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The Corner Tapes
12 minutes | Jan 3, 2020
Goulet & Enfield – She Opened the Sky
Goulet & Enfield She Opened the Sky Welcome to the Corner Tapes, I’m Brian Rougeau. Today, I want to share a story that originates from the corner of Goulet and Enfield. My grandparents, we called them mémère and pépère, lived in an apartment block there for all the time that I have known them. As a kid, I visited them regularly because they took care of me after school while my parents worked. Pépère died when I was a little boy, but the story I want to share today originated sometime before mémère passed away, many years later. It is a story about how she revealed that we have indigenous roots in our family. This news affected me greatly because I was completely unaware of this fact as no one ever mentioned it. I thought maybe it’s time to share the story, so here it is. I chose to write it in rhyme—I hope you enjoy. She Opened the Sky Is a story enough To resolve my affinity? To seal my identity? If the Blood flows Through my heart Where does my story start? My sister told me what mémère Had to say that day She sat by her side A deep look filled her eyes Then she opened the sky and said Your pépère had an Indian mother That’s all that she said Now, questions spill from my head I need to know more because I thought I knew who I was Her final words, she was Cree This was the birth of the mystery I sit idling in the park Rain oozing downward, sky dark Mom, Dad, can I call you right now? Please, tell me how I fall into despair, but not for long Afterall it’s been years since they’ve been gone Though they’ve been my trusted guide since birth Answers do not appear from beneath the earth But, an internal voice appears Recall the days under the sun Family times, where you had the most fun Only then will you truly know The kinship, the endless flow But how is it that nobody knew? Now is the time, put together two and two I turn on the lights, sky open I drive away, confidence broken I attempt to lead from the inside Removing the masks, I no longer hide I remember the music, the dance, the food Summer parties, lifting the family’s mood Old time sounds filling the night-time air Family jumping and spinning without a care I dream of connections to distant memory Long before the arrival of misery Inside, a being resonates with the drum It is a sign, the quest has begun Feelings of doubt fuel the anxiety How can a story define my reality? Seasons pass, hard answers left unfound Still hoping that my luck will turn around I chase the wish to know my story Not knowing only feeds the worry I search for new leads, examine every clue Driven by a heart that yearns to be true My brother visits, slides the report across the table A historian claims it’s likely just a fable At the bottom it reads, No Metis ancestry But, this does not quell the curiosity There is a different question we need to pursue Yes, we are French, we are British, but are we Indigenous too? A bit of research justifies my position Métis status comes with a condition Indigenous blood is not enough They will say we don’t have the right stuff Our ancestors did not accept scrip That official government certificate The one meant to extinguish all future claim To any land in a family’s name What I say is purely speculation But, our elders may belong to a hidden population On the sidelines of the 19th century North West This revelation only deepens my quest This story is personal interpretation Any claim would be denied by the Nation Identity has become political The dynamics, psychosocial But, the man in the graveyard crystalised my inquisition What is in your heart? Not the definition Is a story enough To resolve my affinity? To seal my identity? If the Blood flows through my heart Where does my story start? She opened the sky and said ‘Your pépère had an Indian mother’ Days before, my concern started to simmer My chance at truth would take place at a dinner The person was a direct link to mémère and pépère And now it was my turn to share So, I jumped in and told the story My throat tightened, I began to worry I told them about memere’s confession Followed by a simple question Is this true? I received a quick reply A straight look into the eyes I don’t know much about that I don’t know much about that Coming from an honest place I don’t know much about that Maybe the question comes too late I don’t know much about that Still a mystery, to date I ask myself Why do you require a confirmation? Do mémère’s words force a separation? No need to deny, to deepen the scar You only add to the man you already are But, I thought I knew who I was I need to know more, because French Canadian was all that I knew Can I now claim that I am indigenous too? Over time, the mystery began to make sense Indigenous people suffered tough discrimination Some chose to blend in with the population For those whose secret was revealed to be true Intolerance was twofold from opponents who knew The rule was, keep it hidden To speak of it, forbidden As the pain carried over from generation to generation The disguises deepened with vague refutation Some would say lack of grit But if you could ask them now, they might say, legit Is a story enough To resolve my affinity? To seal my identity? If the Blood flows Through my heart Where does my story start? She opened the sky and said Your pépère had an Indian mother We all want to save our kin from harm A deep instinct rings the alarm I understand the generations of protection But, maybe it’s time for a new direction Without healing, the suffering will thrive beyond our day Future sons and daughters will struggle to find their way Although the story remained adrift for generations The Love flows through my veins with reclamation So, I share this with you if it’s all the same This is my truth, and it shall remain Her story is enough To resolve my affinity To seal my identity The Blood flows through my heart This is where my story starts This is a story about my great-grandmaman Everyone called her, Amanda Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on google Share on linkedin Social Media Facebook Instagram Twitter Subscribe to podcast Please join my newsletter for updates and extras. I will fill you in on stories I am working on and also provide some additional content available only to newsletter subscribers. I promise not to spam you. Thanks!
