Joy in slices…

I do not believe in fairy tales, and neither do I believe in happy endings.  Life, as I see it, is a series of imperfections, unfortunate experiences, and hard times that follow one after the other.  People talk about life being beautiful, precious and wildly exciting, but I don’t see it.  I really don’t.  Life is just plain harsh, with a little break in the insanity once in a while which fools you into thinking life might not be so brutal as you once imagined it to be.  Well, guess what?   It is brutal, and then some.  But I would be remiss to fail to acknowledge that sandwiched in the middle of all this stuff that makes life so frustrating and hardly worth the while are little reminders that life can be a small slice of heaven.  Even if only once in a while.

We ate out with our extended family tonight, a happy, joyful bunch of revellers I might add, and I watched out of the corner of my eye as my aging father struggled to get his fork to his mouth and later to open up his package of crackers.  Let’s just forget the fact that he asked for crackers, and had failed to notice that the crackers which came with his soup were sitting on the side of his plate already.  His life can seem to me, harsh and unforgiving.  His Parkinson’s is disabling and debilitating.  If he were me, I would believe that life was not only harsh and brutal, but also unfair.  He who struggles to move limbs and propel his body forward.  We take motion for granted, as we do everything else in this life we live.  My father- an example of the life lived under duress and within constraint. Without freedom.   And yet, there is still that sliver of heaven.  There is always heaven.

I go out to visit them this evening, and the first thing he tells me is that they have been given a two-week, all-expense paid trip to Florida next spring courtesy of a long-time friend of their’s that owns a R.V. and whom has kindly offered it up for my parent’s vacationing pleasure.  A little sliver of heaven.  Will it cure Dad’s Parkinson’s?  No.  Will it lift them from their debts and enable them financially, to live the high life of well-off retirees? No.  Will they expect to do this every year, now that they have had a taste of a snow bird’s lifestyle?  Not a chance.  They will take it for what it is.  A little slice of heaven.

Here and now are slices of heaven in each and every day, found in moments few and far between, at times.   Take this moment, right now, for instance.

It is a moment transpiring on a beautiful moonlit night.  The moon shines full on the water, creating a circular reflection of light that gives the appearance of a golden bowl into which one could dive and swim clear to the bottom.  I am camping with the family on the lovely West River, a feeder waterway for the Charlottetown Harbour.  The air is balmy, and a slight bit damp as we head to the bathrooms to brush our teeth and make that last visit to the toilet.  These bathrooms are perpetually gross in every way, and my daughter almost slips on the slimy floors outside the showers as she pads towards the last bathroom stall her mother has deemed fit for use.  We must layer the seat with an inch of toilet paper before she is even allowed to lower her hiney onto the throne.  And even then, both of our noses are scrunched so as not to breathe in the putrid air conditions.  We make it out no worse for the wear, and Little One hops onto her bike and takes off into the darkness without me, humming as she goes.

As I walk, it is then that I notice the moon. It is beautiful, spellbinding.  Mesmerizing.   Hypnotic in its effect.  I want to drink from this golden bowl an elixir that will cure these joyless thoughts of mine.  Forever.

Could the beauty I see so far away be the remedy that I seek?

Now that teeth brushings and bedtime routines have commenced, I am sitting here on a bed in our aging tent trailer, parked smack in the middle of an upscale RV park.   My youngest child has slipped out of bed and is now hanging off the mattress that my husband and I share, all the while I am trying to collect what little of my sanity there is left so that I can function for the rest of the evening.  And that I have to concentrate to do so is not saying much.  There is so precious little sanity left for me to draw on.  We are here for a month in this blessed tent trailer- one step up from a tarp over a hole in the ground, and all because I booked this ‘dream’ vacation for our family so that I could get some rest and relaxation.  Fat chance of that.  The Littlest One is crying for help while I write these words.  She is looking for a book that her father threw back at her after she had been told for the umpteenth time to get back into her sleeping bag and go to sleep.  Earlier this evening, she pee’d on the floorboards surrounding the outdoor pool, coincidentally while standing directly outside the bathroom adjacent to the pool.  She lost control of her faculties in front of and in plain view of the other pool users, I might add.  And all while her mother was trying to undo the last button on her shirt so as to get her one-piece bathing suit down. Without any warning, there was a huge yellowish puddle on the deck of the pool, spreading out towards the ledge and back towards the washroom.   My husband had to mop up the puddle with Clorox while I sheepishly slunk into the toilets with child and urine drips in tow.

