Monday, December 12, 2022

What you don't need in your time of need....

 "When troubles come, they don't come as single spies, they come as in battalions."

So yes, when my husband died, I had to deal with a myriad of tasks in a very short space of time. I had to -

1. Contact a funeral service to deal with his remains and carry out a cremation.

2. I had to write an obituary on a Tuesday and send it to the paper for a Saturday publication.

3. I had to contact relatives and friends.

4. I had to support those in need.

So into this mix was added -

1. An inflated invoice from the funeral home. I was quoted $4,000.00 for the initial services. When I went to retrieve the ashes. The bill was $4,800.00. I refused to pay until they could explain the discrepancy. They wouldn't. I eventually found a government "watchdog" for the funeral industry. I contacted them. They were a little vague. But the next day the funeral home called and said there had been a mistake and I was only to be charged the original quote of $4,000.00.

I didn't need this extra hassle.

2. My son flew out to be with us before his father died. He booked a return flight on Flair Airlines. It was expensive - $800.00 return from Calgary - because it was short notice. When it was time for my son to return, I drove him to the airport. It was Covid, so you just dropped off. I came home. My son called. "Come and get me. They won't let me board the flight." Although he had the two pieces of government issued identification that was required, he didn't have a passport. (Remember, they flew him to Toronto.) Flair refused to let him board and the attendant rolled her eyes when he said he was here for his father's funeral - NEVER FLY with FLAIR.

I returned to the airport. Picked him up and we booked a flight on Westjet two days later. Again, I didn't need this extra grief.

Most of the other settlements went fairly smoothly. My husband had had his affairs in order.

3. However, I didn't need the furnace to stop working 3 days before Christmas and for all the usual companies I called to be unavailable until January. I used a new company. They told me I needed a new furnace - mine was too old and they didn't have the parts. I said fine. I'll pay you for the service call and you can leave. They hesitated. Well, maybe if they called the office they might have the part. Of course they had the part, but it still cost $800.00 to fix the furnace.

I'll spare you the "wish this hadn't happened," complications, such as, a few car problems, son working Christmas eve, when I would have liked him home, odds and ends of extraneous costs, duties, WTF government requirements. Really when do you have time to cry!

By March, I think that my war with that pesky enemy, fate, was coming to a close. I had battalions of my own to counter the ones it had sent. I had the support of a strong extended family, wonderful friends and a personal resolve to make the best of a difficult situation and to remember my husband in the way he would have wanted - quietly without a lot of fuss...... I only raised my voice once.

The picture - some things never die - Peace, Truth and Beauty, come to mind. There are others, I know. They may hide for a while, but suddenly, in one spectacular moment, they appear and take us out of ourselves, reminding us that "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower," also gives us the strength to endure!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Friday, December 09, 2022

What went wrong.....

 Now, that I have written of my husband's passing, I can now write about all the mis-steps along the way. There was:

First, the complications of Covid that delayed appointments from March until May. In fact, it wasn't until July 8, 2021 that he received his Cancer diagnosis, a full 4 months after the onset of the symptoms. Once identified, though, he was slotted into a treatment schedule quite quickly. Radiation and chemo. started in August. His surgery was set for mid-November and fortunately, it wasn't cancelled or delayed because of anyone along the way getting Covid.

Secondly, although, as I said in my last post, the surgery was a success, there was some spread to lymph nodes. We just had to wait it out. A growth was removed from his chest cavity in April and he complained of a sore leg in May. This is where the medical staff dropped the ball.

    a. The growth was Sarcoma, a cancer that usually starts in the arms or the legs. (Think Terry Fox)

    b. No one checked these areas and when he complained of pain in his leg, he was sent to his family doctor, because no one at the hospital thought it was Cancer related.


    c. Our family doctor sent my husband for X-rays. They identified and area of concern. We took the disk immediately to the hospital. They couldn't read it. They did their own scan a week later and couldn't find anything. It was only when he had his CATscan that they identified Cancer in his leg that was so advanced, he had to have another operation to insert a Titanium rod into his thigh to stop the leg from breaking.

    d. We knew in September 2021 that his Cancer was resistant to chemo and radiation, so I am sure any earlier intervention would not have stopped the spread, but it would have given us a little more confidence in the medical community looking after him, had they taken the time to look a little further, when things "cropped up."

    e. My husband was also the victim of staff changes. Both his chemo doctor and his radiation therapist abruptly left their positions at the hospital to be replaced by people who had not followed my husband's case from the beginning. Never a good situation.

Finally, it's important for me to record these events, as a reminder of the struggle my husband went through. Although it is hard for me, now, to revisit that time, it was devastating for him, then, to accept death. 

