Thursday 29 May 2008

My Country

My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

~~  Tom Paine 1737-1809  ~~

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Are You Coming?

Grab on to a thought and lets soar. 

Flashbacks From The Month Of May

May 20, 2001

*I love Wahid.

*One area of my life that makes me feel insecure, uneasy, and frustrated is my health.  The one thing I can do right now to improve my situation is to stop taping talk shows and then sitting around all night or all weekend watching them.  From today I will not tape any more talk shows.

*I don’t believe that I ever take an emotional risk, Heaven forbid that someone, especially someone close to me, like Wahid or my children see how I don’t think I measure up to what they perceive me to be.  I definitely do not show my deepest feelings to anyone, not even to myself.

*I think by choosing to see the good in a situation or a person, you already bring a positive force into the situation, so even if it turns out badly, it was not all bad.  If it turns out good, it will be better than good, because good was the least I expected.

*I have to be at the center of my own universe.

May 13, 2002

*Start an inner revolution.

*List of freedoms I believe most strongly in are.  The right to free speech.  The right to go anywhere I want, when I want.  The right to choice (of whatever).  The right to vote.  The right to practice or not practice a religion.  The right to free thought.  Right to protest.  Right to be satisfied with whom I am even though someone else may disagree with it.  The right to disagree.  If my life depended on it, I would fight for probably none of these freedoms because I feel my life would be too valuable to lose over a freedom.  The only thing I would fight if my life depended on it would be for my children.

May 20, 2002

*A couple means two, in mine and Wahid’s relationship there are five people.  Our children have a large place in our relationship.  In fact they have a larger place in the relationship than either Wahid or I.

May 25, 2002

*Enough bull-shit.  What would I even allow people to do for me?  I can’t believe how totally repressed I am.  Am I afraid of people seeing any weakness in me at all?  The funniest thing is I don’t think my kids are fooled at all, although I think the rest of them are.  When other people tell me they need something from me, I don’t think of it as a weakness at all.  On the contrary, I know it is a strength to say when you need help.

May 30, 2003

*Yesterday, May 29th was Angelique’s graduation from University.  She has an arts degree, honours in psychology degree, and now an education degree.  She is now officially a teacher.

May 22, 2004

*Soon, my first child, Angelique will be getting married.  Actually in less than two months.

May 24, 2004

*I truly feel that aspects of me have really not gotten better with age.  Let me try to find a few: I’ve never really valued things and I have always valued people; but I value people even more because I know they won’t be here forever and that life is just a puff of air.  Boy, I sure haven’t grown, mind you; I had really a great developed personality even as a young girl.

May 16, 2007

*Nadalene and Charlton got engaged on May 8th.  The wedding is planned and the dress is bought, so exciting, just waiting for the ring to be made to tell everyone.

*Nathan will be graduating June 6th.  He has worked very hard this year.  He is accepted into education in the fall, very proud of him.

*My hand is sore and my writing is getting sloppy.  My blood is very low; it is at 57, so Nadalene brought me in for a blood transfusion (3 units).

*Angelique is expecting the baby any day now, so I’m really glad I’m having my transfusion today.  Hoping it will give me energy.

Flash Forward

Love who you are, it is always good enough.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

H Is For

Harry (father, brother, nephew)
Heidi (lifelong friend)
Hafeez (nephew)
Hannah (great niece)
Helen (dear friend died of cancer)

Honeydew (prefer the name over the fruit)
Horse (Wahid likes figuring out who is going to win a race)
Hearing (hard of)
Health (wealth)
Hywak (Nadalene’s first doll)

Hansford (haven)
Home (heart is)
Hospital (there too often)
Hammock (Angelique slept in at 6 weeks old in Trinidad)
Howden (Angelique, Nadalene, Nathan and I went to school)

Halloween (wee scary black cat)
Head for the hills (I’d like to)
Happy (often)
Human Rights (speak out)
Honeymoon (July, 1975)

Honest (that is the point)
Homophobes (spiritually challenged)
Hope (never false)
Hate (just let it go)
Holier-than-thou (first sign you are not morally superior)

Friday 23 May 2008

A Love Of Words

Since 1997, I have kept quote journals.  Usually it is a quote that has either inspired me or made me think.

I have been thinking that I will put a quote in my blog once a week.  I don’t know which day I will decide to do it or which quote I will pick.

