Sunday, July 31, 2016


Three years ago today I was driving a farewell dash, with all my worldly possessions, up the 401 en route to my new life on the west coast. I breathed in the moment fully, swooped out of my body, above the traffic, for a panoramic view. The realization seeped in that I would never again have to be in the thick of traffic like this, the pollution, the hustle and bustle, except as a visitor.

I was enveloped with freedom and gratitude that I could return to a place that I called my "spiritual" home - Vancouver Island. The mountains, ocean, forests, clean air and water, and all their inhabitants awaited me.

When I drove through the Rockies and came out the other side, my exhilaration was tempered with a deep sense of finality. In a place called Hope, warmed on a sun dappled restaurant patio, sipping my beer, I felt a heavy door slam shut. A seemingly insurmountable physical distance between myself and family and friends was sealed.

I truly was moving into unknown territory.

The next day; seven days after setting out from Ontario, I arrived in Victoria.

I relished, drank in, and basked in the euphoric honeymoon period.

All too soon, six months later, the "what now?" limbo period ambushed me. This is for real. All of the planning and goal setting of the past few years have brought you here. Time to get to work…whatever that is, however that is done. From this place I launched new plans into motion.

Months of majour failure and frustration sprinkled with all too few carrot-at-the-end-of-the-stick moments of success finally peaked in the, "uh oh what the hell have I done?" period. I was still in love with my new home but not with myself. Disenchantment? Yes, disenchantment with myself and my projections for, and fantasies about, the life I was to lead here. The loss of a dream. Questioning everything.

In the deepest sense asking… Who am I?

The best place to be if one is to die to one's self and begin afresh.

On the precipice of a new beginning, in personal self-directed ceremonies (brought to me in dreams years ago), I cut the cords to all that no longer serves in order to put things into right relation. But, it takes time…a lot of time, and, affects everything and everyone in my life.

And now? I've landed in the "DO YOUR THING we're not in Kansas anymore Toto" period which is exactly where I wanted to be when I embarked on this journey.

Here's to new beginnings! Some just take a little longer than others.

*NOTES on the sketch:

It began with a heart. That was the first image that greeted me on a friend's FB post one morning. I was looking for an inspirational first significant thing of the day and there it was. I sketched hearts, heart wreaths and the date I began. Everyday something else was added. The wreaths became cogs and interconnecting chains. Though I recorded the dates of my additions, I couldn't tell you what was added when. I wondered where this was all leading…and then the quote came up on FB on June 29th (author unknown). This was the exact feeling guiding my pen.

When this dance of synchronicity happens I watch images creating themselves.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Somewhere in Stoney Creek, ON

Tiffany Falls in the spring
"I guess clothes are just an afterthought", my friend Kathleen said as she scans "my" bedroom, noting the drum, laptop, journals, yoga mat, art and knitting supplies strewn about and computes how everything would all fit into the luggage at hand.

"Yup, that's pretty much right."

I go up to Campbell River numerous times a year and have packing down to a fine art. Unlike my friends, or most civilized people for that matter, I really don't pay much attention to clothes. I'm thinking about what I want to DO with my time. Half of the time I don't really know what I've brought til I dig it out. Unpacking is always a surprise. I'm either smugly proud of my preparedness or deeply disappointed with my lack of foresight.

"I'm not going to be with people long enough this visit for them to notice that I've been alternating tops every other day, washing gotchies and socks every few days, or that I go bra-less as often as possible because washing the one bra that I brought, frankly, is a pain in the butt." I tell her.

After all, this house-sit was going to be RETREAT AND REFLECTION; days spent in seclusion with 2 elderly, toothless, wiener doggies as my sole companions. I imagined myself lost in thought during long walks on the nearby Bruce Trail, dreaming on the beat of the drum, doing ceremony and journaling my inspired insights…

Ya. Nope, hasn't happened.

