It’s Still A Beautiful World

That there is still decency and kindness in the world.This morning on the downtown eastside I sat in my locked car at a busy intersection and witnessed an action that reminded me there is good in people all around us. It also reminded me about judgements.

A woman struggled to get across the busy crossing before the “DON’T WALK “symbol appeared. Confined to a wheel chair and shoeless, she struggled to push the chair forward with her shuffling feet. As she struggled past, I noticed one foot wrapped in bandages and the other covered in a tattered sock.

Suddenly, out from the shadowy streets ran a man, an oddity with his own set of issues. Long hair a mess, eyes unfocused; he jittered forth. This man noticed the woman in the wheelchair and paused. As he bent to whisper words in her ear, he grabbed the handles at the back of the wheelchair and silently pushed the chair through the cross walk to safety, leaving the somewhat surprised woman to negotiate the edge between road and sidewalk. A random act of kindness and compassion toward another.

In fact, I saw several acts of compassion on the downtown eastside from vendors offering a cup of Joe to marginalized people outside the trending coffee shops to two city police officers that knelt beside a forlorn man seated on a blanket. They gently spoke with him.

A reminder to look beneath the surface. One man’s random wish to help another human navigate through this often confused and chaotic world made a view outside the car window a whole lot brighter.

What will you see today and who will you help?

 

Let it Snow

It happens every December. I fall head over heels into the holiday season.The sight of first snow, tumbling flakes dancing across the blog page, to the real version, delights. I imagine the forgotten child who once found beauty in the simplest of gifts. A first snow evokes glorious moments, past holiday memories. I will that child’s sweet feelings of hope to return.

More than the beauty of the season beckons. Yes, it’s true~ possessing a need to touch the shiny surfaces of the glass ornaments laying in shop baskets, I pause and lift one. Glitter and sparkle catch my eye. It is more than the superficial. I know that.

Momentarily, I become a child again. Tip toeing through the quiet living room, wandering to the front window to gaze out, my eyes look up to the heavens. Enchanted. Nightfall blankets, a starry sky twinkling back as the first flakes tumble to earth. Beholden to a powerful spell, captivated by a belief. I know the world truly is a magical place.

So long ago, a tree stood in a corner of the dimly lit room, evergreen boughs laden with twinkling lights. A soft glow illuminated the darkened room. Branches sparkled, adorned with colourful glass baubles. A shiny star graced the uppermost tip of the tree. Tinsel dripped, hung like frozen icicles from the branches. A cheap, chubby plastic Santa leaned into the base of the tree. We begged mother to buy it. Just a doll yet it looked so real.

It’s so simple. A child waits for Christmas to appear. A child believes.

Older now, I muse, If only it was that simple. If only wishes really did come true. Picking the plastic Santa from the ornament box I notice the colour has faded, rubbed away. The eyes still twinkle. Sighing, I need a moment to collect myself. Sometimes memories ache.

I know the world isn’t such a magical place. Poverty is real, children go hungry; they shiver in fear. Disease consumes. War and hatred rage on. Love is fleeting. Tears rain and hearts break. What we do to one, passes to another. We understand that as children.

The plastic Santa remains, a child’s symbol for hope. It really is simple. Be compassionate. Show up for someone. Share friendship, exchange a hug, hold a hand. Donate to a worthy cause. Keep an open heart. Be grateful.

I place the plastic Santa beneath the tree, an endearing symbol for hope.The world truly is a magical place. Believe.

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Strength in Struggle

 

 

Charles grew up working class poor. There wasn’t much money. Emigrating from England with parents and two sisters, settling in a small, bleak town. Land was available and his father saw an opportunity, the chance for more. The land harsh, unforgiving; the family scrapped on.

 

People living off the bleak land didn’t have much in the way of extras; if they did, they shared with another. They tirelessly toiled, hand to mouth, along with sent up prayers. Religion played an important role in their lives; they buried sweet babies in the local cemetery.

 

Charles lived respecting the principles of family, stay loyal and inclusive of one another. In later years, he dutifully went to his sister’s side to help a child she bravely and lovingly sheltered from an institution’s walls.

 

There was military service, an opportunity to travel and fight for freedom in the larger world. Charles believed in worker’s rights and fought to unionize railway workers. He stood alongside the great Tommy Douglas, a Canadian leader, carrying forth the hope and promise of social medicare.

