Welcome to Whispers of Age and other stories I have heard

Let the tucket sound! I have finally waded out into the stream of social media, as this, my first blog post is set afloat. (Tucket: a fanfare on a trumpet. Word of the day compliments of Merriam-Webster. So many words, so little time!)

So here we go! Welcome to my blog: Whispers of Age and other Stories I Have Heard. Come on in! Relax, enjoy, and when you’re ready, please take a moment to share your comments.

Blog 1: I heard the Whispers…

To introduce myself, I am a reader that is truly, what defines me, but I have only just recently, gained the confidence to add to this statement: I am a writer! There! Now, I am complete, now I will grow!

Books in all their tantalizing forms: hard cover, soft cover, and paperback, will always be my dearest friends. I keep them close to me, I stack them by my favourite chair at home, have them on my nightstand; they are even displayed proudly in my kitchen—seriously where else would you display Canadian at table: A culinary History of Canada by Dorothy Duncan?

My books have also found their way into my bed, where they recline lazily on my pillows, or sink gently into the softness of my duvet, all of them like pampered Victorian women resting from the heat of the afternoon, as they sigh out their words to me when I am ready to listen.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that books, their words strung together like perfectly orchestrated music, continue to offer me solace during difficulty times. Words are my literary salve that I reach for, even when my distress is at such a level that I cannot quiet my mind long enough to hear their song.

I have heard the whispers recently, those whispers of age…that slight hum that time gives forth as it rounds the corner towards yet another birthday…they have always been present, but I realize I have been too busy to listen, too pumped up and naive to believe anything else, but that time would always be on my side.

This year I turned 55, it was at this same age that my mother confronted the realty that for her, time had an ending, and not one she had planned for. My mother died following six weeks of pain and denial, both experienced equally and in varying degrees by every member of my family.

The week before she died, I was thirty-two weeks pregnant with my first child and I was in her hospital room bathing her with cold water. The ice cubes, added to the water, formed minute lines of crystals on the washcloth that I used to lay against her hot skin. Her temperature had spiked, and the nurses were busy. They had asked me to help.

I’m not old enough to bathe my mother. I can’t do this. I can’t.

But I did.

My Mom cried out, shivering as she begged me to stop. I reached for her hand when the fever shuddered through her brain confusing her further. She struggled to release her hand, and lifted it to her lips as if drinking from a glass held tight. Her throat muscles worked to push down the phantom liquid, and when done, she rested her head back on the soaked pillow, turning her face away from me.

I held my other hand protectively over my belly as I checked for the daily signs of life from my unborn child. Are you there, I asked, making myself very still. Don’t you die on me, don’t you dare leave me…too.

I remember I called my doctor twice, frantically, and pleaded for him to meet with me in the emergency room two floors below where my mother lay. My baby was silent, movement had stopped completely. A strong, steady heartbeat echoing down through the stethoscope subdued my fear, pushing it back forcefully into a corner where it crouched…waiting.

Later, my mother moved by ambulance from Brampton to a Toronto hospital. Finally, something will be done we thought, for why else would they move her? Shortly after we arrived, a doctor, a callous creature in my memory that has no face, approached us. He towered before us with his vast height surrounded by a suffocating venue of student doctors who looked at him in fear, just as we did. He stood at the end of my mother’s bed, which angled awkwardly off the wall, our present reality being a makeshift room, thrown together out of a utility storage area as space was at a premium.

In response to a question my father had asked, the doctor lowered his clipboard slightly, barely glancing at the information it contained, and replied, “Mr. Vance surely you understand that your wife is dying?”
I looked over, past this man with no face and no heart, to my mother. Her eyes were open. She stared at the doctor in total comprehension.

When we were alone, a grieving family huddled with brooms in a storage room, my mother said, “But I have so much left to do.” Her words hung suspended for a moment buoyed by our silence. I wondered if my baby could hear my heart break and if so, would a blemish mark him in such away that he would forever point at it and say, “My mother gave me that.”

As my mother’s time measured out, she spoke to all those dear to her behind closed doors, their whispers slipping back and forth like the tide touching the shore and pulling back. I became obsessed; believing the words meant for me would be lost in the mix of others.

Then it happened, she was gone, the hospital room was silent, her warmth, and her words, all gone from me. My son was born two months later.

The whispers, like down feathers that tickled my skin, became part of the ignored backdrop of my life, and my mother’s sad wish for more time…that I pushed, along with my fear, back into a corner where I could pretend it did not exist, but I never stopped searching for my mother’s words. I find them now and again, sprinkled throughout the stories I write, and their presence surprises and delights me. It is at those moments when I cannot help but say: There you are! I’ve been looking for you!

Three years past this coming September, my father died suddenly after an accident, his jaw wired shut, his words trapped screaming inside. For a while yet, my writing will not be able to examine this new loss too closely for I am still unable to look directly into the pain. My granddaughter was born two days before he died.

