...with love all things are possible

Believe ...

Believe ...

Monday, 25 December 2017

Monsieur Pierrot Grimauld

Monsieur Pierrot Grimauld gazes at his precious painting, which hangs opposite him in the dining room.  The richness of the deep greens and browns draw his eye in, every time he looks up.  He misses that place so much that he finds himself close to tears every time. Shifting in his seat, he pulls out his spotless but worn out handkerchief and mops his brow.
“You would think, my dear, I would be used to these temperatures by now, wouldn’t you?  But no.  The constitution of poor old Pierrot Grimauld continues to be one which abhors the heat, non?”
The painting hangs on his every word.
“Ahh,” he waggles a finger at it, “I should get rid of you!  Rid, rid of you.  What do you say?” he cocks his head and waits. “Nothing to say? Nothing? Well, we’ll just have to wait then, won’t we?
Pushing himself up from the table, he takes his plate and glass to the sink. “Hello sponge, did you miss me?  Haven’t seen you since breakfast.  Breakfast, eh, can you believe it?  That’s a long time ago, almost four whole hours! Are you well?” he scrubs the front and back of the plate, which had only held a few dates and a slice of bread and cheese.
The sponge flops out of his hand.
“Look here now!” he picks it up and gives it a tremendous squeeze so all the excess water runs out, “I have no time for complaints. Scrubbing is your job, and I can’t have you slacking, see?  No slacking, do you hear me?” Another great squeeze.
After drying the plate and glass, he sets them on the narrow shelf above the sink, wipes his hands and hangs the dishcloth neatly over the back of the chair.
“It is time to go, isn’t it?” In three short steps, he’s at his bedside. “There you are,” he says pulling the thin, dark cover off his sleeping palette and wrapping it around his head and shoulders, “No lying about for you, my friend, see?  There’s work to be done.  Yes, work I say, understand?” taking a careful look in the mirror, he adjusts the shroud so it covers enough of his face and goatee, to where he won’t be recognizable. Then he nods. The scar across his neck is also well hidden.
Two steps to the door, where, out of habit, he turns to survey the room. Everything is as it should be, nothing out of place, nothing incriminating.  Like the reflection in the mirror, no one would suspect it’s his.  With a small grunt, he opens and closes his door, slipping through it as fast as a blink.
Once in the narrow alley, he lets himself get swallowed up by the throng of merchants and market-goers, becoming one of them in an instant.  The change in his carriage and gait is remarkable as he blends in, like a human chameleon. 
“Good morning,” he bobs his head and points two fingers to the thick-skinned melons. He is careful to keep his hands well covered with the tassels of the shroud. He refuses to speak too many words, as his Qatabese is not as good as it should be to pass off as a local, although his skin and eyes are dark enough.
The merchant gives him one, with a tiny shake of his head.  Grimauld nods, and hands over two coins. Not waiting for change, he walks off, melting into the throng once more. Twice around the market place, then once across the center of it, and with practiced ease, slopes off into another darkened alley.
You have become the master of deceit, haven’t you, Pierrot? He chuckles to himself without a sound. 
Deeper and deeper into the alley he goes. It’s like a rabbit warren down here, scores of little homes and hovels all pressed together like toes into tight shoes. But he never stops. Zigzagging, he steps over sleeping dogs and stinking debris, walks up crooked steps and down steep inclines with no steps.  At one point, and without pausing, he ducks under a low archway and comes to a stop before a dilapidated wooden door. The door is protected by a once-ornate iron gate, which is now covered in rust.
He knocks three times.  Pauses. Then knocks four more times.  On the last knock, he grazes his knuckles down between the bars of the gate, making a low rumbling sound across the worn and chipped wood. Then he steps back.
He waits about five minutes.  He’s not upset.  He doesn’t knock again, but instead, hums a little ditty in the back of his throat, wiping sweat off his brow every minute or so.
“Did you bring it?” a disembodied voice floats down from behind him. 
He knows it comes from a crack in the tiny peep window by the door, but he doesn’t look up nor turn toward the door. “I did,” he replies staring at his feet.
“Pass it through, then,” snaps the woman.
“No. I need to speak to her first, understand?”
“No speaking.  Not today. Pass it through.”
“No,” Grimauld growls.
It’s a standoff.  He knows she needs it yet he also knows how obtuse this woman can be.  He won’t give in. Neither will she.
From deep inside the dwelling, he hears a muffled exchange. One of them is hers! Still he doesn’t budge.  Doesn’t even gesture the fact that he’s heard her.
“Pierrot…” the whisper is faint but so recognizable, “C’est toi?”
“Oui.” He nods without turning.  He knows he must not look, but, oh, he is so tempted. “How are you?  You are well?”
“Do you need anything?”
“Are they treating you well?”
For a moment he is lost in the memories, like flashing pictures in the back of his mind; pictures of another time, of another place where Elise ran wild in the never-ending green gardens — the gardens of that painting — chasing butterflies, and playing badminton or croquet. Elise sitting in a regal room, robed from head to toe in sparkling jewels and fine silks, surrounded by ageless finery and at her feet on a little ottoman, a small, chubby boy — her shadow — staring up at her.
“Pierrot…” her voice falters.
He shakes his head. No use getting stuck in the past, “Yes, yes – sorry I was day dreaming.
“Pierrot… Can you …”
But sibilant shushing cuts her short, and the woman demands, “Pass it through now.  You have spoken.”
With a sigh, Grimauld wipes his forehead one more time, folds his threadbare handkerchief and returns it to the pocket of his equally well-worn trousers before pushing himself up.  “Here it is,” and looking away from the window he passes up the melon, which just fits through the bars.

