A Thousand Acre Heart -Part Two

…and spring became the summer

It was a typical hot and humid Nova Scotia summer. Nobody was more thrilled then me that the school year was over. It was hard to go to school every day and feel like everyone was staring at you, either because they felt bad for me but didn’t know what to say or because they had lots to say but none of it was mature or worth listening too!

My Dad had had some recurring heart problems and I remember he was in the hospital after suffering an attack. My Dad had a great personality and people couldn’t help but being taken in by his charm, the nurses included, but even they were not impressed when he was having his visitors sneak him in KFC and Pizza.  My Dad had been diagnosed with Angina.  Angina is an indicator that your heart is not getting all the oxygen it needs to keep working at its optimal level. People who have angina are at an increased risk of having a heart attack. So in short my Dad should not have been eating Pizza and KFC. He did if I recall correctly make some changes after his stay in the hospital, at least for awhile. He owned an Auto Body shop beside our house but he wasn’t supposed to be working and he wasn’t allowed to drive his motorbike, which he loved to do in the nice weather. I can remember him pacing around the house just lost. He wasn’t used to not working and his number one hobby was being forbidden. As I said the changes were temporary but there were other more subtle changes as the hot summer forged ahead. He really was interested in what we were doing, wanted to spend lots of time with us and have long talks. I recall wanting a drive to a friend’s but he really wanted to spend time with me and offered to take me shopping. My dad was a unique shopper, so unlike my Mom and me, he didn’t look at price tags. If he liked something he bought it. He didn’t compare shop or look for sales. He also liked to carry lots of cash with him. This didn’t mean we had lots of money; it just meant there was very little in the bank and a lot in my Dads pocket! Well I lucked out that day I got a couple of new outfits and a 12 speed bike. I felt at the time that there was some guilt involved.  It was his way of saying, “I know you are hurting, I don’t know what to say to make it better so I am going to buy you stuff!” Regardless the sentiment was appreciated and I completely understood that he didn’t know what to say to me. My mom tried to talk to me often, I am not sure how much was ever said between us we just cried and hugged a lot. Sometimes there really are no words but knowing that someone cares enough to share in your pain and just be there is more than enough. My mom was my best friend. She married at fifteen years old and had three kids back to back. She never ever complained about her life or said it was hard. She always made motherhood look effortless. I always felt so bad because I knew she wanted more for me and she felt she failed but I know it was I that failed her. She talked to me about boys and sex. She tried to be involved and always told me to come to her if I needed anything. I am the one that shut her out. I met the guy that made me weak at the knees and I made a bad decision on a hot summer’s day in August and now one year later I was silently suffering the consequences.

We were planning a surprise party for my dad and his best friend because they were both turning 40 that year on September 4. The BIG 40!! I probably thought that was old and I am going to turn 40 on my next birthday. It was exciting to try to keep a secret from my Dad. He loved parties and he was such a big kid. He was always the first one up at Christmas; (five a.m. most years), and he LOVED presents.

It was late August and I had met a guy that summer that I was crazy about! He was a friend’s older brother and he was sweet and mature and I was very much absorbed in thoughts of him. It certainly gave me something else to focus on. I thought about him all of the time but I really didn’t have the guts to tell him. I guess I eventually took that 20 second leap of courage (if any of you have seen We bought a Zoo you know what I am talking about) It probably went something like this “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number so call me maybe?” Of course it really didn’t go like that; Carly Rae has dibs on that one. Actually while I was typing that groan joke I recalled how it really went. We were hanging out at my friend’s house (as I mentioned “he” was her older brother) and she and her boyfriend wanted to take a drive to the beach so we tagged along. Ahhh the good ole days in Nova Scotia when you just decide to drive to the beach and you get in your car and drive to the beach!! It was after dark and I recall I had to pee all the way to Brule. For those of you who know the drive from Truro to Brule and know how I am when I have to pee you are probably thankful that you were not along for that ride. We got to the beach and I was able to pee in the dark in those stinky outhouses. So once I have peed I start to realize what a crazy romantic scene this is. Moonlit beach, warm summers night, it is a scene from a Bryan Adams music video!! Now I am panicked so I just run into the water and keep walking out nonchalantly as far as I can till I realize that I am a long way from shore and I don’t know which way is back to the shore and which way was further out into the water. I have a helpless sense of direction to begin with and you would think I would know from the direction of the moonlight but the sky was very dimly lit at that point. I just turned around in circles for a minute or so until I realized that the object of my adoring affection had come to find me. I can’t recall the exact details but we shared a very sweet first kiss under the very dimly lit summer sky at Brule Beach. I went home that night and for the first time in a long time I felt like a normal teenage girl.

