the comfort of why

Musings

Now Is The Spring of Our Discontent

“Never leave a dimension out.”
Stuart Hall

So, what happened?

And I write this not as someone who knows definitively.

I write this as a Canadian voter, one who has voted in every municipal, provincial, and federal election since I became eligible to do so.

A voter of a particular demographic in a particular context at a particular time.

A voter trying to puzzle through a complex situation with access to too much information from too many sources and too many people, none of which are authoritative and none of whom can know definitively.

Even the words direct participants offer have to be weighed because there’s always a personal dimension to what is said, what is done, and what is remembered no matter how meticulous the note-taking or how clear the recording.

There is also a particular challenge with this most recent Canadian political controversy because it encompasses economic, political, social, historical, constitutional, and legal dimensions, among others, and to understand some of these I’ve had to rely on the interpretation and explication of others.

I have also made a number of assumptions in my effort to understand what has happened, to determine how I feel about it all, and to reflect on what it means for my future voting intentions.

Reema shares an image of Canada Day celebrations on the Rideau Canal from July 2017.
Ottawa, Canada Day, 2017

To start, I do not believe that any of the key players were operating with nefarious intent.

That is, I do not believe that Ms. Wilson-Raybould was trying to bring down the Liberal government and I do not believe that the Prime Minister, the PMO, the PCO, and others were acting in an unethical manner.

I also do not believe that the Canadian government is corrupt.

I recognize that relationships between our governments and Big Business are uncomfortably close. That applies to the current government, all past governments, and any future ones. This is symptomatic of governments around the world and is a reflection of the unbridled capitalist system that dominates global economies.

For those NDP supporters who will jump up and say, “Not-our-party,” look at the governments in Alberta and British Columbia to understand that even NDP governments have to contend with Big Business. The challenge is to draw social and economic benefits from Big Business and not to placate the corporate sector or to give into the bullying of particular corporations, especially those who claim their survival is at stake.

It’s a difficult balance to achieve and it doesn’t matter to, or isn’t a goal for, the true revolutionaries whose interests are in dismantling the current economic system.

It is also unfounded, in my estimation, to say this Prime Minister and this government do not believe in the rule of law.

The mechanism at the heart of the recent Canadian political explosion, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement or DPA, is a punitive measure and an admission of wrongdoing. It is also part of Canadian legislation; it is the law of this country.

To pursue a DPA is not about circumventing the law. It is about upholding the law using an alternative approach to resolution, in the same vein as mediations, arbitrations, and out-of-court settlements.

I am not saying whether or not SNC Lavalin qualifies for a DPA because it is not a question for me to answer nor is it one that I’m capable of answering. However, there are different views on this issue even from those with the expertise and professional qualifications to make such a determination. For example, The National Observer’s Sandy Garossino has written eloquently on why, in her view, SNC Lavalin does not qualify for a DPA and other legal mavens have said that perhaps they might.

However, if one’s interpretation of events includes the belief that DPAs were included in Canadian legislation only to serve the interests of SNC Lavalin, then that person is operating from the point of view that the government is corrupt — although no proof to that effect has been offered anywhere that I have seen and which I’ve already stated is not my position.

The final assumption that I’ve made, or I should more accurately say presumption, is that the working relationship between the Prime Minister, his former Chief of Staff, the PMO, the PCO, the Cabinet, the Liberal Caucus and the former Attorney General had begun to deteriorate long before a concerned anonymous source leaked a story that was not theirs to tell to Robert Fife of The Globe and Mail.

I obviously have no way to gauge the source of this tension. Was it due to disagreements around judicial appointments (now a confirmed part of the narrative because of another anonymous leak), the Indigenous Rights framework (now confirmed because of a recent interview with Jody Wilson-Raybould), or even other legislation such as the legalization of cannabis or medical assistance in dying? Or was it all of the above and more?

It’s reasonable to conclude, however, that this nagging and gnawing tension, which snapped under the pressure of the last three months, was partly due to personality conflicts.

So, after my long preamble, what happened?

Nothing illegal.

Those were the words of Jody Wilson-Raybould to the Justice Committee and words that she has not contradicted since she first spoke them.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould also stated that she was not directed to take a particular course of action.

In the absence of illegality and a lack of direction, the question becomes one of ethics. More specifically, was the pressure that Ms. Wilson-Raybould felt and documented political interference?

This is where the personal dimension comes into play.