Monday, 4 September 2017


Well ... that was nothing.  Somehow lost my password and was never able to login again until today!

Let's see if I can get this blog back up and running.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Last day of school

Last day of school

“Don’t wish away your todays” my mother always used to say; and what sage advice that was.

Since Spring break I’ve heard so many people counting the days to reach THIS day, praying for fast days, yearning for their todays to become tomorrows that it made me stop and think of a …


Is this why it’s called a DASH?

How did it happen? When did it all start?
The idea of the race, haste, the dart?
On a day like today
A few decades ago
A test pilot built
A new stroller to go.

It was around 1965 that test pilot and aeronautical engineer, Owen Maclaren, poured all his expertise in speed and weightlessness into inventing the now-so-popular forward-facing stroller.  For his daughter he built and patented the umbrella-style folding buggy.

How did it happen?  Was it there it began?
No longer a stroll with their fashionable pram.
Baby & mommy
Both facing the world
No coo-coo or chitchat
Collapse it & go!

The theory was sound and all about making it easy to fold and carry; this lightweight contraption became an instant sensation.  No one thought about the possible consequences, disconnection, and fear imposed on the child.

How did it happen? Was this when it changed?
Disengagement while walking the name of the game?
Wait! Stop, now think!
At the same time as this
Came the in-house caregiver
Of color TV

Babies were rushed in their strollers, faster and faster they went, younger to school, and by 5 were seen graduating with caps and gowns.  At 5?  What happened to childhood?  What happened to play?

Stranger is danger
You must stay inside
Don’t play on the streets
And from this and that: hide.

We’re in a hurry to finish Elementary so we can rush into Middle School.  Can’t wait to get done, to race into High School.  Graduate quick, then straight into College.  Be done, get your papers, and get right into a job.

Seriously?  What happened to “stop and smell the roses?”

Rose are red, violets are blue
Bouquet in hand it’s soon “yes I do!”
Off to the honeymoon
Quick as you can
Then make some kids
And the cycle begins

Till we’re sitting in a chair, crippled perhaps by pain, age, or illness … or maybe – like me – reaching the grand old age of 55 !  … and wondering … where did those days go?  So busy, so often wishing away the hard moments, difficult days, so the DASH that was our lives was a blur.  A blur of things; a cacophony of sound; a disjointed travesty of unfinished, unenjoyed moments.

Could one man’s infatuation with speed have caused this extraordinary knock-on effect?

“Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10 – Be quiet and hear His still, small voice.  Be still and love this precious moment He’s given us with love.

In relation to eternity, our life is a dash, but perhaps we should try not to rush quite so much, after all, He made us HUMAN BEINGS not HUMAN DOINGS.

I’m sure you’ve hear this about living in the moment: The past is history - The future a mystery; Today is a gift - That’s why it’s The PRESENT.  So be still, won’t you please?  Try not to wish away your todays.