20 minutes | Dec 22, 2019
River & Osborne – Judgement
River & Osborne Judgement Recently, I posted on social media that this podcast was on hold. There were two reasons why I was going to stop producing these stories. The practical one was money, as I was short on it and I had trouble justifying the expense of hosting services. But, I have to admit, the real reason was fear, the one of being adversely judged by others. NARRATION BR: In the few episodes I have produced, I have reacquainted myself with the fact that when you put your ideas out into the world, people are going to judge you for them —for what you say and for what you don’t say. It’s inevitable. While it is said that actions speak louder than words, words still have great power. In my experience they can draw people closer but can also create a rift. It took some time to put aside those concerns and give this podcast another go. What I realised is that this project is a kind of medicine for me— it brings joy to my life and the process of making it helps me make a little bit more sense of the world I experience. For today, I want to keep exploring the idea of judgement. So, I’m heading to River and Osborne where I want to ask people what it’s like for them when they are judged and how they deal with it. When I arrived, I watched a young woman panhandling for some time, she would walk up to someone, explain something for about ten seconds, and as soon as she was done speaking, they would shake their head no, and walk away. This pattern repeated itself for the duration that I observed her. I thought about talking to her but I didn’t have the courage to approach her before she left. But, after a long internal pep talk, I approached a few people. WOMAN 1 BR: I’m asking people today if they’ve ever experienced being judged by others and what that was like. W1: Yes. BR: So can you tell me a bit about that? W1: Well, a girlfriend and I had a big fight and, she started telling everybody exactly what I said, and I kept my mouth closed and we’ve only started talking like recently, and that’s been about two years. So I felt judged by the other people who never came up to me and said, you know, did you talk to so-and-so meanly? BR: So what was that like? W1: What did it feel like? BR: Yeah. W1: You know, it was a bit disheartening cause we all sat over at the picnic table there and I just didn’t sit there anymore, which means I made different friends. So, but now, now I do no problem. BR: Is it just human to judge other people? W1: I think so. BR: Yeah. W1: I think so. I think it’s like gossiping about other people. Um, because when you gossip, you’re just trying to make yourself feel better. BR: Is that right, that’s interesting, what do you mean by that? W1: Well, you know, if you sit around with gossipy people and they’re talking about so-and-so and how much they hate them and all that kind of stuff, you know, you’re just trying to make yourself feel good about being a person, feel better, like superior. You know, I have a friend who, who can be, you know very judgmental and used all the old slangs and, I have told him that I don’t like it, but you know, I find by just not saying anything, he’s not going to have a reaction. WOMAN 2 W2: I was talking to a colleague this weekend. She was telling me a story about a friend who’s going through a lot with cancer with their family. And, just some of the decisions that they’re making right now as a family for how to, how to go forward because it looks like it’s terminal and they have young kids. And so, you know, they’ve got to Go Fund Me going and they are asking for support from the community. And, I was just thinking, like how hard it is to understand the choices that families make in those situations. And how, you know, there doesn’t seem to be one right way to deal with those things, but, um, you know, you hope that people understand why you do what you do and that they support you, and don’t judge you in that. Because like, I think the husband has left his job to be with his family, and so they’re kind of relying on the kindness of strangers and friends. And I just thought, well, that’s a tough spot to be in, but it’s also, it would be hard if you’re worried about people judging your decisions in that time. BR: Do you think people generally are accepting of how people live their lives and how they choose to live their life? I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s easy to look at it and say, I would do that differently or to judge how people live. I mean, I think people do it very quickly, make decisions based on their own context and experience. So, I mean, I’d like to think that, you know, people are, you know, willing to let other people make their choices and live their lives. But I’m not, you know, it depends. It’s not always, sometimes you have to deal with judgment for the choices you make, and I don’t know. It’s a little bit of both. WOMAN 3 W3: It’s kind of a horrible feeling sometimes because you don’t know what they’re really thinking. BR: Right. W3: Cause like they’re always judging what you’re doing. They’re not happy with themselves, that’s why. BR: What do you mean by that? W3: Because, I find a lot of people, I don’t judge anyone, I don’t really care. BR: Right. W3: I’m happy with myself to some degree, but not always, but if you’re happy with yourself, I don’t think you care about what other people are doing or not doing. I find that everybody has different ideas and we’re all different people, right? BR: Right. W3: We all have to live here. BR: Right. W3: So why can’t we be good, be good to each other. I treat people the way that I want them to treat me. How’s that? BR: That’s perfect. That’s a good way to live. W3: That’s the only way to do it. BR: Alright. Thank you very much for talking to me. W3: No problem. Take care. BR: Ok, see ya. WOMAN 4 W4: We actually had yesterday at work, I was wearing a top that maybe was too, showing too much flesh and because it’s winter, they thought it was not appropriate. So, but yeah I’ve had a few experiences of being misjudged. BR: So what, what’s that like? What does that feel like? W4: It knocks my confidence, I guess. It kind of just makes you feel a bit embarrassed, I guess. BR: What would you recommend to someone to sort of, how to get past that? W4: I say you just be who you are. Accept how you act and obviously within reason, but I just think you shouldn’t let anyone else’s judgment worry you. You are who you are. You kind of express who you are, and you don’t let anyone impair that. WOMAN 5 W5: You’re judged everyday actually, so I don’t know what, I know what’s that like, but it’s just hard to put it in words. It’s like, you’re, the other person is just not putting in an effort to know you. But they’re, just, it’s easier to repeat whatever stereotype you have in your head, rather than putting in an effort and going ahead and talking to the other person. It’s just easier to judge than to know, right? People just don’t want to put it in an effort. It’s just, yeah, if you talk to me for five minutes, you’ll know a little bit about me, but then, do you have five minutes to talk to me? Nope. So, yeah, easier to judge. WOMAN 6 W6: Well, right now, I’m currently panhandling for a living, unfortunately. So every single day people just judge me, just because I’m panhandling, and they just assume that I do drugs, which I don’t. I’ve been in lots of abusive relationships and I’ve had my own apartment and I’ve had my own job many different times. Not having enough work experience, people thinking like even when I’m going to get a job, they’ll just assume that, cause you didn’t have a job for a year or something that you know that you’re not reliable. But it’s basically just been me letting myself get taken advantage of by lots of people and stuff like that. I’ve kind of learned to just usually shut it out. I mean, there’s different, there’s good and bad judgment, right? And like those people who are just like, get a job, you know, it’s like I’ll pluck one off a tree. It’s, it’s not that easy, you know? Yeah. It doesn’t feel good most of the time, but yeah. BR: So even in, even in trying to get a job, you’ve experienced similar sort of things? W6: Yeah. Yeah. BR: What kinds of things did people say to you? W6: What were you doing in between these two jobs? If they see a gap in your resume or whatever, and it’s…I’ve been, it’s like I was homeless so, or I was staying in an abuse shelter for a while. Like people, they just assume things, you know? Sometimes, I don’t know, a lot of people aren’t that open-minded, I guess. I judge people too sometimes, but I try and do my best not to as much as I can, treat people equally. It’s just kind of something that pops up in your head sometimes, you know, you judge them by their looks, or the way that their body language or whatever. I ask every single person for change, even if I think this person isn’t going to give me change, for sure. Cause sometimes I’m surprised. There’s some good people out there. At least they’ll respond to you, you know? BR: Does that happen a lot where people just ignore you? W6: Yeah, it does. Yeah. But I’m okay with that. I’m g
13 minutes | Jun 14, 2019
King & Bannatyne – Ani Makes Them Dance
King & Bannatyne Ani Makes Them Dance In today’s episode, I’m at Rise Up 100: Songs for the Next Century; a concert taking place in Old Market Square at the corner of King and Bannatyne. This year, the city is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike. This narrative is vital to our collective history, but it’s not the story I want to tell today. Today I want to talk about my experience at Old Market Square where my partner Corinne and I went to see Ani DiFranco perform. More specifically, I want to tell you about a young dancer I observed at the concert. Transcript – Ani Makes Them Dance I am 30 feet from Ani DiFranco and drummer Terence Higgins as they work to fulfil everyone’s wish for a pleasing end to a music filled day. Ani is on stage delivering her truth as I shift around in the crowd, eventually finding a clear sight line between two heads among a collection of open umbrellas. Steps away from me, a young dancer bounces barefoot in a raised flower bed, the ripples of their satin kimono glisten in the ambient light of the overcast sky. The knee high terrace elevates them above the crowd as dirt is pounded flat by their stamping feet. Their eyes are fixated on the stage while they appear to be holding up the heavens with their fingertips. The cool rain seems to quench their fired up soul, as Ani, makes them dance. The sound of her quivering guitar percolates as the drummer’s hands skip along with her muted finger picking. Everything slows down as I feel the magic of their synchronised meditation which enhances my perception of the young dancer’s movements. I watch for a minute before the song ends and I turn back toward Ani. The small gap that provided a view of her fills in, so we move about the perimeter of the crowd looking