Joy

  • I remember the brief time you lived near me and we went to the same school.
  • I remember you getting in trouble with Dad because you always left the shower a mess
  • I remember you trying to plant grass in the front yard of the house on Elizabeth Street.
  • I remember you running out to the pay phone at the corner to call 911 when Carol had a heart problem (Dad didn’t have a phone).
  • I remember you going with Carol and leaving me there with him while he was drunk. I was 8. You were 15.
  • I remember seeing you in your jean jacket that had Beastie Boys lyrics all over it. “You gotta fight for your right to Party!”
  • I remember you dressing me up and putting make up on me and trying to convince Dad to let you take me out downtown on a Friday night.  He said No.
  • I remember meeting your T-shirt that said “Don’t Stare at My Kitties”
  • I remember meeting your red-headed boyfriend Dan Pletsch, I was 11. I thought he was so nice and funny.
  • I remember trying to carry Desire Pletsch around on my hip when she was two.
  • I remember when Dad started drinking again when I was 12 and you hugged me and made me feel comforted.
  • I remember you giving me shit years later because I didn’t wish Dad a happy Birthday.
  • I think that was the last time I saw you alive.

You were always my sister too.  I love you Joy.  Rest in Peace.

Idle No More Indeed

I just found out how my sister Joy died.  It wasn’t pretty.  I can’t say I’m necessarily surprised, but I am sad and angry.  She did some terrible things.  She abandoned her 5 children.  She drank and did drugs.  But she also had horrible things done to her.  And I just can’t help but think that Joy and my Dad are examples of the terrible legacy of Canada’s treatment of Native people.

Some would argue that all the things that happened to them can happen to white people.  And that’s true.  But I know they both felt the ‘burden’ of their race.  And while I may have never felt it myself, I felt the trickle down effects from them and what happened to them.  It’s been hundreds of years and the history of the treatment of native people in this country affects even people like me, who is essentially white.  But my family is not.

And every time I pass an intoxicated, homeless, native person on the street I see my Dad and my sister.  They are not blameless, but they are my family.

Loss

My family tree has always been complicated.  There are branches and off shoots and first marriages and second marriages.  Siblings, half-siblings, pseudo siblings.

Technically, for example, none of my siblings are full siblings.  Three of my siblings I grew up with, we have the same mother.  My other half-sister, Joy, has the same father of me.  We didn’t grow up together, although there was a period of time she lived at my dad’s and I saw her every weekend.  I saw her fairly regularly around town until I was in my later years of high school.

And last night I found out that she had passed away.

I hadn’t seen her in almost 20 years, but she was still my sister.

Joy had a terrible life.  Bad things happened to her that never should have happened.  There’s a sad story there that I know so many people around her wish had never happened.  And the fact of the matter is, things didn’t get any better for her as an adult.  I am not entirely surprised that this has happened.

It feels weird.  I’m not sad in the way that I’m sure people expect.  But I feel the loss, as much as Joy and I were not close, she was a tie to my Dad and his side of the family.  Another person who shared my last name.  The only other person who understood what it was like to have him for a father.  The person I’d have to tell when the day came that Dad passed.  As far apart as we were in life, we shared a history.

And now she’s gone and it feels like a piece of me is gone too.

I hope Joy has found the peace she has never had in life.  But I do feel like the world is a lonelier place for me now.

2012: A Look Back

You know, for the most part it seems like not a lot happened for me in 2012.  Nothing monumental and life changing, anyway.  But it was a. . .decent…year, all things considered.

In 2012:

– My writer’s group started.  There were four of us.  Now there are only three.  It may not be the most academic, rigorous group in the world, but it’s lovely to get together once a month and talk about writing and get some outsider feedback.

– I found out just how off the rails my ex was.  That was a stunning, hurtful betrayal.  Quite possibly one of the worst I’ve experienced.  But in the end it helped, because it allowed me to slam that door shut and move on, feeling only pity for her, if that.

– I turned 34. I don’t remember what I did for my birthday.

– My niece and I went to Disney World in Florida.  While it wasn’t necessarily something I had ever intended to do, it was great to spend time just me & Jocelyn together.  Plus I can check it off that life list of Things To Do.  Oh, and I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was AWESOME.

– Lost more friends than I ever expected to lose in one year.  It taught me a lot about who those people were.

– My nephew Matt visited for a few weeks in the summer, which was brilliant, as always.

– I fell uselessly in love with someone just out of reach. And while it’s been painful, it’s been rewarding in its own way.  And in 2013 I will do my best to move on from it.  There is no point in dwelling on things you cannot change.  But I am forever grateful that they know they are loved.

– I lived in my own head, in fiction, and had fun with it.

– I started an online writing course called “Story is a State of Mind”

– I took more pictures.

– I was diagnosed with cataracts.

– I travelled to Spain, which was an absolutely fantastic experience.  Barcelona remains one of my favourite cities on earth.

– I took the steps I needed to get myself in a better frame of mind, no matter how hard it was.

– I started seeing a personal trainer, and 11 months later I’m still with it.

– My cousin visited Ottawa for the first time and it was wicked fun.  I hope he comes back.

– I moved apartments, leaving behind the place I moved into 7+ years ago when Melanie and I broke up.  It feels….odd.  Good, certainly, but odd.  I feel like it is one more signal of a new start, an new phase of life.

So, while it may not have been momentous, and it may not have always been pleasant, 2012 gave me love, a best friend, a chance to see a new part of the world, and good times with family.

I am immensely grateful for all of it.