Yet another birthday

Just turned 73. Feeling very old this year, but, as is said, getting old is a privilege denied to many. Normally I review the posts I've done on previous birthdays just to see what stage I was at and what were my thoughts going forward. Regardless of the setbacks I normally try to remain optimistic for the future. Not so much this year.

As we grow older our health becomes more and more important. The raves of age can be cruel. For me as I've gotten older I have sensed my own mortality more as I draw closer to the ages of my parents. My Dad died in my arms when he was eighty-one and my Mum, who had advanced Alzheimer's, died at eighty-four, so that's not a long time from now if I make it that far. I am also diabetic and a smoker so that's two strikes against me already. This birthday I am dealing with a new issue of great concern.

A couple of months ago I was shooting video of a band down at the Caribbean Festival, holding my phone up over the heads of the crowd, when I suddenly felt like I was going to fall down. I wasn't dizzy or faint, just lost my balance. I stumbled back to grab onto the building, then managed to get to my bus home with the help of the auxiliary police. After that I spent hours and hours in the Emergency Department getting all kinds of tests, including a CT scan, all of which came back negative. A doctor at a local clinic gave me an urgent referral to a neurologist; however, there are none in Belleville and the closest one is in Kingston and I have no idea how to get there. I've been waiting weeks for the call, but I'm told it could be months.

Over the many years I've maintained this website I've often done a year end review, but seeing as how I might not still be here at the end of this year I figured I'd add a bit of a review here instead.

Without question this has been the most boring year of my life. Being stuck back in the most boring city I've ever lived in is bad enough, but even compared to my previous years here this is by far the worst ever. Before I made yet another fateful decision and moved to Mexico for two years my life here wasn't all that bad. Although I lived in various group homes and never had a place to call my own, I did have friends and did a lot. With my friend, JC, at the group home on Forin, we went down to Kingston several weekends, and went over to Wolfe island. We went to Sandbanks to swim. We had a most interesting day visiting the monarch butterfly exhibit. We also went out to dinner a few times and went to the show. When I returned to Belleville in 2019 he had moved to Winnipeg. Although I ended up in Forin again, nobody had a car so we never went anywhere.

Someone who was a good friend was Doral. She took me to the Legion in Trenton many Saturdays for their dances with great bands. I also helped her at her trailer several times. She also took us to volunteer at the Elvis Festival in Tweed, which was a fun weekend. She and our friend, Kate, also went to the Monday brunches at the casino before they shutdown for COVID. I also helped Doral with a flea market event at the Trenton Legion. We danced at all the various music events at the Belleville Legion and the concerts at the Lions pavilion on Wednesdays and Sundays. When I returned in 2019 of course the world went into lockdown when the virus hit so there were no dances or events to go to. Now that things have slowly recovered Doral has written me out of her life. I saw her at the Canada Day event at Zwick park and asked her about going to the dances in Trenton again but she said she was too busy selling her clothes at various festivals and jamborees to go. She's never called about going to the casino either.

Someone who has helped me more than anyone in my life is Bob Cottrell, the President of All-Together Housing, the charity who ran the group homes I stayed in over the years. When I went to Mexico he let me store all my storage bins in the basement at Forin and when I came back to apply for residency in Mexico he brought all the bins to the hotel for us to sell everything, and this despite having a heart attack the day he was to meet us. After I was forced back from Mexico he managed to get me into Forin again and even paid an invalid collection from the housing corp in London, Ontario so that I could qualify for more permanent housing, without which I'd be on the streets now. After I moved out to my own apartment he basically wrote me out of his life. I had spent hours on a major shipping container apartment project and asked to meet him to go over it and see how we could get funding and approvals for it, but he never responded. A couple of months ago I was in a very rough state of depression and I wrote him a very pleading email for help from the mental health folks here, but, again, he didn't respond. Then I had a major issue with someone who's been my best buddy and I asked Bob to speak to him, and he said he would, but that was weeks ago now and he's done nothing.

