That glue really is Krazy stuff

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My mom and dad both battled their share of medical problems.  There were many trips to local hospitals and many chats with our family doctor to make difficult decisions.

In early 2003, my dad became so ill that those decisions were unable to be made by us or by our local ER doctors.   He had been flown by air ambulance to Toronto with an upper G.I. bleed and his stomach was sprayed with super glue to stop the bleeding.  According to the specialists, it was the only thing they could do to save his life.   By some miracle, it worked.

krazy glue

My mom and I basically moved in with my aunt and uncle in Burlington and drove into the hospital in Toronto each day.  I became an amateur resident doctor in a span of a few weeks.  I would check his chart each morning and even yelled at a nurse when I read that he had been given Aspirin, a blood thinner, during the night to control his fever.

When he finally regained consciousness, he had been in a medically induced coma for two and a half weeks and suspended in his own state of consciousness for another four days after that.  He had been on a respirator that had since been removed and he was initially unaware that he had to cover the hole in his throat to be able to speak.

It took him a while to acclimate and, once we showed him that he had to put his finger on the opening to have a voice,  the first question he asked me was “what day is it?”

“It’s Wednesday, Dad.”

Without missing a beat, he put his finger back on the opening to his throat and croaked, “I’m not happy about that.”

I looked sideways at my mother and we both had to look away.  After three weeks of sitting vigil at his bedside, wondering if he would even recover from all of the things going wrong in his body, we started to giggle.  I was dumbfounded.  He was mad because it was Wednesday!  He wasn’t angry that he was attached to a plethora of medical equipment.  He wasn’t concerned that my mom and I were covered from head to toe in gowns and masks to prevent contamination in the ICU.  He wasn’t upset that he had to put a finger over the gaping hole in his throat to utter any words.  He was mad because it was Wednesday.  The stress-releasing laughter continued and my mom and I were quickly ushered out of the ICU.

That moment in time left an imprint on my brain.  I regaled my co-workers with the story and, since my dad was home and on the mend, it became our go-to phrase in the office.   Every time something went wrong, one of us would cover a phantom hole in our throat and squawk, “I’m not happy about that”.

My  dad passed away in March of 2006.  That memory had sadly disappeared until one of those friends typed the line “I’m not happy about that” into one of her emails today.  After all of the things we had gone through with my mom recently that moment in my life had become buried in the recesses of my brain, but I’m glad it’s back.  I forgot a big part of the journey with my dad and “I’m not happy about that”.  At least the memory is back and I will hold onto it this time.

How a funeral home typo helped us get through our grieving

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Dark red carpet and stained wood encased the visitation rooms in the funeral home.  The atmosphere was quiet, somber.  The air had an icy quality to it.  But beneath that chilled facade was a team of people full of emotion and empathy – a staff that was ready and willing to guide us through a tumultuous but necessary experience and to find the right way to help us get through a difficult time.

Butterflyinthesky1

There is no one way to grieve.  Each person will find their own way to overcome the loss of a loved one and each experience will be different based on the circumstance of loss.  When my brother and I lost our mother in March, we had been mentally preparing ourselves for the day that we would have to face the news that our mom was no longer going to be a part of our daily lives.  The phone call with the news was a still a shock, but we were grateful she went peacefully and no longer had to suffer the effects of her illness.  What we had not prepared ourselves for was the way that we would be able to celebrate her only 36 hours after we were told she was gone.

We received the news on a Friday morning.  The rest of that day was a blur.  Phone call after phone call was made to tell family and friends that she was gone and then Saturday morning was upon us.  My brother and I made our way to the funeral home to make the necessary arrangements and have the notice printed for the paper.  Upon proof-reading the notice, I realized that the funeral director had mistakenly typed my mom’s name as “June” and not “Jane”.  It was a simple fix and seemingly a forgotten mistake……until we went to my Uncle’s cottage for dinner that night.

There were six of us.  My brother and I, my mom’s two siblings and their spouses.  When I regaled my aunts and uncles with the story of the misprint it was, not offensive but, really amusing.  We raised our glasses and had a toast to “June”.  Thankfully we all knew my mother would have seen the humor in the mistake and toasted right along with us.  For the rest of the memory-filled evening, through tears and laughter, we continued to raise our glasses and make the heart-felt toasts to “June”.   If I listened really hard I could hear my mom laughing along with us.

