Lessons Learned Too Late

In all honesty I don’t know why I keep writing because no one is paying any attention to me, which, ironically, is the heart of the problem.

For as long as I can remember, and that’s a very long time, going all the way back to when I lived on Hugo Avenue in Toronto, I had terrible eczema. So bad that I scratched all the skin off my hands. My mother sewed me little bags to put over my hands to avoid grossing the other kids out. It must be the innocence of youth that my friends hadn’t learned to be cruel yet. They were all so supportive, not because they felt sorry for me, just that they wanted to help. I remember one day my foot was also in a bag and I had to ride my bike home. Obviously I would have trouble walking. My friend saw me struggling to turn the pedals and he came over and helped me to get home. He lived in the other direction from me, but it didn’t matter. He simply wanted to help.

Back in those same years I had two friends I remember fondly. One was Rolph Scholemberg, the other was Sharon. Rolph’s parent were German and didn’t speak a word of English. That didn’t matter to anyone. They often invited me for dinner and we managed, sometimes with a lot of hand signals, but always a lot of laughter which came easy and didn’t rely on language. My friend Sharon was my first “crush” at eleven years old. She was blonde (oh, the first of many who charmed me in my life). She was gorgeous. She was intelligent. She was fun. She also had polio and walked with a limp. Didn’t matter a damn to me. It just wasn’t important in our true friendship. It hurt so bad when my parents bought a farm north of Streetsville and left Toronto and my wonderful friends. When you’re twelve you figure it’s the end of the world and you will never find friends like that again. Maybe so.

Living on the “farm” proved to be quite the different life from the big city. We only had the old farmhouse, not the whole farm. It was owned by Jack Fraser, the real farmer. He had the barn and a bunch of cows, who were just amusement for all the city kids who came out on the weekends. Kids of my parent’s friends. I was the oldest of the bunch so I quickly became the entertainment director for the kids, piling up hay in the barn so they could all jump off the beams above.

We had the two acres with the house, which was like going back to the eighteen hundreds. No indoor plumbing. Water from a well. An outhouse (so much fun in the winter). A big pot-bellied stove. Kerosene heaters in the bedrooms (dangerous as hell). Coal in the basement for the giant furnace. Insul-brick siding which left the house freezing. What felt like a mile-long lane-way in the winter when it came time to shovel. My Dad had great plans which is why I spent most of my teen years working with him. We actually got a bathroom with a shower eventually. I remember him dragging me out of bed when I had the mumps to hold some copper piping while he welded and I fainted. He dropped the propane torch and nearly burned the house down. One very cold night in the winter I came down to find him laying wet towels on the kitchen floor because he had put too much coal in the stove and it was so hot it was melting the kitchen linoleum.

The house was surrounded mostly by fields but there was a river through the valley right next to the house. There was always somewhere to explore and lots to do. We were too remote for anyone of my friends to visit, so most of the time was spent with my brother and sister. I remember we built a raft to go down the river in the spring when it was ten times its normal size. Crazy as it sounds we still had to jump over the barbed wire fences that stretched across the river and then land back on the raft. Never once fell in, surprisingly. Those were the days when social life just meant “outside”.

For me my life was basically helping my Dad and school, going to school in a three-room schoolhouse with multiple grades in each class. It’s a wonder how I graduated. I think my room was grades five through eight, so you would be trying to concentrate while the teacher was teaching the other grades. Not a moment’s peace. About the only time it was fun was when he would send us all outside. Our school “social life”. I don’t remember having any special friend, probably because we rarely, if ever, visited each other outside of school. The village of Churchville where most of the kids lived was a long bike ride from our house out in the sticks. My parents were both working and came home too tired to drive us anywhere and then pick us up later. My Dad was a welder at Texaco in Port Credit (nearly killed him in a fire) and my Mom worked at Northern Electric in Brampton.

The one and only exception for me was the lovely Roxanne Rollings. Now, there was girl for me. I would ride all the way to her house in Churchville and we would talk until it was getting too dark for me to ride home. That girl had my heart and I figured we would get married someday and have a wonderful life together. What a stupid dream! I don’t think she ended up going to Streetsville Secondary like most of us but I did hear many years later that she had married Wayne Wilson, who I instantly hated for stealing my girl.

High School was, well, high school. Lots of ups and downs with lots of friends along the way. I still remember being in class when they announced that JFK had been shot and killed. It was a terrible moment with all the kids in class crying. The world changed at that moment. I was a huge admirer of JFK. I used to rush home from school to watch his many press conferences. I hung on his every word.

