My last bitchin', whining, angry, post, but necessary

After some ten years today my long lost brother, Kevin James Jones, surfaced on Facebook Messenger under his new wife's name, Kikiandkyle Siallagan, because he doesn't have Facebook. They live in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. The reason for this venting post is because in his short message he had the unbelievable gall to say "I forgive you". I saw red. For what? So this is going to be a little history on my dear brother to see if anyone agrees that I needed to be forgiven for anything. My opinion? Fat chance.

Let's start way back years ago when he came to Ontario and was living in a room in our basement, for free. He connived me into believing that he needed a motorcycle for his new job and he couldn't get credit so he asked me to cosign for him, which stupidly I did, much against my wife's objections. Sure enough, he took off with the bike and left me holding the loan. We had just bought the house and still had bridge financing on our old house, so things were tough enough. Now I had to pay off his loan or my triple-A credit rating would be toast. Luckily we had a great manager at BMO at the time and he let me pay it off over time. I don't think my wife ever forgave me for trusting him though.

Didn't hear from him for years again, I guess because he didn't need me for money. Then at one o'clock in the morning, we get a phone call from him telling me he's been detained by customs at the airport in Toronto after returning from Jamaica. To be blunt and a little gross, they're basically waiting for him to shit because they suspect he's swallowed bags of cocaine. He had. How stupid can you get? I had to post bail for him and find him a lawyer. He was facing ten years in maximum security prison for trafficking. Luckily I had a very good lawyer who managed to get him off with an unbelievable six months in a minimum security facility in Milton, Ontario.

If swallowing cocaine isn't stupid enough he was a registered nurse at a facility in Red Deer. Of course the minute he was convicted he could no longer handle any drugs at the facility, basically ending his career. We visited him pretty well every weekend unless my son or daughter had sports. All he did was bitch about the cost of the lawyer, never once being thankful that my lawyer saved him from ten years in the slammer. I can't remember but I think we also got stuck with the bill.

I believe it was on our first trip out west to go dirt-biking that I met his dream girl, Joanne. She was the sweetest thing I'd ever met and he was so lucky to have her. He crashed his bike and nearly killed her, leaving her disabled and barely able to walk. After about eight years together he had worked on a small mobile home park, adding some decks and fixing up the place. I still remember going up to Revelstoke to help him with the decks and him screaming at me for using two screws to fasten the deck boards. He wanted me to just put one in the middle. I warned him that the boards would warp with only one screw but he insisted. When I went up the next spring, sure enough, all the boards were warped. He's the cheapest person I've ever met.

Next thing he shows up at my parent's place while they were south for the winter. He's crying. Joanne had given him a choice, either the drugs or her and he chose the drugs. Such a dumb move! They weren't married so we start talking about their split and what each of them will get as far as the house and the mobile home park. This is when I learn he hasn't got a thing in writing and he doesn't even have a chequing account! Joanne handled all of their business, of course. Knowing her father I knew he was going to transfer ownership of the house and the park immediately so Kevin wouldn't get a dime. I made arrangements with a good lawyer I knew and she managed to get an injunction on the park within twenty-four hours, just because she knew the judge, stopping any transfer of ownership.

My lawyer did an incredible job and managed to get him over a hundred thousand dollars, every dollar of which he would not have gotten without her. Instead of kissing the ground she walked on all he did was bitch about how much she charged. You just can't win with him.

Now that he's basically moved in with me, while I pay the rent, of course, he does everything possible to make my life miserable. Every night of the week he brings some floozy home with him to screw and I get to meet them in the morning. I did get some payback though because the day my parents were coming back I didn't tell him. My Mum and Dad get home only to meet that night's floozy. They weren't impressed and Kevin was gone. My mother was horrified that he had left Joanne.

So now he turns to what to do with all that money. Naturally, he asks me. He had his eye on a daycare in Kelowna and wanted me to check it out with him. Of course, he didn't have a clue how to negotiate a deal, how to get a mortgage and how to get a license to operate the daycare when he had a criminal record. I worked my butt off to get him the daycare. He had such bad credit that I had to cosign for the mortgage. Big mistake!

The daycare was in pretty rough shape, physically and financially. Most of the clients were single mothers whose fees were paid by welfare. The records were in such a mess, with many mothers months overdue in paying or months late in even applying for assistance. It took me hours to sort it all out and I had to be tough telling delinquent mothers that they had until next month or their kids were out. Every single one of them did what they needed to do long ago and we didn't lose a single child. No thanks to Kevin. I had to fire some staff and hire new and we ended up with a good caring crew. I reorganized every procedure and got the financials sorted out. I also dealt with a new bank and got everything in place for things like payroll. It was a ton of work.

Sometimes his stupidity knows no bounds. I needed him one day and asked where he was. One of the girls said she saw him go outside and around the side of the building. I went looking for him and just before getting to the storage shed I smelled the odor I knew too well. I burst open the door and here he is toking in the storage shed! I lost it on him asking him what would happen if one parent smelled the weed? He would lose his license in a heartbeat. Stupid.

He was heading back overseas for his import business so I put together a very fair proposal for us to run the daycare together. Don't forget I had already put in a ton of hours over six months getting the books sorted out, the payments coming in and doing renovations to the house, all without a dime. I told him we needed to discuss the deal and he had to sign before he left. Not only did he not sign the deal but he offered the same deal to my girlfriend at the time, Tracy, totally bypassing me! Around this time she had started working with me as the Manager and was doing a great job, especially with the staff and the parents, not to mention the kids who all adored her. What he did drove a wedge in our relationship and we ended up splitting up. More Kevin damage.

