Sunday, August 24, 2014



Seeing her tremendous girth, I understand her worth.
She strains to move, to breathe, to live. I share her truth.
Her deeply sorrowful eyes unveil her thousand-mile stare,
screaming those torturous thoughts—I've know far too well.
I care, but do not dare to share my pain, my heart, my truth:
It's definitely not food, but PAIN that she has swallowed.

Yet in vain, she dreams of whom she was inside that
fortress she alone created, merely to exclude those
too familiar, agonizing and tormenting lies of love.
Why should it be that love for her, being sown with lies,
could harvest only pain? Her lonely thoughts implore:
"......why me? Help Me! SAVE Me! LOVE ME!"

Her silent, unrequited prayers are deafening---
at least to me—because I know her one true pain.
Believing surely that of truth and love, she's most
certainly unworthy. Her pleas, unfettered, battle those
darkened clouds enshrouding her despairing heart.
.....A silent answer sifts—her burdened spirit lifts!

Through unconditional, intrepid love of self, immediately
recognized, embraced and understood, at once she is
empowered by new envisioning and true enlightening!
Past incredulities suspended, she now embraces her
life's astounding rebirth—by terminating swallowed pain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I don’t believe in "coincidence". I do, however, firmly subscribe to the philosophy that there is a sublime reason for each and every thing that happens in human beings' lives, regardless of whether it is a huge event, or a seemingly miniscule and fleeting moment. This was never more evident to me than when I recently tripped across an old memory—my personal memory of “Little Bare Knees Berneice".

It was a barely significant incident in my childhood. From kindergarten in 1955, to the sixth grade, I attended Rolph Road Public School in Leaside, (a town originally amalgamated into the Borough of East York, then later into the City of Toronto). After about the second grade, and during all of those years to follow, when I walked unaccompanied,* to and from my school, I was safely escorted across the main intersection at the corner of my street by the elderly, gray-haired crossing-guard, Mr. Shamus MacNeely.

My best estimate would put old Mr. MacNeely around 1
57 years of age—at that time! His was a diminutive stature which was even further shortened by the distinctly forward bend his spine. His gait manifested a rhythmical limp definitely favouring his right leg. I think this was probably, at some time or another, the result of him either being honourably woundedin the service of his country, or perhaps less than honourably maimed in just another pubbrawl gone somewhat awry!

MacNeely’s fearsome scowl was only exacerbated by the ruddiness of his complexion and his
pockmarked blue, or actually more like purple, vein-riddled, bulbous protuberance, which was only barely recognizable as his nose! I suppose it could be said he looked a little bit like Santa Claus, only unlike Santa’s trade-mark white, fluffy and cottony beard, the old man’s facial hair was thick, smoky, grimy and grey-tinged with yellow. There was a definite connection between his facial hair and his brushy side-burns which grew all the way down, incorporating the unruly over-growth of his down-turned eye-brows into a marriage with his side-burns. All in all, the grey and yellow fuzz did a fairly complete job of entirely faming his face!
Unfortunately, those wild and wooly eye-brows gave old Shamus a particularly angry visage--probably one reason I was not alone in being terrified of him, at least at first!

This caricature from an ‘old-sailor’s head shaving mug’ sported fingers which were like thick, shapeless, hairy white sausages, dreadfully scarred and stuck awkwardly onto the end of his huge, fat hands; and those were almost indistinguishable at the end of his unusually short, plump arms!

The old man seemed to undertake his responsibilities with a level of seriousness one would not normally associate with that particular career choice. He’d use his "STOP" sign in the same manner a person might communicate in sign language with someone who is deaf. He’d wave us little kids to “come on”, or to “stop” abruptly, or even pat us on our collective bums and hurry us a little faster across the street! And he’d wield it in the air, maniacally chasing any offending drivers who dared to disobey and tried to scoot through his intersection after he had firmly waved his authoritative sign demanding them to halt!

The old man spoke in a very loud, gruff, rumbling voice, heavy and husky from years of slowly inhaling the signature pipe which always hung lazily thus forging a path through the yellow-gray bristles around his virtually indistinguishable little mouth. When he spoke, the bristles moved up and down, but his lips stayed virtually shut, so you rarely saw his old, sparse, yellowed, broken teeth. Perhaps his voice was affected by the years of imbibing the "medicine" he kept in a little, faded, brown leather-covered flask, (something, I
noticed, he’d predictably stash with a quickness whenever another adult came by).Actually as I think back, I remember now, though not understanding then, that he smelled of the cheap whiskey he would both, consume internally, and dribble externally following hurried swigs.

