Writing my own eulogy – first attempt and updated now

This one was from a few years back at a time a time, just like now, when I figured no one would show up for any memorial for me and no one would do a eulogy. 

He isn’t lying here and we don’t really know where he is and neither does he at the moment. Let’s just say he’s lying here in our imaginations.

Gary wasn’t anything special, as he’s learned from many of you recently, much to his surprise. He always thought he was a pretty decent guy, a good father (although his kids don’t agree apparently), a good friend, fun to be around, reasonably bright and, in recent years, not a bad dancer. He was a good husband and provider in his twenty-three year marriage, always trying to make it better even though his wife, Janice, never did. He could always be counted on to lend a hand when needed, even though he seldom, if ever, got it back. He always worked crazy hours, both to support his family and then to try to afford the life he never had after he moved out West to be with his mother, who had been diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma at the time and was only given a five percent chance of survival.

His parents, Donald Lloyd, better known as Jimmy from his time in the Navy, and Alice Joyce, known to everyone as Joy, moved out West back in 1970 with his brother, Kevin and his sister, Wendy and Gary had only visited them a couple of times in all those years, once with Janice, Chris, Heather and Janice’s mum, Marion, to visit Expo ’86. After a week at Expo, staying with Don and Karen, friends of his Mum and Dad’s, they piled into a camper van and toured up through Alberta to Jasper, then back to Westbank (now called West Kelowna), where they got to sit in the rain for a week, unusual for that time of year in the Okanagan. At one point with family and friends, there was seventeen people crammed into his parent’s small mobile home, with only one bathroom between them. He was sitting on the picnic table looking out at the lake and his Dad came out with a drink for him and asked what he was doing. Gary said that he was going to sit there until the damned sun came out. It finally did but the rest of their holiday had been ruined.

In 1989 Gary had hit the road after the business he had been working for, GlassVision, owned by Jim Webb, crashed and burned because one customer had failed to pay them as Gary had warned. He knew it was over but just couldn’t take losing everything especially when he had been the one who knew better than to trust this customer. Gary had made promises to pay their suppliers in good faith and he knew they would be screaming. The company had just come through the most successful National Home Show ever, with some three hundred solid leads from people who wanted solariums, ones that now would never be built. The last thing he did was mail back every deposit check they had from customers so they would not lose their money.

When he headed off out of Brampton he had no clue where he was even going. He always loved the open road and just getting away was all he wanted at the time. It was late May. The sun was shining. The car sunroof was open. The music was playing and he felt a tremendous sense of relief even though he had no plan. Even though as a kid he had been with his parents when they drove to Port Arthur/Thunder Bay as it was called back then to visit his Uncle Earl and Aunt Peg, he had no clue just how big Ontario was. When he stopped in Dryden and bought a map he realized just how far he had driven. The thought came to him about driving to see his parents in Westbank, BC. Boy, that would surprise them, eh? No sooner had that crazy thought struck him than he realized he was almost half way there! He could actually do it! Only a couple more days on the road and he would really be there! He finally had somewhere to go and wouldn’t that be fun. So, off he went with a new spirit of excitement at the thought of surprising his parents.

Manitoba wasn’t bad, although he drove through what had been a huge forest fire. Everything was so black and ugly. He couldn’t wait to get passed it. After an incredibly boring drive through Saskatchewan he finally stayed in Medicine Hat, Alberta. He left as the sun came up and soon saw the mountains in the distance, thinking he’d be there in only a few hours. Boy, was he wrong! He didn’t even reach the sight of the foothills until early evening but, having chosen the scenic route of the Crows’ Nest Pass was soon in his favorite place in the whole world, the mountains. He remembers coming down out of the mountains, where there was still snow and frozen lakes, into Grand Forks. As he rounded a corner he noticed what he thought were deer ornaments on the front yard of a house, that is until they all turned their heads to follow him. Before he knew it he was driving into Shady Rest, heading for number thirty-four to greet his Mum and Dad, who he hoped would be home. They were and, as expected, heard his Dad holler, “Oh, my God. Look who it is!”.

At some point, probably not too soon after arriving, he called Janice to let her know where he was and she was, of course, not amused and only asked when he was coming home. The next few days were spent just enjoying being with his parents and loving the beautiful Okanagan. He was in no hurry to go back, although it didn’t take him long to start missing his kids. Soon he was trying to figure out if there was any way he could afford to bring them out while he was there and somehow he managed to pull it off. They both came out for what turned out to be the best three weeks of his life, right up until the last day. They had the first real holiday they had ever had and every single minute was a ball. They did far too much to go into here but the best time was when they went dirt-biking up at the Kettle Valley Railroad trestles. His Dad had managed to put vice grips on the back wheel of Gary’s dirt-bike for Heather to put her feet on. She took to it like nothing else and was soon squealing with delight. At one point they took a wrong turn going back down and ended up at the top of the power line road, which Gary knew was really steep and dangerous. Not wanting to scare Heather, he asked her to just get off the bike at the top of each drop and walk down, then he gingerly coached the bike down, trying not to lose it. By some miracle they made it down and soon found the others, who all said they could not believe that Gary and Heather had survived coming down the power line road.

