Text and ZoomThere should be a border image of red roses running down both sides of the text and images in the centre. If it is completely or partially missing and you would like to see the page as it was intended you will have to adjust your browser. First lower your text to the "medium" setting. If that doesn't fix the problem then adjust your view by zooming "in" or "out". The page was designed on a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 with zoom at 100% and text at "medium". All this should be solved when I recode to the newest html. I apologize for any inconvenience. Also accept my apologies for any spelling errors. They say that there should never be any spelling errors in this day and age with the powerful computers we use but I strongly disagree with them. Just because a word is spelled right does not mean that it is spelled rite; write?

Below are three writings my mother had made and kept with her journal. The first is a poem she wrote while trying to comfort her son who was suffering after the loss of his best friend in a tragic car accident that he had only missed being in because he had gotten into one of his own on the way to meet up with them.
The second is for her husband after his passing.
The third is in memory of her young son who died forty years earlier.

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I wrote this song in 1969 for my son, in memory of a young pal who died in a car crash. Trying to comfort my grief-stricken son prompted me to put together these words.

                    I talked with my young son, so sad and forlorn.
                    His once happy face now, so stricken and drawn.
                    He spoke to me sadly, and I could see oh so plain.
                    His young heart was broken, and he knew such great pain.

                    He spoke of his best friend, his name Kevin James.
                    A boy just fifteen, on his heart he had claims.
                    But he lost his young life, so senselessly this day.
                    Now I'm left here behind, my life in disarray.

                    I left late last night mom, my friend I had to see.
                    His face was before me, and kept beckoning to me.
                    But fate had it planned then, no more we would meet.
                    For my car I crashed, my rendezvous I couldn't keep.

                    I'll always remember, that young pal of mine.
                    Oh why did he leave me, the future to pine.
                    His love of a fast car, could not be denied.
                    And so on a wild ride, poor Kevin had died.

                    He was restless and daring, in a quiet sort of way.
                    My dreams were all his dreams, we shared all the way.
                    The bond between us, so strong and so true.
                    God saw fit to sever, now I'm lonely and blue.

                    I patted his shoulder, my feelings to hide.
                    His soft lips did tremble, he was crying inside.
                    I said, "Go now son and try to rest for awhile.
                   Your young friend is safe now on God's beautiful Isle."

                    Now come all you young folk, heed my warning today.
                    Remember your loved ones, they're the ones who will pay.
                    Just think of their dear hearts broken each day,
                    For a few stolen pleasures you took on life's way.
Copyright © 2010 Lance Brydges

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What follows are two memorial poems, commonly appearing in print at that time, that my mother must have felt adequately fit her feelings. She made no reference to their owners and I can only surmise, since they appeared elsewhere in newspaper articles, that they were now a part of the public commons. If this is not the case their owners may contact me to have them removed.

In memory of my husband

                                        I often lay awake at night,
                                        when the world is fast asleep.
                                        And take a walk down memory lane,
                                        with tears upon my cheeks.
                                        Remembering you is easy,
                                        I do it every day.
                                        But missing you is a heartache
                                        that never goes away.
                                        For those who still have their husbands,
                                        treat them with loving care.
                                        You will never know the emptiness,
                                        as when you turn and he is not there.
Forever in our hearts, our memory, our prayers.
Helen. 2002

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                                          When the dewy light was fading, 
                                          and the sky in beauty smiled, 
                                          the angels came into our garden, 
                                          and picked our sweetest flower.

For Adrian who left us Nov. 8 1963
Forever loved. Forever remembered.
Mom 2003

This one always saddened me, in a selfish sort of way. I always prided myself in understanding human nature and all its shortcomings but that doesn't always mean I have to like it. Like my father's favouritism didn't bother me. Mainly because I didn't need it. Yes his love and or pride in me being his son was important but it didn't define me. My mothers however did and as long as I had hers I was satisfied. But the words of the poem above suggests that she had her favourite as well. It is this simple assumption, or narrow minded thinking that I see causes so much pain. A man of faith (I apologize ladies, this is old world verbiage and not intended to diminish the fairer sex in any way) reaches his highest perceived state when he becomes a "Martyr". Why does dieing for his beliefs propel him higher than one who suffered a lifetime for the same thing? Is a Martyr's short period of suffering before his death truly more deserving of praise than the lifetime of another's? If only the definition of the word was more widely known we would know one does not have to die to become one. Maybe something that we understand a bit better that will hit a little closer to home may be in order. Is a nation's pride of a soldier who died in the early moments of a war better placed than on another who suffered through years of horror and returned home? Or one who returned home with missing limbs or continuous mental torment? I think many have seen this same thing and it is evident in the way civilians treat all soldiers. It seems we have decided it is important to let them know of our pride in them and that their death is not required in order to receive it. And what of the rest of us? Sons and daughters? Must we die young to become "the sweetest flower" in our parent's bouquet? And of mothers and fathers? Must they die before we tell them how much we love and need them? We could say it is just all semantics. Our view on the intent of the use of a word being wrong or attaching more meaning to it than that of the author. Or is there something about death that changes things? Could it be nothing more than overcompensating for the guilt felt for not taking the time we have to express our feelings for those we say we love? How many times have I missed someone and thought "I must tell them how much I love them the next time I see them or let them know how much their friendship means" only to see them again and all that urgency to let them know your feelings is gone. "What need is there now they are right here with me? Seems rather silly now" and you turn and they're gone. "The sweetest flower" is the one you can no longer hold. The one that all the opportunities that you thought you had to tell them how much you love them are gone. The one that most will take a good portion of the love that they had intended for those still living and give to the one who no longer requires it.