for a better vantage point. ( Ani speaks to the crowd ) She talks about democracy and the importance of voting—how people’s apathy toward politics produced the current U.S. administration. She declares that Canadians have a lesson they can teach Americans about democracy. The crowd cheers. We end up at the back of the audience where we find a reliable view of Ani over the heads of her 500 or so fans. From this distance she is somewhat lost in the landscape, but her singular voice draws me in. The young dancer suddenly reappears and sweeps past us to claim an open patch of long tangled grass, they immediately set their body back in sync with the music. It’s getting dark now and it is difficult to see detail but my estimate is that they are in their mid to late twenties. They have a wiry frame, angular face with deep eye sockets, thick eyebrows, and a mustache that dissipates into a thin beard. They removed their kimono, revealing black tights, a short white skirt patterned with black patches and a black form fitting shirt with three quarter length sleeves. Their dark hair is mostly one length, wavy and hangs down to the small of their back. Their energy is incessant and their physical pliability is remarquable. I move closer, as the dancer holds a Chakrasana pose. Then, they stand up and do fan kicks where their shins sweep by within inches of their forehead. They channel Ani’s musical offering into an improvised dance routine, later marching in circles with their arms up as though surrendering to the sonic beauty that locks them in the here and now. They appear to be simultaneously filled with delight and serenity, hands open to the sky, with a trance like gaze that reveals an individual who appears to be in accord with the universe, both within and outside of themselves. Their demeanor makes me question what it means to be free, to be blessed with self-determination and to be liberated from constraints. What about the power and grace of being decisive in who we are? What does it feel like to honour that? At various times in my life I felt insincere because of the masks I put forth into the world. When sad, the mask was content. When afraid, the mask was fearless. When insecure, the mask was confident. Doing this, denied me the opportunity to connect deeply with others and my relationships always felt at arms length. I lived out a complicated interpretation of what I thought the world expected of me. It took a long time for me to discover my own truth. Fifty years into my walk on this earth, I understand how masks can help you survive, but the truth is, once you leave them behind, that’s when you begin to thrive. The young dancer symbolises all of this for me. They are facing the stage, confidently revealing themselves with an unfiltered enthusiasm among a crowd of comparatively composed listeners. They leap up and down in one spot like an excited child cheering on their best friend as they sprint around the bases toward home plate. Their animated silhouette is cut out against the glowing stage as their excitement sparks a spontaneous play session between a small group of children who join in on the fun. Their contagious energy inspires the kids to take turns doing cartwheels. The dancer acknowledges the children and mixes in with them momentarily before handing off the space and disappearing into the crowd. In the dancer I see a person who rejects all the troublesome masks that a complicated world can impose on someone, unencumbered by any expectation to behave any other way than how they feel right then and there. I also see a person who inspires courage— the courage to be seen. As I absorb the joyful feeling that arises from the music, the people, the children and notably, the dancer. I’m grateful to have witnessed this bonafide expression of love and beauty, it was a fine example of how to live. ( Concert MC speaks ) As Corinne and I walk home, she asks if I heard what the dancer was shouting as they retreated back into the crowd of people. I too heard them, but I didn’t comprehend what they were saying. Once home, I watched a video recording I made of the moment and with some sonic filtering I discovered what they said. ( Video clip plays ) “I have rights too!” they shouted along with the music. “I – have – rights – too.” Immediately, I think of what Ani DiFranco said about Canada being a good example in the world. Yes, we do have rights up here. And in my mind, that’s because of all the people who chose to speak up and act without fear, those who did not hesitate to be counted. This is a truth that I cherish and respect. As I continue to watch the video, I think to myself, “Maybe this is a story about what happened 100 years ago in this northern prairie town.” Thanks for listening to this episode of The Corner Tapes. If you would like to hear more and be notified when a new episode is available please find me on your preferred Podcast App and subscribe to the show. If you choose to leave a rating or a review that would be super helpful. A little feedback helps me know if I’m connecting with anyone so it would be greatly appreciated. I hope you are well and I wish you all the best. Thanks again, for listening. Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on google Share on linkedin Social Media Facebook Instagram Twitter Subscribe to podcast Please join my newsletter for updates and extras. I will fill you in on stories I am working on and also provide some additional content when available. I promise not to spam you. Thanks!
