The Blessings That Emerged From Imagining Monet Almost Defy Imagination; A Chance Encounter Resulting in a FaceBook Entry; Providence Defined; First and Second Instances of Convulsive Crying Explained; Going Alone to Places and Events; A Violinist in a Beauty Salon on Saadiyat Island; Photographs of Two People Having Fun

This from Google: “If something defies description or understanding, it is so strange, extreme, or surprising that it is almost impossible to understand or explain.”

So here is was happened, all of this because I went back to Imaging Monet for the second visit. The first visit to the Edmonton Exhibit Hall, (where it is temporarily housed) was in the beginning of July. I admit to being overwhelmed with the power and vitality on the first visit, left early making a vow to return. I kept my vow and shall forever be grateful because so many great ‘happenings’ have taken place simply because I returned with enthusiasm.

Walked in to the darkened space and by chance sat on a bench next to a young woman. I had gone to the exhibit alone (more about that later). Whispered to the young woman that this was my second visit, that I was also very familiar with Monet’s work. Then filmed a rather makeshift reel for Instagram. Some people make fancy professional reels, not me. Mine simply say: Hi, its me Alexis and then proceed from there. This was no different.

The young woman sitting next to me proved to be an inspiration. I shall fast forward to the message that she wrote on FaceBook. I am not technologically advanced enough to somehow incorporate FaceBook into this blog. I have my strengths but math, singing and technology are not on my (rather long) list of abilities.

Her words, not mine.
“We both were so touched by the beautiful paintings and opera singing that tears welled up our eyes. I noticed her shedding tears more so than I. I reached out to pat her on the shoulder and she exclaimed it is so beautiful and she laughed at how ridiculous it is to cry and laugh at the same time. In the end she said her day was wondrous and to also have a stranger reach out to give her a kind touch. This lady really loves life. She laughs and feels deeply everything around her. She claims she is a famous woman. I believe her. She travels the world. I think I met a kindred spirit. She gave me her business card. This is her blog. “

I think of the sheer chance of meeting this woman – the multiple occurrences, tens perhaps hundreds. It was sheer serendipity which is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, But examining the synonyms found that providence was a better word, conveying deeper meaning. One meaning of providence is God or nature as providing protective or spiritual care. It seemed her presence in my life at that moment did give me spiritual care. Her description: ‘shedding more tears than I’ was not exactly accurate. I was immersed in heaving, convulsive sobs. The  synonyms of providence are: destiny, nemesis, kismet, God’s will, divine intervention, predestination, predetermination; astral influence, the stars; fortune, fortuity. When she patted my shoulder it seemed it was divine intervention, Allah was comforting me.

I had had a smilier experience once in my life, a moment of convulsive crying. Where did that happen? In the Women’s Prayer Room of the Grand Mosque. Gracious staff allowed me to enter the room alone, providing me with a prayer ‘rug’. I knelt in solitary prayer and was seized with incredible gratitude – the blessing of being at that place, at that time. Saw that my entire life had gotten me there – both the good times and the horrible torturous bad times. At that moment was so profoundly grateful to Allah for both, even the tortuous bad times. Tears steamed down my face, turquoise eye liner made rivers down my cheeks. I must have looked ridiculous. My ‘pusher’ collected me as I needed a wheel chair and we headed toward the exit, a long distance with many folks, mostly tourists, not worshippers. But my tears were replaced with joy, waving and laughing referring to myself as Sheikha Fatimah.

The Imagining Monet emotions were the same. Looking at the enormous renderings of Monet’s haystacks was reminded of all of my experiences with Monet, trips to Paris, to Giverney, the Dominican University graduate course, Paris, City of Light taught by a Dominican nun. Under her tutelage learned of France at the time Monet was in residence there. All of those experiences combined to put me in a state of wonder and appreciation for my life. Here I am back in the city I shall again call home experiencing on a visceral level ,my past.  And then, at that moment of revelation – to experience human kindness in its finest form – the sympathetic, caring pat on the shoulder. It was WOW.

I went to the exhibit alone. Spoke of my plans for the day with  Pat, a wonderful woman who works as a cashier at the  at the Legislative Cafeteria (my breakfast place).

Me: I am feeling tired but I am going to the Imagining Monet exhibit for another visit today.
She: Are you going with a friend?
Me: No I hate going places with a girlfriend. You both spend all your time trying to please each other, not having the freedom to explore and stay as long as you want. Just talking to one another, not meeting others or conversing with staff. I love doing things on my own.
She: I understand, that makes sense. I had not looked at that before.