Financially things were always tight. Sometimes we just barely managed to pay for something critical, such as food for the kids. Payroll was always a huge concern because you have to pay your staff or they will leave. Coming up to payday I watched every penny in the bank account to make sure we had enough. The day before payday I check the bank as usual and I'm shocked to see a five thousand dollar withdrawal by Kevin in Thailand! There goes payroll. Panic phone calls to Kevin about why the hell he would do that, the result of which he just agreed we needed to shut down the daycare. Throw the staff out without their pay and leave all our clients with no daycare on Monday. And guess who got to give the staff the news and stand at the closed door Monday morning to face all these very angry women. It was not fun. The fallout was obvious. I spent the morning trying to find everyone other daycare which was tough, mostly because a lot of our clients were on welfare. It was pure hell, all of which Kevin totally avoided.

The whole time I worked so hard trying to build the daycare I faced guilt by association with everyone I dealt with because of what Kevin had done to them. He burned the bank. He burned our private mortgage holder. He burned the mortgage company. Every person I spoke with said they better not catch him walking down the street or they would kill him. It was so enjoyable trying to get them to calm down and deal with me instead. Not.

Over the years I hadn't spent much time with his then-wife, Susan. She was very quiet but seemed sharp when it came to their import business, which Kevin always just referred to as "junk". Then came the pièce de résistance. He had got a girl pregnant in Thailand, which was bad enough, but he expected he could bring her and the baby to Canada and Susan would look after them! How stupid can you get? Her reaction? She immediately seized all their inventory and got an injunction against him, basically kicking him out of the business. I doubt she ever spoke to him again. Don't blame her.

Wait! There's more. After my Dad had passed away and he was back in Thailand he called me to say he needed money right away or these thugs were going to kill him. I explained that my father's estate was my Mum's money now and, although I was the executor, there would be no inheritance until my mother also died. That wasn't good enough for him. He had to have money NOW! Much against my better judgment, partly because my Mum was too far gone, thanks to my sister, to have a clue what he was asking, I sent him ten thousand dollars. I admit I was so tempted to refuse the money so they would kill him.

If you've read this far, good for you. Now that you know the history do you think I need forgiveness for anything?

My beautiful granddaughter, Mackenzie.

Mackenzie just sent me some photos to post. I was so thrilled when she connected with me on Facebook Messenger. She was very upset that her parents had told I was dead and didn't let her make her own decision whether to talk to me. We had some great chats and she told me she was coming to Mexico for a wedding in May. She was going to let me know where and when and I was praying that I could afford to go and meet her. That was several months ago but she has stopped talking to me. I have no idea why. She is the only one in the family who ever connected with me so it's very upsetting that she stopped. I have sent several messages her why she stopped talking to me but no response. I even sent one about the virus saying that I am in the high risk group, have diabetes and I'm a smoker, so that's three strikes. If i got the virus it could well be the end of me so I hoped that she would talk to me before I go. Nothing. 

Granddaughter Mackenzie

My beautiful granddaughter, Mackenzie
Mackenzie Too Cutee

Family can drive a knife in your heart

Anyone who has been following me knows the troubles I have had with my family. It's been twenty-five years since my wonderful daughter, Heather, cut me off with no explanation as to why. My son, Chris, did the same until we reconnected back in 2007. At the time we spoke for eight hours catching up on things, a phone call that cost me an unbelievable four hundred dollars in long distance. Part of the conversation involved some trouble he was in and I promised to help him however I could. I spent the better part of the next week researching the issues and developing a plan for him. When I had not heard back from him I asked his daughter, Dani, who I had been chatting with online, what was up. She told me that my ex had given my son such a hard time for talking to me that he had gone back to cutting me off.  It was also the last time I heard from her as well.

Of my five grand children Dani was the only one I had ever met and that was way back in 1994 when I drove down from BC to meet with my daughter. My ex's new husband and her hid Heather away and would not let me see her even though I had spoken to Heather on the phone and made the plans to come down to see her. It broke my heart. I stayed with Chris for three weeks hoping that I could get to see Heather, but no luck. I did get to hold their new baby, Dani. At the tme, of course, I didn't know that Dani was going to be the only grandchild I would ever meet.

Fast forward far too many years. I reconnected with Chris in London when he was videotaping a dance company he worked for. It was around his birthday in March so I got him a blow-up framed photo of our days dirt-biking in Revelstoke as a gift. Although it was a ridiculously short meeting, basically a quick lunch at Tim Horton's, we did make a plan to meet in the summer, possibly in Kincardine where my niece lived because Chris said he and the kids went up there quite often. Months passed and I heard nothing from him which really upset me because I was really looking forward to meeting my grand kids. I sent him a not so friendly message asking if his mother had stopped us meeting and asking if it wasn't time to get out from under her skirt and be a man. He blocked me and I haven't heard from him since. Ten years now.

There hasn't been a day when I haven't missed my kids terribly, especially after both my Mum and Dad passed away, which my kids didn't even know. My parents had never understood why the kids had cut me off so brutally and now they were gone. The hole in my heart got even bigger without them and I so longed to connect with my kids and grand kids, but it seemed hopeless. People I had met over the years in BC never understood why I had no contact with my kids or grand kids and I don't think ever believed me that nothing had happened to justify their actions. A few girlfriends even tried to connect with Heather to help me. Way back in 1994 after they hid Heather away from me I wrote her a multi-page letter about things she didn't know about my marriage and how much I missed her. My Dad had also phoned her from Arizona and left a message with her step-brother to have her call them collect. She never returned the call which baffled my parents. My Dad said he could have been calling her to let her know I had died. Very sad.

