Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Memory Coast - Peace. And quiet.

Photos: 1) 4 generations - My great-grandma Jack (maternal), Grandma, Mum & I. My great-grandma died not long after this meeting so I don't have any memories of her. 2) My early love for beaches and all of the neat things that can be found on them! 3) Grandma and I catching up in the living room at Silverdale, their place in the Fraser Valley. 4) Helping Grandma get rhubarb ready for freezing and canning on the front porch at Silverdale.

My first day out here was a bit of a long day. Luckily, now that I live in Calgary, the flight to Vancouver is ridiculously short! I had a good time chatting for a while with one of my seatmates who is originally from Kitchener (an hour down the highway from my last abode in ON), now living in Calgary and headed to Vancouver & Whistler to couch-surf with friends for a week.

My (mom's) friend Mare was kind enough to meet me at the airport and I happily accepted her offer of a cup of tea before she dropped me on the North Shore. Well, you know how it is with good friends. I ended up staying at their place for a while, enjoying great tea and a nice lunch along with lovely chats with Mare, Ian and their neighbour, Hazel. It's nice to catch up with such kind people. It snowed a little off and on while we visited, but kept changing to rain so I didn't think much of it.

All too soon I was heading upstairs to our place in West Van. Everything here is so familiar to me, and yet, on a fundamental level, there's unfamiliarity now. I'm glad that the elevator still smells like "old people" (sorry, Mum. I know you said I shouldn't say that) and as soon as the door to the apartment opens, it still smells like "the apt". Those are reassuring to me. But after Mare left, an unfamiliar silence appeared. I've never been here alone since my grandma died. This is my third visit in the last nine months, but my family was here the other times. I thought to myself, "It's so quiet" and I started to cry. I'm crying as I type this too. This is the hardest part for me, to accept the silence and learn to live with it. I know my grandma's gone, that she's not just in another room or having a nap, but the silence is another indicator of her absence that I'm learning to face.

I had myself a cry, then I called Sean and cried some more. It's funny: I couldn't sit still in the apt. I was tired from a few nights of not sleeping well, my body was an hour ahead and I hadn't eaten dinner yet, but I was filled with this restlessness as I talked on the phone and paced around. After talking with Sean for a while, I called my parents to tell them I'd arrived safely. I cried some more, and it made me feel good to realize that my mum understood exactly what I meant about the silence. She's had to face it too and I can't imagine how hard that must have been for her.

Feeling a bit calmer after my phone calls, I wandered around a bit more then made it an early night. It'll be an early morning as I head to Victoria for a visit with another friend.


Mum said...

I would say it was (Great Grandma) Jack, as thats what she was known as. GG Clark to me is the Silverdale one.

John Teeter said...

The hardest thing I've found about people passing on is the physical absence in your life.

The reassuring thing is when you discover the memories that live with you forever.