Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

I was able to say goodbye to my uncle Bernie tonight. That was nice. And I loved hearing about the memories others shared of him. They were things I had forgotten, so they are even more precious now. I am going to write them down so I don’t forget again.

That ridiculous ratty straw hat he wore as he cruised the lake on his pontoon boat. His chuckle. I don’t have the words for his chuckle, but I can hear it in my head. It’s something I will always remember.  God, he was funny. So funny. His humorous deflection and rejection of anything that was for ‘old’ people. His love of fine brandy.

My aunt was truly the love of his life, and they read a love letter she had written to him on their 50th wedding anniversary…  It was beautiful.  He’s waiting for her, I know it. And my aunt…  I love her so much and I admire how in her broken heart she is so strong. And even though she’s waiting to be with him again, she is going to keep living. She’s amazing.

So Bernie’s with his parent’s and his sister and I can see him sitting beside dad and Tom with a little  ‘allo allo’ and sharing a beer.

Mara~ that makes me smile


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My uncle B died this evening. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I hate that. I hate saying goodbye too, but not being able to is worse somehow. I drove all the way in to town, parked the vehicle, and walked up to the hospital doors. As soon as I opened the doors and I smelled that hospital smell I was done. Even though it has been almost two years when I was walking in those doors daily, often more than once a day, to sit in hospice with my dad. Almost two years and I still can’t walk through the doors……..

I wasn’t able to collect myself. And really, it’s not about me. My aunt and cousins did not need to see me still unable to contain the grief I feel about losing my dad. Most days I make it through just fine. But I just could not physically take the steps to go in. I came home and watched tennis, the French Open is on at Roland Garos. I love the red clay, la terre battue.  And why does it seem people I love die during tennis majors? I watched Roger Federer win the US Open on a Sunday afternoon.  And then I held my dad as the sun was coming up the next day and he was dying.

I was going to try again tomorrow.

I ran out of tomorrows.

I am  happy you aren’t in pain anymore B., and you know I loved you. Cancer is a bitch. Really it is. You were funny and a hard worker. And your kids love you and your grandkids are going to miss you so much. M. will be okay, we’ll take care of her. And could you say hi to Dad for me, you know how much I miss him.  The heartbreaking thing is I know what your kids are going through because they lost a dad they loved fiercely too. I’m glad I have many happy memories of you. Sauna’s at camp, bringing firewood to mom’s, sneaking a sip of beer, reliving what it’s like to have Ukranian/Polish/Russian parents, and laughing. Lots of laughter. Thank you. 

Mara ~ I thought I’d have another tomorrow…

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Dear neighbour gentleman,

Please be assured that when The Guy passed your truck on the highway it was not a personal affront. No offense was intended and we are very sorry. And please be advised it is not okay to pull your vehicle into our driveway in a fit of pique to yell about aforementioned Guy’s unforgivable driver error. It is especially not okay to ever physically accost anyone. Also? It is totally not cool to scream IN FRONT OF A TERRIFIED FOUR YEAR OLD. Ever. And didn’t your mother ever teach you that it is not polite to point? As was mentioned, The Guy would be happy to talk to you about your concerns in private re: his irresponsible driving. And when someone asks you to stop yelling in front of a child who has NEVER been exposed to such barbaric behaviour, please respect the request and dissist from continuing your tirade. Your loud, obnoxious tirade. Also? After you repeatedly ignore very respectful requests to lower your voice and to STEP OFF, please realize that it comes to the point where we feel a bit threatened and we have no choice other than to mention the police.  Please leave our property when we respectfully (without raising voices even!) ask or we feel we must protect ourselves and call the police to have you removed.

Also? Please look out for advertisements for assistance in dealing with road rage issues. I feel they may be of great benefit to you. And taking a deep breath and counting to ten can avoid much neighbourhood discord and awkwardness.  Please also remember that kindness is often a better choice as you just never know what battles we could be fighting inside. Would you have acted the same way if you knew that the Guy’s mom was missing and we had just found out? Would you have terrified my daughter if you knew your actions would result in days of anxious questions from a sensitive little girl? Questions like why did that man yell? I do NOT like that man! Where does that man live? Is that angry man coming here again? How do you suggest I comfort her? And please realize that I wanted to shield her from the harsh realities of the world a little longer, because her life has not always been all sunshine and roses and she feels loss deeply.  And she has suffered great loss.  And all the work I do to try to make her feel safe and loved and cherished can all too easily slip away when she sees the scary stuff that can happen outside her door. And I couldn’t even protect her from the scary stuff that lives across the street.