Sure, I've drummed a bit for it's calming and healing effect. Yoga is almost as essential to me as breathing; a few days away from the mat is all my body will tolerate before complaining and becoming restless. So that really doesn't count. A work of art in progress stares at me as I write this. I've only managed to dab a bit of colour here and there. Journal entries? One, from the day of my arrival stating…"I've arrived", no deep thoughts there.

I thought being without wheels (I don't drive standard and that's all the owners of the house have) would support my RETREAT AND REFLECTION state of mind.


I've been able to persuade friends to come out this way for visits. And, visit they have!

Multicoloured ribbons slash through the days on my calendar marking scheduled reunions.
- Within a few days of my arrival I was welcomed into the arms of my 7 "council sisters", swept off to a craft market and attended, but didn't sleep over, at their sleepover.
- I reunited with dream/yoga sisters Sue and Katie and toured Katie's DE LA SOL yoga studios in Hamilton (renovated since I last took classes there) and Waterdown (which was in the process of being negotiated when I left).
- I've been to dinner with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and celebrated the latter's birthday with my nephew and his girlfriend (whom I met for the first time) at brunch hosted by Di.
- P and I spent a day Forest Gumping - exploring the Punchbowl Market, Tiffany Falls and chatting over wine at the scenically divine Ancaster Mill.
- Yesterday, fellow SSC (Shiatsu School of Canada) graduate Kathleen and I exchanged Shiatsu treatments in the room where she made her aforementioned observation. We broke for lunch and grocery shopping in between sessions and retired to the salon afterward to catch up on  our attempts to build up businesses in new locales over the last 3 years and offer words of mutual support and encouragement.

A day here and there, portions of days and evenings at home base are balancing out all of this fun, frolicking about. Plenty of time for retreat and reflection…

Ya. Nope, hasn't happened.

Tiffany Falls in winter.
Photo courtesy of Peter Sneller
I've rediscovered the pleasure of sitting down with a morning coffee as I peruse the Globe and Mail, an actual physical newspaper. Reading it online doesn't have the same effect on me; doesn't feel the same.

For some unknown reason, when I'm on a house-sit, putzing around the house, tending to the daily chores of life is particularly relaxing. I can spend hours gardening, of the weeding and mowing variety,…in someone else's garden. My own place? Not so much. I've never figured that one out.

Music, ahh! Other peoples' collections allow me to sample genres I'd probably never otherwise explore. Though I haven't really listened to it for years, I've always been a blues and jazz fan. C&R's music library and sound system is irresistible. I'm discovering new - to me - artists. I've reconnected with a favourite jazz station I once enjoyed. When I want a change from the vocalizations of the songbirds outside, I tune in.

When we don't spend a night cuddled up on the couch while I knit my yoga socks (with or without music in the background) the pups and I sit in the living room and catch up on Netflix offerings.

And for the remaining weeks? My schedule's packed tighter than Queen Elizabeth on a royal tour…Texts, e-mails and phone calls have zipped over the airwaves in my attempts to see all these people, so special to me, that I've missed so much these past 3 years.

There will be a time for retreat and reflection. Even as I enjoy this working vacation, longstanding challenges ARE being processed just in a different way than I expected.

To everything there is a season.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Moment for Mom

Here I sit gazing out at the lush gardens from my perch in the kitchen-solarium. Victoria's four month spring is waining but it's new and fresh here in Stoney Creek where I am house-sitting for the next 2 weeks.

Sumptuous red, vibrant yellow, delicate pink and coral tulips, dance before me; mirrored in the reflecting pond, their flower faces turn joyously upwards towards the sun. Chickadees, sparrows, cardinals and blue jays dart in and about. Robins swoop onto the grass and the stone patio, hop, run, pause here and there to dig up fat worms and grubs. Squirrels, and chippies - cheek pouches stuffed full of peanuts in the shell - scamper back and forth from the feeding platform to their secret places.

Beyond the cedar hedge, crisp-white, clouds float in the distance providing a back drop for Birches and Maples; buds bursting. I think of the momma dove nestled deep in the eaves trough on the shady side of the house, only the tip of her tail and a wary eye give away her presence; no peeps have yet been voiced.