The whiskey was also most likely the reason he was so adept at creating those little names and rhymes and songs which he jovially delivered off-key or occasionally whistled! He was obviously, entertaining himself first and if anyone else enjoyed his little performances, so much the better!

Sometimes I had a hard time understanding old MacNeely’s thick accent with its "R-R-R-rolling" Scottish brogue, which he most obviously delighted in not only keeping intact, but also actually cultivating despite the decades of his residing in Canada! Of course he was harmless enough, and after awhile I looked forward to daily his antics. Also, it was very reassuring when he made it his personal mission to first learn the given names, and then invent his own individualized nick-names, for all the children on his watch, including, of course, yours truly!

Living in the snow belt of Ontario, I remember year after year suffering through very long, excruciatingly cold, snowy, icy winters. So cold, in fact, the atmosphere stole your breath when you first ventured out of doors! Despite these foreseeable, annual conditions, I never understood why the girl’s school grade school uniform, forced upon us, remained unchallenged as only a navy-blue cotton, wide-pleated tunic and a crisply pressed white blouse (the only concession for winter being a change to wearing long-sleeved shirts). Of course, instead of wearing sensibly warm tights or leggings we had to wear obligatory matching navy-blue, or white, knee-socks! Yes, that was socks--just to our knees!
Of course, in order to ensure we wouldn't wear our tunics too short, risking undue exposure, our Principal made all of the girls in the school regularly line up class by class and kneel side-by-side across the very front edge of the gymnasium stage while he actually walked along below in the orchestra pit using a ruler to ensure the four inch distance from the tunic hems to each girl's knees! If the tunic measured too short, or
too long, the offender was sent home straightaway with a note to the parents to re-hem the tunic and to were expected to amend the situation by the next school day!

The first year I met Mr. MacNeely, as soon as the weather turned cold, he would repeatedly express his concern that my little knees were bare, and he’d ask me every day: "Aren't your little bare knees cold?". After awhile when he saw me coming he’d sing: "Here comes the little girl with the cold bare knees!" After awhile I wasn’t afraid anymore, in fact, I was amused. When he laughed at himself, I was treated to
the visage of his wide, yellowed, long-and-gapped-toothed grin and a funny song mixing up pieces of little sayings with children’s rhymes. But mostly the old codger made me laugh when he started to call me "Little Bare Knees".

Eventually his accent mixed with the cold air, and maybe just a little of the "spirits", made his words seem to slur from "bare knees" to "barenees", to "berenees", to "berneece", and then "Berneice!" Finally he seemed to settle on that as my new nickname, and one that stuck with me for all my school years at Rolph Road. As far as old Mr. MacNeely was concerned, my actual given name was in fact, "Berneice"!

An unusual name, Berneice, and it wasn’t really very common at all in the fifty’s or sixty’s, unlike Mary or Susie or even Cathy. It was a name that held absolutely no significance for me until April 26, 2001--more than four decades later! That was the day I was finally discovered and contacted by the brother I never even knew existed,
Richard Ketteringham. Richard had promised our mother, whom I never did meet, on her death-bed, that he would never stop searching for me and here it was some 28 years into his search when his promise was fulfilled!

It was on that day I first found out that I was literally ripped from my mother’s arms in 1950 when I was only six weeks of age. I knew then, for the first time, that my birth mother had not only loved me dearly, but also had wanted me very much and would have never given me up willingly. This was exactly the opposite of what my abusive, adoptive had mother drilled into my brain throughout my entire life! After I
was pried from her grasp, my birth mother anguished and suffered her entire life, daily searching for mine, in the myriad sea of strange faces in the passing parade of downtown Toronto’s throngs.

And the connection between us?

My birth mother’s name was Berneice!!

How unbelievably prophetic was old Mr. MacNeely’s nickname for me! Sometimes I have to wonder, what my real mother, Berneice, would have thought about her lost little "Bare Knees Berneice"!

See what I mean? No coincidences!

*(this occurred back in the day when children were safe and didn’t have to be driven or hand-held to go anywhere in such a safe, small-town atmosphere in Leaside, a
middle-to-upper class suburb in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.)


I look at her tremendous girth
I know the truth.

She strains to move, to breathe, to live.
I know the truth.

Her deep, sad eyes are screaming!
I catch her thousand mile stare
and know what she is thinking.

I care, but do not dare to share
what were, but are no longer there:
My pain, my truth.

It is not food--but PAIN
that she has swallowed,
yet in vain.