Although he fully expected to drive back to Brampton at some point, probably soon, he still hated the thought of the day when they were leaving to go home. Heather shocked the hell out of him when she told him to stay out West. She said both Chris and her had never seen him happier and they knew the marriage was a disaster. All they ever saw was him working his butt off, coming home to cook and clean and renovate every place they ever owned, without a minute’s help from Janice. They knew he loved my parents and spending time with his brother and sister and could not love BC any more than he did. Even at that tender age she said he had done enough and deserved some happiness himself. They don’t know that after he dropped them off at the airport he cried his eyes out for three hours alone in the car, disbelieving that his daughter did not want him to come back.

After many hours of agonizing thought he just knew that he could not leave Heather. He loved her more than life itself and the thought of staying out West without her in his life was simply impossible. He headed back to Brampton, wondering if he was doing the right thing or not for anyone.

He left Westbank at 10:30 Thursday morning, dreading the trip home every second. When he stopped at a gas station north of Dryden Friday night the clerk looked out to see who else was in the car when he said he left BC yesterday morning. That was impossible, he said. He would have been home the next day had he not had a flat tire in Parry Sound, but he still made it home late that night. As he was heading down the four hundred he thought that there must have been a huge accident or major oil spill because of how much it stunk, but he soon realized that this was just how Toronto smelled, especially after having spent three months in the fresh air of BC. Not only that but he couldn’t stand the humidity, which was like breathing water, again after the dry heat of the Okanagan. It took him staying in the basement of the four level townhouse for five days before he could handle the humidity. How had he handled this all his life, he wondered?

Soon life returned to what had passed for normal. He was back working day and night, selling their townhouse after renovating it top to bottom and selling it for more than anyone had ever sold in their neighborhood before, and buying a builder’s upgraded home on Mara Crescent, believing as always that if they just had a better home or car or something that things would get better. They didn’t. As his wife sat on her ass, not working or even filing for her unemployment, he landed the biggest contract of his career, a major upgrading of a large thirty-five station computer network for Fellowes Manufacturing in Markham, taking them off a mainframe in the States. Considering that he was from Brampton and Fellowes was smack in the middle of computer junction, it was a real coup. Not only had he quoted them a nice rate for himself, he had also quoted them half his rate for travel, knowing that much of his day would be spent getting back and forth.

Several things happened then. First, it was making less and less sense to spend all those hours traveling back and forth, so he started staying a few nights at the Journey’s End motel. Then he started spending more and more nights at the hotel, mostly because when he got home his wife wasn’t there anyway and he had to be gone early in the morning. Then he started spending time with Gale-Ann Duxbury, the incredibly gorgeous executive secretary. They snuck around during the day, of course, to keep it secret, but they started spending more and more time together outside of work. She was the most amazing woman he had ever run into and soon he was falling head over heels for her. She asked him to move in with her and there ended the marriage. He still continued to pay for everything for the house because Janice was still not working, but something had to change. He was also literally making appointments weeks out to see Heather as well.

The DELL Experience

My story with Dell started way back around 2006 when my cheap Acer crapped out. It suddenly had a wide black stripe down the middle of the screen and I had to send it back to Toronto to get it repaired. I was without it for three weeks. It was such a piece of crap I don’t even remember what I did with it after I bought the Dell.

When I got that first Dell laptop, a Vostro 1500, my first issue was I didn’t know how to get my programs and data files from the Acer. I contacted Dell tech support, which I believe at that time was based in Nashville. Quite quickly and easily I contacted an incredibly helpful rep. He spent the next four hours helping me to setup a home network and connect both laptops. I could not have been more impressed.

That was the last time anything went well with Dell. For the first of many laptops later I found the lettering on the keys wearing off. Prior to the Acer I had rented an IBM ThinkPad that was several years old but the keys were like brand new. The reason was simple. The writing on the keys was slightly inset so you were never typing on the actual lettering. That wasn’t the case with the Dell so as I used it the writing started to wear off to the point that frequently used keys were blank, worn off so bad that the lighting below showed through if back-lighting was turned on. I contacted repair and was told the keyboard overlay was no longer available. That started many emails back and forth asking if they expected me to be able to use a computer with blank keys? I got nowhere fast until I contacted Michael Dell’s office directly. Nathalie in his office, a wonderful lady, apologized profusely and sent me a keyboard overlay the next day. I still had to pay to have it installed but at least I could work again. Of course the lettering started wearing off again.

