Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It doesn’t really matter if immigration takes place because of war or persecution, or simply to try and give your children a better life. The mere act of migrating from the country of your birth to another means the migrant will forever be torn between two places; the one he loves because his roots are there and the one he loves enough to try and transplant himself.
I have lived with this duality for most of my life. I arrived in Canada as a child and I have grown to love and value being a Canadian. I have contributed to Canada's future by working hard and giving it two children, one grandchild, and over time, many tax dollars! I have buried loved ones here, made lasting friendships and traveled from coast to coast, appreciating our Canadian diversity and vastness and beauty at every turn. I am a proud ambassador of most of what Canada stands for and can get quite cranky when I hear unjust criticism of it.

But I admit freely that I have never lost my yearning for the light and the language and the music of my birth country, knowing full well that if I were magically transported there this very minute, I would feel like a total stranger. The country has moved forward without me and the span that has created can no longer be bridged.

What we immigrants really pine for is not so much a physical place as a moment in time that is long gone. This is why we get so excited when we stumble upon a restaurant that serves foods we grew up with, or hear a song in our mother tongue; it instantly transports us to all those lost moments and allows us a few seconds of reprieve from those feelings of permanent loss. One could say that to become an immigrant is to live in a permanent state of grief and that this dull ache becomes totally acceptable over time, as the positive aspects of the new chosen life, hopefully outweigh the negatives one has opted to leave behind.

I have been a proud Canadian for 50 years now but I know that I will forever long for a pocketful of memories that keep a certain light and language and music, alive in my soul.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I was sitting at my hair dresser's this morning, sipping a latte and reading about William and Kate in a magazine. It was either that or read about the Kardashians  and I really wasn't up to that. I wish them well but I think they should all be shipped to a far off island.
I was lamenting the fact that it was -36 outside and that my boots, which I had hoped would see me through one more winter, had started to leak this week. I reviewed, in my head, all the things I still have to do before tomorrow and then got that niggly feeling that I had forgotten something.
And sure enough, I had.
I had forgotten to enjoy the moment I was in! How many more good moments am I entitled to before Fate intervenes? Like learning to tread water, I am teaching myself to not hurry forward all the time nor to look back over my shoulder at things that have already taken place. That's a waste of a precious commodity; my own time allotment. But sometimes I forget and fall back into my old pattern of wistful nostalgia combined with a kind of 'must-do' nervous energy.
My hairdresser, a young woman of 39 who looks all of 20, perhaps got a whiff of my winter mood and suggested that I might do something dramatic with my hair. The old "you can always grow it out" mantra worked. With only a second's hesitation  I gave her the go-ahead and returned to my reading, leaving her to get creative.
When I next looked up, two inches of hair were gone and the rest was layered and wispy. I finished my latte, put on some fresh lipstick, paid, (Woo-hoo, I am now entitled to a senior discount!) got back into my heavy coat and leaky boots, and left for home feeling good about absolutely everything.
It's not the haircut, although a new look is always psychologically refreshing. No, it's the fact that I took the time to just be and to savour everything around me; the flavour of the coffee, the sound of the scissors snipping away, the photos of Kate Middleton, now pregnant like my own daughter was not long ago. And yes, even the feeble sunlight which I enjoyed as I walked home in our  frigid weather.
With no other thought than getting inside as quickly as possible, I turned into my walkway, fished the keys out of my pocket and opened my front door. A wall of warmth greeted me as my sunglasses fogged up and my nose dribbled. Our old dog, deaf now and no longer very energetic, wagged his tail upon seeing me. As I unzipped my coat and removed my boots I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror. The woolen hat I had worn had given me static electricity and I no longer looked anywhere near as glamorous as I felt!
But that's okay. I had a great morning in spite of everything. None of us know how many more winter days we will experience in good health so I'm glad I took the time to enjoy this one. I wonder if the Kardashians know anything about living in the moment?