Today is my sister Pamela's birthday. I stole the day from my boss, called in sick and spent the day finding my energy again. A gift to me, from Pam. Or rather, the memory of Pam. She died in 1990 and I think of her all the time. We were very close, clinging together like the abandoned children we were. Our mother "gave us up" so I never knew my mom, but Pam knew her. I think Pam never got over being cut loose, being three and knowing that something wasn't right, helpless to do anything about it. I was a baby, 18 months, when the ties were finally broken. Such as they were. Family lore has it that Pam and I were outsourced to foster homes, in the way of our mother's struggle to make a new life with a new husband who didn't want her kids. And my father, who knows where he was or what he was doing during this time? He remains conveniently mum, because of course he had abandoned all of us, making a new life for himself with the woman who would become the only mother I knew. And she turned out to be crazy.
But today is really one of celebration. I walked along the river, nursing my foot into action, willing it to regain its ability to carry me along without pain. And it worked. When I got home, for some reason I can't explain, I was seized with the desire to clean up my two little back and side yard patios, too long left to the spiders and dirt. Every weekend for the past six or seven months I've said, "I really need to clean it up out there." And every weekend I'd find I was too tired, or it was too hot or windy, or I just didn't feel like making the effort. I'm chalking it up to recovery from the radiation therapy, not laziness.
Because today I managed to hose down everything, trim the plants, pull the weeds and nurture into niceness those two spaces that are like extra rooms, visible through windows from the living and dining rooms. Where I got the energy I do not know but it was great to get out there and sweat and make things right. It was all sort of an homage to Pam. And when I was hosing down the walls out back a bat flitted out, I think it was a bat and I was filled with gratitude for the blessing. "Oh please be a bat and not a bird," I prayed. "Oh please come back, I've cleaned your spot, please stay and bring me the luck and grace I know you can bestow." Having bats in your belfry (or your house) is considered an omen and a blessing in China so it works for me.
So on this day, Pam's birthday, I wish everyone good health, happiness and a sense of belonging. I think that sense of belonging is what eluded Pam and I both and why, in the end, she died of a broken heart. Her huge and generous heart just couldn't sustain the ravages she had put her body through nor the aching she'd had all her life for someone to take care of her. That's all we needed: someone to take care of us but at least we had each other. Happy Birthday, Pam. I love and miss you.