This afternoon, Ellen, the chaplain from our Fellowship came to visit Mom. She comes about every two weeks and spends a couple of hours sitting and talking with Mom. It gives me the chance to run off and do errands Mom would want to tag along for but it would be “difficult” to have her there, or so I can work away in my office and Mom has some diversion. I often pop down when she first gets here and before she leaves. Today, I ran off to the landscaper’s to pick some plants for the front garden and then went up to work.

Before she left, I came down and spent a few minutes talking with her. She is also a chaplain at one of the hospitals in town. Ellen mentioned that they had their annual service at the hospital’s perinatal  memorial garden last night. I wish I had known. I would have asked to attend.

When I had my miscarriages, they were too early (16 weeks for the first, and 8 weeks for the other two) for this to be done. All I had for the first was a few items that had been given to us – a pair of baby moccasins that I had bought, and the ultrasound. The hospital that dealt with me didn’t have any perinatal bereavement program. I didn’t even get any comforting words from the doctor who removed the dead foetus — on Valentine’s Day. The only kinds words I got were from the intern who was very kind and supportive. He was very nice. They had no support groups and there were only support groups for family bereavement which  was really geared to those who had lost children or adults. There was nothing for people who experienced miscarriage or stillbirth. I haven’t really had a chance to mourn and, for obvious reasons, I have only bad associations with Valentine’s Day.

Ellen was mentioning that she is involved with a program at the hospital which deals with perinatal death — miscarriage and stillbirth. The chaplains offer counselling and support, as well as offer the chance for parents to hold their baby, provide a “memory box” and photographs of their child. It may sound somewhat ghoulish to some but I can assure you  that for many, many parents who will never have memories of their child, it can be really comforting.

They have several volunteers who dress the baby so it can be taken in to the parents if they want, or just for photos to be taken if the parents want them. They take plaster casts of the hands or feet and when the baby is returned, put all the items into the memory box.

She said that they are always looking for volunteers. It isn’t something many people want to do. I said that it was very much something I would like to do and asked her to consider allowing me to volunteer.

Ever since the time when our Kosovar friends’ baby died and I assisted during the preparations for the funeral (assisting the women who wash and prepare the body for the funeral and washing the washcloths and towels and returning them to the mosque), I have thought that I felt so comforted to be useful and that I did something which truly helped the family. This program at the hospital would afford me not just comfort for my own heart but also to feel that I was of use and help to others who are experiencing the same thing I did. In a way, being able to do this would ensure that others don’t have to go through what I did in not being able to mourn or to be comforted.

There have been so many things, both paid and volunteer, that I have wanted to do that have been quashed by people and circumstances.. Finally, something seems to be working for me.

When I was married, I wanted to study to become a Doula. My ex made such a stink about how it was “too expensive” (a total of $600 at a time when both of us were working) and would take “too much time” (2 weeks part-time classes) and wouldn’t bring in any money (I would have worked part time on top of helping with deliveries) that I was forced to give up the idea. When my marriage ended I just couldn’t afford it. Now, instead of seeing them into the world, I will be seeing them out. Seems appropriate, really.


We’ll probably take his ashes out to the old farm and ask if we can sprinkle him where Cutie is buried.


Amber is no more….

Sad day…

We got an email from our office, today.

The husband of one of my co-workers was killed when the small plane he was flying in crashed near James Bay.

Family and friends of a popular Gatineau high school teacher are grieving after the west Quebec man was killed in a weekend plane crash in northern Quebec.

Michael Robinson, who taught at Philemon Wright High School in Gatineau, was one of two people killed when a float plane went down, crashing into a swamp near James Bay. CTV


The survival of the three injured passengers is credited to the quick arrival and actions of Air Inuit employee Jonathan Perrier, who kept them from drowning until first responders arrived on the scene. Nunatsiaq Online

My friend and her husband have a young son.

PhotoHunter: Triangle

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Triangle”…

The Andrewsville Road Bridge at Nicholson’s Locks in the Rideau Canal. A makeshift memorial to two people drowned two weeks before, one, an off-duty Navy rescue person, trying to rescue a drowning teen. A reminder that even the most quiet river can have hidden dangers.


