Saturday, March 29, 2008


Very Sad News

I arrived at the hospital to visit my mother Friday night and was met by my three brothers, sister, father and two sisters-in-law sitting around my mother's bed while she slept. Everyone looked pretty expressionless. "Did the MRI results come back?" I asked.

I don't recall who answered me, but I was informed that the results were back, and things did not look good. My sister-in-law took me into the hall to give me the news. The MRI indicated that my mother did not have a stroke as we thought, but rather that she has brain cancer. It is terminal. It's too late, too far gone. They are giving her medication to reduce the swelling and relieve her pain somewhat, but it won't get any better than that. We don't know how long she has left with us, and the doctor is pretty sure that she doesn't know us when we visit. He advised against resuscitation. It would be better to let her go.

It's pure agony watching my father deal with this. Tuesday was their 57th anniversary. And now he's losing his one true love, his partner, his friend and wife. The one thing that snapped me out of the shock of receiving the news and brought me to tears was to look my father in the eyes as he sat at my mother's bedside holding her hand while she slept.

One by one we left her room to head home and deal with our grief. My father and I left the room and walked to the parking lot where we hugged beside his van. I told him I'd be back today after work, and that he should call if he needed anything. I sat in my car and cried as he drove off. My drive home was mixed with sadness, rage, pleading, disbelief and acceptance. Some of those well-known stages of grief in no particular order. I cursed and begged my higher power in the same sentence.

I'm waiting to wake up and discover this isn't real.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Dave And Weezie's Day Of Fun

It's been a busy few days. I went to Hooterville to visit my mother Good Friday afternoon and got to spend some time playing with my niece's son who is just a few months older than Brynn. There were a lot of family members there to visit, which is usually the case. My mother was sitting up in a wheelchair, which is nice to see. She seemed a bit more alert, but still not communicating. We wheeled her down to the sunroom for a change of scenery, and to give her roommates a break from our noisy brood.

When I got home, The Squeeze was home from work and we decided to go out for dinner and a movie. There is a big bingo hall about a block or two from our house, and every time we drive down the road, one of us will jokingly ask the other, "Wanna go play bingo?" Needless to say, we've never been in. The Squeeze has never said 'yes' when I've asked, and I just laugh when he asks, because I know he doesn't want to go in there. I haven't been to a bingo hall in ages, and when I've gone with friends in the past we nearly get kicked out because we're having too much fun and disrupting the die-hards. While we ate dinner, he said, "Do you want to play bingo instead of going to a movie?" I looked at him in shock. He was serious. We drove to the bingo hall and he hopped out and found out what time the next games start. We had about 30 minutes or so, so we drove to the bank to get some cash, hit Timmie's for some coffee to enjoy while we played, and stopped by the house to pick up my dusty old dauber I recently unpacked.

It wasn't until we got up to the counter to buy our cards that I realized that I didn't know what I was doing. I just always bought the same thing as Weezie. We each bought a 3 strip, which is 9 cards. We figured we could handle that much better than the 5 strip which I've always called the Family Fun Pak. The place was packed, so it took a while to find two seats. Luckily we sat beside a nice couple with British accents and they told us what extra tickets we needed to get. I went up, emptied my wallet a bit more and came back with a stack of cards I divided between us. By the time the last game came about, due to the extras I bought, we each had 5 strips or 15 cards. The Squeeze said "I can't follow that many cards", so I took one of his extras. He had 4, I had 6. The ink was flying. The lady beside me had about 15 strips taped in two sheets, one above the other and she would flip back and forth as the numbers were called. I couldn't do that to save my life. Needless to say, we left there empty-handed, and empty-walleted. This sure isn't the 25 cents a card bingo you played at the carnival and used kernels of cow corn to mark the numbers. I think we spent around $60.00 in total between us.

Saturday I got to watch the kidlets in Hooterville while Weezie, my baby mama had a spa day with a couple of her friends for one of their birthdays. Aside from Brynn crying her eyes out and breaking my heart when she saw me, things went well. I guess she just figured out that her mother was leaving, and that's why she was freaking out. But not a minute after they left, all was well and we had a very fun day.