Morning came as it always does bright and early. It was August 21, 1990. My dad had called me a couple of times to ask me to make coffee for him and the guys at the shop. I was already on the phone with my guy and was just having a hard time getting down the stairs to do it. I finally made it when I got another call to please hurry and bring the coffee out. All this time I am talking to my cute guy on our “kids” phone line upstairs and running back and forth to answer the house phone. My Dad’s shop was right beside our house so I put on some flip flops, grabbed the pot of coffee and went out the front door. There was an Ambulance in the yard. At first it didn’t occur to me to be alarmed because my Dad owned an Auto Body shop so it wasn’t unusual to see smashed cop cars etc in the yard. Then I realized there seemed to be some confusion and I feel like I am outside of my body staring at me with my feet glued to the ground holding a damn pot of coffee. My brothers are yelling at me to stay there as they jump in Mike’s car and follow the ambulance.  My uncle follows them in his car. By the time I realize that my Dad is in the ambulance and that my brothers told me to call my Mom at work it was just me and a new guy in the shop yard. I kept telling him he had to drive me to my Moms work and he kept saying they told him to stay there. At some point I made him realize that he was not going to lose his job and we had to get moving. My Mom worked at a corner store that was along the way to the hospital. It had a drive-thru attached and when I got there all she knew is that my brothers were following the ambulance to the hospital and she was to meet them there. The owner was at the store but didn’t know how to work the till so my Mom was expected to stay until his wife got there and she was on her way. I will never ever forget in my whole life how my Mom was trying to wait on customers not knowing what was happening to her husband. This one lady came in and she was as bright as the sunshine and she said to my mom “It is a beautiful day!” My mom struggled to hold back tears and I decided enough. I told her boss to wing it and we left.

At the hospital they took us to a private room, they explained that they had the best team working on my dad. It seemed like an eternity passed and for some reason we were separated. Maybe by choice I am not entirely sure. At some point a nurse told me that they had done everything they could. She kept looking at me with this really idiotic grin and I had no idea what she was trying to say to me but she was going to help me find my Mom and brothers so I followed her and she kept looking at me with that ridiculous smile. I hated her. I really really hated her. Have you ever felt like everything was moving in slow motion but so fast you couldn’t catch up! It was a beautiful sunny day, August 21, 1990 when they told me I was never going to see my Dad again.  My warm and wonderful mother was a widow with three teenaged kids at thirty two years old.

Life wasn’t fair or just and it wasn’t going to be OK for a very long time. 

To be continued…..

Thanks to my friend Amanda for this, I had to share
Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women who never knew each other..
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make Your one…
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up … that’s all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your fears, 
the age old question unanswered throughout the years…
Heredity or environment .. Which are you the product of..
Neither, my darling .. neither..
just two different kinds of love.

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10 thoughts on “A Thousand Acre Heart -Part Two

  1. All so Very Powerful Michelle!!!-I had no Idea, But I do remember your Father passing, my mother telling me, and how horrible I had felt, you my age and a brother close to my brothers age XXX

  2. Michelle,
    I really had no idea you had a baby at such a young age. Your courage to write about these private and personal memories is inspiring. You have such an amazing gift of writing that I even had to tell my husband to stop talking to me as I was reading! Can’t wait for the rest.

  3. Wow, I don’t think I realized how young your parents were at that time….

    And I really want to mention the name of that corner store, but I won’t

  4. Michelle , , Your dad was loved by many , sad he had to be taken so soon,now want to continue to read the rest of your blogs. A great way for you to let everyone know and so sad when a loved one is gone, my heart goes out to you .

  5. Michelle, your story has rushed back so many memories of your mom and dad for me and Uncle Bryan, thank you for that. Your dad would be so proud of you as I am sure your mom is. You are an awesome girl and so very talented. You describe your dad so perfectly, his greatest success was always his family, he was so proud of you guys. We wish you much happiness and feel so proud to call you niece.

  6. michelle i am sitting here reading about your dad and the tears are running down my face and i wish we could have been there more for you all i know he was a good dad i remember comming home for week_ends when he was little and dancing with him around the old kitchen floor there was always old tme music on saturday nights i would pick him up and dance with him he was such a sweet child as all of them were and you were all such beautiful great kids i think i have a picture of you kids all asleep at our house one night we had a house party you were such good kids i will see if i can find the picture and give it to your mom thank you michelle you really shoud write more you have much talent and your dad was a great guy with a big heart and we seen how many people felt that he had a very large funeral it is sad the grandchildren did .nt get to know him it is very sad we lost so many of our family so young i dont know how mom and got thru all that heartache and grief of loosing your children god bless them and you michelle for enlighting us on your dad and so sorry we werent ther more for you all look forward to see more even if it makes me cry thank you and love to you and family aunt marion xoxoxo

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