PhotoHunter: Daily


I have to remind myself to remain patient.

That it isn’t easy for her, either.

That I need her as much as she needs me.

That one day she we’ll lose the “her” that is her.

That’s what Alzheimer’s does…

Love is… according to kids, cause they outta know!

by Lab2112

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toe nails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca- age 8

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby – age 7

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.” Nikka – age 6

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.” Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine-age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” Chris – age 7

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann – age 4

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” Lauren – age 4

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8

Finally (maybe)…

After a couple of years, they THINK maybe they have gotten to the bottom of Mom’s fainting spells.

In the last while, she has had various monitoring devices attached to the which have annoyed and discombobulated her but which seemed not to have shown the “experts” anything unusual. In fact, the one I had the highest hopes for did not catch the one episode she had while wearing it and 5 minutes after handing it in, she had another one.

Last week, she was put on a blood pressure monitor which she was to wear for 24 hours (which OHIP doesn’t cover and for which we had to pay $100 out-of-pocket).

We were called in to the doctor’s office yesterday and it seems that aside from the first hour when Mom’s blood pressure was elevated slightly, it showed that her blood pressure was “way too low”.  After discussing it with her cardiologist, they removed two of her blood-pressure medications.

Hopefully, this will have an effect on her and she may feel better and have a bit more energy.

Poor thing has been lolling about with no desire or energy to do anything except drag herself to the kitchen or up the stairs to the bathroom. I have been afraid to take her anywhere because every time I do, she has a “turn”.

I certainly don’t like the idea of going to the theatre or anywhere when I’m not with her. If she had one at the theatre, getting her down to the floor and getting her water would be impossible and if she were out with anyone else, they wouldn’t know what to do and would likely call an ambulance, not to mention that unless you get her on the floor with her feet on a chair, she actually goes out and throws up which is awful for her.

With the exception of the time at the restaurant where I was so worried about upsetting the other diners and ended up upsetting them, anyway, when she passed out and was sick and the paramedics came, I have always managed to get her to come round without her actually going completely out or getting sick. It is so upsetting for her to have to go to the hospital and, really, completely pointless because she is completely normal by the time she gets there and they can’t figure out what happened, anyway. And then she comes home sick and disoriented and not quite herself for several days.

If I act quickly and get her feet elevated and some water into her, she comes round and is right as rain almost immediately and never suffers from the “wobblies” for days and weeks after the way she does if she actually gets sick and passes out. If she actually goes out and is sick, I do call an ambulance.

It is just too upsetting for her and I refuse to put her through it if there is no benefit.

On another note,

I will remember this whenever my mother asks me the same question for the 100th time…This a Greek short film made in 2007

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “What is that? 2007“, posted with vodpod

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.



Yesterday, Mom had another “turn”…

I had to take my niece to get her glasses and made a short stop at work to drop off some stuff at work. While I was in the building, Mom apparently started feeling woozy and when I came out, she was just on the edge of passing out. I managed to get her feet up on the dash so the blood could get to her head.

However, as she was wearing her monitor, it SHOULD have picked up… finally… the one baffling,  recurring problem that arises. Of course, it didn’t. My niece didn’t know to push the button for a manual activation and when I came out, I was too preoccupied in making sure she didn’t pass out to press the button. It wasn’t until she was almost feeling back to normal that I remembered. I pressed the button, but not hard enough to activate it and when I realized it wasn’t recording, I did it again but by then we were already driving and I think the bumps in the road were messing up the reading.

It is so frustrating and tiring to have to be so discombobulated all the time… I am making headway in getting certain things organized and under control and I know that I will eventually be able to have things work smoothly but it is a learning process.

The last weeks have shown a fairly significant memory change in Mom. But also a sense of compliance on her part to my taking away her medications and insisting on helping her with her showering. This is good for me but something I would have had to fight with her over a few months ago.

At least, I have the advantage of being able to work at home and to be able to time-shift my day to accommodate the little hiccups in my days. It also means that I don’t have to leave her at home alone and to her own devices.

It does mean, though, that I will have to start looking for outside help… some community resources to help out, probably sooner rather than later.

I worry, though, because of my own propensity to depression and anxiety. I did manage to weather the August doldrums better than I have in the past but I can never really let my guard down. I also find my mind inevitably turning to “what happens when…” either when things get to the point when I can’t manage or when… she’s gone… I know it’s stupid to worry about these things until they happen but that’s me. I worry. That’s my job in life.