I am going to flip to a random page in my journal and take a quote off of that page.

A prayer book from 1662.

This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Thursday 22 May 2008


When I was born, the zodiac started with my sign first (Aries).  I always believed that was right and true.  Now that I have my little Josephine (Gemini) I am rearranging the zodiac to start with her birth as I believe that to be right and true.

The birthdates for a Gemini are between May 22nd and June 21st.  Josephine is June 1st.

Gemini's stats are:

Colour  =  Yellow
Metal  =  Mercury
Stone  =  Agate
Tree  =  Nut
Plants  =  Lily of the Valley and Lavender

Gemini is the sign of the twins which represents duality.  Gemini’s are full of fun and will take both sides of an argument, not because they feel strongly about their position, but simply for the fun of it.  They are adaptable and flexible, and require numerous amusements and interests at once to satisfy their quick, changeable minds.

Ruled by Mercury, the hallmark of a Gemini is self-expression.  A Gemini is cheerful and optimistic, and on their flip side they can be moody.

A Gemini will shower you with generosity, refill your glass, and toast to life!

Gemini's are extra loved by their grandmas especially if the grandma is an Aries or a Scorpio.

Cheers to your life Josephine.  Love Grandma.  xoxoxox

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Sounds Reasonable, Right?

Underneath my beard I am not lovely at all.

I probably owe Colette a huge apology, but I don’t think I’m going to give it to her.

Colette called me on Thursday and said that she would be coming in to bring Jacquie home on Friday and so she will sleep over that night but will be leaving first thing Saturday to go camping with her family.  Oh please, don’t do me any favours?

I, trying to hold back tears, say that I don’t think I will be home.  That I already have plans.  In my mind, I am thinking where I can hide in the house if she comes over and Jacquie lets her in.  I need to take my key back from Jacquie.

Sounds reasonable, right?

I knew I was coming down with a case of the sours along with a case of sadness on Friday when I read Shelly’s answer to my blog.  ‘How fun will this be?’ she wrote.  I don’t know, you tell me.  How condescending.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Colette comes to my house carrying gifts.

She brought a bound copy of my blog, along with some pictures of me at the time I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.  There is even an 8 x 10 picture.  ‘I really like this picture of you, do you?’  “No.  I don’t like it at all. I don’t like this binder you put the blog in either.  I do love the idea of the blog though.  This is not how I would want it done though.”

Sounds reasonable, right?

Colette keeps saying that she should just drive home tonight.  I’m like while you should sleep over Colette and go in the morning so you don’t have to drive in the dark.  ‘It will be dark in the morning too because I will be leaving around 5:30 a.m.  Maybe, I will just go tonight.’  “Go then, if that is what you want to do.”  I totally feel like such a charity case.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Attending a birthday party for Grace on Sunday, I fall off of a chair at Jacquie’s house.  Reaction completely exaggerated to the situation.  Look beside me and see Brett is in tears because I fell, Jeff is looking at me like he is scared, Luke has a look of pure compassion as he pats my hand, and everyone else is looking at me.  I start crying.  Feel like such a spectacle.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Tuesday, Jacquie phones ‘What time do you want me to pick you up for picc care?  Do you want to go for breakfast?  Do you need me to pick you up after group?’  No, I don’t think so because Shelly always picks me up.

Phone Shelly for a ride from group.  ‘Yeah that should be okay.  What time?  I will have to get one of the boys to come and answer the phones.  No, yeah that will be fine.’  Feel like I just pulled my own tooth.

Wait 10 minutes and phone her back telling her I don’t need her to pick me up I have another ride.  The rides name is transit if Jacquie can’t pick me up.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Jacquie can you pick me up from group too?  ‘Sure no problem.’

Jacquie is truly the only person besides my family who never makes me feel like a beggar.  In a way, I resent her for this too.  Because I want to be angry and I know that would be blatantly unjust.

Sounds reasonable, right?

At group yesterday, I said that I would pass on my cancer to any of my siblings if it meant that I didn’t have cancer anymore.  I thought everyone would feel the same way as I do and I am surprised that no one does, except for maybe Noreen.  I am truly a monster.

Sounds reasonable, right?

I know that my reactions to these situations are completely unnecessary and exaggerated, and to a certain extent unreasonable.

