March 29, 2009

A rainy Sunday afternoon

Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

-Susan Ertz

Inspired by recent losses and by Ryssee's bucket-list meme, I am going to attempt to draft my own bucket list of sorts. It's a challenge for me, as my current wish list is focussed on desired improvements to my crumbling dwelling. If I look at the bigger picture, however, I wonder if I can come up with more worthwhile ambitions. I have to be realistic; I am someone who has trouble crossing items off my daily to-do list, so achieving any of the goals on a bucket list is unlikely. Still, they say it's good to have dreams.

For now, the list will have to wait. I am currently preoccupied by the much smaller picture, and it is my aim this rainy Sunday afternoon to tidy the dining room. Hey, I've got to start somewhere.

March 27, 2009

Tired of saying good-bye

...and tired of cancer taking people away.

A former classmate died last night after battling cancer since 2006. I hadn't seen Gareth in a very long time. In recent years we were only in touch briefly in cyberspace. He had many, many good friends, and some of them created an online group so that Gareth's friends and family could offer him support and encouragement. Following word of Gareth's passing, one friend posted the following message on the group's site:

"Sad news, and incredibly motivating for me because he's the second friend I've had die of cancer this year. There's nothing to do but keep running for Terry Fox, keep riding for the cause, keep donating money, and keep raging against governments that spend a billion on bombs for every million they spend on research; against the industries that fill our environment and bodies with untested poisons; and against the pharmaceutical companies that spend more money researching hair loss treatments and boner pills than real treatments for real illnesses -- all while young people like Gareth die for no good reason. It's good to be sad, and better to be a little bit angry."

Gareth, 1973-2009

March 20, 2009

The proverbial emotional roller coaster

I'm glad to be home, but I have some mental processing to do and I'm not yet ready to resume my typical posting. Please forgive me if my thoughts are even more scattered than usual.

Scott and I flew to the States with my brother, sister-in-law and baby Haven. The purpose of our trip was to attend a surprise 60th birthday party for my dad, who drove to Connecticut with my mom last weekend. My dad was under the impression that we were all heading down to show off Haven and to introduce Scott and Laura to relatives they had not yet met. When he first arrived at his brother's house he didn't suspect a thing. As the afternoon progressed, however, surprise guests began appearing: cousins and classmates my dad hadn't seen in decades; his best friend's widow and children; two amazing friends who drove all the way down from Toronto just for the party. It was a terrific event, and my dad was truly shocked.

What my dad didn't know was that I had received some grim news from my mom's brother earlier that day. My Aunt Maryann, who recently started receiving chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, had taken a turn for the worse. The cancer had spread to her brain. Aunt Maryann was also suffering from a serious blood infection, which accounted for her sudden decline.

The day after my dad's party, we all headed to the hospital. That was Monday afternoon. I believe that my aunt uttered her last words that day, emerging from her cancer and drug-induced haze just long enough to comment on my mother's haircut. Apparently she had always thought that my mom should cut her "mop" of hair.

From the pleasure of my dad's party to the heartbreak of the hospital, it felt like emotional whiplash. Then, straight from the hospital, we went to visit my mom's last living aunt. It was an opportunity to introduce the youngest member of our family to the oldest member. Eight-month-old Haven and 88-year-old Great-Aunt Nancy hit it off.

During our time in the States we met some family members from Haven's generation for the very first time. It was strange to see these little guys and to know that they will grow up with just a faint idea of who old Aunt Jenni and Uncle Scott are -- two of those relatives way up in Canada. I've spent most of my life in their shoes, having a vague awareness of foreign relatives who had been close to my parents but who were strangers to me. I truly "know" only a handful of my American relatives, Aunt Maryann among them.

My parents remain in Connecticut, while the rest of us returned home on Tuesday. This evening my dad phoned with the news we were dreading: "We lost Aunt Maryann today." I am glad that I had the chance to say good-bye. At the same time, the aunt that I saw in the hospital was not the aunt I choose to remember. I'll remember Aunt Maryann as she was before the cancer and the infection, back when the most she had to complain about were minor aches and pains. There are no more aches and pains now, no more cancer cells or infections. She has shed all of that. Rest in peace, Aunt Maryann. We'll remember you from happier times.

March 12, 2009

I'm outta here.

My apologies for being incommunicado for so long. Soon I'll be gone again for a while. I've decided to skip town for a few days. Flying to NYC (hopefully not landing on the Hudson) and then driving to visit relatives in Connecticut.

Before I go, I would like to remark that it ain't easy being green (just like Kermit said, only in a different context). I tried to buy environmentally friendly socks today. You know, made from bamboo or organic cotton. I found some, but one brand was made in Korea, another was made in China and the third was made in Sri Lanka. Why can't I find socks that are made from earth-friendly materials AND produced locally? Of course, we manufacture so few of our goods here in Canada that this problem is certainly not limited to socks.

Just felt like griping.

I'll check back in soon, y'all.