Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Power of Nuance

I was at a birthday party today and I'd been thinking about nuance and how it's all in the observation of others that we pick up on the small things, the little examples of bravery or surprise. And how memories are triggered. It was a surprise party and the "surprisee", my BFF here in Newfoundland, was genuinely surprised, shocked really, when the whole community came out and offered up food and presents and cards and love. It was a very big deal to organize it, all done on FB with her name not included in the closed list.

There was an old mate there who was back on the bottle. He passed behind me five times and each time said: "I love your hair, I have to touch your hair!" I am badly in need of a haircut (damn winter!) so it's gone a bit flowy down the back. I thought, knowing drunks as well as I do, just keep thanking him, get irritated and he'll go all shirty and debate your hair and/or your attitude with you, so that's what I did. World War 3 avoided, all dignity preserved.

There's this priest I'm quite fond of. He's out of Donegal and pushing 80. And he sang this song about a 60 year old lap dancer: "Who had to do it for a living, husband dead you see, and with money shoved down her pants, a happy gal was she." And many more verses in that vein. Off key, if there ever was one to begin with. I've given you the most printable verse. I watched my fellow partiers as he sang it. 50-50 between the thigh slappers and the utterly appalled.

Joan couldn't sing today, she's normally on keyboard and has a great voice and huge repertoire. Her husband who plays guitar and accordion with her sang with two others, one a blind from birth woman. Joan's had terrible surgery and I sat with her for a while and she lifted up her top and showed me her bags which were tied to her body. She explained how they were applied with glue and tapes and caused terrible allergies, a rash all around them. I surprised myself by not feeling nauseous. All I felt was enormous compassion and I was so very glad she felt she could show me. It must be an overwhelming urge for some to share the degradation and horror of one's cancer. I hugged her and told her about D**** my close friend who died this past August of the same thing. Joan said she wanted to hang on till March when her first grandchild is expected. I do hope she makes it.

There was some dancing, some more singing. I harmonized for a while with "Sloop John B" which brought me back in time when I taught my mother the words and melody to it as we sat in the ferry going to Cape Clear for the day and we sang it in counterpoint, laughing for the perfect sunshiny day that was in it, the slap of the ocean on the sides of the ferry, the water sparkling around us. No, not the Beach Boys' version but The Weavers. Mum and I loved The Weavers.

22 comments:

  1. You've certainly picked up on some nuances and other things with this post. I am sorry you are losing yet another friend...The music in this post reminds me of times my mother would sing along to the radio in the house or car when I was a little girl...

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    1. More of an acquaintance than a friend, E, I didn't think she'd remember me as I am mainly spectator at her performances but she greeted me by name and put her hands out to pull me down beside her.

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  2. you are simply one of the best bloggers and I check you every morning. most people have given up or run out of things to say. I think you could write a book about life in Newfoundland. I relate to your stories especially from having lived in Ireland in the 70's. Before the Celtic Tiger was even thought of.

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    1. Thank you so much Sharyn, you made my day. I will send you the piece on my emigration from there when it's ready!
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  3. I have patients sometimes who show me their healing surgical scars and so on. I have that same wave of compassion even though it's not something I like to see.

    Also, I'd have been in the appalled camp with that song. That's awful.

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    1. Yes, SAW, it was truly awful and demeaning and really and truly I thought to myself: This is exactly the reflection of how the RCs view women.

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  4. Like most parties, I think, a mixed experience ... but better than no parties at all. I remember the Kingston Trio version of the song ... and a great song it is.

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    1. I love the motion and rhythm of the song, Tom, it always gets me in a good mood if I'm a wee bit down.

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  5. Perhaps some of your Irish Chili sauce would clear this clogged head of mine!

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    1. It's not hot, that's the thing E, the basic flavour is clovey, no chili peppers in it at all :)

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  6. No parties here by the woods.
    Guess I am a loner :)
    So sorry about your friend.

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    1. I had to travel to the party Ernestine - one community over, slick snow covered hills and dales. A lot of drifting snow.
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  7. You Newfoundlanders-by-choice are a bright bunch. Even the priest seems to have cracked the secret. I love it when things turn out right, bad taste included.

    You telling your operated on friend about the death of your other friend shook me a little. Honestly, I read the sentence and shivered. Hope she makes it for a while yet.

    Sang along to the Weavers - at midnight! Quietly.

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    1. No Friko - you got that wrong, I never mentioned death to her at all. I just compared the bags to my friend's - my friend could afford the really expensive ones not covered by health care, Joan had not much of a budget though the community raised $7,000 for her. I find the generosity of my chosen world overwhelming.
      Oh lawdie, no mention of death at all :)

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  8. I once had a priest friend like that, or sounds similar. Before I started looking at them all askance.
    The Weavers were the prototype, eh? Many of the following groups were pale imitations, though I do like the Beach Boy's version.

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    1. SFM - I do love the BB's version too, always loved their harmonies. Ah The Weavers, they broke the mould. Mum and I never got tired of singing "Goodnight Irene" either LOL

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  9. You really look after each other and try to keep up the good cheer there. Admirable!

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    1. It's an extraordinary world, Hattie, hard to believe such places exist. I've never known such kindness anywhere else. And also a complete lack of self-consciousness.

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  10. Not sure how I'd react to a surprise party. I think I'd be pretty shocked too. But after recovering from the shock, I think I'd be dead chuffed at how many people obviously liked me and appreciated me. People don't always show their affection so visibly.

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    1. I said to my friend S, the surprisee, gosh this is so much better than your funeral, you get to see how cherished and adored you are! It was a marvellous afternoon in spite of the Holy One.

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  11. Sad about your old mate slipping. My own choice of singers for Sloop John B would be the Kingston Trio. Their Tom Dooley was another favourite too.

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  12. I loved Tom Dooley Ramana. What a huge hit that was. Do you remember Goodnight Irene?
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