Tribute to a Friend

I asked Wendy, about a month ago, if I might write about her on my blog.  She said, “Well, what is there to write about?  But, yes, sure. That would be fabulous.”  ‘Fabulous’ was something that Wendy said…about good food, beautiful places, and even about a wild flower found along a trail.  As I pour over the myriad of wildflower images that I snapped along our various walks and hikes over the years, I selected these two because today, they seem to mark my feelings best and capture the magic of what a true friend is. The first flower is a wild orchid. We were always so excited when we spotted a variety of orchid….typically hidden and not very showy…just remarkably beautiful and tucked away in some rich loam under a bush, usually in the shade.

Yesterday morning my sister-friend slipped out of this world and moved mysteriously into the next…and she did this without ever seeing my words written down.

I’ve decided to sit with thoughts of Wendy this morning, while the sun shines bright on the snow.  Somehow it feels warmer today.

I attended the concluding evening of a church mission that was hosted in our parish last evening, prayed for the peaceful repose of Wendy…for the journey that my brother is taking…for my family and dear friends.  The priest shared something interesting, once finishing up the Gospel reading about service…the one that’s read every Holy Thursday about Jesus bending down and washing his disciples’ feet… he said, serving one another does not always mean saying a whole lot…sometimes it means just sitting and being with the other.  So, this morning, I’m sitting with thoughts of Wendy and I’m not going to say a whole lot.

There will be a whole number of people who over the coming days and weeks, months and years, will talk about Wendy’s accomplishments because she was indeed, an accomplished woman, coach, teacher, political force to be reckoned with, orator, curriculum writer, baker, crocheter, wife, cadet…she was all of that and more, but this morning as I contemplate why the huge ache in my heart, I realize that it was the enduring presence that is Wendy, the friend, to me that I most celebrate.  So, I will not let this post be about anything but that, her love and wisdom and friendship.  What I wish to most strongly communicate is Wendy’s courage and fortitude and extreme vulnerability…those qualities that Wendy gave through her presence with me and with our group, affectionately named the Ya Ya sisterhood.

The other sisters; Val, Darlene, Carla and Cathy; had the blessed opportunity to work with Wendy some years before our first meeting.  It was Val who invited me to join in the regular gatherings with her circle of friends in order to enjoy food, drink, lively conversation and a hot tub now and then at Darlene’s.  I was a very vulnerable person at the time, digging deep in order to stay afloat, raising three children on my own, all the while trying to do a great job as a teacher. I am forever-grateful for the friendships that were established at the time and how they have continued to change my life for richness of experience, knowledge and love.

Our activities included regular hiking, gourmet dining hosted by Wendy and her husband Darren and wonderful daughter, Becca…basement movie gatherings and themed photo opportunities.  We consumed, voraciously, the times we had together, always rallying around the person(s) who was/were feeling most overwhelmed at the time, offered genuine support to one another, invaluable advice and resource-sharing.  Wendy gave me confidence.  She also had one heck of a sense of humour.  She was a straight-shooter and never muted a point.  Her determination and will was contagious.  We have, over the years, all benefited from her drive and her commitment.

Wendy had an ability to roll with the punches.  She lightly jested that she was much like a unicorn because her health matters that gradually grew to be insurmountable were uniquely challenging.  I admired how hard she pushed against every obstacle and I was inspired by the strength of her family and the love that the three of them shared.

On Monday, I sat watched Wendy enjoy a bowl of Thai Soup while I ate a Greek Salad in the Fanning Center cafeteria.  It was all so ordinary.  We said ordinary things with one another.  And, I’ve decided that this is what life is, a long string of ordinary moments.  It is right to enjoy each of those.  A cup of ice.  Saying hello to the other person in the elevator.  Advocating for support.  Leaning down for that embrace at “Good-bye”.  Laughing at the ritual of asking a complete stranger to take a photograph…

Late that night, my cell phone rang…I didn’t get it in time.  It was Wendy’s number on my phone.

I called back and Wendy didn’t pick up. I’ll always wonder what Wendy might have said.  More than anything, I will remember.

Oh what a treasure to have shared the mountain air with Wendy…fabulous food…nice drinks on a back deck, laughing and talking and looking up at the stars.  I will love you always, dear friend…and nothing will take these years from me.

It is 4:00 in the afternoon, on Valentine’s Day.  It has been a blessing to look over photographs and to think about all of the wonderful times we have enjoyed.  Good-bye, good and faithful servant.

These images are a small sampling and many moments are buried in my archives or sitting on some one else’s camera…but these offer the gist of a remarkable friendship.

Hikes:

Kath's Canon June 28, 2015 Flower Walk 073

 

 

 

Food…

 

Photo Booth

The Idea of North

The AGO has hosted an exhibit titled The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris curated by Steve Martin.  The show opened on July 1 and comes down on September 16.  While I won’t have a chance to take this one in, I was able to attend a local exhibit at the John M. Parrott Gallery here in Belleville, titled A Tribute to Lawren Harris, co-curated by Peter Paylor and Susan Holland, featuring 21 different artist’s works.

In neighbouring Gallery One, Valerie Kent exhibited her works In Celebration of Markets, a flamboyant and culturally charged exhibit that was very compementary of the Harris Tribute exhibit.  Fun to get out and see a show and picked up a book written by Belleville-born writer, Frances Itani, Deafening, at the second hand shop in the front gathering space.

A lovely and reflective time for me in the city and a lovely diversion as I was eagerly awaiting my high school buddy’s arrival for a girlfriend visit and walk down memory lane.

The pendant below…work by Lisa Morris.

IMG_0740 IMG_0741 Thus, if I paint a house…I assume the shape of that particular house, experience its form, its meaning, its relationship to the soil it rises from, the skies that bathe it in reflection of their colours and mood, the neighbouring houses, the mood of the particular house, its age, its inner life; and the more direct my experience of that is, the more I permit that house to dictate to me how I hall paint it and the more certain I am to arrive at pure experience in my art and to create an intense equivalent in terms of my art or my first hand experience.  If my experience is clear and deep enough, the life I get into my picture of that house and the formal relations it dictates for its own expression will become universal.  – Lawren HarrisIMG_0743 IMG_0744 IMG_0745 IMG_0746 IMG_0747 IMG_0748 IMG_0749 Sculpture by Peter Paylor IMG_0754Valerie Kent’s work.IMG_0751 IMG_0752IMG_0750

Autumn in the Garden

Angel Wings and Mums, Gaillardia, Echinacea, Brown and Black-Eyed Susans

Determined to enjoy ‘some’ colour in the gardens, having been away all summer, I decided to clean out the bits of remaining summer and add ‘autumn’.  This garden is a tribute to my parents.  I love them so much and in the morning, when I enjoy my coffee, I will look out at these splashes of colour and think of them.

Perennials for the Late Season