Dylan Thomas wrote that, “after the first death, there is no other.” And with the years that cushioned the grief since the death of my mother, I thought, okay, I am stronger. I will surely be prepared this time.

But I wasn’t.

I was knocked sideways by my father’s passing, driven back by pain, a sledgehammer that drove deep inside me shattering the fragile picture of who I thought I was. For truly who am I without parents? I can see only that I have moved up a level as one generation has said adieu. I am of the ‘old folks’ realm now, the next in line to pass.

My body and mind felt bruised and torn apart. Depression and panic attacks arrived, and have crept into the crevices left open and vulnerable by my sorrow. Fear has crawled out of the corner and lives with me daily, it wraps its arms around my chest and threatens to break me. I cannot move forward nor back.

“Have you heard the saying ‘depression hurts’? my doctor asked. I feel stuck in a commercial, and I know I have missed my cue to smile.

In Nora Ephron’s book, I Remember Nothing, she stated: “The realization that I may have only a few good years remaining has hit me with real force, and I have done a lot of thinking as a result. I try to figure out what I really want to do everyday—am I doing exactly what I want to be doing?”

There is a deadline before me, endless possibilities do not abound, there are, after all, limitations. If I need to do, to see, to accomplish, I had better start doing. The timer has been set, I can hear it…tick, tick, tick…I am frozen, and panic heightens the inertia…the alarm will sound, my time will be up, and I will have done nothing. Whispers, the gentle, but persistent reminders of passing time, have been muted; it is the Sirens I hear now as they call me closer to the rocks. If I do not take action, I will drown.

I finally forced myself to step up to the plate and recognize my depression, my fear, and as I have always done, I gathered my books close and called in their magic. All booklovers everywhere know this truth; books will do nothing but talk about their magic, if you let them! Most importantly, I have begun my own Happiness Project, the idea borrowed from the book of the same name by Gretchen Rubin.

I have narrowed down what is important to me, noted my top ten desires, and I am trying daily, with the help of many books on the subject, to find out what I must do to feel better. It is a work in progress, but I understand that is what life is all about. And yes, I will document my journey, in my novels, in my short stories, and now in my Blog, because that is what I do, after all, I am a writer.

Thanks for visiting!

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34 Responses to Welcome to Whispers of Age and other stories I have heard

  1. Sharon Clare says:

    Carole-Ann, you brought tears to my eyes. Your writing is poetry packed with emotion. I’ve not experienced anything more painful than losing parents, and I so hope I never do, nor do you. I suppose I should feel blessed this is the case.
    I relate completely to how words are like balm to the spirit. Another blog I read this morning on dealing with book reviews had a passage so poignant I copied it. Words are so powerful.
    Now I can say welcome to social media and well done! May your words touch many.

    • Carole-Ann says:

      Sharon thanks for your words, I am so glad you enjoyed my thoughts on this my first post! I would love to know what blog you read regarding dealing with book reviews, listening to criticisim about your own work is so very diffcult, anything to make it easier would be beneficial. Thanks also for your encouragement about “getting out there”, a scary experience, but I believe it will be fun (eventually)!

  2. Shane Young says:

    Great intro Mom. I’m glad to see that you are following your dreams and your passions. It’s too bad that I never got the chance to meet my grandmother. If she was anything like you she must have been a great person. You are a great, loving and caring mother who has always been there for me with care and compassion.

    I believe that you will accomplish your goals and dreams that you have set out for yourself. And I will be there cheering you on all the way.

    Love you

  3. Judy White says:

    Dear Carole-Ann, congratulations on publishing your blog! Thanks for sharing this touching and beautiful piece. Surely anyone who reads it will be in your corner, with their love and support to encourage you along…..
    Lots of love,

  4. Sharon Y. says:

    WOW!!! This is FANTASTIC Carole!!!! Your very first Blog!!!! Your words are written with such heartfelt emotion and oh sooooo relatable!!!!! I hear the “whispers” too….and like you, they are no longer the faint sounds in the background but the loud clang of something more to come! You couldn’t have put it more eloquently and I am sure there are many others who can relate to your words as well! I am so very proud of you and what you have accomplished! Not only does it take great COURAGE but it also takes great CONFIDENCE to set forth on the social media world of blogging! I have heard that great stars are born from doing this very same thing :-) and if you love doing something enough, the rest will follow!!! I know this may sound a little cliché…but sometimes, clichés are the only thing that does make sense! You have begun a whole new & exciting chapter in your life, and wherever its path may lead you, you and you alone, is the Master of Your own Destiny! Do not ever give up on your dreams Carole!!! As you can see…YOU are a WRITER and a very good one at that!!!!!!!!!
    Love you…

    • Carole-Ann says:

      Thanks Sharon your words mean alot! I knew years and years ago writing was what I wanted to do, but was far too shy to don the title! Fear truly is a barrier that must be crossed.

