Sunday 12 August 2018

One day at a time

I started this post last evening after what felt like a very long day and a bit of a rollercoaster week. Today, I'm still feeling a little out of sorts but just the act of writing this out has been helpful.

I'm in a bit of mood tonight.  It is soooo hot and although I have air-conditioning, the poor thing seems to be struggling to keep up.  Of course, I keep it a few degrees above normal room temp so it is warm in here.  The poor cats are annoyed as the sun room has been off limits for the last few days and keeping out of the way of young Eli can be challenging for them.  He does love to chase them, especially Sheldon, and fails to respect nap time.  

As frustrated as they are with Eli, I am with my daughter.  I arrived home this morning from Saskatoon (more on that in a moment) to find that my garage is chock-a-block full of stuff.  There is more crap than was there a couple of weeks ago even though D has assured me she has been getting rid of stuff!  When the door opened, there was barely space to walk through to get to the inside door.  She has been painting again, spray-painting that is, this time a lamp for her bedroom in Melville and another coat on a table for Eli.  She was so proud that she'd found cardboard to contain the paint...until I pointed out the large splotch on the driveway.  Sigh....  Anyone know how to remove paint from concrete?  No worries, I'll google it.  

On a happier note, the sale of the house was finalized yesterday.  It was a bit of a scramble as the first mortgage company declined due to the age of the house so we had to start again with a second.  They needed some additional information, I was out of town, and for once in her life my daughter wasn't answering her phone.  I texted her to call me and found she was getting my calls but ignoring them as she was on the line with someone else.  She eventually called, and we were able to put the info together.  Then there was a glitch with the counter-offer as the previous owner has been renting it out.  The mortgage company wanted a notice to vacate - however the owner/tenant have nothing in writing.  He did re-word the counter-offer to indicate the property will be vacant on possession date.  He too, was out of town and the deadline to remove the conditions was yesterday.  It was tight, but in any event, it was straightened out and by 8:40 p.m. Friday I had the confirmation letter.  Another countdown ...55 sleeps until moving day. 

My trip to Saskatoon wasn't planned, but came about when my cousin E called to let me know her sister J had passed away on Monday morning.  J has been battling cancer for a number of years so it wasn't entirely unexpected but still sudden. She was only 57 years old and is the first of our generation of cousins to pass.

Actually, J is my second cousin, her father M is my dad's sister's son (or my dad's nephew if that makes it easier).  But my aunt married young, while my dad was in his 40's.  So M's oldest children, J and her twin sister (also J) are between my younger sister and younger brother in age.  They lived on the farm here in southern Saskatchewan, while we grew up on a farm in the north-eastern corner of the province.  As a result, we didn't meet until we were teenagers.  For some reason, no longer in my recall, my younger siblings and I spent a weekend at their home about the time the J's graduated from high school.  I don't remember if we kept in touch then...I'm thinking there may have been some letters back and forth but for the most part it was M and his wife who visited my parent's home.

J did attend my dad's funeral in 2008 with her parents, I saw her again at her  mom's funeral in 2012, and a year or so later when I was travelling to Saskatoon for work we met for dinner fairly frequently.  Once my work trips to Saskatoon ended, we kept in touch via Facebook, infrequent telephone calls, and a visit some months ago when J was here for an event for her niece.  I recall we had such a nice visit at dinner and she shared the book she had made for her family.  It was a scrapbook style, but published in a format that was professional and polished.  There were photos of various relatives including her grandmother (my aunt) that I'd not seen previously.  She had written the story of her parents from marriage through to great grandchildren.  I'm certain it will be treasured by all who received a copy last Christmas.

She was on leave from work due to her illness but looked healthy and happy.  We talked about her recent cruise with J2, her plans for future trips including one to Ireland, and family memories. In all of our conversations we never discussed her cancer.  I knew she'd been diagnosed (her brother T is close to my brother R) and she knew I knew but it was never something that either of us brought up.  When I left her at the hotel I told I'd be sure to be in touch and we'd get together again in Saskatoon but that didn't happen. There is definitely  feelings of guilt over that.  

Yesterday, I learned that she had a seizure earlier this year, and was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Her original cancer was in the colon and she was close to 4 years into that battle.  She was hospitalized, refused radiation, but did agree to a gamma knife procedure.   After treatment J returned home, and she and J2 made a road trip to Ontario to visit friends and family in June.  In early July she had a PET scan and discovered that while the brain tumor had decreased in size, the cancer was back in her colon and had spread to her liver.  Even so, she was able to be at home until she had another seizure when she was moved to respite care.  After three weeks, it was decided she was well enough to go home again.  Even so, on Wednesday, she told her friend Linda she was afraid to go home and really would prefer to stay in the care home. 