12 minutes | May 31, 2019
Osborne & York – The Shouting Man
Osborne & York The Shouting Man Over the course of a couple days, I challenged myself to start up this podcast; the idea has been with me for some time. So, I came up with a name, purchased hosting services, built a website, and created social media accounts. Much to my surprise, it only took a day or two before friends started following the show. “Busted.” I thought to myself, “Now I really have to move on this.” TRANSCRIPT – The Shouting Man It’s May long weekend, Victoria Day, a federal holiday in Canada, my plan for the day is to go out and find my first story. But, here I am, in my home listening to a podcast. A podcast on how to make a podcast. Yes, you might have guessed it, what I’m actually doing is avoiding getting out to make the podcast. As I listen to a clip of America’s national radio broadcast of the Hindenburg crash back in 1937, I slowly tune in to a repetitive sound of a man shouting; it’s coming from outside. I listen for a minute or two, then I fire up my sound recorder. He speaks a foreign language, uses a megaphone, shouts in a consistent rhythm for three or four minutes, plays music for a while, then shouts again. This isn’t that unusual around here because there is a park around the corner. Cultural festivals and other events often take place there, and a little further up the street is the provincial legislature where protests routinely happen by the front steps. The shouting goes on for about ten minutes before I decide that there might be a story to uncover. I think to myself that this could be the way to get this podcast rolling.“Go talk to the guy,” I tell myself. “Accomplish your goal for the day.” I get the rest of my sound kit together and make a plan, but I promptly drop everything and have a shower instead. I tell myself, “If the shouting is still going on after my shower, then I’ll go check it out.” Subtle feelings of regret creep in and I think that if I was truly motivated, I would have gone out before taking a shower. But, I choose to ease my way into this situation. I am resisting. Let me explain why. While the idea of creating this podcast excites me, it mostly terrifies me. I’ve always been a guy who blends into the scenery. When I go places, I avoid drawing attention to myself. Yes, it’s partly anxiety, but also the result of my experience working as a documentary cameraman where my job is to blend into the scenery. People lose track of you when you’re quiet and undisruptive; this strategy helps you capture real life moments to tape. I’ve done this for close to thirty years and consequently, I have become a good listener and less of a talker. I usually feel a little self-conscious when I interact with people. While I do have the ability to uphold a conversation, I often ask the questions so the other person talks. I generally don’t have much to say about myself. So, the thought of being front and centre, using this medium to tell stories, using my voice; it’s a daunting prospect for me. My hope is that the fear will subside over time. It wouldn’t be wrong for anyone to think that this podcast is a form of therapy for me. In fact, you’d be 100% correct to say that. I touch up my poor job of shaving and listen to the man in the park, he is still shouting, so I push myself to leave the apartment. As I head toward the exit I make a mental list of questions for the shouting man but given I have no idea what I’m in for, I only come up with one, “What’s happening here?” I get to the corner of Osborne and York and look toward the park across the street. I listen carefully for the shouting man…but I hear nothing. I look around for signs of a gathering… there isn’t one. The crossing signal changes and I move closer. Outside, it’s a beautiful day, warm sun, clear sky. A shifting breeze neutralizes the sun’s gentle heat on my face. It feels like the first day of decent weather this spring. May long weekend commonly signals the start of summer up here, so the warm air is welcome. I peer into the distance toward the legislature; all is quiet. I venture further into the park. A half dozen sunbathers soak in the heat, their exposed skin is ivory white from a long winter covered in parkas. I unintentionally walk toward two sunbathers where my appearance causes a topless woman to sit up and cover herself. I ignore the two and slip past them holding my sound recorder in front of me, capturing the ambience of a city where most people are in the suburbs enjoying the day off work. The downtown is pretty much shut down, except for a few cafes and restaurants. I cut across the field foolishly hoping the shouting man will magically appear. “Who was this guy?” I think to myself. “What was he shouting about?” Unfortunately, I’ll never know. It’s clear to me now, I missed my opportunity. I’m