A flash of wings causes me to look up from my typing in time for me to witness the eagerly awaited arrival of the duck couple splashing down into the pond. They waste no time; feasting has begun. Bathing, frolicking, preening, then more feeding is the order of the day. He is very handsome with his electric blue head, white necklace and graphic, defined markings of white, and shades of brown and grey. She is a subtle beauty. Both glisten in the sun and bask in the sunlight for a moment before taking flight once more.

Through all of this my little charges, two "puppies"(actually sweet 9 year-old, toothless mini-Dachshunds) snooze, nuzzled together in the sun drenched window-well to my left.

Birdsong breaks through the full spectrum of sound emanating from the sound system. The soundtrack to this precious moment has been provided by Oysterband and now the smoky voice of Emilie-claire Barlow. Ah, I sing off key and chair dance with enthusiastic abandon.

Every time I sing I feel closer to Mom. She would have loved this moment and this spot. I hear her pitch-perfect singing, matching the attitude, nuances and song styling; swaying just a little to the beat as she goes about her chores. Now again she pauses, stands by the sink for a sip of coffee and a piece of Crispy Crunch bar cut into bite sized morsels.

Care of C & R, this one's for you Mom.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Just an average day in Victoria

Sunday March 13th

Maya snores gently, nestled into her blankie on the chair at my side, as I write from the warmth of our apartment. Yet another dull, dreary, drippy, winter day in Victoria is dramatically transformed as howling, blustery winds rage outside, pelting rain almost horizontally across the yard. Our winter weather has returned to its more natural pattern, a huge contrast to the warm and obscenely sunny ones of the previous 2 years. The ones that left us all paranoid. Oh, this can't be good (though it really feels good). We're gonna pay for this one. - we said to each other in grocery store line ups and cafés across town.

Last Thursday the sun woke me up and charged me with energy. I downed a quick brekkie, stuffed some bags and gloves into my backpack, and took off for a day of Forest Gumping.

Daffodils spring up everywhere, on rugged hillsides as well as open stretches of lawn in Beacon Hill Park. Groundskeepers carefully mow around the stands and signs are posted reminding us not to pick the daffodils so that others may enjoy them too.

Severe winter storms have prevented clean up efforts of the barge that broke away from the tug boat and came aground at the beach at the base of Cook Street and Dallas Road over a week ago. Fortunately the cargo is large pieces of debris from a ferry's construction site at the inner harbour. Though there is no toxic waste, some of the material, smashed by the pounding surf, has broken off and is being carried to shore by the waves.

Just a few yards away kite surfers take advantage of the turbulent conditions.

An anonymous writer, obviously a nature lover, leaves a message for all who come this way. Gratitude fills my heart. I smile with a deep sense of connection to someone I don't even know. Perhaps they view this place as I do; a delicate treasure.

I packed my gloves and bags to clear away the bits of litter, I'd noticed the other day, marring the underbrush of this freshly groomed area by these steps leading up from the beach. Looked like a small task initially but as I pulled at pieces poking out from vines and roots…

I unearth bags and bags of debris: a few beer bottles and cans, a jacket and sweatshirt totally saturated from the persistent rains, styrofoam sheets as well as the usual bits of plastic, bags, wrappers and convenience food packaging. The items were buried deeply, some stashed away in thick plastic bags. There are no traces of human excrement nor scent of urine. I assume they have been here a long time. Perhaps this site was abandoned in favour of accommodation at tent city, a temporary measure set up on the courthouse lawn to get homeless people off the streets and out of public parks.

I couldn't free up the huge sheet of plastic propped up against the concrete. A layer of roots and vines grown up between them would provide extra insulation and comfort. The jug was anchored to the ground by an endless vine.   

