Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Missing Joe - 10 Years On

It was 10 years ago this week that we said good bye to Mark's dad, Joe Collis.  He wasn't a Joseph (despite my dad really wanting to call him Joseph!), he was "just Joe." He used to his joke that his parents couldn't afford to give him a middle name.

JoeI met Joe the week after he had buried his lovely wife Ida.  He was pretty much shattered by her death.  Joe's body was beaten up from the many months of taking care of his Ida while ALS ravaged her body.  That first time I met Joe, he was pretty frail and still in shock over Ida's death.  I was pretty nervous about meeting him, not just because he was Mark's dad but because the meeting was happening so soon after the death of his wife. Mark's niece and nephew were there (we met for dinner) and that helped break the ice and put us all at ease.  About half way through dinner, Joe leaned toward Mark and loudly whispered, "I don't think she's Jewish."  I smiled and pretended not to hear.  Mark just glared at his dad and then we both laughed.

Even though I was a shiksa, Joe accepted me and we developed a friendship.  He allowed me into his life and accepted that I was in love with his son and was probably going to be around for a while. 

When we opened our restaurant in Kingston, named "Ida's Kitchen" to honour his bride, he was thrilled.  We even had Ida's Kitchen business cards made up for him (her face was our logo).  Joe and I had long conversations in the years that followed about their love story (Ida was 16 when they married and they needed a special document signed by her parents to give them permission to marry)  and their wonderful life together (winters spent in Florida, summers in Belle Ewart, cruises, trips, every day things...).  He never got over her death and I know he believed that they'd be reunited when he passed away.  I don't believe that but I'm so glad that he took comfort from that idea.  After almost 60 years of marriage, he hung around for another 7 without her.

About 2 years after Mark had moved to Kingston, Joe decided to make the move too.  We were really happy to have him close by.  Mark and I wanted to be able to help him out and keep an eye on him.  Looking back, I'm so grateful that we had those years together with Joe in Kingston.  I really got to know him and love him.  Mark and Joe always had a tense relationship (Mark was much closer to Ida than he'd been to Joe) but I know that they both loved each other even if they didn't like to talk about stuff like that.

I miss Joe a lot.  There have been so many times over the years when I have thought, "boy Joe would love that!" and I have to remind myself that he's not here.  It makes me really sad to think that Joe and Ida and now, both of their sons are all gone now.  10 years is a long time.  It's longer than I even knew Joe. He really was one of the good guys and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is missing him and remembering him this week. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

hiatus and a new year

Wow.

So, I guess I took a hiatus.

It wasn't planned, it just happened.  In many ways, August was really awesome and it totally sucked at the same time.

I had three weeks of "stay-cation" in August.  I spent time with people I love.  I laughed, a lot.  I cried a shit load (mostly for a couple of days in mid-August).  I enjoyed good music.  I floated in a big ass swimming pool on multiple occasions.  Had a couple of small solo road trips (the adjustment of being the pilot after so many years of being the navigator is easier than I thought it might be).

I realized that going forward, the actual day Mark died is not the one that is going to gut me but the day before he died.  That last day we had together.  I relived every second of that day in my mind again this year.  It felt like it was all happening to me again.  I hated that.  A few days later I was okay but boy, at the time, it was hard to see the forest for the fucking trees.

Tweed Fam JamA couple of days earlier, I'd spent a deliciously cool (temperature and otherwise) and soggy day with some of my cousins in Smiths Falls.  We attended the "Front Lawn Shindig" that had been hosted by the wonderful folks at Tweed.  We sat in our lawn chairs, huddled under umbrellas while a desperately needed rain fell on us.  Soaked to the skin but smiling, we listened to music and laughed and just enjoyed being together.  It was a fantastic day.  I got to see all of my "Forbes" aunts and uncles and a good number of cousins and my brother was even there for a bit.  Family.  Mine is the best.  They are the shit I tell you.  Love love love them! Oh, and the Joel Plaskett Emergency were awesome too (thanks to my sweet cousin Kelly for the fab photo of us).