It was the first time I got involved in music. My friends were singing some song in the cafeteria at lunch and I started drumming on the tables with two knives. Yes. Silver knives. Not plastic. One of them said I was pretty good and he knew a band that was looking for a drummer, which I wasn’t, of course. I did end up joining The Tempests and had a ball playing school concerts and after-school dances. It was also the first time I learned how the ladies like a musician. I hadn’t been getting anywhere with women as far as romance went so suddenly having all these cute girls come up to talk to me after we played was great. Somehow I made it all the way through high school without a real girlfriend. No idea why except maybe I was so focused on the band and didn’t have a lot of time for girls. A good friend was Francis Gardner. A girl who was so sexy, and I lusted after that one, was Valerie. Can’t remember her last name. Sad that somewhere over the years I’ve lost all my Tigrean yearbooks from SSS.

I left school after grade 12. I started working delivering newspaper bundles part-time and trying to do half-days in grade 13, but it proved to be impossible. That and the time spent practicing with the band was getting be just too much. I think I was sixteen when I left home. I just couldn’t handle my Dad anymore. His idea of discipline back then was to use the strap to beat the hell out of you. I went to live with a guy in the band, David Kirk, for a while.

At one point I joined Classmates and connected with a couple of people from high school. There was a fifty year reunion coming up back then but I couldn’t afford to go because I was in BC then. I wish I could have gone though. Would have been nice to see friends from those old school days.

As far as work goes, over the next fifty years or so I had a lot of jobs. I was only fired from one and that’s another very long story. My first real job was with the Toronto-Dominion Bank, only because that’s where my mother worked at the time and she convinced me it would be good for me. I started at their branch in Cooksville and moved through nine branches in just over two years, on the bank’s three-year advancement program. I did meet a whole lot of people, especially moving through all those branches all over Toronto, but there wasn’t much point in making friends when you were leaving soon. My two memorable experiences with the bank were, one, working three weeks filling in for the manager while he was on vacation and the manager who was supposed to fill-in had died. It must have been very hard for clients to be dealing with their most important purchase, a home, sitting across from a nineteen year old making the decision. I was very proud to learn that my default rate was zero, so I made the right decisions.

The other one was just as memorable but no fun. I was working at the Keele and Wilson branch as what they called the Administration Officer when we were robbed by the infamous Montreal Gang. I still remember staring down the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun. They only got the money they scooped from the tills because the First Teller, who kept the vault combinations in her passbook, took her customer’s passbook to the vault by mistake. She never got flustered though and they were counting down from sixty, apparently timing the traffic light at the corner to escape. We were the branch that took in thousands of dollars every day from the Canadian Tire where people paid for their driver’s licenses. I think there was over two hundred thousand dollars in the vault, but they only got fourteen thousand from the tills. It was all a traumatic experience that I never wanted to go through again. And all this for fifty dollars a week?

Over the years in Ontario and BC I sold everything you can think of, from working in Retail selling shoes and clothing to selling Real Estate at the worst time in Canadian history for Real Estate. Had the market not fallen apart so badly I might still be doing that because I was very good at it and loved it despite the challenges. My worst job was working for a short time at Dominion Glass. The foreman picked me to go down to where the rejected milk bottles went back into the furnace. He gave me a crowbar, a face shield and a leather apron and told me my job was to smash the bottles because they were all too big to go through the hopper going back into the furnace. Talk about dangerous! Worse, at the end of my shift, he asked me to do another shift, probably because no one else was dumb enough to do the job.

This post has become more rambling than I planned, but, hell, it’s my site so I’ll do what I want, right? My original focus was going to be on the value of true friends and what has happened now to drive me to suicide, partly because of so-called friends. I’ve had some real awakenings lately on that subject.

As I assess my life, my ups and downs, my mistakes and see where it all got me, I’m obviously disappointed. Regardless of what I’ve faced in my life I’ve never wanted to give up, until now. I have always been a fighter and an optimist that things will always turn around and get better. Many times in my life when people have heard what I have been through they ask how I keep going? Good question sometimes. I just don’t give up easily. I’ve lived in my car. I’ve ended up in hospital because I had no medications for my diabetes. I’ve had a gun pointed at me when I was in the band playing in Yorkville. I was within minutes of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning in Ecuador when my fire was not vented. I’ve never once turned to drugs or alcohol to make it through, as many people do.

