’ She’d even stopped our Sunday afternoon baking cakes and biscuits times, which was something we’d done for as long as I could remember.

He’d frowned at that but only said, ‘Now, now, love.’

I swung in silence, my hair sweeping the ground at the lowest point. The bit of the park we were in: the concrete area that held the swings, slide and the iron spider’s web roundabout, was deserted.

‘She is doing something, you know,’ Dad said eventually, ‘she’s growing your little brother or sister.’ He rubbed his knuckles on his neck, looked uncomfortable; or maybe it was the upside down image I had of his smiling mouth.

I thought it was a silly thing to say. ‘Isn’t she happy doing that?’ I sat up, scraping the soles of my shoes on the ground to slow the swing.

‘Of course she is.’ But he wouldn’t look at me. Instead he concentrated on his pipe and flicked the lighter into the tobacco which already glowed red. ‘She’s looking forward to us having an addition to our family.’ He sounded odd, saying those words and I could tell he was embarrassed about something because his ears were red.

‘Your ears have gone red,’ I told him. ‘And your nose is growing – so I know you’re fibbing. Nanna said Mum has a face like a smacked backside these days; I heard her say that to her friend last week.’ She’d actually said “arse” but I didn’t dare repeat that, I’d never heard Dad swear, not even “damn”, which I’d heard Mum say a lot over the last few months. And if I did say it, he might not let me go on my own again to Nanna’s flat on the Barraclough estate.

‘Enough.’ His tone was sharp, sharper than he ever used on me.

My eyes stung and I twisted the swing’s chains round, pushing on the ground with the toes of my shoes until I almost couldn’t reach any more and I was higher than him. I didn’t want him to see I was crying. I lifted my feet and was flung around and around. I was dizzy when it stopped. ‘That made my eyes water,’ I said, defiantly, pushing a finger under the frames of my glasses to brush away the tears.

‘Time we went home,’ he said. And then to show he wasn’t cross, ‘we’ll get an ice cream.’ He pointed with the stem of his pipe towards the entrance of the park where the tinny sound of ‘Greensleeves’ emerged from inside the white van decorated with cartoons. ‘I’ll race you.’ He stood, took off his hat and folded his jacket over his arm. ‘Go on, I’ll give you a head start.’

I didn’t need telling twice. I was off. He let me win, of course.

I loved my Dad.

 

Thank you for being here today Judith. You know I’m a big fan of your books and writing. I look forward to reading your newest coming up soon and no doubts, I’m sure some of my readers here will be just as eager to read.

 

Find Judith on Social Links:

Judith Barrow Author MA BA (Hons) Dip Drama https://judithbarrowblog.com/

https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

 

@DGKaye2020

 

Mexican Tales – Leaving Puerto Vallarta – Wheelchair Madness

Anxious to get home, virus-free, I’d taken the best precautions I could with what I had. The Coronavirus wasn’t ‘a thing’ really mentioned or dwelled upon yet in Puerto Vallarta on that 12th day of March when we said goodbye to our winter friends. But I’d been keeping up with world news and knew it was going to be something real big, real soon.

I had the hand-sanitizer and disinfectant wipes I’d brought down with us, at the ready in my purse. I slipped 2 masks in my pocket for us and we were leaving, heading down to the lobby with the luggage cart Hub had brought up from the lobby to load our many bags onto. No gloves, but fully protected by the plastic bags I put on my hands to navigate that cart to the elevator and out to the cab to protect from invisible germs on my hands. I was leaving beautiful Puerto Vallarta where the sun shone, the birds sang and the ocean beckoned, all appeared as though all was right in the world. We were off to the airport, which gratefully, had yet to get busy as we departed days before the spring break and Easter crowd were to invade, and the Coronavirus had yet to become ‘a thing’ yet in Mexico, so all was calm at the airport crazy.

Grateful as always in that airport for the great check-in service and the immediate wheelchair assistance to help push my husband across what seemed well over a mile to our Toronto departure gate, a bonus was having his lap to pile more bags onto. We went on our way, walking, walking, and as usual, a long security check line that I smiled inwardly as we bypassed the crowds into the ‘special services’ lane. Bonus!