To see the calls and discussions on the SNC Lavalin file as political interference instead of an attempt to explore the viability of applying a lawful alternative makes sense if one does not trust those involved in the discussions.

And, to me, this was the PMO’s and PCO’s greatest failing. They did not understand or make an attempt to understand the level of mistrust and distrust that had, over time, imbued their relationship with the former Attorney General.

Political interference also makes sense if there is a narrow interpretation of the Attorney General’s discretion, another point I’ve seen debated by experts online.

The attribution of political interference does not make sense if additional factors are considered such as reports that were not shared with the PCO and PMO, the refusal to consider the merits of outside counsel on the potential use of new, precedent-setting legislation, and incomplete explanations. As any parent knows, “no, because” is not persuasive argumentation.

And, to me, this is one area where room opens up to question Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s approach to communicating with her colleagues.

There is also a sequence of events that makes it even more difficult to determine an answer to the question of whether or not the undue pressure Ms. Wilson-Raybould experienced did constitute political interference because there were other alternatives and options available to her that she chose not to take.

For example, according to the Shawcross Principle, an Attorney General must resign if they feel the actions of the government are unacceptable.

At this point, someone will fire back and question why I, someone who is not a lawyer and not a constitutional expert, is talking about a legal and constitutional manner. True, but neither are most Canadian voters. Neither are most opinion columnists with national platforms and yet their interpretations, whether well informed, uniformed, or misinformed, are read and presented as definitive when they should be read and understood as speculative.

Furthermore, as stated above, I am a Canadian voter who has to assess, to the best of my ability, the legal and constitutional threads that have woven this tumultuous tapestry.

I have to make my determinations based on the information available to me and which I am able to process even when lawyers and constitutional experts don’t agree. That is the burden of democratic citizenship, which is not easy and which is predicated on making an effort to contemplate, consider, contest, and conclude.

Another retort I’ve seen made, when the Shawcross Principle is invoked, is to question why Jody Wilson-Raybould, as Attorney General, should have been the one to resign.

The answer is straightforward.

Because she was Attorney General and that is what Attorney Generals are obligated to do according to the terms of the Shawcross Principle. There is also historical precedence of Attorney Generals who have done exactly that.

So, in the absence of Jody Wilson-Raybould resigning at this point in the saga, the only reasonable assumption observers can make is that whatever the government did, it was not bad enough to trigger the resignation of the Attorney General as required.

That is, the government didn’t cross the line. Its conduct was ethical or, if you prefer, bad, but not bad enough.

Another angle some have taken, such as Jane Philpott in her interview with Macleans, is that Ms. Wilson-Raybould didn’t resign because if she were to do so, the full force of corruption and malfeasance would be unleashed on Canadians and the Canadian justice system. While this is a noble thought, the argument is fallacious.

Had Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned as Attorney General, it would have been the clearest indication that the government had acted in an indisputably unethical manner. A resignation under those circumstances would have given rise to many of the same consequences — outrage, questions, investigations, and so forth — without the damage of leak and counter-leak, let alone hyperbolic media reaction and unpalatable opposition partisanship, to the general public’s trust and faith in our political processes and our systems of governance.

Furthermore, the one-person-against-all argument shows a disregard for the strength of our existing systems and institutions. It’s a stance that portrays our systems and institutions as already weak, corrupt, and malleable despite the paucity of evidence to that effect. However, evidence isn’t required if one is predisposed to see them in this light because of one’s own unhappiness, displeasure, or dissatisfaction with the Canadian government and its workings.

And that is not the same as saying Canada is perfect.

Nothing is, no one is.

The next juncture that raises questions about the events that unfolded and the perception of political interference has to do with Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s move to Veterans Affairs.

Despite her disenchantment with the Prime Minister, the PMO, and the PCO and her belief that their actions constituted political interference, she did not say no to another position at the same cabinet table with the same cabinet colleagues in the same government.

Her resignation came after a barrage of insulting media coverage that depicted the move as a demotion. More specifically, Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned from Cabinet after the Prime Minister blithely asserted that all was well when he and his team should have known better.

However, I understand the logic of the situation. The Prime Minister and his team believed that matters had been resolved. They assumed the willingness of the Minister to continue to sit at the Cabinet table was evidence that equilibrium had been reestablished. This may have been naive given Jane Philpott’s intervention and the contentious pre-shuffle discussions with Ms. Wilson-Raybould, but on what basis should they have thought otherwise?