I think (even though I know it is bizarre to think that way) that being sick has made me weak, a pitiable creature, a chore; someone people feel sorry for.  That is what I hate.

I was never supposed to be the person with cancer.  I was supposed to be the person that was a friend of the person with cancer.

This is so difficult.  Having cancer.  Having treatment for cancer.  Not having treatment for cancer.  Having no one around who does not live in my head and my body to see and know how I feel.

I feel like I am a ‘Loser’ and somehow I have lost the game.  I am ashamed of my cancer.  I can tell you I struggle with that sometimes, even though rationally I know it is crazy.

I feel that when people come to see me, it is an obligation.  A pit stop on their way to their true destination.  A chore similar to Prince Charming having to muck out the Ugly Stepsisters outhouse before he can attend the Ball.

At this time I can not give a true apology to Colette, as I feel much sorrier for myself than I do for how I acted.  I’m just tired of it.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Tuesday 20 May 2008

G Is For

Gerry (brother)
Gemma (sister-in-law)
Gilbert (brother-in-law)
Gord (brother-in-law and nephew)
Grace (great niece)

Grapefruit (interferes with my medication)
Giraffe (tallest land animal – saw some in California)
Ghosts (boo)
Grandparents (Wahid and I)
God (love and comfort)

Garden (at 14 tried to plant one on Elizabeth Road by myself)
Galaxy (we’re not alone – estimated hundreds of billions)
Graveyard (Archibald)
Greece (cruise)
Great Lakes (been to all five)

Grateful (when I’m sick)
Grace (Thank you our Lord)
Grooviest Girl (Grandma’s girl)
Gemini (Josephine)
Gloomy (dress I often wear)

Graceful (Angelique and Nadalene)
Get on my nerves (one left)
Gift of the gab (Ste. Marie)
Go through the motions (no feelings whatsoever)
Grab the bull by the horns (deal head-on with difficulty)

Friday 16 May 2008

Enjoy The Trip

At the second-last meeting of the Stress Reduction Group I asked if everyone would bring in some words or quotes that inspire and help them deal with their cancer.  I remember that Angie brought in some psalms, but I don’t recall what anyone else brought.

These are the words that comfort me.  They are written by Pema Chodron who is a Buddhist nun.  She is describing life:

It’s like getting into a boat that is just about to sail out to sea and sink.
There are no life rafts, no floats and no one gets out alive.
Rather than try to ward off the inevitable,
Why not accept it and enjoy the trip?

For me it was comforting knowing that I was not doing anything out of the ordinary.  I was going to die and so was everyone else.

Once again we were all in the same boat and the fact that death was inevitable and that we can still enjoy our life helped me.

Thursday 15 May 2008


I will wait here; you go grab a cup of tea and settle in to answer some questions.

I was tagged by my darling friend Heidi and now I am tagging you.  Knowing people a little better is what we are all here for.

These questions are for your entire life.  If you have done any of them state them on the comment part of my blog.  If you can, expand on your answers just because it is more fun that way.

Gone on a blind date = no, but one time when I was 16 a neighbour guy who was about 22 came to the door all dressed up in a suit and had flowers in his hands.  He asked me to go out to the movies and tried to give me the flowers he was holding.  I said no, but that I would set him up with my sister Suzie who was more his age, so I called Suzie to the door and she went out with him.

Skipped school = yes, more than once.  Ms. Heidi, I believe I skipped with you.

Watched someone die = yes I have seen my friends Jill and Angie while they were dying and it was both horrible and an honour.  I also saw my Nana in a coma after a house fire where I believe she tried to save her dog.  And every Tuesday I get to see brave women who are living while they are in different stages of dying.  Seeing my dear friend Darlene dying was also especially hard.  I did not find any peace from any of my dear ones dying.

Been to Canada = I live in Canada but as a teenager I was lucky enough to travel all across Canada.  I have not been to Newfoundland and I have never been in the Territories.

Been to Mexico = yes, but I have only been in a border town.  Tijuana?  I am a shallow tourist because I don’t want to see the poverty in front of me.  I guess I would be called an ostrich tourist.

Been to Florida = yes on my honeymoon.  A little story.  This is the time before credit cards being common and we didn’t have much money.  It was a honeymoon on a budget.  I remember being at the airport and wanting to spend our last $100 and Wahid wanting to save it in case we got bumped somewhere (by the way, we did).  I remember being so pissed off and thinking why did I marry such a cheap bastard.  My prince charming had sprung a leak.

