Parents: Marion Dorothy Joan Cleveland, 1930 April 17 to 2005 mid-March (age 74)
Gordon Murdoch Guild, 1930 April 09 to 1988 January 10 (age 56)
This is the only poem Mom
ever wrote, in spring of 1978,
as she stood by me through a lovelorn time. She'd never before
felt impelled by the poetic force or succumbed to its power as the words spilled forth, almost writing themselves. She later asked that
"my love child" be changed to "my heart child" - a term her mom had used for the child a mother feels closest to, though she loves each one totally and best.
With Dad, I
learned early that if
I sat still and quiet with
him, he'd hold me for hours. I
'gestated' this way far longer with
him than with Mom, listening to his
heart beat, snug in his warmth. As I
grew older and did this less and less, he
gave me something equally valuable from
across a room. He'd look up at me, wink, and
say, "You're alright, kid."
Mom was ever full of concerns about her kids' imper-
fections and troubles, be they real, perceived, or potential.
She saw nuances and complexities. She was full of stories, her
own and others, as they were lived. She made nothing up, but she also played nothing down. Dad was simpler. He took life much more at face value, as it happened. Over time, he'd just wink at me, without saying a word. I knew what it meant, and it put all the wind I needed beneath my wings to stay aloft, come what may.
This head kerchief was the
first gift Dad gave Mom, when he was 16,
she 17. When walking together on the main street of Jasper, she saw
it in the gift shop of Mr. Taylor, also the town's photographer.
She said she liked it; Dad bought it for her, to her delight.
The photograph is a faked wedding shot, taken in Nov-
ember of 1950, eight months after Mom was forced
to give up my brother for adoption. If they were
married, there was some hope they could get
him back, but they were still underage,
unable to wed without all four parents'
permission. In Edmonton, they dress-
ed up as bride and groom, got a
photo taken, and said they
were married. They felt
they truly were. Their
parents' bought it.
The court never
I encouraged Mom to write
her and Dad's great story in 1997, when she was struggling through a
particularly hard time to find good
health and relative contentment, working against deep doubts
that she ever would. I thought she might get some spirit
back by remembering how she'd triumphed over all
odds to keep her family intact. She wrote "Our
Son Will" (click her handwriting below to read
it), and she said she enjoyed doing it. I'd
hoped that she'd write more of her life.
She didn't. This one telling was it.