My dear friend Carol passed away tonight. I didn’t get a chance to see her again before she died. I was suppposed to head to London from from Pickering to see her in the morning and spend as much of the weekend as I could with her. At least I got to spend some time with her last weekend when she was still at the point where she was comfortable and somewhat at ease.

Thirty years apart were too long. It is hard to believe that the photo below was taken just last summer and that someone so vibrant and beautiful, in spirit and otherwise, could die less than a year later.

I will miss her.

Old friends

Old friends

Love, friends, and Serendipity…


I visited my friend yesterday and spent the afternoon  and evening with her.

She is the Palliative Care unit at the hospital. It appears to be a matter of weeks, at the longest. It could be less.

She is on oxygen at all times and her breathing is very laboured. Watching her doing her puffers is painful. She can’t inhale beyond a light inhale and yet it takes all her strength to do . Exhaling is worse because it just looks like she can’t exhale.

She can only speak in short sentences and that is tiring. She prefers to listen.

And, she doesn’t talk about it…. She has “pneumonia” and she will be in the hospital for “a while” is all she will acknowledge. That is very difficult but that is how she has chosen to procede. It is up to those around her to support her decision and respect it.

It is hard because it is sort of like a scene from the movie where one person is slipping over a precipice and is reaching out for the other person, and there is the mutual recognition that at some point, the falling person, not just WILL, but MUST let go.

We hadn’t seen each other for almost… may be more, actually… 30 years. No… I just counted. It is 33 years. We first got together again last summer.

I intend to come down here to see her every weekend for as long as it takes.


I have to say, though, that being here has given me, not just the chance to be with her, but the chance to get to know her boyfriend and meet and talk with her friend. Her brother and his wife came, as well as her ex-husband, with whom she is still very close.

I hope it will make us all feel just a bit less useless to be able to join together and support her and each other. Of course, they are there full-time and I will only be there on weekends and maybe only on Saturdays as where I am staying is about 2+ hours away from the city she is in.

Back in 1999, the family we sponsored from Kosovo (who are Muslim) had a baby and I was so pleased and privileged to be able to be there and actually assisted in the birth.

Two years later, the same couple had a baby which was born very premature and just about when she should have been born, full-term, she died. A number of us assisted the family in seeing them through that. That included helping with the process of washing and laying out the little body.

In Western culture, we have lost touch with the nitty-gritty of life and death. While we now have families involved and present when a baby is born, we “leave it to the professionals” to deal with death and dying and the after death formalities.

Having met with and experienced the Muslim burial practices, where the community simply pitches in and does what we pass on to funeral home employees, it gave me an insight into what we in “Christian” culture (I use quotation marks because it is largely in cultures which are Christian where we have doe so) have lost in backing away from. Where once a person died at home with the family surrounding them, where family or friends or neighbours came and washed the body, and where the body was laid out in the parlour or kitchen, we now are so isolated from death and dying that we actually find death MORE difficult to deal with.

Further, we have lost the knowledge and cultural experience of seeing people through the process of dying and seeing each other through the process of losing someone.

It is what we, as humand beings should do… That is part of love.


On the long drive back from the city my friend is in, I was listening to the CBC.

When I first turned it on, it was Randy’s Vinyl Tap. Which is the program I often listen to on my way out to the gigs by my friends. Being so far from home in unfamiliar territory and alone in the car, it was almost life having old friends in the car.

After that, was A Propos which introduces Anglophones to Francaphone culture and music in Canada. The host, Jim Corcoran, had translated the lyrics of a number of songs to enable his listeners to connect with the French songs. He read the lyrics to “Poussière d’or” (Gold Dust) by Jérôme Minière. The words which I have asked Jim Corcoran for a copy of talked about how dying and birth teaches us and that that the dying and newborns gift us in sharing their journey.

This is a truth that Buddhism teaches…

Death, whatever your belief or non-belief in “what happens after”, is a journey. Part of that journey we travel with the dying and the rest they do on their own. Neither of us knows the rest of the journey… The living will never know the part of the journey continued by the dying person and the dying person will never know the rest of our journey.

That finaly part of dying… and Death are the only things we do truly on our own.

My friend

I just got word, tonight, that my friend Carol who I just got back in touch with last summer, after 30 years or so, is in the hospital with lung cancer.

She only just had surgery last month to remove growths from her heart muscle and was on her way to recovering from that. This makes me sadder than I can say.

Old friends

Old friends

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