Been on a plane = yes too many to count.  I worked for Air Canada at one point and we traveled by plane for free.  I use to love it until one time flying from Trinidad to Tobago the plane dropped and we were lifted about 10 inches off of our seats.  It still surprises me to this day though that I sat with Angelique and Nadalene (Nathan wasn’t born yet) and said “Wow, wasn’t that fun.  I sure hope they do that again.”  Now just before I fly I take a fear of flying course on the internet that Shelly hooked me up to.

Been lost = yes.  The first time I remember being lost I was 9 years old and we had moved to Windsor Park.  I was walking home from Frontenac School at lunch and instead of turning onto Elizabeth Road I kept walking down DuBourmont to Dugas.  I then stopped at a house and knocked on the door.  An older lady got her neighbour’s son to walk me back to school, when I got to Elizabeth, I remembered it was my street and he walked me home.  I have also been left behind by my parents a couple of times when I was a small child but that was not the question, so I will zip those stories back in my lips for now.

Gone to Washington, D.C. = yes.

Swam in the ocean = yes, the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Cried yourself to sleep = yes, I have actually become a pro at that.

Played cops and robbers = yes, only we called it cowboys and Indians.

Recently coloured with crayons = no, although Angelique and I almost bought a giant colouring book at Costco.

Sang Karaoke = no, unless you consider Karaoke singing in Wahid’s ear while we are waltzing.  We both sing completely out of tune.  But being out-of-tune together has a melody all its own.

Paid for a meal with coins only = absolutely, and those coins had a lot of pennies with them.  I mean they are legal tender aren’t they?

Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t = yes, yes, and yes.

Made prank phone calls = yes and I believe these were done when I was in the presence of Heidi and Shirley.  I still remember ‘Hello is your fridge running?  Well you better go catch it.'
And the scariest mother of them all 'I know who you are and
I saw what you did.'

Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose = yes, and sometimes those are the best kind of laughs because they are so unexpected.

Caught a snowflake on your tongue = yes, hasn’t everyone who has the opportunity to live in a cold country?

Danced in the rain = no, but I am compiling a list of 52 things to do before I am 53 and that seems like a good thing to do.

Written a letter to Santa Claus = yes.  I was also Santa Claus’s secretary for many years so I even wrote letters on his behalf.

Been kissed under the mistletoe = yes, but not under real mistletoe.  But I have been kissed under fake mistletoe.

Watched the sunrise or moonrise with someone you care about = yes to both.

Blown bubbles = yes, and I still do whenever I get gum in my mouth.

Gone ice-skating = yes, all the time as a kid.  Most of the time at Maginot.

Been skinny-dipping outdoors = no.

Gone to the movies = of course.  I even went to see the first Lord of the Rings movie alone at St. Vital Centre.  Actually I would recommend it to anyone, it was really empowering.

Thanks for the fun Heidi.  Ciao.

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Mummers Dance

Because you all listen to me and send me your thoughts I want to show my appreciation by sending you the most wonderful magical song by Loreena McKennitt.

The song the Mummers Dance is a song I have been digging and listening to over and over again.

Be prepared for the Mummers Dance to remind your soul that it has wings.

The lyrics to the Mummers Dance:

When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light

We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days

We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay

And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone

"A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of Our Lord's hand"

We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay

It truly is the springtime of the year.   I love you all.

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Center Of My Circle

When Yvette and I were both working at Tax we would listen to Harry Potter on tape.  We shared our tapes and our love of the story.  We also shared our dislike of the Dementors in the series and would describe to each other how similar so many people in our office were.  (I know  that was Dementor behaviour on our part.)

Dementors are beings that suck the life out of a person.  Literally they would put their mouth on yours and give you the kiss of death.  Where they were there was no joy, everyone in their vicinity was left with a feeling of utter despair.  We all know the refrain from the Dementors theme song; gloom and doom and doom and gloom, life is shitty and so are the people in it, mope, mope and more mope, gloom and doom and doom and gloom.

See how they can suck you in.  I am totally getting away from myself because I am not here to talk about Harry Potter or Dementors.  I am here to talk about the opposite of Dementors.

I am here to talk about Life-Lifters, which Yvette is one of and Jill was the master of.

