Friday, January 11, 2013

Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust.

It was like a scene from a movie. Only we were not the actors nor the viewers. We were entrenched in it, chilled to the bone on a cold yet sunny afternoon, our tears noticeably flowing.

Yesterday was the funeral service and celebration of life for our dear Uncle Jim Drysdale.

I found myself sad but later at night, sobbing for uncertain reasons, other than the obvious loss of a wonderful man.

I cried for the pain of my elderly and quickly ailing aunt who in a span of 10 minutes asked us who we were about 20 times. I cried for the flowers that were bought for her at Christmas from my Uncle and still beautifully alive. I cried when I saw his tattered and worn slippers, a sign of a man with simple needs. I cried because in four years of them living in their apartment, this was the first time we had visited. I cried for the great  pain my mom was in losing a beloved uncle who treated her like a father would. I cried for my aunt who was unfairly inflicted pain at an already painful event. I cried for our quickly crumbling family and the drama that never seems to stop, even at a funeral. I cried for a generation lost and the generation which is and will be. I cried for a man who never asked for help, who always offered a hand and was never too busy for those in need; be it strangers, family or the church.

I often wonder why I look at people on their devices or when I see my husband watching tv, why my blood boils inside. I understand social media has it's benefits. I'm sure without it, my business would still be finding it's way in a sea of already established photographers.

But I stopped to think of my own funeral and the packed house of God yesterday. A church full of able and not so able-bodied people. A mixture of young and old, sick and healthy. Standing to honour a man for the ages. The "go-to" person in life. The kindest and most generous man. And the greatest loss is ours.

Do you ever wonder if you've made your mark on the world? What would people say at your funeral? That you have so many instagram followers? That you spend your time with your face buried in your cell phone instead of socializing with others with the limited time we have? That you participate in online bullying with your Facebook rants and raves? That you've successfully caused drama with the only family you've been given? That you don't work and are proud to use the system? That you tweet, text, message and pin every spare minute you are given?

I certainly am saddened and scared for what's to come. My girlfriend and I were discussing this morning about the changing times. She said her entire street is full of kids and yet their court remains quiet and empty. No longer are the days when children play outside. They lack imagination and magic. Where's the magic? Remember the feeling of building a fort as a child out of pillows or snow? My friend said she will never forget the expression on her kids' faces as she hid Easter eggs in a forest and they ran around finding them. And that it angers her that her daughter doesn't know how to ice skate. Because we as adults barely have enough time for ourselves. We are so busy working longer hours to try and make the all mighty green dollar to buy nicer things and then what? End up spending less quality time on the things that matter, and our greed getting us a house full of stuff, and a heart full of nothing. A lot of money does not make you a nice person. If you can't even take the time to lift your head and say hello, how rich are you? Fuck it. I'd rather be poor. And have manners.

I never really put conscious thought to pen to paper as to why I would feel happy seeing people read books in Chapters. Or the joy it gives me to see my dog run in an open field. Or why I feel so grumpy sitting inside in front of my computer all day long. Day after day. And now that I have...what's to be done? We live in a fairly small town. Small towns in my mind, equate to old fashioned values. But we can't escape the way things are headed. So what are we to do?

My Uncle Jim's brother stood up to pay respect in the form of a poem and stories. He told the story of a young man who worked for every penny he had, who was always impeccably dressed and proud. He was a gas station attendant to lawyers, mobsters and doctors. And they all knew him and admired him for his services. He wasn't a bragger. He wasn't a scholar. We had rarely seen him without a tie. He was one of the first to have a car. A car in the 1940's was a big deal. And he used to drive from Hamilton to Toronto which was an even bigger deal. He would drive whoever needed a ride. One time he bought a new shirt. And he caught his brother Fred wearing it. He pulled up beside him, and told him firmly: take off my shirt. He later invited him into his room and let him have whatever shirts, ties and socks he needed. The moral of the story was, don't steal from me. I will hunt you down and get what is rightfully mine. But I will always share with you whatever I have.

Can you say the same about yourself?


  1. Well written Wendy! I know I need to make a lot of changes in my life and my children's lives. Less tv, computer etc. and more quality time with family and friends. More phone calls and less msgs to friends. More magic and imagination. Life is so short, time is limited and passing by so quickly.
    Love you xoxo

  2. Never been prouder of you Wendy than at this moment. This blog says it all. That is something to live by for sure. Dont steal from me. So glad you got that message loud and clear from Uncle Freds words of remembrance of our dear Uncle Jim. I wonder how many others really listened to his story of the shirt and came to the same conclusion. I was so proud of Uncle Jim and he sure would have been touched by your words you have just shared. xoxo