When I told one of my girlfriends about the letter I had sent to Heather I mentioned that I had included a cheque for fifty bucks for her to buy a birthday present for herself because I didn't know what she liked in music or clothes. My girlfriend asked me if the cheque was ever cashed. When I checked my bank I discovered the cheque had never been cashed, so I wondered if she had ever got my letter. Knowing what she did about my ex my girlfriend said she never gave it to Heather, which, of course, is illegal and I didn't want to believe she would do that, but nothing else made sense. Then I get the papers telling me that my divorce had been finalized. I didn't even know my ex had filed for divorce. Then I see that the reason was "child abandonment". Seriously? I was so angry. Everyone knew my address and my phone number. I never hid from the public. So why didn't I get a notice from the court that she had filed for divorce? Didn't I have the right to defend myself? I learned she wanted to marry my buddy, Gary, so I guess there was a rush that ended up trampling my rights. I was furious. Just more crap from her that was as bad as she was in our marriage. Selfish. Mean. Cruel. All her. This when I had never told the kids the truth or uttered a single bad word about her. Some thanks.

In the years since I have never stopped trying to get in touch with my kids. Chris had blocked me on Facebook and the phone number he had given me was now someone else's. I focused on Heather who I had learned was now married and living in Burlington. I sent her some messages on Facebook, worried that she would just block me but she didn't, surprisingly. She never responded to anything though. I found a wonderful photo of her on her Facebook page with her kids and added it to my Facebook page saying how proud I was of her. She immediately reported it to  Facebook who threatened to cancel my long standing account if I didn't remove the "unauthorized" photo. I was shocked that she could be that cruel, but she was her mother's child. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, right?

Even in Ecuador I kept trying to connect with anyone. I learned that my other son had connected with Chris and Heather and they were hanging out together. Andrew had apparently helped Chris a lot. Heather didn't appear to be as close, maybe because they lived in Burlington, quite a trip from Toronto where Andrew and his family lived. I still remember seeing a photo of Chris and Andrew together. They looked like twins. I tried to have some kind of relationship with Andrew but he didn't seem interested so I stopped trying.

Thanks to Facebook I had managed to find two of my grand daughters, both from Chris. I wondered many times what they would do if I tried to friend them or contact them. I had to try, right? Yesterday I messaged both of them, hoping they would respond. Well, first I got a message from the eldest. To say it was cruel would be a gross understatement. She wanted nothing to do with me and even threatened me not to try to contact her sisters. It broke my heart. I was so upset  questioning what had I done to deserve this?

Just when I felt like heading for the nearest bridge I got a response from one of my other grand daughters. I can't tell you her name because we are both afraid she will be scolded and forced to block me. She is wonderful. She's angry that we have never met or even spoken. Rightly so she says that she should have been allowed to make her own decision about me. I could not agree more. We're going to keep this our little secret and hopefully talk a lot more. I'm thrilled.

While we're talking about a knife in the heart my son also managed to drive one in deep. If you follow me you know how much of my life I devoted to his hockey, even paying a lawyer for a fake separation agreement and changing my address to Toronto so he could play for a team in Scarborough. I couldn't even answer my own phone at home in case it was the Brampton Minor Hockey Association. Add the thousands of miles to hockey tournaments, all over the country and the US, the hotel and food bills, not to mention the expensive hockey equipment like skates and sticks, I gave up ten years of my life to his hockey. Although he was scouted by MIT and offered a full scholarship when he was only twelve, he was too young to sign at the time. After being signed to a Junior B team, the Streetsville Derbys, he quit hockey. Of course ten years later he blamed me for "letting" him quit. I told him I wasn't the one putting the skates on.

Just after we had reconnected in London and after I sent him the not-so-nice message he replied telling me that Gary, my ex's new husband, was his "real father". I sobbed uncontrollably that he could even say that after every thing I had done for him as his father. Again, a broken heart. He pushed me right to the edge.

Why ever do family do these things to each other? We only have one family and should never forget that. My family have, well, with one wonderful exception.



Family - Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister

Cover of an NDP brochure
At Ontario Place

Well, this is a post I've been musing about for years now. I said that this site was mostly for my kids and I would add, grandkids as well, I guess although they all think that I am dead. For someone like me who believes so strongly in the value of family it's been very tough to end up like this. My birth family was like most people I think, and only kind of fell apart when my parents decided to move out West back in 1970. My brother and sister were young, but we had shared a lot of good times at the farm in Streetsville, mostly because we were in the middle of nowhere and only had each other to play with. I came "this close" to moving out West with them but I met my future wife and stayed in Brampton. That didn't work out all that well but I didn't know that at the time. I was truly in love and figured I would be married for the rest of my life. Didn't happen.

At Ontario Place

My Dad was a tough disciplinarian who believed in that adage, "spare the rod, spoil the child" meaning that if you don't discipline you will end up with spoiled brats. Despite how often I felt the pain of the strap I begrudgingly admit that my Dad was right. You need to learn that screwing up has consequences. My dumbest move has to be actually giving him an answer when he asked me, rhetorically, of course, "how many times do I need to tell you?" That one was particularly painful. Although my father was a very strict guy he failed to balance it off with any love. Not until he had had a complete nervous breakdown years after moving out West and I had moved out West to be with my mum for the years she might have left did he actually tell me he loved me. I had also never seen him cry until the day he got the phone call from the hospital telling him that my Mum's cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes and she might live a little longer than expected originally. He fell apart crying like a baby at the news. It was a very emotional moment for all of us. Speaking of which he gave me the most emotional moment in my life when he died.

The day went like many others. I was at their place helping Dad and he had been bugging me all day to help move the boat anchor. The water level rose in the spring so the anchor, which was tied to a tire, had to be moved out for the boat to be anchored to it. Although it was late May, the water was still pretty cold so I was in no rush to move the anchor this particular day. Dad had been drinking all day as usual so he just kept bugging me to do it and I finally gave in. He got the tools and we headed out to the anchor. Although I had my wetsuit on I didn't have my contacts so I left my glasses on the beach table, knowing that I could see well enough to work on the tire. As I was working on it Dad suddenly said he couldn't do it anymore and was going to head in, which was fine with me because I really didn't need him. I knew he was not that strong a swimmer and wasn't all that comfortable when the water was over his head, which it actually wasn't because I could touch bottom and so could he, but off he went.