My concept of a Life-Lifter is very simple.  It is a person that chooses to uplift everyone around them.  They are the type of people that after talking to them you always feel better, even if you can't remember what they said.  They are the people who seem to have it altogether even if they swear that they don’t.  People like to be around them because they are really interested in you as a person, as another human being on this planet.  They care about your well-being and they want you to be happy.  They themselves are happy.

I try to foster acceptance and understanding by living life as a Life-Lifter by:

Doing the small things that make life special.
Giving freely, without expectations.
Smiling at people.
Being grateful.
Looking people in the eyes when talking to them.
Thinking of others.
Wishing upon a star.
Being sincere.
Delighting in delighting others.
Laughing at myself.
Staying calm.
Knowing that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Living by my word and meaning what I say.
Being friendly.
Learning consistently.
Giving others a feeling of safety and understanding.
Seeing things in a positive manner.
Sharing hope and joy.
Understanding that everyone is special.
Being patient and kind.
Quietly doing things for others.
Not being a martyr.
Having a global conscience.
Making life better for those around me.
Being forgiving.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt.
Trusting in God.
Being honest.
Loving life.
Believing that dragons sing within the rocky mountains.
Talking to young children, especially teens.
Not feeling sorry for myself which is not the same as sometimes feeling sad for myself.

We need less Dementors in this world and more Life-Lifters.  What do you say, do you want to hop on board?

Lets you and I choose to be the Life-Lifters within our circle.  Pass on a kindness today even if it is just a little smile.  Some soul out there needs it.  And if it is you that needs it, then I am sending it to you.  If you look you will find it in a child’s face.

So from the center of my circle I am sending all of you positive thoughts to your circle and beyond.

Monday 12 May 2008

F Is For

Fluffy (alias for dear one)
Flo (friend)
Fernand (father’s middle name)
Father (positive)
Family (soul travelers)

Fig (fried plantain)
Flamingo (pink bird on stilts = magic)
Falling Star (is not a star)
Friend (heart travelers)
Fairy (clap your hands)

Facebook (entertainment)
Fishbowl (going in circles with an audience)
Florida (honeymoon)
Freezer (not CSI, I will not be put in one when I die)
France (ancestors)

Fall (beautiful time of year)
February (parents anniversary)
Forty-nine (diagnosed with cancer)
Fifty-two (age)
Full-moon (Josephine was born)

Frightened (some times)
Forget-me-not (don’t forget me)
For the love of Pete (for shit sake)
Famine (grain up 88%, wheat up 181%, rice up 50% since 2007)
Fight an uphill battle (struggle against unfavourable circumstances)

Sunday 11 May 2008

Happy Mother's Day

For those of us who are fortunate enough to have our children or our mothers living near us I hope that you get to spend some of your day with them.

For those of us who are not as fortunate to have our children or our mothers with us I hope that you go to the place that they will always be with you and have a sweet little visit with them for some part of the day.

I hope that you all have a day that you feel appreciated.

Angelique I am so proud of you and the mother you are to our sweet Josephine.  I hope that you have a special Mother’s Day.

A few quotes I love in honour of mothers:

Now that  ...  my kids are grown, I understand how much work and love it takes to raise and to keep a family together.  The example of your strength, devotion, and patience is now rippling through the generations.  Thank you!  ~  Forest Houtenschil

My mom is a never-ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being.  I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.  ~  Graycie Harmon

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.  ~  William Makepeace Thackeray

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.  ~  Tenneva Jordan

Friday 9 May 2008

A Woman's Job Is Never Done

In January, 1993, when Angelique just turned 17 and was in Grade 12 she had to interview and write about someone that she admired the most.  She wrote about her Grandma and entitled the paper ‘A Woman’s Job Is Never Done.’  Angelique’s paper will be in bold.

I thought that this would be a good time to place this in my blog as Mother’s Day is on Sunday and this is a tribute to my Mother.  Cheers to you Mom.

As my biggest role model sits beside me on the couch, I sit in amazement of her beauty and self control that she seems to carry with her always.  As she continues to support her smoking habit of about 54 years (as she is now 66 years of age), she still looks as elegant as always.  She is the only one I have known to look incredibly graceful with a cigarette.  I remember even as a child trying to imitate and look like her with a cigarette, yet I used a pen and almost mastered the way she would hold it and exhale the smoke.

