November 27, 2008

The concert in Hamilton ended early, the bar was crowded and the group I was with were loud and boisterous. I was tired after a long week but hoped to grab a bite with a friend I’d met a few weeks earlier. I knew my friends liked him and I suggested he join us, but he was cold, distracted and didn’t seem to want anything to do with us. I stood for a moment wondering why I had thought of him as a friend when he obviously didn’t feel the same way. I’m usually a pretty good judge of character. My friends are interesting people, weird in their different ways, but all pretty grounded. I consider myself lucky to have them. Something about this person made me connect with him, we had talked about real things that matter in life. I had thought that his and my husband’s interest in music might blossom into a friendship between them as well. I couldn’t believe that I was so mistaken. I’m not sure why I think that sharing a good conversation with someone automatically makes them my friend. Maybe it is arrogant of me to assume this. After my encounter I didn’t feel like socializing and decided to drive home. The parking lot across from the bar was deserted. It was a foggy night and I got into my car and sat warming it up when the sudden flick of a cigarette lighter in the seat beside me brought my father to life. He looked young, the way he had on our farm when I was a child. “Why so sad, Sarah?” “I haven’t seen you in a while, Dad, what brings you around?” He took a drag from his cigarette, unrolled the window a crack and smiled. “Your need to talk. Now, why the hell are you sitting in the middle of a parking lot in Hamilton of all places?” “I came here to see a musician named Fred Eaglesmith. Kevin Somers got me on to him.” “Kevin Somers? How is he doing? That boy has real talent. He’s still writing for you isn’t he?” “Yes he’s still writing for us. As a matter of fact I’ve got him doing our art column. I think he plans to write about the musician we saw tonight.” He thought for a moment. “How is the newspaper doing, Sarah?” “It’s doing quite well. We’re expanding to Vancouver next month.” His eyes filled with delight and pride. “Vancouver! That’s wonderful. This puts The Women’s Post into the national arena. You’re going to be up against some big players.” The sound of a siren in the distance accentuated the silence around us. “Dad, sometimes I wonder what it’s all for. It’s been so busy lately, one minute I’m talking with bankers and the next I’m flying to Montreal to meet the president of Acme Corp. I haven’t had much time to sit down and write or think. But, just when I feel like I’m caught up in a whirlwind of people who all seem to want something from me, I find myself meeting someone who is open-minded, young at heart and cares about the world around them. We click and we talk and ideas start flowing. I feel like I could stay and talk forever and I think they feel the same way. I leave the meeting thinking that to have met someone like that makes it all worthwhile.” My father looked at me for a long time then nodded. “Yes, that does add a lot of meaning to your life.” He gazed out at the fog rolling across the parking lot. “But remember what matters most isn’t just the people you bring into your life but how you enhance their lives.” “I know, but sometimes it isn’t always easy to know how to do that.” “Who ever said life was easy? What you have is your passion, your integrity and your vitality. They are part of you. Give them freely without imposing them and don’t get caught up waiting to see the results. You have hope, which is the driving force behind change. Without hope we wouldn’t have built the great cathedrals and we might still be living in the dark ages. Without hope the future will always look bleak. The hope in you is something you pass on to everyone you meet whether you realise it or not.” “I think my hope is low tonight. It’s December. Did you know that December has the most suicides of the year? Do you remember when I dated that undertaker? We spent the week before Christmas driving from one garage to another. God, that’s a memory I wish I didn’t have. The garage door wide open with the body fallen half out of the car, left right where their family found them. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the friend who called me the night he took his life. I looked into the crowd tonight for his face. He killed himself here in Hamilton, four years ago. I know I’m not to blame but I wish I’d made time to talk to him that night. I was too busy with work to give him my time. I wish I had told him that no matter what happens, life will change, that change is the one thing you can always count on. I wish I’d given him some of my hope.” “But Sarah, you can’t honestly think you could have helped him? I remember him, you and your brother used to bring him by the house when you were teenagers. He was on all sorts of medication for depression even then.” “Yes. I know. But I’ll always wonder. If I had given him more time when he called, if I’d stopped my work and had a long talk with him, might I have changed his future?” “That you’ll never know.” A car with a loose muffler came up fast along the road beside the parking lot. “I’ve always wondered why I’m drawn to certain people or they are drawn to me. I think maybe it’s the hope that draws us together. Do you think hope has a way of pulling people together Dad?” As I turned my gaze away from the road in front of me I realised that my father was gone. I stared into the fog and could just make out a dark patch that slowly folded in on itself. I rolled up the passenger window and put the car in gear. The fog was lifting and my hope was back. I headed home to Toronto singing a tune I’d heard earlier in the evening, “pick up half a rainbow, throw it over your shoulder, find another rainbow to hook up to, that’s what you’re supposed to do…”


Write A Comment