After watching the kids, I popped into the hospital to visit my mother before heading home. No changes to speak of.

The Squeeze and I were invited to Weezie's for Easter dinner, so we brought our baskets full of chocolate and stuffed bunnies for the kids. I don't know if they were more excited about the chocolate or the little wind-up bunnies that hopped all over the place. The kids were adorable in their little matching dresses and Brynn had her bunny ears on. Zoe broke hers earlier, so she was out of luck....or in luck, depending on whether or not she really wanted to wear them. We took the kids up to visit my mother for a bit. My mother was asleep when we got there, even though there were several family members sitting around talking, but she soon woke up. She seemed happy to see the girls. Her eyes kind of lit up and she tried to force a smile.

Earlier that day my brother called to let me know they were planning to have an Easter dinner picnic at the hospital. Sort of a potluck type of thing, just so they could be together with my parents. Unfortunately, with the prior commitment and only about 4 hours notice, I couldn't stay there for dinner. We got the girls back home and enjoyed dinner with Weezie, her sister, brother and mother. Those kids were hopped up on chocolate, and as the evening wore on, and Weezie's siblings left, the kids just kept bouncing off the walls. Between Weezie's back spasms, her mother's freshly replaced hip and my pinched sciatic nerve, it left The Squeeze as the only one able to run around with them, which he just loves to do. Pretty sad that only one of the four of us had a fully functioning body.

Monday morning I met up with Weezie after she dropped the girls off at daycare to cross the border and do a bit of shopping in Niagara Falls, NY. There was really nothing I needed, but she was on a mission to buy some clothes for the kids. She found all sorts of deals. The best of all was finding red velvet dresses for next Christmas on sale for $3.99. Ya, that's right. $3.99. However, when we got to the till, they rang up at $2.99. Unbelievable. She also bought some chocolate and munchies that were on sale, because there wasn't enough in the baskets, apparently. She was on a mission to buy some sort of cover for Chapstick that a friend of her's had for her nephew. We went to EVERY dollar store in the city, and there are a LOT of them. A whole lot of them. Nobody seemed to have what she was after. I told her she'd have to beat up her friend and steal her's.

I was exhausted and it wasn't even 2:00 yet. Perhaps because we hadn't eaten yet. After just one more dollar store, Wal-Mart (the evil empire) and K-Mart, we went for lunch. There was a woman in one of those "Mart" stores, not sure which one, who was quite a large woman. She had no neck, or was a very large neck. Remember Jabba the Hutt? It was kinda like that. we were leaving the parking lot, I saw her drive past us. We wound up behind her at the stop light. On her car was a bumper sticker that said "Abortion Stops My Beating Heart". I couldn't help but think....the extra 300 pounds you're carrying aren't doing your heart much good either. But then, I should talk.

The benefit to me of being there shopping was that I managed to pick up some big honkin' balls of yarn that were on sale for another project. I'm going to make a blanket for Zoe. I just need to finish the two berets I'm fighting with. Things aren't going well with one of those. I don't think the yarn has any give. I'm trying to do the brim in a 1x1 rib stitch, but it just turns into a big floppy mess that doesn't stretch or bounce back. Oh man, you know that scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin where the two guys are doing their "You know how I know you're gay?" bit? I think one of the answers could be "You knit berets." So I'll move on....

After dropping Weezie off, I drove to Hooterville Hospital. It was my parents' 57th anniversary. It's a bitter-sweet celebration this year. It was made even tougher by my father asking me to read my card to my mother, since he didn't have his glasses with him. I guess it wasn't enough that I was in tears at the store when we bought the card. I stayed pretty firm while reading it in front of both parents and a sister and brother who were also there. Then he asked me to read their cards to her as well. How I didn't fall apart is beyond me.

