We knew right from the beginning that we were destined for each other. Just 12 hours after meeting her and asking her out (November 18, 1968) I asked her to marry me. Twelve days after that she wrote me that letter wherein she states, “On top of this I feel an elusive fondness for you that can’t be classified; its too strong for friendship and not strong enough for love.” Why did we see so quickly that we were meant for each other and were soulmates? As Pat said, “small bubbles of happiness in a cold universe.” My favourite old testament book, Ecclesiastes reminds us that life is never without God-not even for a moment! Three days after that first date we were kneeing together in prayer in the Church of the Redeemer, an Anglican church in Toronto. For everything there is a season, and God is in the midst of them.
By the Lakeshore
Patricia A Smith January 1969
Among the ice
Brave bright ducks
This side of the break water,
A seeming submarine
Craggy with Atlantic ice.
Ice on the concrete shore, Then grey crinkled blueness
Moving to the false horizon.
Like numbed yellow wine
The sun spread a stain to where
The unreal smoky silhouettes
Of faraway towns were
Featured, just above the horizon.
The boorish wind off the water,
The wind off the ice,
Was too cold, enveloping us
Two little castles
Hand holding and smoking cigarettes
We should have been crusted with frost,
As windows are on winter houses,
Small bubbles of happy heat
In a cold universe.
Pat got it right from the beginning. In that letter she also wrote: “I would prefer you not to mention marriage again until and unless you feel that I can return your feelings equally.” She wanted to be sure we were soulmates. About a month after she got back from Ottawa we were kissing good night after a date when she said, “Eric, I love you!” After recovering from the shock, I replied “Does this mean you will marry me?” She replied “Yes.” That was February 9th, 1969 we bought the ring on February 14, 1969 and were married on June 21, 1969. At our wedding the priest thinking forward to the Communion pronounced us man and WINE. Now Pat’s presence in me is the wine pouring into the chalice of my heart. I feel closest to her during the Mass. For us, the Communion at our wedding was very important. On page 571 of the BCP, you’ll see the rubric “It is fitting that the new-married persons should receive the holy Communion at the time of their Marriage, or at the first opportunity after their Marriage”, followed by a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel. This is the way of indicating, in the BCP, that a Communion service is intended to take place at this time. “We ask nothing, we have all.”
In this first anniversary poem, she is firmly placing us on the road to becoming the united, eternal resurrection entity mandated by our sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
TO ERIC (21 JUNE 1970)
You love me royally,
as I love you, seated together in our garden Kingdom,
keeping up our silent conversation,
clothed in robes of joy of every hue.
For us, our royal love has had no parallel:
It rooted, grew, and like a miracle
spread to the garden where in now we sit,
Clothed in the fragrance of God in it.
And this long miracle is to discover
the inmost me and you,
to nurse no longing for another,
to forge the soul and its desire together
gently, openly and forever.
Nothing grows but common flowers
outside our Kingdom’s wall.
Here alone the magic lies.
We ask nothing; we have all.
Two years later a son was born unto us. It was a conscious decision on our part to start a family. We were ready after two years. On her pregnancy, Pat wrote “There are inevitable discomforts, of course — as well as the consciousness of no longer being light and slim — and there are nice moments, such as feeling the baby hop around inside. But all in all, it does not change one’s life.” We continued to love each other deeply.
An untitled poem by Patricia A. Bow. June 1971
One month, you will be growing
Inside my body’s night
In eight, I will be heavy
In nine, I will be light.
You now growing in my womb
Like a cloth upon the loom,
Secret, unborn mystery,
Soon shall lie for all to see
Perfect in your purity.
Stranger, son or daughter,
Are you dark or fair?
Well your head be darkly crowned
Or bright with angel hair?
James did not show up as raw material to be shaped into whatever image the world might want him to take. He arrived with his own image of God within – shape of his own sacred soul. Ours was the responsibility to allow him to be him. The world still waits for the truth that will set us free – my truth, your truth, our truth, his truth – the truth that was seeded in the earth when each of us arrived here formed in the image of God. Cultivating that truth, Pat and I believe, is the authentic vocation of every human being – as is allowing James to find his truth within. Neither Pat nor I were materialist. We did not pursue wealth or material things. We are created in the image of God. Our responsibility is to help him find who he is. The pursuit of wealth and fame is a hinderance. As Pat says in a 1971 poem:
“To own too much can be a prison,
And I have dreamed of breaking free,
Hair, skin, eyes, alone and naked.
Riding the wind above a racing sea.
We were comfortable living in downtown Toronto and we were relatively happy especially once the problem of my mother ended. It is an excellent place to raise a bright son – with the racially and culturally mixed neighbourhood, good schools, institutions such as the ROM and AGO, excellent restaurants and food stores, and generally lively and stimulating milieu of our neighbourhood. The problem was me – I didn’t like my job. We did however love each other very much. We had become truly one, “intimately webbed together.”