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Although my mother only wrote one poem, that I am aware of, and I say this hesitantly because, as one of my poems explains, I continue to find little notes of all kinds hidden in surprising places. She has written down far more than I have read for I was with her the most during my high school years and the better part of the '80s and when she had down time she was either watching TV, doing a crossword puzzle or was writing something. Well she was always writing on her down times even when she wasn't. It's amazing how the little quirks of someone you hold dear are noticed and then forgotten until you notice that they are gone. What I mean by that is you could often see her just sitting and staring off at nothing at all and the only sound was the clicking of her fingernails on the nearest hard surface. The clicks were either a repeated rhythm or the tapping out of a familiar song but then it would stop and the sound went from a clicking to a smooth scratching punctuated occasionally by a clear click. Could be quite confusing for someone hearing this with no visual reference to figure out what it was but if you watched her, as I so often did, she was actually writing something on the surface. What that something was, was never clear and always changing. I'm not sure that she would have be able to say herself what is was most times as I asked her once and she just stared at me for the longest time not saying a word, and then suddenly I could see her eyes focusing on me as if I'd just appeared out of nowhere and she'd suddenly ask, "What?" When I repeated the question she said she couldn't remember but then added it was either a list or a memo or just words she was trying to remember. So her mind was obviously drifting away on some far off daydream. The words, well they probably had something to do with her favourite pastime. When the TV was off and there was that peaceful quiet you can only find in homes where the occupants love and respect each other and everyone seems satisfied with their lot in life, mother could be found at the kitchen table with a hot cup of tea, a standard staple, and a crossword puzzle. Not those little easy ones found it most local papers or magazines, but the much more advanced kind, as the massive dictionary off to one side would suggest. Barely a half a decade old and already the spine was broken and tongues were sticking out at you from between runs of evenly cut and still attached pages, as if daring you to think of a word it didn't know. And it had the right. As any proud dictionary owner will tell you there is much prestige to the owner of a dictionary that can tell you the meaning of a word when no one else's can. And mother's dictionary always kept her at the top. I thought I had her beaten when I purchased an old dictionary like the one our dearest teacher in high school kept on hand. So large it took myself and best bud Louis Charbonneau to carry it to the front of the class once a week for the regularly occurring "test the teacher" time. We were always coming up with unique ideas to get out of the usual boring proceedings and this was a favourite. Collectively the students, as Louie and I as their self appointed proxies demanded, that on this day and hour, each and every week, for as long as this class lasted, there would be a challenge laid in front of our proclaimed leader of academic knowledge. She, our teacher, Sister Claire Gallagher, a sister of St. Joseph, would be expected to give an accurate meaning to a word that we, Louie and I, as leaders of the oppressed students, picked from two pages of this dictionary opened at a random point. Class would begin upon successfully completing the test. Check out the high school section in the dungeon for the rest of the story. Thinking that I had her beat with this massive tome of the English language I was not overly impressed when trounced almost immediately, and repeatedly. It seems puzzles seldom use unabridged words because, well, they're really only ever used in the areas of expertise they were created for. Not to mention that even if I had won, it wasn't really a win since she only possessed the abridged version. My secret weapon soon became a stool for the shorter people of the house. When my father had past away mom came to live with me in a spacious Granny Flat built on the back of my home. The changes definitely shook her but she was very good at hiding them and eventually she found her rhythm and the crosswords and that old dictionary soon found its place on the table once again. Once though, after listening to me talk about the internet so often, she asked if I would be able to find something on it for her. I never really thought about at the time but I can only imagine how difficult something like that would be to understand for someone who witnessed the early stages of a new country and a hundred different inventions all in such a short period of time. My heart would break every time I heard her talk about life as a youth. She seldom spoke of it which made me feel she didn't have a lot of fond memories but those are best left alone. Of the two that bothered me the most, one was her desire to have a little red wagon. We all thought that quite odd and laughed and joked about it until I saw how it bothered her. Mom wasn't one to talk about frivolous things we quickly learned as we grew. She did finally get her little red wagon when my two sisters and I bought her one for her eighty-something Christmas. But the most heart wrenching, probably because you could still hear the sadness in her voice when she spoke of it, was her wish for a doll for Christmas when she was quite young and all she got was an orange and a tin flute. My God I still tear up when I think of it. Which is probably why I wished I could win the lottery and buy her everything she asked for. I knew quite early in life that I wasn't destined to be rich, which didn't bother me much except for that one desire. To try and buy my mother everything she ever wanted but never got. I was finally able to give her one thing she had always wanted later in life when most of her children were grown, and twice on two separate occasions. The first was to build a deck for her on the little house they bought in town after dad retired. She seemed very fond of it and spoke of it proudly. More so for the fact that she thought it would still be there long after the house had sunk into the clay beneath it. I had a very different approach to carpentry than those who claim to have taught me all I know. For indeed they did teach me much but it was just about every conceivable way to build