a little discouraged and wander down the sidewalk. In my head, I’m challenging the core premise of this podcast. “Is this going to work? Am I ready for this? Who really cares if I talk to people. Maybe interviewing random strangers sounds more interesting than the reality of it. Is there really a story to be found on a street corner?” In an attempt to counter my perceived failure, I consider talking to people in the park to see if they heard or saw the shouting man, but I don’t even try. Talking to strangers is a challenge for me. I have interviewed people over the course of my television career but those meetings were set up with formal arrangements. Randomly approaching unknown people on the street to ask odd questions is a bit intimidating. However, the truth is, if I’m going to give this podcast an honest attempt, I will have to get over myself. I reach the perimeter of the park, still recording. As I stand at the corner of Osborne and Broadway, I see a man panhandling from the median, asking drivers for change. I watch for a few minutes. He’s wearing a black ball cap and a thick hoodie that seems too heavy for the mild weather. He holds a sign that is unreadable from my position. The traffic sneaks past him, no one helps his situation. “There’s a story,” I say to myself. Another guy in a light t-shirt, wearing a backpack, head down, sitting on a bench by the bus stop, appears to be looking at a social media feed on his smartphone. Unattentive to his surroundings, his thumb slides continuously up and down the screen, he doesn’t stop scrolling or appear to be reading anything. “There’s another story.” Stories are everywhere,” I convince myself. I turn off my recorder and conclude that it might take a few tries before I have the courage to talk to someone. In the meantime, I give myself permission to fail, I also give myself permission try again, and hopefully, to succeed. I consider this the first official story of The Corner Tapes. My hope is that you will follow along where in each episode I visit a city street corner to uncover a story. Sometimes the story will take place right at the corner and other times the intersection will be the starting point for a story that is deeper in the surrounding community. This project is a past time for me and I am mostly doing this solo for now, so please forgive me if the episodes are a little inconsistent in their delivery schedule. If you decide to subscribe, that would be fantastic. I hope you enjoy listening to this audio adventure of mine. I wish you all the best and thanks for listening. Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on google Share on linkedin Social Media Facebook Instagram Twitter Subscribe to podcast Please join my newsletter for updates and extras. I will fill you in on stories I am working on and also provide some additional content available only to newsletter subscribers. I promise not to spam you. Thanks!
10 minutes | May 16, 2019
St. Annes & Kingswood – For the Sun and Moon
St. Annes & Kingswood For the Sun and Moon As a test to determine if I could write, perform and edit a podcast episode, I chose to share a personal family story about my father. This intersection is a few houses away from one of my childhood homes—where my father told me this story. It’s about my grandmother’s unconditional love for him and her determination to find a cure for his paralysis after a childhood accident. TRANSCRIPT – For the Sun and Moon I’ve ridden the dragons and the butterflies of my imagination only to discover, I am forever between words, humbled by the truth. Inspiration reveals worlds of luminance and levity but also the wounds that lay dormant in the shadows of misery. Our stories, manifested by memory, adapted by time and imagination can alter the iterations of our being across generations. It’s a choice; how to see it. Thoughts flutter above the promise of early morning dew. I hold the benevolent blaze on the horizon in my thoughts, owing my breath, my being. I count in a single thread, the many ways I am beholden for the gifts granted by my neighbours. The easy amble of the elder woman who inspires a promise of well-being should I choose and accept. The young girl who makes it her duty to bring the morning words of the world to my doorstep. The trees that shelter the morning song of our feathered brethren. The glowing embers the logger provides to maintain my comfort. For this I am thankful. I am thankful for the farmer, who gambles his future to deliver his leafy heart to my table. The selfless men and women who protect the rivers and fight for water that is palatable. The trucker who delivers the fuel of our common mobility. And the hardships I carry, scattered among the remnants of my father’s misery. For this too, I am thankful. My father’s misery. His distress, His anguish, His gift. My