A family member, during a recent politically tinged discussion around the dinner table, argued that Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s hand was forced with each declaration the government made. That is, she may have stayed as Minister of Veterans Affairs if only the Prime Minister hadn’t averred her contentment with such obliviousness. So, each step she took was in reaction to a narrative which she felt was objectionable and untrue.

That’s fair and it is a different interpretation that I will continue to evaluate.

However, if Ms. Wilson-Raybould had lost confidence in the Prime Minister (a question she did not answer during her appearance before the Justice Committee and hasn’t answered, to the best of my knowledge in subsequent interviews and disclosures) and if she objected to the actions of the various team members, and given all the other objections she had raised in the pre-shuffle negotiations, if these were all reasons for not accepting the position as Minister of Veterans Affairs, what were the Prime Minister, the PMO, and the PCO to think when she did accept the post? How were they to know what may have appeared to be an acceptable outcome was nothing of the sort?

And if my presumption about a pre-existing fractious working relationship is true, perhaps the Prime Minister and his team had been wanting to shuffle cabinet posts even before the SNC Lavalin situation turned into molten lava.

Although cabinet shuffles are the prerogative of the Prime Minister, the PMO was likely aware that the optics of shuffling the Attorney General would have been appalling no matter when such a move was made. In that sense, Scott Brison’s departure must have felt like a heaven sent opportunity. Here was a new vacancy that permitted a larger cabinet shuffle. And because that did seem to be an answer to an ongoing issue, they jumped at the opportunity of what must have seemed like a tailor made solution despite the warnings and cautions they had received.

With regard to the secret recording Ms. Wilson-Raybould made of her telephone conversation with Michael Wernick, I have struggled to understand what it was that made her feel so threatened that she resorted to the one incontestably unethical action in this whole story.

What made her feel so desperate?

As with most aspects of this ongoing saga, interpretations of the recording have varied widely and the only purpose it seems to have served is to confirm, as the CBC’s Aaron Wherry and others tweeted, pre-existing positions.

That is, if you believe Ms. Wilson-Raybould was the only one bravely standing up to political interference, then in the call you heard her being unduly pressured. If you believe that the government was trying to understand Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s positioning on the SNC Lavalin file, then in the call you heard someone trying to make sense of a contentious issue in a context where much was not understood and even less was shared.

I recognize that Ms. Wilson-Raybould felt isolated and alone within Caucus although she had at least two stalwart supporters and the guidance of the trusted advisor to whom she has alluded.

But, what did she think recording Mr. Wernick would accomplish? Why was she unwilling to stand firm now when she had stood firm so far and had been successful in doing so?

I also don’t understand why Ms. Wilson-Raybould refused to seek outside legal advice with regard to the merits of a DPA for SNC Lavalin. I realize that it meant that her colleagues were not satisfied with her refusal to consider the viability of the new legal alternative, but she knew that already.

I have no doubt the constant second-guessing and “what ifs” frustrated her. I’ve been the only woman on a senior management team in a corporate setting. Many men don’t listen to women. It is a constant struggle to be heard. It’s a struggle that is disheartening, discouraging, and demoralizing.

It’s also not right nor fair.

However, it is a reality that women in male-dominated careers and professions contend with and sometimes managing the situation entails taking steps that in a healthier, more collaborative environment would not be required.

Getting an external review that agreed with the position Ms. Wilson-Raybould was taking would have ended the calls and inquiries more certainly than a secret recording that compromised her ethics. If an external review raised doubts about the conclusion that a DPA was not merited, then she could still have refused to change her position or she may have opted to reconsider based on sound, legal advice, not on political grounds. The fact that she did not pursue this avenue, continues to mystify me.

In the end, it seems to me that the bumbling response of the Prime Minister and the PMO, especially in the initial phases of the storm, was because all the players involved were gobsmacked by the unravelling of a relationship they assumed had healed. The saga is in fact reminiscent of every bad break up any of us have had, where the person that’s left has left us blubbering, over tubs of ice cream, mounds of chocolate, and scads of tissues, “I just don’t get it! How could it all go so wrong? How could they do this to me?”

To me, the PMO reacted as they did because they were dumped by leak and had absolutely no clue why. That failure to grasp the intricacies of the deteriorating relationship, and their own responsibility for it, reflects naïveté rather than ill-intent. As with every schism, anger and grief set in, too, and decision-making, on the part of all parties involved, became suspect.

So, what happened?