And I understand that substance abuse issues can cause erratic behaviour and can lead to unpleasantness. And alcoholism is a cruel and vicious disease. And for that I am truly sorry. See? We all have personal demons, and I think we could all use some grace.  I just don’t want those demons around my child or on my property ever again.

Thank you.


Your country neighbour

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Tears and closure

I went to a funeral today. It was the first one I could force myself to go to since my dad died. My dad did not want a funeral, or a service or anything. We had a small family gathering two weeks after he died and that was that.  As I was sitting in the church my grandparents built when they came to Canada from Denmark, the church where my dad was baptized, and where Tom’s service was taking place, I couldn’t stop crying. Good thing I was at a funeral.

I loved Tom. He was one of those perpetual people you have in your life. He grew up with my dad in a little rural community that housed the largest settling of Danish people in Canada. I don’t ever remember not knowing him. I played with his children, in highschool I may have smoked pot with his daughter at some party. And he was just part of that world backdrop you have growing up where people are your friends and they feel like they will always be there, even if you didn’t see them for a year.

Tom died of massive head injuries following a motor vehicle accident. It was sudden and unexpected for a 73 yr old. He had five children, 10 grandchildren and a whole community that loved him.  And he was one more piece of my dad that I lost.  He would come out to my mom’s after dad died and tell mom to put him to work. He was awesome.  He took adventures on his own, and travelled North America extensively and on the cheap (and I mean really cheap). He camped under the Florida Keys stars, drove the entire Alaskan highway, canoed and skiied and kayaked. What a beautiful free spirit. And one of the hardest working people I have ever had the privelege of knowing.

As I sat in that tiny church that I love so much, with such a meaningful history to my family, I watched the whole community crowd in. There was no standing room left. We were packed in like sardines in a bursting can. People were standing outside. And it was a tribute to the kind of person Tom was. It was perfect. For him. I also had the sudden realization as I was sitting there that it was not something my dad would have wanted. But sitting there with all the people dad grew up with, I could cry with them. I could mourn my dad in the community that raised him up to be an amazing man, and I could cry for Tom who was also a product of that great place.

My dad didn’t want to be buried, he had things he wanted done with his ashes. And we respected his wishes. Of course we did. But there was a little part of me, as I walked to the cemetery next door that wishes I could have had that physical place to visit my dad. We had a family plot, my grandparents were buried there, and all the people of my grandparents generation. I love cemeteries. And I am madly in love with that cemetery.  I said hi to Nanny and Papa as I walked by their headstones. I still miss them, but in that wistful, immature way one has when loss occurs before we can fully appreciate the extent of what is no longer. The way I miss my dad is much more intense.

As I walked into the church I noticed Tom’s youngest daughter cradling her two little girls. I saw her swollen eyes, and look of shock in her eyes. It took what little restraint I had not to run to her. I did bend down, give her a hug and say “I am so sorry. It is so hard to lose your dad. It’s just hard.” She looked up at me and for one second we shared that understanding that comes when someone can truly share your grief.  “Yes it is..Yeah….”.  It’s not really a club we want to belong to, but we do. We both had fantastic dads, and we are both very grateful in our heartbreak. 

Mara ~  So Tom, could you say hi to Dad? I dunno if he was expecting you so soon, but I’m sure he’s happy to see a familiar face. You rest in peace Tom, you are well loved.

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Sigh. Let’s just get the sigh, and the deep breath out of the way.

I’ve written about a family member’s struggle with mental illness here. Mostly I was just bitching about how it made me feel, all the disturbing and hurtful things she had done that had led me to back away.  And now things are worse than even I could have imagined in the middle of all my hurt, anger. indignation and outrage.

