Monday, October 26, 2009


I can't think too much about what my life has been over the last couple of weeks, and will continue to be for the next several, because it tires me out. I no longer think--I just "do". So much has to be done, so many commitments to people have to be kept, so much I need to do for my own self and yet, so little time. Why does it all have to come at once? Any one of these things on their own would be stressful and trying enough--why do we have to deal with them all at the same time?

It's at times like this, I suppose, that you test and learn the limits of your own endurance. We are infinitely capable; or at least far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. If I had known what was coming, I don't think I would have been able to deal with it as well. I believe that if I had known, I would have decided I wasn't strong enough to handle it and wouldn't have even tried. By having it sprung on me with no time to assess my ability to make it all happen, I've had to just jump in and do it--no time to ask myself if I'm up to the challenge.

I don't want to give you the impression I'm doing this all on my own. I have had all the resources I need to rise to these challenges. I'm so grateful to my employer for allowing me to extend my leave of absence. I'm grateful to my friends who have been such a support. I'm grateful for my Mom who has encouraged me to be with My Honey in spite of her own illness and needs.

I am especially grateful for My Honey. He has still managed to provide me with support in his own time of need. When he asks me, "How are you doing?" I know he really means it. How can this man who just lost his father still have the emotional energy to care so much about my well-being? I can only hope I will have the same concern and compassion for him when I'm consumed with grief over my Mom's death. He's incredible and continues to amaze me every day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A week ago today, My Honey got the phone call we all dread--his father had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Incredibly (and luckily), My Honey was home with me when he got the call instead of being alone in California. What has followed has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions and surprisingly organized, from meeting with the funeral home director to the visitation to the funeral to meeting with the lawyer to being on the verge of filing for probate.

My Honey's dad never threw anything out. This has been a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, he was far more organized than I ever gave him credit for, so we have (so far) been able to locate all the vital documents we've needed to locate, and in a timely manner. We found a will, we found bank statements, we found tax assessments on his two properties, we figured out who his insurance broker was, we (finally!) found the mail's like a scavenger hunt with a partially complete list of items.

I can't help but draw comparisons between My Honey's experience in dealing with his dad's affairs and what mine will be like when the time comes for me and my brother to deal with my mom's. In the majority of ways, the experiences are completely opposite: she's already arranged and paid for her cremation; she has organized her finances down to the last minute detail; I know who her lawyer and accountant are; we don't have to dispose of any assets because her husband will continue to live in the house. By contrast, My Honey has to make some very important decisions about what to do with the two houses he now owns in a northern Ontario city several thousand kilometers from his current residence.

One thing these two people will have in common in death is that they will have touched the lives of countless people in ways one only learns about after their passing. Hearing the stories this week about My Honey's dad has been wonderful and insightful. You know a person usually only in one or two slices of their life--when they die you get the opportunity to connect with people from the other slices and see that person in a whole new way. This is what I look forward to when my mom has gone--hearing people's stories about her and knowing that she had an impact on so many people in such a diversity of ways.

My grieving process for my mom started 3 years ago; My Honey's started 7 days ago. In spite of this, his strength and desire to do what was right for his dad have humbled and impressed me. I am also impressed by his family and how they have deferred to him on nearly every decision and gave him the support he needed without hijacking the proceeding to pursue their own agendas or further the strife that has existed within the family for the last several years. Again, I didn't give enough credit.

My Honey has a monumental task ahead of him, and I hope and plan to be there for him every step of the way. I have the utmost confidence in him and his ability to make the right decisions for himself because he knows who he is and what he needs and wants to get out of this tragedy. He said to me the other day, "When you have a child the only certainty is that there will be one of two outcomes--either he will mourn you or you will mourn him." In some respects, I think My Honey has been preparing for this his whole life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gloria's Story

Please click on this link and read this article about my Mom, written by her family doctor. The article also includes a letter my Mom wrote to the local paper about Hospice Huntsville and their plan to build a palliative home in Huntsville.
I'm so thankful to Dr. Trenholm and David Harris at Huntsville Online for helping to tell my Mom's story. Her story is an important one, not because it is unique but because it is so heartbreakingly common.

I am so proud of my Mother and her indomitable spirit. I cherish these last few weeks we have together and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to walk by her side on her final journey. It has been a wonderful gift for all of us.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tinsletown Comes to Our Town

A very unexpected thing is happening in my parent's town--"The Fonz" is filming a movie. That's right, just down the street from their house Henry Winkler is chewing the scenery along with Graham Greene some guy named DJ Qualls whom I've never heard of but is apparently pretty famous. The town is obviously excited and the shoot is attracting large (by small town standards) crowds who are hoping to catch a glimpse of our favourite, cuddly little rebel.

But the story doesn't end there--a little over a month ago, my parents were approached by the production company to use their house as a main location for the shoot. The woman (whose name escapes me at the moment) fed them some line about how the director/writer grew up in a house just like theirs,* that they loved what they've done with the landscaping, yadda yadda yadda. Long story short, turns out they were only going to offer my parents $200 for what could have been multiple days of shooting which could have resulted in untold damage to the property and premises. Now, we may be small town, but we're not stupid. Despite initial excitement, the $200 up for grabs just didn't justify the potential disaster this could have become.

Don't worry! Our failure to cooperate in no way disrupted or derailed the filming of what is surely to become a Canadian independent film classic. Amazingly there is another brick bungalow in town that worked in a pinch and I'm sure the film crew is down there as we speak turning that guy's front lawn into mud and hoping to hell that all these hicks in Hicksville will (golly gee!) be honoured to let them drag their Klieg lights and cables all over their hard-earned homes for the princely sum of 200 bucks (which is pretty much all an independent film can afford to pay for a location) and the privilege of basking in the glow of Hollywood glamour.

*This house doesn't belong to either my parents or Thomas Michael, but as you can see it is hardly unique. (My parent's house is prettier though!)