A brave man stops to talk to this crazy lady hauling out garbage. We talk of the plight of the homeless and attempts government and private organizations are making to provide shelter, food and clothing and help people gain skills to get back on track. The break down of family and the support it offers, a particularly North American problem, is the cause, he says. His parents are from Spain and Portugal and he visited their homeland often as a child. He tells me that you don't find this in Europe so much. Why do so many immigrants live together? Why do generations and extended family members share houses? Because they take care of each other, he says.

I walk through Beacon Hill park, taking time to lean against, and gain support from my "dreaming" tree. I glance across the pond and this lovely little heron, one of my sisters' favourite birds, calmly oversees the comings and goings of the other resident ducks, peacocks and turtles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

X-Files 4 of 4 - Night time spirits come alive

A part of me always knew I would play an integral role in the support for my parents during the last years of their lives. It was logical. I was their only unattached child, and a female to boot. I had no clear/successful career nor dependents. But, in my heart I knew the reason was far deeper than this. 

Perhaps that's why I fled to the west coast in my early twenties. There, free from my past, in my spiritual home, I met myself. I stretched my wings, had my flings, immersed myself in the study of yoga and lived a bohemian artist's life before a coincidental stroke of fate lured me back to Ontario.
(NOTE: I got married within a year of returning to Ontario but all the other conditions mentioned above applied, plus I lived near by.)

I was shocked to find that my years of dedicated yoga practice hadn't prepared me in any way shape or form to handle many of our parents' needs as their health and abilities declined, nor the waves of emotion that swamp a family doing their best to keep afloat. Yoga was my sanctuary, my home and safe place where I licked my wounds, dipped into source and filled myself up, celebrated life and expressed gratitude. But their journey made me confront myself and the question - what is the point of yoga if you can't take it off the mat and into the world. This is the stage of the yoga of the householder - it was bound to catch up with me sooner or later.

My parents' quirky personalities and way of looking at life was deeply challenging and heart warming. Their great sense of humour got us through a lot.

*        *        *

“Dad, don’t try and think so hard. Just go through the motions and I’ll double check it against the instructions on the bottles. You’ve been doing this without thinking for years, your body has a memory. It will know what to do. Arrange the bottles in the way they normally would be and start from there.” Sorting through b.i.d.’s and t.i.d.’s the before, during and after meal notations of prescription lingo on each container, together we walked our way through our task. Unable to offer any assistance, Mom stood aside. I briefly turned to check on her. A cloud passed over her face; helplessness shifting into sorrow. She knew this was yet one more task, falling out of his hands.
A few fact finding trips to his pharmacy and doctor’s office followed. Asking for, or demanding, access to his files didn't achieve the desired outcome. Only when I was reduced to pathetic pleading, were they surrendered to me.
Foolish me, I logically assumed some kind of summary list of all his medications would exist. Instead, my search yielded scraps of photocopies of prescription notes written in the virtually illegible, professional M.D. scrawl. The end result was the master list drawn by my own hand complete with descriptions and illustration, the one that I worked from tonight.
A week’s worth, twelve varieties of life sustaining pills and capsules of every colour and description get sorted into their appropriate compartments - breakfast, noon, dinner, bedtime pills; pills for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diuretics, heart and thyroid medications, laxatives ... the list seems endless.
“Eighty ... eighty-one …” the rocking has slowed down, his enthusiasm wains. He merely taps of the heel of his hand against the top of the chair now.
“Geeze Edie you’re getting heavy.”
“Well, I weigh the same as when we began,” she comments innocently.
“I know that. I’m the one exerting all the effort. I should be losing weight.” Pausing for a few minutes, he leans over bracing himself with hands on top of his thigh as he catches his breath.
Newly revived, he hits the chair with determination, “O.K., now where were we?”
“You’ve got me.”
“Geezus Christ. I’m counting on you.”
“Then you’re in trouble aren’t you,” she jokes. He looks at her silently grinning, with laughter in his eyes.
I look at my watch. More than five minutes have passed from when they started counting. “118,” I yell.
“What?” he shouts. Then quietly he asks Mom, “who’s that?”
“Nance. Nance is in the kitchen.” she replies.
“Oh, yes I forgot.” he taps his head. “Nanca!?” he exclaims with delight.
“Dad!?” I return in kind. “You’re at 118."
There's a pause.
He hasn't quite heard. “She says 118.” Mom informs him with authority.
“Well, O.K. then.” he slaps the chair again. His strength returned, he resumes the last few victorious pushes as they count together, “118 ... 119 ... 120 ...” adding a push of exclamation on the last number.
“Hallelujah!” he rejoices, throwing his arms up victoriously.
“Amen!” she adds with equal enthusiasm. 
“Now let’s get these other goddam drops in before my goddam arms fall off.”
By the time my mission is accomplished, all has been reduced to silence. I place the plastic medicine bottles back into the box which I return to its hiding place, leaving the docette in full view in its usual location on the counter.
Standing at the foot of the 3 stairs that rise into the family room, I smile as I gaze at the flickering images of my parents bathed in a faded cool blue set against a backdrop of darkness, momentarily resting their eyes. And I marvel at these strange nocturnal creatures who prefer to stay up all night with the owls rather than soar with the eagles in the morning. My eyes grow wide as I realize this is one more confirmation that I am indeed their progeny. Who knew? Who? That nighttime lifts their spirits so and makes them come alive. Two childlike, giggling creatures emerged from the depths of elderly bodies. And I can’t help chuckling. I resolve to return to the nest in the dark of night more often. God knows I need the lift.
I sneak out and in leaving turn on a trail of lights in order to illuminate their 2:30 a.m. bedtime migration.
            *          *          *
“Om ... Om ...” now subdued I turn down the volume on the tape deck and ease up the driveway and down the road as waves of chants carry me home on a freshly rain washed, starry night.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