I am SUCH a wimp.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Not Much Has Changed

It's been a long, exhausting week with all that is going on with my mother. She's been in the hospital just over a week now, and I'm trying to spend as much time there as I can. It's tough when I live about an hour away and have to work for a living. I've been making the drive there and back nearly every night or during the days when I'm off. I'm seeing some family members I haven't seen in quite some time. It's nice to know that a lot of people visit and sit with my mother, whether she realizes it or not.

On Monday morning when her doctor returned from his vacation, he came in to see my mother. He asked her how she was doing, and she mustered up the strength to say "not too good", and she really hasn't said much since then. She still sleeps most of the time, and when she is awake she seems confused and non-communicative. On Monday afternoon when I was there I asked her if the doctor came in to see her and she slowly shook her head. Two of my nieces were there and they told me that the doctor was there and has arranged for an MRI to be done. After they left, I was alone with my mother, and short of offering her drinks of water, wiping her mouth and trying to think of things to talk about, I simply didn't know what else to do. My mother had been placed in her wheelchair earlier that day and she just looked around and seemed terribly bored. I flipped through a magazine with her and she looked at the pictures of a bunch of famous people I've never heard of. She held the magazine and studied the cover for about 15 or 20 minutes until my brother and sister-in-law arrived.

It's so hard to see her like this and not know what's going on in her mind. Is she aware of what's happened? Is she processing thoughts? Does she know who we all are? When I ask her "have you had a lot of visitors today?", she'll look at me, seem confused, and shake her head. I would then be told by someone else that she's had at least ten people visit her already that day. Does she not understand the question? Does she not know or remember that people were there? Does the movement of her head not correspond to the signal her brain is sending?

I was there again Wednesday night, and when I arrived I found my father, sister and niece waiting in the hallway while the nurses were in her room moving her from the wheelchair to her bed. My sister told me that the MRI is scheduled for the 27th. Apparently that's pretty fast, but in my mind, it should have been done the day the doctor finally arrived. When we were let back in the room, again she was drifting in and out of sleep. My sister pointed out that my mother had been catheterized. I guess that will keep her from having to make her own way to the bathroom in the night like she'd done a few times according to the other two women in her room. Why she didn't just press the button for a nurse is a good question. Does she remember the button is there? Does she know what it's for? Does she just not want to bother a nurse? I have no idea.

After my sister and niece left, my father and I sat in her dimly lit room and talked. He told me she didn't eat anything at dinner time. I tried to keep very positive. I mentioned that when she gets out we'll have to get home healthcare. He said he just hopes that she'll pull through this. I think he's preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. My heart was just breaking for him. He said if she makes it and comes home, they'll have to get rid of the house because of all the stairs, which is something I've been pushing for for quite some time. I know that the move would be a whole new set of stresses for a time as well, but I'm thinking of the long-term benefits for both of them. I told my father about the insights I was given by two friends of mine whose mother had a stroke several years ago. They told me how she managed to get back about 90% of her speech, but it took time. Their mother also was not communicative because quite often what came out of her mouth is not what she wanted to say. She simply refused to speak. I'm not sure if this is what's going on with my mother or not. My father is very frustrated and heart-broken that she doesn't say anything to him. The doctors and nurses keep telling him to keep talking to her, but it's a tough thing to do when you get nothing back.

In retrospect, my father said that he thinks she hasn't been herself since the summer. She took a fall at the cottage and one day there my aunt was cooking something for dinner and asked my mother if she wanted to make the salad. My mother said, "no, you can do it". That is SO not my mother. I guess when you're with someone every day you tend not to notice little changes in their behaviour over time, but when someone sees you only every so often, the changes are much more noticeable.

My mother was asleep, so my father and I gave her a kiss, told her we love her, and we both made our way home. So we all continue to visit, pray, hope and wait. March 24th will be my parents' 57th anniversary. How do we celebrate that at a time like this?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Update On My Mother

The Squeeze and I stopped by my parents' place Sunday evening after visiting the kids in Hooterville. Two of my brothers and their wives were there when we arrived but were getting ready to head out. My mother was sitting on the sofa, not quite looking herself as has been the case for the past couple of months. She also wasn't saying anything.

