Monthly Archives: December 2016

So This is New Years

“Happy New Year, Babe.” And a sweet questing kiss. Every year for 25 years and more. It meant a lot to him and, so,  to me. More than the rest of the festive season.

We did New Year in every kind of way. A fancy party at a pub in Victoria. A cold night in a van, emergency parked due to snow, in an empty school yard in Washington State. Alone in our cabin near Hazelton with the wood fire and the kerosene lamp. Many many years at neighbourhood parties on Cortes island.

But always as midnight rolled around, he was there, grabbing my hand, with a questing kiss, our private troth for the coming time: “Happy New Year, Babe.”

About 4 or maybe 5 years ago, I guess, – he was already ill but still well enough to go out – we were at a small party at Zocallos in Courtenay  and he was more interested in the band than New Years.

I grabbed him anyway and kissed him happy new year. He looked bored at the interruption, completely unimpressed by the champagne, and went back to cheering on the band. New Year was an empty concept to him. Well, it is pretty arbitrary.

And now it is New Year again. He is locked up in a safe ward for dementia not having any idea about time, and i am sitting here, alone and weeping or to be honest, howling.

But I say it for him this year and all the years to come, our troth:

“Happy New Year, Babe.”


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Christmas Eve to Remember

Christmas is a touchy time of year for many people, and most of all for those of us who have lost – or are losing – loved ones.

But the staff in the Special Care ward at the Seniors Village where Don now lives turned a potentially-blue Christmas into something amazing.

On Christmas Eve, which always has that soft air of expectancy, whether one awaits Santa, the Christ child, or just Christmas snow, the staff got all the residents into their pyjamas right after supper. They had invited all the families to come around 7 and many many of us did, bringing the children young or grown up, as well. When we got there, everyone was up, and whether in wheelchairs with a warm blanket tucked around, or sitting expectantly, in a quiet pleasant mood.

We ate delicious treats, drank hot chocolate or eggnog, and, with determination if not great skill, sang carols from the songbooks. Most of the residents too sang along to those old familiar, comforting favourites.

Then as the residents began to get sleepy, we were thanked for coming – as if the thanks weren’t all on the other side!

Each family caregiver was given a beautiful card and a rose. I wasn’t the only one choking back tears.

The card for me was addressed “To Babe – love Don” although someone on the staff had written it. Whoever did that though, knew that Don usually called me Babe. It recalled that story of a few years ago when he forgot my name for half a day, and we finally settled, in gales of laughter, on Babe.

The entire night was touched with a magic grace, and will be a Christmas Eve I will always remember.


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Or Maybe Not Miserable

I went back today, hoping that, as often happens with this disease, the mood had flipped, because I needed the boost.

When I got there, caregiver and residents were dancing or bopping in their chairs or singing to fifties and sixties Christmas rock. Of course I joined in and we all had a grand time. There are some real rockers in that crowd!

Later one of the caregivers told me that last evening (the evening of the day of dying) my darling told her, out of the blue, “I like it here. And I have friends here, and some of them I love.”

So! Maybe not so miserable after all.

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I get there and he is looking out the window, leaning over as he always does these days.

He sees me and comes over, “There you are.”

“Yep. So how are you today?”

“Oh  not very good.” I think he might be just a bit worn out since yesterday had been a good time, with non-stop dancing until he said somewhat desperately, “I’m tired.” I took him away because if the music is going, he has to dance. Resting is not an option.

But there was more to it than that. Over the next hour and a half, I get the shape of the issue, which continues despite every attempt at diversion and re-setting the mood.

I have to paraphrase because the words are jumbled just as the anxiety seems all mixed up over many things. Basically, he is pretty sure he is dying soon, or will be dead, “because that’s why I am here.” Not much to say to that, especially since there have been several deaths since he came, although I don’t think it is very obvious to the residents. On the bright side, this time he is not concerned about being killed and eaten, so that’s a kind of progress, and it could be worse.

And he is very worried about “What is going to happen to you and me then?” “Well I know about me, but you?” He also has concerns because he thinks he needs to leave me money, perhaps to pay the bills or some other reason: “At least $100,000, well, maybe not that much.”

He tucks my arm in his and says, “Don’t cry, don’t cry.”

I get him busy pushing a sweet Newfie lady around, and hurriedly leave, with my heart bursting and tears falling as soon as I reach the car.


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A Circle of Care

Of course it has been evident, when I looked, for years. There is a mostly silent circle of care supporting me, wrapping me with warmth. You all know who you are but tonight i want you all to know i know too, and am deeply grateful for all the love and support each of you in your own ways give me.

Social connection, an ear which seems to never tire while i rave and vent and mourn, practical advice, physical help, a shovel ready appearance from nowhere, a ready laugh at the horrific,…oh there are so many of you, held close to my heart.

And yes it takes a village to lift someone up and hold them. Not just through these dreadful events of my life and don’s life lately, but for all of us as we travel through the rapids and the calms, the tidal bores and the sunsets, we do all need each other, holding each other up and paddling like mad.

Thank you


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