Relish the present,
Unwrap it with love
Don’t wish it away

It’s your gift from above

Monday, 12 January 2015

Always look on the bright side … but be prepared. Part I

Mum & Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary

Dad and Mum were married for 54 years.  Happily married.  Because, I believe, they made family, humor, and love the key ingredients to their secret recipe.
Stupidly, I don’t think I ever asked them any of the “W” questions about their marriage, and now it’s too late.  I can only extrapolate things as I look in hindsight.
Dad was always quiet and meticulous in his life.  From the moment he left his bed in the morning, to the moment he set his slippers – side-by-side – by his bed at night he was measured and tidy in everything he did.
Mum, on the other hand, was a bit like the blustery wind in spring, whooshing in and out, darting from here to there, chattering as she went, leaving a clear trail of where she’d been in her wake.  Dad would sigh and retreat to the perfect order of his study.
Yet he needed this side of Mum.  He needed a little “spring” in his life and to celebrate his joy, he would whistle about the house.  Mum would pause, a cheeky smile hooking her lips, “I love hearing him whistle; it means he’s happy.” Then off she’d go on her next mission.  Music was another ingredient in their shared life, only it was Dad who did most of the singing.
The routines in their life were, I’m sure, more for Dad than for Mum in those days.  He always rose at the same time; even years after he smashed his alarm clock the day after he retired, following the same order of events no matter whether it was Monday, Sunday, winter or other.  The smashing of the alarm clock was a vivid memory as it was something that didn’t go with the meticulous that was our father, but fitted perfectly with the naughty boy that was Brian; the prankster, the joke-teller and pudding-thief.
Then came a time when Dad determined he needed more dependability in his life, and so was born the Nuclear-Fallout Cabinet.  It was a very fancy name for a simple old upright cupboard with two drawers.  However, the contents were sacred; they were purchased by him and were accessible by him only.  He wanted the same brand, the same name, and the same manufacturer every time.  He had no desire to try anything different. “I want to know exactly what I’m going to taste when I put the first bite in my mouth,” he told me when at last I asked.  It was only later that I also realized they were all things he loved, that Mum didn’t like.

Baked Beans.
Tomato Soup.
Lentil soup.
And wine.  (Although this she liked.)