And now it's September.  Frosh week is folded up and put away for another year. Students are in class (and in the stores and bars and coffee shops).  We've seen the long awaited return of cool nights and sunny warm days.  I love this time of the year.  I'm having fun and I can go for several days now without having a little cry.  Progress is a beautiful thing.

January is officially the new year but I feel like my new year begins in September.  So far it's off to a great start.  Chaos may swirl around me but I don't get pulled into it anymore.  I'm not sweating the small stuff.  I'm fresh out of fucks to give about things that really, at the end of the day, don't matter.  As Joel Plaskett says, everything'll work out fine.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

11 Months, John Lennon and Spoiler Alerts

Canadian friends, if you are not up-to-date on Coronation Street and/or Eastenders, you may want to skip this post until you are!

Over the weekend, on Saturday actually, it was 11 months since Mark died.

11 months.

In less than a month now, he'll be gone a whole year. 

A year. 

365 days. 

8760 hours. 

Almost completely unbelievable.  I see photos of him, and I'm so glad I took so many photos of him, and I think, well that wasn't so long ago.  And really, it feels like 5 minutes and a million years all at the same time since he died.

This past month, I felt a lot better physically and emotionally than I did last month.  I've been really busy over the past few weeks.  When I moved into the house in January, I left a lot of stuff in the two spare bedrooms and knew that eventually I would get around to sorting them out.  Well the time for sorting, or at least organizing the piles, finally arrived.  I found a roommate, someone to rent out the extra space I wasn't using.  This meant a lot of boxes needed to be either unpacked or moved to the the basement.  A good number were unpacked, some were moved to the basement and a whole pile of stuff was removed from the basement and shed and carted away by a junk dude.

It felt good to start the purge.  While there is still so much to do, I've made a really good start on it all.  The activity was probably good for me too. The distraction of it.

Looking back to last month again, I felt physically ill and emotionally drained around the monthly marker of Mark's death.  This month, that didn't happen but I had a couple of really sad moments over the weekend.

This is where the spoiler alerts kick in - if you're a fan of Corrie or Eastenders and are not up to date with the UK broadcast dates, stop reading now!!

Kylie and David

I knew that Paula Lane was leaving Corrie.  I didn't actually care.  I have never really liked her, well I'm sure she's a truly lovely girl, I didn't like the Kylie character.  No amount of late-breaking redemption was going to change that.  David I've never ever liked.  I'm not supposed to, I know that.  The two of them together just grated on me.  I had read that there was a plan in the works to kill off poor Kylie, I just didn't know it was going to happen on Friday.  I certainly didn't expect to happen in a quick(ish) and violent way.

I sat in front of the TV with the dogs, shocked when I realized that the end was close.  As she lay on the cobbles, in front of the Rover's Return, struggling to breathe while she bled to death (from a stab wound in her chest), she had an opportunity to tell David all of those things that you hope you'll get to say to your loved ones before you die.  Now, after losing Mark last year, I know better than to wait until I'm on my deathbed to tell the people I love exactly how I feel about them.  I tell them all of the time now.  You don't always get an opportunity for a dramatic bedside goodbye.  I know we didn't. 

Watching the scene triggered something inside of me and I started to weep.  I cried hard.  A fucking ugly cry.  I didn't realize I was doing it until Gracie started scratching at my leg but I was actually wailing out loud.  At one point, after the paramedics arrive and pronounce her as well and truly gone, the camera pans over her face and they have one of those plastic breathing tube things in her mouth.  That took me immediately back to the emergency room, Mark had one of those in his mouth when they let me in to see him after he had died.   Watching how calm David was as he walked away from Kylie's body, reminded me so clearly of how numb I felt... of how calmly I walked away from Mark's body and out of the hospital.  You are in shock, I know that your body does that to protect your brain from just exploding.  The whole scene was really well done and after the episode was over,  I had a horrible headache and felt completely spent, drained, cried out. Gah.  Television is supposed be an escape, right?

