Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Tale of Riches

When I was a little girl, my Mom sometimes worked as a home care nurse. Many evenings, she would pick me up from day care, and I'd visit her last client of the day with her. My favourite was a very elderly, very elegant woman with long snow white hair. As my Mom prepared her medications, she would show me her photographs. She shared the story of her life in bits and pieces. Tales of war. Tales of travel. Tales of romance and adventure. Her voice was sometimes weak, but she never failed to excite my imagination and send me spinning round her living room acting out a scene from her personal history. One night, as I was re-enacting a waltz at a grandiose ball, she called me closer and took my hand. "Little one" she said, "I have had the finest champagne from the finest crystal with the finest people, but nothing compares to a cup of coffee in a tin cup with a true friend."

Today, I woke with this memory fresh in my mind. Probably because I've spent months searching for words that even hint at the depth of gratitude I hold for my closest friends.

Last night, at the Inaugural meeting of the new Council, I had the opportunity to say a few words. I tripped over thank you. Stumbled over goodbye. I haven't had the time or distance to process the events and issues of the last three years. I haven't yet finished living the stories I hope to share with my own Great Grandchildren. Thus far, my tale is one of riches.

In these final days as Councillor, I've received a number of emails and letters that will forever be kept in my "Good Thoughts" file. Some from old friends and some from people I've met only recently. When I looked out at the crowd in Council Chambers last night, I saw many faces that I barely knew in December 2008. Now I can't imagine my life without them. I was told once that being in politics is a sure way to lose friends. I have had losses. Fortunately, they have been rare. My oldest friends are not only still willing to write the next few chapters with me, they are my precious historians. They are the ones who remind me where I came from when I'm trying to figure out where I'm going. My newest friends looked past the "politician" and got to know me anyways. They stepped into my life just when I needed them. A treasured few came into my life angry over a political issue. We ended up caring about each other anyways. Unexpected, inexplicable riches.

Today, everywhere I went, I was asked one question, "What next?" The voice in my heart has been asking for weeks. "what next? what NEXT? WHAT NEXT?" I don't have the answer yet. Whatever lies ahead, in my final days, I want the little girl I tell my story to, to know that the most valuable thing in life is genuine friendship. I intend to live it on every page of my story.

I woke with another vivid thought this morning. I remember asking that same wise lady, "How will I ever know what I want to be when I grow up?" She responded, "Fly your kite and the tail will follow." Something to discuss with the people I love...over a cup of coffee in a tin cup.