After putting ourselves and our belongings back together off the security belt, we continued on to the journey to our gate. Then we stopped at the elevator. I questioned the young man pushing the wheelchair in my broken Spanish, ‘why are we going down’, and before he could answer in broken English, I knew. Once again, we were taking the bus from the street level to the tarmac. Oye!

We had over an hour to wait for the bus boarding and our section with passengers to both Toronto and a flight to Montreal was getting busy. I’d remembered the year prior when the wheelchair assistant was assigned to someone, they were to come back before boarding to help on the bus/plane. But I never saw him again, yet, I saw other helpers standing by the passengers waiting to assist them. So off I went.

I  dashed over to the boarding gate desk to ask for an assistant, but that never came to fruition. There was no way I could carry everything and assist my hub, so off I went again to ask an assistant helping another passenger to please radio for someone to help us. Finally, someone showed.

We finally made it off the bus and I grabbed what I could while the assistant grabbed another of our bags and the arm of my husband and walked him up the airplane stairs. I was grateful. We couldn’t snag a first class seat on the return flight, but I did manage a comfort row, which offered better legroom and food included, plus 2 bags each at no extra cost. I made friends with the lady, Janice, in the middle seat between Hub’s window and my aisle seats, and it seems we blabbed almost all the way home. Once we landed, my new friend Janice was kind enough to grab our bags out of the above bins, as it seems I’m iust a tad to short to reach them, happy to have the good samaritan to the rescue. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her and she was gone, she exited the plane and I never saw her at baggage pick-up again. Definitely an earth angel who kept me company and helped out then slithered away like those kind of people we meet for reasons and seasons.

As Hub and I exited the plane there were no wheelchairs on the ramp. What? Oye! I loaded up the bags onto my tired shoulders and pulled what else I could, gave one lighter bag to hub, and dashed ahead as Hub followed and caught up to me at the end of the ramp where there were several folded wheelchairs. I picked one out. waited for hub to amble up on his cane then sat him in it, re-piled the bags on him, and as I began to push us out of the congested area, I asked a rep where wheelchair assistance was. I was told to wait with the rest of the (many) wheelchair passengers in a designated area and staff would help with chairs in about half hour. Lol, you know that wasn’t happening. I don’t do waiting well.

I have to add that pushing someone in a wheelchair with almost 100 extra pounds of baggage on me and hub’s lap, and a cane that somehow kept getting stuck in our path, is no piece of cake. And I will admit, you didn’t want to be in my way as I blazed my way through a crowd and alas, spotted ‘the’ elevator that led down to the next floor where customs was located – only about another mile or so once off the elevator.  I pushed the button, loaded us in and landed on the lower floor. The door opened with a thud to a barricade.

The door opened but there was no place to exit because it was blocked by approximately 30-40 wheelchairs! They weren’t in any organized order, just left in one huge pile in a disarray blocking the elevator door. What could I do? There was no way I could even get off to sort out that mess. No way was I going back up and waiting. I told hub to hang on tight and keep his feet tucked in as tightly as possible then proceeded to bulldoze our way through the wheelchair madness. It was like a demolition derby but a few moments later we were victorious and we were out! We laughed together as my husband kept saying I was a madwoman and he was scared of my ambition and of being on the frontline of my bulldozing. We continued to laugh.

I pushed and pushed for what felt like miles on my worn out bones and cursed my airport as usual, for having the longesttttt walks from any gate. About 20 minutes later we arrived at customs. The room was crowded and despite our advantage of going through special services and avoiding the long lines, we still had to wait first to put our passports through a kiosk security machine before approaching customs agent. Bad instructions, not a soul to help anyone, and after 10 minutes of fiddling and retrying numerous times, I finally got our clearance slip out of the machine we were to hand to the customs agent.

I was observant of the airport staff, keeping an eye around to see what my airport was doing with the emerging Covid19 problem, which had yet to be declared a pandemic for another day or so after our return. I noticed quite a few airport employees wearing masks, others not. I may have bypassed a few signs warning to wash hands and sanitize, but nothing much. The customs agent  had on no mask. He asked us where we’ve been and for how long. I handed him the form spit out from the kiosk machine that quite frankly, asked the same questions. No further questions, not even asked if we had been ill while away or anything to declare. Wow! And we were on our way to baggage pick-up.

