The regrets of love not expressed

Is there any sorrow greater than the sorrow of not having expressed your love?

The sadness that grips you when you find it is “too late.”

Too late to do the things you wanted to do …                                                                            Too late to visit now … she is not there any more.                                                                   Too late to allot time for her … You kept it too late. 

All the things that were so important to you, you had to do them “today”                             …. whilst visiting Aunty Marie could wait till tomorrow.

You can now do them for the rest of your life … no need to stop what you are doing.           …your Aunt does not need you any more.

The bag of groceries you were going to buy her …                                                             The day you were going to spend with her                                                                                           The love you were going to express …                                                                                                    … You kept it too late.

You did not even stop to think                                                                                                … a postcard will help if you cannot visit today.                                                                      …. A telephone call will be better … you can talk to her NOW.                                            TODAY ….BEFORE it is too late.

She took time and care to write to you … Did you reciprocate ..?                                You wanted to … with all your heart you want to …                                                                 but you kept it too late.    

Can you learn even now, Learn before it is too late.                                                         Get your priorities straight.                                                                                               The house, the garden, the work, the chores                                                                 All these can wait … There can always be another time for this.                                                Delays won’t cause regrets.

What causes the biggest pain and hurt                                                                      Because there will not be another time for this – EVER –                                                      Is the regret, the  pain and the sadness                                                                    of love not expressed. 

With pain in your heart you whisper and hope she can hear you.                            Aunty Marie I’m sorry.  I love you so much.  Thank you for writing to me.  Thank you for caring. Please forgive me  – my selfishness – and please know that I love you.

Your loving god daughter                                                                                       Rosanne                                                                                                                          14th July, 1999.

(True story – shared as a reminder to express your love, and do the things that really matter – before it is too late.)

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Next door Nana

Today we will lay Next door Nana to rest. She was 97 years old and a story book grandma – petite in build, silver hair, alert eyes and a slightly mischievous smile.

You could always see her at the big bay window … her face pressed against the pane as she waved at passers by.  She had her meals by that window – and the ‘walkers’ would pause to exchange a greeting.

Sometimes she would venture out to get ‘up close and personal’ 🙂

I think I first met her on one such occasion when, bored with standing there, she came to my doorway, curious to see what her neighbour was up to.

I was just about to invite her in when the helper appeared, alarmed that ‘nona’ (Sinhalese for Lady) had wandered over.  Assuring them I would take her back, I invited her in to watch me work in the garden.  I think she enjoyed the break.

It was the beginning of a few such encounters. In the beginning, she would wander over to keep me company whilst I did my chores.  I would put some music on and she would watch me or walk around around till it was time for lunch or someone came to fetch her.

The ‘someone’ was one of the many helpers hired by her daughter who lived in Australia but maintained a home here for her mother.  When she started getting on in age, Rosemarie and son-in law Mike would take turns with one spending time here whilst the other remained in Sydney with their children and grandchildren.  They would then ‘switch’ – meeting up in either country to be together a week or two before exchanging locations.  I have never seen such commitment from a daughter – or for that matter a son-in-law,  for Mike took on the role of the son that Nana lost at an early age.

When Mike passed on unexpectedly about five years ago, there was no one to ‘switch’ with Rosemarie.   Nana had longer spells of being alone.   But despite the financial toll, and pain of separation from her grand-children, Rosemarie would make two or three trips a year to be with her Mum (all because the Australian government just did not have the humanity in them to allow Nana to join her daughter.  Incredibly, they did not even grant her a holiday visa – such is the ‘heart’ of a big nation).

Rosemarie was due on 20th November.  Her Mum had been in reasonably good health when she was last here in August.  Nana had fallen a couple of times but had recovered and was not on any medication.  Rosemarie planned to spend Christmas with her mum.

Sadly, Nana took ill unexpectedly on Tuesday.  She joined her Maker early on Wednesday morning.

By the grace of God,  something nudged me to drop in on Monday.  Nana was watching TV.   She had developed a fever and was looking a bit under the weather.  At lunch time, we assisted her to the dining table. On an unexplained impulse – for I had not taken one with her before – I took a selfie.

Next door Nana

Next door Nana – the last picture.