I look up at her eyes and she smiles as I begin to ask her about her life.  She was born December 7, 1926, in Aberdeen, Scotland.  She was adopted, yet she was still in contact with her biological family.  She seemed to be a very eccentric little red head then, as she is now.  She was very brave and strong and a rather pesky tomboy.  With her happy-go-lucky personality, Daisy Ste. Marie (then Cowie) was very popular, and always attracted people towards her.  She was always with her group of friends and together they seemed to be very close and were always doing something or other exciting.

As she speaks with her hands and motions about, she explains how they had no T.V. to center their lives around, as they went for picnics to the beach, the cinema, pantomimes, and as often as possible, they went dancing at the club on the boulevard.  It was there at the boulevard that she met Henri Ste. Marie.

It was about the year 1945 during World War II.  She had been dancing all night and went to stand at the radiator to keep warm.  A rather good looking soldier (Canadian) walked into the club with another woman.  She bet her friend that she could steal him away.  As the evening progressed, the man asked her to dance.  He had told her that he had been watching her all night, and he bet her money that he would marry her, and he gave her the money to keep.

She fought it over with him and laughed and he walked her home.  It turns out that they got married a month later.  She had always dreamed about having a big wedding, but it wasn’t possible during the war.  She had to save her clothing coupons and many of the neighbours gave her coupons for her dress.  The wedding took place in a church by the ocean with her Maid of Honour and the Best Man.  After the wedding, they went out for supper.  They will have celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on February 28th.

As she had her first of thirteen children, she said that it was one of the happiest moments in her life, although she said it felt like the end of the bloody world.  As she asks my grandpa how old she was (he says 19), she disagrees and says 18 and they argue about it for a while.  She then goes on explaining all of the great times she has had with her kids.  She exclaims that she is very proud of all her children and their success as none of them seemed to have done anything that bad, as she smiles.  “And they’ve done a good job with their kids too!”

She was the perfect mother, who spent time with each, and they always played games, and she’s done the same with all of her grandchildren.  I can vouch for that one!  After her first child, she had to move to Canada, where all of her children grew up.

As she explains her move to Canada from Scotland (which she misses dearly), she explains about how it was one of the hardest times of her life; actually it was the most depressing yet at the same time, it was a great feeling since she didn’t know her whereabouts.  As she was leaving at the train station, her ex-boyfriend was playing the bagpipes, which she loves so much.  When she first got to Canada, she felt very lonely.  But as she explains about how she has no regrets “Life is too short to worry; you must continue.”

She had many friends and it was through one of these friends at church, that she finally saw her sister after 30 years.  Her friend’s son went to Scotland and stayed with his aunt.  His aunt worked with my grandma’s sister, Elsie.  Elsie met the lady’s son and they struck up a conversation about Winnipeg, and one thing led to another and when the son came back, he gave all of the information to my grandma.

My grandma did not talk or know where Elsie lived or if she was even alive after 30 years.  So when they came into contact, and my grandma went to Scotland to see her, she said that was the happiest time of her life.  She said she balled her head off the whole time and didn’t even think she’d recognize her.  But when they saw each other (and neither are very affectionate) they sat there crying and hugging the whole time.

To me, my grandma is the greatest person.  I hope I have helped you understand how super she is since she is the mother of 13 wonderful children, 40-some grandchildren, she is a very happy, strong and wise lady.

I learn a lot from her, and I love her very much.

Just to let you know the child born in Scotland is my brother Harry.  Also just to let you know, the elegant cigarette smoking has stopped.

The love-affair between my daughter and her grandma continues and is just as strong as when one of the ladies was 17 and the other lady was 66.  Angelique is so blessed that her daughter Josephine now has a great-grandma to love.

The picture at the start of my blog was taken last week in the front yard.  For those of you who are not sure who is who, here is my key.

The two mothers each have a heart on their dresses, because once you have children your heart is just naturally on the outside of your body.  Grandma is the queen mother and Angelique is the junior mother.  Nadalene has on funky sandals and is wearing a tiara and has a picture of herself as a young girl on her dress.  Nathan is wearing a crown and has on some red high-tops, he is sporting the number 12 for some sports team, and still likes to hold his grandma’s hand.  Josephine is also holding her great-grandma’s hand and has a star on her dress because she is the little star of our family.  Also Josephine’s cheeks are rosy because she ate some apples.