attention does an about face and dives into the serpentine darkness of the monster mind, rattled by the memory of his passing. Ghost before me, I pilot my attention back to the defining tale of his childhood. A young boy, crippled by a fascination for the cookie jar beyond the limits of his reach. Balance interrupted, he tumbled to the floor. “I’m sorry, but the young boy will walk no more.” the doctor said. “Paralysis.” I sat across from my father as he reminisced. I could taste the venom his inner child had reserved deep in the blazing hole of his lost innocence, a fury born of his misfortune. A juvenile outrage trapped by a stagnant uncooperative corpse. A boy diminished by the impossible prospect of chasing a ball or tying his shoe. What does a boy do, except wait. Wait for the moon. Wait for the sun. Wait for the moon. Wait for the sun. As I remember it, father looked past me. The ash of his cigarette drooped between his fingers like the hunch of his shoulders. Years of steady toil, evidenced by a run down body. “Mémère insisted that a miracle awaited us halfway between home and the eastern tides. Oratoire St. Joseph, in Montreal.” he said. “‘Abandoned crutches line the walls. It’s the healing magic of Brother André’,” his mother told him. They travelled by train, the only way to get there. The long journey concluded, she bowed before the shrine. She prayed, he waited for the moon. She prayed, he waited for the sun. “She prayed for days,” father continued. “Nothing happened. Eventually, we had to return home.” Back home, they regrouped. Back home, she prayed. Back home, he cried. “Years went by,” he said, “nothing happened.” Father looked at me as a surge of smoke lit up in the sunlight as he exhausted it from his body. I waited for the air to clear as he crushed the burning glow under his fingertip. “Then one day, her prayers were answered,” he said as he extinguished the smoldering tobacco. “News came from out of nowhere about a new kind of doctor in Winnipeg. They called him a ‘chiropractor’.” They boarded the train another time. “Mémère focussed on the horizon with intense tranquility,” he said. “We arrived in the city and found the healer. It’s all a bit distant in my memory though,” he confessed. To my dismay, he didn’t recall much of how he was freed from his bodily torpor, except to say it was a gradual awakening over several trips to see the miracle man. Nor did he take special note of his recovery. “It was what it was,” is the way he put it. I asked about mémère’s reaction. Mostly, he drew blanks. The conversation trickled away. Then suddenly he startled me, “But I was a busy boy again!” he exclaimed. He laughed from deep inside, and our talk ended with levity and a mental picture of a young boy who played ball; who ran again; who climbed again; who remembered how to smile. I sometimes daydream about the devotion behind mémère’s determination to heal her son. A glowing faith that may have dismantled the cage within him, the one that held captive all belief beyond the rudiments of his own flesh and bone. Through it all, her unfailing love lulled his turbulent inner world. I think he believed it was a miracle, though he said nothing to persuade me of it. Distant but benevolent to the core, his hard life affected my stride and hid in the penumbra of my own struggles. Hedged by pain and silence, the wounds persisted across time and space and lived forth in the way he negotiated the world around him. His devices, the favourable and the imperfect, permeated my own identity. Daily, the whole of his presence, appeared in the mirror opposite me. I conjure up his story of hope in my mind whenever I relive his unforeseen departure— now almost twenty years ago. An evening where I rushed to find him without breath, without being. He was vacant and inert, but had new wings. I imagined that his newest journey started with the question, “Where do I find mémère now?” This is only my experience, but I am thankful for the lessons imparted by my father’s misery. Thankful because serenity eclipses anger once sorrow is befriended. Thankful because sadness cuts short, banal rumination. Thankful because hardship yields resilience. Thankful because equanimity reveals what love can be. He waited for the moon. He waited for the sun. He lived his life, forever, now begun. Thoughts flutter above the promise of early morning dew. I hold the benevolent blaze on the horizon in my thoughts, owing my breath, my being, to a boy who could still tie his shoe. Now, I wait for the moon. I wait for the sun. I live my life, forever, the grateful one. Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on google Share on linkedin Social Media Facebook Instagram Twitter Subscribe to podcast Please join my newsletter for updates and extras. 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