Later, shortly after he died, boxing up the contents of his study we discovered sub-stations of the Nuclear-Fallout all over his office.  Filled with bars of Cadbury’s chocolate.  
When we were kids, he would raid the cooking chocolate stash in the kitchen and eat the bar from back to the front, always careful to leave the paper wrapper looking intact.  Imagine Mum’s horror when she came to get chocolate for baking some mouth-watering dish.  Windows trembled and Dad played “dead” somewhere in fits of giggles as Mum went on the rampage looking for the chocolate thief.
Dad was science fiction while Mum was happily-ever-after romance.
He was steady while she was variable.
He liked kippers and she hated kippers.
Plans vs. spontaneity.
Yet, in all the years they were married, I don’t think I ever heard them have an argument.  If I heard them exchange a few tense words, it was maybe five times in all those years. 
Among the many things Mum was always good at, she was brilliant at finding a positive response to everything.  She would find the silver lining, the saving grace, the compliment in the disaster, the humor in the embarrassment, the gratitude in the moan.  Heck, I could go on and on.
We used to laugh (actually we still laugh when we remember) saying Mum could probably even find the positive in falling off a building, “at least I’d have my best undies on.” Bless.
So maybe what I’ve needed to share all along, is how important it is to us to stay positive as Mum goes through these last stages of Alzheimer’s.  Daddy knew she ill, and in his usual manner got most things under control and researched while keeping her Alzheimer's under wraps for a couple of years, protecting her to the best of his ability and keeping his promise made all those years before “... for better or for worse … in sickness and in health ... to love and to cherish ... until death do us part.”
He cherished her.  He loved her.  He did it all until the very last moments of his life. Actually, well beyond the span of his life, for he put many things together which still today keep Mum safe and protected. 
He did his homework in his methodical manner, reading and researching the disease and how to help his bride.  He included her in his crossword puzzle solving.  He didn’t “need” her help; he was the King of Crossword Puzzles.  But he’d read that solving puzzles was a good way to keep the brain stimulated.  He played games with her.  Watched films with her.  Kept unbreakable routines and took familiar routes every time. He made lists for her, took over the grocery shopping, encouraging her to shop locally rather than trekking out to the giant mega store a few miles from their home.
Fewer choices for early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is better.  They become easily flustered, and I know Dad read that, because a few years later as I took on the caretaker role, I read it too.
And laughter.  There had to be laughter.  So when Mum would get upset or fall into one of her typical sundowner depressions, he would find endless ways to lighten the mood, to cheer her up and make her smile.
I will never forget the last few months of their marriage, because I had the privilege of living with them.  Every morning Mum would come down to breakfast and join us in the dining room.  Dad and I would be there, the table laid, the tea made, the cereal out – everything prepared early by Dad so Mum wouldn’t suffer the public embarrassment of not remembering how to boil water, lay the table or find the cereal.  It’s the little things that go – a bit like a baby in reverse.  She would arrive and hug him with the joy of seeing someone who’d been away a lifetime.  Dad would squirm, but underneath I know his heart was overflowing with gratitude.  Then he’d tease her and send her packing to her side of the table with strict instructions not to move until she was done.  Another gentle prompt couched in loving-kindness.
Their love, you see, was shown not through force but through fascination with each other.  It was a love that had grown over decades dappled with sleepless nights, endless routines, joys and troubles.  A love that built solidly upon itself, which showed not told; maybe that’s why I never asked any of the “W” questions.
So today, we keep the humor going with Mum and between ourselves.  The four of us have become more organized in our planning and decision-making, because five years on from Dad’s death, it has been up to us to make those decisions for her.  With sorrow and humility, we took on the mantle of responsibility after Dad died in 2010 and we make sure we laugh as often as we can.  We laugh and we love, we share and we keep our family tight together.  We continue many of their traditions because they are inbuilt by those experts.
One thing we do a little differently, is that we talk openly about how we feel about all of this Alzheimer's.  We have chosen to wear positivity like a gentle shawl and while we make plans, we keep schedules flexible. We talk about the unhappy parts, the pain of losing Mum one-memory-at-a-time.  We talk about how much we miss Dad, who left all too quickly taken by his broken heart. We cry, together.

Dad saw Mum's end coming.  He’d read too much, he couldn’t bear the pain of watching this creepy crawly disease claim the bride of his life.  So in a classic Brian-move, he distracted us with “the handkerchief” and in a puff of white he was gone at dawn.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye, 2014

We visit Mum as soon as I arrive (Jack and I) – that is the purpose of my trip; to see as much of Mum as I can.  Somehow I feel it’s her last Christmas… she’s gone downhill so fast since I was here in September.
“We're pleased,” says Angela, as we walk in.  “She’s decided to feed herself again.”
“Mummy! I’ve missed you,” I hug her and snuggle close to kiss her cheek, the months apart melting away.
“Oh, my girlie, I’m so glad you’re here,” she whispers, still half asleep even though it’s ten in the morning.
“Hello, Mum,” Jack kisses her as well.
“Oh, my girlie, I’m so glad you’re here.”
I pull a little stool closer just as Janet trips and falls.  It happens so fast that I can’t even put out my hand to break her fall.  Guilt pours over me like an icy cloak.
People come running, cushions appear, phones materialize alongside privacy screens, all couched in words of care and concern.  Janet seems OK but they opt to leave her on the floor until the ambulance arrives.
Mum leans over, alert now, as are most of the residents.  But none of them move from their armchairs.  Jackie and I try to continue a conversation with Mum, but the excitement of the prostrate body far more interesting to her than the struggle of piecing together who we are and how we fit into this puzzle that’s her life.
When nothing further happens, Mum nods off again, but wakes to the commotion of the incoming paramedics.  He is tall, dark, and handsome; and his assistant short, white, and sweet.
Unabashedly, Mum stares at him, checking him up and down, “Ooooo, hello there, where did you come from?” she coos.  Jack and I burst out laughing. 
“Do you want some lipstick, Mum,” Jack asks.  (Old family joke.)
Mum is clearly mesmerized by this man and her eyes dart left and right.  “Now, what can I fall over, eh?” she mutters but soon falls asleep again, hatching her plan.
It seems a sensible moment to leave.

