From NFLD to TO to NYC for five days with some of my best buds in the Big Apple. Is it weird that I’m kind of most excited to take a grassy nap in Central Park, over everything else there is fun to do? Anyway, adventure! Happy May Long.
Last Monday, May 6, my Poppy died. We knew he was sick but nobody expected he would go so quickly. Least of all Poppy. The man was the picture of health for most all of his 90 years. Not even a World War could kill him. When he got sick over Christmas, he recovered so quickly that by the time I got home, for the holidays, he was dashing up and down the stairs of his ward. When they discharged him, he laughed and bragged that nobody could believe his age, he was doing so well.
But then, cancer. God damn cancer.
My Poppy’s name was William Clarke, but everyone called him Bill. I called him Skipper. He was born in Victoria, Newfoundland. He met my Nanny, Minnie Morris in Montreal after serving in WWII (remember their amazing love story?) and built a business and a family on Bell Island, before moving to St. John’s to be closer to his kids and grandkids.
Poppy loved to play cards. He took pride in his home and had a green thumb. He taught all of us how to drive and was the best driver on the roads, right up until his hospitalization.
His favourite place on earth was Lower Island Cove, in the house my Nanny was born in. He pulled water from the well, he painted the clapboard, he took us on rides along the coast and through the woods on his three-wheeler. He knew where to find the best berries. He hunted partridge with his brother Leonard. He gutted fish next to the stream. He scolded us for walking too near the cliffs. He stood at the gate, hand-in-hand with my Nanny and waved goodbye when we would leave.
My Poppy was an amazing storyteller. His tales from the war are almost unbelievable – like the time he was stranded in a windmill in Holland for a week after the Germans destroyed a dike. Or the time he pulled a body from the road, only to see the same boy months later during the liberation, who turned out to be the twin of the dead solider, looking for his brother.
His favourite person in the world was my Nanny. His Old Hen. Her illness (Alzheimer’s) has taken away most of her memory, but while he was alive, she always knew Poppy. He’d come in the room where she lay and lean over to kiss her head and make her smile. She was his joy. They always said they would die together, not wanting to be apart in life for even a moment. I was hoping Nanny’s illness would make her forget this but she keeps insisting that she doesn’t want to live now. She wants to go be with her Bill. What do you say to that?
I really loved my Poppy. More than I know how to convey here. He called me his “Old Trout” and when I was with him, I felt safer and more loved than anybody else ever made me feel. I know he was old and lived a good life. I know I was lucky to know him as long as I did. But I don’t care. None of this makes me feel better. I wasn’t ready to say good-bye. I miss him. I miss him.
Yesterday I was busy sitting in parks and riding my bike and drinking way too much coffee because coffee shop patios were so nice to sit on. Spring is here, just like that.
May Day (May 1) was a big deal in high school. There would always be an assembly of some sort…it was weird, come to think of it. I guess it marked the end of what is always a long winter in NFLD, and the last mile to the finish line for the end of the school year. Whatever it was, I don’t remember the assemblies because my friends and I would always skip that day. Hanging outside in the sun, getting up to no good – we were babies then but it still doesn’t feel like that long ago.
Goodbye and good riddance, winter.
UPDATE: So May Day is a real thing that has its roots in early European Christianity. The Brits and Celts do this proper so maybe that’s why it was so celebrated back home? Anyway, Google first. Lesson learned.
I fucking love space. I feel like this has been well established on here. It equal parts makes my heart swell with love and wonder and freaks me out completely.
Have you read about Space in the news lately? We’re moving to Mars! The Universe is WAY older than we thought. The comet of the century is going to whizz by us tonight and you can watch it live. Also, and this is my favourite story of the week, The Herschel telescope is kaput. The telescope took pictures of some of the furthest reaches of our Universe, using infrared to pick up distant galaxies. The Atlantic published some of the best pictures produced from the voyage, check ‘em out.
RIP Hersch – enjoy eternity circling the Sun.
The Orion Nebula
The Sky (a portion of it) wherein you can see over 6,000 galaxies. Note: light from some of these galaxies was generated billions of years ago and is just reaching us now NO BIG DEAL.
Andromeda’s “Eye of Sauron”-esque spiral.
Aghhh space is so cool! So mind-blowing and vast and confusing.
Capping off this post with some Space-themed apparel and accessories. Gotta get my head back down to Earth.
T-shirt via Svpply
Galaxy Necklace via Etsy
Coolest cosmic sweatshirt Sold Out but similar here
Hand-painted Vans via Etsy
Artoo Swuimsuit via Black Milk