Sirens and Lights and Speed, Oh My

So, I came across a newspaper story about my mom and me. It’s an old story, but for a few minutes I was taken back to a whole other world where sirens and flashing red lights were an average event we sped to.

We were an ambulance team. I’m pretty sure, in the early 1990s, we were the first mother and daughter team in Ontario. I wonder if we were the first Indigenous mother and daughter team as well. I don’t think either of us gave that any thought at the time. We were really only about applying the lessons my mom earned the credentials to teach for the benefit of our community and our own hearts.

Mom worked so hard in those days, spending 12 hour shifts providing first-aid standby at the gold mine, while in her off-time, she taught varying levels of St John’s Ambulance courses. That work got her called in as a volunteer for the ambulance attendant gig. While she was doing that, I was working through my second “mid-life crisis” during my mid-20s in Vancouver.

I’d discovered that all the things I’d been taught about achieving a successful life was a giant pile of unbaked United Kingdom Spotted Dick. So, what to do? I ended up resigning from my job, selling half my stuff, storing the rest and then I pointed my little car in the direction of east. I had no idea of where I would ultimately end up, but I did know the next step required me to put the pedal to the metal.

After a short stop in Thunder Bay, I ended up in a very unexpected peace as an unexpected resident of a very small town, Pickle Lake – the literal end of the road in northwestern Ontario. After Pickle Lake, the road toward further north becomes only gravel and dirt until bitter winter allows for the very necessary freezing of lakes to drive any further.

Pickle Lake was where my parents lived. I thought it would be a fairly short visit while I worked out the plan for the rest of my life. Well, who doesn’t know the joke about plans and fate? Accordingly, I ended up staying long enough to get roped into taking those first-aid lessons, then onto the next education level to earn the job of volunteer ambulance attendant. The way this works is a little different from full-time city attendants. We were on-call for 12 hours, day or night, for the grand pay of $2.50/hr.

Clearly this was not a life-sustaining role on our side of the gurney. So, my mother stepped in for me on that too and got me a job sharing her role at the gold mine. More 12 hour shifts, but the pay definitely propelled me into ‘able to eat regularly’ status. Both experiences served to teach and enforce the lessons of the other.

I previously wrote a bit of the experience in a tribute to one of the attendants who took me under his wing during the bulk of my training. We worked out most of the kinks in getting me up to par until I was ready enough to work in rotation with any of the other team members, my mother included.

There were many moments of what I’ve heard is the experience of pilots –long bouts of boredom followed by short bursts of adrenaline-fueled terror. Okay, the terrified moments were rare, but the adrenaline is very real. When that phone rang, we had to be prepared for anything and it seemed as though anything was always up for offer. Car accidents, forest fires, plane crashes, overdoses, assaults, industrial accidents, and babies about to be born.

There was story after story, of which many will never be forgotten – the young man we tried to save on Christmas day; the baby that almost landed in my hands instead of the attending nurse’s in rushed chaos; the young man who lost his arms at the mine. There was that time I almost lost my arm to the jaws of life. In the effort to extricate the woman I was holding up in a twisted car, the attendant cutting mistook the reflective band on my uniform for metal. Luckily it was only a nano-second of threat. (Thank you forever, dearest Eric for warning the cutter just in time).

There were other events that didn’t quite work according to plan. Mom and I had to attend a patient who’d fallen down a snowy hill and broke her ankle. We learned she was a friend and so we had a little extra concern with what we’d find. It wasn’t too bad and we got her all snugly secured and ready to lift to the ambulance when I heard my mom yell out, “Robyn, get to that truck now!” I quickly turned to see the ambulance slowing rolling backward down the hill. I stood stunned until I realized I’d forgot to put on the emergency brake. I madly ran into the moving vehicle to slam it on. Holy cow. It was bad enough that I was going to hear about this from our dispatcher and from the rest of the overall crew, but I’m pretty sure I can still feel the burn from the look I got from momma. Oh, and from the follow-up glare of our friend.