The Guy and I just learned that his mom has been hospitalized on a psychiatric ward since October 9th. And the details are disturbing and tragic. We are now piecing together a descent into a psychotic break that seems unreal. Getting on a plane, refusing to leave a hotel lobby in another city, paranoid delusions, fears of a cult trying to harm her, a crisis team intervention, throwing death threats and garbage off the balcony of her condo, questioning by police, trouble at work, missing person’s report……

Culminating in the building manager entering a stench filled condo and finding her dog Meesha curled up under a blanket. Dead. Left to starve.

So, now it’s about paperwork. And talks with psychiatrists and lawyers and the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). And talks with K. When The Guy called her she said: “Finally! When are you going to get me out of here?” We live many provinces apart and he hasn’t talked to her since June.  Since she threatened to take Squirt away and other weird stuff about Squirt’s first family. In hindsight there were signs. I guess we didn’t realize they were ~*#~*SIGNS~*#*!!!!!! And it’s about flying to another province to see what can be done, and making sure she is not defaulting on her mortgage. We know she refused to pay her condo fees because some other company took over and no one had to pay fees anymore. And they were after her, and trying to harm her. So ANYWAY…  financial stuff must be taken care of, so she does not become homeless on top of everything else.


Mara ~ it’s a little surreal

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This is a link that will become much more common in the days to come. With Obama pretty much the next president of the US, more and more whackos are going to be trying to make themselves famous.

So? Is this just the fanatic in the backwoods? Well, maybe these specific two young men are full of hate, gravely mentally ill, and at the fringe. The thing is that the campaign I have watched from my perch in the Great White North that is Canada, I see a party appealing to fear, hate mongering, using coded language, and very poorly hidding body language. What happens when we appeal to the worst in people? I’m not sure that they aren’t inciting hatred. I know that sounds extreme when you juxtapose a political rally to a foiled skin head plot, but it seems like two points on the same slope from here.

There is also this story which I think is a great reflection of the hatred of ignorance and racism. Yes she may be unstable (though apparently that can be debated). She fabricated this story, but notice how it’s supposed to play into all our fears? Accosted by a black man, fondled and beaten by same black man, a backwards B carved into her face apparently to stand for Barack. As if it’s not already difficult to be a black man in the US. And a backwards ”B’? Dude, she carved her face while looking in the mirror. Cray-zee beeyotch? Why yes. Stupid? Most definitly. But still a tragic reflection of the worst of people being brought out by those who want to win at any cost. And that’s sad and more importantly? It may end tragically. It is no secret that Barack Obama received a security detail long before any other presidential candidate. Why do you think that is?

It’s not because of the love.

Mara~ where is the love?

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Paul Newman

I loved his blue eyes.

I loved his FU Hollywood attitude.

I love his salad dressings.

It’s so sad, really. I know that picture above is not the one many would choose to eulogize old blue eyes, but that picture speaks to me.  Mr. Newman looks old in those pictures, he looks so gaunt, and not like himself at all. It was a trigerring photo for me. It reminded me of my dad at the end. The same person, yet ravaged and unrecognizable. Emaciated, with death around the corner. It’s how I saw my dad for the last six months of his life. I am angry at myself for those last few months because I stopped seeing my dad, and I started seeing death. I knew Christmas ’06 would be our last Christmas, I was happy we didn’t celebrate my birthday….  It was a big long row of lasts. But we made those months count, there was nothing left unsaid. He knew I loved him fiercely, and I knew he loved me and was proud of me.  In my whole life, even with some great friends and family, I have never felt that pride from anyone else.  And I tried to just savour the moment, enjoy the TIME I had with him, but I knew that consciously spending so much time with him was because I didn’t have enough TIME left.  And he was amazing. He was strong. He was in pain. He was brave. He was surrendered.

And then one morning I lost my dad, and life just hasn’t been the same. I won’t ever be the same again.

My thoughts are with the Newman family.  May they remember the love and life and not the pain and death. And my heart aches for them, because it still aches for me….

And now those blue eyes are closed forever. Godspeed Paul Newman.

Mara ~ and the tears are still right there.

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