To be honest, I’m still unsure and I don’t think that we will ever fully know, even if an inquiry were to be called.

There are too many moving parts of the puzzle. There too many dimensions to consider including the most elusive of all, the personal one.

I do know, however, that Canadian politics has paid a steep price and the result, so far, has only been to reap the dividends of distrust, division, and discord.

A Song And Its Resonance

There is this song.

I have listened to it obsessively. Usually at night before I turn off the lights. As a remedy, as a tonic, as an anthem for the work I’m doing and the work I hope to do.

I’ve written about music and memory before (see here), but this is different. This is about now and the way this music spurs me on in the current social and political climate.

This song is a spark. A spark that is a component of the antidote we need in these dark times of hate, intolerance, and evil.

It’s from a movie I’ve never watched and perhaps there’s a risk in viewing only one four-minute segment from a feature-length film. This video is also now almost a year old. I only discovered it because of YouTube’s algorithmic operation. The same algorithms that have contributed to so much of the strife and misinformation that contaminate our news and information diets. 

The song is from the movie The Greatest Showman. “This Is Me” is sung by Keala Settle who plays Lettie Lutz in the movie (Annie Jones in real life), the Bearded Lady and one of P. T. Barnum’s original nineteenth century cast members. Leaving aside the nature of Barnum’s commercial project and even the commercial project from which this song is drawn, absorb the lyrics as you watch the video. 

As much as the words move me, there is magic in the choreography. It’s that magic that pulls me in — every time. That resonates in my heart. The earthiness of the stamping feet, the power of the arms punched into the air, the rhythmic staccato of the bodies swaying. It’s solid, it’s demanding, it’s asserting the right of these bodies to exist as they are in all spaces. In the light, not the dark, in amongst you and me. In amongst us all.

There’s that moment when the performers are suspended in air. They’ve transcended the chains of exclusion and the labels of derision to float above their cares and their worries, but the truth is in the thud of their landing. That landing on two feet. That is when they reclaim their place. The true power of their existence is in the human groundedness of their experience. 

And as much as I appreciate the beauty of the production values in this video, the version of the song that I treasure is this one.

Here, Keala Settle is not singing the song from the character’s perspective. As authentically as she might inhabit the character in the film, she is not Lettie Lutz. That is the masquerade.

In the workshop version, Settle embodies the song. She embodies the essence of the words, the heart of the matter. Here, she is singing her life story. She is reliving every struggle, every hurt, every joy, every triumph, and every hope. It’s that uncloaked look into who she is, who she is without adornment or disguise, that opens up the whole performance, hers and that of every other person in the room. You can see it in the ecstatic communion of their spirits and voices.

And the universality in the message of this song, the truth of it, is that we are all different. Our differences do not make us less than any other. They only do so when others associate difference with inferiority, with lack, with less-than. 

Unfortunately, it is also a truth that those with power and privilege have gained their rank through a long historical process of magnifying and demonizing difference. Manipulating fear to validate sacrificing others for profit and prestige. For control.

So, there’s a radical — if not revolutionary — message in this song despite the fact that it’s embedded in a cultural artefact that itself is a product of our systems and structures of consumerism and privilege.

And it is this.

I know that there’s a place for us

For we are glorious

Each and every one of us.

And don’t let them, those who benefit from the exploitation of difference, ever tell you differently.

If they do, fight back. 

Do not give them a platform to amplify and broadcast hateful messages.

Vote them out.

 

 

Unnecessary Movie Audience Restrictions

Hieronymus Bosch.  A late-Medieval Dutch painter and an artist whose work intrigues my son.  

This month the Vancouver International Film Festival Society (VIFF) is screening a movie about curators preparing an upcoming exhibition of Bosch’s work. How interesting! How cultural! How … wait a minute: what do you mean I can’t take my son to see the film?  

It turns out that if a film is unclassified, the regulations prohibit the sale of a ticket to anyone under 19. How absurd! Furthermore, when a film is classified and those under 19 are able to attend, the VIFF theatre concession can no longer serve its adult patrons alcohol. How ridiculous!

So, I’ve written a letter to Minister Oakes urging her to cut this red tape and I will mail it this evening.

If you share my point of view on this, please write the Minister, too.  

The more she hears from BC voters, the more likely the government will address these anachronistic provisions, which make a mockery of consumer protection.

September 2, 2016

Honourable Coralee Oakes
Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction
& Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch
P.O.Box 9054, STN Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W9E2

Reema shares a photo of an outdoor interactive Bollywood film screening in Lyon, France.

Dear Minister Oakes,

I had wanted to buy tickets for my family to one of the Vancouver International Film Festival Society (VIFF) screenings of a movie about Hieronymus Bosch, the visionary late-Medieval Dutch painter.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to do so since the movie is unclassified and I cannot buy a ticket for my fifteen year-old son.

My son is an artist and has long been intrigued by Bosch’s work. As his parent, I’m very comfortable in accompanying him to this movie. Its content is cultural, informative, historical, and fascinating. It is in no way a threat to his well-being or his psyche. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that he doesn’t have the maturity necessary to watch this particular film.

In inquiring as to why I was unable to take my son to the movie, I have learned that it is provincial law, not VIFF policy, which demands the classification of films before they can be shown to teenagers.  Apparently this law covers only theatrical screenings and DVD releases, but not television nor the internet. 

This regulatory policy is based on a logical fallacy that an unclassified film is the same as an unsuitable one.  It is a level of red tape that not only hinders operations at VIFF, one of Vancouver’s outstanding cultural institutions, but it also assumes that parents are incapable of determining which movies their teenage children may watch.

The same anachronistic regulations prohibit VIFF from allowing liquor in the theatre on Seymour Street when youth under 19 are present.  This seems like an unnecessary duplication of restrictions given that concession staff would be prohibited from serving minors. It also diminishes the experience for older patrons who are denied their full privileges simply because the broader classification of a particular movie expands the audience for that particular screening.

I am writing to ask that you review these particular regulations and amend them at the earliest opportunity.  Allow teenagers to attend unclassified movies with their parents’ approval and allow liquor service when a movie audience includes those under 19.  That would be an effective red tape reduction and a positive support for small business in the cultural sector.

Thank you Minister Oakes for your consideration of the above.  I hope that you will take the measures necessary to introduce a more enlightened approach for screenings of unclassified films in Vancouver, whether at the VIFF theatre or at other locations.  Such an approach would facilitate the attendance of teens at film events. It is an approach that will draw in younger audiences, not shut them out and without diminishing the experience of older patrons.

Sincerely yours,

Reema Faris

cc.

Honourable Suzanne Anton, Attorney General & Minister of Justice

Jacqueline Dupuis, Executive Director, VIFF Society

Rob Gialloreto, President & CEO, Consumer Protection BC

 

An “Old Country” Family Favourite

Three days ago, I posted a photo of what I’d made for dinner on social media. It received likes, hearts, compliments, and requests for the recipe.

I’m pleased to share that recipe with you now albeit with hesitation.

Why?

Because I learned to cook from my mother and my grandmother and they didn’t use recipes!

And while I always use recipes for baking and sometimes for savoury dishes, my version of cooking is a little bit of this and a little bit of that and I wonder what this would taste like if I added that.

So take this more as a guideline for preparing Fateh al Laban (laban is the Arabic word for yogurt). Make the dish your own by experimenting with the proportions and the seasoning. There’s a vegetarian option, too, that Mom developed. I’ll describe that alternative after I’ve given you the details for preparing the traditional dish.

There are six components to Fateh: croutons, chickpeas, pine nuts, ground beef, yogurt, and herb garnish. I find it easiest to serve the components separately. Each diner can then assemble a plate according to their likes and dislikes. That also means the leftovers keep better than if they’ve been mixed together.

Reema shares a mouth-watering image of Fateh al Laban, a traditional Lebanese dish - © ReemaFaris.com

Croutons
Take two loaves of pita bread. Separate the halves of each loaf and tear them up into bite-sized pieces. Spread on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cook in a 350˚ oven until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Regular croutons will work but then you’ll miss out on the Lebanese look!

Chickpeas
Open a small can of chickpeas. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Let them sit in a colander to dry until you’re ready to serve.

Pine Nuts
Fry a handful of pine nuts in butter until golden. Remove and set aside. Alternatively, mix them with a touch of olive oil and bake in a 350˚ oven until golden brown. Pine nuts burn easily, so check on them frequently if you have them in the oven.  If you’re frying the pine nuts, turn off the heat just as the pine nuts begin to brown.

Ground Beef
I typically use .5 kilogram (1 pound) of lean or extra lean ground beef for two and that leaves a lot for leftovers. Fry the ground beef in a pan until cooked through. Season with salt, pepper, and allspice (no more than 15 ml, 1 teaspoon, of the latter). You can also add chopped jalapeño and a few drops of Worcestershire Sauce. Drain and keep at room temperature. As I’m writing this out, I realize that it would also work to mix the pine nuts in with the beef. I might try that next time.