Again, something,  I know not what, made me inform our priest that he should visit soon. House visitations are normally on Fridays but again providentially he said he would drop in next morning.

When I went in to wait for him, Nana’s fever had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse.  I held her hand and sang to her, hymns of comfort and the Our Father.  She smiled once at something in the distance and I thought she was slipping away but she continued to hold my hand.  My sister joined me.  Our priest Fr. Anton Saman annointed her and gave her Holy Communion.

The Doctors visited but she was too weak to respond to medication.  She was reunited with her Creator later that night.  A peaceful, serene death with no suffering nor pain except slight difficulty in breathing.  A grace-filled death for a graceful lady.

I am thankful for the mercy that sent me there, to allow me to get the priest and comfort her in some small way although I am sad that circumstances did not permit me to be with her in her final hours.

But I will cherish the time spent together and the memories of a lively, lovely gentle lady who was alert enough to remind me if I was being careless 🙂

I had the habit of dropping in ‘garage to garage‘ a couple of times for a quick hello and she would always offer me a cup of tea or persuade me to join her for  lunch.   One day, I said I would have to be quick as I had not locked up.   After that, she would check with me if anyone was home or if I had locked up.  I rarely did as these were impromptu visits so I used to tell her I would sit at her seat by the window and keep watch on the street.

She also always inquired about my mum – whether she was staying with me or my sister, and on at least two occasions berated me for parking my car on the road with a curious ‘Why don’t you put it in the garage?’  

That’s a good question Nana.  Why don’t I?  I said I would, but truth is, I need to get my garage door fixed!

When I used to take her to church some time back, she would always want the page turned and attempt to sing and follow the service  – or ‘pretend’ the way little children do 🙂   They,  the children just adored this picture book grandma.

Sadly she will not be around  for them or for the passers by on Lake Road.  It will take some time to get used to an empty window at 329/124.  But the big bay window will be a reminder to all that there once  was a little lady who, as our priest said, stood there and gave everyone what she could:  a cheery smile and a wave that brought joy to all.

Rest in eternal joy with your Maker, sweet and gentle lady – Madam Doreen Webster.

Note:   This post was begun on 7th November but I had another bereavement in the family … a beloved Uncle who was the same age 96!  It has been a melancholy two weeks with the loss of two wonderful nonagenarians – a gracious lady and a true gentleman and scholar about whom I can write volumes.  Maybe soon… 

Life with a Twin

Celebrating our special day, it is nice to reflect on the good, the bad and the fun part of living with a twin.

Finally I ‘get it’.

“Keep your things to yourself”.   A firm ‘in control’ voice interrupts my reading on the sofa.

I look up.  Drama Queen is holding my wavy metal Alice Band outstretched in her hand and drops it on the sofa next to me.

“Where was it?”  (me, nonchalantly)

“On the ground next to the bed!”  (You know the way that’s said right?  !!)

“Aaah … must have fallen off when I slept”.   (still trying to be non-chalant)

No response.  She has gone back to her room.  I turn back to my book.  Then stop.  Did it fall off or did I take it off? Cannot really remember but either way, I am supposed to “keep my things to myself.”

I look up to think about that one and see things scattered all over the ground in the lobby in front of me.  Computer cases, cables, magazines, newspapers, dustbins.  A pink dustbin brush grins at me.  I am sure if I go to the bedroom the hair band will be the smallest thing on the floor. I look at the pink dustbin brush again grinning that he/she has all the right to sit on the middle of the floor with all the other things.    My hair band can’t.  I grin back 🙂

Suddenly I burst out laughing.  I just got it!!

All my stuff is supposed to sit neatly or otherwise, packed into one place.  All the other space around the house that I walk around in … that I move and ‘be’ in is only for that.  To walk around etc.  The house does not belong to me and I can’t mess it up like I would do in my house 😦

Now WHY DID’NT I GET THAT BEFORE?

It will save me stress and it will save her stress.

So until I complete my repairs and move back home, all I’ve got to do is just remember to be more methodical.  And pigs will fly but at least let’s try !!

So Let’s rap to the future… 

Alice Band

The errant Alice Band !