The airport was exceptionally busy. I found a porter to come fetch our bags off the belt and take us to a limo. The luggage from our flight had already come down the belt and was placed in a section on the floor as flights were coming in fast and furious and the next flight’s luggage was already on the belt. The porter pushed our bags and I pushed Hubby out through the gates of freedom once we handed our customs slip out at the exit doors, and gratefully, we weren’t selected to go through inspection.

The cool wind was welcomed once we arrived outside and entered the limo. It was almost the middle of March, usually still in the depths of winter here, but there was no snow to be found and much warmer than the morning we left for Mexico. We’d come home to an early spring.

Since that travel day home, little did I know I came home to a new world in the making. Despite at that point there were no new rules made, no pandemic declared til 2 days after our return when our country clamped down just before the spring break weekend, we took it upon ourselves to isolate for 14 days. I did get sick on Day 5 with many symptoms of the Covid – high fever, dizzy, painful bones, freezing cold. Ironically, my fever broke the very same night of that one sick day. I woke to a sweat-soaked bed and have felt fine ever since. Gratefully, Hubby didn’t get whatever I had, but I’d kept my distance from him as much as possible. I slept with a mask on too and I’m armed and dangerous with gloves, Lysol wipes and anything I could dig out of the storage cupboard.

My Mexican vacation, only a few short weeks ago, feels like it was so long ago now. I’ve been in touch with my real estate friend who emailed me the other day to inform me that the price has already dropped on the new construction condo we’d been eyeing. The Peso is falling. While I was there it was hovering around the usual value – 1 Canadian dollar = usually at 14.5 – 15 Pesos. Today’s value was almost at 17.5 Pesos to the Canadian dollar. Like I told my real estate friend, there’s no way I’m buying anything until the fallout of this global disaster has found a place to land and our own falling dollar makes a comeback.

I have no idea what will be next year. I anticipate a lot of despair, losses, real estate falling, terrible unemployment and devastation because of the isolations and loss of jobs and businesses. Undoubtedly, this anticipation isn’t mine alone, and the reason I haven’t heard a peep since my return from the woman whom I’m supposed to be renting her unit next winter. I’m sure all those that rely on renters for their properties are very concerned what will be next year for tourism.

As it stands now, one of our Canadian friends who winters at the complex with us has sent me a photo a full-time resident friend of his has sent him of the now desolate pool and beach where we all had just spent a lovely and lively time together. Truly a very sad sight, especially at Easter when this beach should be covered with wall to wall people celebrating 24/7 for a week.

 

pool
Hubby on a floatie in the pool

 

Now desolate beach and pool
Now desolate beach and pool

I feel as though next winter is a lifetime away from us now. Who knows where we will be in the world. Nothing is certain right now for anyone. The one thing I do know – I won’t be traveling anywhere again until there is a vaccine for this virus now controlling our lives.

 

happy hour

 

Stay safe!

 

©DGKaye2020

 

 

 

Memoir Byte: – Reminiscences of the 70s and 80s – Fun and Fearless

 

I was recently invited by an old family friend to join a nostalgic Facebook group – Willowdale in the 70s. The group is based on the suburb I grew up in Willowdale, Ontario and it’s a fun page taking a look back at the days of our teenagedom growing up in the 70s. So many fun and nostalgic posts on ‘remember this?’.  As a memoir writer one can see how attractive this invitation was to liaise with people who grew up in the same era and area together, and many who went to my same schools.

 

Willowdale 70s Greg Melanson
Thanks to Greg Melanson for creating and sharing this image

 

Whodathunk how much fun it is to laugh and commune with others who’ve experienced the same things in a time back in school days from looking at images of swings lifting us high toward the sky where the swing posts lifted up out of the ground the higher we went as we reached for that sky, to contraptions of yesteryear – all great conversation starters and a feeling of comradery with others who lived the same. It’s amazing how a single photo of a simple step stool or plastic wrapped couches can stir up so many memories.

 

girl on a swing

 

What a gift to be able to grow up as a teenager in the 70s and to be able to spend my 20s – the 80s, lost in some of the best music of our times, big hair, shoulder pads and fearless freedom.  A time when we didn’t lock our doors , and cars left running for a quick hop into the local convenience store. Everything is locked now, even our cars as we fill up our own gas tanks.