Carpe diem.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Let there be light.....

Our writing word this time is "light." It's the word I have given, mainly because at this time of year, I need light!! I know we collectively, do a wonderful job of creating light in our winter darkness. We decorate our houses, our trees, our pathways, with a myriad of sparkling colours, to give us a "lift."

We light candles indoors. We illuminate a Christmas tree or a menorah. We add glitter to cards, cookies, candies, again anything to brighten the day. We gild with paint, threads and sugar. We sparkle in fabric, yarn and beads. We shine where we can, with what we have.

The sun beams through my window at a 45ยบ angle. I shift my work. I don't complain, because it is the sun. Its precious hours to shine are reduced by 6 or 7.  I count the days to December 21, my favourite day. It's the winter solstice, the day when the sun begins its journey back to the Tropic of Cancer.

I love to measure life in these grand and ancient parameters. It reminds me that, although I am merely a grain of sand in the huge hourglass of Time, I am still part of something ethereal, something eternal, something greater than the whole composition of the earth and its galaxy.

However, in spite of my need for sunlight, I do enjoy starlight. I look for Orion in the south sky in March. Finding the Big Dipper and Polaris ironically is always grounding. In another time I might have been a navigator. My father collected sextants and various other navigational tools. These might have been my search lights.

I remember once, years ago, going to a presentation at the now defunct planetarium in Toronto. The subject was the Christmas Star. I went with my son, who was about 3 or 4 at the time. It was a gorgeous explanation of the heavens and the position of the various constellations, at the time historians suggest was the first Christmas. It was astronomy, astrology and a little magic all rolled into one.

Looking for light in all that is good in this world is one way out of the darkness. I so often don't do this. Hampered by a limited mindset, I often fail to see what is truly precious and enlightening. I need to switch on my high beams and find the brilliance that is hiding in plain sight (light).

Have enlightening day!

Sunday, December 04, 2022


.....our word today is "scale." It's a word that my writing partner has chosen for our writing challenge. Well, this, for me, will be a challenge indeed. Yes, it's a simple word, but the scale, that physical measuring device, was the single most import element in my life from March 2020 to October 2021.

It has taken me a while to write of my husband's passing, but for this weblog to be a truly comprehensive diary, I must write about the very sad things too. It's been a year now and many "things" have been put to rest. His memory never will be.

My husband died of Esophageal Cancer. The onset of the disease is the inability to swallow, to consume food. We did our best with soups and puree´s but there was a steady weight loss. We monitored it daily. Prior to his operation he had a month of radiation and chemotherapy. The pain of the radiation made it almost impossible to eat. We persevered and he weighted himself every morning. He continued to lose weight.

I knew he would have to have enough stamina to endure an eight hour operation, so I pleaded with the hospital to intervene, when he dropped below 90lbs. Fortunately, they did. He was fed intravenously for several weeks and gained 10lbs. The operation was a success. However, removing the lower esophagus and connecting the stomach to the upper esophagus meant that although he could eat now painlessly, he never felt hungry. He had to force himself to eat.

I tried my best. I added powdered supplements, where I could. I cooked foods rich in carbohydrates, fats, anything that would put on weight. He recorded his weight daily. The scale was a testament to our success or not, as the case may be.

Unfortunately, although the operation itself, was a success, the Cancer had progressed. When the obvious was evident, he said, "If I'm going to die, I will give up the one thing I hate doing the most. I am going to stop eating."

This was from a person, who loved food. It was his entertainment. He read every restaurant review he came across. He subscribed to Toronto Life for the restaurant recommendations. We went often to lovely places and ate exquisite food. We travelled to countries known for their interesting cuisine. We spent Februaries in Spain and went to the markets daily, more for the fun of it, than for the actual need. Even now, that he has gone, we still sit around the table, when we get together as a family, and talk "food."

Although, a year has passed, I still use our scale every day. It reminds me of that daily challenge. Some people begin their day with a coffee, a prayer, a something..... We began it by "weighing in." It was a moment in time, when we held our breath and hoped for a pound or even an ounce or two, that I need to reenact. 

Yes, I have scaled things down to their basics. I sympathize with the Librans, my son is one. Their symbol is the scale. They are always struggling to be in balance. My husband was a Taurus, an earth sign. To me he was the earth; he was my rock. I now must scale the challenges of life on my own.

There seems to be an incredible irony in all of this. Somehow, what you love the most can come back to haunt you, and maybe even destroy you. Still we must put everything in perspective, into scale. Death is a fact of life. I celebrate the fact that he had over 70 years of it - life, that is, and he had a wonderful one!

The pictures - pasta with clams at home, eggs meurette in Paris, beer in Barcelona.

Enjoy your day!