X-Files…part 3 of 4 - Giddy Up

Sweeping me into the room he shines his flashlight on my mother, illuminated by the beams emanating from the T.V., which has been on since T.V. was invented. She’s stretched out on one of the many lazy boys populating theatre number one and I’m forced to do a double take. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her recline on one before. She's a dedicated "sinkie". I even wonder if the woman sleeps, as she eats standing up.
Mom waves and greets me with a cheery “Hi.” Without more being said, Dad motions me to sit.  Like some kind of anthropologist I've been granted the privilege to observe this, at least to me, bizarre, unknown and never before witnessed, nightly ritual. 
He shines the light on the clock over the stairs, the only way you can see it in this den of a room. Dad, like many of his peers, can no longer read the digital watch he still wears, nor can he hear its alarm buzzing at precisely designated times of the day for purposes long forgotten.
“So I guess we’re ready to do this,” he asks.
“Ready.” She confirms.
Ready, I wonder. I suspend my breath and watch.
Flashlight in one hand; bottle in the other. He's barely able to control the constant shaking of his hands. Yet, miraculously for a brief moment they are steady, just long enough for him to get one exact, gently placed drop to find its mark on Mom’s eye. And then I exhale, relieved for him that he can still do this small task for her.
“So that’s it for the first set of drops.”  Dad explains to me. “Now we have to wait for two minutes before we can put the other batch in.”

I begin to set the alarm on my watch but Dad motions that it isn’t necessary. He perches on the arm of the couch behind her lazy boy and begins to push down on the top of her chair, setting her in motion. Each rock becomes increasingly far ranging. She bravely clutches the arms of her mount to keep from being bucked off.

“One, two, three, ...” they count every push.
“This is how we do it” they say in unison, counting off the seconds since neither of them can see his watch.
“I’m hoping I’ll be able to rock her to sleep.” They both break out into fits of laughter as the rocking and the counting continue.
“Fifteen ... sixteen ...”