I found your hair-band on my bedroom floor

Evidence that you’ve been here before

And soon I won’t get waves of missing you anymore

You are like a Tsunami tide at my door!!!

(Ed Sheeran modified!)

Now for the other side of the coin  🙂

AN ODE TO MY TWIN

My sister is the sweetest thing

You ever did see

She rants and raves and scolds and yells

But a tender heart has she.

She noticed that I was having

A problem with my pills

Keeping them in one place being

An added stress to my ills

So when she saw a pillbox neat

She put it in her cart

‘At least this may help my sis’ she thought

‘Take care of her weak heart!!!’

HAPPY DAYS ROMS … I LOVE BEING YOUR TWIN !

Happy twin

Once upon a time ….

In a little pearl shaped island called  Serendipity far, far, away in the Indian Ocean  – there lived a beautiful young lady who was so accomplished in sports that she was the talk of the town.  People would come from miles around to see her breaking records and winning trophies.

Now at the same time there lived a handsome young man with a charming smile and an even more charming manner who was so popular that he was asked to be Master of Ceremonies for many lavish celebrations.

It so happened that one fine night the young lady too was invited to one of these fairy tale celebrations.  The moment the young man saw her dancing, he was so enthralled with her that he left his duties of EMCEE to dance with her all night.

The Story begins here

That is the beginning of Our Story.

Very soon the young man and the young lady got married and very soon after that the young lady had some good news for her young husband. They were both over-joyed and made all preparations to welcome a new little baby.

Mum and Dad wedding 2           Mum and Dad

When the big day arrived, the young man could not stop pacing the floor. He was worried for his wife but also thinking of all the wonderful things he would do with his little baby.  As he was pacing the floor in the hospital, the doctors came out and gave him the news that men all over the world hear every day –  but it was the very first time that he was hearing it. He was now a Daddy to a little girl. He was overjoyed.  But the doctor continued speaking in a sombre voice.

The young man’s heart skipped a beat.  Through a haze he heard words like premature babies and simultaneous heart beats  … and then the incredible  “there is another baby on the way!”  Imagine the young man’s joy. Two instead of one!!   His first crazy thought was that he has to buy a second crib.  Without stopping for a moment he rushed out of the hospital to purchase one.

The little ones could not however use the cribs immediately. They were both so very tiny – 2 ½ pounds and 3 pounds – that they had to remain in hospital for some time.

But when they were finally brought home,  what a celebration there was.  The young man and the young woman decided the first one must have a gypsy heart – for she was so eager to travel from the comfort of the womb to the world outside – so they called her Romany which means gypsy. The second one looked less robust – fragile like the petals of a rose so they called her Rosanne.

Being devout Catholics they also chose a saint’s name for their little girls.  The first born was named after St. Francis – a name also shared by both parents, whilst they chose ‘Therese (whose feast is on October 3rd) for the other little girl. .

And so it was that Gypsy Romany and Rambling Rose entered the world 61 years ago today.

How they have spent these years is a story for another day.  For the present we celebrate their lives and the many graces showered on them 🙂

Celebration time !

Romany (pink) and Rosanne  – taken June 2015  in Prague

Je t’aime Monster – King of the Road!


This post was in my draft box whilst I waited to get a video of Monster.  Sadly he passed away in December when I was overseas. The neighbours videoed the funeral service but I have not been able to look at it.  Too sad. 

I also feel sad that I have let him down by not telling his story and although it still hurts when I think about him, I feel he deserves to be introduced even though he is not with us. 

This post is thus in the present tense as originally written.  

Rest in peace Mon … I love you so  ~♥~

November, 2014

“Yesterday for the first time I thought I had given you a wrong name.  You are so loyal, faithful and loving … how can I keep calling you Monster?

True, it is shortened to ‘Mon’ most of the time … and Monster is only a name of love … but still it is not an endearment of love. So what shall I call you from now on for  I do love you so.

And I realised how much you love me too yesterday when you came running to me from your wanderings on the road the minute you heard my car start up.  You followed me from Romy’s home to my home, waited outside whilst I did some work, and then started to follow me back.  When I called to you that I had forgotten something and turned back, you turned back too – and waited patiently outside.  Then you saw me safely into Romany’s home and went back to your wanderings on the road.   Oh Monster … can anyone have a ‘road dog’ who is so loving and concerned, so loyal and faithful, so protective of me !!   You are the best, the very very best.   And I want all the world to know about you so here is your story.