We all love you Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Welcome Home

Rest in peace Barb.

Taking Care Of Business

Talking to Angelique on the phone Monday morning and I tell her where I was earlier.  Nathan walks by and says “Mom next time it is a beautiful day, why don’t you go for a walk in the park instead of sitting all morning in a funeral home.”  Angelique on the phone hears and says “No shit.”  We all burst out laughing.

Anyway, Monday morning I spent at Desjardins Funeral Home.  I am preparing funeral arrangements so that it will be less work for my family.

This is my second time going as I went in May last year.  I plan to make this an annual event, just too fine tune and also to get use to the place.  Last year when I went I felt a little chocked.  This year it felt much more like business and really just something that needs to be done.

There are already different things I found out this year than I knew last year.  For example I found out from my friend Flo that I can get a cremation box (cardboard) for $15 whereas last year they told me the cheapest one was $740 (pressboard).

I will share with you what I learned.

Flashback May, 2007

I get Jacquie to drop me off at Desjardins because I have an appointment with the funeral director for 9 a.m.  She does not want me to go alone, but that is the only way I am going.

When I first entered it was still dark and there was no one around.  I peek in doorways and all of a sudden a lady comes out who has to bend in the doorway because she is about 7 feet tall.  Scared the shit out of me.  She is the funeral director and her name is Lynette.

We start the meeting and talked about why I am there.  I felt a little teary when I said I was there for myself, but I reminded myself that I was just taking care of business and got my self together.  I had also met with the priest previously, so I knew what I wanted done.

She takes me downstairs and we enter the casket room.  For some reason I still thought the caskets would be a little further into the room but they are jam-packed in the room, right at the entrance.  It gave me the creeps because I always hated that quilted lining in a casket.

I see the cremation caskets and I also look at the urns.  At the time I thought I might want a niche in the wall so she said that you can’t have a wooden urn because they dissolve and the cemetery doesn’t allow that.  But now I know I don’t want to be in a wall, so I am looking at a bio-degradable urn or a wooden one so that it can rot and I will be ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I am there for about three hours.

Flash Forward May 5, 2008

Meet with Lynette for 9 a.m.  More relaxed this time around and we go through the papers and I ask my questions.  I even got a beautiful pen out of the deal which apparently is a prize for the family when they are grieving.

Costs of a funeral:

Arrangements: $840 now is $940

Transfer of body from hospital: $215 now is $265

Staff (four people): $495

Preparation for identification: $220

Basic facility: $295 now is $195 (actually went down)

Cremation fee: $460 now is $485

Lead car (for priest, flowers, urn, etc): $125

Limousine for family: $225

Casket for cremation: $760 pressed board now is $15 for cardboard

Urn: $760 for pewter now is $460 for wood (not sure on amount of biodegradable box)

Guest book, 50 thank you cards, and crucifix: $195

*Memorial cards: $1.75 per card ($425)

*Luncheon sandwiches: $10 per person ($3,000) heard other places charge $5 per person

*Luncheon tea and coffee: $1.50 per person now $1.75 per person ($425)

Two hostesses: $250

*Based on 300 people.

Burying someone is an expensive endeavour.  The funeral based on around 300 people attending would be about $7,720.  Not including taxes, church costs, priest, death certificates, other papers needed, or cemetery costs.

Looks like I should have worked harder in the salt mines and earned more money.

The cemetery is a whole other matter too.  I went to the ones in my area last year and I am going to revisit in a few weeks.

Some things I know for sure at this point:

Do not want to die at home.
Rosary said in hospital room after I die or while I am dying.
Cremation with $15 cardboard box (do not upgrade this).
No public viewing.
Funeral at Holy Family Church (full mass with incense and holy water).

Lots and lots to do in preparation for a funeral that I hope I won’t be attending for years and years and years and years.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Rickety Leaking Ship

Now you are all going to get to see how intelligent Nadalene is.  How Nadalene is so in tune with me and how much she gets my cancer.  What she said to me will be put in italics.

After I first started going to group meetings on cancer, I would return to my family and friends shell-shocked.  As time went on, my group friends would get sicker and some of them starting dying.  It was the end result of cancer.  And to be honest, it is the end result of life.

