Better Because You Were There For Me … Thank You Marion!

With the jubilant joys of my 60th birthday celebrations starting to dim in the distance … imagine my surprise when I received a bright blue envelope via snail mail (aka: Canada Post.)  It was a greeting card from one of the people I had met and befriended decades ago while we were both living in a tiny little town in rural Southern Alberta, Canada. As I retrieved the card from inside the envelope, my heart smiled in fondest regard and with resonant recollection … because as some of you may also know … the journey is never easy when you are the tape dispenser. Nope. Never comfortable … albeit for the fine folks that can overlook your differences and make room in their hearts to love and accept you just as you are … ❀

Marion and I met back in the late ’80s when she had moved into our teensy weensy community from the big urban, metropolis of Montreal, Quebec. Her “UN-birthday”  card, as she affectionately called it, was filled with glimpses of times we had shared.  And, her words touched me deeply. We were both city girls … who had been transplanted into a rural and fairly red neck setting.  Not that there is anything wrong with country living … it’s just that geographies, in general, express their own distinct cultures … and … their unique norms and indoctrinated ideals are collectively reflected in their traditional ways of being. None of which may be particularly familiar for those of us with more urban roots.  I expect the habits and demeanors of those in the urban populace would feel equally unfamiliar for country folk who are dropped into a busy, cosmopolitan city center. Significant shifts in locale will take most of us right out of our comfort zones.

And so, I was awash with smiles stirring in my heart as Marion’s words took me back in time.  I started responding to her via Gmail,  but as my fingers struck the keyboard, it quickly became clear to me that an email would simply not suffice. I realized that in order to adequately acknowledge this special soul, I preferred to pen a ‘better because of you blog’  in her honor.  And so Marion, this tribute is for you.

I can’t begin to describe the emotions that came over me as I allowed your 60th “birth-quarter”  words to transport me back to that little town of 900 people … with us walking the three main long avenues and/or dozen shorter streets that intersected them. We both loved a good walk outdoors back then! I also remember us walking the MD road on an occasion or two … to the acreage you called home … from town … for lunch.  I still love walking. Actually, so much so that while ago, I set a goal to walk 10,000 kilometers.  I’m only about a third of the way there … about 3300 kms officially logged thus far.  Yes, you were always up for outdoor activities Marion!  I expect you still are!

That said, its no surprise we met on the ball diamond!  I’m so glad you joined our slowpitch team … and … thank you for reminding me that our ball team was called “Nonna’s Near Mrs.”  Somehow, I had erroneously remembered us as the “Hayden’s Hosettes”  but I think the Hosettes were actually an earlier incarnation in my slow pitch history harkening back to the Bob and Doug McKenzie era!  Nonetheless … here we are …  in those stunning mint and pink ensembles … mine complete with the clasp on my shirt (as you remembered!) … both of us with the 80’s puffed up bangs you so aptly described as mall hair”!!    

Haha … it’s absolutely true. A picture is worth a thousand words and/or memories!!

It truly is quite remarkable, though, how … in less than a heartbeat … we can intuitively recognize the souls with whom we have kindred spirits. I was instinctively drawn to you, Marion. Perhaps it stemmed from our mutually cosmopolitan roots? Or maybe it was due to our mutual inclinations towards professional pursuits? Or perhaps it was the introspective nature of our conversations?  Regardless of what it was, there was something about your countenance that always invited me to feel so ‘at ease’ with you. I just felt so welcomed to be myself in your presence. With you, I could show up completely unmasked … feeling no need to ‘fit in’ to other people’s preferences for who I ‘should’  be in the world … or … ‘how’  they preferred me to show up. Yes, when I was with you, I was generously invited to embrace the ‘wholeness’ of my tape dispenser self.  πŸ™‚

Yes, in a community I sensed may have misunderstood me … you really read me absolutely right.  I laughed out loud when you said in your card that you knew I was obviously destined for something else …“A bigger town, higher education, a briefcase, shoes with heels.”  Oh my, your words reminded me of how much I loved my purple eye-liner, accessory enhanced and color-co-ordinated outfits, big hair … and yes … high-heeled shoes!!  And, well, for the most part, I stuck out like a sore thumb in our small town!