12th Anniversary Poem (fragments) 1981
by Patricia A. Bow
I know the scent and shape of you:
I know you all, yet not at all.
I linger with a connoisseur’s delight
over a contour of bone, a texture of skin,
gloating over treasures of silk and ivory
that are mine alone,
and yet no-one’s but yours.
For you and I are so entwined
that we can read each other’s mind
at times, a simple exercize.
Then comes the stumble of surprise
when, reaching out in haste, I find
the stranger self behind your eyes.
Far apart upon the lawn,
two tall trees confront each other
never to touch, ever alone:
yet beneath the grass and stone
intertwined their roots have grown,
so intimately webbed together,
neither one can tell his own.
So, with us: which flatly proves
futility of arguments
On which is which, and whose is whose.
Just after our twentieth anniversary I finally went and did what I’d been fantasizing about for years: I quit my job. I had stayed far too long in the Provincial Library Service. I should have quit years ago; five to ten years without a promotion in any position is long enough – twenty is too long. But a new job did not come in the period after I quit. We needed some way to get out of my not working and having no income. Our big asset was the family home in downtown Toronto. Pat and I came up with a plan to sell the house for enough money to buy an inexpensive house in Kitchener/Waterloo (James had decided to take urban planning at U of W) and invest the difference to cover living expenses to free us from the need for a job. By the summer of 1991 we had a home in Kitchener. We were pleased with it and content. A little more money would have eased things still more. But that would come. We were together and content
We visualized our marriage as getting better indefinitely for the rest of our lives. We thought the stronger you grow in yourself, the more you can love another person. We loved each other quietly and with respect. we wanted to be each other’s spouse and companion forever. We grew together, Pat was the only woman for me and I was the only man for her without each other we would have been all disorganized fragments.
In Prison with you
by Patricia A. Bow October 1972
I tried to pick
the lock with my pen
but the pen
broke in my hand
and all its
blue blood dripped out.
So I used my head
and I hypnotized
I am still here
but now I can
any time I like.
What stops me is
That you won’t come.
And I know
you would be lonely.
In our new home in Kitchener we found ourselves. Pat decided to write what she loved to read and sold her first young adult book, The Spiral Maze. She also trained as a journalist and got a job with the University of Waterloo writing for its publication and public relations department. My Ontario Public Service Pension plan started. We were comfortable. Pat was my intimate companion, my soulmate, the object of my desire, the subject of my truth. The two of us had set each other free. Marriage, financial security, and finding ourselves made us somehow complete and happy.
Untitled Poem (In my garden) by Patricia A Bow Jan. 1976
In my garden I will
grow baby’s breath and bergamot
fearless of all winds that blow,
so secure they’ll shelter there.
Marigolds and maidenhair
in the borders I will sow:
roses and anemones,
and all gentle plants like these.
In my garden I can find
lilacs of the deathless kind,
hollyhocks and columbine.
Summer there will never end,
blackening frost will not descend,
where my garden’s fences wind,
through the meadows of my mind.
Every morning you pass through,
leaving footprints in the dew.
And at night, you and I,
arm in arm, walk quietly.
We even had the oft dreamed of holiday by the sea in Nova Scotia. Pat felt she had finally found herself and her home. I believe she was the happiest she had ever been in her life. She loved walking alone beside the ocean singing the hymn, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. She had found the Scot within her, her heritage. She was finally who she was meant to be. There is a reason it is called Nova Scotia. She knew she was a Scot and now became a Maritimer. Once again, she was experiencing her heritage as when she wrote the following:
The Loch … July 21/93
by Patricia A. Bow
Looking into the mirror
I see a country in my face
Pale skin, pale lashes,
a tight closed mouth under a long upper lip.
Wary grey green eyes, clear but cool,
like sea water.
Ashen hair that lifts in any breeze.
The bones are closer to the skin now,
their message easier to read.
The mouth sets in its predestined manner
and the sea grey eye
glints out at me in other faces
with names like MacNeil and Shaw.
The bones and blood remember.
A stony keep, square, desolate,
jutting from the loch.
One window gleams.
Beyond the gentle, barren hills,
green at first; beyond them,
higher and bluer hills,
layer on layer,
till at last the shoulders
of gaunt and misty tors.
This picture painted on a board at twenty.
At forty-five, a quilted panel worked.
A fantasy, I thought. A dream landscape:
And then at forty-seven, turning the pages
of a book, my hand paused.
Loch, keep, hills, all of it there
under my eyes.
And the captions, bring ice to the spine:
land around Fort William,
slopes of Ben Nevis,
home of the Cameron Clan.
Looking into the mirror
of my face and other faces,
I see my roots growing
downward and backward
through cracked stones laid up to a farmhouse door.
through snow and granite and decaying fence wood,
pine choked ravines,
desolate river shores.
Back and back
past a waste of seas
to another solitude.