Probably the biggest challenge this year has been what happened with my best buddy, Rob. After I moved out of Forin we lost touch for almost a year and I had no clue why. Then one day while I was out front of the building having a smoke he comes walking up and starts chatting as though nothing had ever happened. He told me he finally got his own apartment just around the corner from me so he came to see me. I was thrilled that we connected again and we went for coffee at Tim's several times. When I faced this new health issue that could end my life I realized that I needed someone to deal with selling and donating my stuff. Bob Cottrell was my Executor and I knew he wasn't going to handle things anymore, so I asked Rob if he would be my Executor and he agreed. We spent the next couple of weeks getting my new will updated and signed, having him meet my landlady, and going over all the things to do with my websites and so on. I was so relieved that everything would be handled by someone I could trust.

Then Rob asked me if the doctor at the Bayview Clinic would fill out his paperwork for ODSP so he could get more money. I was visiting the clinic to get my referral so I asked Dr. Maraghi if he would complete Rob's paperwork and he agreed. Rob asked me to go with him to introduce him to Dr. Maraghi and I agreed because I said I was going to ask Dr. Maraghi if he got my medical records from the hospital. When we met at the clinic I went in with Rob, introduced him and asked Dr. Maraghi if he got my records and he said to check with the front office. No sooner had I gone outside than Rob came out very pissed at me. He said after I left the doctor Dr. Maraghi had throw his paperwork back at him and said the appointment was over because I had used the time. Rob hurled insults at me, finally telling me to f*ck off and that he was going to drop off all the paperwork we had signed for my will. He told me to lose his number and never call him again. I was really upset at what had happened.

When I got home, still very upset, I realized that the fault here was Dr. Maraghi. Why would he treat Rob with such disrespect simply because I took thirty seconds to ask him a question? I sat down and wrote a three page letter detailing what had happened and asking him to be professional and call Rob to come back in again and complete his paperwork as he should done the first time. When I met Rob again to give him back some money he had loaned me I gave him a copy of the letter so he would know why the clinic was calling him. To my considerable surprise he called me later to tell me he had shown my letter to a police officer because somewhere in the letter he got that I was threatening him. I read the letter again and for the life of me couldn't see where he got this. As he was yelling at me he did mention that the clinic had in fact called him to come in again, but he had gotten his paperwork completed somewhere else. It didn't matter. The friendship was over. Although at this point, weeks later, he still hasn't returned my will I doubt he will handle things if I drop dead.

A recurring issue this year has been not being able to get a ride anywhere from anyone, including my offers to give gas money. I have not gone to a single Wednesday or Sunday Lion's concert at Zwick because no buses go there. The buses in this town stop running Saturday nights and early on Sundays and not at all on holidays so that's not an option. For every single event I have posted an offer of gas money on Facebook but not a soul has responded. If I still drove I would offer anyone a ride and not ask for gas money because I'm going there anyway. Belleville must be the most unfriendly town anywhere.

Maybe also related to the whole "friends" thing is what happened with a neighbor here in the building, Dave. He had previously lived in the apartment I now live in and we had chatted when we saw each other. One day he asked me if I was interested in playing shuffleboard at the Legion. Although I had not played in years I said I would try so he told me to meet him in front of the building and we would go together in his car. I enjoyed it and joined the league. After a couple of weeks we went to the local fish and chip shop for dinner and I paid to thank him for the rides to the Legion. He also took me out to the reserve to get my smokes, for which he wanted twenty dollars so I paid him. Every week we went to Tim's on the way and I always paid. Then one week I was waiting for him in the lobby but he didn't come, so I called him to ask when we were going. He said he had already left and when I asked him why he said because I never gave him any money for gas! He had never asked me for gas money to go to the same place he was already going. I guess he forgot about the expensive dinner I had pad for and the Tim's every week. We have barely spoken ever since. I have heard that he's spread the story about me not giving him gas money to other tenants. He sees me taking the bus every week and drives to the Legion himself but never offers me a ride or says anything to me. A nice lady at the shuffleboard, Nancee, often offers me a ride home and won't accept gas money.

A few other people affected my life this year. Jassmin is someone I met on Facebook. Last year we met for dinner at Signal Brewing, went to the cheap Tuesday movies at Cineplex a few times, biking along the lake twice, and planned to go to a beach somewhere. So much that I bought a lawn chair, a cooler and a backpack, but we never ended up going. This year I emailed her before every Tuesday asking her what movie she'd like to see, but she was always "too busy". She never once asked me to go biking and nothing about going to a beach.