My life went through a major change when I had to move to Panama around Christmas. I transferred my warranty to Latin America, which was a disaster in itself. Shortly after getting settled in Boquete I contacted warranty support in Panama. Of course they couldn’t find my warranty transfer until I got my sales agent back in Canada involved. I tech came all the way from Panama City, on the bus. About a seven hour drive. He was a nice guy and he ended up staying for dinner and we went out to the bar later. He had friends in Boquete so I assume he stayed over. He was shocked when he saw the condition of my fairly new keyboard. After he replaced it I asked him to make sure that the one he replaced got to production somewhere with the simple solution to change the mold to be inset. He agreed. Now, remember, this was way back in 2007.

All hell broke loose in Panama after the girl who worked for me ripped me off in every way she could, leaving me twenty-eight dollars in the bank. My darling cousin, Joan, back in Toronto, said to come and stay with her until I got my life sorted out. I met someone online and moved to London, Ontario.  Not long after moving they sent a tech from a company called UNISYS. Good technician except that for some unknown reason he took the laptop completely apart, replaced the keyboard overlay, but then forgot to reinstall the hard drive so he had to do it all over again. I had the same conversation with him that I had had with the tech in Panama to send the keyboard to production, wherever that was. He agreed.

Sometime later I took another stab at living somewhere that I could afford and researched Ecuador, but it proved to be even worse than Panama if that was even possible. I nearly died when I was overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and, according to the doctor in Emergency, was minutes from kicking the bucket.

Yet another Dell disaster. This time not only was the keyboard lettering wearing off again but I got a big flashing red warning that the hard drive was about to fail. Scared the crap out of me. I contacted repair again and they sent the most lovely girl to replace the keyboard and the drive. She gave me a newer, faster, bigger drive. Not only that but she wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with installing my Windows or my programs, but she did anyway. I invited her to dinner and to stay over but she had to catch the bus back to Quito, about two hours away. I’m sure she knew what I had in mind. lol

When Ecuador failed for many reasons I returned again to Canada. This time ending up in a group home in Belleville, Ontario. When the keyboard started failing yet again another tech came to replace it. This time after he replaced the overlay and rebooted the computer the motherboard blew. He went back to the original overlay but the laptop was toast  I had to send it to Toronto where they did nothing except waste my time. They returned it to me and the tech came out again to replace the overlay. We held our hands in prayer when he rebooted it and it worked.

Yet another move, hopefully this time more successful, to Mexico. Wasn’t long before the keyboard started wearing off because despite all the expense of all the warranty repairs, Dell had done nothing to solve the problem. This time the tech traveled from Guadalajara. He replaced the overlay and, of course, the motherboard blew the minute he rebooted. Just like the other techs he had no clue why.

At this point, after more than ten years of so much trouble and particularly that replacing the keyboard had blown the motherboard twice now on this same laptop, I told Dell I had had enough. I wanted the laptop replaced with a desktop with a keyboard that would work and continue working in future. I asked if Dell had any keyboard that had the inset keys so the writing would not wear off. No answer. They finally agreed to send the desktop but sent one certainly not of equal value to what I had paid for my laptop. That was disappointing enough, but what I found just unbelievable was that they sent it with the cheapest keyboard possible. I found it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS! How could anyone ignore what I had been through, over and over, for years and not supply a decent keyboard? Was that too much to ask? Literally within days the lettering started to wear off. Worse, some of the keys stopped working. I would click on a letter and just get a blank space. Then after I clicked again the letter would start rapidly repeating across the screen until I hit another key to make it stop. Total garbage!

Back I went to Dell and told them I would not return the laptop until they supplied a far better keyboard. They replied with two keyboard links. I had found what looked like a better keyboard at Amazon.com.mx which could be here overnight, but they said they couldn’t supply that one from their distributor here in Mexico. Suddenly out of nowhere a keyboard showed up the next day. You guessed it. Worse than the first keyboard! Nothing has changed in the design of the lettering. It’s still on the surface and will no doubt start wearing off soon.

So, after at least ten warranty replacements, at huge cost to Dell in four different countries, plus, for me, countless hours and hours of downtime and nothing but frustration, for an issue that could have been so easily solved in the first place and at zero cost to Dell, I still don’t have a functional keyboard. Seriously? I have found a real keyboard at Logitech and I’m working with them to get it here in Mexico. Probably going to cost me a hundred dollars on top of all the time I’ve lost, but at least I will end up with a keyboard that works and lasts more than a couple of months. Puts an end to this nightmare.

Oh, and here’s my nineteen page letter to Michael Dell sent to him last year.

