In sunshine, soft shade, or over the rainbow?
That’s not exactly what the First Witch in Shakespeare’s Macbeth says when she opens the play by calling her fellow wayward sisters to a cryptic meeting before following after her cat, Graymalkin. But it is the right thing for us to say about our enchanted meeting.
Three is our magic number and we’re witches –the three integral ingredients of a crone-spirit called Headwitch Hecate, to be exact– so that’s why Santa gave us three Wayward Sister Portals for Christmas. No, we’re not going to set about trying to murder anyone named King Duncan (that responsibility belongs to Macbeth); we just need a way to stay in touch.
See, Santa knew we needed a little Christmas– a touch of Christmas! As anyone with spirit knows, Christmas is a state of mind, accessible via Christmas Portal any time of year…
The iPod Touch is our wayward sister way of staying in touch in 2017. Now we all have magic red buttons to press– not just me! You can send me audio clips, videos, pictures, and text messages ANY time now through Messenger, and I can send them to you, too. Hurray! I can stay in touch with all three of the ones I love most.
Our portals are RED, in honor of Lady Macbeth and in support of the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa but they are held in pink and purple cases because pink and purple are popular colors in our family. Please keep them safe in their cases and in the portal purses I gave you, because Santa is already in the North Hole –I mean Pole– trying to pay off some persistent elves for these portals.
To answer the question that is the theme of this letter: we three shall meet again in Spring (when the hurly-burly’s done, / When the battle’s lost and won). In mid-March.
We have been together for two blissful weeks, and now we shall be together-in-spirit for ten weeks, until we can be together again. I know– ten weeks is too long to part, but we have our portals and we must try hard to stay together in spirit; that’s the only way to get through it. The portals keep us together. We know the goal: togetherness. That’s what I want for you and your McFadden Family, and that’s what I want for our family, too. Until it happens, our portals must suffice!
Portals are gateways. They are gateways to other dimensions. Ours is a gateway to each other so we have a 24-Hours/day 365-Days/year OPEN DOOR Policy!
Did you know that January is the Month of Gateways? It’s the month defined by being able to occupy the past and the future through the portal of the New Year, I guess you could say. My Farmer’s Almanac calendar entry for today (the 4th of January), says that:
“The month of JANUARY is named for the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two faces: one looking into the past , the other into the future. Janus is the protector of gates and doorways.”
For this reason, January will always be an important and celebrated month for our family. This is why we OPEN wide our door at midnight on New Year’s Eve to bang and make noise: because we are honoring Janus– we are honoring the Protector of Gates (Portals) and Doorways.
This is a tradition in our family, as is watching film versions of (Auntie) Mame and singing Mame songs because Auntie Mame is all about living in the moment, celebrating TODAY, and making the most of life. She is a version of Janus– a celebration of celebration and of gateways. She will be part of our NY’s tradition.
You know who else will be part of our NY’s tradition: Papa. I remember most vividly spending New Year’s Eves with your great grandfather, Papa. He and I would have shrimp and sparkling juice together, watch musicals, play kazoos, and bang pots and pans. You know how you got a kazoo and a harmonica from your Aunt Diane for Christmas? Well, her dad, your Great Papa, took me to a kazoo factory once! He was an old man but he celebrated his inner child through his interactions with his grandchildren. I was very fortunate to have a special relationship with him.
When we celebrated New Year’s Eve together, we were just like two kids playing. I think of him on New Year’s Eve, and about how, throughout my entire childhood and into my adulthood, he always kept the door open for me. The spirit of Janus was embodied in your Great Papa. He used to sit on his porch and greet his neighbors. In fact, whenever I pull up to 336 Teakwood Terrace, I still see him sitting on the bench on the porch in his white tee-shirt and shorts, looking friendly. He was a greeter. He would come to the door to greet you when you arrived and he would walk you out when you left– and he would always, always stand by the door, with the porch light on, until you were out of sight. He was living out the spirit of Janus by making his porch and doorway a place of welcome. I loved going to visit Nana and Papa, and I always knew I had a place there. Papa opened the door to me, whether it was 7 AM or 11 PM or 2 AM. If I needed a ride in the middle of the night from a friend’s house, he would put on his slippers and come get me. One time I had to come home from college for a weekend because I had an impacted wisdom tooth, and my parents were both in Florida– guess who took care of me? Your Papa and your Nana. They took me to get my stitches out, and they served me soft foods, and they were just the best because I could count on them. Even more than my own parents, at times. Especially Papa. He was my own personal nightwatchman, a light in the dark, a port waiting for my little granddaughter boat to arrive, and I think that’s how every Papa should be! But not everyone celebrates the spirit of Janus like your Great Papa. I miss him so much. My goal is to be like him. For you.
