Tuesday, May 1, 2012


It's 7.48 a.m.; my mother's operation was due to start at 7, so it must be underway right now. Dr. Labinaz is fixing my mother's heart. Let's hear it for the superb University of Ottawa Heart Institute. How right that this vital place should be associated with a university where my father taught and did research for many years. Perhaps some of the people tending to Mum right now took his classes in physiology and biology.

Last night, unfortunately, the anaesthetist came to warn her that in 10% of cases like hers, something goes wrong. So rather than focussing on the 90% that go right, she was left with a dire sense of danger. After a bit of talking, though, she calmed down. And I, too, as I sit here so far away, will focus on the 90% and not on the 10.

Anna and I and her bulge had lunch yesterday. That baby could not be more ready to pop out. She stretched her t-shirt tight over her belly so I could see him move - tiny fists and feet, exploring his dark, safe world. She will call me when labour begins, and let me know where and when I'm expected to join her, to do what I can to help her through. A friend told me yesterday of a dream, in which she had to navigate a very long, narrow passageway out of a basement; half-way out, she felt so frightened that she decided to turn back. Hmmm - I don't know about you, but my analysis was pretty easily made.

As I sit writing to you, there's a great pounding overhead - my tenants, having breakfast. Only two weeks and a day until I reclaim my home. You'll be happy to hear that the crabby cat has decided to take up residence down here, with me. That curled up, snoring ball of tabby fur on the sofa makes this subterranean place home. That, and the stacks of magazines, newspapers and books that follow me wherever I go. Yesterday, the library called; two books were waiting for me, Memory, Fragments of a Modern History, by Alison Winter, an exploration of our relationship with memory; and Slice me some truth, an anthology of Canadian creative non-fiction, which is delicious.

The bad news - after that ferocious clean-up on Sunday afternoon, I looked at the little pile of jewellry that I'd left on the living-room bookshelf and found one diamond earring. One. Dropped to my knees and looked all over the surrounding floor - nothing. My guess is that the earring is inside one of the two vacuum cleaners used that day, along with a great deal of dirt and dust. What needs to be done is clear. O joy.

At 10 I will call my brother who will be waiting in the relative's room at the hospital. And then, at the first U of T class of the spring term, I'll explain why, for the next while, I'll be leaving my cell phone on during class.


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