Michael Dell

 

Another day in the life

Although no one will probably ever read these posts, no one who has ever experienced suicidal thoughts and feels so completely alone will understand how therapeutic writing can be in a time of such stress. Much of the reason for this site has been for my family, just in case they ever care after I’m gone. Being ostracized from my kids and grand-kids has been the regret of my life, especially when I have never known why. No question I had problems with my son and we didn’t connect for many years after I moved out West to be with my dying mother. Then I reconnected with his daughter Danielle, and we chatted a fair bit. Chris suddenly connected and we had an eight hour, very expensive chat. Turned out he was facing some trouble because he was going to be charged with tampering with the mail. He was a contractor for Canada Post and they had added so many additional routes to him that he couldn’t keep up. He started storing third class mail in his garage, so he was going to be charged with failing to deliver the mail, a very serious offense and he could well go to jail. He asked for my help. I spent a week researching the issue, including reaching out to the Postmaster General explaining the circumstances. Do to privacy concerns they said they had to deal with him directly. I prepared a detailed summary of everything I had learned and told Danielle on chat to have him call me collect. That was the last I heard from either one of them. He blocked me on Facebook. That was over ten years ago.

When I was back in London, Ontario Chris was a videographer for a dance troupe and they were coming to London. He suggested we get together. I have posted what a disaster that turned out to be, but the end result was we were going to get together with his three daughters that summer. I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting two of my granddaughters I didn’t know. Months went by and I never heard from him. I eventually called him at the number he had given me, but the person who answered said she had got the phone from Chris. He blocked me on Facebook so I had no way to contact him. I was so disappointed that I would not get to meet my granddaughters.

At one point I had found a photo of Chris’ daughters and posted it on my Facebook page. I immediately got a message from Danielle threatening to report me to Facebook if i didn’t delete the photo. After all our great chats I was totally confused by what she did but I removed the photo from Facebook. It’s still on this site because no one controls what I post here, although some have tried.

I am even more confused by Heather. First, as I have also detailed in another post, she was the one who encouraged me to stay out West and not return to her mother. She said she had never seen me happier. I cried my eyes out for hours after she left and went home, but I just couldn’t stand the idea of leaving her so I went back to Brampton. Big mistake. When my mother was struck with terminal cancer I had to be with her for whatever time she had left. The doctors had given her less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months. Although leaving Heather was one of the hardest things I had ever done, I thought she would come out on vacation again. She appeared to completely understand and agree that I needed to be with my mother and she was the one who had encouraged me to stay years earlier.

Sometime later in the fall I came home and my Dad said Heather had called inviting me to come down for her convocation and she would let me know when. I was thrilled she wanted me there. I was so proud of her, as I always was. Then I got another message that she had changed her mind and would attend a different convocation in the fall. We did actually connect and I said I needed to see her because I missed her and I needed to know what was going on. She agreed and I drove through the dead of winter across the country to Brampton. When I got to her apartment where she lived with her mother she wasn’t there. No message for me. I spent hours trying to find her, even going to Mayfield, her school, but I never found her. Eventually Chris told me that they, her mother and new husband, had hidden her away and wouldn’t let me see her. I hung around at Chris and Tina’s place for three weeks trying to see Heather, but got nowhere. I cried all the way back on the drive to back to Westbank. I was clueless as to why she had agreed to see me, but then changed her mind after I had driven across the country in such dangerous conditions. I didn’t know if this was her decision or her mother’s. It broke my heart. Back then I never knew that I would never have any contact with her for the next twenty-five years.

So, back to today. That my new friend, Norma, had dropped by to check on me yesterday made me feel a little better. I was determined to find a way to get my meds. I connected with my friend, Doral, in Belleville, who said she was willing to help me. Now it was a matter of getting my prescriptions renewed at the pharmacy in Belleville and, if necessary, getting my doctor to go along knowing I was in Mexico. Big challenges but I am desperate.

No sooner had I got another glimmer of hope that I might get my meds and not die than I got yet another cruel message posted on Facebook, for all to see, from a guy I thought was my friend, Francis Dryden. It was very mean and cruel so I just deleted it and blocked him. I will never understand why people hurl cruel comments at you when they know how much you are already suffering.

In my desperate attempts to survive I had started a GoFundMe campaign to help me right now with my meds and urgent issues like keeping my business alive, but also to help others in my type of situation in the future. I just asked for a single dollar from anyone. My dear famous friend, Andrea Pearson, who I have always adored, had posted a video about having problems in your life and how much she appreciated the help of friends. I posted a comment about my situation. I told her about the GoFundMe campaign and asked for her permission to add another comment to her post, to which she agreed. Although I appreciated that, I didn’t want to appear to be taking advantage of her, so I asked if she would consider just adding a simple comment abut my campaign. If she didn’t want to do that I understood. I asked if she might donate that critical first dollar to the campaign. No response.

I sent another Facebook private message to her telling her that I completely understood her position and that she had to protect her own reputation. I wished her good luck with her career. To my great shock I got a response from her sister, Laurie, accusing me of sending “unkind” messages to Andrea. I have no idea what “unkind” messages she is referring to as I have never once said anything negative to Andrea. I adore her and have always been supportive of her, as I have of Laurie, in every way. Laurie’s attack really hurt me. Although Laurie and I are not Facebook friends, despite my many attempts to friend her, her attack is just more evidence of how little people understand how hurtful and dangerous their cruel words can be to someone who is already suffering more than they can stand. These people don’t know if I have a gun or not. Their attack could well be the final stroke that pushes a person over the edge. Is that really what they want?

