If yesterday didn’t present me with an obvious happy or spectacular moment today already has. For the past fourteen years we’ve provided care for a young woman with autism spectrum disorder. She is lovely and provides me with many insights and lessons on communication and human nature too. She lives in our suite and has complete access to the whole house; having her own suite just makes sense for all of us. Though I do all the cooking and cleaning, having her own place gives her a semblance of independence and also gives her privacy and time alone. Each morning she phones to ask what’s for breakfast and today she stuck to routine and called as usual. When my cell phone rang, I was writing in my journal a Happy Father’s Day message and how we miss our son Jason on days like this. So when I answered, I asked her if she would like to wish a happy Father’s Day. She giggled and asked what she should say; just what ever she might write in a birthday card I told her. She began to sing a song to the tune of “we wish you a Merry Christmas”. And it began like this, “we wish you a happy Father’s Day” and ended like this “…..and a happy new year”. Her voice is sweet and high and hearing her made us laugh out loud with absolute pleasure. A Happy Father’s Day for my man and happiness for me to see him have such pleasure.
There is a school of thought that dictates writing must have a healthy dose of adversity to be interesting. Writing happy stories with happy endings is not what many readers want. Readers want the blood and guts of life, the challenges faced every day when waking up, they want the exposed and raw under belly, they want to know the writer has a more interesting and sad and miserable life than they do. Is it human nature to lean toward the negative to want to hear the gory details? During my 100 Happy Days project, it has truly been a challenge to document the one event or picture or comment or insight that represents another moment, during the day, that I can call happiness. Each night I go to bed unsure if I will find a happy moment the next day.
And then each day I manage to find it, that spot of sheer joy. Except today I didn’t, today is a day that is just mediocre; so far nothing has happened to make me feel utterly glad. I did stand in a lineup to sign a two year contract to own a cell phone. My phone was free with the signing, that’s something to feel happy about. I did this so I might have text communication and FaceTime communication with a grandchild. But getting the phone was a kind of pay it forward happy time. In other words the phone has the potential to give me a happy moment if I get a text reply or a chat on FaceTime! It is no guarantee I will experience a pleasurable moment or a spot of happiness associated with the hoped for contact from another. It is just another little bit of technology, another little piece of connectedness that in the end guarantees not a word. And as i have said before, “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”. So what inspirational picture can I offer today? Here it is….a gateway to the preverbal, greener pasture.
Do you have a sister? I do, in fact I have a few more than one. I am the youngest and truly at times I feel ancient compared to any of them on any given day. Very busy women are my sisters. Today one sis took time out of her busy schedule to entertain me and my dog. She took us for a walk through the neighbourhoods and along the alley ways, of the west side of Vancouver. We took our time and had a peek at the many lane way houses that are popping up all along the way. We wended our way back to her place and as usual she served up a yummy vegetarian lunch. Her culinary expertise is well know; add to this, her intrinsic way of making the dishes she rolls out taste even more delectable with the attention she pays to the presentation of the meal; she did not disappoint today. A well set table, beautiful looking colourful food and good company. Even the dog was happy.
When Jason was sick my husband threw himself into making a garden. Then Jason died and his garden became Jason’s memorial. After work each day he finds comfort there in among his vegetables; this year he replaced a chain link fence with a cedar picket one. This new fence acts as a frame for the completed picture. I do a bit of gardening myself there each day. When I was on my way there this morning light didn’t quite reach the garden and there, tucked into the quiet shadow the garden and all it means to my husband filled me with love, my heart began to open and find the warmth it seeks each day as I looked around and saw the fruits of his grief and all he has accomplished in the name of Jason our only child, our only son.
Finally it has arrived and I woke up happy! It is my birthday and I’m prompted to say “this is my best day yet” this month. And my best birthday since before Jason died. I woke up totally energized, happy and full of good thoughts, just like Ebenezer Scrooge. I wanted to run out into the streets and shout good cheer to everyone. In honour of Jason and in honour of myself I will carry a torch of shear delight all this day. Happy birthday to me:) …..my photo today is a page right out of my journal.
As I get older more and more people begin to die. First my friend Don Jacobson died of lung cancer on my birthday, then my dad died of heart failure, then Don’s wife, Jean died almost because she couldn’t go on without Don and willed herself to die too. Shortly after Jean, my aunt Yvonne died of lung cancer then my mum died of cancer of the esophagus. Jason, my son died August 30, 2011 of colon cancer. At very sad times a little sing song phrase has rattled around inside my head, a phrase that I worry will bring on more deaths of those I love….”death surrounds me”. But I know death surrounds all of us, it’s common to hear about a death from cancer or heart failure. We are meant to die, it’s our destiny, there is no escape. And it doesn’t matter, really, how we die. What does matter is how we live. And thinking these thoughts today led to my happy moment. There I sat on my adirondack chair overlooking the world I see, watching over Jason’s memorial tree, feeling the sun on my face and the wind swirling my long greying hair around. Knowing my dog is near, she won’t leave my side for long as her need arises to periodically go off to investigate. My husband too, wanders out to see me, bringing pillows and mats to lay on so I could get a tan if I wish….In that moment I knew this was the life for me, a life and activity that brings me pleasure. To just sit and contemplate the life that is unfolding for me while I am in the here and now, by living more in the moment there is time to see and explore and know my inner self. My happy self…