Monster’s mother was a road dog.  When she littered near my garage,  I fed the little family but a monitor lizard devoured all but one little pup … so I took Mother and son into my garage for safety.  When the pup was big, he joined his mother on the road.

They looked after the neighbourhood. Everybody fed them. I would get the mobile vet for vaccines or treatment. Mother dog was so easy to manage – meek and patient. The little one … he was terrified and gave us such a difficult time with howls and yelps.  I think that was perhaps when I started calling him ‘Monster’.

The mother was run over one day and Monster was on his own so I started paying him more attention, talking to him whenever I saw him. He had an incredible attachment to me.  He would come running from wherever he was the minute he heard my gate click and follow me whether on foot or car. .  If I went to my sisters a few doors away, he’d follow me there.  If I went to a neighbour’s, Monster would come there too.

20141023_172659 (2) RF

Monster waiting for me outside my neighbours home.

If I went to church at the end of the road, he’d come there and join the congregation.

This was OK whilst the church was being built and we had no formal arrangement downstairs. But when we completed our beautiful chapel upstairs, Monster would still join the congregation and sit under my pew. We could never get him to leave as long as I was there. I decided tough measures were called for when he came right into the sanctuary one day and sat there right next to me whilst I was making an announcement!  Nobody was listening to me; all eyes were on him!!  Our priest  took it in good spirits saying he was the only Catholic dog he has seen. But after that, I would try to inveigle Monster into the house and lock him in before we left for Church.

Not an easy task – and still achieved only 50% of the time for Monster knows without a doubt when Sunday evening draws near.  Nothing we can do will persuade him to enter the house.

Suspicious Sunday - steering clear of you today look. Also is the vet nearby look !!

Suspicious Sunday – steering clear of you today look. Also is the vet nearby look !!

He knows all our tricks now so it is difficult to trick him indoors.  If by chance we succeed, he hangs by the door and rushes  past us my mum when she steps out. There is high drama each Sunday for he has to go to church. There are people there who love him, talk to him and even buy him food.  The only good thing now is that he does not come inside the church (the new priest did not allow him) so he joins the fellowship outside after Mass.

Monster still leads us a dance when we have to get the vet.  He is not well now. He has got injured in a fight and has a touch of mange. I look at him and say “Mon will you let me get the vet?”  But unless we have a many pairs of strong hands and prepare ourselves for days, it is going to be really difficult.  He hates the vet or even mention of the name.  We have to resort to code language like “Canine caretaker”  or speak in Sinhalese  (the local language which he does not understand !) for on countless occasions, the vet has turned up, after we have secured Monster indoors, but has not been able to treat him. Somehow, Monster manages to escape. Once we had the whole neighbourhood looking for him because the Vet had drawn the injection.  We ended up paying for treatment not administered.

Now, we have to give him sleeping tablets before the Vet arrives.  It is not good for him, that’s why I hesitate and delay. The first time we gave him one tablet, he woke up when the vet touched him and ran away.  The next time, tablet plus muzzle.  He still jumped up and ran away.  The third time, tablet, plus muzzle plus both legs secured when he was drowsy. I hated such drastic treatment but felt the end justified the means.  He needed medical treatment. He still struggled so vet gave him a fast acting injection. He took so long to come out I was terrified it had gone wrong.

But Monster is a strong dog.

I think with wonder and undiluted thanks of the day that I ran over him.  Yes, I who loved him so, ran over him.

He had run out in front of the car for his usual ‘advance party’  but suddenly decided to roll over and scratch his body.  I was just inching the car forward when I heard a yelp and froze wondering which way to move. Monster dragged himself out from under the tire where I had run over his lower belly.  He was grumbling and whining and would not allow me to touch him.  I cried profusely, Monster I am sorry but he was in too much pain to heed my tears  and only grumbled at me – you had to hear it to believe!  Honest. That dog could almost speak.  He allowed my mum to hep him and this was only time we had no difficulty with the Vet for Monster knew he needed help.  Later, he allowed me to take care of him till he recovered.

