Escaping the prison of material things….


I read a passage from Pat’s dairies and found that Pat’s unhappiness and deep depression started a few month’s after I quit my very well paying Ontario civil service job, in 1991. While I was still working and after my mom’s death Pat was relatively happy and content. She even expressed a liking for 214 McCaul and living in the neighbourhood. She was happy because she had, while I was at work and James was at school, time alone to write. That was all she ever wanted – to have plenty of time to write and maybe get published in English. My being home all day and my wanting company on shopping trips and while watching TV robbed her of that time alone to write. Here is one of many entries in her dairy where she complains of not having enough time alone. Sunday September 8, 1991: “I resent Eric wanting me to spend my “spare” time with him, instead of writing. And then I feel churlish and guilty. He really doesn’t have any one thing he’d like to devote himself to. He likes to potter about (but not to cut the lawn, which needs it), go out on little shopping trips (on which he always wants company), watch TV, read the paper and take naps. And he likes me to be near him as much as possible. I have the feeling that this is a problem many wives have when their husbands retire: only I have it fifteen years early.”
This also answers why she stopped writing poetry. Both her desire to write and her Romance Writer Agent were pushing her to write romance novels which publishers kept returning for rewrites. Pat just didn’t have the time to write poetry – a very real loss. But it also cost her happiness and the constant returns cost her self confidence. As I pointed out in “Quiet Love” she should have given up the romance genre sooner and gone back to writing what she loved to read – “stories of adventure, mystery, suspense, and fantasy. Stories about ordinary people who get mixed up in extraordinary trouble. Stories, magical and haunting and sometimes bizarre, stories that creep into your imagination and your dreams — like mail delivered by the Goblin Postman.” Then maybe the poems would have continued to come. She didn’t because my quitting and our selling of 214 McCaul meant we needed a source of income and I was not able to find a library job. Pat really believed her romance novels would be that source. Pat was successful in retraining – getting a journalism certificate and a job in the Publications unit of the University of Waterloo. But this did not result in her getting more time to write what she loved to read. She was writing but now it was articles on U of W. departments, professors and research. She was very good at it but no happier.
So, you see I was at least partly responsible for her depression and unhappiness – didn’t deserve more love poems. This makes me cry out loud and feel very bad. Pat I’m so sorry. I wish for more of the lovely love poems. Pat, you must have been so disappointed in me. Your dreams not mine should have been my priority. Please forgive me. I’m so sorry. Though written in 1972, the poem below kind of summarizes our situation from 1991 to her retirement in 2011 when her and my pensions made it possible for her to live her dream for only five short years.
In Prison with you
by Patricia A. Bow Oct 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
instead
and hypnotized
the guards.
I am still here
but now I can
get out
any time I like.
What stops me is
the fact
that you won’t come.
And I know
you would be lonely.

I take great comfort that Pat’s happiness returned for those last 5 years and neither of us was lonely or a prisoner any more. She was right though about me being lonely without her and never getting over the shock of that diagnosis on the 48th anniversary of our first date! Pat. I love you forever. Lord may Pat evermore dwell in me and I in her. Amen.

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About thebows99krug

Hi, I am Eric, a retired librarian. I was born in St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto and raised in the downtown area north of the Art Gallery, south of the University of Toronto. I went to Orde Street Public School, Harbord C.I., University College at the UofT and the UofT's Faculty of Library and Information Science. I meet my wife Patricia at FLIS; our first date was on November 15, 1968. We were engaged February 14, 1969 and married on June 21, 1969. Our family includes son, James; daughter-in-law, Erin; (both writers), grand-daughters, Vivian and Eleanor; and Pooka, a small but fierce gray tabby. I would like to hear from any other class of '63 alumni of Harbord C.I. and class of '67 alumni of UofT's University College.
This entry was posted in Family, Grief, Poetry, Religion, Religion - Anglican. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Escaping the prison of material things….

  1. Pat didn’t stop writing poetry! I found May 12th Found a 3.5 floppy of Pat’s poems. and have just found a few more in a file (paper) she labeled Pat & Eric Personal.

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