As if I needed more, my hosting company, domain.com, charged me for a renewal of one of my sites. Back in July I had given them clear instructions not to auto renew any of my domains. I was also in the process of changing the domains from dot com to dot com dot mx, so I certainly didn’t want to renew any of the dot coms. I went on their chat and had the most frustrating chat with the dumbest person, who just made me angry. I gave her the support ticket where I had specifically told them not to auto renew any of my sites. The ticket included their response listing all the sites that had been updated. I didn’t realize at the time that this one site was not showing on the list. She refused to refund the charge despite clear evidence that the charge should not have been made. She has given me her manager’s email address so I wrote to him explaining what had happened.

No sooner had I sent my email to him than I checked my bank and I had been charged for renewing three other sites! I am already struggling with no money so this was the last thing I needed right now. I sent another email demanding that they reverse all the charges.

Again, I have touched many times on the ten years of trouble I have had with Dell. The lettering on the keys on their laptops wears off prematurely because the lettering is not inset on the keys so every time you use the keys it wears off a little more. The first time they replaced the keyboard under warranty in Panama I asked the tech to send my old keyboard to manufacturing, wherever that was back then. I made reference to a previous IBM ThinkPad I had used where the writing was inset and always looked like the day it was new. I suggested it was a simple matter to redo the mold for the keyboard to have the writing inset. He agreed. Well, more than ten years later the keyboard has been replaced on three different laptops, all under warranty, at great expense to Dell, in Panama, Ecuador, Canada and Mexico. No doubt thousands of dollars that could have easily been avoided by Dell.

In replacing my keyboard on my most recent laptop twice the motherboard has blown up, once in Canada and once here. Although replaced again under warranty I had finally had enough. To me there was no question that the keyboard would fail again and there was an obvious possibility that the motherboard would blow again. I insisted that they replace this laptop with a desktop to avoid this possibility. I also told them to send the desktop with a proper keyboard. What did they do? Although they did send a decent desktop, not one of equal value to what I had paid for the laptop mind you, they sent the cheapest keyboard possible. I found it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS! Within a few days the writing is already starting to wear off. Not only that, some of the keys have stopped working. I will click on a key and just get a blank space. Then when I try again the key will start repeating across the screen until I stop it by hitting a different key.

I expressed my anger that after ten years of total frustration, not to mention the numerous hours of downtime this had cost me, that I would not be returning the laptop until they sent me a decent keyboard. Their response? They sent me site links for two of their keyboards, but it turned out they were only available in the States, so this means waiting at least three weeks to get here. There’s an obvious chance that the keyboard I have will totally fail so I told them this was not good enough. I found a better keyboard available on Amazon.com.mx which could be here in a day, meaning that the distributor had them in stock here in Mexico. Dell replied that they couldn’t supply that one. Talk about the proverbial mountain out of a molehill! A solution proposed over ten years ago that would not have cost them a dime, but they have ignored that and made this hell on wheels. Clueless!

Yet another horrible, stressful day.

 

 

 

Men of War

This is not the first time I’ve dealt with this subject. Years ago on one of my many drives back and forth between Brampton and Westbank (now West Kelowna) I used my personal recorder to talk about my trip but, more importantly, to just express my thoughts on a number of topics. It was more than a forty hour drive and I love to talk, so it got pretty deep at times. One of the subjects was why men go off to war.

Although I had, thankfully, never experienced war, both Dad and my Granddad had. My grandfather had served and had been left with a plate in his forehead. I remember talking about it when he visited us at the farm in Streetsville one time, but I don’t remember how he got it. My Dad served in the navy in the second world war. He lied about this age and signed up underage, which was one of the things I did not understand at the time. His ship, the HMS Skeena was lost in a vicious storm in October, 1944. For some unknown reason my father said the ship had been torpedoed. He ended up in the freezing cold water off the coast of Iceland, watching his buddies around him die. Somehow he ended up on shore where he was stung by a rattlesnake, eventually losing one of his fingers because of it.

When I returned to BC I went through the lengthy process of transcribing my voice recordings to my computer then printed out this massive document, called My Body Time because that would be the preamble every time I started recording as I traveled across Canada through different time zones. My Dad actually read it and said he learned a lot about me. Whatever happened to that manuscript I don’t know. What I do know and regret is that the Word doc didn’t follow me to other computers. Given the mess I am in now I don’t know if reading it would help or make things worse. At least back then I had a future.

An entire chapter in the novel was about war. At the time I was still married and had two kids. I wondered if I was called to duty, first, would I go and, second, how could we survive being separated possibly for years? The very possibility of being killed was enough to make me question why I would go. I can only assume that the threat of losing your freedom would convince you to fight and risk your life. That so many women suffered through every single day wondering if their men were coming home is just unbelievable.