something the wrong way. My parents moved from that house later but the last report I heard was that the addition added to it by my teachers was sinking fast into that clay beneath it but my little deck held fast. She hated the new house that Dad bought on a whim. Well no not on a whim as I learned later. You see as human pecularities go favouritism tends to be handed down unless that it be broken by extreme opposites in character developement. So my father's favourite son beget my father's favourite grandson. And at this time he wanted to buy a cheap house in town and thus my father's selling of their house. Well the old saying of "you get what you deserve" seems to hold true some of the time. What my mother missed most about her last house was her little deck. Now a deck was not the real thing she wanted. I built her a deck because it was almost impossible to build what she truly wanted. That was never possible until she moved out with me. Now what isn't obvious is that where I built my home was the exact same spot where we had lived after I burnt down our first country home. After years of coaxing and begging she finally convinced my father to sell and move to town. She had hated the place. Well I don't think it was the place truly, what I think was that it was multiple things. It was way too far for quick jaunts to town for little things, especially in winter. She had walked this old dirt road home far too many times after getting stuck in a snow drift. Nowadays it is ploughed before most major highways. And I have little doubt that no toilet, shower or bath was a major contributing factor. My father's idea of a shower being a garden hose nailed to an outside wall and a quick frame of wood to hold up the shower curtain was not hers. And at the time it was a very lonely desolate spot. A spot where only someone content with seclusion could live. Mom was not content with seclusion. She didn't necessarily want a house full of strangers all the time, which she usually had and catered to them hand and foot proving that she didn't really mind it, but she wanted to look out her window and see civilization. She wanted to watch people all going about their hustling and bustling. Which was why she was probably most content at their first apartment in town that was one street off main and right in centre town. All of mom's children were grown, moved out and had families of their own and I was just starting high school when we had our first home with a toilet and shower. Most are quite surprised with that but even today, forty years later, there are still homes with only an outhouse. That was one reason why I hung around with my distant cousin the most because his home didn't have a bathroom either. I didn't ask but I don't believe that any of my friends were in the same position and most who came to stay with other friends here complained most about the smell of manure. Well there wasn't much else to do here other than farming. So I am pretty sure that an outhouse or a chamber pail stuck in the corner of little room with only a sheet for a door would have probably scarred most of them for life. As for the years of seclusion, I made up for it. Mom loved company so it wasn't long before I started arriving home from high school at lunch time with anywhere from one to ten friends in tow. She'd be bringing out the sugar cookies and pouring tea to all wishing it which was usually everyone. I think the curiosity factor was there as well. Everyone wanted to see the parents of the kid who could do whatever he wanted at any time of the day or night. I guess my freedom was as dumbfounding to them as their martial law was to me. And as well there were new women for mom to get to know. One at a time when I was dating, and upwards of several when I wasn't. Women seemed to elicit more of a reaction out of my usually tight lipped mother of which I would not hear about unless I asked, which I always seemed stupid enough to do. After dad past she stayed with my sister until the addition was built. My house wasn't huge and since I was single at the time of building it, it was built as a bachelor's pad as I had no intentions of settling down. I had one nine year roller coaster ride ending in a failed common-law marriage and nearly a two year one with two children (not mine) failing even worse under my belt so was not looking for a wife. Problem was I had started desiring children with great urgency. I thought that was strictly a chick thing so was quite confused. Anyway afterwards the house was in a constant flux of renovations either to repair everything done improperly the first time or for a new occupant being added. So this one day my sister had brought mom out to see the progress and I had just recently used an old sliding glass door to make two floor to ceiling picture windows at the back of the home. When I showed her the beautiful view her reply was, "What the hell is there to see, but bush?" I began to wonder how long this arrangement was going to last. But when she finally settled she seemed to enjoy it despite the seclusion and infrequent visitors. She spent a lot of time helping me out with all the odds and ends of finishing work. The outside hadn't been finished yet so I kept her quite busy whenever I was able to tack on some board and batten cut right from local trees by good friend and cousin Ken, just down the road. And when the outside was done and everything inside but some trim I began the project of the last thing she had always wanted that I had only given her the deck part of up until now. And soon she had a large completely sealed in summer porch with three walls of nothing but screening between a post every four feet. She seemed pleased. The sad part was that by the time she finally got it she didn't have a lot of time left to enjoy it. With the addition of comfy chairs and bird feeders she started to enjoy it more and more and was quite proud to show it off to whomever stopped by. So back to the internet. I went on and soon I had what she wanted all printed out nice and in a frame. When I read the poems I immediately picture this poor little girl sitting in an old age school house. Shy and awkward and afraid to open up to any classmates because of the circumstances she had at home that she was warned to never talk about. This innocent little girl, suffering more due to the medieval outlook of people at that time on the unfortunate circumstances occurring out of misplaced love, was forced to feel embarrassed about something she knew absolutely nothing about because, "we don't talk about it." The poems reveal that little girl that lay hidden beneath the quiet and shy exterior.