Now, at sixty years of age, my eyeliner is far less flashy.  I opt for a softer shade of charcoal, but I still get weak in the knees in the presence of fabulous jewellery … and … it goes without saying … I still adore a great shoe (especially in a bright color)!   Notwithstanding my innermost inclinations, somewhere within the 5th decade of my life, I reluctantly resigned myself to more sensible footwear. My metatarsals will now scream out in righteous indignation if I dare indulge in anything higher than a kitten heel pump. Although, I am committed to aging gracefully … I am always on the hunt for a cute, comfy, colorful shoe! I hit the jackpot when I found these ones! πŸ™‚

But, regardless of how misunderstood I often felt back then Marion … you created ample space for me to play with my unspoken dreams … right out loud. And, I am not sure I ever thanked you for that. In fact, I get tears in my eyes when I think back to all the generous space you afforded me to be vulnerable, authentic and real with you. I felt free to say things to you that others would surely have judged me for thinking, feeling or wanting to do.  And, I am so glad to hear that I, too, afforded you a space to feel welcome, comfortable and accepted when you moved into our town.

And so, Marion, the words of a one of the world’s wisdom traditions seem most fitting to offer you right now. 

Yes. “Namaste” my beautiful friend. The divine within me bows to the divine within you. And, of course … the tape dispenser within me honors the tape dispenser within you. πŸ˜‰

Marion, your ready acceptance of all my differences was such a rare and special gift. I honor the truth, peace and beauty within you. And, my heart can never forget your kind and loving spirit … despite all the years and miles that have come between us. No. The heart never forgets being touched by such light.

Eeek … how long has it been anyway??? I think our time together in that wee little town was at least a quarter of a century ago (ish) … if not longer?  And all those decades did indeed lead me to a bigger town (albeit only 10 times bigger!) … a master’s degree … and … a professional career that I am deeply passionate about. You were absolutely correct!!!  Haha. And yes … I even carry a fashionable briefcase.

After you moved back East Marion, we lost touch to some degree … but our infrequent but very meaningful email connections have been deeply appreciated. And, exchanging travel tales with you has been such a gift.  Were it not for your inspiring invitations to visit some amazing parts of the world (e.g. Turkey), we would have missed out on some of our most memorable travel adventures. Thank you for stretching us to some amazing new horizons! It’s hard to put a price on experiences like that!

We haven’t travelled much over the past few years, but we couldn’t silence the travel bug any longer.  We’re planning to wander the Western parts of Europe, Ireland and the UK. I’d welcome any ideas you might have for us in those locations … and … where your travels have taken you in recent years!  Perhaps we should plan a rendezvous and share some sweet space … or take another walk together … in some beautiful but unfamiliar part of the world? I think in one of our email exchanges we agreed that we’d probably travel well together …  πŸ˜‰

I was so grateful when you ventured back in our direction and we had a chance to reconnect face to face over coffee. Gosh … how long ago was that anyway??  I could be wrong, but judging from my hair … I am going to guess … about 20 years ago?  Reminiscing with you was so lovely!  I would cherish a chance for another long, smile-to-smile conversation … πŸ™‚

Oh Marion … it never ceases to amaze me how many moments that seem somewhat small and/or relatively insignificant at the time … can fill a heart in untold and unexpected ways.  And, as I reflect on our friendship, my heart is feeling deep gratitude for the ways in which your spirit has touched me:

  • your quick wit and wry sense of humor tickle my funny bone … only always
  • your capacity to hear beyond the words that are spoken aloud … is so rare
  • your heart … filled with kindness and caring and compassion … is so exceptional

Yes. You have such extraordinary energy. There are people that drain you. There are people that fill you. And you, as my grandson would say, are definitely “a bucket filler” Marion! Yes. My spirit has always been so nourished by our time shared together. Whether face to face or over the internet … the gifts of your presence in my life are treasured and remain tightly tucked into my heart space.

And every year … at Christmas, you are with me as I place my beautiful macaroni angel upon my Christmas tree.  You crafted her and gifted her to me before you moved away … and … although she is a little worse for wear (e.g her halo has gone missing!) … she holds so many precious memories of our time together.  I place her near the top of the tree every year.

Yes, there is no disputing that my years in our small town together were definitely so much better because of you Marion. And, the joys of my 60th birthday were also so much better because you reached out with your heart … and … your exceptionally astute card! Thank you for continuing to fill my spirit with your benevolent being-ness!  And, not surprisingly, your words to me precisely mirror the feelings etched in my own soul. As such … I would, most humbly, like to offer them back to you right now:

“I am so grateful that you were there for me when I lived in [our town] .  I continue to feel close to you and will always consider you my friend.” 

With deepest appreciation and heartfelt reverence for all our tape dispenser moments, Karen

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