The next thing I know Ans is screaming at me about Dad. I had had the tire up in front of me on an angle that I couldn't see anything and of course I don't have my glasses on so I'm pretty blind anyway. I lowered the tire and I could barely make out my Dad floating in the water. What came next was everybody's worst nightmare - trying to run in the deep water, which you simply can't do. It was like slow motion. As I got closer to him I realized that he was face down. Now my Dad weighs almost two hundred pounds, but somehow, I guess adrenaline, I managed to carry him out of the water and up to the grass, at least thirty or forty feet. I instantly regretted not taking that CPR course offered by the St. John's Ambulance. I hollered at Ans to call 911 then started working on my Dad. I became very frustrated by the fact that every time I turned him on his side to clear water from his throat not a drop came out so I figured I was doing something very wrong. Luckily the EMS crew happened to be on the Westside when the 911 came in and they were there in something like four minutes. Soon as I saw them coming I breathed a sigh of relief thinking that they were going to take over, but the EMS tech said that I was doing fine and to keep going. After about twenty minutes they had a weak pulse but I knew that his brain had been starved of oxygen for too long so he was gone. Tragically he was.


My biggest regret with my Dad was that not three weeks earlier we had had a very bad three hour long argument, mostly about my brother. There were so many things that they never knew about him and I was tired of being compared to him. In their eyes he was a success and I was a failure. The saddest part was that when I told them about some of the horrible things he had done they didn't believe me. Not exactly a great last memory of my Dad.

On to my Mum. There's not a lot I can say about my mother. My last memories of her are all horrible because I cared for her when she had advanced Alzheimer's, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. If she wasn't throwing me out of the house ten times a day she was arguing with me about everything because she couldn't remember squat. I tried to keep her as independent as possible but she just got worse and worse. There would be four bowls in the sink from her breakfast cereal and she would ask if I was ever going to feed her. I was trapped in the house only able to leave twice a week when her caregivers came for four hours so I could run errands and shop for food. It was not a great life. Sad as it is to say I was glad when she finally died because by then she had zero quality of life, thanks mostly to my sister. More later.


Before the ravages of disease my Mum was the proverbial life of the party. She played the piano and the accordion, both by ear, and she could almost play anything you could hum. She was always ready for a party. When I first moved out West to be with her back in 1993 we went to the horse races, bingo, the show and I took her to the casino. She loved to gamble. She handled the cancer scare as good as anyone good. Several months after I started caring for her she told a neighbor, "well, I can't remember shit, but I'm fat and happy", so I figured I was doing my job okay, tough as it was.

One of my fondest pre-Alzheimer's memories of my Mum is when I had a bunch of friends come over for a BBQ, with my parent's consent. I told everyone to go to the small park just down the beach from my parent's place, then walk over. I warned everybody about language, mostly because of the neighbors and to keep the noise down in the house. I took people skiing, tubing and knee-boarding and one time when I came back, primarily to go to the bathroom, I heard the stereo just blasting. I ran up to the house ready to give whoever did this proper hell, only to discover my mum dancing in the middle of the living room and my friends insisted that she had turned the stereo up. That was Mum. I miss her a lot.

On to my brother, Kevin and my sister, Wendy. Many people have asked me why I have nothing to do with them and haven't even spoken to either one of them for many years. Although it's hard to decide exactly who is worse, based on the rotten things they've done, the award goes to my brother. I could write a book on what he's done to me and others, but I'll just give a few examples.

Back when he showed up at our door in Brampton and moved in, much against my wife's wishes, he said he got a job but he needed a motorcycle to get to it. He had no credit and no money so he needed me to sign for a loan for him, which, regrettably, I did. It was with the Bank of Montreal who at the time held our mortgage and was our only bank. Not all that long after he took off back out West, I believe to Red Deer. Of course the bank phoned me when he had missed three payments on the loan demanding the sixteen hundred dollars I had signed for, which was a lot of money way back then. Our credit rating was at risk, not to mention our mortgage, so we somehow managed to pay off his loan. He never even admitted sticking us with the loan, no doubt because he was so involved with drugs at the time he was living with us. I got a huge "I told you so" from my wife.

Years go by with nothing from him, then suddenly we get a call at one o'clock in the morning from him. He's in holding at the airport suspected of smuggling in cocaine. Like a complete idiot he's swallowed bags of cocaine and they are waiting for him to pass them. He's charged with smuggling. I manage to get him a top notch criminal lawyer who tells us he's facing ten years in prison, but through his amazing work he gets him off with six months in Milton. Not great because he was a nurse and now will lose his job because he can't handle drugs anymore. We visit him almost every week until he's released and goes back to Red Deer. The lawyer charges him four thousand dollars which is cheap considering what he was facing, but of course Kevin objects and refuses to pay him. Blow number two.

Out West he shows up at my door crying because his girlfriend at the time, Joanne, had thrown him out because he refused to stop smoking marijuana. He has worked with her on a mobile home park in Revelstoke adding additional homes, building decks and so on, but he has nothing showing his work. He doesn't even have a chequing account. They had been together for some six years but he had left everything up to her. I knew her father would slap something on the mobile home park to cut Kevin out of the deal completely so, again, I found a good lawyer who immediately got an injunction preventing her father from doing anything with the park, which saved Kevin's ass. She eventually managed to get him over a hundred thousand dollars that he did not deserve, despite the fact that he had no proof of anything. Naturally he argued with what the lawyer charged him but at least he paid her this time. With the new found wealth he bought a daycare, although he needed me to sign to get the mortgage.