There are moments after moment that I share with my mom in these settings that I know bonded us beyond what we’d already had. The aftermath of some of the scenes takes us to places that only others who’ve done it can know. Our entire crew was a set of people as fine as anyone could ever meet. They, and so many that we were sent to help, will always be inextricably held in our hearts.

Even now, decades later, I can vividly hear their voices and feel what we went through. I am so damned proud to have been a part of their team and especially with my mother.

All of it really, was just another gift from momma.

RL

Wishing the best of the new year to all. Stay safe.

How did a year pass in only a day

A May day surprise

I feel her, knitting our relatives together
The past coming forward, speeding to today / this moment
Eras of generations unfurl; we see you, they wave
We feel you; we’ve always been here


I feel her, still coordinating
Always a planner, a bridge to events
Our grandmothers and grandfathers are here with her
They’re all here for us, talk to them

I feel her

Reva Anne
September 6, 2020
Mother, Grandmother, Daughter, Sister, Organizer

RL

Phoetry is Back, Part 2

An ode to adventures at home in three lines and a photo, continued…

No longer sunken
Laid to rest in solitude
Rust-worthy pursuits

#Haiku
Skimming the ripples
Decisions, oh decisions
Water or the sky

#haiku
Due care practised well
Warm welcome upon return
Shrouds begin to lift

#Haiku
It felt tropical
A palm tree in full disguise
Willing to be fooled

#Haiku
Luna is hiding
No, I’m not shy; I’m beaming
Perfectly in frame

#Haiku

RL

All photos by Blog Woman!!!

Phoetry is Back, Part 1

It was forever since I looked at where I live. I’ve been mostly in the business of adjusting to new normals – again. Still. Look, can we finally just face that we really have no idea what normal really was? A lot of what was normal badly needed the revision anyway. I guess we’re all still working on it.

In the meantime, home commanded my attention. I forgot what an adventure home is…

Home sweet home
Tantalizing dreams
Still fathoms

#Lune #photo #poetry
Pleasure sits idle
Labor has punched in the clock
Unlocked and undocked

#Haiku
Memories fill up
Years of crossing my own paths
Storied bridges fade

#haiku
She accepted it
Cradling the final moments
Inevitable

#Haiku
Planetarium
Setting the spotlight focus
Lunar favorite

#haiku

RL

All photos by Blog Woman!!!

Wednesday Wins: ‘Cause it’s My Anniversary!

8 years. I guess it’s safe to assume I made it past that 7 year itch in this relationship. So, am settling into the idea of longevity, along the lines of other such long-time-honored couplings as pen to paper; the word to a press; ink to squid.

What can I say? I have 8 years of thought, ideas. ideals and I’m sure, a drawer-full of plain old crap in this literary bin. I’ve decided to kick off moving into year 9 on the lighter side with a few easy, breezy pleasurable ha ha.s.

So, let’s begin with one quick, deep thought and then onto what amounts to average life ups and downs, with a little input from m’boy.

Yeah. See? Who’s thinking now?
‘Nuff said.

Oh, how we hunger…

Son: Holy! Are those udders??!! Mom: Well, they sure ain’t testicles….

Well, clearly this is a case for coconut oil.

I love that I had to solve this for my brainiac, Dean’s List son. 🙂
Covid 19AD

The required standard PSA

Boomer (according to m’boy) Musical Interlude:

He just wants it all to come together.
Likely a blogger.

I wonder if they come in black. Getting details from this guy is like pulling teeth.

…and that’s all she wrote, folks.

Many, many thanks to the readers who keep this site active every day despite the long pauses this past year. Anyone who runs any social media page knows this kind of support is beyond golden. My gratitude cup runneth over, but not with the words to convey my full appreciation. Kindness has always left me somewhat speechless and all that I’ve received within this year are no exception. A very soul-level thank you for this.