                           "Come little leaves," said the wind one day,
                           "Come to the meadows with me and play.
                            Put on your dresses of red and gold,
                            for summer is gone, and the days grow cold."

                            As soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
                            down they came fluttering one and all.
                            Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
                            singing the soft little songs they all knew.

                           "Cricket, good-bye, we've been friends so long.
                            Little Brook, sing us your farewell song.
                            Say you are sorry to see us go.
                            Ah, you will miss us, right well we know."

                            Dancing and whirling the little leaves went,
                            Winter had called them and they were content.
                            Soon all fast asleep in their earthy beds,
                            Winter lay a coverlet of snow o'er their heads.

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Mother always had a love and respect for the natives of this land. Any reading she did was almost exclusively about First Nations. I still have the large novel versions of "Pocahontas" and "Sacagawea" which she read more than once. I adorned her new bedroom with collector plates, symbolized drums, bed covers, dream catchers and I even made a spear that hung over her bed that had a real blade tip on it that could slice flesh as well if not better than its original counterpart. It was not surprising then when she asked if I could find the words to this poem from her childhood.

Indian Summer

                                           Along the line of smoky hills
                                           the crimson forest stands.
                                           And all the day the Blue Jay calls
                                           throughout the autumn lands.

                                           Now by the brook the maple leans
                                           with all his glory spread.
                                           And all the sumacs on the hills
                                           have turned their green to red.

                                           Now by great marshes wrapt in mist
                                           or past some river's mouth,
                                           throughout the long still autumn days
                                           wild birds are flying south.

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The following is a brief account of the final years of my mother's life. I leave it here as a memorial, a testimonial to her strength both physically and emotionally. To her capacity to love and forgive regardless of how deeply she was hurt. An integrity far beyond what can be readily found today. If she gave her word, promise or entered into a contract, she would do all that was within her ability to keep it, fulfill it, and never break it, regardless of the cost to her. She opened her home to all who sought refuge there. And if any of her kin needed it, she made a spot for them in our family. Her grandmother had taken on the role of her mother, in her mother's absence, and raised her with the help of a sister. When she passed leaving her sister, my mom's aunt, old and alone she was brought to live with us. It was not an inconvenience. These women raised her and loved her and she saw it as a privilege and an honour to repay a little of what she was given. There may not have been much in her early life she would have considered happy but it was through no deliberate actions of her guardians. Some call it duty, she called it family. In my eyes she was an angel. An angel I was never able to fully repay for all of the love and comfort she gave to me.
I left the words below as they were when I wrote them. As they were when she was still here with me.

As her son, I'd like to take this opportunity to keep everyone up to speed on my mother's latest adventures. As those who know her are aware, she doesn't require anyone's assistance in doing her day to day tasks, even when those tasks take a chunk out of her. I submit the following photos as proof. When I found her she was sitting quietly on her couch. She nods in the direction of her arm and says, "I think I may have hurt it." I've been through a lot and seen a lot of damage but the contorted position that her wrist and hand were in made my legs go weak. She made not a word and barely a grimace as I immobilized the wrist for her trip to the ER. And not a sound did she make when the doctor taped her fingers to a cable and hung two water bottles over her elbow to put traction on the arm. Not a sound when he wrapped it in plaster and pushed and probed the broken bones back into position. I believe the doctor's words were "one tough bird." And now she sits impatiently waiting to get back at her chores. It wouldn't be long after she had healed from this that I caught her on the second rung from the top of a five foot step ladder precariously perched on solid ice by the corner of the house trying to put a new flood light bulb into it's socket. I am seriously contemplating putting lead in all of her shoes to try and slow her down.

Two fractures requiring a cast
There was quite a bit of swelling in the first several days and I had to keep cutting back the cast from around her thumb because it was so tight and irritating.

Two fractures from a fallThe swelling and the black bruising finally started diminishing after a week or so but it would be over eight weeks before the cast could be removed, much to Mom's relief. She is a bit surprised that she still can't do very much and that it is still very sore.

Location of the two fractures
The doctor said that the end of the Ulna (A) was cracked and that the tip of the Radius (B) was chipped, so it would be tender for awhile.

I would like to thank all the family that came and helped out through this difficult period for Mom. Not many realize just how difficult things are when one loses the use of their good arm. Bathing, dressing, cooking, eating, even buttering a simple piece of bread is almost impossible, and Mother is far too independent to ask for help. It took me five days to convince her to let me wash her hair. It was extremely difficult for mother to not be able to do her own cooking, cleaning and laundry as well as a myriad of other chores we all take for granted, and some things she would have been mortified to have a stranger help her with. For that I am very thankful for all those who came out to help her out or even called to offer help or just to see how she was. She was quite surprised at how much love and caring she was shown:(

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That is what is called sarcasm. There was only one member of the family that she would have been comfortable with accepting help doing personal things and that daughter never even called let alone came and helped. She was off pouting somewhere. As for the rest. One call or two and one started sending her letters. And I was always condemned for not asking THEM for help. Maybe it was seeing others suffering or struggling that brought them joy, I don't know, but one night out of all those years of caring for Mom I had a very important function I wanted to attend so I asked a brother and his wife to watch her as her dementia was causing her to do things that risked a house fire and endangered her life and she was experiencing tremendous fear and confusion whenever she thought she had been left alone. I remember when I had to block out most of her TV channels containing any violence when she came running to find me one day telling me that someone was trying to kill her. CSI had been on. It wasn't long before only cartoons were allowed after the last channel I thought that she could handle, nature shows, put her in the corner of her bedroom on the floor frantic because of the elephants, that must have escaped the zoo, were now just outside the window. When I coaxed her out to explain and show me which window, she pointed nervously to her television. It may appear funny in movies or sitcoms but I assure you that it is far from funny when it is someone you love dealing with it. I left a number where I could be reached. When I returned home Mom was all alone, crying and all curled up sitting on the floor, hiding in the corner of her bedroom. She said she called for me repeatedly and was frantic when I never answered her. She could not figure out why she was alone and where I had gone. After calming her down she slowly came back to her normal self and was able to tell us what happened. I asked her where her son and daughter-in-law was and she told me that they slept awhile on the couch and then left. Now there's family love for you. The disease of Alzheimer's itself is not the devastating part but the realization of how little you are loved and how little anyone wants to help you. And instead of admitting guilt they tried to justify it by accusing me of doing more than was expected of me. One sadly fucked up world. This woman was one of the kindest, giving, caring, loving women I knew and this is what she got in return for it.