I had to step outside to move my car so my brother could get out and when I parked again, my other brother and his wife were coming out the door. He gave me the update of what's been going on with my mother. Late Friday afternoon she had her appointment with the geriontologist, so my brother stopped by earlier that day to go over some of the things they need to ask the doctor. My mother was having a very bad day that day. She was very unsteady on her feet, even with her newly acquired walker. They decided to take her to the hospital to be looked at. From there they took her by ambulance to another hospital about half an hour away and performed a CAT scan and did some bloodwork. The scan showed a number of dark spots on her brain. Scarring, apparently. There is one larger spot about 2 cm x 3 cm. They think this may be an indication of a stroke or mini-strokes. This could explain her blacking out episodes.

Later that day she saw the geriontologist, and he put her through a number of tests. He asked her to write her name, and she managed to crudely do that. He asked her to write a sentence, and it looked like she was trying to draw something. When the test was done, she scored 15 out of 30. Not too bad apparently. The doctor doesn't think she has Alzheimers. He feels that she's going through a severe depression which is quite common after a stroke. My brother thinks it could all be building up...losing a son nearly nine years ago which devastated her, another son seriously injured in an industrial accident, another son's depression and suicide attempt, estrangement from some of her grandchildred (divorce, fighting and all the crap involved in that). Hard to imagine that I'd ever be the one that didn't cause her grief!

Saturday she started a low-dose course of Ritalin and an anti-depressant. If she doesn't perk up a bit in the first few days, they're going to slightly up the dose. The anti-depressants won't really take effect for about two weeks though.

So anyway....after my brother and sister-in-law left, I went inside and joined my father and The Squeeze who were sitting and talking at the dining room table. My mother was laying down on the sofa. My father said she sleeps about 15 hours a day or so. She used to never be able to sleep through the night. She would often complain about being so tired but not being able to sleep. My mother hasn't been eating or drinking much either. My sister-in-law bought her some Ensure to drink so she gets some nourishment, but a can of that would last her three days. Just crazy. My father said she did have a bowl of soup he made her for lunch. He cut up some sausage and put it in the soup, and when she finished eating the soup, she spit all the sausage into a napkin. She had been storing it in her mouth instead of swallowing it.

My father said it's been tough because he's had to learn how to do everything. My mother just sits on the sofa and looks at the TV or sleeps. He's doing laundry, cooking, cleaning. In all my time I haven't seen him do any of this, except for barbecuing a steak here and there. He's even been bathing her, and he's not getting any younger either. After our chat, we told him to give us a call if there was anything we could do to help. I gave my mother a hug and kiss and told her I love her and that we'd be back next weekend. She mustered up the energy to say "I love you" back, but she just didn't sound like her.

I was a bit choked up on the way home. I felt so bad for what both my parents are going through, and the love and dedication I see in action. "You know," I said to The Squeeze, "my father doesn't really cook. I hope he's not just having a can of soup and a sandwich for every meal." That's when I got the idea that I would cook and package up some meals for them to have at their house.

Monday I spent the day preparing some food that my mother often cooked. Rouladen, potatoes and red cabbage. I thought my father would really enjoy it, and maybe my mother would even eat some. I packaged up a few containers and included some split pea & ham soup I made, and some peaches in simple syrup that we made in the fall. I arranged with my baby-mama, Weezie, to meet at the day care and she would take the food to Hooterville with her since she lives just a few blocks from my parents.

This weekend I think I'll do up a crockpot of stew and take some more containers over on Sunday. It's the least I can do. They have to eat and they've provided pretty well (hmm...maybe TOO well) for me as a kid. After the drop off, my father called to say thanks. My brother and sister-in-law have taken some food over there too, so I know they're being looked after. I asked him how my mother was doing, and he said she was doing a bit better. He said "she was sitting up here", which I think he meant at the dining room table. I could hear another of my brothers and his wife chatting in the background. I'm glad they have company.