I am still very nervous when Monster is on the road as he expects vehicles to move out of his way!   Just look at him below !! 

t nervous when driving home as Monster  takes over the whole road and forms a welcome brigade for me, prancing from side to side, till I reach my house. Many times, I just wait till the road is clear before driving on.

Monster… thank you for all the happiness you have brought me/us, and all who love you: your road friends (the ‘walkers’ 🙂 your church friends and your many admirers, including the baker who brings a bun for you each day.  Thank you for being so faithful and loyal and watching over me wherever I go.

I thank God for you and pray that I can keep you healthy and safe into your old age.

I love you Mon. ”

Postscript.

Sadly it was not to be.  But Monster taught me how to love unconditionally, faithfully and without expectation of anything in return.

“Love me for a reason and let the reason be love.”

An Icon is no more.

I was surprised to find myself humming tunes like ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’  whilst getting ready to return to my old school.

OK … so I was going to the funeral of the lady who was Principal the entire time I was in ‘College’ – Grade 6 to O’ Level;   the funeral of one whose personal signature is stamped – alongside her comments – on every page of my report card,  and indelibly stamped  in my memory.

But Norma Jean, Princess Diana, Evita … heroines of these songs buzzing in my head,  were super-star icons on the world stage.  Sr Helen Marguerite was well …  just Sr HM, our former Principal.  So why were these tunes surfacing from my subconscious?

Don’t cry for me ….?   I was not crying?!  She was our Principal maybe 30-40 years ago.  We had moved on … she had moved on.  The candle had in many ways been dimmed a long time ago.

It was only as I sat in the subdued quiet of a familiar chapel … with students of each class filing past in wonderful orchestrated synchronicity to recite a decade of the rosary and move on;  it was as the soft music of hymns like Amazing Grace played in the background between the visits of each class that I realised why my subconscious had thrown out these songs.

Sr Helen Marguerite may not have been a player on the world stage, but for us who passed through the hallowed portals of HFC Bambalapitiya in the late sixties/early seventies, she was indeed an iconic figure who loomed larger than life.

For me – Holy Family was “Puggy” and  “Puggy” was Holy Family – such was her influence in our lives.

Why  Puggy?  Am not really sure.  I think I first heard it on the lips of batch mate Faye.  I do know that Sr HM had a pug nose. Beyond that, was she ‘pugnacious’?  I was about to use that word and thankfully checked it.   Nope she was not belligerent, combative, aggressive, bellicose, argumentative, contentious etc.  No need to be.  She was the Principal.  Her word was law and we were not about to argue with her. We respected our Principal,  teachers and elders.

SrHm

Rev. Sr. Helen Marguerite, First Sri Lankan Principal

Puggy was Puggy well because she looked Puggy. She strode around the school in a shorter than usual nuns habit, with a higher than normal heel in her shoe, and a stronger than normal walk.  I already mentioned she strode.  She never walked, minced, glided or moved like other nuns you knew.  In fact Puggy was not your normal nun.  You knew when she was around – both by the sound of her walk and by her PRESENCE.  And she did have a presence.  A huge presence that was way way disproportionate to her little diminutive figure.

However back then we did not see a little figure. We just saw a nun who was not very orthodox, who chatted ‘quite friendly like’ but was still able to command the utmost respect; one who maintained the highest standards of discipline; who would not accept falling grades even if you engaged in extracurricular activities, and one who maintained and insisted  on the highest morals of catholic education.

But most Principals are expected to do this … so what was so special about Puggy – or to be more formal –Rev. Sr. HM?  I believe she will be remembered and defined by her role in bringing the ‘Up with People’ songs to HFC and creating an indelible memory of  stage performances that took Colombo by storm.  It seemed the whole school was there in that choir except yours truly who cannot sing if my life depended on it.  Can you imagine the resounding echoes of songs whose words (I realise only today in Googling it ) defined a generation …

Up Up with people, you meet them wherever you go … Up Up with people they’re the best kind of folks you know.

And …

What color is God’s skin? What color is God’s skin? I said its black brown yellow it is red, it is white,  every man’s the same in the good Lords sight.

