Last August I was again reminded about the impermanence of things. Of life, of ideas, of the present. As the two year anniversary of my father's passing approaches, I find myself reminiscing about him to be sure, but also about my grandmother, his mum, and thinking about her passing this past summer.
We all have those certain reference points in our lives that are constant -- unchanging, solid. People, places and things that we assume will be with us for always, comforts in our minds, safe places in our memories, infinite signs of our foundation and roots.
For me, some of those things consisted of the farm I grew up on, my faith in God, my love of peanut butter, the seasons, my scars, the clouds in the sky, sarcasm. My family.
Well, the house I grew up in has long been sold, my faith in the Catholic religion long questioned, but the rest remain firm -- mostly.
I think it is pretty safe to say that taking for granted our families just may be the common thread sewn throughout all of humanity. At some point in our lives, I think we all function on the assumption that even if left unattended, our brood will be there when we need them, ready to welcome with open arms, our absent selves. We may nurture our outside-of-the-family affiliations with more attention, knowing that our house is firmly in place and in wait. I fully admit that my relations with my close and immediate nuclear clan has been less than stellar at times. And I have beaten myself up for it time and time again ever since my father's passing in May 2011.
In a recent conversation, I explained to a colleague about my family's history -- that I had never met my Grandpa Alec Pearson, as he died young of a heart attack before my birth. The Pearson clan also lost a member in the 1990s, when my Uncle Jim was killed in a car accident on his way to teach at a University in Montreal. Even after all this, I still have this unfounded sense that family will always be there.
Growing up, I remember royal blue carpets, root beer floats, potato chips, and golden yellow Imperial Margarine. I recall carpet burns from too much playing in the upstairs hallway, The NeverEnding Story on video cassette, and Jell-O salad. I remember $20 bills at Christmas and birthdays, too-soggy Kraft Dinner, and shopping trips to Masonville Mall in London Ontario. That was childhood according to me and my visits with Grandma. Simple. Delicious. Real. And now she is gone, too.
Growing up I didn't see my extended family much more than two or three times a year. But when I did, we were all there, all accounted for, all present. But things change. And we have loss. And the present is all that is guaranteed.
Edna Pearson, the matriarch of the Pearson clan made it to 94 years of age. Her mother, my Great Grandma McWilliam lived longer than a century. I had always assumed that it was in our blood line to live forever. So imagine my shock when my dear dad became so ill at 62 and never made it to 64. And now, as I grapple with the fact that my Grams has also met her time, it still manages to shake me to my core. It is my roots, my history, my genes that are disappearing. Who is next? Any one of us. And that is why we all must LIVE. For today.
I recognize the impermanence of everything. The good and the bad. I realize that we must appreciate, love, accept and acknowledge all that we have in the moment, as that is really all we ever have. I now live with a satisfied sense of detachment, knowing the inevitable end to every story. But I do so with much more aware lovingness, much more acute knowing, and a lot more choice as to where I put my energies. After all, nothing is forever, but great memories do come pretty darn close.