I hope to be back a little more regularly, but you know, … life… So, until then, keep on keeping safe. See you soon. ❤

RL

One Single, Holy Moment

She took her last breath at 6:30am on September 6, 2020. She was my little sister. Funny how we do that, no matter how close to seniors’ stage we are – little sisters will always be little sisters to the older.

Reva Anne

Reva was beautiful; exceptionally beautiful. She certainly had no problem turning heads and often invoking envy. She was smart, a doer and a dancer and she was funny too. She held our family sense of humor, honed in the history of pain and endurance, in doing whatever it took. She wouldn’t have recognized how that humor and ability to persist was ingrained through many generations reduced to survival.

She didn’t much talk about our Indigeneity; it was not something we consciously talked about. We just were and mostly, we tried to forget about it. Mostly we had associated every awful and humiliating moment of our childhood with it.

We went through the fostering system together, until the day I ran away from it and she aged out of it. Even then, we weren’t really free. We still had the weight of all we’d gone through before, during and even after. In our own ways, we decided the only path out was to pursue the model of success that was firmly impressed on us throughout those years. We only had to just work hard; very hard. We only had to have a nice home and maybe husbands and kids and maybe a car too. We only had to be respectable.

My journey with that empty misconception ended with several years of help to undo those generations of trauma. She sought help where she most felt at home. I don’t know how stable or even healing that was for her. I think it mostly hurt her, really. Yes, she was beautiful and smart and so, so complicated.

It wasn’t always easy to love her. I suppose they would say that about me too. I just like to think all that therapy gave me some measure of genuine peace she didn’t have. It’s in that, as a big sister that I find most painful. It’s not much different really, from all those earnest wishes for happiness and safety we have for our babies.

We achieved those goals to similar degrees. In the end, it was our children and homes that mattered most, but the ugly monster that was our childhood never really left her. She never quite found the combination that would allow her to be, to just be, in ease and in the ability to admit failure. That sometimes made her a pretty tough judge and not everyone was interested in hearing the verdicts. Sometimes other events hardened hearts indefinitely. It’s one of the most miserable of human experiences to simultaneously love someone so deeply while fighting the soulful wish to feel only indifference. Hopeless dreams.

Still, she held out her hands, arms and whatever resources available to help anyone she could. Generosity was hers too. Her heart would melt at the sight of impersonal suffering. She was a force and it was a good feeling if she was on your side.

As a sister, there was plenty of special too; the way we knew what the other was thinking by locking eyes. Breaking into gut-busting laughter over things only we could understand. It was an indescribable comfort to know she was there when I was scared. It was gut-wrenching when her pain became mine.

I hadn’t been talking to her for some time when her boy found her on the floor. She’d been rushed into surgery to remove the discovered brain tumor that they said was going to take her in a matter of months, and that’s when I got the call.

It doesn’t seem real; not then and not now. One moment often replays in my mind. It was when I arrived at her home and saw her sitting in the corner of her couch, so small and quiet and beautiful, even with all those metal staples down one side of her head. She didn’t say anything, but I felt it all. I felt her fatigue and confusion; I felt her fear.

I could only go to her and take her in my arms and tell her that I loved her. In only a moment, all those years of trying to figure out life and our issues were done. One single, damned moment. One single, holy moment.

We had her for eight and a half more months; somewhat short of the 24 they told us was possible. I think we just knew, this time the possible was not an achievable goal. We were back to survival mode, where the practicality of what had to be dealt with in undoing an entire lifetime was paramount.

Her sons and I packed up boxes and tried to plan as best as possible for her youngest son’s eventual move to his father’s and her older son’s grappling with the baggage of the past and the infuriating circumstances of the present. Broken hearts can’t be boxed.

We spent the last few weeks just talking until she lost most of the ability. Then she would mostly just look at us as we’d try to regale her with any stories of normalcy.

