What happened?

The last two and a half weeks have been a high pressure whirlwind.  I have been afraid to write about it for fear of tempting fate.

On July 5th Don was rushed by ambulance, sirens whooping, to hospital from the care home. He was moaning and shaking and had severe pneumonia.

In emergency, antibiotics were started before the lab tests came back. The wonderful hospital doctor had The Talk with me, but I could not let my love go, not like that, suffering, and no warning and no care, and no painful and loving goodbye. It would be a total failure of his trust in me. I know I will have to let go sometime soon. But not like that.

I could not.

We agreed to treat him overnight and see. By morning he was comfy in a lovely room at our new hospital, off oxygen. He opened his eyes and smiled and asked, What happened?

Indeed. The questions haunt me, though apparently the “system” and many of the people working in it think old sick people just have shit happen to them. And no one thinks it’s unusual. Or asks too many questions.

He is, so far, better now although the care home has another respiratory outbreak going on. I fear, because he is not back to his usual bouncy bossy self.

I fear. He will die and no one will ask how or why, because he is old and sick with a fatal disease. But he loves music, and dancing. He grins and makes great silly jokes.  He has been enjoying life lately.

He developed near fatal pneumonia in the “care” home, with no one apparently noticing, until close to the last hours.

He has mostly forgotten and may get his joy in life back, who knows? But I will continue to ask, What happened? I can not let him down.


iend in my heart, and the huge political pressures around care and good care.

See http://www.seniorsvoices.ca – family intervention.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Went to the care home to have lunch with my love today. He had just got up, which means he had missed breakfast but the new Director of Care has put a note on his care plan to stuff him when he is up and around.

So he was calm, a little sleepy still, but happy, smiling at me. Lunch was actually pretty good too and I was happy to help him navigate it.

At one point he looked away from me, not knowing me in the moment, and said contentedly, “yes she is a wonderful woman and a very good wife.”

Made my day!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Worst Ever

I have sat through dozens and dozens of forest industry corporate exercises in persuading the community folks in the room that a)  they can’t afford to do better or b) they are going to do better tomorrow or c) they are great well-meaning people and it is all someone else’s fault. Meanwhile of course the chainsaws bite and the toxins flow.

We in the environmental field call it “Talk and log.”

Today at the mock Family Council at Comox Valley Seniors Village where my true love is entombed,  we got all of it full press.

We got the lovely delicacies. We got the excuses – not me, it was before I was in charge (but of course the Chinese corporation and Island Health were in charge whoever the faces in the minor management roles at the moment).

It is the government’s fault because they don’t pay us enough (said with sorrowful faces while they know they do not deliver the hours of care they ARE paid for, because how else can they make a profit?)

It is the union’s fault because they aren’t negotiating for pensions for the staff (I kid you not, and about then I got very nauseous.)

It is those lazy care aides, standing round doing nothing. Yep their fault. You bet, let’s blame the workers.

oh yeah it is you families, always phoning the nurses to find out how your beloveds are. You have to stop that because we’ve cut the shifts and they don’t have time to talk to you anymore.

The difference for me from the forest industry is now they hold my dear very ill darling captive, while the lies grind slow.

I went home and cried and cried. I have failed him, leaving him, in my desperation,  in the clutches of a company that will do anything for profit.

Then I took a very long shower  trying to wash off that “Family Council.”

It didn’t work.


Filed under Uncategorized


He was snoozing in his lunch chair but the care aides were watching carefully and went with me to see him. He promptly stood up although he kept his eyes closed as we went to his room.

Occasionally he would stop and say insistently, Ma… Maah… I was confused but he looked awfully pleased with himself.

Oh! said one of the aides. He had the doll all morning. All was explained, We cracked up, and he grinned.

Never one to let go of a good thing, he happily stretched out in bed to a chorus of Ma, but as that clearly got less and less response, he began to snore.

He snored loudly as the nurse came in to give him his pain med and we fussed around,  until she said, clearly, Don, I have some pudding for you.

Lo and behold the sleeper woke, to another round of laughter.

Well, that had worked so well he lay back down and continued snoring, an eye cracking open and a smile curving his mouth from time to time. Sometimes we got Ma! again and I would pat him in that ancient rhythm we use with babes to soothe them.

Eventually the snoring took over for real and I tiptoed out.

Can’t communicate? I think he did a great job, happily keeping us laughing and keeping our attention. Because he was with people – staff and family – who knew and liked him,  and understood the pantomime.


Filed under Uncategorized

How are you?

He is sitting at the lunch table when I get there, having planned to check out the food (which was pretty good).

“Hi, how are you?” I ask.

He slowly turns to look at me, blankly. I repeat, slower, “how are you?”

“Donald Malcolm. I was Donald Malcolm.”

A long pause and a few stammers.

“I … will be Donald Malcolm, after I get through this.”

So we ate lunch.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


As long as I remember, I have had a lot of dreams about buildings and cities.

Not too long ago in a dream I reclaimed the slum housing mansion I had been dreaming about for decades (that one downtown with tiny apartments created out of half a floor, where you had to crawl through passages to find your room, in case you share this dream and recognize that building.)

So that house got reno’ed and I moved into an apartment happily, delighted to recognize the old building. Sometimes I spend dream time in happy amazement, chuckling and checking out the floor plans and how it used to be.

However the bigger issues remain, so many nights.

Getting lost in cities, unable to figure out how the trains and buses work, – unable to figure out how to remember – because I have been to these streets and buildings, … universities, hotels,  museums, monuments, churches,  bridges, certain city blocks, and restaurants, hippy streets and government streets, uphill, downhill … so many times I just need to remember how to go.

But I can’t, so there I am, stuck in my dream, walking and walking, trying to find my directions, past places  I am interested in and do like, but  I have already seen them in so many other dreams.

Usually I have a back pack, and as I walk my back hurts and I am getting quite exhausted.

And then finally I find the cab stand, the train, or the subway entrance and the bus that gets me home. (There’s always a bunch of complicated stuff with tickets and transfers and escalators, but I don’t need to bore any of us with that again!)

I have just realised that where I am usually trying to get to is our old family home in downtown Ottawa. When I was about 8 we moved, and things went a bit sideways for me for many many years. No wonder I have trouble finding that place.

But last night, for the first time that I recall, I lost Don in my journey. Actually he isn’t usually with me at all, but lately he has been hovering around the edges of the plot.

As we walked down the same old interesting street together, looking in windows and enjoying some time together,  he wandered off. I wasn’t surprised because we were interested in different things.

But he never showed up, not at the cool cafe with a patio  – ok I admit it was the kind of place I liked and he really didn’t, so I wasn’t surprised. But the kids on the corner hadn’t seen him, and he would surely have stopped to talk and donate to them.

And there i was walking up and down all those familiar dream streets, looking and looking and looking for him.

Eventually after many rooms and strange passages i found him, but he was battered and semi-comitose.

He didn’t want to wake up and talk to me. He had obviously been tucked into a cot by paramedics, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t read their notes to get a prognosis, The words were all tiny and broken and jumbled, just – come to think of it – like his words in real life, now in the care home.

So in fear and frustration, I woke up.


Filed under Uncategorized


just a note for those who know us, it was Don’s 85th birthday today. I brought chocolate cake and the whole ward got chocolatey. He was uncomprehending but pleased with all the attention. Apparently he had had the traditional cheesecake birthday celebration at lunch too. Another day with a happy guy, talking a mile a minute, making arrangements for mystery projects, but smiling and laughing to warm one’s heart.


Comments Off on 85

Filed under Uncategorized