If That's Life, I Guess I've Had It

I wrote this about my Dad, so long ago I had forgotten about it. Originally published to BackWash.com on May 28, 2004 and written when my Dad died.

My Dad would sometimes say, “If that’s supper, I guess I’ve had it.” This past week after his death that phrase has caught in my mind only I’ve adapted it to, “If that’s life, I guess I’ve had it.”

My Dad was 71 years old when he died. He was born in South Shields, Scotland in 1932. He had one sister who also came to Canada (the whole family did when he was in university). My Dad was an electrical engineer though he didn’t have the actual engineer stamp due to not finishing that last year of university. He could have many times over, but he chose not to bother. He chose not to bother about a lot of things.

Anyway, he married my Mother in 1964. They lived in farm houses and city apartments for awhile, back and forth until one run down farm in a town called Kincardine where my sister was born. She was the third of four kids. We moved back to the city from there cause the farm house had no running water and my brother and I were having asthma problems with the country lifestyle. Two more moves and we ended up in The Rouge. It was the town of Port Union then, later it became part of Scarborough and thus part of Toronto. When someone asks where I grew up I think of The Rouge. It was a very white middle class place. Nice though a bit sheltered.

Dad always loved jersey cows. He kept buying the Jersey Breeder magazine long after we had seen our last farm house. While I was growing up in The Rouge he was daydreaming about a jersey farm. He made lots of plans on paper and now and then we had family trips into the middle of nowhere Ontario to look at a farm he could buy. By that time Mom was pretty much prepared to veto them all. No more run down farm houses, no more him expecting her to run a farm and cows while he worked in the city and came back on weekends to supervise.

Dad liked to sing and whistle while he worked. Often the same old songs about ‘stay home and mind baby brown eyed girl, captain brown being down amongst the dead men and tally my bananas day o’. I’m not even sure what the names of the songs are. But I’ve heard them over and over all my life.

We started looking through his things, picking what to keep, what to display at the service and what to toss. There is a lot to toss. He wore his clothes till they were worn out, he was no fashion plate though he liked to think he looked good. Sometimes he did. Among his things I noticed an old program from a theatre performance of ‘Man of La Mancha” that he went to with my sister and myself a very long time ago. I was surprised to see that. Also one Father’s Day card from all the cards I had ever given him. Usually he left them sitting right where he had opened them and let Mom eventually toss them into the garbage. I put away the one card that he kept. There were also more pins and badges from the local Lions clubs that he had yet given to me to sew onto his Lions vest. Between my Mom and I we had kept them sewn on for him for the past ten or so years. He also had pictures of golf games and events with business associates and sometimes my brother or his current son-in-law too.

He had his first small heart attack while we lived in The Rouge. After that they came more frequently, over time, slowly. He ignored them. Even though his own Dad had died at age 65 from a heart attack which he ignored until he died in the hospital that same night. That just proves you can’t help people who will not help themselves.

I remember being in the hospital up here in Alliston with my Dad just a few days before they took him down to Newmarket for the quadruple by-pass operation. He wasn’t sure about having the surgery and I can see now that he was afraid. That makes me feel very sorry for him. But, I don’t see how we could have done differently at that point. It was likely already too late. Anyway, he had a very bad heart attack right before the surgery but they went ahead at that point cause he would have died anyway I guess. Either then or the next attack. Surgery seemed to at least give him a chance to survive. He did pull through for two more days and seemed to be feeling pretty ok for someone who has just had his chest opened and adjusted. But two days after the surgery he didn’t wake up. He was in ICU and stayed there. Being worked on, his body kept functioning with life support. The hospital staff seemed to think his chances were not too bad at that point. But he never got better and last Saturday, the very day they were going to pull the plug he died himself sometime before 6:00 AM.

Maybe it’s having the distance of time and now death, but I do feel less angry about him and things he did and said. In the end it doesn’t matter. It’s up to me to get on with my own life. On Monday we are having the memorial service. Mom is bugging me about what I will wear. I am not looking forward to having to make chit chat with people who think they knew him. Cause they didn’t really know him. Dad liked to make a show of his life. He was always Mr BigShot and we were holding him back, picking on him and making things difficult in general. He would tell his business associates, the local Lions club which he joined and others all about us, as he chose to see us. So, no, I’m not looking forward to two hours of hearing about what a good guy he was. But the service is for them I think. For me, I don’t care. He is dead and it’s over.

Right now beside me I have an old rolodex of his business cards which I’m sorting through for valid names to add to the guest list. If he could be there for the memorial he would be happy with the show put on for him, because of him. His due I expect he would think. For me it’s just something else I have to do. I wonder if I will think of him much after the wind down of everything. It seems as if we’ve been expecting and waiting to put on this last show since we were kids and here it finally is. Now we can do the show and put it into the past and leave it there. All the build up and the suspense will be gone. Just like Ian N. Brown himself.

Little Red Riding Hood Song

Little Red Riding Hood – Originally by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

Who’s that I see walking in these woods?
Why it’s Little Red Riding Hood.

Hey there Little Red Riding Hood.
You sure are lookin’ good,
You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.

Listen to me!
Little Red Riding Hood,
I don’t think little big girls should.
Go walking’ in these spooky old woods alone.

What big eyes you have,
The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad.
So just to see that you don’t get chased,
I think I ought to walk with you for a way.
What full lips you have.
They’re sure to lure someone bad.
So until you get to Gramma’s place,
I think you ought to walk with me and be safe.

I’m gonna keep my sheep suit on,
‘Til I’m sure you’ve been shown,
That I cam be trusted walkin’ with you alone. (Howl!)