Speechless, I leave them to it, laughing and rocking as I go to tend to the medications. I close the kitchen door silently behind me, make my way over to the counter across the room and turn on the little lamp.
“Twenty ... twenty-one ...”
 I clamber up onto the counter to reach into the cupboard, to the back of the top shelf, where the medicine bottles are hidden. As I pull out the stash, I recall the day when such precautions became necessary and this ritual passed on to me. A dreaded sound, the ring of a phone in the early hours of the morning, was my awakening alarm. I stumbled into the den to intercept the call intuiting that I'd hear Dad's voice on the other end.

“Nance, could you come over?”
“Dad is everything O.K.?” suddenly I’m wide awake.
“Yes, but, but I um, can’t remember which medications I have to take.” his words betray astonishment and shame, for he has been responsible for sorting out his medications from the day he took his first insulin injection some 25 years ago.
“You’ve taken your insulin, right?”

“Yes, yes that’s not the problem.”
 I’m relieved that it’s not some kind of blood sugar fog, but puzzled by this new turn of events.
“It’s the damn pills. I have to take so many of them… I just can’t remember.”
I arrive to find him mulling over the unopened pill bottles laying in disarray on this very counter.
“Forty/fifty ... forty-one/forty-four ...”
“Edie, come on now it’s forty-one,” he chuckles. The creaks from the chair having gotten progressively weaker have stopped.
“No, it’s forty-four.”
“You made a mistake back there at forty,” he’s laughing not sure if she’s putting him on or not. “Now lets start again, forty-four.”
“Well then we should start at fifty because we’ve been talking.” She, the voice of reason, states.
“Come on Edie co-operate with me,” he pleads.
They resume, “forty/fifty-three ...”
A silent pause.
God they crack me up! I chuckle and shake my head and can take no more of this petty bickering. “Fifty- three” I yell out.
“What?” Dad shouts back.
“Fifty-three, start at fifty-three.”

“Fifty-three ... fifty-four ...” they’ve been jump-started back on track and the chair’s a rockin’.
And, I had to jump start his memory back then…

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

X-Files…part 2 of 4

I was raised in the modest 2 story house (where Life at 139 takes place) from the time I was just 3 years  old until I left home, for the final time in '86. Unlike most of my generation, I was a rebound boarder periodically returning to live in my parental home, for a year or so, every now and again.
Yes, I really did this to my poor parents.
 I hope they enjoyed my company as much as I did theirs - not being sarcastic either. 
Mom remained in the home for four more years after our Dad's death. An incident one cold and bitter night in 2006 convinced us that, short of having one of her five children with her 24/7 (which she absolutely did not want) it was no longer safe for her to stay there. But, that is a story for another time.

I should add that, not only was the stairway (mentioned in the story that follows) dark; the stairs leading to the upper floor were slippery as ice. A few non-Thackers who butt-slid from the top of the landing to the bottom of the flight in one fell swoop.…more than once, can attest to that. A bi-weekly ritual of Mom's was to wax the wood floors until they shone with a blinding light. Only when the landing became too crowded with boxes, full of their fledged childrens' items, did the stairway get omitted, yet the treads still retained their smooth, slick surface.

Mom was old school. Rubbing polish into the wood on hands and knees was the way it was done followed by a once or twice over with the floor polisher. When it came time to clear out the family home no fewer than 3 floor polishers were unearthed; all in various stages of disrepair. By the time the first one finally died new flooring material had made such appliances obsolete. Dad, ever the proud hunter/gatherer that he was, scoured the neighbourhoods on dump days for replacements. Most lasted for a few months before kicking off. When he finally gave up the hunt, Mom just dragged the lightest (still about 20 pound) relic back and forth over the dining room floor and hallway.

