2022 Year in Review

Over the course of the almost twenty years I’ve maintained this personal website I’ve often done a review of the previous year highlighting some of the major things that have happened and looking forward to the next year. Most often it seems like I am always hoping that the next year will be better. My site motto is the “good, the bad and the ugly” and it appears that the bad and the ugly usually win out.

2022 was mostly about my health. As we grow older our health becomes more and more important. The ravages 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 even if I make it that far. I am also diabetic and a smoker so that’s two strikes against me already. 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. Thankfully it has gotten better. I’m still a little shaky in the shower but I’m not banging into the walls of my apartment. I’ve even managed to dance again.

There are two related issues with this condition. First, and clearly the most critical, is not knowing what is causing this loss of balance. As usual too much analysis can be paralysis. Back when the CT scan was scheduled I researched why you get one of your head and the results were not great. Everything from a brain tumor to aneurysm or a stroke. Scary stuff! Thankfully the results of the scan showed nothing abnormal, but being referred to a neurologist was just as scary. My research points to vestibular balance disorders because it can be a result of diabetes and one of the symptoms is tinnitus which I suffer from. Obviously self diagnosis is dangerous so I won’t know until I actually get to see the neurologist.

The other major issue with this situation is with my kids. Not to be overly dramatic but if whatever this is turns out to be fatal I didn’t want my kids to find out I was gone from some random Facebook post. I felt they had the right to know about my condition. As I have lamented many times over the years my kids all abandoned me for reasons I have never known. My wonderful daughter, Heather, has not connected with me in almost thirty years now. My son, Chris, connected with me back in London, Ontario is 2009, but blocked me on Facebook soon after. My other son, Andy, from another mother, hasn’t blocked me but has chosen not to have anything to do with me. As far a grandkids go I just recently learned that my daughter had another son back in 2019 but nobody told me. Heather now has three kids who don’t know anything about me. Chris has three daughters, only one of which I had contact with. When I lived in Mexico she messaged me on Facebook, saying she was so upset that her parents didn’t let her make her own decision about me. We chatted back and forth for a while and then she was coming to Mexico for a friend’s wedding and she would let me know where and when. Then suddenly she blocked me too with no reasons why. It’s all so very confusing.

I tried to let my kids know. My cousin in Toronto doesn’t have any contact with my kids and didn’t want to get involved anyway. Friends, like Annie in Mexico, had her daughter message Mackenzie to contact me, but her mother sent me an angry message telling me to stop having anyone message her daughter. At one point Andrew’s mother, Pat, had put Chris and Heather in touch with him and they met each other, so I was hoping that he might let them know about my situation, but I asked Pat if it was okay if I told Andrew and she blew up at me and told me not to contact Andrew, so there went that idea. I had made arrangements with my Executor to access my Facebook account and have someone do a post that I was gone, but we had a stupid fight about something he completely misunderstood so I don’t know if he’s going to be my Executor or not. After the fight he said he was going to return all the paperwork to me but he hasn’t done that yet, so I don’t know if I have anyone to look after things or not. It’s all such a mess and so stressful.

Besides the health issue my life over the last year has not been great.

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 corporation 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 months 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 to the neurologist 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 paid 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. Back in 2021 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 clearly 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. At one point she even offered to marry me so I could stay in Mexico, but then there were issues with her husband’s pension which she would lose if we got married. 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.

Another not so great part of the year was getting scammed by girls on Facebook. Two in particular were really bad. Okay, I’m stupid to fall for them but I’m just too trusting. With both of them we had chatted for hours and hours and they both said they wanted to visit me, and making offers hard to refuse. Both were gorgeous if the photos they sent were really them. The first, Mary Hannah, lived in Toronto. She said she would borrow a car from her friend and come and stay with me for a “few days”. It was too tempting and by this time I trusted her. She wanted thirty-five dollars for gas but I told her that would not get her to Belleville, so I offered her fifty but told you that was all I could afford so she would need to get herself home. She agreed. She was going to shower and head off to see me. About an hour later she texted me that she was stranded at a gas station, out of gas, apparently because the car was not good on gas. Not wanting to see her stranded I sent her more money. About an hour later she again texts me that she’s in Belleville but out of gas. I ask her where she is and she gives me an address where there is no gas station. I tell her to give my number to the gas station attendant and tell him to call me to get my credit card for gas, but she says he refuses to do that. I tell her that the address she gave me is around the corner from me so walk over, but she doesn’t want to leave her car there overnight. Now realizing that she’s still at home I refuse to send any more money. She responds with pleas that it’s not safe for her to sleep in her car. Just more and more lies. I tell her we’re so done.

Lesson learned? No. Next a friend of a friend contacts me on Facebook and we chat for hours. Sandra Scott is in Ottawa and wants to come and visit me. Of course she sends photos to encourage me and makes offers too good to refuse. At first she says she’s going to take an Uber to me, which is insane because it would cost hundreds of dollars. Then she’s going to borrow a car and needs gas money, of course. Do I yet again fall for it? Well, first I go back to the friend I’ve known for months and ask her if this Sandra can be trusted and she says she really wants to visit me and she can be trusted. I send Sandra fifty dollars. She cashes the gift card and disappears on me. A day or so later she comes back and messages me that she’s so sorry. She had a “medical emergency”, her period, and needed pads and medications. Again she promises to come, but by now I am very suspicious so I go back to my friend, who tells me that Sandra had messaged her saying how sorry she was about what happened and how much she still wants to meet me. I fall for it and send her another fifty dollars. She says she’s on her way. I had given her my address and asked if she knew how to get here and she said the car had GPS so she would find me. A few hours later she texts me that she can’t find me. I ask where she is and she gives me a street about a block away from me. I give her directions. Far too long later she gives me a different street, further away. She adds that the car has broken down but there’s a guy who will give her a ride for fifty bucks. I tell her that’s ridiculous to come a couple of blocks and I will send her a cab. I ask her to give me a specific house address where she is. Her response is her phone is dying so hurry up and send the fifty bucks because the guys are looking scary. Instead I call a cab telling them it’s urgent and we go to the street where she said she was. Of course there’s no car and no guys. All lies. Add another twenty bucks for the cab to my losses.

Naturally I go back to the friend who had told me to trust Sandra and she says she is so pissed off that she scammed me. She says Sandra is very sorry and will pay me back. Yeah, right. I am so angry I tell Sandra that I am going to file a report with the RCMP Fraud Centre is she doesn’t pay me back within twenty-four hours. She not only doesn’t respond she isn’t even bright enough to delete our chat which clearly shows she scammed me. I copy the chat and submit it along with her supposed photos to the fraud centre, although I doubt they will do anything. I also do a post on Facebook with her photos warning people not to fall for her scam.

Since this happened several other girls who have friended me also asked for money. Not to visit me, but for photos and videos, but I’ve told them that I have been scammed badly before and I will never ever send money to anybody again. Some have said that it’s not fair to not trust them because of what happened with someone else, which may be true, but I’m firm on not doing it again. Period.

Yes, as per usual, I hope 2023 is better. A lot better. Just surviving another year would be a bonus.

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