When we go by next weekend I'll see how she's doing, and I'm going to bring up the idea of getting home health care for both of their benefits. Maybe even have Meals On Wheels bring them food. It's hard to see parents aging. I have this fantasy in my mind that I'll go there one day and see my mother doing what she loved, entertaining, cooking, walking, talking and laughing with the family. I'd be happy with the last three.

March 12, 6:00pm
Got a call from my father. My mother is getting worse and he has taken her to the hospital. The doctor on duty wanted to send her home, but my 76 year old father simply can't look after her in this condition. Luckily my brother was there with them and he made sure she stayed there. She'll be there for the next few days anyway. I don't get this, but her doctor is away until Monday and apparently nobody else in that fucking place knows what the hell they're doing and aren't able to run any tests. WTF?

Friday, March 07, 2008


Death to Telemarketers and Energy Marketers

Is it me or has the volume of annoying salespeople multiplied exponentially? At work I get so many junk faxes that waste our paper and ink. The worst part of it is that the geniuses that design these things insist on using huge blocks of the paper with a black background and white lettering. I'd be less annoyed if they just used black letters on white background. I've called, I've faxed back, and they still keep on coming. I think the government needs to step in and put an end to this practice of bulk ad faxing. If someone wants to sell me something, using my paper and ink to do it isn't the way to go. Isn't there some company out there that makes a fax machine with a screen that allows you to view the incoming fax and gives you the option to print or delete them?

I've also been receiving countless phone calls from all sorts of weird area codes, and most of the time there's nobody on the other end. I've Googled these numbers and have found a whole world of people who are experiencing the same thing from the very same numbers. Last week I got a call from one company and they wanted to stop by Tuesday to discuss how they can help my business grow. Sure, why not humour them. Of course, nobody showed up that day. Big surprise. Today I got a call from the same number. I tore a strip off the poor woman who called. Told her about the site. Told her about the person who was supposed to come by early this week.

HOLY CRAP! Just got another salesperson while I was typing this!...where was I?

So anyway, I told the woman that not only did I think they are a scam, but they are a poorly orchestrated scam. I told her to take me off their list and not call here again.

I'm now keeping a list of all these phone numbers along with the time of call and that I've asked to be removed from their list. Who do I call when they call again? I tell ya, the government needs to get in on this.

Back to the call that just arrived...she asked for the manager, I asked what it was about, she's from the Ontario Business Directory and she was updating the contact information they have. OK, harmless enough I guess. She read off the list of our information and then told me we'd be published for the price of $249.

"Excuse me? Is this something we've done with you before?"
"You have been listed on a promotional basis to this point."

Guess what? I told her to take me off their list. Good god, isn't it enough that we pay a fortune for a yellow pages ad, not to mention newspaper ads? Everybody and their brother is trying to suckle from this teat, and quite frankly, I'm a bit raw at the moment.

Saturday morning as The Squeeze and I were about to head out, there was a knock at the door. The very same door with the little metal sign that says "NO SOLICITORS". The Squeeze opened the door and was given the pitch from Steve, the Direct Energy parasite. Steve asked to see our bill to "ensure we have price protection". The Squeeze pointed out the sign to Steve and said, "Do you see this sign?"

"Sir, I'm just trying to save you money on your utilities, blah, blah, blah..."
"I'm not interested."
"But blah, blah, blah..."
"I'm not talking to you Steve."
"But blah, blah, blah..."
"Goodbye Steve, I'm closing the door now."

If there's one thing that chaps The Squeeze's ass it's energy marketers. See, many years ago his father was scammed by one of these parasites when he wasn't in the early stages of Alzheimer's. He received a "rebate" cheque in the mail which apparently became a binding contract once he deposited it. It caused no end of frustration for his family. So needless to say, The Squeeze was fuming after he closed the door. We walked out seconds later to go shopping, and found Steve knocking at our neighbour's door. I guess my blood was boiling at seeing how The Squeeze was affected, so I went up to Steve and asked him why he would be so ignorant to knock on a door with a "NO SOLICITING" sign. Clearly we don't want people like him trying to sell us their crap.