With so many nutcase leaders in the world today how would we react to that same threat of war? The entire technology of war has changed a lot. Pushing a coupe of buttons would wipe us all out.  No need to fight it out in the trenches like previous wars. What if there was an imminent ground invasion though, say Kim Jong-Un of North Korea? Given his military strength as compared to the US it would be more of a minor skirmish solved quickly. Hypothetically he decides to invade Mexico to get closer to threatening the US. I am a Canadian but would I sign up to defend Mexico? Well, luckily I am far too old to sign up for anything in the military so it’s academic. If I were a younger man, in all honesty, I don’t know.

Much of my confusion about war has always been, and will always be, how so many wars are based on religion. Admittedly I have never been a religious person but if I understand anything about faith I don’t understand why so many of the world’s wars are all about religion.

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.

 

A Day in the Life

No doubt most people will think this is a weird exercise but once again being at great risk of slipping into a coma I hate to just go and have no one know what happened. If you suddenly see no more updates, well, then you will know I’m gone. At this point that would be a blessing for both you and me.

If you have been following my posts on Facebook about my meds, which I doubt because that thunderous sound you hear if no one caring. No one. I have been out of my critical diabetic medications for three weeks now and my blood sugar levels have been hovering in dangerous territory, around thirty. Coma time if thirty-two so that’s why I thought that the end was near. I’ve been doing everything humanly possible to save myself. Posts on Facebook begging for help, which only got me ridiculed. Emails to everyone I’ve ever known or had contact with. I even started a GoFundMe campaign asking for just a single dollar to help me. No response. Not a single person in the world willing to invest just one dollar to save me.

At seven this morning my “medical consultant” called to tell me to get to Seguro Popular as soon as possible. No time for a shower so I just threw on some clean clothes. It was going to be extremely difficult to walk to get the bus because the pain of the peripheral neuropathy in my feet is excruciating without my meds but I told him I would try.  I guess he knew how tough it was going to be because he picked me up half way down the street. We stopped at the bank on the way so I could pay him. We got to Seguro Popular and the place was packed. He took me to the long line-up where you checked in. Had your blood pressure taken and your blood tested. Weighed and checked how tall you were. There were at least ten people ahead of me in line. What I found strange was that when a person was finished another person would suddenly appear from nowhere and sit down. Not someone who was standing in the line. There was a white-haired man at the front of the line, but when someone sat down in front of him he just looked perplexed but didn’t question why he wasn’t next. Then they opened another table for this process not far away. Same thing again. People appeared out of nowhere to be processed. I swear one of them had just walked through the door. No waiting for these special people. All very confusing.

After about half an hour and having finally made it through the line I asked the nurse, Claudia if I had to stay to wait for my doctor’s appointment at 12:00? She said no. Just be back before twelve. So I was starving because I had no time to eat breakfast before rushing off. I asked if there was a restaurant nearby where I could get a coffee and some bakery things. A nice gentleman outside gave me directions but after walking more than I could handle I asked them at a taco place if they had coffee. Thankfully they did and it was good. I ended up having a potato taco which was also good. After too many coffees and a bottle of water I asked where the bathroom was, but they didn’t have one. They told me the closest one was two block down at the bus station. Another consequence of my screwed up meds has been a lack of bladder control. At home I normally get up three times a night to pee and during the day probably go twenty times, often with little notice and many times I don’t think I’ll make it in time. So, here I am with too much liquid in me and urgently in need of a bathroom but I’m blocks away and in no condition to run.

I finally get there, worrying all the way that I’m just going to blow out my shorts before I get there. By the time I wade through the crowd getting on their buses, find the bathroom and pay the lady for my toilet paper I’m on the verge of losing it when I finally get in my stall, and I do, peeing my pants before I sit down. Oh great! Now I’m on my way to see a doctor and I’ve peed my pants. How embarrassing!

On the way rushing to the bus station I had passed a barbershop where I would love to have had time to shave off my very itchy hair, but I would be late getting back to Seguro Popular so I figured I would come back after finishing there. After all this my heart skipped a beat at the thought of finally getting my meds. A glimmer of hope. That didn’t last long after the doctor called my name, took one look at my list of meds and said they couldn’t help me with any of them. This after three trips down. Paying Arturo. Not to mention all the people who had told me that I would be able to get my meds through them. My heart sank.

Arturo had told me to call him if I had any problems but he didn’t answer his phone or respond to my text messages that I sent him. I was lost. Despite being starving I went back to the barber to at least get rid of my itchy hair. I asked the barber where I could get a hamburger and he told me the Malecon. Now that had my bearings from the bus station I knew the Malecon was a long walk but I was starving so off I went. On the walk I saw a store selling ice cream and I noticed the milkshake makers. They made me a chocolate milkshake, well, more chocolate milk than a shake. While waiting for my shake I noticed that also had hamburgers on the menu so I ordered one. Not great but I was too hungry to care.