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Well almost nine months later and Mom's wrist is as if it had never been broken. She worked it back to full range of movement and it is pain free.Another fall broke the ball off of her right hipUnfortunately she has just fallen and broken her hip. I will not go into the details as seeing Mom in so much pain, both that day and the days to follow, is too fresh in my mind. The scream that she let out when I tried to help her up was unlike anything I have heard from her before or from anyone else for that matter. If my screams of pain during my hospital stays went through her like hers went through me then I was correct in my belief that my condition took an awful toll on my mother. It was the main contributing factor for the remorse that I felt for what my parents were forced to endure due to my medical condition. It was a long struggle for her and left her often scared and confused. Thankfully she is through it now and is proceeding to bring herself back to full health with dogged determination. The surgeon told me that the break was the less serious one of the two she could have had. If this is true I hope she never experiences the worst one. Mom cracked the ball off the top of her left leg bone. In order to repair it the surgeon had to open up the hip and cut quite a bit of the muscle in order to move it out of the way so he could work on the leg bone. He then pulled the leg bone (femur) out and sawed off the top of the bone and filed the edges smooth. He then bored a hole half way down the bone and opened it up with a tapered reamer. A stainless steel replacement ball with a long spike was then hammered into the reamed hole. The old ball was pried out of the socket and the new ball popped in. It was not considered a full hip replacement as the socket was not replaced.

During those long lonely days so far from home, Mom took comfort in the card and bouquet of flowers that she received from one sending their love and/or wishing her a speedy recovery. There is nothing like a card from a loved one to brighten up an otherwise dreary, depressing room. When minutes feel like hours she was also thankful for everyone who took the time to visit and let her know she was missed:(