Two days before she passed, I obsessed over the thought that I needed a sign when she was on the other side. I asked her to please show me something purple. “I don’t know why I picked purple, but will you”? I pleaded. She nodded, yes. She knew why I picked purple, but she wasn’t able to tell me. I didn’t even remember until she was gone, her birthstone is an amethyst. Anyway, when she nodded, I knew she would.

Eight and a half months to live what matters and even if she couldn’t say it often, I know she loved us hard and no one as much as her sons and grandson. I know this is mainly what she thought about in that time and if she could have made everyone’s wishes come true then, she would have. She had so many dreams…

In the end, she lived up to that final promise to me and I know she will for others. I can promise that. Another thing you could always count on her for was, keeping her word.

A couple weeks after she passed, I went for a walk. It was late September and the leaves were turning color. The wind that rustled fallen leaves was distinctly cooler. I plodded on, lost in thought until I was stopped in my <insert whatever cliché>.

Even if they had noticed, it might not have made much of an impression on anyone else. It was unusual to me though, and it happened to be one of my favorite flowers; a Lupin, a flower that blooms in spring. Of course, it was purple.

I didn’t have a thought. Not that I recall. I do remember the way it felt. It was like my entire being was suddenly filled with warmth that I find hard to describe. I instantly and absolutely knew my little sister was home and she was safe. That was all I really needed to know since I first got that call, and of course, she knew that…

Sisters know.

RL

Natural Progress

Summer haikus; poetic respite in between the cares and the concerns of Spring and the prep work for Fall…

Photos from my first attempt at a deck garden.

Green bean sprout

Delicacies reign
Effortless sustenance hails
Tendril-loving care

RL

Wild flowers

Seedy flirtations
Lusciously coloring life
Carelessly strewn joy

RL

Green onion flower; sweet seeds

Allium cepa
Flavorful accessory
Verdant stems of pride

RL

Goth petunias
Black velvet grows in boxes
Textural wealth

RL

Tobacco flowers/seeds

Future offerings
Seeds of faith, promise & love
Gratitude’s bounty

RL

‘Reconciliation’ by Palatable Replacement: the ‘Pretendian’

Race-shifting to Indigeneity is so prevalent in Canada, that to say it’s rampant wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration. The big question is, who’s going to be responsible for halting these destructive behaviors? The Canadian Government; the Indian Act department, CIRNA; every Indigenous nation encroached upon? Where do employers, educators and media fit in?

Over the last few years, I’ve learned “pretendians” vary in reason for their desire to be Indigenous and that they cut a wide swath in professions, learning institutes, and even within Indigenous communities.

When we point out an uncovered discovery publicly, this is about far more than ‘shaming’. This is more than ‘gate-keeping’. This is protection and an effort to stanch the continuing effort to dilute, diminish and degrade the teachings & traditions and resources of entire cultures.

The sheer numbers today make the fight against race-shifting feel futile at times because Indigenous peoples are striving to re-educate an entire country that has decades of deliberate mis-education and obfuscation about them. While they pursue that, they also have to put out as many of these current fires as possible; it’s a constant, agonizing game of whack-a-mole.

How do the Indigenous fight the enormous numbers of non-Indigenous who have chosen to speak over them and for them because of reasons like this:

  • They want part of the mythical ‘free money’ they were told repeatedly by Canada that the Indigenous receive.
  • They want the hard-won restoration of harvesting rights of the Indigenous.
  • They want the hard-won land titles, such as they are.
  • They want to act on behalf of Canada as “consent givers” for resources extraction.
  • They want to make claims on those big money resources.
  • They want to receive the jobs, grants, scholarships, and awards set up to lend a helping hand to the marginalized.
  • They want the acclaim of being an ‘Indigenous success’.
  • They want to write governance policy for the Indigenous.
  • They want to continue to re-write history to wash over the truths.
  • They heard they had an Indigenous ancestor somewhere in their background and now they are suddenly fulfilled as a whole being and must dance to the drums of ‘their ancestors’.
  • They are bereft of culture and need to be fulfilled emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.