As the poet Rumi says, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere; they’re in each other all along.” You also don’t finally find your home somewhere out there; it is within you all along; you just discover it. Pat had wanted to return to Nova Scotia at least once more. I did too because she had been so happy there and that made me happy. In November 2015, “we booked a return vacation to White Point for June 19 to 23, 2017 (Monday to Friday), leaving early on the 23rd in order to catch the train home. We have Ocean front cabin #44 a single, close to the beach, with a fireplace, small sitting area, fridge, microwave, tea kettle, etc. All we need! I am greatly looking forward to it. Picturing myself, morning mug of tea in hand, sitting on my little verandah watching the tide come in. At night, hearing the in-out living breath of the sea through our bedroom window. Maybe this time we’ll be luckier with the weather and we’ll be able to see the sun rise over the ocean and get a good view of the stars. The Ocean train, sleeper class, both ways will be a big part of the treat. I’ve always wanted to have a berth on a train. It does worry me a bit that we have another 19 1/2 months before our trip. So much can happen in nearly two years. I’ll be 71, Eric will be 74! Please God, keep us both in good health until after our trip!” [God didn’t answer our prayers. It is really hard to say, “Not my will but thine!”]
Patricia Bow died January 7, 2017 peacefully at home as she wanted.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it is explained that “the intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. God himself is the author of marriage.” The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. ” By reason of their state in life and of their order, Christian spouses have their own special gifts in the People of God. “This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace, they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” Christ is the source of this grace. “Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony. “Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens” “and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love” In the sacrament of marriage God joins two entities into one. The term “one flesh” means that just as our bodies are one whole entity and cannot be divided into pieces and still be a whole, so God intended it to be with the marriage relationship. There are no longer two entities (Though there are still two persons), but now there is one entity (a married couple). There are a number of aspects to this union. First and foremost, our identity is bound with one another, the identity of each is united in the identity of the marriage. The death of a spouse is truly different from the loss of any other family member; the spiritual entity made by God remains united; half in my heart the other half in heaven. I believe this with all my being; I really haven’t lost Patricia I have gained Christ; I am one with her in the arms of Christ in Heaven and she is still one with me in my heart.
By Patricia A. Bow 1992
October past, like vital middle age,
quicker than fear or expectation gone,
November storms upon us, lean and wan,
all silvered, like King Lear upon the stage,
It’s growing old that sets him in a rage;
the grave indignity of being bundled on
before his business properly is done;
they snatched the book before he’d filled the page.
November’s tears, like stones against the glass
bite bitterer than summer’s velvet rain.
The green blood bleaches from the tattered hill,
the red from wrinkled cheek. He dreads the pass
to icy sleep. Then takes up hope again,
recalls the Resurrection, and is still.
There is absolutely no doubt Patricia and I loved each other with all our hearts and with all our soul, and with all our minds and with all our strength. Pat’s concern for the grief her death would bring her closest and dearest is evident in her diary entries after she learned she was dying. She wrote “To Eric it was a terrible blow. Maybe he’ll never recover, either.” And “I hate the fact that I am making several loved people unhappy.” As Ladislaus Boros wrote “The best love stories end in death, and this is no accident. Love is, of course, and remains the triumph over death, but that is not because it abolishes death but because it is itself death, Only in death is the total surrender that is love’s possible, for only in death can we be exposed completely and without reserve. That is why lovers go so simply and unconcernedly to their death, for they are not entering a strange country; they are going into the inner chamber of love.”
Love is marriage and marriage is a sacrament that makes man and woman “the complete human being.” Love and marriage are stronger than death, when we rejoin in Heaven, we will be truly the complete human being created in the image of God – continuous and interchangeable
by Patricia A. Bow Easter 1975
I love you little more than I love air
for every time I draw a breath
a puff withstands the void of death:
I love you little more than I love air.
I love you little more than I love water.
It sends the new green springing high,
without it I would surely die;
I love you little more than I love water.
I love you little more than I love bread.
It binds the muscle to the bone,
it sends the heartbeat throbbing on;
I love you little more than I love bread.
Even Death can NOT can change a love when it’s true. No amount of separation between two people can tear their feelings apart from one another – not even Death. When two souls are truly in love with each other and God, no amount of time, space, turbulence, heartache, or fear can keep them apart. True love is divine, selfless, pure, and giving. It’s truly unconditional. When someone is truly and utterly in love with someone else, they’ll stop at nothing to attain their love, and even more so, they’ll do anything and everything to maintain their love, and their relationship. Love is stronger than Death – that love continues to grow even after death aided by the divine within us. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10:9) Patricia and I were joined together as ONE in marriage forever.
June 21, 2016 is our 49th wedding anniversary.
Our love lives and is still growing. I celebrate our Love. Yes, she will be / is present in me. Her presence is the pure wine being poured into the chalice of my heart. That presence is proof that Heaven is here and now and within me. Patricia bears witness to this reality.