Courtesy: Charmaine's Past and Present
Photo: Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013
Time, you dirty old man,
I feel you too close.
Your rank breath
sours my youthful beliefs
as you whisper in my ear
the things I had forgotten,
things I said I'd do by now.
Fear grips me,
turns my belly green
and my heart beats
well into the night,
lying awake and praying for more
-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 31, 2014
I've reached that point where long-term memory returns and short term goes to pot. I remember kidnapping a turtle from the green-watered Mill Pond in Richmond Hill and peddling it home in the basket of my blue CCM bike in an empty Player's cigarette pack. I remember filling my dad's Canadian Tire wheelbarrow from the green Canadian Tire hose - everything was from the Canadian Tire store: bikes, wheelbarrows, hoses... Canadian Tire was the only choice. We loved Canadian Tire - it held so much promise to a kid: camping gear, baseball gloves and wading pools. Every store, every time, smells exactly the same - still! It's as though they have rubber scent air freshener but, thinking about it, I guess it probably is ...yep, Canadian tires....
Anyway, there is another example of time passing. I have gained an irreparable capacity for rambling. I would now make every kid's favourite high school teacher: easy to derail. Back to the turtle story, which is another rambling offshoot of the original subject of time and me finding yet another way not to think about it and its life-shattering speed. So, I filled the wheelbarrow from the backyard hose and threw in some large rocks from the garden and built a ramp so the turtle who, by now had the ignoble name, Eric, could get from the water to his island. I added greenery and went inside to the Encyclopedia Brittanica bookshelf, compulsory in every middle class, North American home in the 1960's, and pulled down the appropriate T volume. I quickly, though not as quickly as Google would have proferred, discovered that he was a painted turtle most common across Canada and the United States, though this made him no less exotic to me.
Eventually, though I do not recall how much time passed, my parents decided to split and my mother and my youngest brother were headed to apartment life on the fringes of the city of Toronto. Eric couldn't come. The Siamese cat, Sara, was under debate. I had no idea how I would live without either of them. They were the only beings in which I had any amount of real trust.
I won't tell you about Sara. I probably already have and have forgotten (Time, you're a cheating bully and my best friend...). Eric went to Sean's house. He took care of Eric for a long time. I don't remember how long or what ultimately became of him. I regret taking him from his happy pond life and I hope he has forgiven me from the great beyond for the selfishness of my childhood need for non-human companionship. I hope Eric came back as a turtle again and lived out the life he was born to live at that beautiful pond, where the willows grew nearby, doing the hula to a gentle summer breeze. I hope Eric spent many a happy hour, sitting on a log somewhere, with the summer sun on his back and I hope I have many years left of new adventures and happy memories and stories to share.
May time be gentle with each of you and may we not be afraid of it speeding forward but rather live in each moment with a deep, peaceful breath, grateful for the time together, each moment an opportunity to love, learn, laugh and share.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 31, 2014.
-Dedicated to my sweet, wonderful brother, Chris, who would have turned 65 today.
I miss you dear brother and carry you with me always.
"Come sit with me by the lake where we can
Photo: Gillian Cornwall, c. March, 2013
My brother, Chris from the 1960s