She dreams of whom she was
inside this fortress she alone has built
to keep love out.

The love she knew bore lies and pain.
How could it be if truth is love
that any love is pain?

"Why me?" "Help me!" "Save me!"
Her silent prayers are deafening.
"Of truth and love, I know I am unworthy."

Her pleas, unfettered reach the heavens.
Through cloud and rain a silent answer sifts.
Her burdened spirit lifts.

LOVE, unconditional, fearless, free
at once embraced and understood.
Her vision, an enlightenment for TRUTH.

Empowered now by her own TRUTH.
Confronting the old lies of love,
Her life begins by ending swallowed pain.

Monday, January 21, 2008


The leaves outside my morning window
in pairs, they swiftly swing,
dancing to the melodies of time.

I watch them twirl and sway,
chosen partners with the breeze'
Their dance is a waltz of freedom.

Swirling and lifting, flying to Heaven.
I watch in stillness lest I disturb
the silent harmonies of the wind.

Only an invisible spectator peering
from my lofty theatre seat and listening,
I strain to hear the rhythms that they follow.

These private melodies of the wind
will pipe their timeless tunes for these
dancers caught in autumn's tight embrace.

The circle of their lush green lives
completes itself, now draped in all
the vibrant rainbows of their death.

This is their one and only waltz,
the last dance they will share,
for only in death can they dance.

Only in death do they fly.
Only in death are they free.
Only in death will they live.


I think one of my sweetest memories of my daddy was when he took me out for snowy night-time sleigh rides—just the two of us!
He bundled me up like a little papoose, tucked a hot-water bottle by my feet and covered me with a cozy, soft blanket! As we sailed along, he told me stories of the 'olden' days when he was a little boy. His daddy would pull him in a sleigh through the night snow, all the while keeping him, as he expressed it, "snug as a bug in a rug"; but instead of a hot-water bottle, it was a towel-wrapped brick which had been lovingly heated in their fireplace!

Although daddy sang to me all the time, those special sleigh-ride serenades became forever beautifully etched in my heart. Even now when I am very still and quiet and I close my eyes tightly, I can feel his wonderful winter serenades cocooning my soul. I remember "Oh My Papa", "My Darling Clementine" and "A Bicycle Built for Two". Even more glorious than the hymns he sang, were his Christmastime renditions of all my favourite carols! But the most fun we shared was when he invented new songs, about “us” and “fun” and “love” and “happiness” and “forever” we carved our memories along the snow-packed trails.

In between songs, our world was so silent and still: no cars, no people, just the "crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch" of daddy's big, black rubber boots, unlatched and flapping as they rhythmically pressed their patterns in the new snow. So bundled up I couldn't move, I’d just lean way back in my sleigh and try to dangle my arms over the sides. With daddy as My Protector, I was fearless, even when the passing snow 'monsters', flanking each drive-way, reached out to grab my wooly, double-mittened hands.

The tree limbs bowed so painfully under their crisply sparkling white armour, that every now and then a loud crack announced their inevitable capitulation. While picture windows poured their golden yellow warmth into the night air, monstrous icicle daggers, filled with glinting starlight, warned of danger for any who ventured too near. Under our black-navy-blue velvet sky, spackled with the magic dancing glint of faraway worlds, I watched in amazement as moon-rays joined partners in a silent waltz, in step with my daddy's boots. While illuminating our path, in tandem step, they mirrored our every turn.

Soft snowflakes settled on my nose and cheeks, lengthened my eyelashes and danced an icy fandango on my tongue.
"Where do the all these snowflakes come from daddy?"
After a deeply pensive moment came my daddy’s own, very special reply:
"These are our special snowflakes, Bunny and they come from the moon—they float all the way down from the moon."
Why of course they do and they are too! Certainly he was right! I should have known that these weren't ordinary snowflakes! Daddy said, and my daddy never lied:
"Bunny dear, these are our own very special, mystical, Magical Moonflakes!"

Although I always hoped those enchanted wintry sails through the Moonflakes would go on forever into the infinite night, our journeys always ended at our front door where "her" terrifyingly secretive, depraved and venomous anger halted the serenades. With a hate-filled glare, she instantly melted, (correction, vaporized), our delightfully fleeting moments, vanishing them just like the breath from the depth of our souls...into the endlessly dark and crackling night air.

With the greatest anticipation, and a secret little prayer of hope, I always begged:
"Daddy...will there be Magical Moonflakes for us tomorrow night?"
...and he always assured me with just the tiniest promise:

"We’ll see, Bunny, we’ll see..."