How he managed to screw up the daycare would make for another novel, but a couple of highlights are me catching him smoking marijuana in the outside storage closet. I just freaked on him asking what would happen to his license if one of the parents caught him? Then he went overseas for his other business and my girlfriend at the time, Tracy, and I worked our butts off getting things sorted out with the daycare and Tracy took on the job as Manager. Before Kevin left to go overseas I had drafted an agreement for us to take over the daycare, one that he agreed to sign before he left, but he didn't. After he came back Tracy came home and said I wouldn't believe what Kevin had said. He had made the same agreement with her as he had promised me, cutting me out of the business completely and not paying me a dime for my six months of work at the daycare. The end was after he took five thousand dollars out of the payroll account, leaving us nothing to pay the staff and we had to close the daycare without notice to anyone. I was the guy at the door explaining to all the moms that we were closed now. No fun.

I mentioned that he was a nurse, so I have to add one more. As I explained earlier, after my Dad died I had no choice but to move in and care for my Mum. My life was over other than when the caregivers gave me a break twice a week. Neither my brother or my sister did a thing to give me any time off or help in any way. I had made arrangements to go out and stay the night with my girlfriend at the time, Sylvia. Kevin and his wife showed up late at around eight o'clock so Sylvia and I were late to the event we were going to. We then got back to her place pretty early in the morning and hit the sack. At around seven o'clock my cell starts ringing over and over and I finally have to answer it. It's Kevin freaking out, telling me I have to come home right away because he can't take dealing with Mum. Okay, she has Alzheimer's, but he's a friggin nurse, but he can't take care of her? Home I go, only to discover that he didn't give her the meds she needs every night, so, of course, she's freaking out, mostly at where the heck am I? Kevin and Susan beat a hasty retreat and that is the only time in all the time I cared for her that Kevin ever offered to help.

There's so much more that I could write about my brother, all of it bad. I honestly can't say a good word about him. Today I don't even know if he is still alive but I don't really care.

On to my darling sister, Wendy. We were apart for more than twenty years but we did reconnect after I moved out West. Although Mum and Dad went south to Yuma every winter I did go up to Revelstoke quite a bit in the winter to go snowmobiling with her hubby, Ron. When Mum and Dad were here we went up a lot on weekends. Played a whole lot of cards and usually had a good time. Dad often helped Ron with things around the house, mostly because Ron was pretty useless. He figured he could fix anything with a good hammer and that was about it. Wendy was a lot like Mum in that she was always ready to party.

After Dad died they would usually come down to take Mum to the casino, which she enjoyed. It was the one thing she could always do pretty well so it just reinforced Wendy's opinion, as had frustrated the hell out of my Dad, that she didn't really have Alzheimer's. Before he died my Dad had encouraged Wendy to watch a video about how to care for someone with Alzheimer's, but she refused. She even refused to speak at his memorial as did my useless brother. Neither one of them helped with anything, leaving everything up to me and my friends. One thing I did forget was to have someone videotape the memorial so we could show it to Mum when she had forgotten everything. I was not going to make the same mistake when we dealt with Dad's ashes. I had been talking to one of their neighbors who had a houseboat that he often took out at night with lights all around. I had explained that it was illegal to put ashes in the lake so we needed to do it quietly and at night and he agreed. I talked to one of my friends who had a video camera and they agreed to come and tape it for Mum so she could remember.

I came home Sunday after a rare night out on Saturday and they left. I was in the shed for something and saw that the urn was gone. I called Wendy and she said that they had got tired of waiting and had disposed of his ashes the night before. She didn't give a damn that I wasn't there. He was my Dad too! So there went the plan to video it for Mum, thanks to my ignorant sister.

The first time she really offered to help with Mum was at Christmas, Mum's first without Dad. I had made plans with Sylvie to have Christmas dinner with her and spend Boxing day with friends. Wendy and Ron were coming down Christmas Eve night and staying for a few days. We decided that we would open gifts on Christmas Eve when Mum was more likely to be okay.

First Wendy calls to tell me that they are coming down two days early so we are going to have our Christmas long before Christmas Eve or Day. I wasn't crazy about that but went along. After they arrived and as we are opening presents on what is clearly not Christmas she says they need to get to bed early because they are leaving for a week in Vegas the next morning. There went my Christmas. I barely got a break from caring for Mum and all my plans were destroyed, all thanks to Wendy.

After Dad died it was decided to take their place off the market, mostly because Mum was dealing with enough without leaving her home. I also wanted to do some much needed renovations to get the place ready to sell anyway. I knew how hard it was to get someone into the scarce care facilities in the Okanagan so I started what became a daily chore of calling people and applying for care anywhere. At this point Mum was classified as I believe a four on a scale to seven as far as her Alzheimer's was concerned. That didn't help me to get any consideration for her as far as getting her into a facility, but I kept at it. One day, just after I got home and one of her caregivers had left, the phone rang. As I came in the door and had picked up the phone Mum started her usual tirade against me, throwing me out yet again among other things. I had no idea who was on the phone and kept trying to answer over Mum's yelling. I finally got her name so I stopped trying to talk. After a few minutes when Mum finally stopped yelling at me I could talk. Laura, the caregiver and the one who had just tested Mum yet again, was blown away by what she heard. She said I must be really struggling being attacked so viciously and being thrown out of the house. I told her no, that I was used to it and Mum had thrown me out at least forty times already. She promised me that she would upgrade Mum's classification to an emergency level to get her into proper care as soon as possible.

Not much changed as far as my usual daily routine of calling anyone and everyone, writing letters and emails, trying to get her in anywhere that could give her the care she so desperately needed. I have to admit that my unwavering patience with things was starting to fade and I was praying for a care facility. At one point I managed to get through to the Director of the Emergency Services, the guy who places people in care facilities. After I explained that Mum had been on emergency status for several months he told me that he had three hundred and fifty people on emergency status and asked what I wanted him to do? I knew that the only hope I had was to keep pestering people and that someone would die somewhere so Mum could get in. Finally I got a call from a facility that was more than qualified to deal with Alzheimer's patients. They told me to bring Mum in but they told me I had to lie to her about where we were going and have no contact with her for a minimum of a week. When we got there I was dismayed by all the bars, fences and security. It looked like a prison but I realized that you can't just let people with Dementia or Alzheimer's wander outside. I left quickly. The next few days were just terrible because Mum would call and leave heart-breaking messages apologizing for being bad and begging me to come and get her. I cried after every message and felt so incredibly guilty. I had listed the house again so I knew she had to stay in the care facility. I started getting calls from the administrator, telling me how well Mum was doing. They had managed to move her to a shared room with a lady she really got along well with. Mum had started participating in some of the activities they had, like art and playing cards. Each day got a little better and I felt less guilty because I knew she was where she needed to be to get the qualified care.