Yogurt
Use approximately 250 ml (1 cup) of plain yogurt. It doesn’t matter which brand you choose or whether the yogurt is skim, 2%, or whole. I’d recommend the 2% or whole — just make sure it’s plain and not French Vanilla! In a mortar, crush 1/2-1 clove of garlic with salt, pepper, and a few, washed, shredded fresh mint leaves. Add the spiced garlic paste to the yogurt and mix thoroughly. You can also mix in diced cucumber to the yogurt mixture for an extra bite.

Garnish
Finely chop a green herb to use as garnish. I use cilantro because L. likes the flavour; parsley is the traditional option. You could also use mint or a combination of any or all three.

And that’s it. Seriously. Those are the components and once they’re ready to go, layer them in a bowl and dig in! I prefer to put the croutons on top rather than using them as a base so that they stay crunchy. If you place them under the yogurt, they get soggy pretty quickly.

Vegetarian Option

  • Substitute boiled pasta — rotini or penne works best — for the croutons.
  • Substitute broiled eggplant slices for the ground beef.
  • Leave out the chickpeas.
  • Mix all ingredients together to serve and garnish with chopped herbs.

Sahtain — bon appétit in Arabic — and let me know how your version of this dish works out.

For me, this dish is one of my comfort foods and L. loves it, too.

As with so many things, to share this dish with you is to share memories of Mom and to honour her legacy.  Thanks for requesting the recipe.

 

A Life In Script

I feel the absence of my mother most keenly when I catch a glimpse of her writing.

When I look at the carefully crafted words and sentences she moulded; the ones she wrote down. An alchemy of thought, energy, effort, pen, and paper.

Mom used writing to express her thanks. To scold political leaders. To extend congratulations. To advocate for causes. To nurture connections.

She cherished the handwritten note even after her grandsons helped her learn to use email.  

My mother believed there was a personal quality to a handwritten note that was impossible to replicate in type form. I agree. Each stroke of the pen captures a person’s personality, their character, history, and experience.  The way in which hand-written words create a web of meaning is the most affirmative statement of “I am here”. When I catch sight of my mother’s writing script I wonder how it is that she is not here.

How can the person whose heart propelled the pen across the page not be here to cross that and dot that i?

Reema shares a photo of her mother's handwriting script taken from a travel journal - © ReemaFaris.com

I feel the absence of my mother most keenly when I see her writing, with an intake of breath and a vise clamped around my heart.

My mother’s script is from an earlier era when education had not been commodified and contorted. When it was a gift to learn. A time when writing was valued not only for its content but for its form. When penmanship spoke of culture and education and, yes, privilege.

That script, her unique cursive style, is undeniably and uniquely my mother, Yulanda.

I feel the absence of my mother most profoundly when I stare at her writing.

René Descartes said, “I am thinking, therefore I am.” My mother’s cursive script says, “I wrote, therefore I have been.” And as the ability to recall her physical presence becomes the dream of time lapsed, her writing will remain forever real and tangible.

As her daughters, her children, and perhaps someday her grandchildren and descendants, we will carry her DNA forward in time.  However, her letters, the drafts of her speeches, the thank-you cards, her recipes, the quotations she noted down, her signature — like the one in the volume of William Shakespeare’s collected works that she used for her studies at McGill — these all serve as a testament to her personal spirit.  

No other hand shaped those words, no other mind developed those ideas, no one else forged those connections: letter to letter, person to person, heart to heart.

I feel the absence of my mother most keenly when I catch a glimpse of her writing.  The words and sentences that flowed from the pen she held, the pen she guided into forever.

In the year and months since my mother died (and a month before what would have been her 79th birthday), my family has cried, laughed, and celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and weddings.  We’ve attended funerals. We’ve had time at home, we’ve been away together and separately.  Time has carried us forward. It is life’s imperative.  

And she, my mother, has been there with us.  In each moment, in each thought, in each word.

She always will be.

“If we danced more and sang more, we’d be happier people.”

Yulanda M. Faris

July 2, 1937 – April 23, 2015 

Reema shares a picture of her standing in the courtyard of the Hotel des Grandes Ecoles in Paris with her Mom and Dad - © ReemaFaris.com