Gail Caldwell....the love of my life!
The love of my life began in 1982, at a 20th Anniversary alumini convention for the Toronto Distress Centre, a crisis intervention phone line. Some quick banter, and repeated touching, turned into an evening dinner to plan a Volunteers' Christmas Party. Twenty minutes of planning, quickly jumped to two to three hours of history sharing, which inevitably lead to a three hour good-night kiss at the door. Let me tell you....That was SOME kiss!
And to think that in the past few years, at that point, that Gail's opinion of me was less than stellar, in fact it was the opposite in every way. She thought I was a player, a bit of a jerk, and someone who would best be disregarded completely. She told a girlfriend as much when they noticed me at a Crisis Centre Conference. Apparently the girlfriend was interested, in me.
For Gail, the minor crisis arose when later on, she had to tell her girlfriend that the guy that she warned her about......was actually moving in with her. Their relationship ended shortly thereafter.
As our time together grew and grew in the early days, we still maintained our separate places. One particular Friday evening, when neither of us could get through to the other, and we both stayed in, watched some tv and read a couple of books, all the while fuming about imagining that the other was up to the worst possible behavior, drinking and carousing with others. Of course none of the imaginings were true.
Although Gail called me repeatedly through the night, my phone did not ring, period. In the 80's you rented your phone from Ma Bell. And you could not turn the ringer off. High or low, that was it. But my phone did not ring until 7:00 AM the next morning, when my brother called to tell me how much trouble I was in with somebody named Gail.
Of course the accusatory phone call, that we both got rather animated about, turned into something completely and almost unbelievably different. We discovered that we were both reading about the same topic in metaphysics. Gail's book was "You Were Born Again To Be Together" by Dick Sutphen. The book I read was by Ruth Montgomery.
The immensity of this certain revelation was not lost on us. It is when we made plans to move in together.
By this time we were communicating telepathically a great deal of the time. I seemed to know when I was in hot water, and so I called. It always worked. Gail would put the thought out to me to buy her cigarettes. She was smoking back then. If I picked up the thought but not the product, I got sent back out. I learned quickly.
By 1986 Gail was starting to feel that she had reached the glass ceiling in the Federal Civil Service. Everything that she had done, all of the courses that had taken had not benefitted her career upwardly. She got her HR From the U of T in less time than it took others. She was that dedicated. Whenever an opportunity to learn something new came up, Gail took it. Sadly, she had to admit that mobility in the civil service was not going to happen for her. In the summer of '86 we began making long term plans to pack up and leave Toronto, for a long time, and go in search of something else, another lifestyle perhaps.
Gail's resignation letter to the Feds was epic. It was single space tying on two pages top to bottom. She held a very cordial tone while she cited case and point for all of her extra training and experience that appeared to amount to didley when it came to furthering her career.
There was an underground network of women in the federal service in Toronto, and when Gail sent copies to at least 6 people, including the deputy-minister for Employment and Immigration, the shit hit the fan. The letter circulated through Toronto, and I'm sure, into every civil service office in souther Ontario. Gail got calls from people she hadn't talked to in years. The Deputy Minister was "not amused" to put it mildly. Gail was on the agenda for a hastily called meeting of senior beaurocrats in Toronto. She decided to go out with a bang. And she did!
The decision to leave town we kept close to our chests until Gail told friends and family, in January '87, that she had quit her job.
By this time, Gail was heavily involved with Tai Chi and meditation led by Sifu Andy James. She brought me into it as well. We began meditating at home. It was here that Gail learned of a meditation retreat that was taking place in summer of '87, on San Juan Island in the Pacific North West. It was to led by Dhiravamsa, spiritual teacher of Andy James, noted author , and former Bhuddist monk.
The retreat was less than we had hoped for. It was, in fact, another episode for which we have little or no explanation. The brochure said that it was a 6 week retreat. It was in actuality, 3 two week retreats, punctuated by a week's absence from the grounds between each of the two week sessions. Try doing macrobiotic eating every day for two weeks, then switch to normal, and quickly switch back. You can't do it. Your body wil rebel and hurt you. Take it from me!
The result of our misread of the brochure, for over a year, about the setup of the program(s), meant that we had to rethink our desire to stay on the courses or not. Gail wanted to. I didn't.
Dhiravamsa told us that we needed to stay together, that we began this journey together, and that was where we must be. It was a very reaffirming idea.
The next few months had us camping from Vancouver, to L.A. In L.A., at the Bhodi Tree bookstore, we had to throw out some food to make room in the car for more books. For the next few months we camped and read.
We headed back to Canada, through the Dakotas, to Calgary with the plan to settle there. I had a couple of friends already living there.
As soon as we found out the average winter temperature we headed for Vancouver.
In 1988, just months after we'd settled in, Gail took her first degree training in Reiki. I poo-pooed the idea, and it took a few nags to get me to let her practice on me. At the end of the 30 minute session, it took me over two hours to regain the ability to speak. I was thunderstruck. I took my training soon after.
Gail and I are both Reiki Masters. We began doing reiki for freinds and acquaintances, giving it freely to anyone who asked, or to whom we offered. Out first reiki table was a brute, home-made, using the heaviest materials. Our second one was much lighter. Gail would take first the old heavy table, and then later the newer one, out on a mission to spread reiki healing wherever she could. Many people became the fortunate recipient of Gail's healing energy. It most clearly defined who she was. Gail would anticipate giving whenever and wherever she thought someone was in need, and she could do something about it. She never failed. She always did.
Gail told me stories of her childhood, when she would stand up for another youngster who was being bullied or picked on. She said that she would stand with the person, usually a neighbourhood little girl who was not in favour with the friends Gail was with, and tell them that if they were going to pick on this kid that they would have to go through her. She stood up for the underdog in the group. This activity carried forward into the rest of her life as well.
This activity helped define her, and me as well. This we had in common. Compassion and empathy were the chief character traits she gave to those who came to her. Gail's listening skills were exceptional.
For two Tai Chi mates who came to visit in the last two weeks that she was here, she even offered to give them both Totem Animal Card readings in the near future, with me reading the text and helping to guide the process. That was definitely Gail. Giving to others was her raison d'etre.
At home, Gail was my fan club. She was always telling me how much she loved me, what she thought of me, always encouraging me in every way. It often seemed like she never passed up a chance to tell me just how much she felt about me.
A friend told me recently that when Gail spoke of me, her voice would change from spirited and animated to soft and intense, in obvious praise and admiration. In the car, I would look at her the same way. She would catch me stealing glances of her while I was driving. I saw the looks from her as well. I adore her.
The light she cast from within, was cast far and wide. Gail's network of people that she loved was great indeed. When Gail loved you, you knew it. It was in her voice, her email, her smile when she saw you, when she heard you on the phone.
I remember her laying on the couch feeling retched after a chemo session. Someone would call, and suddenly the smile was back.
"Heeeyyyyy!!! How you doin??? Oh me, not bad, not bad, well except for throwing up all day long, but it's OK 'cause it's just saliva, cause I can't really keep anything down anyway. But how are youuuuuu!!!"
That was Gail. Your voices meant so much. Her smile always overtook any disagreeable feeling at the moment, and replaced it with what you heard in her voice. When Gail loved you, you knew it. That was all.