Next thing I know I get a call from the administrator telling me that my sister is there and taking Mum out of the facility. She warns me that if Mum leaves she will go back to the bottom of the list as far getting back in. I talk to Wendy and tell her to tell the administrator that they are just taking Mum up to Revelstoke for a visit and she will be back. I tell her not to take any of Mum's things except a few clothes. She says that Mum does not belong in a horrible place like this and she is taking her to Revelstoke. I remember every single word I said to her, telling her that if she took Mum out of the facility it had taken me months to get her into I would no longer be responsible for Mum's care. Whatever happened would now be entirely on Wendy and she agreed. I knew at the time that she didn't have a clue what she was getting into, mostly because of her denial that Mum even had Alzheimer's.

It so happened that Wendy had told me where she was putting Mum in Revelstoke. I researched it on the internet and first learned that it was an "assisted living" facility, which is not what Mum needed at all. Second I learned that it was for sale, with a note that the residents could be relocated easily. Yeah, right. Next I get a call from the facility telling me that Mum cannot stay there because she is driving them nuts. Her room is on an upper floor and she is constantly hollering at them that she can't change the TV. They go up and discover she is using the phone. Next she's hollering that she can't call Wendy. They go up and she's trying to call using the TV remote. Why Wendy ever gave her the number for the store is beyond me and only shows how clueless she was about Alzheimer's. Mum would never remember that she had called her and would just keep calling. Then I get yet another call telling me that Mum has been found wandering around the streets of Revelstoke in the dead of winter with no coat on. Luckily someone saw her and knew she was Wendy's mum so they took her to the store. The facility had had enough so Mum had to go. Wendy now learned what I had been going through for months so Mum ended up in the hospital.

My friend and I went up to Revelstoke for Mother's Day. When I saw my mother I nearly died. She was just a big head on a scrawny little body, shuffling along like someone a hundred years old. She sat by me at the table and kept asking me who everybody was, sadly including Wendy. It broke my heart and I knew that it was the last time I would ever see my mother. She only got worse when the cancer returned and had spread to her brain. She was eighty-four, far too old for any operation so it was just a matter of time. She died in the fall but I was so upset with my sister that I couldn't even go to the memorial they held for her in Kelowna. I knew that Wendy had killed our mother and I could never forgive her so it was better that I stayed away.

Apparently she sold the business and has moved to Kelowna. I can only hope that if I get back there I never run into her, unless it's with a car.


Memories - my daughter, Heather

Recently found a YouTube video from the Toronto production of the Phantom of the Opera, starring Colm Wilkinson. It reminded me of one of my favorite memories, among many, of taking Heather to see this play many years ago. I forget the exact year but she was either about to apply to Mayfield Secondary School, a renowned school for the arts, or she was already attending there. After all the years focusing on sports, her with soccer and her brother, Chris, with hockey and soccer, we had neglected broadening their education with theater and music. Even way back then I believe it was ninety-eight dollars a ticket, a handsome sum to see a play. That being said, it was worth every penny. It's not hard to understand why this is one of the longest running plays in history. The music, of course, is legendary and I remember going to, I believe, Sam's the Record Man, to buy the album the minute we left the theatre. I loved that Heather and her girlfriends would sit in her room listening to the CD. Never once told her to turn it down.

heather_framed_05Sadly, it's now been more than twenty years since I saw my darling Heather. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. We had such a good relationship and I will never understand what happened. When she and Chris came out west to holiday with me for three weeks she had broken my heart by telling me to stay there. She said they had never seen me happier and they knew my marriage was a disaster. I didn't listen and I came back to Brampton, mostly for her, but that solved nothing. After my mum was diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma and given less than a five percent chance of living more than six months I went out west to spend her last days with her. I really didn't know if I would come back to Ontario, but I thought that Heather would come out to vacation with my parents and my family. My parents loved her so much, as did I. I couldn't stand the thought of life without her, but she was already at the stage where I had to make an appointment with her to see her. I thought everything would be better with me out west away from her mom's clutches, but I was so very wrong.

After talking to her on the phone I traveled across Canada in the dead of winter, taking my life in my hands several times, to see her, only to have my ex and her new husband, my good friend, hide her away and not let me see her. I hung around at my son's for three weeks hoping to see her, but they refused. It killed me and I finally left, driving all the way back to BC with tears in my eyes the whole trip. I don't think I have ever been so unhappy. Even then I didn't believe that I would never see her again. She got married, has had two children, grandchildren I have never met, and never once tried to contact me. One of the greatest regrets of my life by far.

Anyway, here's the video - The Phantom of the Opera



A day that changed my life forever

August 16th, 1969, the day I got married.

How I met my soon to be bride was funny. I was at a house party with my then girlfriend, Bev Jackson when Janice and her friend Lynn came walking down the stairs. At the time I did not know that Lynn had already warned Janice about me, saying I was a "sucker for blondes" and Janice had beautiful long blonde hair.

As soon as I saw Janice I jumped up and went over to her and said, "Hi. I'm Gary. Will you marry me?" She replied by telling me to f*ck off. I told her that we were going to get married and that she might as well accept it now. I don't think I got much further that night. No surprise there. She no doubt thought I was a lunatic.