Phil Mitchell

For those of you who watch Eastenders, you'll know that they recently killed off beloved landlady and Mitchell Family Matriarch, Peggy Mitchell.  Phil came back to the square for the funeral, looking jaundiced and frail.  His liver is failing and the research that they have done on what that looks like is spot on.  It has been increasingly difficult for me to watch Steve McFadden sit, crumpled on the sofa, holding tissues to his face while his nose bleeds.  Mark suffered with horrible nosebleeds during the last few days of his life.  I know now that it was caused by his liver shutting down but at the time we thought (and were told) that it was a side effect from the steroids he had been taking to try to help him feel better before he started chemo up again.  Again, watching this made me cry.  Not as hard or as ugly as when Kylie died but it was really hard to watch it.  It just seemed unfair that my attempt to clear my head and escape for a little while, just bit me in the ass, hard.

John Lennon

Everyone who knew Mark also knew that one of his heroes was John Lennon.  Since Mark died, I've had a really difficult time to listening to John or the Beatles. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't and until just this weekend, there were certain songs I couldn't hear.  They just reminded me too much of Mark.  I had this old playlist I was listening to on the weekend.  It was something I hadn't listened to in a long time.  In the middle of it, was a chunk of John songs. 

Mother came on, I listened to it, didn't cry.

Isolation started up, I let it go and got through the whole thing.

Working Class Hero, God.... Gimme Some Truth, was able to listen to each song, in it's entirety and not have to flick it off or grab a bunch of Kleenex.  This was huge to me, massive.  It felt really good to be able to enjoy the music and think about how much Mark loved those songs and just be peaceful, not sad. 

That is progress my friends.  I've learned that baby steps will get you where you need to go, it just may take you a little longer to arrive.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

self preservation

I made a conscious decision a few months ago to actively avoid the news (when possible) on the weekends.

I felt like it would be better for my mind and my soul if I allowed myself a break from bad news.  More often than not lately, the news isn't only bad, it's heartbreakingly sad.  I frequently find myself at a loss for words, incapable of understanding the gruesome hatred that boils inside of people. 

I don't understand how someone can drive a truck into a crowd of merry-makers on a joyous national holiday.

I don't understand why the police in the US can't stop murdering black men (and women).

I don't understand why in this day and age, women still feel unsafe going places alone... why we still are so hyper-aware of our surroundings at all times and need to be super vigilant about protecting ourselves.

I don't understand why evangelical christians in the US (or elsewhere) think that they have any right to tell any woman or girl what she can or can't do with her body.

I don't understand how Canadians can feel so smug about how we treat each other (compared to what's happening in the US) when we have historically, and systemically treated our indigenous peoples as "less than"

I don't understand how in some places, it's perfectly okay for a father to sell his pre-teen daughter into marriage to an old man for a few cows.

I don't understand what has happened to the political system in the US ...is it going to eat itself? what will happen to us if a reality star actually gets elected President?

I'm fairly well read, moderately intelligent and I cannot for the life of me figure out any reasonable answer to any of these questions.  Sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself and make sure that it's not a dream or a weird movie. 

When I'm on my self-imposed bad-news sabbatical, I listen to music and send silly messages to friends on snapchat.  I read things that are enlightening and I hang out with my dogs.  The break allows me a bit of perspective and reminds me that all is not bad in the world.  It's just really easy to forget about the good things when you're bombarded with bad news all of the time.

If you're looking to start a little soundtrack for your own little news sabbatical, I can suggest including some Camera Obscura.  I have been revisiting them recently and full on binged out last week.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

roomies

New buddies. Sam is slowly warming up to his new roomie. #dogstagram #eskie #shitzu #americaneskimodogSo Sam and Gracie and I have a couple of new roomies. 

One of the roommates is Kealey.  He's an 11 month old shitzu puppy.  Sam is very very slowly starting to adjust/warm up to Kealey.  Gracie so far is being cautious. 

Puppies have a lot of energy.  Sam and Gracie will both be turning 9 next month. They are not quite seniors yet but I can see it's going to take them a little while to get used to having someone who just wants to play, around all of the time.

It's actually pretty adorable to watch Kealey. He follows Sam around and wants to be everywhere Sam is.  Sam is not too thrilled about it but he's getting used to it.  When Sam growls at Kealey, Kealey mimics it back to Sam.  Pretty sure Sam thinks that Kealey is being a smart ass but I think he should be flattered!! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all, right?

He's going to have to, I don't think Kealey will be going anywhere for a good long while.