My daily practices have become my joy and salvation. Seeing the letters and words march across the screen, hearing the tap, tap of the keys, pushing the paint on the canvas with my brush – they all bring me incredible joy. The feelings are so subtle at first. Now I’m infused with them. In this moment with the sun beaming into my room, I can say I am happy. It is enough.
I’ve never wanted much – for myself. Maybe that is why I’ve never felt poor even though we were. My sister felt it and my mother testified to it. Dried anchovies were mostly what we had to accompany the rice. But we were never hungry, except maybe on Sunday mornings. That was the one day the cafe closed. Everybody slept in, even if you were 8 years old and itching to get up, with tummy rumbling for food. We had a roof over our heads though it was an old one. We lived in a little house behind the cafe and near the town’s public bathrooms. Sometimes our house was mistaken for it.
Our next house was along the highway. It was bigger though not newer. My foot crashed through the floorboards of my bedroom the first day. It wasn’t my bedroom long, for our grandparents came to live with us. My sister and I had bunkbeds in the livingroom and our little brother slept with mom. Dad slept at the cafe because he had to open it early. The livingroom was great in the winter. It had an oil furnace. I would undress and dress next to it. Sometimes I got too close and ouch!
Recounting our early days in Canada, I see that we WERE poor. It mattered less to me maybe because I was warm, fed and nourished. Everything was new. I was learning a different language. I had school and friends. The Grey Hound Bus bought me books from the provincial libraby in Regina regularly. I always had a voracious appetite for the written word. The teachers told my father at the Grade One parent/teacher meeting that I have a talent for drawing. In my teens, I drew portraits of teen idols – Elvis, Fabian, etc. I only did trees in art class. My affinity for faces and people started young.
I’ve never made any money with my two loves. They were stuff of dreams. Who doesn’t dream of making it big, writing that novel or creating that painting? I didn’t work at making the dreams come true. I earned my living and money the hard way. I waitressed, worked in an office and slung bedpans as a registered nurse in a teaching hospital. Oh, glory days! Now in the aftermath of my youth, I have lived, am seasoned and have suffered. I have something to say and perhaps the fire to say it.
I was not a child genius, who upon falling out of my mother’s womb, can pick a brush and create a masterpiece. But that’s what it feels like in my senior years. It happened once I decided to pick up my brush after talking about my passion for decades. I push these blobs of paint on the canvas. Somehow a picture emerges. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it is even great. It keeps me showing up for my daily practices, my daily bread. It feeds and nourishes me.
God I saved the best for the golden years.