Next day, I come back with Dave and Jess and it’s a good day today.  Mum's sitting up, awake and alert in the dining room.  The pale winter sun streams in through the tall windows and plays hide and seek on the furniture.
Mum is smiling and making conversation.  Warm hands, brushed hair, she reaches out to touch each one of us.  David takes pictures and everything’s almost normal until Mum clutches her head, her face tightening into a frown, “It’s zizzling … zuzz …”  she whimpers, “in here,” pressing her temples.
I massage them, round and round, whispering words of endearment as I do, yet feeling totally inadequate.  What is it?  What’s going on?
Mum seems to feel soothed and shuts her eyes with a sigh and falls asleep.  Her face and hands have turned icy, so I wrap her in my soft two-tone shawl, knowing I won’t see it again, but glad at some silly level, that it matches her outfit. 
Did something happen?

The next day I return:

“Yes, she’s in there,” they say
And they point your way.
“Over there,” they wave to the room
Of two-dozen, great comfy chairs.
But you were sat in a chair
In a different place,
Not the tall Alice in Wonderland
Chair by the window,
Nor the squat plush one beside Pam,
Nor the one you were in yesterday,
And I can’t see you, Mum
I can’t see you. I miss you.

They say, “Mum’s right there, love,”
But I miss you,
I miss you.  I miss you.

Then, at last, I discover you,
Sleeping, shriveled and bent.
My eyes, my heart, and memory ache.
But with a deep breath I’m collected,
I must be collected, for I miss you,
And I can hardly bear that
I’ve missed you here too.

Your eyes flutter open,
When at last I caress the back of your hand.
It’s so chilled and still from sleep.
“Hello, Mumsie, darling,” I whisper,
Stroking your cheek now,
Holding your face in my hands.
“I’ve missed you.” I say.
“I’ve missed you.” You repeat,
but the words sound more like
“Bligh-ve mushh ooo.”
Your voice has dropped about two octaves,
since yesterday – just yesterday, the good day –
And no further coherent words emerge,
Though plenty are spoken.

I’ve waited thousands of minutes
To see you again, just to be with you
Again, and to hug you
Because I miss you,
And you miss me, here too, today.
Because all the while I stay, you sleep,
And sleep, and sleep.

Monday, 29 December 2014

The DragonWagon's Mum - Part 6

Christmas 2014

Tanya picked me up at the airport in Philly, when I flew in from London, heavy-hearted from a visit with my Mum in her last stages of Alzheimer's.  The swings and roundabouts of my emotional roller-coaster buffet me and I’ve realized it’s sometimes hard to keep an even keel.  I was so excited to see my daughter and her two boys, as well as the added bonus of having Christian come up for Christmas, that it felt disloyal to put away my leaden feelings.  I hope my children can forgive me if I sometimes snapped, if I sometimes wasn't quite myself this Christmas.

The DragonWagon had been squeezed into the Papi’s Mazda and had made the trip up to Philly with Papi and Christian, in case the DragonMaster changed his mind about where the journey might take him next. 

There may not have been flurries of snow in Philadelphia this year, but there were plenty of photo-flurries, laughter-gales, and game-storms at Tanya’s house, as the magic of Christmas touched us all.  As with so many precious moments, it was over all too quickly and suddenly it was time to pack up and leave.

Christian had decided to return to Ocala, to the same place he’d finished up at, so the already stuffed car somehow morphed to make room for one more passenger and a slew of Christmas presents.  The drive was tortuous down I-95 with traffic backups for miles and miles outside major cities and hubs, and 12 hours after leaving Philly we gratefully pulled into the Kerns’ beautiful lake-house in South Carolina, where Suzie and Scott spoiled us with all sorts of culinary delights, stories, and gorgeous beds to sleep in.

Another 12 hours driving south, finally brought us to Ocala, where after a quick supper of wings and celery (all other places closed that late on a Sunday night) we drove the DragonMaster to the designated spot.  My heart stopped.  We were in the gloomy half-light of a deserted parking lot behind a Winn Dixie.