Back in 2020 I also met Sornia at the Trenton Legion. When I got up the courage to ask her to dance it was just incredible. She was one of the best dance partners I ever had in my life. People who saw us dance would ask us how long we had been married. In my dreams! I really liked her and hoped for more, to at least get to dance with her, but she never once responded to my message on Facebook about upcoming dances and she posted videos from various dances she had gone to, so not interested in even dancing with me, let alone anything more.

Yet another disappointment was with my dear and oldest friend, Linda, who I have always called Lenny. We were the best of friends during the fourteen years I lived in the Okanagan and we had many adventures together. She is the one who phoned me from Turkey on my birthday many years ago. This year, out of the blue, she called me and we talked for hours, mostly about memories and where friends were now. One very upsetting thing she told me was that someone who had been a very close friend, Bianca, had told her never to lend me money. When Lenny asked her why she said she had leant me seventeen thousand dollars when I lived in Panama and I had never paid her back! This shocked the heck out of me because it was a total lie! It's a very long story but Bianca had pressured me about investing in my website business in Ecuador. I had registered domain names for several cities and was building the first site, WelcomeToBoquete, as the model for other sites. I had just hired a local Panamanian girl to work with me as a reporter and sales person and she got an exclusive interview with the mayor. I was also making inroads with a large grocery chain, Romeros, and several banks to advertise on all my sites. After much discussion, most of which was me warning Bianca that it was a very risky investment which could either pay off huge or she could lose it all, I finally agreed to sell her ten percent of the company for two thousand dollars. When I was forced to return to Canada the business fell apart, obviously, and just as I had warned her. It was never a loan and certainly not seventeen thousand dollars. I have no idea where this amount came from or why she would lie that it was a loan. I would never have borrowed any money from her or anyone else.

The one and only constant friendship I had throughout the year was with Annie in Mexico. We chatted on Messenger almost every day as we have since I returned to Canada in November 2019. She has always wanted me to come back to Mexico but I would again lose the GIS pension after six months so we would have to figure out how to survive. Annie is that person in your life that whenever something really good or really bad happens they are the first person you want to tell. She is literally the only friend I have in the world.

Nothing makes me sadder than the situation with my family. My three adult kids and what I only recently learned my six grandkids. I knew about five but my daughter, Heather, had another baby back in 2019, but nobody bothered to tell me. For many, many years now, with my daughter ever since I moved out west to be with my then dying mother, with Heather's blessing, and with my son, Chris, since way back in 2009 when we met in London, Ontario, I have never stopped trying to contact them. When I was living in Mexico my granddaughter, Mackenzie, contacted me on Facebook and she was so upset at her parents that they had not let her make her own decision about me. We chatted back and forth then she told me she was coming to Mexico for a friend's wedding and wanted to meet. Soon after she stopped responding to my messages and then blocked me on Facebook. No reasons why. Over all these years not only have I tried to contact my kids but friends and girlfriends have also tried, but all failed.

Now with this new health issue that could spell the end of me I felt that my kids and grandkids deserved to know. Sure, maybe they didn't care but I still felt an obligation to let them know before I was gone. I asked a couple of friends to message Mackenzie to ask her to contact me. All I got was a terse message from her mom telling me not to have anyone message Mackenzie. My cousin in Toronto, who gave me shelter when I was forced back from Ecuador, refused to get involved. When I wanted to contact my son, Andrew, I first asked his mother, Pat, if it was okay. I got an angry response telling me not to contact him.

I swear to the world, maybe even on my death bed, that I was never done anything in my life to deserve this treatment. I have always been very strong on family values. I loved my kids and devoted my life to them during my twenty-three year marriage. My son and I sure had some challenges but nothing to ever end our father son relationship. I was always so proud of my daughter and we had the best ever relationship. She knew my marriage was a disaster and encouraged me to leave. She called me in BC and asked me to come down to visit her and I drove through the depths of winter to get to her, but my ex and her new husband hid her away and wouldn't let me see her. I drove back to BC in tears. My biggest regret in my life will be dying without ever knowing why my family abandoned me. It hurts every single day.


Well, there ya go. My most boring year. Happy friggin birthday!