Thursday, 8 June 2017

for the first and last time


There have been many ‘last times’ in my life.  Though I can think of few that I acknowledged – or even knew – were ‘last times’, as they happened ( . . . perhaps, I've forgotten).  The ‘last time’ I ran – fast – it was to catch up with a professor who was leaving on sabbatical with the master key, he had not remembered to return.  I haven’t laughed – hard – in a very long time.  So, I’m inclined to think:  I have laughed ‘til-I-cried, for the 'last time'.  Will I ever attempt to speak French – publicly –  again?  The last words I uttered in French were:  Où sont les toilettes?  It was in Paris.  I don’t imagine I will ever get back there again, so that was probably the 'last time' for that.  (If only I’d said:  Au Revoir … but I didn’t.)

  ~  ~  ~

The last time (though I did not know it then) that I would see my mother … she had turned from our tepid goodbye (having decided not to wait around for my exit) and was bent over her suitcase, searching for a misplaced slipper.  It was such an unremarkable finish … I have often thought in retrospect … though, somehow, befitting our perpetual knack for never quite managing to get on to the same page at the same time.

After she passed, wedged between her scrapbooks and photo albums, I found a book of John Lennon’s poetry and prose.  Almost half a century earlier she had thumbed through a virtually identical volume of mine (that I had purchased with babysitting money) and remarked (prophetically, as it turned out):  I don’t get you at all.

among her things … that book
proof – she had tried to find her way
back to the place
that marked the first time
our differences found words

note:  a tanka prose piece

photo/graphic: Early Days with Mom (Pho.to:  free on-line photo editor) - W. Bourke

© 2017 Wendy Bourke

24 comments:

  1. This is exceptional and meaningful from title to tanka. One of your most impressive, most insightful, pieces. Wow!

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  2. Really a remarkable situation, Wendy. She perhaps did 'get you' after all. It would have been nice if she were able to convey that earlier in time! A moving write!

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    1. I came ‘of age’ in the sixties and I think a lot of parents, didn’t ‘get’ there children during those turbulent – but exciting – times. I think we scared them because we were so different from what they had been raised to expect in a child. I have long believed that sharing a similar sense of humor, smooths out a lot of ripples in choppy waters, so to speak. Even as a kid, I loved to let loose with a droll quip … though, I think many women from her generation thought that was quite unladylike in a young girl. (At the time, my purchase of what – to her – was such an odd little book, was just the last straw). A lot of those preconceptions fall away with time, of course – but, often, there is too much water under the bridge by then.

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  3. Love the moving personal share Wendy ~ I find that as I grow older, I start to look and sometimes act like my mother ~ Also love that tanka after your prose ~

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  4. Children often have a heavy burden with their parents as they try to sever the umbilical chord to truly be themselves, whilst the parents hang on grimly. Luckily mine hung on to my brother to bear/share his troubles instead.

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  5. I could see the mother's heart and her endeavor to get to her daughter. Love your 'Tanka' specially at the end.

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  6. Most enjoyable. I like the resolve at the end

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  7. Looking back and seeing last times is so hard - you convey the sense of loss and love beautifully

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  8. This is so wonderfully eloquent, Wendy. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. It is good to discover that someone close had had the same inclination. If only it was made known personally in time! Still it is good to know!

    Hank

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  10. Very, very beautiful and so true to the essence of life, Wendy - marvellous - got me a little teary... Thanks for such a precious reminder, beautifully told...

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  11. wow.. the way you've found words to say this..is remarkable.

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  12. Often I did not know, it was to be the last time, as you say, unremarkable, and too often, I did know, and still each time, still unremarkable...it was just a day, a sunny day, through the revolving door, the other side unknown, my life changed in a second...still I was required to continue. Your beauatiful poem took me to places I try not to go....too often.

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  13. An intimate and beautiful share.

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  14. We often overuse the word bittersweet, but some days it's the only word that will do. This is bittersweet with beauty and longing, with understanding one wishes had come sooner...

    I read it once in silence, then read it aloud... very slowly--both prose and poetry refused to be rushed, the tone demands to be experienced.

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  15. This is so poignantly written. It touched my heart, as my mother and I often failed to be on the same page. The last time I saw her, she was smiling, but she had no idea who I was. Now that I'm in advanced years, there have been too many last times with dear friends as well.

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  16. I so adore and FEEL this poem - that not quite on the same page feeling. I knew it well with my mother. And how very moving, the photograph, the remembering and, especially, the fact she bought the same book in an effort to understand. And perhaps it opened her horizons a little in the reading. Oh yes, the wild children of the 60's definitely terrified the adults, who had kept such tight control till then. LOL. I remember when the first hippies hit City Park in Kelowna, they were seriously run out of town. Everyone was scandalized at them.

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  17. Great reading on a Sunday afternoon in the pantry :)
    ZQ

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  18. Beautiful thoughts Wendy. I like the thoughtful,melancholy mood of it. As we age we understand things so much better.

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  19. Oh gosh, I can relate to this – never quite on the same page with my mother, either, despite the wish on both sides. (And I too still own that Lennon book – though my mother never did.)

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  20. I love this, and it feels so close to reality... that last time (and I really want to laugh till I'm crying but i doubt that I can)... the ties to your mother and that last time... so unremarkable (tepid is a wonderful and sad word to use).

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