These people aren’t readily identifiable as terrible trespassers. They are neighbors, co-workers, friends and sometimes, family. Many are exceptionally friendly, articulate and some are very charismatic, which makes for frustrating, vigorous protection by those around them when questioned.

Some of the roles where we’ve found these people are:

  • Politicians
  • Professors
  • Lawyers
  • Senatorial assistants & policy writers
  • Facebook “Educator” pages, some with several thousand followers
  • Radio show hosts
  • Students in all levels of education
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Prison and medically centred “Indigenous Elders”
  • Ceremonial Elders / Spiritual guides
  • Authors
  • Actors
  • Musicians
  • Artists
  • Other social media accounts for various “Indigenous products”

The list continues to grow.

What we often hear, when this is brought to the attention of an employer or a position of authority is, “what are we to do about it”? The efforts of the 2015 “Truth and Reconciliation Report” with its 94 calls to action have yet to be realized in a substantial way by the Canadian Government and its citizens.

This isn’t to step over those who are making an effort to follow-through, but how can that follow-through be meaningful and effective if the very people they’re turning to for direction and education are not Indigenous; are not involved in any community in a genuine way; and certainly have no idea of the issues and needs of the many and various Indigenous communities?

How is this not a national concern by this time? How is Indigenous identity still managed by the Canadian Government and its ‘self-identifying’ citizens, those who believe any claim of blood quantum is their entitlement?

Residential schools all finally shut down in 1996, but their teachings are still being readily applied. The point of those schools, to Canada’s great shame, was only about re-imagining and shifting who the Indigenous are. They wanted the Indigenous to be demeaned enough to be easily cleansed away. Canadians do not like the term genocide applied to their country, but hiding it isn’t making any of it go away. It only changes its shape until it’s palatable enough to ignore.

Now there are thousands of Canadians who’ve shifted their identities, insidiously continuing the legacy of removing Indigenous voices for gain. They are indeed very welcomed as a seemingly more palatable “Indians”.

2020 has been a year for critically exposing our societal failings and as a catalyst for revolution and evolution. What a revelation it would be, if we all started to seriously assess and question why it’s normal to assume the Indian Act system, with its +4,500 employees is still a reasonable normal in the 21st century? Surely at a minimum, we could ask why the Indigenous aren’t overseeing Indigenous identity and citizenship themselves on a national level?

RL

Addendum: For a fuller picture of the race-shifting phenomenon, I recommend the book, “Distorted Descent”, by Dr. Darryl Leroux, along with the works of Chris Anderson, “Métis” Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood; and “The Northwest Is Our Mother”, by Jean Teillet.

RL

Also published at Medium.com https://medium.com/p/22fe175f4d60

First Thought

This could be a Spring of retreat; a step or two toward the past. Maybe time on our hands and loads of room for reflection. My own longings lean toward the masses questioning all the holes in all the systems that Covid-19 surged right up to our every sensibility.

My next prayer is that all this new-found realization of what matters, this renewed knowledge of what essential is, will not get tossed and lost for good by most.

Reflection choices can be simple too; in fact, the majority of mine certainly are. I can’t believe how much it means to walk in the woods right now. All the smells of Spring are especially entrancing, and I am so in beyond land when I look at the tender shoots that replaced the tiny seeds I planted weeks ago. I’m so excited to be a back deck farmer this year. Small things. The every things.

It was within these lines of thought on this lazy Thursday, I was reminded of a sweet and lovely moment of 3 years ago, when we were allowed more fearless touch.

Wishing all a gentle and inspiring weekend.

morning bliss I am the first thought
On his mind as daybreak blinks
Sunday morning bliss…

 Gently smudging pain’s traces
Sweetly replacing facades

RL

Haiku / Tanka

Inspired by the artwork of: aaronpaquette.net and prompted by: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/heal/