We had mom’s celebration of life two months later.  I had gone into the funeral home to have the notice done for the paper and the same funeral director asked if I wanted it to say “June” or “Jane”.   We both had a good laugh and I felt comfortable telling him how his simply typo had made our evening so much better than the sorrow-filled night it could have been.  During the course of the evening, we changed my mom’s siblings names as well.  (Eight months later I still refer to my Aunt Carol as “Cheryl” and my Uncle Peter as “Proctor”)

The simple change of one vowel that day gave us permission to laugh that night.  It allowed us to hold the grief close to our heart but let our minds remember all the good in the world when my mom was still in it.

 

 

 

 

Another gone too soon

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It is difficult to write an upbeat post when tragedy has pulled its dark blanket over our small town once again and taken another young life long before it was time for his soul to leave the Earth.

When you live in a small town, nobody is really a stranger.  Those familiar faces you see on the street every day become more than strangers.  They become extended members of our friendship circles and unwittingly become like a member of our family.

Those faces, those smiles that become etched in our memories leave a lingering impression.  If we are lucky enough to have created a relationship with those who were once strangers, the sound of their laughter will remain in our hearts.  This young man was one of those who created a lasting impression on his first encounter.  He had a gregarious spirit and made many people smile.  His bonds of friendship ran deep and his absence will leave a big hole in many hearts.

clouds 008

My sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends.  Our town will seem darker but Heaven has gained such a bright light.  May you rest in peace and may the many souls that have gone before you find comfort in your warmth and kind spirit.

 

 

Dia De Los Muertos

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She reaches out to me from beyond the stars,

her energy refracts in the light.

A prism of colors dances in the air

and her presence warms the still night.

I enter the evening, void of emotion,

a hollow shell of what I had been.

But the bond that was created when she gave birth to me

seems to linger like it does in a dream.

A single flower I carry in my hand,

asking her spirit to Forget-Me-Not.

Feeling her embrace as the wind churns the leaves,

I feel transported from my steadfast spot.

She is happy now in her place of rest,

free to exist as she wants.

No longer burdened by the shackles of illness,

it is only peace and happiness she flaunts.

 My soul is warmed by her visit,

the binds on my heart are released.

She leaves me now but I know she will return,

her promise gives me a great sense of peace.

~~

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Written for the Grammar Ghoul Challenge #4:

to use the Word prompt:

Void (adjective):
Completely empty.

And to tie it in with this animated short video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCQnUuq-TEE&feature=player_embedded

As I watched the video, I knew this poem would be about my mom.

When someone says “get stuffed”, it’s not always a bad thing

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There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion – the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

turkey

The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that engaged us and truly breathed life into our lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about.  Personal moments that, to any other person would mean nothing but, to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving begins today and this evening I will spend time with family and friends enjoying a concert by Victoria Banks.  She is currently living in Nashville but is home for Thanksgiving weekend with her family.  The one glaring item that will be missing this Thanksgiving is my mom.  This weekend will be another “first” after her passing in March.  I know she will be with us in spirit tonight and especially during the making of my brother’s always spectacular turkey dinner.  Undoubtedly, she will be looking over his shoulder, whispering secrets into his ear, so he can make her stuffing just the way she used to.

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments and get stuffed with those memories.

Walls of emotion

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It is a very rare occurrence when my emotions take me by surprise.  I am usually fairly in tune with them.  But, tonight, driving past my mother’s old house, the same house I drive by every day on my way to work and again on my way home, the emotion stored within those walls hit me like a ton of bricks.   Tonight I glanced at the house, as I do every time I follow that familiar road, and I burst into tears.

I don’t know where the tidal pool of emotion came from but suddenly I was flooded with images of moments that became important memories in my life.  Christmases, birthdays, family gatherings and quiet nights spent as a family were at the forefront of my brain.  Lingering snapshots of magical kisses witnessed by only the walls upstairs slowly transformed themselves into moving pictures to replay the scene.  That house, the building others would only see as walls and a roof, was my home.  It was the vessel that helped create and store some of the most precious moments of my life.

house

And although there were many happy times, there were also moments of great sorrow.  Those walls echoed as I told my parents, hysterically through sobs, that my best friend had passed away in 2003.  That roof sheltered both my parents as they battled their illness and those walls protected them for as long as they could.  That structure that is a seemingly unnoticeable building to passers-by will forever have a large part of my history carved into its frame.

That architecture will always be a part of me.   Each time I drive by and take the time to trace the outlines of those walls there will always be an affinity to its design and purpose.  It is said that we need to let things go to be happier but I feel the need to embrace those things to stay connected.

(image credit)