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And no that was NOT a typing error. Mom really did receive only one card and one bouquet of flowers. For one month I travelled 200 km to be with her every single night from admittance to her transfer to a hospital closer to home. Those closest to me and myself as well could not figure out how I managed to accomplish that. Normally migraines are always just one car ride away from being triggered. Add the stress to that as well and it borders on the miraculous. All I can figure is the combination of it being night driving (no sunlight, especially the strobe effect), together with mentally preparing before each trip and the fact that I do get occasions of extended time where everything settles down for awhile all contributed enough to make it possible. Mom had five children and eleven grand children all old enough to travel and out of that, only two showed up for one or two visits. I would thank them but who thanks family for caring for family? I remember the night that reminded me of just how different my family was. As I sat alone in the darkness in the corner by Mom's bed a couple came in to visit the woman diagonally across the room from Mom. The woman in bed was similar to Mom in that she was not very talkative as whatever put her here was still hurting her. The couple talked to her as if she understood everything that they were saying. I can only guess that they believed that despite the woman's inability to converse she could still hear and their conversation was registering within her even if only subconsciously. I marvelled at their outlook. Another person came in to visit her as well and eventually they touched on a clipboard that hung from the foot of her bed. I hadn't even noticed it myself. From the conversation I gathered that the page on that clipboard was a calendar where family could write down what day and time that would be able to visit in order to completely cover ever minute of visiting hours there were. And if that wasn't amazing enough, through the conversation I learned that this wasn't just immediate family sharing the load but cousins, nieces, nephews, seemingly anyone that was even remotely connected to her was ready to do whatever was needed to make this as easy as possible for not just the woman but for everyone else as well. Now that is what family should act like. Thankfully the darkness hid my tears. What could this woman have done any more than my mother to receive such loyalty and love?
And as further testimony to the contrary of my never asking for help I give you this. Mom found it increasingly difficult to go out anywhere, both emotionally and physically, so I asked a member of the next generation, a grandchild, to perform a service they had trained for and were performing for an income. I did not ask for it to be done for free, like I personally believed they should have (see caring for those who cared for us above) but offered to pay whatever the fee might be. I also believed that since I had happily took the time from my own children to drive her 100 km one way every Saturday for months one winter, wait for her class that would make her a world class douche bag and then return her to home, that she would gladly return the favour. Apparently what I had done was no favour and certainly not of any importance enough to be even considered, as were all acts of aid or kindness afforded them from anyone. It was only a privilege to serve them of which they threw to me like a bone to some starving dog so it would leave them alone. The simple task was done once. Upon asking for it again I was told that it was too difficult to bring all that was needed and that she would have to travel to her instead, despite my explanations of why she couldn't, of which they were all very well aware of. Another in her field, unknown to my mother or I, offered to do it for us for free. When she arrived she had all that she needed in a lunch bag. I waited to see the horrible outcome for such lack of equipment and was surprised to see no difference. I refused to let her leave until she gave me a price for her services. That was for over an hour long trip over which much was rough road and then an hour for her work. She said that if she must then twenty dollars. It was difficult to keep tears from my eyes because all I could think of was why is this total stranger offering so much for so little when even her own family refused her aid. I gave her fifty dollars every time she came along with my deepest gratitude. Why do I never ask for help indeed. I could write a book with heart breaking occurrences like these that showed exactly how much family truly cared for one another. The level of their belief of self entitlement, that everyone owed them and could never get out from underneath that debt no matter what they did is completely mind numbing. Can anyone imagine what two little children would feel like when forced to witness this. One of the last times a brother was in my home before Mother passed, was ranting and raving over the fact that I never returned his waves whenever he drove by. On the rare occasions that family did come to visit my mother it was always nice for the kids to sit and listen to the grownups talk just like we used to do when we were kids. It formed some of our warmest memories. My two children were no different and they had been given no reason to dislike their seldom seen aunt and uncle from barely a hundred yards down the road so they would go quietly in and sit out of the way and listen. Now they are just in the other room when this uncle of theirs is groping for anything he can use to defend his reasons for never visiting by calling my children a bunch of wild insane monkeys that don't even give them a chance to sit down when they visit before they are climbing all over them. That was the day that I saw the toll that their guilt, of treating everyone else as being beneath them, had truly cost them. The non-stop lies so common upon the tongue now that even when the truth was the better choice a lie still came out. That was the day I became an only child. To be a party to this insanity was itself madness. I cut all ties. It cost me dearly but I did and I never looked back. Only now do they realize what that cost them. What I refused to give because of their refusal to lift a finger in our mother's aid. I waited for fifty years for even one of them to act like the loving sibling they claimed to be whenever I had something they wanted. Constantly denying, with half smirks on their face, that I had not been the butt of all the jokes at their last drunken get together. Their only option now is to outlive me and then attack my children for what they believe is rightfully theirs. And that is why I will be remaining a ghost for awhile. Just to see the look on their faces as their simple minds grapple with what had never even crossed it before. Sweet. As I read the diary of my sister that had passed, the same theme was as strong throughout and I finally realized why she had such a violent temper. It was always when family didn't treat her like family. Their pride and arrogance incensed her to the extreme. Thank God she can now rest. But I'll state it here that if there turns out to be no special place in hell for the morally and emotionally deprived human beings that make up the majority of my kin then I personally will stay behind after my death to make sure that every second of their lives will be filled with as much torture, heartbreak and emotional scarring as to be at least equal to the level of the same that they dealt others. And when each member of my family as well as each member of my family-in-law dies I will personally accompany them to their judgement trial and there I will recite the list of crimes against family that each of them are guilty of. And for the remainder of my life I will do all that I can to earn as much favour as possible so that I might be granted the honour of ensuring that the punishment that each of them is handed is carried out to the level that they deserve. I can see in their eyes that they are already haunted by the ghosts of those they have mistreated and the selfish deeds that they have dealt to others and though it pleases me it will be nothing compared to the plans that this ghost has in store for them. One particular brother waited a substantial amount of time for another motorist to drive by and when none showed proceeded to back his vehicle, there being nowhere to turn around, over a kilometre down our skinny dirt road in order to take an alternate route home all to avoid all the bad luck he believed he would have to endure for crossing the path of a black cat that crossed in front of him. I can't wait to show him what's in store for him for crossing this black cat's path. I am fully aware of how this may all sound to a total stranger. This is not written for a total stranger but may be beneficial to any dealing with similar issues. I am also aware of the fact that they are always out and about in the community and telling everyone lies in an effort to convince others that it is all me. I could care less. A sound mind will see through their bullshit in an instant as I have learned from many I know. One in particular comes to mind often because of the way in which I found out. When Mother had passed I made arrangements for her to be cremated. Something that no one in our family has ever done. I also had no wake either. It's only purpose would have been to provide a stage for an uncaring family to posture before everyone and pretend to show how utterly devastated they were by their loss. They would not be given the opportunity for such a farce. I had originally denied visitations to all. I received a phone call one day and a caretaker asked me on behalf of the rest of my family if they could pay their respects. He explained that he fully understood my hesitation and told me that his only reason for urging me to allow it was for my benefit only. I immediately relented due to his vast experience in these matters and he fully agreed with me that absolutely no one other than close family be allowed visitation. Later that day he called me back. After salutations he immediately started with, "What in the fuck is wrong with your family?" "Wow," I replied, "I don't have a clue as to where I should begin and I seriously doubt we have the time to go into it in any depth. Can you be more specific?" He proceeded to tell me that when they arrived at the time he told them to be there they all just stood in a circle in the centre of the parking lot. Now he was used to seeing short talks of mourners before entering but they remained there so long that he finally had to go out and tell them that he was not planning to be there much longer. Shamefacedly they shuffled in. They were lead to the room and he told me that by the expression on their faces and their body language that they were not prepared for what they saw. This may sound harsh or brutal but it is nothing out of the ordinary and a simple everyday occurrence that most never see or even hear about. I asked and he told me that because no wake was scheduled that Mom was left in the transportation box he used to bring her from Deep River over an hours drive one way. Since this would be the same method used to bring her to Ottawa for cremation he did nothing further. Because of the short notice for viewing all he had done was put a blanket across the box. This was not the vision they were expecting to see. Now they got to see up close and personal what I had been dealing with over the last five years of Mom's life. Curious I asked how it seemed to affect them and he said not good. I thanked him for going above and beyond what was expected of him in his profession and for his ever helpful and kind friendship. I never thought it necessary to thank him personally as I always believed he knew as most like minded individuals would but it is still nice to hear once in awhile.
I'm not a vindictive person and am quite willing to forgive and forget most peoples' shortcomings as I have many of my own. But arrogance and self-righteousness are not part of my nature and so I hope what they saw haunts their dreams nightly. It will still be far less than the nightmares my caring brought me.