This past Sunday, J2 arrived from Calgary and plans were made for her to stay at J's apartment with her for a period of time.  But on Monday morning, when she was walking into the home, she received a phone call to say that J had passed peacefully in her sleep during the night.  The family was told the staff had poked their head in the room a couple of times that morning, but thought J was simply sleeping as she preferred to sleep late.  I think it was as much a shock to the staff as it was to the rest of us.  

J was the oldest of 7 children, she never married, but had numerous nieces and nephews (including some grands).  She left home after graduation and moved to Saskatoon for school and never left.  She obtained her B.Ed but decided teaching wasn't for her and eventually found her way into communications for a couple of federal departments.  When I read her obituary I thought it truly captured her spirit so well, that I wasn't surprised to learn she had written it.  She also wrote a good portion of her eulogy, though as her niece said the family tweaked it.  There was some laughter and many tears shed yesterday.  

Let me say this, cancer sucks!  This is the third funeral I've attended this year and every one was due to a battle with cancer.  First was a co-worker who battled brain cancer for over 20 years. The second, was the stepfather of a friend who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 2 years ago.  And, then of course, J.  I keep thinking that surely, with all the funding and research, there must be a cure soon for this insidious disease in all forms.  

Oh, and let's not get me started on gun violence, shall we?  If you haven't heard there was a shooting in Fredericton, New Brunswick yesterday.  Two civilians and two police officers were killed.  Why, oh why does this happen?  I have no answers.  We boast of stronger gun laws here in Canada, but the number of shootings resulting in multiple deaths keep growing.  

My brother, his wife P and daughter L are currently in Fredericton for a basketball tournament. Her team (Team Sask) were in the bronze medal game today; although they lost to Team Quebec to finish 4th out of a pool of 11 teams is pretty darn good in my books.  I'm so proud of L and all of her accomplishments.  She's a amazing young woman at the tender age of 15.

Speaking of proud, I'll end this post with another photo of Eli.  His mom took this photo of him after he climbed up on my chair.  He's holding the remote in his right hand and looking at a book of photos in his left.  He's often seen me reading in my chair and the remote is never far away...what a little mimic!

He's now 17 months old, 27.2 lbs in weight, and just a sweet little boy.  Not to say, he can't have temper tantrums and be a brat - that happens too!  But when I come through the door and he yells 'Ma-'Ma and comes running to me all of the frustrations of the day fall away.  

I'm reminded that even when we lose someone, life continues.  Finding those moments of joy, not only in memories but in the present is what sustains me.  I am blessed to have been part of J's life and equally blessed to part of Eli's.  

Despite the mess and chaos.

Have a great week everyone!


  1. I am sorry about your cousin, Cancer truly does suck. You would think by now with all the technology they would be further along but there are so many forms of it and they seem to make advances in some areas but not others. Glad the house sale is going through, having adult children live with you is trying. They seem so mature sometimes and so immature at others (we've spent a lot of time this year with our adult kids, loved it but was happy to see them go too :)) It will be so nice for you to have privacy again, and when you leave your clean house it will be clean when you come back to it!

  2. I'm so very sorry for your cousin's passing. My condolences to you, to her sister, and to all her family and friends. Fifty-seven is young...I'm only a few years younger, and I'm at the age now where I realize that it easily could be me in the same situation. That knowledge makes me want to quit my job and enjoy the rest of my time on earth, not wait for retirement, which might not ever come. But of course I still need to live and pay the mortgage and bills, support the fur kids, etc.

    As for that shooting in Fredericton: I have a very dear friend who lives just outside of the city and works in town, and they were on lock-down at their office. (I don't know where her workplace is in relation to the area of the event.) I don't know...Is life getting crazier or is it that we have such instant access to communication now and we hear almost instantly about things we might not have years ago? Maybe it's a bit of both. With 7 billion or so people jammed on this one planet, depleting resources, societal pressures and untreated mental health issues, it's no wonder people snap. :-(

    Anyway, it's all the more reason to seize the day, as the expression goes, and enjoy all that we can. I wish you a much, much better week ahead!

  3. Yes, indeed, cancer is a monstrous entity. It seems to be growing in incidence. Even children as young as two get it. I am convinced it is due to all the crap in our food, and even eating healthy doesn't help all that much, because the crap is in the ground, the fertiliser, the packaging. As long as people care more about profit, cancer will keep increasing. It is particularly unfair, I think, for someone with cancer in one form to be beating it, only to have it strike in another. I lost a very good friend that way.

    But there are better things in the world, such as cats and grandchildren, and, for you, retirement and your daughter having her own household. What a fuss to go through to buy a house! Like everything else, it is much worse doing that now than it once was. But soon that will be accomplished, and you and the cats will have your house back again. You will of course miss your daughter and Eli, but having one's world back is pretty good...


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