Friday, January 21, 2011

memories come from the strangest places...

I was putting on a pair of long grey socks this morning and had a sudden blast of recollection. These socks came into my life in a simple enough way, but they drag a multitude of memories with them.

Several years ago, after hearing that a good friend was no longer in remission and beginning another battle with cancer, my sister and I decided we needed to go for a visit. This battle was not going to end in remission, and we were all aware of that. This friend had touched both our lives in a very real way and was definitely worthy of the attention. We both felt that it wouldn't be right to let the opportunity pass without acknowledging her impact personally.

So we made arrangements for a quick road trip to Saskatchewan in the depths of winter. We drove through a bleak winter storm and talked about how much we admired Consorcia and her curious blend of spunk, grace and generosity. We arrived in Saskatoon to howling winds, drifted streets and blistering cold. We made our way to her house and had a wonderful time reminiscing, crying a little and remembering how lucky we were to have our lives intersect. Then we went home.

All too quickly we had to make the trip back, once again in winter and the conditions little better. Neither of us possessed the right equipment for warmth in Saskatchewan weather, so we made a quick trip to Walmart to look for some long socks suitable to wear to the funeral rather than hoping tights or nylons would preserve the illusion of warmth. I bought two pairs of really long socks - grey and brown. The kind that come all the way up to your knee or higher. I wore the brown ones to the funeral and cried while thinking of how much a life well-lived can change us all. I kept the grey ones for inevitable cold days in the future. I wear the brown ones occasionally, the grey ones less often as weather in Alberta isn't quite so punishing somehow. The brown ones don't usually make me melancholy, but the grey ones tug at my heart regularly. Not sure why.

So today as I took out the grey socks and then tugged them on, I suddenly remembered those trips, and Consorcia's way of looking on the bright side no matter what life was dishing out; how she would forgo sleep after working all night just to spend time with her little girls and her husband, saying things like, "If I can get an hour or two, I'm usually okay;" how she worked like crazy to send money home to the Phillipines for family; how she would invite dozens of people over to their tiny apartment for one of the girls' birthdays and somehow feed all of us happily. Don't get me wrong, she wasn't perfect and never pretended to be. She could have a temper when crossed or when a loved one was slighted, but she was unfailingly kind, generous, gracious and hopeful. While in palliative care she never forgot to thank the nurses and caregivers for everything they did to make her comfortable. Complaining just wasn't who she was. And she was my friend.

The grey socks brought it all back this morning. They reminded me that I need to be a little kinder, a little more gracious and thoughtful of others. They brought back Consorcia's wicked grin as we shared a laugh about life. They reminded me that inconsequential details can be poignantly beautiful in their own way even if only a pair of warm socks.

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