What I didn't know and never really thought or cared about was that she had a pretty steady boyfriend, Doug. It didn't sound like a great relationship as he was a control freak. She seemed terrified of him which I didn't like. Somehow Janice and I ended up going out somewhere and when we came home to her parent's place Doug came screaming up in his hot car. Janice was just getting out of my car and, true to form, he went for her and not me. Just then her mother came out of the house, sensing trouble, and tried to calm things down. That's when, shocking as it was, Doug split in Janice's face and stormed off. Both her mother and I could not believe he just did that but it was what it was. Pretty demeaning, not to mention gross.

In all honesty Doug was a pretty big boy and, if he couldn't have Janice I figured some day he would go after me. I'm a lover, not a fighter, so I wasn't looking forward to it, but I knew no matter what I would fight for Janice.

We were at a school dance in Bramalea and I was dancing with different girls I knew when all of sudden these arms are flailing away at me trying to punch me. I had no clue who it was but I just tried to keep him bent over towards me so he couldn't get a good shot in. I assumed it was Doug but something wasn't right. When they broke us up and I was outside someone finally told me it was Brent, a friend of mine, who, for some unknown reason, thought I was hitting on his girlfriend, which I wasn't. It was my one and only fist fight and it sure was a weird one.

The fall before I met Janice my parents were planning to sell their place and move to BC, but they couldn't sell and my Dad decided they would wait until the following spring. At the time I was working at the bank and playing in the band, so I doubt I would have gone with them anyway, but the decision became easy after I met Janice. Doug had eventually given up and Janice and I were together. We had a ball doing all kinds of things together and I was in love with her from the moment I first saw her. She got along great with my parents and my family, which was important to me. One thing led to another and she got pregnant. There was never any question about us getting married so the plan was on to get married as quickly as possible.

We got married in what was Streetsville at the time by the Reverend David Busby, who was more known for buzzing around town on his Harley than his sermons. After the pictures we headed to her parent's place, planning on having an outdoor reception, but as we got closer the heavens opened up and it poured rain. We were terrified at the thought of all her Scottish relatives and my English ones being trapped together in the house. No doubt chaos would rein supreme and there was a good chance of a fight or two once they started drinking.

Our fears were for nothing. They all got along famously and didn't seem to care if Janice and I were there or not. My favorite moment was when her cousin Billy fell all the way down the stairs with a case of beer he was carrying and after he landed at the bottom all he asked was if he had broken any beers. He was quite the character.

As we got ready to leave because we were heading off early on our honeymoon to Cape Cod my Dad gave me the room keys for what was the Thunderbird Motel at the time, not the classiest place in town. We had been planning to just stay at my apartment and leave from there, but Dad seemed so tickled that he got us the room for our wedding night so off we went. When we got in the room and sat on the bed we heard a tinkle sound. My crazy father had ripped open the box spring and put a child's tinkle toy in, no doubt expecting we would discover it as we made love. Unfortunately that didn't happen and it was the first sign I got that this marriage might not be what I was expecting. Janice slept soundly in the bed while I sat at the foot of the bed on the floor wondering what happened.

The next morning we were in a bit of a rush because we had a long trip ahead of us and we now had to go home first to grab our bags. We checked out and got in the car and then Janice remembered the tinkle toy still in the bed. She worried that if they discovered it they would probably go after Dad for the cost of replacing the box spring. So I had to go back in and ask for the key, pretending that we had forgotten something in the bathroom. After I managed to dislodge the fairly large toy I realized I had nothing to put it in so I got to walk through the lobby carrying the toy, to some very strange looks from the staff who knew it was our wedding night.

Despite the horrible wedding night we did manage to have a good trip to Cape Cod, well, maybe except for one incident. We had checked into a nice motel on the Western Summit in Massachusetts and Janice was feeling the romance of the place I guess. We were both naked and just getting up to put our clothes back on when the door flung open and in walked a member of the staff with an elderly couple, showing them the room they obviously thought was vacant. I was just outside the bathroom so I ducked in and I think Janice jumped back in the bed. The next morning when we went down for breakfast who should be sitting at the next table? Yup. The elderly couple who had barged into our room.

The rest of the trip was good except we overstayed our welcome in Cape Cod because it was so cold and we hoped the next day would be warmer. It wasn't and I ended up driving straight back fourteen hundred miles in one very long day because I had to be back at work.

Our marriage lasted twenty-three years but there weren't a lot of happy ones.

My Princess

She came into my world on October 2nd, 1977 and changed my life forever.

Her birth was momentous for several reasons. Back when Chris was born fathers weren't allowed into the delivery room. I had to stand outside the entire nineteen hours of Janice's labour listening to her moan and call out for me. With Heather things had changed and I was allowed in, although Dr. Thicke cautioned that he had lost more men in the delivery room and told me if I felt queasy I was on my own.

Dr. Thicke was a riot. He had always been our family doctor. His son, Alan (yes, Robin's Dad) inherited his Dad's warped sense of humor. Heather was born with a cleft lip, but Dr. Thicke said not to worry and that a bit of make-up would cover it. He lied, but he didn't want to ruin our special moment. He then asked me if I wanted him to add a few extra stitches to Janice. Then, as he stitched her up he was singing Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder because we were keeping him from flying his plane up north. The biggest mistake I made, one I would pay dearly for in the next few months, was that I cradled Heather and walked up and down the hallway trying to get her to stop crying.

The next rather emotional moment was when Janice's Dad first saw Heather. His reaction at her cleft lip was really scary. Of course he had been brought up in a time when a cleft lip was for life and he worried that this would be an emotional scar for Heather forever. We assured him that Dr. Thicke had not been worried about it at all and said it could easily be fixed so you would never notice it. He had lied.

On a first check-up Dr. Thicke told us the truth and asked if we wanted her to have the surgery right away. He said he had consulted with one of the top surgeons in Canada who was prepared to operate right away. I couldn't stand the thought of exposing this tiny little baby to surgery, so I asked him if it was really necessary to do it right away. He said it was much better to wait until she was older, but that most parents want it done right away to show off their new baby. To me that was the last reason to do it and we wanted to do what was right for Heather.