PS Horizontal Rule

Well it has been awhile since I've added anything here. It took two years and some nasty writing before two specialists in their field finally admitted that they were wrong and had misdiagnosed Mom. So that was two years of confirmed Alzheimer's without any treatment.
I can get that in writing and signed for the same, usual, propaganda spreading members of the family that told everyone we were just saying that in order to get sympathy. God is there no end or level to which some will try to break others down just to bring themselves up?
It took quite awhile before Mom could even stomach the medication and by the time she did so much was lost. We eventually required professional help to come in and CCAC met the challenge. The supervisor that was my contact was one of the most kind, understanding, knowledgeable and helpful person I have met in the medical support field, or even the entire field altogether. The supervisor for the actual support staff was phenomenal as well. They will never know just how much of a burden they lifted off our shoulders by their generous support and knowledge.
I am forever grateful.

I would, however, like to comment here on the actual workers who came here to help Mom. As should be obvious if you have read any of my text elsewhere, I am not comfortable with strangers in my home and less so if I need their help. As I knew would happen, there were a few who eventually turned out to be shit disturbers. If everything isn't exactly how they like it they know all that they have to do is feed their supervisors bullshit and then it is left up to them to figure out who is lying. Crap that these supervisors have no time to deal with and time taken away from more important matters all because some idiot decided to throw a hissy fit. No one wants their help any more because of these units that are only there to collect a paycheck and to hell with everyone else. It is sad that everyone needs to carry a one button recording device to have a record of every single word spoken with another. Sad but necessary. And it is not just the hands on workers that pose a problem. When a supervisor brought with her the doctor for our area I was forced to terminate the meeting by asking the doctor to leave my home immediately and offered her very good advice in suggesting that she not conduct herself in the same manner when dealing with some of the older farmers in this area or her next exit may be through a window. The supervisor kept apologizing profusely and I made every effort in making it clear that she had nothing to be sorry about. And at one time doctors could not understand why I said that I'd die at home before I would allow myself to be put under hospital or home care if I could avoid it. It seems doctors are getting quite used to this attitude. I wonder why?

I apologize for straying off topic again, it's just some things must be put on record. As life goes Mom had to eventually be put into a home. That dreaded decision I put off for more than five years but in the end there was no choice. Now I would have sleepless nights wondering if my mother was being cared for properly. The waiting list for a room is extremely long and longer if one is picky about the location. We accepted that a room could come up anywhere and it would have to do. We were quite surprised when a room did become available in a much shorter period of time than expected but the location was a good hour and a half drive for us. But in return we got what I can only describe as a miracle. I go to bed every night and sleep peacefully knowing that my mother could not be in any better hands in the world than where she is right now. The staff in Deep River is unlike any other. Imagine exactly how you would like to be cared for if you were in a home and that is the facility at Deep River. If there is such a thing as divine intervention then this could be an example.
Thank you North Renfrew Long-Term Care Services Inc.

Mom pets a goat at her nursing home

Mom enjoyed many activities that her nursing home put on for them. Here she seems quite taken by the happy little goat she is petting in a photo that appeared in the Deep River newspaper. Other animals, a large dog, cat and two birds are full time residents at the home.

Son and Mother

Here we have a photo of Mom and I in one of the many rest areas throughout the halls. As well there are every type of art and photographs covering the wall in an endless array of colour and beauty. On the wall behind us are works of art given to tenants by their grand children and great grand children.
There were none there for Mom.

Great Granddaughter meets Great Grandmother

A mixture of great joy and great sorrow are captured in the following four photos. I being the youngest child was the last to experience the overpowering joy of holding my first grandchild. With Mom's Alzheimer's quite progressed now I was apprehensive as to whether meeting her fifteenth great grandchild would have much meaning.
Great Granddaughter meets Great Grandmother

And although she really didn't understand who the little baby was, it was very clear that she was quite enthralled by her. For me it was a range of emotions that I had never felt before.
Great Granddaughter meets Great Grandmother

In front of me were two of the greatest loves of my life. One was just beginning and had already brought so much joy to my life yet I knew that I would have to leave before seeing her reach all of the greatest moments in her life and the other was ending and I would never again feel the unconditional love and warmth that only a mother can give and a gift I had taken for granted for half a century.

Great Granddaughter meets Great Grandmother

To the casual reader these images have no emotional value but for me, after seven years I still cannot look at these images without going through have a box of tissues. And quite probably I never will. And I was correct. Seven years later and my reaction to viewing these images are the same as the first time I viewed them. It's a horrible price to pay to learn that time does not heal all wounds.

And four months later, the baby is now much more aware of those around her. She still has no idea who this woman is and why she keeps coming to see her any more than the woman understands who this little baby is and why she keeps getting to see her. Everyone is happy yet I must fake a smile as the lump in my throat burns and tears threaten to burst through. The circle of life turns before me.

Great Granddaughter meets Great GrandmotherUnfortunately this would be the last time that they enjoyed each other's company. Mom past away on April 14, 2011. She died with not one of her family by her side and a stranger holding her hands. My own health issues kept me from visiting Mom as often as I would have liked and many tried to persuade me to have her moved closer to us but that would only be making life easier for me and not my mother. She had the best of care where she was and she settled quickly and was quite comfortable. Alzheimer's disease was devastating to me but for Mom it was the best thing that could have happened. She suffered little or no pain and by the time that we had to put her in a home she was so far advanced that she never missed anyone. Her memory loss was extremely difficult to handle but the alternative, knowing that she was sitting in a home waiting for us to visit her or wondering why she had to be there would have been devastating. I cared for her for ten years and the only reason I agreed to put her in a home was the fact that it made no difference to her whatsoever. Alzheimer's is a very dark cloud indeed but it can have a silver lining, if you're lucky enough and strong enough to withstand the storm. Unfortunately most head for better weather leaving behind those who brought them into this world, cared for them, taught them and showered them with unconditional love. It reminds me too much of those people who tire of their pet and find a far away deserted road to drop them off on and leave them to die alone, hurt and frightened.