It will never be too late, and I will never be too cold or too old to celebrate with you, to be a kid with you, to protect you, to offer you shelter, or to hold up the light for you when you need to find your way in the dark. I may never be a papa, but I can be a Great Mama. Think of your portal as your light in the dark. I am always here and I will always be awake for you. I have my portal, and it is never the wrong time to call on me.
I bet these are your first portals. I first accessed a portal when I was a teen. You’re pre-teens, but you are special, so you get to have portals, and that’s that, and I get to decide it ’cause I’m your mum. Remember to always use your portals for family purposes, first and foremost.
I miss you so much. We enjoyed our time together over winter break, and made so many happy memories. I just loved having you with me wherever I went. It felt so good. Keep those Christmas memories in your mind and heart, where they belong.
That’s what I want you to think of when you hold our portal: that you have me with you. That’s what I think of when I see your names and your messages on mine.
2016 is over and 2017 is here. And I had the two of you to my left and right, in bed, when the clock struck midnight on January 1st. We were nestled together, sleeping, arm in arm, and I had a knot in my stomach and a terrible cough, but I like to think our guardian angel was watching over us. We had already toasted to the new year, banged our pots and pans, made noise with our noisemakers, and had lots of kisses and hugs, so all that was left for us was to snuggle by the nightlight in your Aunt Missy and Uncle Brian’s guest room and breathe together as one little family, getting ready to take another big trip.
I tell myself it’s like you’re at boarding school. Or like I’m going overseas to serve in the military. I try to think of those things to make it hurt less to be apart from you, but it doesn’t work because being apart from the ones you love is never easy.
I remember when I sat next to your great great Grandma Walsh, before moving from Buffalo to Macomb in 2005, and told her that we would be moving. It was terribly sad. She was in her mid-nineties. I was still having dinner with her regularly and seeing her every week. I will never forget this little moment, sitting with her on Grandma Mel’s couch, when I could see how sad she was that I was moving. Because it would mean I would only see her, one of the people I loved and adored most, once or twice a year. I remember the sinking feeling I had when I said goodbye to her.
I had the same sinking feeling when my sister and I hugged and cried in the Chasewood kitchen, after she handed me a CD she made me as a way of sending me off to Illinois with something to keep us connected. It was the portal she made for me to keep us together. I remember how she cried, and it was then, deep in my secret heart, that I regretted my decision to encourage your Momma Si to take the job in Macomb, but the moving truck was already filled and I had made my decision, and I was prepared to see it through. I never stopped feeling sad about or missing my great grandmother or my sister. Never. In order to survive being separated from those I love, I would tell myself that we would be together again. I asked your Momma Si to please move back to Buffalo with me when she retired, and then I would just hang on her retirement for dear life, as if it was the key to my future: the time when I could return to my family. Of course, I wanted your Momma Si to be in Buffalo, too. As the years passed, I felt like I wasn’t really making any progress toward my goal. I told my family it would be about “about eight years,” and I think I said that to them for about ten years. The number of years never seemed to decrease.
It’s kind of tragic, isn’t it, that I made it back but that I did so without the two members of my family who matter to me more than anything: you. My return (not to be called a homecoming until we’re all together) was not a victory, in any way, or at least it didn’t feel like it. It felt like defeat. I guess it still does. What I tell people now is that “No person would make the decision I made unless she was in a bad place.” That’s not exactly how I put it. Maybe more like, “in order for someone to survive this situation, she has to have been in a worse one.” I know it’s hard for you to understand but living alone, without you living with me, in Macomb meant that I had lost all of my familial support: your Momma Si, you, and all the people I had long ago left behind in New York. No one was there. Well, that’s not true. That’s just how it felt. It felt like I was floundering and would always be floundering if I stayed. To me, staying in Macomb meant that I had NO FUTURE, and having a future to work toward is something I need in life. I cannot survive without hope. And so I did what I had to do for there to be a future for us.
