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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Passage of Time




On the night before my 44th birthday, Brian wanted to take me out for dinner. To a quaint, sophisticated Italian restaurant right downtown Winnipeg called Tres Visi. It's beautiful and yummy- we've been there before.

I told him that I really love food courts.
I love the sociology, the diversity, the many faces and paces of humanity, and the sense that I can get up and wander around at any moment that I so choose. I'm not trapped in my pretty seat with a heavy expectation that I'd better be having a really good time.

So, Brian enjoyed pad thai under the sparkling, newly hung Christmas lights, while I ate colourful food from Cultures. The cutlery was plastic. The place was packed with potentially fascinating people.

And all that for under twenty bucks.

Afterward we wandered around Chapters indulging ourselves in possible reading material, and considering overspending on coffees from Starbucks. Instead I found a small set of playmobil and bemoaned the fact that our children had never loved the toys as much as I'd wanted them to.

Brian bought them for me.

for my birthday.


He'd already bought me gifts the previous weekend when we'd travelled up to Lac du Bonnet for a volleyball tournament. Stumbling upon an antiques shop, we spotted two gorgeous old clocks that we both knew I badly needed. Previously, I only nineteen alarm clocks, none of which tell the accurate or actual time of day. That's what the microwave is for.

The pink and silver clocks round out my collection nicely; bringing the total up to a paltry twenty-one clocks.

Well, there's always Christmas.

My birthday this year was so much about the passage of time. I anticipated it to be a significant birthday, since I'd been thinking of my brother on and off the entire year that I'd spent being 43. What must it have felt like for him to know he'd be leaving?! At this age? With so much living yet to do- with so much left to ponder, to struggle with, to learn? And so I knew that when I reached my 44th, I'd think of him a great deal. And have that strange, inexplicable feeling of having outlived him; my bigger brother.

I thought of how I'd like to celebrate. I considered many scenarios, but settled on a simple one that didn't require any of the costuming or hilarity of past celebrations. I was craving wisdom. I invited some women friends over for a dinner entitled; "Wine, Women, and Wisdom". It was just what I'd been hungry for.

It didn't turn out the way I'd hoped; although it certainly fit thematically with my yearlong preoccupation with the passage of time, and fragility of living.

Before we'd quite raised our forks, my mother phoned with the sad news that her last sibling had died that day in a traffic accident.

In the days that have followed this strange birthdate, I've had some meaningful moments. I've spent more time than usual with my family- both immediate and extended. I've observed some wonderful wisdom. I've watched my mother. My auntie's children. Their children. I've listened to stories about tante from grandchildren, cousins, sisters.

And here's the wisdom I'd hoped might come from my party:

There isn't a moment in this life that the choices between

kindness and impatience;

love and indifference;

investing or complacency

don't matter.

It always matters.

Kindness adds up, and up, and up. It pours into people- this resource in our lifetimes that is most worthy to invest in. Every time we choose to be kinder than necessary, our life becomes softer. Lovelier. Richer.

This year on my birthday I was craving wisdom, and it came in the strangest of ways.

I hope that I make the kinds of choices that tante Marie made in her life years of nearly ninety four. I hope I strive to have the energy for the extra mile, the cheerful smile, the generosity of busy hands.

And I hope to have another dinner party.
A festive one, next time.
Wanna come?

9 comments:

Judy said...

You know it!

Mary KG said...

Yep, I wanna come.

janice said...

I did not even respond to your invitation, although I immensely flattered to receive it. But I DO want to come to the next one.

Once again, you have provided me with words to live by. Thanks for being one of my Wise Women.

My verification word is SUROBEAU which means you can always be sure o' the beauty of life and people, if you look for beauty.

Anonymous said...

Wisdom aptly learned, well earned, deservedly so. It takes a long time to become wise...a lifetime in fact. "You" teach as you learn, you share your wisdom; we should all be so wise. Thank you!
Always a Fan
P.S. Belated Birthday Wishes

Valerie Ruth said...

beautiful, joyce! i loved this. and darn tootin, i wanna hang out with you without the Boy clinging to me. because.. i really like you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joyce, you say it so well, wish I had half the words of wisdom you have. Ha ha , all I have is half more the years. Keep posting girl! hugs BBNM

janice said...

Valarie Ruth, you are friends or relatives of my Mom and Dad's pastor - I saw Rachel on your blog - WOW!!! Do you know them, Joyce?

Pastor David is an amazing guy and the story of Rachel breaks my heart and fills me with love.

joyce said...

oy, yoy.
I used to hold an infant pastor David in my arms when my sister took piano lessons from his mother; Valerie Ruth's mother as well....

And now I look after pastor David's nephew... VR's son.

Life is so weird and entwined!

Valerie Ruth said...

janice - dave is my brother, if you haven't figured that out already! we will be in their church on the 4th. Rachel was my beautiful niece.

joyce - isn't it neat how our lives looped back into each other's? who wudda thunk it?