  5. Helen Bell says:

    Hi Carole-Ann,
    Well done and what beautiful writing! I cant wait to read more! (And “help” with the Irish leg of your publicity tour!!!!)

  6. Carole-Ann, I am so glad I went back and found your post. Sometimes I rush too much and miss the sweet scent of the roses. This would certainly be one of those times. So glad you emailed me back!
    Your story is poignant and made me want to tell my son (we are flying together today) not to talk to me while I read your words. Awesome and memorable, well told with imagery and gut-wrenching reality. You prove that we can get past the crap that lands on all of us at one time or another. We do get to choose how we deal with things. And now I’m going to tweet your post for the world!

    • Carole-Ann says:

      Elaine thanks for returning to my site to read my post, your support is appreciated! I am so glad you were drawn in by my words, your feedback has made this new experience so much easier, thank you again! Oh and please tweet away!… that would be wonderful! :) Have a safe and fun trip!

  7. Traci Wilson says:

    You are amazing!! I don’t even know what to say. You are a dear friend and you always will be. I am a lucky girl that I got to meet you and spend most of my days with you. You helped me through allot of things just by listening. I miss seeing and talking to you every day. Follow your dreams as you so deserve it!! You are a wonderful woman.
    Big hugs and kisses,
    Traci xoxox

  8. Vance Young says:

    That was just amazing to read mom! I am so proud of you. That made my eyes water. You are such a great writer, I hope my writing gets that good. You are so much stronger then you think and I am glad that you are seeing that more and more. With out your great words, quotes and encouragements that you gave me when I have been knocked to the ground, I am sure I would be still lying there face down in the mud. You have always gave me the strength to push on. Teaching me to look for the positive in everything. I’m glad you are finally getting your writing out there so everyone can see how much talent and strength you have.
    You are a writer, and a darn good one. :)
    I cant wait to read your novels. Love you Mom and keep reaching for the stars, I am going to learn to stand there and reach with you. Xoxoxo

  9. Congratulations, Carole-Ann, on getting your blog up and running. You are a braver, more ambitious soul than I. The colour background and layout of your blog is stylish. Golden earth tones combined with black and white are definitely inviting and yet professional. I liked the humourous opening of your blog – I certainly never heard of the word “tucket” before – love it, sounds like what it means. Your description of what books have meant and continue to mean to you is done so well. I can imagine your books getting up and walking around your house at night vying for your attention. You have a marvellous sense of humour that rides comfortably on top of an intense feeling for your topic. That will serve you well in a blog.

    Would like to know what the theme of your blog will be over time. Eager to hear your views on life and loves.

    Linda F.

    • Carole-Ann says:

      Hi Linda, as always your feedback here and in our writing group is very helpful! I will be trying to build a theme around my title: Whispers of Age and other stories I have heard. Basically how the passing years change us…both good and bad…and how that is reflected in both my reading and my writing. I will have to work on focusing in the theme with each direction I take with my postings.
      Thanks again!

  10. Penny Sprung says:

    Wow! Your words are fabulous. I remember your parents and know how proud they’d be of their very talented daughter. I will gladly follow you to Ireland for the grand publicity tour. Congrats on your new journey.

  11. Anita olsen says:

    Hey Carole-Ann,

    Awesome work! Well written, can’t wait to hit the book stores and buy your book!
    You have a great future ahead of you “go for it girl” will be cheering you on all the way!

  12. Carole-Ann says:

    Thanks for your support Anita!! I need those cheers :)

  13. Sherry Isaac says:

    Welcome into the foray, Carole-Ann!

    I don’t know much about Tarot, but I do know this: The death card does not signify death as much as it signifies a new beginning. At 55, your mother experienced her new beginning, and with this blog you are experiencing a new beginning of your own. Bravo on making the proclamation, Carole-Ann. YOU ARE A WRITER!

  14. Carole-Ann says:

    Thanks Sherry! Most definitely a new beginning and I’m starting to get quite excited about it!

  15. Siobhan says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere, Carole-Ann!!

  16. Cheryl Olsen says:

    Thank you for sharing such precious times in your life with us. You are a strong woman and I admire that. Your stories intrigued me and have me wanting to read more. Keep up the fantastic writing and follow your dream. You deserve it!

  17. Carole-Ann says:

    Cheryl thank you so much, your words mean alot!

  18. Pam Ward says:

    I always look forward to the next email notification in my inbox letting me know that it’s time to read your next brilliant installment. You have a gift with words and I enjoy every minute of reading what you have written. It is so wonderful to see a woman with so much drive, you inspire me and I’m sure countless others to step up to the plate and give our dreams and passions a chance.
    Lots of Love!!

  19. Brenda Cogswell says:

    Well done Carole-Ann. I look forward to reading your book as well. You have always been a writer, so glad you have decided to share.

    • Carole-Ann says:

      Hello Brenda!! Thanks for visiting my blog, and your comment is appreciated! I will let you know when the book comes out (hmmm I better getting at that revision!) :)

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