The next image is one of a series which I have tentatively titled “The Portfolio“. They “recreate” the portfolio of a fictional woman photographer of the mid-19th century, as it would have been rediscovered long after her death. Since it is a work in progress, many of these are experiments.

"Railway bridge"

Twenty-two years ago…

It doesn’t seem that long ago, at all…

My Dad passed away on March 24, 1988. He was my step-Dad, but he was my Dad. My birth-father died a month earlier but it is my step-Dad who I miss to this day.

PhotoHunter: “Undesirable” Warning! Photos may be disturbing!

Warning! The second photo may be disturbing for some.

undesirable [ˌʌndɪˈzaɪərəbəl]


not desirable or pleasant; objectionable

Nature has a way of reminding us that life is sometimes short and often ends unpleasantly.

I posted the first image in the November 22nd PhotoHunter, “Bird(s)”. This poor bird was trapped in an abandoned building. I found it when I was photographing the town of Claremont, Ontario, which is mostly boarded up and slated for demolition for the Pickering Airport. I cannot imagine how it suffered before finally  succumbing to exhaustion and/or starvation.


Early one Spring, when I was out taking photos near Wakefield, Quebec, I came across this cat carcass. Whether it had been hit by a car and went into the field to die, froze to death, or what, I don’t know.

What was particularly disturbing to me was that, aside from the black toes and gums, it looked so like my Benjamin.

Still, it is life and death… The way of the World.



Alice, pt. 2

Alice Ricketts


My lovely and beloved sister-in-law, Alice died at 6 am, today, with my brother John and her sister by her side.

Alice and Mom

Alice and Mom

True to her nature, up until the few days before she died, she was cheerful and full of loving energy. Everyone on her floor, patients and staff, were charmed by her.

My brother laughed over the fact that a couple of days ago, when the doctors and interns were making their rounds, Alice spotted the very reserved and proper young Japanese intern and waved him over “Come here, You!”, hauled him onto the bed and hugged him soundly.

The next day, he made sure to stay at the back of the crowd. That was just who she was. Loved everyone!

My niece recalled her leaving Ange’s face covered with red lipstick smudges from the kisses she gave her.

I remember her always, despite her pain and tiredness from Fibromyalgia, being ready with a smile and a hug and a kiss.

She tried to resist having her photo taken last November but I said “You decrepit old Nan wants a photo of you with her… ” so she acquiesced. I am glad she did. It is the only photo I have of her.

I am glad that she didn’t suffer the same way my dear friend Carol did at the end. I couldn’t bear it. Alice was comfortable and at ease when she went.

She will be missed.

The Big “C” strikes again….

I received a call, today, from my brother, telling me that Alice, my sister-in-law, wife of my brother in Halifax is in the palliative care unit.

She has lung cancer. They give her “a few weeks” – less if the cancer moves aggressively.

Alice and Mom

Alice and Mom last November

Alice is the sweetest woman you will ever meet. She has suffered from a number of medical problems, including asthma, environmental allergies, and Fibromyalgia. Despite her pain and chronic conditions which have limited her mobility, she has always been cheerful and warm to everyone she meets.

John and Mom

John and Mom

John and Alice met later in life, and they were “made for each other”. I have never seen two people so comfortable and caring towards each other.

John took a job up on Iqaluit and then to Chesterfield Inlet (I think it was) for a couple of years and the time they spent up there was freeing for Alice because she suffered less from her allergies.



They had to come back down to Halifax, though, but we saw Alice and John a number of times when Alice was in town for appointments with specialists. One memorable time was once when I took Mom in for an appointment for X-rays at a clinic up the road from us. I sat down in the lobby and the man sitting next to me looked familiar… It was John! Alice was having tests done at the same clinic.

We all went for lunch and had a lovely visit.

John isn’t a “blood brother” of mine but he’s the next best thing. John is my step-brother’s half-brother. In our family, that is still “family” and I love them both as much as (and in some ways more than!) some of the family closer to me.

I cannot imagine John’s feelings as he sits with his soul-mate, watching her die. For me, this is the second major loss this year to cancer, to lung cancer in fact. And it is… I am trying to count… the 5th person I know battling with cancer… No… sixth.


« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: