Category Archives: Friends

As the saying goes, “Is that all there is?”

Unless you are Albert Einstein or Bill Gates it’s probably not a good time to summarize your life. Have you been “successful” in the eyes of others? Has your life had a positive impact on people’s lives? Have you made costly mistakes that have now put you in such a depressive state that you want to end it all? Do you matter to anyone? Has your life just been a waste? Is anyone going to miss you?

After some very tough years, ending up living in a group home in Belleville, Ontario and, in fact, overstaying my welcome there, I had no idea what to do. After disastrous experiences moving to Panama and Ecuador I wanted to give it one more try in Mexico, so I hoped to go for six months on a tourist visa. By a quirk of fate I was given a Canadian Tire MasterCard, which I didn’t deserve having gone bankrupt twice, but it allowed me to book my flights. I had found an apartment in Ajijic that was cheaper than just my room in Belleville. A lot of research told me the cost of living was much cheaper, so off I went last September.

I fell in love with the area the first day I arrived. My apartment was even better than I expected and thanks to my new friends, Francis and Anastasia, I met a lot of great people who I thought were going to be great friends. A couple of weeks after I arrived I met the love of my life, Elba. It quickly became the relationship of my dreams. I had never had this kind of love before. Relationships are always complicated but this one was just incredible. Despite our age difference of twenty years and the fact she spoke no English, every minute together was pure magic, for me at least. Although not what was intended when I gave her a replacement ring on New Years everyone congratulated us on getting engaged. Her two sons, Jonathan and Kevin, loved calling me Dad and her family kept telling us to hurry up and get married. I had never been so happy in all my life.

My plan to just check out Mexico for six months quickly changed. I needed to go back to Canada to apply for my temporal visa to return to Mexico and get married. Elba insisted on joining me on the trip although I told her I could not afford her flights, so she agreed to pay for them. I have gone into great detail on what a total disaster the trip was in another post, so I won’t repeat myself here. As far as it relates to this post what happened only contributed to where I find myself today. When we returned and she ended our relationship in a simple text message it nearly killed me. It was the hardest thing in my life. I felt totally worthless and just wanted to end it all. The future was destroyed and I didn’t even know why I was back in Mexico now. Getting married and all the dreams we had shared together were now shattered. I saw no reason to go on.

Thanks to a couple of good friends at the time they convinced me that I wasn’t worthless and urged me to go on. Time heals all wounds. Not true for me. My life had been turned upside down and the wonderful memories of our time together have haunted me everywhere I go. I also had no clue why she had so abruptly dumped me. Still don’t. She refused to tell me why. She refused to answer my pleading text messages or talk to me. At one point she simply said she wanted me to “disappear”. What a great thing to say to someone who’s suicidal.

Then a month or so ago I discovered I had only twenty-eight dollars in the bank and I whole lot of month left. I had also run out of my critical medications for my diabetes. No food. No meds. No hope. I reached out for help from anyone. I offered to sell an interest in my website business. I applied to the local Canadian Legion for a small loan to get me through. Although a couple of people offered small amounts of money for food this was not a solution to the mess I was in. After a day of not eating and drinking far too much, which is not normal for me, I was crying my eyes out in horrible depression and just wanted to end it all. A friend sent over a doctor and two of her colleagues to talk me down. She offered help in not letting them take my dog from me. She offered help with money and some work. She offered help with getting my meds. She gave me hope. She took my bottle of rum, which considering the condition I was in was probably a good thing.

The next morning they came without warning and took my dog, Rollie. Then despite all the offers of help Dr. Lupita basically disappeared on me. Luckily John Kelly, President of our local Canadian Legion, called me and we had a very long conversation. We talked about getting my meds through Seguro Popular, which I didn’t even know was possible. We talked about a small loan from the Legion to help me get things in order, most importantly to keep my business alive that I had worked so hard on for so long. Again, that glimmer of hope appeared.

Now, three weeks later that glimmer has gone dark again. Seguro Popular said they can’t help me with any of my meds. My blood sugars have been hovering around thirty, which is very dangerous because at thirty-two you risk slipping into a coma. Although I couldn’t afford the hospital anyway, falling into a coma would mean the end because no one would discover me in time. At least I would go quietly and not need to deal with suicide.

All the horrendous issues coming at me every day, like the numerous issues with my idiot landlord, like no hot water, no electricity and no internet, were just daily hurdles that challenged my patience, but nothing was worse than what happened with my “friends”. The reaction to my painfully honest post about ending it all was such vicious attacks on me. How these people could be so cruel and not get how dangerous their mean words were to someone already on the edge just baffled me completely. The only way for me to survive was to block and ban them. I simply couldn’t take anymore.

That no one in my long list of six hundred supposed Facebook “friends” gave a damn came as quite the shock. Even my new found granddaughter, Mackenzie, didn’t respond. I had been so looking forward to meeting her finally when she came to Mexico for a wedding next year. I apologized that I would not be here and explained why, but even that got no reaction from her. I got the same reaction from colleagues back in Canada, some of whom are rich beyond compare. I had sent detailed investment proposals to them, not just investing in the website business. Things that would make them a lot of money, but got zero response.

Still fighting not to just give up I started a GoFundMe campaign asking for just a dollar. I had seen sixty or seventy million people view and comment on the dumbest things so I thought they might be willing to invest a single dollar. Not a single response. I even asked my famous friend Andrea Pearson to add a post on her Facebook page encouraging people to visit my campaign but got nothing other than a private message that she hoped things would improve for me. I even asked her if she might donate that first dollar to kick start the campaign, but got nothing. My life is not even worth a person donating a dollar? How’s that for “is that all there is?”

I’m not looking for pity or charity. I am looking for a reason to go on. I just hope that anyone who knows me understands just how hard I’ve tried to go on. Without my critical meds it will all be academic soon. I don’t know how I will be remembered, if at all. Maybe just some nutcase, but I just want anyone who ever cared about me in any way to know how hard I tried.

Gracias.

 

On losing touch with friends

During my life I’ve been very lucky to have made a number of friends. Because I’ve moved around a lot, from Toronto, Ontario to Streetsville, Ontario, to Brampton, Ontario to Kelowna, BC to Boquete, Panama, to Toronto, Ontario to London, Ontario to Cotacachi, Ecuador and finally to Belleville, Ontario I don’t have any lifelong friends, much as I wish I did. I still remember many of the friends I had as a kid and I often wonder what they’re up to all these years later.

Good friends are hard to find. One of those was one I met who worked for me decades ago. Our friendship was way passed boss – worker and we treasured each other on so many levels. I got a job offer and moved on and we lost touch with each other. I searched for her many times but I was using the wrong last name, her married name at the time. Then decades later out of the blue I get a message from her on Facebook and I was thrilled. She was now living in Saskatchewan, married again. After a couple of posts back and forth she asked me to call her. We spent hours just catching up on all the years we had been apart and reliving some of the great memories we shared together. The way we talked on the phone was like not a day had passed.

Around this time I was considering moving to Ecuador. My previous experience with Panama had certainly not been good and I wasn’t sure I even wanted to try again. I had followed a girl to London from Toronto and that had gone badly but I was still in London, the last place I ever thought I would live, almost five years later. I thought there just had to be more to life than this. She agreed, poetically stating that I was basically molding in London, waiting for a miracle to happen and my kids would reconnect with me after twenty years. She made two excellent points. One, I could die waiting and had no reason to think that I wouldn’t and, two, if I didn’t go to Ecuador wouldn’t I live to regret that? I agreed that I would, so off I went, but not after hours and hours of talking to her about it. I don’t know to this day if I would have had the courage to move on my own without her sage advice.

Well, if you follow me at all you know that Ecuador turned into a disaster, mostly because of things I could not control, such as the falling Canadian dollar. At one point I was getting really desperate financially and pretty depressed about how bad things were going. Naturally I reconnected with her and at first she felt bad that she had encouraged me to move to Ecuador, but I reassured her that it had nothing to do with her. Neither of us could have foreseen the things that happened. Her advice to go was right in the first place and nothing had changed. Not only did she reassure me that I would survive but she also sent me two hundred dollars that saved my butt, money I did not ask for and I doubted she could afford.

When it looked like I had no choice but to return to Canada I had no clue where I was going to go or how I was going to live. I only had two of my pensions because one had been cutoff after I was out of the country more than six months. I figured I would be homeless and waiting for winter to arrive. She said her son had a place that he was renovating north of Belleville and suggested that I might be able to help him given my years of experience. She made no promises but she put me in touch with her son. Not only did he agree to let me live in the house rent free but he also booked me on the VIA train from Toronto to Belleville in the VIP car using his points. I was also pretty well dead broke when I came back so he sent me two hundred dollars, again not asked for. When I arrived at the house he had put in a fridge and stove, washer and dryer, small appliances and stocked the place with food. This was all done for the sole reason that his mother said we were good friends.

Fast forward a coupe of months and there were some problems at the house, like no heat and I froze. Her son had asked me to move out and I was lost with nowhere to go. My fiancee in Ecuador had also just ended our relationship so I wasn’t going back to Ecuador. It was a dark time so I sent her a lengthy email pleading for more time at her son’s place and hoping that we could chat again because I again needed her advice on what to do. She didn’t answer me. I saw her on Facebook and asked if she was angry with me for some reason. When she didn’t even respond I knew she was really angry with me.

After I sent her the last of the money I owed her a year ago she sent me back a short response thanking me for the money. That was it. I figured something was up but didn’t want to press. Then when I hadn’t heard a word from her for months I sent her a long email explaining what I was thinking about with moving to Mexico. I asked for her valued opinion, again hoping that we could talk. A month later I asked if there was something I should know because I found it strange that she had not responded. I got a very terse email saying that she had a busy life and couldn’t just “drop everything”  to answer my email. I cried when I read that. I knew that I had lost the very best friend I had ever had and it broke my heart. I never felt so alone in my life. I really miss her.

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The second loss was a new friend, certainly nothing comparable to her. When I moved into the group home here in Belleville one of the tenants was a jovial guy and we kind of hit it off. There was never a topic that we couldn’t have a lively discussion about, but we basically kept to ourselves at the time. I think it was asking him if I could pay him to take me food shopping that started more of a friendship. Before long we were going to movies together, most of which we agreed upon after seeing the movie. We began using our two for one coupons to eat out at places like Harvey’s. He also liked to wander around shopping at the discount stores like Dollarama so we did that a lot. We started going to some of the provincial parks on the weekends to enjoy the warm weather. At Christmas we went to several of the events at the local churches.

Back in October, I believe, he moved into another unit here at the house and took on the role of facilitator. For some unknown reason he suddenly began throwing his weight around, posting nasty notes about things he was unhappy about. Back when I met him he was working at a local call centre, strangely enough the same company I had worked for in London, so we swapped a lot of war stories. Then he suddenly stopped going to work late last year. After several months he told me that he was on leave. At Christmas he said that he was going back to work in January, but that didn’t happen.

Around this time we were both looking at other places for when our time here was up. I suggested to him that we get a place together, preferably a house and that I wanted to winter in Mexico so he could rent my room to a student while I was gone. After much discussion he said that he was “95%” on the idea. I started looking at places and found one that I setup an appointment with on the following Sunday after confirming it with him.

The turning point in our relationship was a night we went to Harvey’s intending to go to see La La Land. His car broke down at Harvey’s so we never got to see the movie. Then he basically disappeared. His place was in darkness. The car was gone. No one knew where he was. After what had happened with John, a new tenant who left for the weekend and didn’t come back because he was killed in a car accident, we started to worry about him. I started sending him text message asking if he was okay but he didn’t respond, which made me even more concerned. I asked if the appointment to view the house on Sunday was still on and got a snarky response about my “attitude”. When no one knew where he was Sunday morning I texted him again and he just said to cancel the appointment if I wanted to. Again, no car so I don’t know how we were supposed to get there anyway.

A few more days pass with no word from him so now we wonder what to do if something happens at the house. I had a number for the President but I was told it was only for text messages. We have had a number of issues with burst pipes so I didn’t think texting was any good. I sent an email to the President expressing concern that no one knew where this guy was and asking what we were to do if there was an emergency. The next thing I know he comes over to the house and gets him out of the shower. I didn’t expect that reaction.

That night all hell broke loose. I was cooking my dinner when he came in and started screaming at me about the number to call. He said it was none of our business where his car was or what was going on. It was the most ignorant I have ever been treated in my whole life.  One of the other tenants was close by and he said he couldn’t believe the reaction for only being concerned that he was okay. That was the end of any relationship we had or might have had.

A Facebook excercise

No question that Facebook has changed our lives, mostly for the good but some for the bad. People rediscover long lost friends and make new ones. They contribute to a host of issues we all face every day. Users are probably as addicted to Facebook as they are to checking their email. Some just want to get as many friends as possible, even to test that five thousand limit put on by Facebook.

I’ve lived a long and somewhat eventful life in terms of my career and the places I’ve lived. I’ve met a ton of people in the process, many of whom I have forgotten. Now that I am officially a senior and facing the possibility of dementia or, worse, Alzheimer’s (my mum had it), I thought I would see just how many people I could remember that I had actually physically met, either in my personal life or my marriage or my various travels or my various jobs, of which I’ve had many. I’m not going to cover my kid’s friends or the kids of any adult friends I had unless it will help to reconnect me with their parents. For many people I will only remember their first name so I’ll do my best to describe how I met them and what the circumstances were. The goal is to test both Facebook and that thing they call six degrees of separation, meaning that “anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries”. We’ll see.

Obviously I don’t expect anyone to read this entire lengthy post. I just want you to go to a section you might have been part of and add anyone you know or add their Facebook link. That’s all.

THE EARLY YEARS

Obviously first is my childhood, which was so very long ago. Way back in 1949 I was born at St. Joseph’s in Toronto after the fireboat rushed my mum from the islands, where her and my father lived, in the middle of the night. I was apparently born at seven twenty in the morning which I only mention because of the numerous times I’ve woken up at exactly that time now matter where I was. We moved around a fair bit when I was a wee one, at one point to an apartment in Ajax, then to a farm called, I believe, Donelda, which became Don Mills. The only name I remember from any of this was someone called Bumpy, a friend of my Dad’s.

When I was maybe four of five we moved in with my Mum’s parents at 7 Hugo Avenue in Toronto. Shortly after my grandfather died so I really don’t remember him at all. My grandmother, whose name was Jenny Hardy, lived in one of the bedrooms upstairs. I went to Perth Avenue public school for several years. The only friends I remember from those early years were Ralph Scholumberg (not sure of the spelling), my best friend and Sharon, a lovely girl who lived a few doors away. I remember she had polio, something more common in those days. I don’t even know if we had yearbooks back then but I have nothing from my years at Perth Avenue. Photos would be nice.

When I was twelve I learned to hate my parents because they moved me out of the wonderful city, where I could go anywhere on transit or my bike and where I had tons of friends, to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It had no indoor plumbing. Just an outhouse. A stove in the kitchen to heat the house, which it didn’t do so we had kerosene heaters in our bedrooms. It’s a wonder we didn’t die from the fumes. I forget what time of the year we moved but I soon learned that I was miles from anywhere. Even our neighbors were far from close. My parents both worked, no doubt to pay for their first house, so they weren’t around to drive me anywhere. I had my bike but it was miles to visit anyone. I went to Churchville public school through to grade eight. Grades six, seven and eight were in the same room. Lots of fun. Other than my first love, Roxanne Rollings, I have vague memories of anyone I went to school with. She broke my heart when she married Wayne (forgot his last name) years later. I think there was a Dave and Doug Mackenzie in Churchville. Surprised that the only girl I can remember is Roxanne. Normally I pay a lot more attention to the girls. Still do.

Moved on to Streetsville Secondary School for grade nine. Even though I went there from grade nine to twelve about my only memories are the guys in the group I joined, called the Tempests. No idea why. Dave Kirk, Don Thurston, and Chris Hayes. We played the Coke dances after school and I soon discovered that women love musicians. That joy lasted for years. I do remember a real sexpot in grade 12, Valerie and one of my many girlfriends was Francis Carkner (not sure on the last name). I remember Mary Hamilton who I took the school bus with. The name Judy North is in there somewhere. The group changed over the years. Vic Dimitroff. Zak Marshall. Nolan Yearwood. Alan McQuillan to name a few. I also met people like George Oliver, David Clayton Thomas, Whitey Glan, and Pat Cosby and many others when we were the house band at Club Bluenote. We also built up quite a fanbase in Brampton where we played quite often. So many names I’ve forgotten. I think that we were the Bow Street Runners back at that time. Sammy Conners. Gloria. Marilyn Adams (my girlfriend for a time).

GETTING MARRIED

Okay, so on to the first big lifetime event was getting married. My ex was Janice Kennedy Tyrrell from Brampton. She had two brothers, Gord and Doug. Her father was Ray and her mother was Marion. Friends of hers who became mine were Dale Evans, Gary and Glen Ellis, Bobby Munday, Brian and Lynn Jamieson, Greg and Laura Smith. I was in the band for ten years and met hundreds of people but can’t remember a one of them. My son, Chris, also played hockey for years, on several different teams and all year long. Again, met tons of parents on all the teams but remember few. Jason’s parents, Larry and Ann. Fabio’s Dad, Rolly. Kevin’s parents, Bill and Gerry. I should remember some of the coaches and managers of the teams but I don’t. I can’t even remember the name of the coach for our summer team. Russ Bird, my best man at my wedding.

CAREER

Should cover the career here, at least during my marriage. I started at the Toronto-Dominion Bank in 1968, only because my mother worked for them in Streetsville. My first branch was in what was called Cooksville at the time. During my short two years or so I was at nine branches, the last one being Jane and Wilson, I think. I was the administration officer at only nineteen and took over for the manager for his three week vacation when the replacement manager got sick. I was making fifty dollars a week and a customer hired me away by offering me ninety dollars a week. He turned out to be a crook though and wanted me to do things that weren’t quite legal so I quit. I think I ended up breaking milk jugs at Dominion Glass during a strike. No fun. Met a ton of people working in all those branches, but only remember Steve Vass and the manager of the branch at Keele and Wilson where we were robbed, Joe Murphy.

In no particular order I’ll cover some of my many jobs in Ontario and include the names of anyone I remember. I was at Able Plastics, the manufacturer of foam, mostly for furniture. It was a husband and wife team who spent the entire day fighting. My assistant was Linda. I was at Emco Plastics for several years. I remember Frank and Morris Cook, Earl Lynch, Doug, John McQuarrie, John Farncomb, Roger. I was at Hilti Canada in Brampton. I remember Jim Young, Debbie, Kim, Brian Snyder. I was at TCM, a division of American Hoist. Gerry Waterhouse. Terry. Betty White. Joe Barone. Carolyn, Rene Couture. Skip. Sam Osborne. I was at Kyle Jamieson Real Estate. Doug Jamieson and several clients. I was at Clearview in Weston. Joe. Ciro Gucciardi. I was at Indal Products. Heather Paul. Doug Banyon. Frank. Jon Lehoup. Marie Dearlove, Dave. Steve Duplantis. Michelle. Buddy Bent. Staynor. I spent sixteen years as a computer consultant and dealt with about fifty clients. Fellowes Manufacturing – Gail-Ann Duxbury, James Edmonds. Elliott Industrial Equipment – Bruce. TNT Roadfast – . Florimex – Recom Windows and Doors. GlassVision Solariums – Jim and Linda Webb.

After I moved out west in 1993 I worked as a computer consultant. First major client was Central Valley Trucks. Can’t remember the owner’s name but his son was Rick. I also remember Linda. Worked at Northern Computer in Kelowna. Doris Bonn. Jim Condon. Ross Dickie. I worked for FBC for a while. My boss was Grant Diamond. Worked at Western Star on the line. Don’t remember anyone. Worked for Shaw Fiberlink. My tech was Brett. Had six managers back in Calgary in only a few months. None memorable. Worked for two cellular phone companies for a bit, Sunwest Cellular and Pacific Cellular. Also worked for Canwest Communications and Business Thompson Okanagan, a newspaper.

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN!

My first friend in Kelowna was Laura McKinnon. She introduced me to a lot of people, both through the Courtplex and socially. I met a ton of people – Bianca Siebrand, Wade Silver, Tawni Silver, Brian and Linda, Brian Wall, Doris, Darlene, Norma, Larry, Ann Hansen, Ron Le Stage and Suzanne Le Stage, Tracy Church, Judy Allen, Juanita, Karla Longacre, Stephanie, Debbie, Carolyn McCulley, Trish Power, Laura Johnston,  Gary Bakelmun, Sabrina Weeks,  Linda Lichtenegger, Pam Ferens, Doug Cuming, Rob Dubuc, Debra Birce, Pete Tarasoff, Sylvie Sanson, Kelly Harrison, Teresa Lotoski, Caron Masse Abel, Cathy Kadatz, Jackie Goulding. Spent a whole lot of nights at the Corral and had many, many dance partners. Heather, Jean, Crystal Mogdan, Debbi, Nola, Sheila, and many more.

PANAMA

My almost two years in Boquete, Panama was interesting. Elle Nicolai, Mark and Jennifer (owned Amigos), Walter Cruz (my lawyer), Karynthia, Magaly (girlfriend), Jim, Mitzi Nash, Priscilla Nash, Verushka, Terry and Judith, Amilkar (my worker bee),

LONDON, ONTARIO

I returned to Toronto in March of 2009 and stayed with my cousin, Joan Thomson. I was only in Toronto a few months then moved to London, following Denise Walters. Hard to believe I spent five years in this place but I didn’t have much of a social life to speak of. Sieg Pedde was a colleague I actually met in Panama. For a time I lived in my car and at various shelters around town. Knew some of my neighbors when I finally landed in a real apartment. Worked at Home Depot for a time. Also worked at a call centre selling an international property show in Toronto. Dr. Ramona Cuelho was my doctor. At one point I joined one of those Meet-Up groups but that did not go well. No one I could call a girlfriend in five years, after Denise.

ECUADOR

My last out of country experience was Ecuador and I met an amazing number of people considering I was there less than a year. The first person I met, at the airport actually, was Ana Romero, who was going to work for me but that didn’t work out. Next was my landlady, Jessica Alban, who ended up ripping me off for two hundred dollars when I left. Next was Peter and Mauro, the owners of the hostel I stayed at. Then, in no particular order, Deb Swansburg, Mari Ruiz, Dutch Fuscaldo, Mia Rushing, Debra Rambo, Michael Griffin, Tanya Harrell, Deborah Lapping, Kasie Estevez, Jessyta Teran, Deborah Angus, Gary Phillips, David Meade, Bobby and Becca Vinces, Candace Burch, Joel Kaplan, Yolanda Santana, Dilan Tuquerrez, Lulie Lawry May, Anne Worthington, Julie Powell, Jean Clark, David Beede, Bonnie Davis, Monica Granja, Lindsay Numedahl, Kashmir Moses, Jeanne Martin, Jeanine van Griensven, Mary Ellen, Nick Rossicci, Kaden Brown, Colleen Hemphill, Steve Donoso, Santiago Hidrobo, Bonnie Hall, Steve Rushing, Janda Grove, and many more who aren’t on my Facebook, like Valeria, Marlene, Olga, Esperanda, Janice, Mickey, Dan, Veronica and Santiago, Guiermo, Yulie, Phillipe and Ronda, Negrita. Kathy Fajardo, my “facilitator” for my residency, who ripped me off for three hundred and fifty dollars and cost me my passport. Phoenix Bess, who was also going to work with me at one point. Carlo Ami.

BELLEVILLE

I returned from Ecuador last October and first lived in Foxboro in a house owned by Greg Castonguay, Heather’s son. Then I moved into Belleville to a group home on Murney. Met Terry, Scott, Chris, Blair, Dave, Ron and Mo. Moved to Forin last March. Met Bob, Mike, Mathew, Frank and Jean Karl. Blair has now moved here from Murney. New guy is Chris. Frank is moving to Toronto so we’ll be getting someone new soon.

 

Never underestimate how much of a difference you can make

This was a very sobering experience and came as quite the surprise. My last post asked my “friends” to help me with the most important decision in my life. I am alone here in London with no friends to talk to and I hoped that people who I felt had been close friends in the past would give me their advice. With the exception of a handful of people, frankly people who were not what I would call “close” friends, not one of the people I asked for help from responded, even those who knew me very well for years.

Yes, I left the Okanagan in 2007 to go to Panama, so it’s been seven years and I guess even your friends forget you after all those years, but I have kept in touch through Facebook and emails. The ironic part is that many of those same people have connected with me asking my advice. I chatted with them on Facebook or by phone and gave them all the time they needed, often several hours, but when the tables are turned and I ask for help, they’re nowhere to be found. Sad.

One of the factors in thinking about moving back to the Okanagan was to reconnect with what I thought were my many friends. I had such great memories of all the great times we had over the years and thought it would be great to share some new times together. Apparently I am incredibly naive and stupid.

Without hopefully being too dramatic there has been a fourth option that I didn’t mention in my original post. There have been times over the last few years, starting with being ripped off for everything I owned in Panama, really dark times when it all seemed to be too much to handle. Discovering that the girl I loved, the one I moved to London for, cheated on me with someone else she met on the internet, which broke my heart. Being forced to go to a shelter and lying in filth sweating in hundred degree heat trying to sleep. Getting kicked out of the shelters when the government screwed up. Sleeping on the floor of a colleague’s office. Finally getting a job at Home Depot and my own apartment, then having my hours cut back to a minimum and I couldn’t pay my rent. Going without my vital medications for six weeks and ending up in hospital, resulting in painful peripheral neuropathy that has ended any physical activity. Researching and applying to over a thousand companies for a job, with no response. The government denying my application for a disability pension because I missed the deadline for a Medical Report because I could not find a family doctor in London. Getting wrongfully dismissed from the worst job in my life at Stream and taking a year to get paid. Being turned down by three different Meet-Up groups with no explanation.

The worst time in all of this was when my diabetic specialist put me on Oxycontin, a narcotic, with no warning about the side effects. My life went from working long hours on the computer every day trying to get anything going, to lying on the couch all day, crying because I was so depressed. My seventh floor balcony looked awfully inviting many times. The struggles I had fought so valiantly, like the heartbreak of missing my kids, suddenly became overwhelming and I didn’t see the point in continuing to fight. I had lost my will to survive.

I was very fortunate that I did fight back a little and researched the Oxycontin, only to learn that one of the major side effects was thoughts of suicide. In all there were seven side effects and I had all of them. I called my family doctor for advice on how to wean myself off this dangerous drug and I got back to normal. I had come far too close to ending it all. Part of the reason I asked for advice from my “friends” was to avoid making another mistake.

The fact that so many “friends” didn’t think enough of me to give me just a few minutes out of their busy lives speaks volumes about who I thought I was to them. It has certainly given me a different perspective on my options.

I do again thank those who did take the time to try to help me.

James Taylor said it best

If you’ve been following my blog you know that life has not been kind to me lately. Just when I thought things were finally turning around for me with a job, albeit the worst job I’ve even had in my life with the worst company I’ve ever had the misfortune to work for, Stream Global Services, I was wrongfully dismissed last November.

The People in My Life

One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I lost touch with all of the people who made such a difference in my life. I think this is part of the reason that Facebook is so popular because it allows us to “friend” people and to stay in touch no matter where we go.

My depressive thoughts while in Panama

As I spiral down into the abyss of depression, questioning my decision to come to Panama and reflecting on all that has gone so terribly wrong over the past year, I think of all the things I miss about my life in Canada.

There are so many things we take for granted living in Canada, things you don’t give a second thought to until they are gone. Everything from a decent steak to going to the movies.

But my life in Canada, particularly the past fifteen years living in the Okanagan, was all about the people in my life and it was filled with so many wonderful memories.

Boating on Okanagan Lake and learning to slalom ski; our “adventure boating”, camping on the far side of the lake across from Summerland with about twenty friends; going out to the middle of the lake late at night, shutting the engine off and just marveling at the night sky; counting all the satellites as they streaked across; making love and sleeping in the raw on a deserted beach.

Hiking in the mountains around Kelowna. I ran a hiking club and we went out somewhere different every Sunday, all year round. To climb to the summit of McDougall Ridge and view the panorama of the valley was truly breath-taking.

Biking the Kettle Valley railroad. I feel so lucky to have biked the old railway trestles before most of them were destroyed in the disastrous fire of 2003. In my mind the KVR was the eighth wonder of the world. It was estimated that, before the fire, as many as 50,000 people enjoyed hiking and biking the KVR.

Skiing at Big White and Silver Star mountains. Before it got too expensive, a day on either hill was exhilarating. After I finally got my shaped skis, long since gone, I managed to get pretty good, tackling many of the blue runs that had previously terrified me. To bask in the sunshine, enjoying lunch at Snowshoe Sam’s, after a morning of zipping down all the runs, was truly a thrill.

Snowmobiling around Kelowna and especially Revelstoke. So many days travelling miles through the Greystokes and Boulder and Frisbee mountains in Revelstoke. Of all the countless days we went sledding, the one of remember most was going up Boulder with my brother-in-law, Ron. We reached the summit early in the day and discovered a whole hillside of fresh powder with no tracks. Whipping around that hill, buried in fresh powder was the thrill of a lifetime. We stopped at the top, peeled off our helmets and suits and sipped our coffee and Bailey’s. It was so clear that we both got sunburned faces.

One of my life passions has always been dancing. When I first started going to the OK Corral, back when I first arrived in BC in 1993, I did little more than hang out at the stand-up bar, watching all the talented dancers, longing to be out there on the dance floor. After taking some lessons from the wonderful Tom and Deb, my confidence level was high enough to hit the floor. Over the many years of dancing I was fortunate enough that I never had to ask a girl to dance. I would barely get off the floor before someone else would ask me to dance. I was never without a partner.

Although I could pretty well dance with anyone, a few partners stand out from the rest. Jackie, who I dated for three years, was a wild one who would try just about anything. We instinctively came up with several of our own unique moves over the years and her favorite was doing spins. It became a challenge to see how many she could handle without losing it. One night we managed thirteen turns in quick succession and were thrilled at the applause we got from people watching us. Jackie moved to Alberta for a time and we lost touch, but when she came back we hit the dance floor and never missed a beat.

Another favorite was Heather, who I also dated briefly. She was light as a feather on her feet and we had that amazing connection where I did not need to lead her as forcefully as many others. She was also about the only girl I ever danced slow with. She had a sensuality about her and our slow dancing was more like making love on the dance floor. We literally tingled with anticipation, as if we were all alone on the dance floor. She disappeared from the Corral suddenly and there were rumors that she had serious health problems. I left a couple of messages for her, but she never returned my calls.

ÿÿ

Despite how horribly it all ended my undisputed favorite was Crystal. I had seen her dance with other guys and desperately wanted to dance with her, but I could not get up the courage to ask her. One fateful night, full of just enough liquor to embolden me, I finally approached her and asked her to dance. It was the beginning of a love affair, on the dance floor at least. We were simply amazing together. There were so many nights that we got admiring looks from people watching us and applause when we did something really well. Crystal was always approached in the washroom by girls asking how long we had been married; how many years we had been dancing together or where we competed. She always professed to be embarrassed by these comments, but I know she actually enjoyed the adulation. Who wouldn’t? Dancing with her was unquestionably the highpoint of my dancing career and I miss dancing with her beyond words.

My Dad

Of all my wonderful experiences of life in the Okanagan, none are more memorable that dirt-biking with my Dad. I could fill a book with all the incredible experiences we shared over the years together. We covered hundreds of miles throughout the Okanagan and in Revelstoke over the years together, every one of them filled with sheer joy. Of all the people we went biking with no one was gutsier than my Dad. I remember all of us sitting on the edge of what looked like a swamp in the mountains above Revelstoke, wondering if we could make it across. As we sat there waiting to see who had the guts or was stupid enough to go, along comes Dad who, without a moment’s hesitation, ripped right across the swamp, bouncing wildly and then going right up the bank on the other side. Talk about intimidating! We had no choice but to follow him or we would never have heard the end of it. Even at close to eighty years old, Dad was unquestionably the gutsiest rider I ever knew.

Another memorable biking experience happened before I move to BC. In hindsight this was beyond insane, but I picked my son Chris up from work in Mississauga on a Thursday and we drove straight though to Revelstoke, arriving late Saturday, despite nearly ending up in jail in Sweetgrass, Montana. Another story.

Dad had arranged to rent bikes for us and we headed off into the mountains first thing Sunday morning. I don’t remember exactly what time of year it was, but I think it was some time in May of 1989.

After we had gone up the trail to the old gold mine and zipped around the mountains and streams, we stopped by the Columbia River for lunch and a beer. It was a typically gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky. As we sipped our frothy beer Chris looked at me and said, “Dad, it doesn’t get any better than this!” He was oh so right. That moment has lived on in my memory ever since, even though the trip ended in disaster when we hit a deer in Jackson, Michigan, nearly totaling my van and killing us. Chris was asleep in the back of the van and the police said if I had instinctively swerved when she jumped in front of me the van would have flipped over on its fiberglass roof and we would both have been killed. We survived only because I braced and hit her straight on, which I compare to hitting a four foot high brick wall at sixty miles an hour. I will never forget that impact moment or the sound.

Now that Dad is gone my all-consuming regret is that I let him down so badly by not having the time to go biking with him anymore after I got involved with Tracy and the kids. I ended up selling my beloved Honda and left Dad going out on his own, something he hated and he eventually ended up selling his bike too. The incredible guilt has never left me. It was a matter of priorities and mine were unquestionably misplaced. I never realized what a terrible mistake I had made until Dad was gone and it was all too late.

There are countless other wonderful memories of life in the Okanagan. Sitting around the fire on the beach at Mum and Dad’s, with Mum playing her accordion and Dad singing songs like April Showers by the late, great Al Jolson. So many amazing times with family and friends, boating and swimming and steaks on the barbie and partying into the night. My friends were always welcome at Mum and Dad’s and my parents were the best party people ever. Oh how I long to relive those days.

My experiences weren’t limited to the Okanagan. There were all those crazy years going to the Merritt Mountain Music Festival, which was always a blast. Sitting in the river, drinks in hand, cooling off with thousands of other people. Being the “beer Gods” by handing out free beer to everyone. Riding the trailer pulled by “Speedy”, Wade’s converted lawn mower with the horns mounted on the front. Hundreds of memories, among my favorites, a very inebriated Wade, after we snuck into the reserved seating area to watch Johnny Cash, saying, over and over, “Hey, that’s Johnny Cash!” It was hilarious.

White water rafting all over BC, from Litton to the Kicking Horse pass. One fantastic week-end, arranged by my buddy, Lenny, when a whole crew of us from the Courtplex went rafting for the week-end. It was the best $99 I ever spent.

All the many hours playing racquetball at the Courtplex and the many friends I met there, first and foremost, my wonderful friend Laura, who was the very first person I met when I got to the Okanagan. I was never in better shape in my entire life, playing about three times a week. I remember, back when there was a bar in the club, how I would play for hours and then as soon as I hit the bar I would light up a smoke. Everyone would wonder how I ever managed that without losing a lung in the process. Not something to be proud of, I know.

Biking and blading in Stanley park in Vancouver. Hiking Lynn Canyon. Watching the amazing fireworks at English Bay. The IMAX theatre. Granville Island. The Science Centre.

Listening and dancing to my favorite band, the Salmon Armenians, with the lovely Sabrina Weeks. I miss all the bands I saw at the Blue Gator downtown, plus all the concerts in City Park. Setting up our lawn chairs on Friday nights and listening to the free concerts put on by Parks Alive.

Two other passions were roller-blading and cross country skiing. After I first learned to blade and got my excellent Rollerblade ones with the automatic brake, one of the last ever manufactured, I would go for miles around Kelowna and Peachland. It was the best exercise ever and free. Working up a sweat blading the Recreation Corridor downtown, then removing my blades and going for swim at City Park was awesome!

Brian Wall introduced me to cross-country skiing, nearly killing me in the process. I was running a very high fever, but I was so looking forward to going that I just couldn’t cancel on him. He ended up taking me on the very challenging Olympic trail for nineteen kilometers my first time out. Despite the exhaustion I fell in love with the sport and enjoyed it for many years. On one of the runs at Telemark in particular, a run that took me over two hours to do the first time, I eventually did it in forty-five minutes, much to the amazement of the folks who ran the place. Between racquetball and cross-country skiing I was in the best shape of my entire life. I remember going out one time with Darlene and Norma, both of whom were in excellent shape. I reached the crest of the first hill, which was quite an arduous climb. I peeled off my coat to enjoy the sunshine and a smoke and waited about half an hour before Darlene and Norma came huffing and puffing up the hill, cursing me for not waiting for them, especially when they saw me smoking.

Another passion was playing pool. I played in the Kelowna 8 ball league for about nine years and then played in the new Breakers league. I regret so much that my team fell apart after I left Canada.

It’s said that people come into your life for a reason. For me, I have never been a “loner”. Every single memory I have is about the people who shared my experiences with me. Without question this is what I miss the most.

Back in my boating days I had bought about thirty baseball hats, all in fluorescent colours, with Bones Crew written on them. The deal was if you crewed on my boat you got a hat. I have one wonderful picture of all my friends wearing their hats at Lenny’s parents place in Blind Bay. Truly special.

As I contemplate the end of my life I have to acknowledge the people who have helped to make a difference by creating all those memories. Hopefully I don’t forget anyone, but you know who you are. In no particular order –

Well, high up on the list has to be the only true love of my life, Tracy. Until I met her I believed I had been in love before, not the least of which was with my wife of twenty-three years, Janice. But Tracy showed me what true love is all about. If you have ever been lucky enough to have experienced that incredible, overwhelming, all-consuming sense of sheer joy and fulfillment, knowing that this person means more to you than your own life, then you know how being in love with Tracy felt.

Tracy

To this day thoughts of not going more than fifteen minutes without kissing; playing “downtown” with the kids; roller-blading, pushing Braydon and Madison in the stroller (We’re all gonna crash!); making sweet love, talking for hours every night; working together renovating her house; Survivor parties, Sunday mornings when the kids would crawl into bed with us to play and all the hours of laughing and sheer joy of life were all the best moments of my life.

Under the “best friends” category there are many people, but top of the list has to be Bianca. She has stood by me through thick and thin over the years. When my Dad died suddenly Bianca jumped on a plane and came to help me. There are no words to describe how she helped me to get through this most difficult time. My family were useless, never lifting a finger to help, not even speaking at my Dad’s service. There were so many things to do and Bianca jumped right in to help in any way she could. Most amazingly she took all my parents’ photos and made a collage of my Dad’s life. I remember the tears of emotion when I first saw what she had done. No one other than Bianca could have captured my Dad’s spirit the way she did.

Throughout the many trials and tribulations of my life here in Panama Bianca has been my rock. She has listened patiently to all my woes, offering her support and encouragement. She jumped in to help me financially when no one else would and she is the reason I am still alive today, be that good or bad. Like a true friend, she has chastised me for my mistakes, giving me the often brutal, but necessary, truth, good or bad. I have suffered unbelievable pangs of loneliness here but Bianca has kept me going in more ways than one. She is a kindred spirit and a truly genuine person.

On my buddy list, of course, at the top of the list has to be Wade. We have shared amazing times over the fifteen years we’ve known each other and he is a part of almost every memory I have. What he did to help me through the total disaster of the reno in Westbank is beyond belief and I can never repay him or thank him enough. The reno turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life, but without his incredible help my life would have been over long ago. He helped to make the best of a very bad situation. When all hell broke loose because my so-called friend, Ric, failed to look after the place as he had promised, paying the bills and taking care of the place, Wade not only jumped in to take care of everything, but he kept it all from me, knowing how the stress would kill me. Despite all the odds against it he managed to put a very creative deal together to sell the place, a deal which saved me from starvation long ago. He put up with a lot of grief from people who wanted a piece of me and he bore the brunt of their anger. None of what happened was his fault in any way, but he came to my rescue when I so desperately needed help.

There are so many other people who helped to shape my life, like Lenny (Linda), who once called me all the way from Turkey just to wish me a happy birthday. I will never forget when she and Dave surprised me when they showed up to do the zip lines with me in Puerto Vallarta.

The lovely Laura, the first person I met in Kelowna. She was working the bar at the Courtplex and we became instant friends. We shared many a laugh over the years, from getting all loopy on New Year’s Eve, to sharing a Valentine’s Day dinner together because neither of us were seeing anyone at the time. We were upstairs at a table by the window at Earl’s when it started gently snowing. As we sipped our wine I said, “oh, this is so romantic. It’s too bad it’s wasted on us.” That brought a tear to her eye and I felt bad. It obviously didn’t come out right.

My “Wifey” Karla

My pretend wife, Karla. I say pretend because we were acting out the part of husband and wife at a murder mystery hosted by Laura and Karla’s sister, Stephanie. Karla had no idea how much I wished we weren’t just pretending. I still remember ripping along the lake with Karla trying to take a sip of her drink. She hollered at me to “slow down to drinking speed”. Many of our friends at the time figured we would end up together, particularly when I saw her through her pregnancy, but it was not to be. My last memory of Karla was going to an Okanagan Sun football game and the tailgate party with her and Les. Good times for sure.

One of the greatest guys I ever met, Mike, alias “Sparky”. Mike was just one of those genuinely nice guys that everybody liked. In all our years together I don’t remember him ever getting angry and losing his cool. He was a genuine friend and so darned likeable.

Brian and Donna

One of my first real buddies in town, Brian Wall. From introducing me to cross-country skiing, hanging out at the Corral, to going sledding in the Greystokes, Brian was always fun to be around. Although we kind of lost touch in the end it was funny when one of his daughters, who was a Realtor, showed my place in Westbank. We knew that we knew each other and finally made the connection. She was all grown up now and as gorgeous as ever. It was a time when I realized just how old I was getting.

One of the best, Greg McCarthy. My two most vivid memories of Greg were adventure boating at Summerland. We had left our camp on the far side of the lake to head down to Penticton. On the trip down Wade and I had all the girls split between us. A wicked storm came up late at night and we didn’t know if we would even make it off the dock, let alone make our way back to the camp. Wade had his 21-foot Summer Thunder boat, and I had what can best be described as a “cork”. All the girls immediately piled into Wade’s boat, of course, leaving me alone. Greg immediately jumped in with me, telling me he would not let me go down alone. It was a wild and scary trip back in the darkness and huge swells and I will never forget Greg volunteering to risk his life with me.

My other memory of Greg was running into him at the Corral. He had moved to Victoria and we hadn’t seen each other for quite a while. I was there with Crystal on our first real arranged date and she didn’t know me that well. Given that Greg is a husky, muscle-bound, tattoo covered guy, it came as quite a shock to Crystal when Greg gave me a big bear hug and kissed me on the cheek. I had to do some fast talking to explain to her that Greg and I were both real men who liked women.

The always corny and comical, well, at least in his drinking days, Don. No one had more one liners or tired jokes than Don. As happens to many people, when he got married and quit drinking he changed a lot, but he was always a fun guy.

Can’t forget Darlene. Besides being the best knee-boarder ever, she was the one who introduced me to Glacier Berry, which I drank for years; our little thing was that I always told her that her happiness was my first concern. When I first met Dar she was living with Norma, the Okanagan’s very own Marilyn Monroe. Norma was every man’s dream – blonde, gorgeous and with a body to die for. Although she was very smart and a wonderful girl, she was the object of much jealousy from all the other girls. Norma was simply one of those girls who was so gorgeous that guys were intimidated to approach her, but she proved to be very approachable once you got to know her. In all the years I knew her she never had a steady boyfriend and I suspect she was actually very lonely. The last time I saw her she had given up being a stewardess, had been married for three years and was working at Household Finance. She was still as lovely as ever.

Who could ever forget Darlene’s eventual husband, Larry. He was the definition of the good-looking, tanned, buff, beach party guy, who, until he married Darlene, many suspected was gay. Until he married Darlene, and they were just friends for many years, Larry never really ever had anyone special. He was always surrounded by gorgeous women, but they were always just friends.

Another favorite person who I met through Darlene was Suzy. The quintessential blonde, Suzy was just one of those people who seemed to genuinely enjoy life. She was a real party girl who was always fun to be around. When she left ICBC I lost track of her. I remember something about her marrying a German soldier boy and I never saw her again.

Part of my life in the Okanagan involved Karen Falloon. Although we lived together for over a year it was admittedly a relationship of convenience for me. Although we enjoyed many things together I never once told her that I loved her, which was a mistake on my part and unfair to her. She got the best of it though because I busted my ass renovating her whole place. What ended it for me was when, jokingly, after I had spent weeks reclaiming a large part of her lot for her, I asked her what half was mine and she freaked on me, telling me it would never be mine and it was her house and on and on. When a friend at a party started telling me how Karen had planned our retirement years together I knew it was time to move on.

While I was with Karen I met the only woman I have truly lusted after, Wendy. She was very flirtatious and suggestive and we had many a moment of playful flirting. She was married and of course I was with Karen, so nothing ever happened. Years later I ran into her at the Corral, with a young hunk on her arm. When I confessed to her how much I had lusted after her earlier and said it was a good thing she was married, she informed me that she wasn’t married anymore and gave me her number. I called and left messages a couple of times, but I guess it was the drink talking at the Corral.

Another good friend over the years was Julia, a friend of Laura’s. I stayed at her place in Vancouver a couple of times and we shared some great times in Merritt. It was her birthday and we made our own dance floor in the middle of the dirt and danced our buns off to the Mavericks, one of my favorite country bands.

Julia was also a part of the only real clandestine, if that is the word, affairs I ever had.

One night at the Corral Wade introduced me to his sister, Tawny. For me it was love at first sight. She was gorgeous, intelligent, funny and, in a way, a challenge. This girl was no pushover, that was obvious. I begged her for hours to dance with me, but she professed not to dance. Finally she gave in and we danced our butts off for hours. As closing time approached Wade asked me if Tawny could crash at my place for the night. Knowing how I felt about her and that she was Wade’s sister, and not to mention she was engaged, all I could smell was danger here, but I agreed. I would be good. Yeah, right.

When we got back to my place I put the music on, poured her a drink and asked her to dance. When she resisted I leaned down and kissed her oh so gently. At first she pulled back, but then, to my considerable surprise, returned the kiss. We slow danced, stroking each other affectionately, not in a sexual way, although I will admit that is where my mind was going rapidly. Knowing, I guess, where this could lead, she said she had better get to bed. I asked, jokingly, “alone” and she said “yes”.

I gave her my bedroom and crashed on the couch, but something told me there was more here, so I knocked on her door and asked if she wanted company. My heart skipped a beat when she whispered “yes”. Without going into details let’s just say we did everything but make love. She was incredible, but also smart enough to realize that she was engaged and if we crossed that line she could never go back.

The next morning over breakfast she surprised me by telling me that the kiss and slow dancing had been the most romantic thing that had ever happened to her. I could not believe that her and Peter had been together for five years and that they had not had more romantic moments. It became more and more obvious that the relationship was more one of convenience and a business partnership. It didn’t sound like there was a lot of love involved.

She returned home and over the next few weeks we talked on the phone for hours. I started sending her romantic poems, which she had to read and delete right away because she said Peter had access to her email account. It was all so juvenile, but exiting and dangerous at the same time.

To my considerable shock, a few weeks later she called off the wedding. She went off to university in the States and we kind of lost touch.

She emailed me to share that she had passed a milestone in her courses. I managed to track down where she was and sent her flowers anonymously to congratulate her. She called immediately, saying she knew they were from me. She told me she had to be in Vancouver in a couple of weeks, so we arranged to meet. This is where Julia came in because that was the ruse as to why I was going down to Vancouver, to spend the week-end with Julia.

One of those cute little things between people is that, whenever I asked Tawny about the marriage thing she would respond with “don’t go there.” Before we went to pick her up at the airport I got a T-shirt with the words, Don’t Go There printed on it. When we picked her up and I gave her the T-shirt she laughed.

Although I had no clue where this was leading I did hope that we would get a chance to talk and rekindle some of the feelings we shared in Kelowna. I had made arrangements for a hotel room, but when we got there she said she was tired and said goodnight. It was all confusing for me and I was glad Julia was there to lean on. Julia suggested that maybe this was all moving too fast for Tawny and she just wanted some breathing room to think things out a bit. I agreed to back-off and Tawny and I spent a wonderful week-end together, blading in Stanley Park and doing Granville Island. There was no real affection or romance though. When I left her at the airport she just said she didn’t know what she was doing or how she really felt and she just needed some time to think. Nothing ever came of it and today we only exchange the occasional email.

The funny part, if there is one, of this whole saga is that it burned a hole in me not telling Wade all this. We never had secrets between us and it killed me not being able to confess everything to him. I was so worried that Tawny might blurt something out to him and then he would be pissed at me that I had not told him about it.

As luck would have it, the night of my Dad’s service, when the weight of all that had to be done was finally lifted off my shoulders, Wade and I were sitting on the beach late that night. I had way too much to drink and finally, in a moment of slobbering weakness, blurted it all out to him. As is so typical of Wade, he said he knew something would happen if Tawny spent the night at my place. I got the feeling that he didn’t much care for Peter and felt that Tawny was making a big mistake marrying him. He saw how much fun Tawny was having with me I, I guess, figured that I might stir something in her to make her question what she was doing. He said that when she called off the wedding he figured I had something to do with her decision. Most importantly, he wasn’t upset with me at all. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Countless others, like Sheila, Sid’s ex, who I always had a thing for. Celia, Mike’s ex, who played on my pool team and the only twenty something I ever lusted after. Darla, another great dance partner, who ended up moving to the States to be with her daughter. Brian, alias Aquaman, and his fiery red-headed wife, Linda. Two of my favorite people in the world, Ron and Suzanne. Merle at the Corral. Deb, the receptionist at the Courtplex and the first girl I ever asked out in the Okanagan and also the first one to turn me down. Francine, the little French bombshell, who I spent a night of incredible passion with camping just outside Vernon one week-end. My other Frenchie, Sylvie Sanson, one of the most passionate women I ever met in my life.

John Grant, a good buddy over the years and a great dancer. All the people who I met through the ski club, Kelly, Krista, Teresa, Rob, Cathy, Donna, DJ, and so many more. Darlene Garnier, another great dance partner and a woman I always fantasized over ending up with. She was a very successful lady and as close as I ever got was planting a bunch of bushes for her at her house in Westbank. If I were ever to be a kept man, Darlene would be my choice. Doris Bonn. Carolyn and Craig on my pool team.

Trish Major, another one of those girls you only dream about. Ask Trish about the secret music tape I made for her, the one that nearly ended up with me charged for stalking over. Tom and Norm, the only openly gay guys I ever knew in my life and who threw the best Christmas parties. Jean, another one of my favorite dance partners with whom we invented a little hop step that was uniquely ours. The lovely Waneeta, Greg’s ex, my favorite Budweiser girl. Gloria, the oldest woman I ever had sex with in my life. I knew I was in trouble when she took her teeth out, although this did have some benefits later. My lasting memory of Gloria was the night she told me Wade got all drunked up and told her that I was a womanizer and cruel to women, including Tracy, who, in fact, had asked me to move out, not the other way around. I remember being devastated that someone I thought was my best friend would say these things about me, but I never spoke to him about it.

Good or bad, I also met a lot of people through my various jobs in BC, which is the reason I have almost four thousand contacts in my Outlook program. From busting my ass working on the line at Western Star, unquestionably the worst job I ever had in my life, through computer consulting, part of that with Northern Computer, to Shaw Fiberlink, my all-time favorite job, to selling cell phones with Pacific Cellular and Sunwest Cellular, to travelling the south Okanagan selling tax programs for FBC, to briefly working the Okanagan for Business Thompson Okanagan newspapers and, finally, my fateful renovation in Westbank, I came into contact with hundreds of fellow employees, bosses and clients. Although no one position stands out, Shaw Fiberlink shutting down suddenly, costing me some eighty thousand dollars in lost commissions is certainly memorable for all the wrong reasons.

When you think about it, it is truly amazing all of the people who pass through your life. What I have dealt with here are only those people who made a difference in my life during my fifteen years in the Okanagan. Others, long forgotten, are part of my forty-three years on the planet before I moved to the Okanagan.

No doubt I am but a distant memory in their lives as well, but for the purpose of this record of my life, just some people that come to mind are Zak and Joyce Marshall, truly close friends. Zak and I played in a band for over ten years together. Others in the band were Nolan Yearwood, who was the Commissioner of Finance for the City of Toronto, and Alan McQuillan, the forever child of the sixties in our band. I wonder where they all are now?

My very first band was at the tender age of only fifteen. We were the Tempests and included Dave Kirk, Don Thurston, and Chris Hayes. Surprised I even remember that far back.

Tons of friends made from high school in Streetsville and from my years in Brampton. Ontario. Roxanne Rollings, my first sweetie. Doug Church. Brian and Lynn Jamieson. Glen and Dale Ellis. Gary Ellis, who my ex ended up marrying. Greg Smith, my Realtor. Jim Webb, who I was in business with for a time at GlassVision Solariums. Gerry Waterhouse, my one time boss and eventual business partner. Jim and Trudy Fox. Bill and Gerri Peters. Steve and Rosemary Vass. I worked with Steve at the TD Bank. Bobbi and Dave Rogers. Keith and Rhonda Graham, my next door neighbors at our only new home. Too many names to ever remember.

The people I miss the most of course are my kids and grandkids. Forever the loves of my life, no regret of my life is larger than losing contact with them and their five kids. Had I known when they encouraged me to move to the Okanagan to find happiness that it would mean losing all of them in the process, my life would have taken a completely different course, one that certainly would have been better than where I find myself today. Leaving this earthly world without ever connecting with them again is my regret for all eternity.

Ain’t camping fun?

Now I remember why I don’t “camp”. We were going up to Ashton Creek for Lorenzo’s Cafe’s 10th anniversary Music Fest, and wanted to camp Friday and Saturday nights. I needed to get up there early Friday night to reserve good “first-come, first-served” camping sites for the ski club. After twelve hours in the sun at the festival I also thought driving home was the last thing I wanted to do. So there was the plan. Crystal was getting off early so we could get up to the campground as early as possible.

The plan started Thursday with running around getting the things I didn’t have as an seasoned camper. One find was what I thought was going to be very cool – an inverter to run power equipment. It was on sale at CTC at half-price. What a deal! I do like my coffee in the morning, so I was debating over whether to spend the bucks on a coffee machine just for camping. Now I could run my radio, charge my cell anything that needed power. Way cool!

I was up at 5:30 Friday to start packing everything. Man, you need a whole lot of stuff to camp! So much to remember. The truck was full. I planned to food shop last thing on the way to get Crystal, and had what I thought was plenty of time. Little did I know the whole world would be at Extra Foods when I shopped. I have never seen it so busy. Every cash was open – a rarity at Extra Foods, and there were lineups at every till, so now I was running late, but I thought I would still make it on time to get Crystal. Not a chance. The thousand or so people sitting parked on Highway 97 had other ideas for me. I just crawled for miles towards the dreaded bridge. I finally got to Crystal’s after three, so we started off late.

We had to make a stop on the way in Vernon because I still hadn’t managed to find a table, and I knew there weren’t any at the campground. We did manage to pick up a nifty little fold-up table that turned out to be one of the only things that worked.

Weeks ago I had spoken with the guy running the camping and had arranged to give him a list of who all was camping from the ski club, and I had collected from everyone at the previous week meeting to make sure they showed or were at least paid for. After we arrived and picked a nice spot on the river, the other guy running the campground decided the list thing was no good and he wanted everyone to pay as they came in. Duh! So the arguments started. Eventually he came around and allowed me to pay for each person as they showed up, but it was a lot of running around, when I was trying to set-up camp. The worst was a guy with an RV, for whom I had confirmed the camp had power and water, but when we got there, the power line had fried weeks ago, and the only water was for the whole campground. I finally managed to find him a spot at another campground, but he went the wrong way and ended up back in Enderby. He came back to ask for a refund of his camping money and ticket money, as he was giving up and going home. Guys who don’t get “turn right” should not be allowed to drive an RV.

My original plan had been to get there, get camp set-up, relax and have a drink, and start supper. With working my face off with the reno, all I wanted was some relaxing down time. And after going flat out for two days, I needed a break.

The first disaster was the tent. I had bought it a month or so ago, on sale at CTC for half price. When we opened it up it turned out to have been used, and was covered with what looked like tree sap. Not a pleasant surprise. I had also bought a stove with a grill burner, which I thought was so neat to do steaks, bacon and so on. After Brian got it set up and a burner going, Crystal started the potatoes, and I was going to do the steak of the grill. No such luck. The damn grill wouldn’t light no way, no how, and the instructions, like all those written in Chinese, made no sense. So we had to set the potatoes aside and fry the steak in the pan on the only burner we had. Very frustrating. With all the running around for the club, and the camping confusion, and the equipment failures I was NOT having a good time. Then everyone left to go to Lorenzo’s, so we were on our own. I lit a fire just to try to get rid of the mosquitoes, certainly not for the heat, and it worked a bit. My frustration level was pretty high after two days of this, then Crystal didn’t like the noise from people partying, and asked me if anyone was going home tomorrow? That was kind of the “last straw” for me, so I suggested she find a “guy” at the Festival to take her home. What I should have said, even with the frustration, was “someone”, NOT “guy”, ’cause that upset her and she went to bed. So I was left sipping my beer, all alone, sitting in the dark, pissed off, and couldn’t even go to bed because I had to watch the fire I just lit. When I finally managed to crawl into the truck, the mosquitoes never quit buzzing me, so I hardly slept. Not a great first night.

I was hoping beyond hope that even with the mosquitoes I would at least manage to doze on and off for a bit, but no luck. I was wide awake at 6:00 as usual, but at least I would look forward to my coffee. I had got the coffee maker all ready the night before and just not turned the inverter on. When I flipped it on, the coffee maker immediately went off. New day. More frustration. My neighbor came over and first offered the coffee he had ready, which was great, then informed me my wonderful inverter was only 300 watts and my coffee make needed more than that, but he had 1000 watt unit we could hook to my battery. Great, I thought! The coffee maker was too much even for his invertor, so there would be no pot of coffee ready for everyone. In frustration I packed the coffee maker up in the box, forgetting that it was full of fresh, unbrewed coffee, which promptly spilled all over the box. Breakfast went a little better, as I managed to get the griddle lit and made the bacon. And the swim in the river was awesome. It was already getting hot and that cool water felt great!

Except for the sound system going out for several hours, the festival was what we expected. Great music, late but great. The Salmon Armenians, who I built the website for, were good, except Lody didn’t mention the ski club, as I had asked, but they did mention the site. I also got to talk to Sabrina Weeks, their lead singer and she liked the site. A bright spot. Although it was purdy damned hot we did manage to get a few grass dances in. We even had our picture taken by one of the local newspapers. Dancing in the dark with stones and sticks is quite the experience. We did go down to the actual dance floor once but it was very hot. I danced Crystal into the misters unexpectedly, which the crowd enjoyed.

We had broken camp before going to the festival, to be ready to leave as soon as it was over, which of course was very late. I didn’t get home until after two, pretty exhausted, only to discover that the last flush of the toilet before I left had not gone anywhere and the toilet was backed up yet again. I just had it snaked last week. And, yes, I just HAD to go, so welcome home. Then I remembered I had paid for two nights camping, and didn’t get a refund, and I left my new mister at the festival.

Today has barely started and it’s already not great. Going to be really hot and I have a backed up toilet to add to the heat in the house. I’ve called the emergency number early this morning, but no call yet. Luckily the campground has washrooms, or I wouild really be in trouble. I was at least looking forward to getting out and doing something with Crystal, but she has old friends coming in from Calgary “sometime today”, so even that’s a bust.

Hope you are having a much better weekend.

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