9 August 2012
Sitting in bed is my indulgence today, breakfast cooked by muy beautiful Emily. A grey, overcast day. The day my new motorized wheelchair is due to be delivered. I sit here, propped by pillows looking at what I have written and the the remainder of the blank page. What is it, I ask myself, I wish to share today? And that in itself is a realization, “what is it, I wish to share today?”.
Sharing, sharing my experience, strength and hope today, my story. That is what I can do. I don’t even need to explain that this is the best I can do, it needs no judgement, it simply is an opportunity for me to share. And so the question becomes, what would I like to share today. I can go back into my essays and add one with some updated details and some editorial. Just a little, doesn’t need much. But first, the bathroom :) and then to search my essay folder. Rain is falling.
Tuesday, June 11, 1996
to write to express to expose, explore, execute these are my motives as a writer these are what it is that I wish to strive for to produce as a writer. Or even as a photographer or film maker. This when I sit in the quiet recesses of my mind is what I wish to expose, the very core of who I am the very essence, the very, very…what? my soul! who I was born! the life that I have journeyed and what it is now that I return to. Me. Simple really but profound as the word “ me “ asks as many questions as it answers.
Not the ‘me, me, me’ we hear bandied about but the “ME” that is truly who I am, I suppose it is the “I” the individual identity that is “ME”! Whew! The raw naked me of Rousseau.
So, in writing where do “I” start?
Do “I” start at my birth, 15th June 1943?
Or do “I” start with the seed that shot from my father into my mother and so began “MY” journey?
Go back 9 months to 15th September 1942.
What was happening on that date nearly 54 years ago? Or more particularly what was going on between my mother and father at that time, what was happening in wellington, new zealand, what was happening in the world. I know from history that the world was at war with German Nazism, Italian Fascism and Japanese Imperialism. That America had joined the war openly after pearl harbour in 1941 but…what was happening at 16 marewa road Haitaiti, in that big red house looking out over Cook strait to the snow clad mountains of the seaward kaikouras and beyond? to Antarctica, the south pole, brrr!
What did the dominion newspaper report that day, what was broadcast on radio that day that triggered some warmth, lust, aggression even, between my father and mother to get them to intertwine and start that process in motion that 9 months or so later produced Richard Thomas Clark, son of Alma Veronica Clark ‘nee Hood, home duties and Melville ‘Boy’ Raymond Clark, Master painter and paper hanger?
Gerald, Jennifer and John, my older siblings, had already arrived and were busily demanding and hopefully getting, their share of attention and life’s necessities.
So what are my first memories? What view of the world comes to me?
Wind, lots and lots of wind. Wind, howling shreiking terrifying house shaking wind. Often and lots of it!
Some one’s birthday party, Gerald’s, it must have rained and rained beforehand as the ceiling in the dining room was sagging with an accumulation of gathered water. The house had a flat roof, still does, above the kitchen and dining area. I can see quite clearly in my minds eye the bubble of the ceiling sagging with the weight of water it held, didn’t look much to my eyes and maybe it didn’t. But sure enough, just as the cake was to receive it’s tasting or cutting or candle lighting, down it came, what seemed like gallons and gallons of water, days and days of accumulated rain water. Water that had carefully gathered in the mountains of the South Island, made its way speedily across the waters of Cook Strait borne by what was known as a southerly buster and then dropped without any ceremony on our flat tar paper clad roof, to sit and wait. For Gerald’s birthday. The 4th of July seemed fated to be the right moment. And was that the right moment or what? Down it came, as I said before, gallons and gallons of rain water, pieces of ceiling and whatever other bits of muck and stuff had collected with evil thoughts, just waiting, waiting.
Remembering now, as I have often, of this moment. Do I just remember the most damaging moments of my child hood or does my perverse sense of humor still get a good chuckle from the images I store, that to my child’s eye must have appeared much bigger than they truly were? Who knows? My family? Who knows indeed and who sees what I see as I see it? That has been the mystery and now the magic of my life, asking, wondering, dreaming even.
Sometimes in years gone by I wonder or have wondered what was real and what was unreal. What happened, what didn’t. Who is to question my memories? “ME”?
That sometimes is the dilemma. I remember. Jennifer doesn’t. Gerald remembers and I can’t!
But this is “MY” story and I get to tell it through my eyes and my experiences. Don’t I ?
Yes I do, I do indeed.
Memories of playing shopkeepers with my sister of emptying the reachable cupboards of goods, canned, packaged and not. With some of the packaged goods (flour?) becoming unpackaged goods and paying for it. Yes I paid for those events that went out of whack, off the rails so to speak.
Our house in Wellington was built some 300 feet above sea level on the side of Mt Victoria facing due south, the house was a typical New Zealand style, built of timber, built on different levels down the hillside. In all we had three floors. On the very lowest floor was a space, I call it that as it was used as sort of a utility area. Leading down to this ‘space’ were a set of dimly lit stairs, it was down these stairs that most of my punishment seemed to take place. When my parents patience seemed thin, mainly my Mothers, it was door open and down the stairs I was sent, god knows what I was meant to do as I was only a small child at that time. I do seem to remember being terrified and wondering what I had done to evoke that sort of punishment from my mother. I would scream and cry but nothing happened. My fear of the dark possibly grew from that moment. Of course in speaking to my mother in recent years, it appears that down the stairs she saw this wonderful play room, ‘den’, for us and what possible objection could we have to this “wonderful” place. But I can tell you here and now, that as a 5 year old child it seemed cruel and terrifying punishment. God! No wonder I have spent much of my life since trying to win her love and respect. Ah! the not so sweet mystery of life.
Add to this her memories of my being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and of me being left in a Karatane Nursing Home at age 18months when my next sibling, Maurice was born. The terror of my being left alone, with no one to care for me, at least that is my take on the situation, dogged me for years and my trust and love of women has suffered greatly through childhood experiences such as this. So here I am carrying a fear of the dark, a resentment toward women. But I believe children born in the war years were often left in strange places to relieve the mothers at times. So that is one of the crosses that I came to bear from an early age. Mind you, now, right now I feel blessed with those early experiences, I feel that they have added to rather than subtracted from my life. Of course I have not always looked on my life with such enlightenment or such acceptance. It has been the passage of time the revealing of myself to myself that has shown me my strengths and my weaknesses. This has not been revealed like a bolt of lightning but has been, what seems to me like, a gradual awakening. An unfolding of myself to myself like a re-ownership of my soul, that which I am. More will be revealed as I continue to write.
Here I am back in this moment, 9th August 2012. I wrote this piece on my first Apple Lap Top as I recovered in bed from a near fatal bike accident. Did that accident start the wheels of my MND symptoms? Who knows as I sit here some 16 years later, with a new laptop. It’s interesting reading to me at least, I have added it pretty much as I wrote it, my first piece of writing on a computer. Before that my writing was notes, an occasional journal entry in long hand scrawl. I will not revisit those. Age 53 to age 69. Amazing how my attitudes have shifted. I am much more accepting of my life, my journey. Reflective I guess. Those images of child hood can be edited to a couple of paragraphs today but in 1996 I was beginning to experiment. It continues today. I sort of see the experiences I shared as the lessons that would echo through my life. Learning to love and be loved, learning to accept whatever life throws at me. Back living close to where I was born after a life time of exploration. Wellington, Napier, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, the American West, Masterton and now, Featherston. Will I make it back to Wellington? I leave that to the universe of my belief system :)
Sitting here in bed, rain falling, a silent wind moving the fronds of the cabbage trees, I accept where I am. A mind still curious, a body that has me stopped. I smile at the irony. Ciao!