Back to X-Files part 2 of a 4 part story…

*        *        *

So begrudgingly, twenty bass driven minutes later, and paradoxically calmer I arrive unannounced on a cold and dark night. There I am on Mom and Dad’s doorstep, standing in the rain, waiting for them to respond to the sound of my fist banging on the aluminum base of their screen door. I fear this noise will wake up the neighbours gently tucked into their beds, but not my folks probably dozing in front of the T.V. in “theatre number one” a.k.a. the family room. Except for the blue haze that emanates from the front window it is pitch black inside.
Just last year my husband installed an overhead light above the stair well leading up to the second floor bedrooms. He comes from good lighting stock. His father, also a contractor, instilled in Rod from a tender age, the appreciation of abundant illumination.
“How did you manage to go up the stairs without light all those years?” he asks.
I think, what an odd question. “We counted the stairs and the steps to our beds.” Duh, didn’t everyone. In hearing myself I begin to think, maybe this was a little odd. My mother didn’t like overhead lighting of any kind - though I don’t know why, so all the wiring was capped and tiny bedside table lamps complete with cellophane wrapped shades were placed in the farthest corners of each room. God forbid anything got moved in the space in between the two locations. I think it was her way of forcing us to keep our bedrooms neat - put your things away or else break your necks.

The pride Rod felt in solving what he had deemed the “lighting problem”was obvious as we all stood at the base of the stair watching him demonstrate with a flourish how with the flick of a switch the light fourteen feet above us would be activated. And their reactions! Well, you would have thought he had invented light itself, they were so in awe. Of course we all knew that he would be the only person who would ever use it, but we didn’t tell him this. Didn’t want to spoil his moment.
                 I bang out again our family code  - knock   knock …knock-knock,  knock … knock   knock then shout, “Mom, Dad, it’s me Nance” then peer through the scalloped window, the kind that allows you to see only ghostly images on the brightest of days, and I see a scene straight out of the X-Files. The beam of a flash light jumps and stumbles along the walls of the living room.
“I’m coming, I’m coming. Chris’ sake. Give me a chance will ya. Keep your pants on”  The beam cuts wildly out of control through the darkness. “Shit! Goddam it all to hell. Who put that there?” 
I’m shivering pretty uncontrollably by now as he the clicks and jiggles the handle wrestling  with the door he’s confronted on a daily basis for nearly 50 years. “Jesus Murphy ...” a choppy stream of swear words accompanies his efforts. When he finally succeeds, I’m met with a piercing beam of light aimed straight at my eyeballs. We’re stalemated there for a some seconds, silence coming from his end of the beam as I bob and weave my head out of the line of fire.
“Dad. Hi its me, Nance.” I put my hand in front of my face averting my eyes, but it is no use so I give up, drop my arms down by my sides and just stand there squinting.
With beam still fixed on my face, he peers closer; shivering I wait. “Nance?... it’s you ... Hi. Hi. What are you doing standing out in the rain? You’re drenched. Come in. Come in.” He waves me inside, beam gesturing wildly, creating a strobe effect in my brain.
Once my eyes adjust to the dark I ask, “Dad, why is it so dark in here?”
“It is?”

“Um,” gesturing to the flashlight in his hands, “yeah.” and then to the cloak of darkness around us.
“Oh ... OH” my question goes unanswered as he flicks some switches with slight distraction. And there is light - outside. The light over the front porch and then the lamppost at the end of the walkway now proudly shine. Without asking why I’m on his doorstep at 11:30 at night, it somehow seems perfectly normal to him, he motions me in to the living room after I’ve taken off my jacket and boots with the assistance of his somewhat shaky beam.
“Come on in” he says throwing his arms open with a warm expansiveness. “We’re just about to put your mother’s eye drops in.” With light still in hand he begins to sweep me in the direction of the living room.
I wince at the thought, “Dad, I can’t ...”
He stops in his tracks, “What? You don’t have time to visit your old Dad?”
I heave a sigh, “O.K. but only for a minute. I’ve got to put together your docette.”
“Nance you don’t have to do that.”
“If I don’t, who will?”
He pauses. His arms drop. Deflated he shakes his head, his lips purse and tears threaten as, I realize, inadvertently we’re caught short by the memory of the day the torch of this task passed into my hands.
“Look, Dad,” I say as I place my hand on his arm. “It’s O.K. Let’s go in and see Mom.” We nod in  silent conspiracy to proceed as if this conversation had never taken place…(TO BE CONTINUED)