Because I’ve had so many jobs, meeting a lot of people in the process, plus lived in different countries, I’ve met a whole lot of people, probably thousands. Not all of them were great people, in fact some of them made you ask that question. That’s the sperm that won? They were just not nice people. Unfortunately one of them was my own brother who I wrote another post about. A truly despicable person if I ever met one. May he rot in hell. I always looked at difficult people as a bit of a challenge and tried to win them over. Some of them should just have been shot but I always tried to get along. Some, like my brother, did terrible things to hurt me, but I forgave them and moved on. I wish now that I had given them what they deserved instead. It sure wasn’t my friendship.

That being said nothing in my life prepared me for people here in Mexico. When I first arrived I met so many people I thought were just amazing and thought they would become good friends. I could not have been more wrong. The very people I truly believed were good friends have instead totally abandoned me or, worse, taken this opportunity, despite knowing I’m on the edge, to attack me viciously. They have no idea the damage they are doing. I spend my days crying and then read these horrible messages blaming me for everything and saying things like “suck it up”, “stop feeling sorry for yourself” and, the worst, that I am “full of myself”. That I “don’t take responsibility for anything”. That “I never show gratitude”. That “all I do is complain about everything”. Wow! Who are they talking about? They say they know me, but they don’t have a clue.

Others that I was encouraged to give a chance to help me, like with money for food to avoid starving to death, and getting my important meds without which I will soon die anyway. (Today my sugars are at a very dangerous 31.3. At 32.0 you risk slipping into a coma. I should be at the hospital but I can’t afford that either). Instead of helping me they just abandoned me. Never said another word. No help with food. No help with meds. Nothing. I think the worse for my mental state was getting the offer from the Legion for a long-term loan to help me to not see my business fall apart after so much work. That really gave me hope that I did have a future. Then I get a short message that the Legion is not going to help me because “we don’t have that kind of money”. Bullshit! You lent a lady money to buy a car. What you really meant was we don’t want to help you and we don’t give a shit if that kills you. They only made it all the worse with all their lies.

Those who I thought were friends here have shown that they were never friends in the first place. They have taken every opportunity to attack me at the worst possible time. I am truly shocked at how mean they are. Maybe the ones who have totally ignored me are actually better. They don’t understand how just a few words of comfort can make a big difference. It is certainly not the time to beat anyone up. They are the very definition of narcissist. Their cruel words have reduced me to uncontrollable crying. Is this really what they like? Is this really that they are such horrible people? How can anyone ever get joy from hurting someone, especially when they have done nothing to deserve such vitriolic comments.

Since the day I arrived here I have never done or said anything to hurt anyone. People have reached out to me asking for help and I have never once ignored them because I care. Here the only exception has been when Elba so callously dumped me by text message without a word of explanation. I loved her more than life itself. Totally and absolutely unconditionally. We had an incredible six months together and the future could not have been brighter. We were looking for a place together, having already lived together almost since the time we first kissed. We were going to get married and her wonderful family were already pushing her, asking why we weren’t already married. Her two sons, Jonathan and Kevin, thrilled me when they said they liked calling me their new Dad.

We had just gone back to Canada on what can only be described as the trip from hell. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, from getting bumped off our flights, to the disaster of our hotel, not to mention is was the coldest April I had ever seen in Canada. But Elba was a trooper. She bundled all up in the warm coat, gloves and scarf I bought her and she trampled on. Never a complaint.

Then the day we got back she said she wasn’t coming back to Ajijic with me, supposedly because she had a meeting with her lawyer. A lie. Then she told me to go ahead and find a place on my own because she could not leave her place in Guadalajara. Then she sneaks into my place to pick up some of her many clothes and shoes. When I ask her why she lies and says we are going to get a smaller place where there won’t be room for all her clothes and shoes so she is going to sell some of them Just more lies. Then she refuses to come back with me after Adelita’s to talk and let know what’s going on. Next day she sends me a short text message ending our relationship. No explanation. She just throws me away like so much garbage.

It came frightening close to killing me. I saw no point in going on without her. I didn’t even know what I was doing back in Mexico. Thanks only to my dear friends, well, back then anyway, Don and Violeta, they talked me back from the brink. They convinced me that I wasn’t as worthless as I felt. That I was a good person. That with time I would get through this. Without their kind counsel I know I would not be here now.