The brazen girl of the past got me through so much in my younger years. I was unstoppable, daring and not afraid of much – a glaring opposite to how the years have changed me to a more cautious person rather than my old tossing caution out of the window. This group reminds me of those days when working in an office became unchallenging, and I went from a desk job to a salesperson traveling around my province by car, alone, despite weather conditions or distance. I traveled to towns that sometimes weren’t even on a map – and Ontario is no small province. Heck, I even blew the transmission in my first car from the over-spinning tires from my many daring accelerations when desperate to get out of snow piles with no aid in sight.

Wow, I shake my head just remembering some of the crazy things I’ve done. I know I certainly have lost some of the chutzpah I used have back then to get by in life. Traveling to Greece alone for a 3-month sabbatical from life was just another brave thing I did as a young woman of 25 in the mid 80s. Where did I get my gumption? And where has it gone?

 

cherish the past

 

But I digress, there’s just something warm and fuzzy about revisiting the past with a page full of images of gizmos that no longer exist, save for the things we kept or passed on to youngsters, or those that have yet to ever be opened, collecting dust in the back of a storage shelf; gifts which once brought us so much joy. And the people, the people who were all there, felt the same pleasure, heroically did the same stunts on their banana seat bikes, played with their Easy Bake Ovens and never wore watches or had cell phones when we played outside. The darkness setting in and the street lights coming on was our clock, letting us know it was time to retreat to inside the house until tomorrow. So many tomorrows as we look back on yesterday.

 

Copyright
© D.G. Kaye and DGKayewriter.com, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye

 

School Days, Reminiscences of Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye) | Norah Colvin

Norah  Colvin is running a wonderful author interview series on her blog where she interviews writers, asking them questions about their ‘schooldays’. I was thrilled to be invited over to Norah’s to share some of my own young school days stories.

 

School Days, Reminiscences of Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye)

 

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye), author and blogger extraordinaire. I can’t remember when or how I met Debby, but I do know that very early on I read and thoroughly enjoyed her travel memoir Have Bags, Will Travel. While Debby has done far more travel than I, there was much in her book with which I could identify. I remember laughing out loud in places, surprised to find there was someone else who shared similar obsessive behaviour.

Debby is a prolific writer, mainly of memoir. I have read others of her books and never been disappointed. Her style is open, from the heart, and conversational. You could be having a chat with a best friend over coffee, sharing love, life and laughter. In fact, those are things we both have in our blog taglines. How could we not be friends?

Since our first encounter, Debby has been a constant supporter of both my blogs, always dropping by to share some words of wisdom or encouragement — a true champion.

 

What did you like best about school?

My teachers. I had developed several rapports with teachers in many grades. When I look back on those days, I know it had to do with the compassion and extra attention they gave me that I didn’t receive at home.

 

What did you like least about school?

I hated gym class. I was not an active child, more of a thinker than a doer. I didn’t like the ugly uniforms we wore that weren’t the least flattering, especially for girls carrying extra weight, and I didn’t enjoy sports. I was the proverbial girl chosen last when picking teams. Here’s the girl who always kept a high 80s average throughout high school until the year I actually failed gym, which cut into my good grade average. Seriously, who fails gym?

 

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

While in school I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do. My initial goals were to become a journalist or a lawyer. I had the grades to do so but not the inspiration nor the encouragement to follow through. I worked in the clothing industry for a few years in my early twenties, started as a salesgirl, working my way up to managerial positions and buyer. The fashion bug hit me early. I then became an executive secretary for a general manager of the Carlton Inn Hotel – best job ever! And then I moved on to run an office for a construction company for a friend and later did the same work for an architectural firm. After ‘those days’ I went to ‘dealer’ school where I became a licensed blackjack and poker dealer and worked in the casino business until I met my husband. . . Please continue reading at Norah’s blog.

 

 

Source: School Days, Reminiscences of Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye) | Norah Colvin

The High School Reunion – Have You Ever Attended One?

While I was away on winter vacation, one of my oldest school friends, Cindy, who I grew up with since aged 7, Facebook messaged me that there was going to be a high school reunion, called the ‘Birthday reunion’, because most of us would be celebrating a big scary birthday this year. I told Cindy, I’d think about it and get back to her.