As we pulled in, Christian pointed to the thick woods behind, “In there, Mum, that’s where I was.  That’s where I’ll sleep tonight too.”  I swallowed hard.  Wow.  This is what he really does. I hadn’t realized how truly disconnected I’d been, romanticizing this trip in my head and through his blogs.  Now I was in the middle of it, albeit momentarily, and I couldn't stop my heart from lurching.  Stoppit already!  Get a grip.

I’ve learned that when you love someone unconditionally, you have to let them go.  You have to willingly open up both hands with your palms upwards and allow them to fly away. You can’t make anyone stay and love you.  Shoot.  That doesn’t make it any easier.  Watching all his bits and pieces come out of the car was a sobering moment. Here was Christian’s whole life, a little jumbled pile of bags and parcels on the floor of the parking lot.

I looked at each bit as he packed, selected, repacked, sorted and organized…this is how he was living...I should have offered to wash his clothes.  I had been so proud of my Christmas presents to him, but looking at them now in the dismal, cold, night-light, I realize they might only ward off a little of the powerful elements: a thick orange and black rubber jacket to help with rain and cold; I should have sewn on some high-visilbility strips and got trousers to go with it; a jumbo Ziploc bag to keep at least one set of clothes dry; will it really work? a set of little bungee-cords to secure stuff with.  Darn I should have, I should have … I’m second guessing myself at every turn.

We’re intruding.  I feel it.  Papi and I had nothing to contribute to his packing and I sensed that Christian was trying to hurry so we could get away.
“We should leave,” I muttered, shivering in the damp chill.
“No, let’s wait until he’s finished.” Papi said, circling the DragonWagon.
Christian nodded, “I’d feel better knowing that you guys are on your way, you still have another 3-hour drive to get home.”
Papi wasn't convinced. I didn’t want to leave either, but it was the right thing to do.

We all hugged and smiled, Papi making a feeble joke which we tried to laugh at, but which was quickly forgotten and then we were in the car and driving off. 

I cry, but not much because Papi's reminding me that Christian’s doing what he wants to do.  Not much because he doesn’t do tears and needs to fix them right away.  So I pull my tears inside and put them in that place where I keep my tears for Tany and her boys in Philly; with my tears for Mum in England; with the tears for living so far from my beloved siblings. 

Life is good. I breathe deeply and consciously release my love and allow everything and everyone to be just where they choose to be.  I say a prayer that I will have the peace to accept that I am headed exactly where I need to be and it comes.  That peace that passes all understanding returns, and balance is restored.

Thus the DragonWagon walks on and the adventure continues.  Today, 24-hours after dropping Christian off, as I finish watching 7 Years in Tibet, I can’t help feeling that that whole movie was written for me, right now. So I dedicate this to you tonight, wherever you are, whenever you read this, with love.

May all travelers find happiness wherever they go,
Without any effort, may they accomplish whatever they set out to do;
And having safely returned to the shore,
May they be joyfully reunited with their relatives.

Dalai Lama, 7 Years in Tibet

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The DragonWagon’s Mum - Part 5

Days 7 - 12

Why did I stop writing?  There was a moment when I was confident that Christian and I were in this project together, linked by the magic of Christian’s trip and our connection as free spirits.  As his journey progressed, I read his blogs with relish (and continue to do so,) and somehow I felt my own heart change.  This was NOT my journey, this was not my experience, this was NOT about Cath being in the limelight.  So I stopped writing my part.

I stopped writing and it hurt.  It hurt me, deep down inside and as I've scrabbled around in there over these past few weeks trying to understand what really made me stop he wrote his again.  What was wrong with me?  Jealousy?  Fear?  Sloth?  I can't really say I know, still, and perhaps it'll come out at the end of this piece.  But after reading Christian's new blog today on a grey day in chilly England just after the Winter Solstice ... there was something about the shortest day, the lack of sunlight and the miles between us, that kicked me into gear again.

The DragonWagon was headed from Orlando to Ocala, going east at first (which seemed counterintuitive to me) and then north after staying in Deland.  There's a method to the DragonWagon master's plan (or lack thereof) as he was meeting and old friend there first.  Excellent plan.  However, this morning when I read about his stay at Scott's house, I wept.  These lovely people opening their beautiful home to my son, somehow made him feel inadequate... This is where the adventure gets difficult for me as a mother.  I want to be there on his shoulder, whispering "It's OK.  They're fine with your being here.  Don't say no to the washing machine."  But it turned out right in the end.  If he hadn't left, he wouldn't have found the next angels on the road and he wouldn't have given Scott the chance to chase him with stick and chocolate!