Little Red Riding Hood,
I’d like to hold you if I could.
But you might think I’m a big bad wolf, so I won’t.

What a big heart I have,
The Better to love you with.
Little Red Riding Hood,
Even big bad wolves can be good.
I’ll try to keep satisfied,
Just to walk by you’re side.
Maybe you’ll see things my way,
Before we get to Gramma’s place.

Hey there Little Red Riding Hood.
You sure are lookin’ good,
You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.
Little Red Riding Hood.
You sure are lookin’ good,
You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.
Little Red Riding Hood.
You sure are lookin’ good,
You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.

Are You Sure You’re Pagan?

dark pentacleIs your Faith Misplaced?

One thing I seldom see in Pagan writing are posts about world news and current events from a Pagan perspective. (Unless the events actually relate directly to religion/ Paganism).

I also don’t see people talking about taking comfort in Paganism or Wicca or Witchcraft the way some other religions do. Is our religion a fair weather friend? Something we take out when we intend to, or want to, but other times it’s just not there.

These are the things I’ve been thinking about lately.

When you have a personal tragedy, do you turn to your Pagan beliefs for comfort?

I’ve seen people talk on and on about what they believe, defend it, teach it and promote it. But, is it still so personal to you that you could turn to your beliefs when you really do need something to believe in – not for a cause but for your own heart? You might perform a ritual because it’s the thing to do. But, is your heart really in it? Is this giving you real comfort? Or are you just doing what’s expected of you as a Pagan/ Wiccan/ Witch?

When did you last think of something in the news from a Pagan perspective? I don’t mean news about anything religious. When did you hear the news from the perspective of being Pagan and think to write about how this made you feel, as a Pagan?

Not all news is relevant to being a Pagan, yet, if you are a Pagan shouldn’t you see the news from the perspective of your beliefs rather than adding them in later?

Do you wear Pagan jewelry, collect Pagan tools and magical items? Does each one have real meaning to you or are they just part of your collection? Do you wear black because that’s what Witches do or because you actually like wearing black?

When you ‘Go Green’, do you stop and think about how you are helping the Earth or do you just recycle because that’s the right/ popular thing to do?

If you work with spells are you really taking into account “Harm’s none”? Or do you just like creating a spell because it makes you Pagan and special. Are you a Witch because spellcraft makes you feel special and important?

When someone talks about Pagans in a negative way do you need to spring up and rush to counter them? Why? It’s not for us to convert anyone and you are more likely to change their mind from your actions, not your words.

Do your Pagan beliefs reach right down to your soul? Are you satisfied with what you believe will happen when you die? Not about being gone and death itself, few would be satisfied to leave life. But, do you get comfort from the beliefs you have about what happens to your soul after your body dies?

Is being Pagan a fair weather friend for you or is it in everything you do and feel and believe? There’s no rule that says it has to be. Being Pagan is about making your own choices and decisions, finding your own values and ideals. Have you taken that to heart or are you following the popular path without really accepting it on that deep, personal level?

After reading this are you going to leave me a comment to prove how Pagan, Wiccan or Witch you are? Are you already listing your Pagan credentials, ready to type them all out? Stop and think about why you need to prove how Pagan you are.

Could you be Pagan and not tell anyone, ever? Could you be Pagan and not need to prove it to anyone?

Being Pagan, Wiccan or a Witch is a choice of religion, spirituality, beliefs and faith. Do you have faith in your choice?

Have you looked at enough of the other options? There are endless choices inside of Paganism itself. Find the one that really speaks to you, the one that reaches your heart and soul, the one you want to live and grow with. Don’t settle too easily for what looks shiny and new or popular.

Where the Wild Things Are: Teaching Pagan Ideas to Kids

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, February, 20, 2003.

What do you do with Pagan kids?

I think kids are too young to get started on the more serious side of being Pagan. Partly because they are too uninformed to make the decision to be Pagan versus something else. Also, calling themselves Pagan could become a problem with other members of the family or kids/ teachers at school. Most people don’t understand Paganism and thus they don’t trust it. Kids are a bit too defenseless in that situation.

That doesn’t mean kids can’t be Pagan too. Calling yourself Pagan is not being Pagan. What is being Pagan about, at it’s heart? To me it’s nature, the Earth, life, history, science, traditions and environmentalism. Is there any reason kids can’t be involved in those things, of course not. Kids just love to talk about the supernatural too, few kids don’t enough the spooky element of Halloween. You can add the facts about ghosts, Witches and such to their ghost stories.

Teach kids to appreciate nature, take them on walks outdoors, show them how to recycle and make it a priority to learn about history and science. Involve them in your rituals. Take them on a nature walk to gather leaves, stones, etc. Let them know what your altar is for, don’t make it a big mystery, but don’t make it sound too “weird” either. Get them started writing a journal, they don’t have to know it’s a Book of Shadows. Spend time with them, that’s the most important thing for any kids, Pagan or otherwise. Remember, they learn from you. What you do is what they see and what they believe.

You can introduce kids to the Wiccan Rede, the basic ideas behind Paganism and what you believe about Gods, Goddesses, life and death. But, make sure they understand not everyone shares your same beliefs. For one thing you want them to make their own decision about being Pagan. For another you don’t want them to be confused when they discover people who disagree with Pagan ideas.

Kids haven’t lived enough to have a deeper understanding and they don’t know how to protect themselves from those who think Pagans are evil, devil worshipping types. That’s the main reason I think I would just let kids see the heart of Paganism and introduce them to the body later. Likely, they will have had a life of living like a Pagan and it will be a very smooth transition to become Pagan officially.