And I am here. And you are there. But we are more together than ever because you know how much I want you with me and because you know that I am now in a position to have hope. I have hope for our future. I don’t know how it will work out, but I believe our future is bright, and I have hope again– a hope I never had in Macomb… NOT because of you, but because I did not feel we had a future there. It felt like a place to go to retire and die– not to live, and I want to live. I want to live forever and ever. I love life and I love you, and I will always do my very best to put our future first. I believe your future is not in Macomb. That is my belief. I am not in control of your future, but I have to honor what is true to me: which is that I want you live a life filled with possibilities for whatever it is that make up your hopes and dreams.
Speaking of hopes and dreams, in celebration of the NEW YEAR, here the most essential ones of mine:
* To be with my WHOLE family, in spirit and in body.
* To have my little angels live long and happy lives.
* To have my little angels be baptized and believe in a higher power.
* To be able to come inside your house and/or to be able to stay with you at your (Momma Si’s) house when I visit instead of having to stay in a hotel or at a friend’s house.
* For peace and forgiveness, and a feeling of lasting connection, between your Momma Si and me.
* For your Momma Si to live a long, healthy, happy life, and for her to share a loving committed relationship with the wonderful person of her choosing.
* For me, your Mummy, to live a long, healthy, happy life– and a loving committed relationship with the wonderful one I choose.
* For there to be a higher power, and for that higher power to intervene to work good in this world, to make right all the wrongs in it, and to promote justice and truth.
* For the proliferation of wisdom, peace, love, and kindness in the world. And for the success of those whose righteous anger leads them to do good in the world.
Those are big wishes and hopes, especially with all the little wishes and hopes that stem from and accompany them, but they are part of who I am, so I think you should know about them.
As for our 2017 Squad Goals, we’re just aiming
- To spend as much time together, in spirit or person, as possible.
- To show and tell each other we love each other a lot.
- To try to brighten up the lives of others by being little beacons in our corners of the world.
- To always look ahead and keep our eyes on the horizon of hope.
- To do little acts of kindness for each other and others.
- To take care of ourselves and foster joy in our lives.
- To be even more honest, if it’s at all possible.
- To be good to our family members, and make sure they know how much we value them (like, for instance, being a supportive and good aunt and cousin and sister).
- To try new things and keep nurturing our imaginations.
- To write to each other and to read together (PLEASE–!).
We don’t know what 2017 will bring, but we’re in this new year together. So far, a few days in, it’s been pretty good. I have seen the two of you smiling and laughing, and I have been busy having adventures with my new job working as a substitute teacher and teaching assistant at Futures Academy in Buffalo. It’s so much fun for me to tell you about the things that happen at school, and to see and hear you laugh about my tales. It’s NOT easy but I really like what I’m doing– it’s active and it’s adventurous.
Be so grateful that you attend a school at which (most of the time) the behavioral issues of others do not significantly prevent you from learning. You are privileged and fortunate, indeed, little ones.
Happy New Year, once again. And don’t forget to:
Open a new window, every day, my braver-than-braves!
Hang in there; Spring will soon be upon us!
P.S. I wanted to share with you one of my favorite songs of all time (since I was a little girl of five), sung by one of my favorite fictional characters, Auntie Mame. The words meant so much to me then, and more than ever to me now.
Open a new window
Open a new door
Travel a new high way
That’s never been tried before
Whenever they say you’re slightly unconventional
Just put your thumb
Up to your nose
And show ’em how to
Dance to a new rhythm
Whistle a new song
Toast to a new vintage
The fizz doesn’t fizz too long
There’s only one way
To make the bubbles stay
Simply travel a new high way
Dance to a new rhythm
Whistle a new love song
Toast to a new vintage
Open a new window