That also made me realize my purpose on his journey.  It's about me learning to let go, it's about me not feeling pulled to "fix" everything every time.  That wonderful phrase I learned a few years ago after my daughter got married, keeps popping back into my head: "You're no longer a manager, you are now a consultant."  Hah.  So true.  Yeah, true but not easy, right?  We are invited into our children's lives and, if we're lucky, we're asked for an opinion or a consultation on occasion.  But my on-the-job-mother-training of 32 years, makes me want to jump in and fix.

It's also a wonderful test of faith for me.  Learning to let go, learning to really trust "everything in God's world happens for a reason."  I knew that north of Deland loomed the extensive Ocala National Forest, home to the Florida Black Bear.  So, here I was, cheerfully telling people that Christian was "somewhere" in the forest (no idea where,) probably having sighted a number of black bears.  Had he seen any? Did he know about this?  Yep, turns out he did.  The road signs also helped.  He was going to traverse it at its widest point, along SR 40.

Worry, I'm told, is like a rocking chair: a lot of movement which gets you nowhere.  So true.  So every day, I woke up with renewed conviction that I'd not make up terrible stories in my head about "lions, and tigers, and bears, Oh My!"  (Thank you Dorothy!)  I'm getting better at it :)

Nothing could make me prouder than to talk to people about what Christian is doing.  His conviction to stay true to his journey is amazing.  He could have stopped on day 1 or day 10 and I would still have been equally proud.  Dropping out of society like that, in this day and age where we're so interconnected and interdependent, thanks (tongue-in-cheek) to technology, is not easy.  Everyone talks about social media, instant responses, and credit scores; about goals and plans, end results and exit strategies.  Christian, however, has defied every single one of those conventions.  He has no planno time limit on anything, no exact destination, and I admire him for that.  I truly do.

Maybe, just maybe, this is part of my purpose, to write about it from the outside.  To remind the curious and the new followers, that Christian's plan is no plan  Lots of dreams, lots of thoughts and plenty of improv are running through his mind, a mind which is nothing like yours nor mine.  

When he was a little boy, maybe about seven years old, Christian drew this extraordinary design for a catapult, right out of his head at the airport as we waited for our flight back to Uruguay from England.  When he showed me the drawing, I was astounded at the detail and even more so when he flipped to the next two pages where he'd drawn each piece (nuts, bolts, screws etc) and labeled how many of each would be required, then on the third page, precise instructions of how to assemble the catapult.  
"How on earth did you do this, Christian?" I asked, my jaw in my lap.
With an impish grin, he tapped his temple, "It's my double-brain, Mummy, just my double brain."
Double-brain is right.  Where you turn right, he turns left.  Where you take the safe road, he always takes the less traveled path.  Teachers at his schools were perplexed by this boy who would never give the simple answer, but instead, always, select a (correct) answer so far outside the box that it rattled everyone.  

Yeah, the box.  Most people on earth live inside the safety of "the box."  Some people live with the roof of the box open to let in a bit of the outside, and a few actually venture outside the box.  A handful of people live completely outside the box, some venturing far and wide, but keeping the box in sight.  But Christian?
Christian looks quizzically at me, "There's a box?"
This is where you get to smile, because when you wrap your head around that, you begin to get a glimpse inside his world and maybe, just maybe, an idea of why he's doing what he's doing.

Yes, it's an amazing journey and I am privileged to be his ambassador on the ground.  For the moment all I know is that we've convinced him to exchange the warmth of his tent in the forest, to spend Christmas with us in freezing Philadelphia (where his sister Tany lives with her boys) and he's agreed.  We're so thrilled.

So Merry Christmas everyone, we'll return him to the forest in time for the New Year and a brand new adventure.  Until then, thank you to all angels on the road, each and every one of you; thank you to those who have commissioned work (that is what keeps him fed); to those who read his blog and cheer him on (that is what fuels his joy;) and to all the rest of you who are waiting to continue this journey, albeit vicariously, may God bless you and keep you safe tonight and always.