Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Mother's Wings

There's a joke that says a man should always meet his future wife's mother so he will know what he can look forward to. As the years pass, we become wiser, more patient, softer. It is the softness that I noticed recently while shopping with my mother.

I recall with great fondness many childhood visits to my grandparents' homes, spread hither and thither across Newfoundland. Each summer my parents would pack up the family car and we'd head out on our annual road trip. As we would approach my mother's childhood home, my sisters and I would crane our necks to compete to be the first to catch a glimpse of "Nan's house". It was always a surprise to see what amazing colour the house would be. My grandfather would paint the house almost every year, and always with a different colour. Purple, grey, green, blue... it was always a happy sight.

As we pulled into the driveway, my Nan would be standing in the doorway with her hands folded across her ample chest, anticipating our arrival. We would be greeted with large, soft, warm hugs and those wet grandmother kisses. I always marvelled at the softness of Nan's skin as her bare arms wrapped around my skinny childish frame. It was cushiony to the touch. Thinking back now, it reminds me of how a tiny, plump baby feels against your bare skin. Such a familiar, comforting sensation.

During my most recent visit with my mother, I noticed how the years are beginning to show their effects on her physical appearance. She's become conscious of the shape of her arms and how the skin there is losing its elasticity. Later that day as she was preparing to leave, I took my mother into my arms and held her just a little longer than usual. My mother may see an old woman with flabby wings; I see that softness that comes with a grandmother's hug. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guilty Pride

Motherhood is nothing if not thought provoking.

I often share parenting experiences with my mom - we laugh, commiserate, and compare notes. Sometimes I apologize for the less than stellar moments in my teenage, hormonally-impared, bitchy years. Sometimes I can do nothing but listen as she relays to me the latest news from my brother, the incarcerated one.

Recently, in Southern Alberta, there was a court case involving what the Crown prosecutor called "the most disturbing case of child abuse he had seen in his 25 years as a lawyer". The convicted scum bag was sentenced to a mere 6 years for his heinous destruction of a young life. Coincidentally, this scab on the face of humanity was placed in the same facility which houses my brother. 

There is, as the saying goes, honour among thieves. Apparently this applies to drug traffickers as well. As heartbroken as I was to accept the fact that my brother made a living by peddling noxious chemicals, I could always find solace in the fact that he wasn't one of "those" monsters who prey upon the precious and innocent children of the world. 

I am somewhat guilt-ridden as I confess how my chest puffed out as I heard the latest news from beyond the bars of my brother's temporary home. It seems that he, and likely several of his law-breaking brethren, took it upon themselves to send a message to the filthy excuse for a human who was recently placed among them. My brother was involved in some type of "altercation" with the monster, which resulted in his being brought before a review board. 

All I know of the outcome is that whatever choices my brother made were not considered serious enough to warrant disciplinary action. He will continue to serve out his sentence without further penalty. And I will continue to be proud of the fact that, in spite of his shitty career choices, my brother is a good man.