 

I pondered going, off and on, right up until the day of the event. I was never one who attended such events, but I seriously gave it some thought. My first thoughts were to not go as I’d declined two other invitations over the decades. My logic was that while in high school, I didn’t socialize much with anyone except a very few students and my friend Cindy, her then boyfriend who became her husband, and Cindy’s younger sister.

My high school was out of my living district, which had me taking a 1/2 mile walk to the bus and 3 consecutive buses to get to school and back daily – save for those days after I got my licence and managed to take my mother’s car to school because most often she was picked up for her daily socializing jaunts, or when Cindy got her own car and we’d ride together. And most of my friends went to the school in my designated living area. William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute was known as a highly academic high school with a gifted program. Several students from that school went on to become successful lawyers, doctors, politicians and writers. Another notable from my high school, ironically, didn’t finish high school, got expelled and went on to become a Hollywood star with Deal or No Deal and now America’s Got Talent – Howie Mandel. He was a few years ahead of me and ironically, my mother was friend’s with his mother but I didn’t know him well, but I rode the bus with his brother Steve to school for years.

I was an awkward teen with no sense of self-esteem and felt like the Ugly Duckling most of my school life. No boys ever looked twice at me and most of the girls traveled in packs or what I often refer to as ‘cliques’. For a girl who was always thinking and had a lot to say about everything, I was quite introverted and timid while in school and didn’t form many relationships, which never inspired me to go to any reunions.

I struggled with my decision to go this time. But I finally decided maybe it would be interesting to see some people of the past and find out about how some of their lives progressed, and of course, see what they looked like now. Plus it would be a good time to spend some time with Cindy. I decided that I came a long, long way from high school days, now comfortable in my own skin, an accomplished writer and author, and a bounty of life experience, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to go.

The event was held in a lovely but rather small restaurant and patio cafe, but sadly, the weather was so darned cold and actually snowing again, which put a damper on sitting outside on the patio. The food was great, the music totally took me back to my teenage years, and most of the faces I’d drawn a blank to identifying. But thanks to my trustee friend Cindy who stays on top of many social circles, she was able to identify every questionable face I asked her about.The evening somehow transported me back to some memorable moments back in time.

We arrived early so we could eat something before the crowd piled in. It turned out we weren’t the only ones with that idea. When we arrived there were already more than a dozen people there sitting down at a table eating. So we grabbed ourselves a table and ordered some food. Before long, the introductions began. For a good part of the night, I felt like that old wallflower from back in the 70s as I was quite content remaining at the table and observing, but my trustee friend kept introducing me to people of my past. “Sorry, I don’t recognize you” was the most popular response by many. And in true social form, Cindy would add in, reminding people I had long blond hair back then. That hint clicked with some but went over the fence with others.

 

friends

 

Many introductions were brief, some I engaged in conversation with for a short while – small talk and pleasantries, but no real stimulating conversation, except for one girl who I’d barely known in school, but for some reason we just clicked in our conversation about life. She was actually the only person who’d asked what I did for a living or was I retired already like it seemed many girls were. My new friend informed me she was going to retire from doing public relations this year and enjoy the rest of her life. I told her I was a writer and she seemed stoked to meet a ‘real author’, lol. We exchanged email addresses at the end of the evening, and hopefully we will connect.

Three different guys came up to me announcing they remembered me. I laughed to myself thinking three males actually remembered me, one who I recognized and the other two I drew a blank about until they brought up some shenanigans from days past and we had a short chuckle over. Besides another old school chum, only one other girl remembered me, as we were school friends, but I’d completely forgotten about her. She sat down to chat with me. The talk was small and short and although it left me feeling as though we had nothing in common, it was nice to see a friend from the past.

I observed a lot that night and had little flashback moments of many of those students back in the day, remembering who hung around with who, who were the shit disturbers, who were snobby ( a very common trait back in those school days), who ignored me and who were nice to me. I observed their faces and demeanor, curious to see who aged well, who let themselves ‘go’ and who were still friends with their old cliquey groups. I came to realize how far I came from those days, not just in life, but how much I’d grown within myself, how confident I now felt among my old school peers, despite them never knowing.