I guess you are probably wondering "Why is this guy airing all his dirty laundry where everyone can see?"

It's simple really. It's the same reason why I did many of the things in life that I did, for my mother. "Well she's dead now so give it a rest" is not an option either. I mentioned somewhere about watching my father deal with injustices in the world and how good he was at it and how proud it made me. I lied a little. The real thing that won him my respect was that he didn't pick and choose his battles. If it was wrong he rolled up his sleeves and met it head on. Even when he knew he couldn't win. It is not the winning we fight for, it is the principal of the thing. If even one of the readers of these words knows of a woman like my mother and my words encouraged him or her to go to her aid and support her when everyone else has just pushed her aside then all the bullshit I get dumped on me for this will be worth it. Right now there are people telling others that all that I have written here is just for attention and sympathy. I haven't been given sympathy in over a decade and attention much longer than that. I live alone and have went six months without seeing anyone. One year I went to town maybe twice. I remember it well because I was down to food well past its due date. I have never needed nor wanted attention and compliments make me very uncomfortable. As for sympathy, I don't need the "Oh I'm so sorry, things must be very rough for you." A hand on my shoulder from a loved one at a difficult time. A friend's look that tells me that they know and understand. A stranger choosing to be polite and make things easier for me. These things would be wonderful so find someone in your life that needs or deserves them and give them to him/her.

PS Horizontal Rule

I am now alone here but for a kind neighbour who checks from time to time to make sure that I'm not decomposing in a chair somewhere. He cleans my drive when he can and gets odds and ends in town when I am unable to go myself. Again, a stranger. Well that's the technical term for him but I consider him a friend. A friend who has his own problems to deal with. He doesn't have to do these things, for me to know that he understands. That's all most of us need. He says my family asks about me. I explained to him what that means in my family. I can't help but remember a person I used to know who would proclaim that he always made sure people he knew didn't need his help but instead of the obvious question,"Is there anything I can do for you?" he would say, "There isn't anything you need right now, is there?"
My son-in-law brings three of my grandkids to visit from time to time but it gets less each year. He's a good kid and seems to be giving my grandkids the best life that he can while still trying to find that special someone to share his journey with. I remember well what it was like having the rug pulled out from under me at his age and I didn't have kids to worry about so my heart goes out to him. I remember telling the last girlfriend before the mother of my children that with 6 billion people in the world there had to be someone out there who would just love me without all the drama. The misguided thinking of a young man. I forgot to calculate in the time allotted to find this special someone. Too bad, out of time, thanks for playing. What's that human standard that we all seem to be living by? "Just making the best of a bad situation." Now I keep thinking back to the ones I let slip through my fingers, usually due to jealous exes. What if one of them were "the one?" Better off not knowing at this stage of the game. As of today I haven't seen my fourth or fifth grandchild and I think that they are pushing two years now. So I feel I can relate to the last hours of my mother's life even though I am uncomfortable telling it. I had been able to visit Mom in her last few days but she just laid there sleeping peacefully. Her hand would shoot out from time to time as if reaching for something and I was uncertain what to do until a nurse stopped by. She told me that she was reaching out to hold someone's hand. She told me that someone sits with Mom non stop whenever we are not there. Twenty four hours around the clock. I was stunned. How could they possibly know when to start the vigil? This could go on for months. With a heavy heart I left that night determined to return as soon as possible. The burden weighed heavy upon me and with all of my other troubles I was barely able to function. I did everything within my power to make it back up to see her but it was just too much. The home was called every day to see if she was doing OK and to make sure she didn't need me. I knew she didn't need me but oh how I needed her. I remember sitting at the table for hours, my mind numb, just staring and thinking of absolutely nothing. One particular evening everyone had gone to bed but there was no comfort there anyway. I sat alone in the darkness. Through the blackness in the room, through the blackness in my mind a hand shot out, searching. I had no doubt whose hand it was and what she wanted. As I rushed to get dressed I fought the tears and the lump in my throat without much success. Unknowing what my father had faced I let him die alone in a hospital full of strangers. I would not let it happen again. I prayed as I dressed that my health not burden me this evening. Soon I was on my way to Deep River. I never got past Burnstown. I pulled over to try and calm myself in order to stop the migraine that was beginning. It was painfully clear that I would not succeed. A feeling of such complete and utter uselessness came over me. A slave to my own body and its weaknesses I could do nothing to fight it. Alone that night, in the dark, feeling so low and worthless, a voice as clear as if it had come from right beside me said, "Do not worry son, I am fine. Go home. I love you." Like a zombie I returned home and slept. In the morning I was given the news that Mom had passed away through the night. They assured me that she did not die alone and that someone was there holding her hand. But all I could think was, it wasn't my hand.

PS Horizontal Rule

I wrote two poems after Mom's passing. An Angel Waiting To Die gives the reader a glimpse into the life of a family suffering through Alzheimer's. Time's Slow Hurry is of a meeting that I imagined between my mother just recently passed and her son who died tragically forty-eight years earlier when he was but nine years old. But before you begin, a note on reading this poem. It takes time and patience and probably several attempts before you will get the flow of it. The cadence is unusual and difficult to find but once you do you will appreciate it all the more. Please give it the time that so tragic a moment deserves. Thank you.

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