 

My grandfather Charles was the quietest and gentlest of men. Through simple acts of kindness, small actions filled with compassion, I watched him and learned how to treat others. He watched over our mother, checking in on her; he loved us. His eyes could see the words we never expressed; his heartbeat strong when we faltered. We knew.

 

A fleeting presence in life, Charles was one of the first social responsibility role models I knew. Stand up, be brave, be kind, are actions he’d support. Sometimes, I imagine him seated at my table. Charles removes his felt fedora and pushes back a strand of hair; his starched white shirt, sleeves rolled to show just a peek of a mermaid’s tail on a forearm, a tattoo from long ago. I smile at the sight of red suspenders, a signature piece he wears clipped to the waistline of pressed khaki pants. Polished boots, the leather gleaming will rest for a spell.

 

We drink a cup of tea; Charles loved tea time. Sugar biscuits, Alice’s favourite, shine waiting on a floral china saucer. He sips and swallows the steeped brew. After a moment or two, I will update him on the comings and goings of life; he will hang his head. When he looks up, his misty eyes will focus upon mine. We know.

 

“It’s okay,” I say.

In that instant we both look away; we know it isn’t.

 

Charles will leave; time is fleeting. Life unrolls. One day I  open a newspaper to read an article about a brave action, a loyal stance; a union’s notice lending support for worker’s rights. I sit within the loving circle of family and friends, safe and valued. I’ve learned to listen to the pause between heartbeats; it is there in that fleeting space where he stands beside me.

We know.

An Ocean Between Us

There is an ocean between us, an ocean of words left unspoken.  The waters, deep, dark, and murky, swallowing the whispers. Did you hear the crashing waves beat upon the shore; they brought forth rage.

There is an ocean between us, an ocean of regrets.  Appreciate, there will never be closure, never any reasons given that will end searching, ease the heart ache, calm the spirit.  Perhaps, you heard the waves as they gently rocked a heart?

There is an ocean between us;  tears will continue to flow. For that is what happens when betrayal is sent spinning forth onto a universe.  A price is paid; you were willing to pay it.  Listen in the wind as the gulls cry out to the heavens above.

There is an ocean between us; I forgave you from the start. May you never feel the pain brought about by your actions.  May you come to forget your part in the messiness of a life.  When you look upon the residue, may you feel no shame.  Look onto the surface of the ocean;  like a mirror, you see your reflection shining forth the truth.

There is an ocean between us; the tides pull back and forth depositing treasures upon the shores. Hearts break; love is blind.  To every life there will come a time to reflect upon one’s legacy.  Look upon the sand, you will find my gift to you.  It will come in the form of a heart-shaped stone.  Pick it up.  Treasure it.  It is all you will ever have to remind you of what you lost.

Simple Acts of Kindness

Heart of Mud.
Heart of Mud. (Photo credit: anyjazz65)

There were several strong women in my mother’s life.  These women had to own strength, nursing children through illness, caring for large broods of children, struggling together during hard times.  They knew hardship and they knew the collective power of bonding together.  Their strong circle of support formed around another family in need.   This time it was my mother’s family.  These women made a pivotal and positive difference finding order from chaos.  It was their simple acts of kindness and commitment that pulled my mother through one of the darkest of memories.   My mother’s, mother passed on, when my mother was a mere nine years old.  These were difficult and sad times for all.  A distraught father, an infant in tow, created a perfect storm for chaos.  There was a need for order,  established routines, and a desperate ache for love and acts of kindness.  These women, laid aside their differences and lives to circle around a family in need.  They stepped in and offered up simple acts of kindness through gifts of time and love.

My great-grandmother was among the first to arrive.  Still grieving the loss of her daughter, great-grandmother filled the role of mothering her daughter’s child.  My mother fondly remembers her grandmother and their lovely visits together. This woman would read tea leaves and she read my mother’s with conviction and optimism, the sun will shine for you, dear.  Every evening when the sun set, great-grandmother would pick up her daughter’s silver-handled brush from the nightstand and brush my mother’s hair.  Great-grandmother would sing as she softly brushed away the sadness that clung in the little girl’s mind.  Tucking my mother under the covers, great-grandmother would recite a prayer.  My mother believes that this simple, repetitive act soothed and eased her pain.  My great grandmother’s loving touch, strong faith, and the simple action of methodically brushing hair comforted, instilling calm and hope into a little child’s broken heart. Their time together would be brief.