Yes, it sure was a tough time. So how did my “friends” help me? Nothing. Nadda. Not a word. Others who connected with me, more out of morbid curiosity that any concern for me, either attacked her, which was incredibly stupid and disrespectful of how much I loved her, or, like Jack, blamed me for everything. How can anyone be so cruel as to find a friend crying and upset and instead of comforting them, go on the attack and blame them for being “so stupid”. How does that help? How can anyone be this clueless? It shocked the hell out of me and certainly didn’t help.

Others, like Janie, were just as mean but in their own ways. She knew how thoroughly confused and upset I was at what Elba had done. She offered to meet me and explain what she had learned talking to Elba. We arranged a meeting but she never showed up. Later she learned a bunch of very private things that I had talked to Don about and she attacked me brutally. She apparently spread her gossip around town by email, just trying to hurt me even more. Why?

For Don’s part he had always been a dear friend. We had spent some fun nights together. He freely admitted to me that he had the hots for Elba back when she and I first started dating. I appreciated his honesty. On one very tough night, when Elba had refused to talk to me, I couldn’t face her at Adelita’s. Don immediately sent me a message that some people saw him dancing with Elba and he wanted to make sure I knew it was just that. Even long after the break-up he basically asked my permission to date her, which he certainly didn’t need and I told him so. In later message chats I wished him well with her and I only asked for his help in getting her to pay me back the three thousand pesos she owed me. He said if she wouldn’t agree to pay it, he would. I was struggling and that sure was going to help.

When recently everything fell apart on me I again asked for his help, but he said he couldn’t. Not even with the money Elba owed me. It was not his concern anymore and he was done with me. We couldn’t even have a beer because he didn’t want to “leave Elba alone”. I can only hope that she doesn’t do the same thing she did to me and apparently other men before me. I was warned but was too much in love to pay any attention. I wish I had. My heart might still be in one piece.

All of this here in Mexico has brought me back to the brink, only worse. Back then I was only dealing with the loss of the love of my life. Tough enough but everything else was sort of okay. At least I had food and the meds I brought back from Canada. I had no idea where I was going to live now but even that didn’t seem impossible. I gradually, very gradually, started feeling less hopeless. I found a place to rent that I thought was going to be a lot better than it has been. I turned my focus back to my business and gave up on women. I couldn’t face Elba at Adelita’s, particularly when she texted me that she just wanted me “to disappear from her life”. What a great thing to send to someone thinking about ending it all. The situation at Adelita’s only got worse when Don and Elba started dating. I knew I could not handle that.

This time everything fell apart on me rapidly. I had received my replacement computer from Dell and needed to move all my programs and files from my laptop. Although I had bought the program needed for that last year, I learned that it was only good for one time, so I had to buy it again. That was when I first learned, after the charge was declined, that I only had twenty-eight dollars to my name and a whole lot of month left to go.

I was also running out of my important diabetic medications that I had brought back from Canada, so this meant I had no money for them either. Now, as if this wasn’t enough, there was a problem with my hosting and I needed to spend more for adequate hosting for my websites, money I didn’t have. Everything I had worked on so hard before I even came here was about to fall apart on me.

Despite a clear warning from the doctor who was trying to convince me not to kill myself, they came the next morning and took my dog Rollie from me. Broke my heart. Now it seemed that the floodgates had opened and just more and more came pouring in. No internet one day, all day. The next day no power, all day. Then pipes burst above my apartment flooding my apartment. The whole time my idiot landlord not doing a thing. Not even answering my urgent text messages. Amazon delivered something important that I had already paid for to the wrong address and did nothing to find it. The company in the States who ships things to me here, mostly from Amazon, things I can’t get here, started dunning me for payment to ship what they had to me. Among the orders were my critical insulin needles which I was close to running out of. Can’t get them here either.

It was all too much to take. I started losing it and tried to figure out how to go. That was the only thing that mattered anymore. I had no hope left. I had thought of swimming out in the lake far enough that I couldn’t make it back, but that seemed like a horrible way to go. I couldn’t hang myself here because that would be too traumatic for the kids who lived here. I just wanted to go quietly. I started researching if an insulin overdose would work, but that proved inconclusive.

That was all a week ago, but Dr. Lupita and John Kelly from the Legion gave me hope. False hope as it turned out. Still no food. No meds. No loan and no hope. Christine Philipson has offered to wrap up my affairs, which I truly appreciate. Unfortunately she has been very sick and not able to come over yet. That’s the only reason I am still here. That and writing garble that no one will ever care about. I do go wishing just one person had cared enough to help and not just to hurl insults at me. I pray you never find yourself in the same situation. You will all too quickly realize how many truly fake friends you have too.

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