Ad-hoc Trajectories by Dallas V Doubaitis
Just a few days before Christmas, I was in Victoria with my trusty Canon taking pictures of art shows and seeing friends and eating Christmas lunches.
That was also the day that my Grandma died.
I drank two bottles of red wine that night, alone. I refused to decorate my gingerbread cookies. Smarties and icing, although they taste delicious stuck to spicy gingerbread, just seemed too cheerful. I wore black on Christmas Day.
Since that day I have been all over the Island and the Lower Mainland, eating dinners and exchanging Christmas gifts and attending funerals. I’ve been in the company of a lot of people. Family, friends, strangers. And I was surprised at how many people said to me, “Oh, your grandma died. Yeah, grandparents. They’re old. They die. Don’t worry about it”. Well, no one said those exact words, but the consensus was that grandparents didn’t really matter, that grandparents were some generic form of humanity that no one really cared about.
My Grandmother was named Gwen. She was my last grandparent.
I was lucky. As a kid I had both sets of grandparents and two sets of great grandparents, all living in the same town. I had a lot of nice old people in my life. Some of them were a little more interested in me than others, but they were all there, a living reminder of the past and of my family, where I had come from and who I was. And one by one they have all died. They’re homes are gone; the crocheted cushions with those knobbly pompoms, the crystal candy dishes, the cookie jar, the cats and dogs, the ancient linoleum, the smell of lamp oil. The family dinners and the raucous Christmas parties. All gone.
I still have my parents, but before me and before us all I see a gaping yawning hole. I see the end. Death. I see a time when I will cease to exist just as completely as my grandparents have. They lead the way.
Behind me, I see the same dark void. I am one of the gathering many; I don’t have any children. Who will I give my Grandma’s silverware to, and the china and the pretty necklaces and watches and things that I have inherited? Who will sort through my books and paintings when I am gone? Who will treasure my childhood mementos? Who will remember me?
Why am I here if all I am is so essentially and completely and finally unimportant.
I am writing on Art in Victoria and so I must bring this round again to art.
I am writing on Art in Victoria because art is a saving grace. It is an action, it is a day, it is a life. It will not keep me from death, mine or anyone’s, but it will keep my hands busy and my mind full while I wait.