It was a nice day so I thought I would wander down to the Malecon now that I wasn’t starving. I had asked Arturo if we could go to Soriana after I was finished and he said he had an appointment but maybe later we could so I had some time to kill. On the way down I passed a lady selling some jelly for pain. After a pleasant chat I confessed that I had only stopped to talk to her because she was so beautiful. That got a a smile.

When I got to the Malecon I found a bench down by the water and sat down. As I looked out at the lake and saw the boats along the beach my thoughts once again turned to that long swim out in the lake too far to make it back. My focus became just not to break down in tears as my mind wondered what I could do. I figured it might be very traumatic for the boat operator to take me out and be told I just wanted overboard and for him to leave. Then my logical mind wondered if he would understand my request to take my messenger bag, my wallet and my phone. Would he understand my instructions to call Christine? Maybe he would just throw everything overboard on his way back.

I was so tired I just needed to lie down on the not very comfortable bench. I almost moved because the sun was so intense without any shade but I was tired enough not to care. I drifted off. An hour or so later I was awakened because I was in a downpour. Couldn’t move faster to get undercover. Called Arturo several times to get home but no answer. Sort of gave up and called Salvadore, one of my Uber drivers. Told him I needed to go to Soriana then home. He said he was on his way. I told him I would meet him at the Chapala sign. An hour later no Salvadore. My phone was about to go dead but I called him and got some crazy explanation about the police. He said he would send someone else and thankfully he did.

I forgot half the stuff I needed at Soriana but got some important things like milk. Got home and crashed for about three hours. Long day. No success. Back where I started with no meds and no hope.

 

 

 

You can’t give up hope when you have none to give up

Looks like this will be my last post, literally the “last post”. It has been the most difficult week of my life. Last week at this time I was so depressed and ready to give up. My only question was how to kill myself?

My dear friend, Christine Philipson, was so worried about me last Monday night that she sent a Doctor Lupita and her colleagues to my apartment late at night to talk to me. I was crying uncontrollably at the thought of losing my dog, Rollie, and I only had twenty-eight dollars in my bank for food for the rest of the month. I was out of many of my important medications for my diabetes and could not afford more. My website business, primarily AjijicToday.com.mx, that I had worked so hard on for over a year was in shambles because I did not have the money for my hosting and other things I desperately needed to keep it going. I had other medical issues like my urgent dental work to replace a crown, but I did not have the two thousand pesos to finish it. I did not see any way to go on and urgently needed help to survive.

Dr. Lupita held my hand, got me to stop crying and told me not to give up hope. She told me she would not let them take my dog, Rollie. She offered money to buy food. She said she would help me to get my medications. She even offered me some work to earn some money. That did not solve everything, but it gave me some small glimmer of hope.

The next day, first thing in the morning, without warning, they came and took Rollie, which broke my heart. Dr. Lupita said she would tell them that it would be the very worst time to take him from me, but they didn’t care. Their only concern was the dog but he was in no danger. I had food for him and I loved him to death. It was like losing a child. Again I could not stop crying and only wished that I had a gun to end this pain.

Then I got a call from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here. He scolded me for refusing the help I needed and went on to suggest that the Legion would help me. He said they would give me a small loan to keep me going, saying that they had just helped a lady to buy a car. I felt that my needs were far more justified and more modest than buying a car. He said there was a meeting on Wednesday to discuss it and he would call me around noon on Thursday. I followed this up with a detailed explanation of how much I needed and why. I requested the modest sum of forty thousand pesos, repayable at two thousand pesos a month and allowing me to pay it off early once the business started earning money. He said he would let me know after their meeting, which was now planned a day later.

Initially Dr. Lupita was angry about what happened with the dog, so she said she was fighting to get him back to me. She came back telling me that they would “consider” giving him back to me, in THREE MONTHS! They also said I could “visit” him, as though that would make everything just fine. I told Dr. Lupita to give up on getting him back to me because it was pointless and I had equally big problems that I needed help with, like food and medications.

For some unknown reason she then disappeared. No one could find her, not even her nurse or John Kelly, who understood that she was looking after getting my medications. He told me that he had spent the day running back and forth between Ajijic and Chapala trying to get my medications. He said that there was an organization called Secours Populaire that would provide my medications free of charge. When I asked him about the loan he said he would now let me know on Monday. Luckily I had received a small tax rebate from the Canadian government that allowed me to buy some much needed food. That made me feel a little better. At least I wouldn’t starve to death.

If you wonder if Dr. Lupita knew the terrible state I was in, I had messaged her asking if an insulin overdose would work? I told her I did not have the courage to swim out in the lake far enough that I could not make it back. I told her I did not want to hang myself here because of the trauma that would cause to the children who lived here. My research about an insulin overdose was inconclusive about whether that would work and I did not want to just end up in hospital instead because I could not afford that either. Her reaction to my pathetic mental state was simply to just ignore me. Very strange for a doctor.