That was the breaking point of my evening.

However, right about now, I am considering this bedtime infraction to be a close second, challenging my earlier notions that it cannot get any worse.  It can and it will.  Never expect any better than your worst nightmare.  Because when things are going better than planned, you feel you struck a goldmine.  Which is how my father must have felt when he arrived home after supper, dribbles down the front of his buttoned dress shirt, perhaps; only to discover that he had been chosen to receive a delightful gift from a thoughtful giver.  It was a slice of heaven, in gigantic proportions.

And my slice of heaven tonight is the moon.  It is for me the heaven I am searching for.  I un-zip the canvas screen that serves as a window and drink it in: the moon.  In all its glory.

It is a joyful, crazy life…

Ever had one of those days when you think you have all the time in the world, and then you discover you’ve forgotten something particularly significant?  As in, picking up a child attending an after- school program?  Yeah, me neither.  But, let’s just say that “were” this to happen, it might go down like this:

If it were to ever happen that I forgot someone so essential, so important, as a child, I would probably have left work earlier than usual; and as I never really allow myself relaxation time, I might have given in to the fatigue and had a forty-five minute visit with my friend who also happens to babysit for us.  I just might have left her house at 4:30 p.m. so as to get home in time to make supper.  But, as I would be nearing our driveway, I would notice my son’s Robotics Instructor driving into the driveway of our next door neighbor’s house.  Strange, I might think to myself, but who knows?  Maybe he has made a new friend in the quiet grandmother who lives in the house next to ours?   She could use the company.

I would then pull into the lane leading up to our house, and I would just be about to get out of the vehicle when my cell phone would ring.  Then, the Robotics instructor also would pull in beside me at precisely the same time as my cell phone is ringing.    I would probably not have to worry about the fact that everyone in the country side would be aware that I had forgotten my child (as all my emergency contact information would by now have been called) because I would not know this small detail until much later on. It would turn out,  in this imagined scenario, that my son would be stranded at the school with only the principal and janitor for company, and he would have been waiting for me for at least 40 minutes, prior to my grand entrance with hungry, tired siblings in tow.

As I would pull into the school parking lot, I would then make a feeble attempt at an apology to the principal, who would be waiting on the bottom of the steps with my son.  His reply to me would be this, “It will make for good writing material for your Huff Post column.”

Thankfully, I am not notorious for forgetting my children in all manner of places as well as being late for pretty well everything I am involved in.  And if I was, I would certainly not admit it on Facebook.

So, needing a bit of a break from my day dreaming, I quickly throw supper in the oven tonight and sit down for fifteen minutes of further mindless entertainment, otherwise known as creeping people’s Facebook statuses on my homepage.

To say this is a mistake is a bit of an overstatement.  Let’s just say this:

Supper was stellar tonight. Who knew that cooking food at 475 degrees would actually not only save time, it would also ruin appetites?  What with the burned chicken fingers, the four bar-b-qued hotdogs leftover from Sunday and the corn that arrived half-way through the meal, as I had too many items lined up for the microwave to cook in time for the meal’s commencement, it was a burnt offering at best.  Part way through the feast, a little one jumps up and makes a run for the toilet.  Minutes later, same child calls me from the bathroom.

“Moooooooom, I’m dooonnne.”  I look at my plate with its meager portions.  Growing colder by the minute.  More pitiful under the light of our candelabra, minus its two burnt-out bulbs.  And I decide that eating it cold makes no difference.

In the bathroom, I try to hurry up the job as quickly as possible.   Wiping at any time of the day is not my forte.  And as it all vaguely resembles something on my plate, particularly now that the darkened chicken was charred beyond recognition, I am also trying not to inhale the fumes.  Unfortunately, I drop a wad of used toilet paper on the floor, soiled side down.

So now I have to clean the floor too.  Just great.

And so it goes.  And so it goes….

“It might be a crazy life” (a.k.a. Jon and Kate Plus Eight), but if there was ever any financial offer made and a reality television show to boot that would pay us to video tape our lives for an audience of millions, I’d do it all over again.