My first group of fellow sufferers all died with the exception of me, Sally and Bernice.  Of my Wednesday group after Jill, Helen, and Angie died there is nothing left except me and the day of the week.

There is a deep sorrow in all of this.

Family and friends would ask “Why do you keep going?  This is too hard on you.  Wouldn’t it be better if you stopped going?”

It would definitely not be better for me to stop going.  People did not quite understand.  All they saw was my pain; they did not see the benefit of how I needed to share my sorrow with people who understood me.  They didn’t realize that these were my people, the people who would also leave their children behind.  The same people who would have motherless children.

Nadalene understood and put it to me in a wonderful way.  I shared what she said to me with members of both my groups and everyone was “Nadalene gets it.”

It seems to me Mom that it is as though you and your friends are on a ship.  It is a rickety leaking ship and you are all holding on for dear life.  None of you knew each other to start with but now none of you wants the other to fall off of the ship.  As you travel you see other women in the water reaching out for you to bring them onboard.  You reach for them and pull them on.

As you do this, you look at the shore and all of your families are standing there.  They cannot come on the ship or even in the water.  They are waving to you and cheering you on.  But the ship keeps drifting further from the shore.  More women call for help and you reach down and bring them aboard.  Some of the women fall off and you can’t help them anymore, no one can.

The worse part for all of you is that while you are on this rickety leaking ship holding on for dear life you are drifting further and further away from your family.  You can see them and they can see you.  But the ship is for women only like you, women in a very desperate situation.

One of the ladies on the ship is a very gentle woman, her name is Barb.  Right now she is about to fall in the water, but she desperately wants to dock one more time for her oldest daughters wedding.  It is in the first week of June.

I am having a meeting with God tomorrow at 10:15 to pitch the idea that he lets her live until after the wedding.  That is what she wants and that is what all the women on my ship want for her too.  Let us all pray that she gets what it is she wants.

Monday 5 May 2008

E Is For

Effie (Mom, new speckled one, in Gaelic Oighrig)
Elsie (aunt, mother’s sister)
Elizabeth (dear one and cousin)
Emily (niece)
Emma (great-niece)

Eggplant (baigan with roti on a Sunday)
Elephant (Angelique semi-collected)
Ear (five operations)
Enchanted (by almost everyone)
Equal (all people)

Earth (home – third planet from the sun)
Europe (Greece and Turkey)
Equator (imaginary circle around the earth)
Elf Land (open a book to find it)
East (don’t know directions, Wahid don’t try to show me again)

Evening (family gathering)
Eighty (nice age to live to)
Eclipse (Lake Superior when I was 16)
Early (accomplish tasks)
Excellent (life)

E-mail (communication)
Eager (to be well)
Exception (hopefully to my cancer’s stats)
Eye-candy (sweet to look at)
Experiment (when approved drugs are no longer available)

Thursday 1 May 2008

Worship At The Altar Of Suffering

My two years of torture are supposed to be over.  I don’t understand why I am still being tortured.  Albeit is a different form and to me, not as horrible as the first type, it is still torture and it is still terrible.

My knees are grumbling, my elbows are growling and my feet are screaming.  There are no words for how my shoulders feel.  My throbbing, complaining body reminds me everyday of what my situation is.

Camille (my sister) has severe arthritis and never complains.  I have complained more in the last two years than she has complained in the last twenty.  Am I lacking some core strength that she has and I don’t?  It is impossible for me not to complain.  Impossible.

I cannot string two sentences together without including this as one of them.  My shoulders are killing me, my feet, my knees, my head.  You get the drift.  This is my language now.  The pathetic part of me feels I need to let people know that I am suffering.  Even though I find it abhorrent, I no longer know what to do without people’s pity.

For all of my worship at the altar of suffering and however done I am with it.  In some ways I don’t know how to turn my mind from it.  I have forgotten how to bring other elements of me back into myself.  I need to remind myself of who I am.  Or at the very minimum, that I am something more than that cringing body tied to the stake on the altar of suffering.

But maybe that is all I am now and that is what I have to accept.

Dealing with pain and illness is no easy feat.  It is a conscious choice everyday to make the best of your life.  Yes, it is easier said than done.

My family helps me so much and I am so grateful for all their care.  I love you Wahid, Angelique, Nadalene and Nathan.  Angelique thank you so much for my little flower (Josephine).

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly,
“one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
(Hans Christian Anderson)