When she was just a few months old she got the dreaded colic. She just cried and cried, twenty-four hours a day for three months. Although Janice stayed home with her and I worked, the only thing that would soothe Heather was for me to walk up and down the hallway, cradling her in my arms, just like I had after she was born. Those were three very long and trying months until she finally got over it and started sleeping again.

The day finally came when we had to go down to Sick Kids to have the surgery. Heather was always such a happy baby and I still remember her big smile as they took her away in the elevator. It was a gut-wrenching moment, but when you are at Sick Kids and see all the tragic children in the cancer ward and the burn ward you realize just how lucky you are. I still remember little Jason who had been burned over ninety percent of his body in a gas explosion. He didn't even look human but he was the happiest, bubbly little boy despite his injuries.

After Heather's surgery the next momentous thing was the panic phone call I got from Janice's Dad telling me that Heather had fallen and I had to come right away. I rushed to their place, opened the door and there was Heather in Dad's arms. She saw me and broke out into her usual smile, except this time her face virtually parted as she had broken all the stitches. Dad felt so bad and thought he had done a terrible thing but I told him not to worry. Off we went to Sick Kids again and they stitched her up all over again.

Unlike our very strong-willed and always getting into trouble son, Heather was a dream child. Chris was very involved in hockey and we seemed to spend every waking moment in an arena somewhere. It was a much different time back then and Heather used to wander all over the arena, meeting people because she sure wasn't shy, proudly showing off her Cabbage Patch dolls to anyone who would listen. We never worried about her because she had every parent on our team looking after her.

My marriage had ended long ago, so as Heather grew older we started doing more things together. We always invited Janice along but she never came with us. Heather and I would go biking on the great trails around Brampton as often as we could. We had a great day at Professor's Lake sailing and we spent a wonderful New Year's Eve skating at Gage Park with a gazillion families, drinking hot apple cider out of a big kettle over an open fire and skating. It was like a picture postcard except Mom wasn't there.

Her first life lesson was when she asked if she could spend New Year's Eve at her friend Melanie's house. I was never too fond of Melanie because she seemed a little wild but I knew Heather had never given me cause not to trust her judgment so I let her go. Later that night we get the call to take Heather to the hospital because she's been drinking and she's really sick. When we get her to the hospital the doctor warns she was close to alcohol poisoning and it could have been fatal if we hadn't got her to the hospital in time. I still remember driving home in silence and she finally asked if I wasn't going to say something. I asked her if I needed to and she said no. I knew she had learned a valuable lesson at a young age and she was unlikely to ever drink that much again.

In all the years as a child she never needed any discipline. She was a really good kid with a good head on her shoulders and she didn't need it. The only time I struck her was a slap on her face when she said her mother was a bitch. She knew that regardless if it was true she had to always show respect for her mother. Lesson learned.

There were so many, many good times with Heather. One of my favorites was when I surprised her with tickets to see the Phantom of the Opera in Toronto. Even back then they were ninety-seven dollars so it was going to be a very special night. It was the experience of a lifetime and we loved every minute. When it was over I bought her the CD and it was always a hoot to hear her blasting it with a bunch of girlfriends in her room.

After I had driven out west to see my parents Heather and Chris came out for a three-week vacation. We had such a ball doing everything. Heather was just as fanatical about dirt-biking as Chris was and my Dad rigged up pegs on the back wheel for her so she could sit behind me. On the way home one time I took a wrong turn and we ended up going down the incredibly steep power line instead of the road. I would ask her to get off at the top of very steep inclines and I would slide the bike down and then she would get back on. I was so careful not to panic her by saying we might not make it, but she never doubted it for a minute. I wish she could have had her own bike because I know she would have loved it.

As happy as their vacation was, it ended on a really sad note. Both kids told me that they had never seen me happier and that I should stay out west. They said it was obvious that my marriage was over and that I had tried my best to make it work. I just couldn't believe that my beautiful daughter wanted me to be thousands of miles away from her. After I dropped them at the airport I found a secluded spot and cried for hours. It was one of the lowest points of my life. Despite her advice I just couldn't stand the thought of leaving her, so I returned to Ontario and wasted a few more years. She has been right all along.

There were too many sad moments. My ex insisted on starting screaming matches and every time I would calmly ask her to save it for later or for when Heather wasn't home. After the scream-fest I would go up to check on Heather and find her sobbing. It always broke my heart.

After I finally gave up and realized my marriage had been over for years I made the decision to go out west to spend what time my mother had left. She had been diagnosed with fifth-stage melanoma and wasn't expected to live six months at best. The day I left Heather, although I was certainly sad and cried my eyes out at leaving her, I really thought she would come out for vacations and I would see her. I had no clue that it would be the last time I ever saw her and I haven't seen her for more than twenty years now. I think about her every day and miss her so much. She was, and always will be, my Princess.

Memories of My Father

It's truly hard to believe that it's been eight years since my father died in my arms. It's said that moments of great trauma stay with you forever and every single moment from hearing the first screams from my friend, Ans, are seared into my memory like they happened yesterday.

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Sad State of Affairs

Life is beyond challenging right now. I've had to go off work on medical leave because the unbelievable stress of the job was causing my already poor health to deteriorate even more. My normally low blood pressure was dangerously elevated and my heart was racing. I'd gone from being stressed out coming home from work to being stressed out going to work.

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Today would have been my forty-second anniversary

Yikes! That's a lifetime. I don't have any regrets that my twenty-three year marriage ended when it did. It was actually over long before I finally left. I made the same mistake that many people make - sticking around for the kids, when it didn't end up making any difference anyway. I remember someone saying that you know it's over when you wake up and you wish you were anywhere else. After twenty-three years of trying, hoping that someday it would all magically change, I realized it would not and I left.

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