I looked at that evening as a ‘night out’ and a chance to revisit a past I had no real fond memories of. Perhaps I had an inner desire to show up and present myself as no longer the quiet ‘Ugly Ducking’ of yesteryear, kind of like a “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee” moment. Sure I’ve aged along with everyone else, and I’m no longer the girl with the long blond hair and glasses, but a now secure, dynamic, still wrinkle-less redhead with glasses who finally found her voice in the world. I had no intentions of going back to the past, only to visit how time had treated my old school alumni and a curiosity to see how they’d fared in life since. I’m glad I went to my first and only reunion. Everyone should experience that once, and for me, once was enough.

Have you ever gone to a school reunion? If so, how did it make you feel?

Memoir Bytes: – Love Notes and Other Words

Childhood Scribbles

Vision perception - Memoirs

 

Whenever I’m asked when my passion for writing evolved I always remember that my journey began through writing love notes for the people I loved as far back as I can remember as soon as I learned how to write, which is stated in my bio.

 

As a child, I had so much love in my heart and empathy for others going as far back as I can remember. It’s rather odd when I think back to my childhood because “I love you” words weren’t familiar words in my home, leaving me feeling uncomfortable to say them. But writing from my heart to express my feelings was easy.

 

Memoir love notes

I wrote:

I love my mommy and my daddy. I drew pictures of them and wrote: This is mommy and daddy.

 

My mother died four years ago October. When we sat ‘shiva’ in the mourning period for her at my brother’s home, my sister-in-law brought out some photos my mother kept in a worn out looking makeup case. I was still feeling a million unresolved feelings that day and wasn’t too interested in looking at them at the time. But last week I went to visit my sister-in-law and she told me she had cleared out her basement and found some photos and items I may want. I came across a few of those cards I wrote my parents along with a few of those ‘love notes’ I had written.

The notes I found had me wondering why of all the many things I’d written as a child, my mother had clung to these very few items my sister-in-law gave to me. Where were all the rest gone? And the note that moved me most was one poem my father had written to my mother. Besides how touching and beautiful that poem was, it broke my heart to read it. It had taken me back to many memories of my father asking me to help him get back together with my mother.

 

Memoir love not from Dad

It reads:

E – Is for you’re Everything to me

L – Is for my Love for you

I – Is for If I had you

Z – Is for Zilch when I’m without you

A – Is for I’ll Always want you

B – Is for you’re Beauty

E – Is for my never Ending want for you

T – Is for the Time I wait

H – Is for when I’ll Have you

 

After my tears subsided, it dawned on me that my father must have had some instinct for writing. Nobody in my family had ever displayed an interest for writing. I knew I was a blacksheep in many ways, and often wondered where my passion for writing came from. That love note was a reminder that I had inherited my compassion from my father. But did I also inherit the secret passion he had for writing?

 

Paper Towel Love Note Cover:

To Mommy from Debby (I love you inside the heart)

 

 

 

Unfolded scrap of paper towel: Inside:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Sugar and honey are sweet

But you are the sweetest

(I love you inside the heart)

 

One more I found written on a piece of cardboard. This card reminded me of the numerous cards I’d written each time my parents broke up when my little heart was aching and the only wish I had in the whole world was that they’d reunite.

Memoir love not to mom

Front of card: To Mom from Debby. I love you Daddy

Back of card: I love you mom I love you dad.

 

Memoir love note 2

Inside that card left side: Dear mom I love you and daddy I am always going to be fair with you and daddy

Left side: hugs and kisses mom xxxxxxoooooo hugs and kisses dad xxxxxxoooooo – look on back

 

I remember another card I’d made during one of their separations, which I never did see again, but the memory of that card stuck with me till this day. It said:

 

I have a mommy and I have a daddy but I don’t have a mommy and a daddy.

 

I remember that card well because I was afraid to give it to my mother and had left it lying around somewhere. She eventually found it and I got slapped for writing it.

 

Such was my tormented childhood growing up with a mother I idolized as a young child and a father who lived apart from us more than he ever lived with us. My heart ached for my father because I had such empathy for his broken heart. As I grew into a young teen my resentments began to grow for my mother as I learned to understand her manipulations and watched the games she played on my father. My love for my father never faltered. I took care of him as a child as I did till the day he died. A heaviness in my heart that even 27 years passing never lightened.

One other sad note – my atrocious handwriting remains the same. 😊