Title

Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Miracle Mint and Other Stories

Miracle Mint

One Saturday afternoon, our neighbor gave us a twig of mint that she had bought at the market. It was to make tea she said and looked dried and brown and shriveled and very much like tea. It hung out on our counter for a few days and maybe even spent some time in the refrigerator.

At some point, days to weeks down the road, Song discovered it and stuck it into a barren pot of dirt on the balcony. I commented on her gardening skills and Mo smiled at the brown twig Song had planted. We continued our daily existence, not paying much attention to the twig.

Then one day as I was watering the other plants, I noticed a speck of green emerging from the tea twig. Astonished, I poured some water into the pot. In a few days time, there was more green. And then more! Soon, we had a growing (and thriving) mint plant!

Mo said, "It makes you wonder about where Life goes and just how it begins."

Indeed.

The Bird, The Accident and The Miracle
(Warning: This story tells of the day my son fell from a great height and struck panic and fear into my heart. It could yours as well especially if you are a parent.)

It was sometime in mid-August when Mo and I woke up to the now familiar sounds of flapping wings above our heads. A little gray bird was fluttering around our ceiling. We said good morning to Poppo and began getting ready for the day ahead. I was going to training for my new teaching job and Mo was off to the office. The bird left as mystically as it had arrived.

Early in the afternoon I got the phone call. The one that every parent hopes they never get. "Come home as quickly as possible. Shine had an accident!"

Scared and confused, I got into a taxi and started home. In a panic I called Mo and told him to meet me at the emergency room. Images of broken bones, lots of blood and worse went through my mind.

When the taxi pulled through the gate, I could see a crowd gathered and I could hear Shine crying. Everyone began talking at once. "In the hallway with the other boys..." "Fell over the rail..." "Landed on his back..." "Can't walk..."

From all that I gathered, he had fallen about 12 feet through a gap between the hallway rails and the laundry room roof and landed on his back in the concrete parking lot. There wasn't any blood or obvious broken bones, but now paralysis and fractured spine were in the forefront of my mind.

By the time we reached the hospital, Shine had calmed down considerably. They put him in a wheel chair, attached a brace to his neck and wheeled us to triage. Mo arrived as soon as the doctor came to assess Shine. On his first examination, he could find only a tender spot in the center of Shine's spine, but he did not think there were any broken bones. He did a series of sensation tests, which Shine past. Then we were sent for X-rays.

Once the X-rays were analyzed, the team of doctors were flabbergasted. Nothing was out of place. The tender spot seemed to be "just a bruise". "This is nothing short of a Miracle," one doctor said. The doctors were hesitant to release Shine however. "A person doesn't fall from such a height and then just walk out of the hospital." So we had an ambulance ride to another hospital for a second opinion. By this time, Shine was hungry and getting irritable. Indeed, he was feeling like himself. At the second hospital, we met with a second group of X-ray technicians and another team of doctors. They did their own exams and tests and concluded the same, no injuries. A true Miracle. They couldn't justify keeping him overnight and insisted we go home and get some sleep. Home we went with some pain killers and instructions to take him to the pediatrician in two days for follow up care.

In two days, we went to the pediatrician with the X-rays and the story. She looked the X-rays over, did her own series of tests and declared, "A Miracle for certain!"

We thanked Poppo for watching over us and catching Shine when he fell.

*I'm very happy to report that Shine has experienced no complications and is back to running, jumping, playing, exploring...albeit with a little extra caution.

The Biennial

Every two years, the National Gallery of Jamaica hosts a biennial exhibition. It is one of the largest art exhibitions in the country. Reputable, well established artists are invited to submit work. Emerging artists go through a rigorous jury process.

I determined last summer that I would submit artwork for the show. I kept it in my consciousness. I kept picturing my work hanging on the gallery walls and envisioning myself at the opening.

My positive thinking once again came through. I was delighted to learn that my art would be hanging in the same space as celebrated Jamaican artists Barrington Watson, Ebony Patterson, Oneika Russell, Laura Facey and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan to name just a few.

On the day of the opening, I was horribly sick with the flu but I refused to miss it. When I finally located my piece, there was a crowd gathered in front of it. It looked phenomenal. I was so proud.

In the bookstore, I bought a copy of the catalogue as was again delighted to see not only an image of the artwork on display, but a substantial biography as well.

The show has been receiving rave reviews. People are talking about how it is the best biennial the gallery has ever hosted. To be part of this event has meant the world to me.

The White Crane

The day my uncle went into hospice, a white crane perched at the very tip top of the tree across from my balcony. It was huge and it stared at us in a very otherworldly way. It also happened to be pouring rain.

It rained all day. The crane remained at the tip top of the tree.
It rained all night. The crane kept its perch.

In the morning the large white crane stretched its wide wings and shook off the rain then nestled back on its perch.

When the rain stopped sometime in the afternoon, the crane gave us a knowing nod and took flight.

My uncle, my dad's brother, left this world four days later.

12-12-12, The End and The Beginning

My students were unsettled, unnerved and unmanageable. "But it is 12-12-12, Miss!" "That's good luck," I said,  "The End of the world isn't for another 9 days." I chuckled, they moaned and we tried to do some art. To be honest, I didn't even realize it was 12-12-12 until I was writing the attendance for the day in my book. As for its significance, I can't say that I even knew (or know) that it was significant. Later in the day, we had a fire drill that sent them into a frenzy.

On the day of the Mayan Apocalypse, I was thinking of anything but the end. My mom was here visiting for the holidays. It was a significant trip for her. She was traveling on her own. It was her (our) first Christmas without Dad. Her previous trip to Jamaica was Christmas in 2010, at the start of our journey and at the beginning of Dad's (at the time) undiagnosed illness. My head was filled with plans of Christmas morning, excursions for the weekend, people I longed to see...in other words, my head was filled with the future and with all the wonders of the living.

I've read many musings about what is supposed to happen now that we have gone past 2012. We are in a New Era, a new Beginning. This is the start of a new awakening, a new consciousness that upholds humility, humanity, kindness and togetherness. I would like to believe this.

For us, 2013 began with a sense of relief. We survived. (And perhaps we've come out better for it.) Then there were fireworks. Beautiful bursts of color transforming the sky. I sat on my balcony, rum in hand and toasted: To the Beginning...