"Well sir, we're just trying to make sure people are getting the best rate, blah, blah, blah."
"Well Steve, you see, his father was scammed by the likes of you while he had Alzheimer's, so that kind of left a bad taste in his mouth toward energy marketers."
"I can assure you this isn't a scam, blah, blah, blah."
"You know Steve, you'd be amazed how few scammers actually admit to it. The guy who scammed his father wasn't a scammer either."
"I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you..."

Did I give Steve the finger or was it my mind's finger? I don't recall. As The Squeeze and I drove off he said, "You know it just pisses me off that I spent $1.49 for that sign!"

"Maybe we could take it back to Home Depot. Tell them it doesn't work."

And we laughed, and laughed...

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Oh! My! God!

Thanks to Kenneth, I was alerted to something that I can only describe as unbefuckinglievable. Those techno dance gods known as Yazoo (or Yaz to those on this side of the pond) are reuniting for a concert tour. Yes, that's right. I'm still blown away by the thought. That sensual yet kick-ass vocalist, Alison Moyet has teamed up again with techno-wizard Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode and currently of Erasure, after more than 25 years for a string of tour dates throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. A four disc box set retrospective called "In Your Room" is being released in May and it contains remastered versions of "Upstairs at Eric's" and "You and Me Both", plus a boatload of remixes, and videos. I'm dying. I want it now.

The U.S. tour takes them to Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. It doesn't look like Toronto or anywhere close is going to happen. When I told The Squeeze about the concert he said, "Let's go to Chicago".

Huh? What? He's normally the Voice of Reason. I come up with crazy ideas, and he talks me down off the ledge. I'm Lucy, he's Ricky. After checking the calendar for a full moon and the back yard for large pods, I realized that he was being serious. The Business Partner also thought it was a good idea.

"But it's an 8 hour drive," I said.

"So," they said.

I proceeded to do some investigating into getting tickets. It appeared that tickets don't go on sale until Friday at noon. Yet, somehow I found that a number of people on a couple of sites I found already had tickets. The American Express "Front of the Line" tickets didn't even get released yet. I discovered there was an advance presale for fans. What!? Aren't we all fans? After much searching and gnashing of teeth, and signing up for fan clubs, I found the Holy Grail. A password allowing me to buy tickets before they went on sale to the general public. I went to Ticketmaster, typed in the quantity of tickets I wanted, typed in the secret code, and there I was! Row D, smack dab in the middle.

I had about two minutes to confirm my purchase. I was asked to log in using my e-mail address and password. I entered the e-mail address and put in a password that The Squeeze and I often use and it came back stating that the password was incorrect. They then asked if I wanted a new password sent to the e-mail address. Tick, tick, tick, tick....

Yes, send me a new password! I received it quickly, and it asked that I change that temporary password to a new one. Tick, tick, tick, tick....aaaaannnnnd, we're out of time. The tickets have been released.


So I logged in again, asked Ticketbastard to find the 4 best available seats and lo and behold, the exact same seats came up. I guess that can happen if they aren't up for grabs to the public yet. I entered the e-mail, the new password, and found myself at a new window asking for all my info to purchase the tickets. Only this time I was granted five minutes to enter all the info. Name, address, phone, yadda, yadda, yadda, how to ship, payment information. Visa. Card number. No problem, it's burned into my brain from use. Expiry date. Oh crap. Where's my wallet? Oh come on...where is it? Tick, tick, tick, tick....

I ran downstairs and checked the table where I normally place it when I come home. Not there. I checked the kitchen table, nope. Counter, nope. Coat pocket? Woohoo! Jackpot. I ran back upstairs and entered in the date in just enough time. It's official. I have my tickets. Or at least a confirmation of tickets purchased.

Now I need to do some research of where to stay and what to do in Chicago. It's gonna be a busy day or two.

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