Another woman of strength was a childless, flamboyant Auntie who would pick my mother up from the city house and take her off for a weekend stay.  My mother, seated in a sidecar, would ride to the Auntie’s with Uncle Monty steering the wheel of his motor cycle.  Clamouring up the stairs, my mother would wait for Monty to enact the magical act of pulling a bed out of the wall.  With a flourish and a wave of  hand, Monty would drop the Murphy Bed. Auntie and Uncle Monty’s zest and zeal, their laughter and joy of life returned some of the enchantment, sparking the light that had dimmed in a nine-year old child’s world.

There were the cheerful Aunties that arrived with casseroles in hand.  Bustling through the kitchen, they could set and place a satisfying, home cooked meal on the table in next to no time.  There was warm food to eat, manners to model, grace and conversation shared, all served up, spiced with shakes of laughter.  The Aunties demonstrated that dining together was more than just the sharing of a meal at the table.  It was about the circle of family that surrounded, concerned for another.  This protective element returned a sense of family and love into a young child’s grayed life.

I share this story as a reminder to look about and discover how  a simple action can begin to heal, threading joy, order, and laughter back into someone else’s life.  When you share a small piece of your heart,  the simple actions set forth, rolling on throughout time, mending and patching and healing others.  Share a small piece of yourself with someone in need.  You won’t need to look too far to find that someone and you won’t need to spend much money to bring joy to another.

Daily Prompt~ WordPress

If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?

“Those who unlock your compassion are those to whom you’ve been assigned.” 
― Mike Murdock~Goodreads, Quotes About Compassion

The one life change that I hope results from writing a blog, is heightened compassion for another being. Often we assume that we know the whys of actions of another or we assume we know better.  We judge when we should remain open to listen and grow in our capacity to understand another’s actions. Better understanding of and a heightened compassion for the frailty and resilience of the human spirit. This aspect fascinates me.  What happens in a lifetime when certain choices are made, the fall out, the sorrow, the anger, the remorse, the love that always remains, simmering just beneath the surface of a soul. The shaping of a life.  Why are some individuals able to develop deeper compassion while others display callousness? To develop a bigger heart of forgiveness and compassion.  It is my hope that readers discover the bittersweet memories, the forgotten treasures, and the beauty behind the ordinary, often flawed characters that I write about in aliceandmolly~ Writings from Life.  For we are human and we are all a part of a bigger condition~ how to learn to embrace one another in the spirit of kindness and empathy.  That is the one life change, that I hope results from writing a blog.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/daily-prompt-singular/

See Through My Eyes

Our eyes meet.  It was brief, like the shutter’s snapshot, only an instant, seconds, a moment.  Humanity.  He stood on the island median, cardboard sign in hand, Homeless. Please help me. Disheveled and not in the contrived careless style of today’s fashions.  Authentic disheveled. The jacket just slightly too large, the pants too loose.  The hair, shaggy and layered, time between cuts.  The skin, weathered, lined, tanned from the elements.  The features, tight, eyes averted, head tipped down to avoid a passerby’s direct gaze. Shame.

The stoplight red, a pause, time to consider.  Should I help him? It’s so easy to dismiss, avert my eyes, look away, and drive away.  Still, consider that it could be you.  Who chooses to stand and beg like this?  Lazy, Crackie, substance abuser, mental illness, the stigmas, text bubbles in my brain. Still, consider that this could be you.  Perhaps, someone you loved? The perilous line that separates us, thin and wavering between the fall to Dependence or Independence, Pass to Fail, Sane to Insane. Do we really get to decide our fate?  The child born into dysfunction and pain, what are the life chances for success? The child born into love and functioning caregivers, is that child more worthy than one without?  Obstacles, in circumstances, one to continuously climb over, the other to crawl through. Who chooses their parents?  The chances good, that if I could sit and ask his life story, it would be full of sad memories, broken dreams, a broken heart.  Drifting through life.

I found four quarters in my wallet. “It’s all I have.” “God, bless you, dear,” were the words he spoke.  “God bless you, too,” I replied. Our eyes meet.  Eyes blue. Cerulean. Quickly, we parted. It was brief, like the shutter’s snapshot, only an instant, a moment.  Humanity.

 

God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song)
God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)