Actually I had invited a young couple to go with me but she made some excuse. They recently arrived from Iran and live in my building. Met them accidentally some days ago and invited them. But it was a no go. I am SO grateful they were not with me because I would not have had the profound experience that had so much meaning. Would not have met a young woman who felt I was a kindred soul.

Everyone mentioned on my blog has a nickname. Have not arrived at one for my ‘kindred soul”. Maybe KIKS – Kind Intelligent Kindred Soul. I like it – hope she does too.

After she left I went to the gift shop, conversing with the young woman working there about history and how alive history becomes with fiction. The people and times become real. She lived in many cities across Canada as her father was in the military. Edmonton is her favorite.
Me: Well we have two things in common. I find historical fiction brilliant beyond words and Edmonton is now my favorite city.

KIKS send me an email the next morning, including photos of the two of us. This was the conversation.
She: I hope I reached the right spirited woman I met at the Monet. It was so lovely to meet u and I would love to continue hearing your stories.
Me: You did reach the right person my luv. I will respond longer, later as I need to send off the blog and go to breakfast. I did not speak, as yet of the Monet exhibit so your photos are so perfectly timely. With much affection
She: Comfort is a drug. Once you get used to it, it becomes addicting.  Give a weak person consistent stimulation, good food, cheap entertainment and they’ll throw their ambitions right out the window.  The comfort zone is where dreams go and die.
Me: You are brilliant!!!’ It is true about the comfort zone. It can be translated in many ways. Fat and happy being one of them. The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions is another. ? hahahaha
She: So true! You make me think of Anne of Green Gables. Full of words n imagination.
Me: I remember reading that book ages ago. THANKS what a compliment!!’ Alexis
Did I tell you that I have a Muslim name? It is Fatimah
She: oh okay. Fatimah! that sounds cool. However, I still love your name Alexis. It is just such a wondrous name. I wish I am Alexis. People can call me Alex too. How are you? Hope you are having a good day.
Me: I love my name as well. When I was a little girl people would ask me what they should call me. I solemnly said: “Alexis please” became Lexy Dryburgh when writing for the , the University of Alberta student paper, but resumed my ‘formal’ name when I graduated. I am having a fantastic day. Started my blog . Wrote about you and me. Will send you the draft. Will not be posted until tomorrow.

Is not that a great way to begin a conversation with a kindred soul?

But the blessings were to continue. I sent the reel to some of the closest of my Instagram acquaintances – upon receiving their like DMed them, having intimate conversations with those who responded. This particular connection was special. A wonderful young Philippine woman works as a manicurist at a salon in Saadiyat Island. Her dear friend and colleague Lisa was the woman I was most attached to – saw her weekly, she styled my hair as well the manis and pedis. But near the end of my sojourn in Abu Dhabi I did not leave the hotel, two other young women from the Philippines made ‘home visits’ so Angie and her friend would come to the hotel every week. We had an hilarious time, laughing and joking so noisily that we would not hear room service knocking on the door. Angie stayed in touch with me through Instagram. Lisa tragically died, Angie shared her final moments with me on an Instagram reel – she was taken off life support as the stroke left her brain dead. I reached out to try to comfort Angie from afar – we have continued in correspondence. I sent her the Imagining Monet reel – she in turn send me a special gift. It was a reel of a beautiful woman in performance in the salon. She a classical violinist played with such virtuoso, it was stunning. It was a gift. If I were adept, would share it with you but am not.

An experience of beauty became a shared experience of intimacy, charing and connection. It is an example of the best of social media, feel extremely blessed to have shared and be included. I suppose I could focus on those that could not even bother pressing their finger in a like – but that would be a distraction. Some people use social media to avoid intimacy not to connect, they are to be pitied.

It is always best to have people in your life who are close at hand. Blessedly KIKS is an Edmontonian, employed at the University of Alberta Hospital, where my first husband interned. We lived at the Intern’s Residence in 1966-1967. I have not been back there but understand the building became a center for families who wished to stay near their loved ones who were undergoing extensive and long term treatment. I must ask KIKS and also go and see the massive changes that have taken place in the intervening years.

My Legislative grounds is the scene of huge Alberta Day celebrations today.  Must join in although it is going to be hot, 36 is the prediction. However next week temperatures will drop to 17. Winter is on its way at last, a joy for me but not to other residents of this fair city.

The photographs attached to this blog are three of those that KIKS sent. We look like we were having a good time.  We were!!

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