Plus the resounding echo  of Freedom isn’t Free. Freedom isn’t Free … You’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice, Freedom isn’t Free.

This was 60’s music:  psychedelic revolutionary pop culture, and the words were ringing out from the hallowed precincts of a convent with  Reverend Sister HM at the helm.

Sitting in the chapel,  I realised that ‘Puggy’ was in many ways ahead of her time.  She would be making waves on the international stage if she was Principal in these times … when nuns in habit are performing on the world stage, winning Voice Italia titles whilst carrying a new message of evangelisation .

Alas, we were entrenched in the pre-Vatican II era.  We thought Sr. HM was unorthodox and this was confirmed when we heard she had ‘left the robes’.  Sadly only that bit of ‘shocking news’ was passed on.  Not the fact that she continued in her mission till the end, working amongst children – street children.

She had a special vocation with these children, just as she had with her charges at HFC.  I remember once we had forgotten our text books and my Dad had brought them into the office to be given  to us.  The receptionist had inquired ‘What class?’  “Class?  Errr … Don’t you know ?  … maybe Grade 7? “ stuttered my Dad.

Sr. Helen Marguerite who was passing had stopped by to interject : “Mr. Rasquinho, your girls are in Grade 9. They are preparing for their O Levels.  I have 2000 children and I know which class they are in and you have 3 and can’t keep track!”  We laughed so much when Dad told us.  He had muttered something about their Mum looks after that side and squirmed out of the office.

This was the lady I had come to pay my respects to: the Principal who took a personal interest and followed each child’s progress.  The nun who ‘left her robes’ but not her faith or her commitment to love and serve children; the lady I had once met in a doctor’s waiting room decades after I had left school who recognised me and spoke to me when I could not recognise her in her new garb  – grey skirt and blouse.

Don’t cry for me Argentina … the truth is I never left you … all through my wild days my mad existence  …

I served the Lord in the best way I could.

I was surprised that I had to fight to hold back the tears.  She was so much ahead of her time.  She had the courage to follow her heart, to pursue Truth wherever it leads you.

I went up to the bier to place a rose for a life that touched hundreds – nay thousands – of students in ways we did not realise.

I would not have recognised her if I passed her on the street with her children.  She looked so very tiny and frail … so ‘non existent’.  This my Principal who had filled the College corridors, who had left all that pomp and pageantry behind to live a new and anonymous life among the poor.

That is how I will recollect her memory in future.

Farewell ‘Puggy’.  Rest in Eternal Peace with your maker, courageous and indomitable Rev. Sr. Helen Marguerite.

Your students will sing  the College Anthem  in  your honour and listen also to the song that defines you.

http://hfcb.lk/content/sub/5

Photo and School Anthem http://www.hfcb.lk/

My Aunt Lorraine

Aunty Lorraine

Glamorous, beautifully dressed and always full of life, zest. A gorgeous purple-hued tint in her hair. Pint sized beauty. Always chuckling, laughing. Teasing. Or giving advice. Sometimes unsought which got her into trouble.

Grandmother’s favourite.  Her youngest child who went to England and whose enlarged photo hung in a prominent place in the Dining Room.  There were pictures of everyone there but somehow Aunty Lorraine’s picture was a little larger. Continue reading

Memories are made of this

The Rasquinhos

  1.  TooRa Lama Lama  and other stories under the Big Tent

Dad, I remember so clearly you singing to Romany and me  … in a soft voice with your fingers striking imaginary keys  “Toora Lama Lama ….Toora La ma Lama  … can you hear the rain?  ……..Toora … lama.. lama …Toora lama … lama …. Can you hear the rain?

I cannot remember the rest of it – or even if there was anything other than “Toora lama lama”. ( Googling it now I realise it was probably an adaptation of the Irish lullaby Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Raloo) but  it was always gentle and soothing.  Although we did not fully understand our feelings then,  we felt comforted and secure. It brought a sense of  peace and of “being” –  one with nature and the rain – just to hear that verse being repeated so gently and softly whilst we fell asleep.

I also remember your singing “How much is that daaaaaawgie in the WIN…DOW”; you made us feel so compassionate for the little dog.

And will not easily forget the stories under the “Big Tent”,     Continue reading