Then John Kelly sent me a short message that the Legion could not help me with a loan because they “didn’t have that kind of money”. Considering that they did have the money for a car loan for someone else I figured that was just a way of saying we don’t want to help you and we don’t care what that might do to you.

On top of everything I was going through I was also the victim of vicious attacks after my honest post about what happened with Rollie. Regardless of whether people gave a damn about me I knew they cared for Rollie and I just felt I should let them know why I suddenly had no more photos or stories about our wonderful lives together. First I was threatened and told to delete the post which I refused to do because I felt people needed to know the truth. Then I got truly vile messages saying things like “suck it up”, “stop feeling sorry for yourself”and worse. Although these hurt, I realized just how these people were really showing how little they understood mental health and how dangerous their comments could be to someone already on the edge.

It is said that true friends are there in both good times and bad, especially bad, when you need their nonjudgmental support the most. During my year here I thought I had some of those kinds of friends. I could not have been more wrong. Someone I thought was a real friend since before I even came here to Mexico, Francis Dryden, ignored my request for help and instead picked this time to dump on me about the mistakes he felt I had made with my websites. He said my sites were “just a bunch of worthless code” and nothing more. He said if I had listened to him and done the things he had suggested I would not be in this mess. This despite the fact that I had been in this city portal business for thirty years and done the exact same project before in both Panama and Ecuador. He knows little about designing websites or the business, but somehow he knew better than me? I even sent him an email transferring ownership of my website business to him and hoping that he didn’t mind looking after getting rid of my stuff because my executor is back in London, Ontario. No response even to that very clear message.

Shortly after arriving here I met Jack Irish when he moved into the house in La Floresta. We became instant friends and spent many an hour over coffee in the mornings or drinks at night talking about a host of topics. He shared his hard to believe story about some money thing he had been involved in for some six years already, one that was going to make him a multi-millionaire soon. We spent hours talking about all the good projects he planned to do here in Mexico and how I could be involved. He would buy a house for my fiancee, Elba and I to live in, rent free. We declined saying we would pay whatever rent we could afford. He offered to just give me money for my website business, but, again, I said I would only consider an investment and partnership. He said we would “talk” after his millions came in, soon.That was months ago.

Then I went through the devastating experience of Elba, breaking up with me by text message with no explanation. I loved her unconditionally, more than I had ever loved anyone in my life. We had just returned from Canada where I applied for my visa to return to Mexico and get marry her. I was not only in love with her but also her amazing family who all loved me and wanted us to hurry up and get married. Of course I had lost my own kids when they wanted nothing to do with me, so now having her sons, Jonathan and Kevin, tell me they loved me being their new Dad was just awesome. Suddenly, without warning, I had lost that all in a simple text message and had no idea why.

Instead of being a good friend when I needed him the most, Jack chose instead to blame me for everything, regardless of the fact that he knew nothing about what had actually happened. That really hurt. When I told him I had enough of his arrogance telling me what I could and could not do, and blaming me for being “so stupid”, he ended our friendship. Although later more by accident at Arnie and Barbs, we got back together again, but he ended our friendship again and hasn’t spoken to me in weeks.

I sent him a heartfelt message saying I was sorry he had ended what I thought was a close friendship and just letting him know what a mess I had found myself in. I didn’t ask for financial help because I knew he had none to give. He didn’t respond and today I learn that he has apparently sent out what has been referred to as a very “vitriolic” message about Elba and I. After six months I thought our break-up was ancient history so I have no idea why he did that, but maybe he just wants to finish me off and take credit for it.

You earn some friendships literally over a lifetime. Regardless of not getting any response from those I naively considered to be friends here in Mexico I did get some very warm and encouraging messages from people back in BC, Canada and from Ecuador. They all expressed sadness at how things had turned out for me and encouraged me to go on in spite of the problems I faced. They gave me words of encouragement, telling me that I wasn’t worthless and hoping I would get through this very difficult time. They are good friends who clearly understand how a few words of support can make a huge difference and I thank them sincerely.

When someone gives up and takes their own life it is always sad, but there is also that feeling of guilt by people who feel that they should have known, recognized the cries for help, and done something. Anything. Although there are a lot of folks here who should feel that shame because they not only refused to help, but also thought this was a good time to criticize and insult me, I know and accept that for them it will be like that old adage – if you want to know how much you’ll be missed, stick your finger in a bucket of water then remove it and you will see just how much you will be missed.

Certainly I have a very long list of regrets, all of which I take full responsibility for. There is no one else to blame for my dreams crashing into pieces except me. I know all too well the mistakes I have made, what I deserve to be punished for and what I don’t. I can only say that I have always tried to do my best. I have treated people with the respect I hoped to earn from them. I have never knowingly tried to hurt anyone.

My biggest regret in my life is what happened with my children and I go to my demise having never understood why they cut me out of their lives. My daughter chose to have nothing more to do with me over twenty-five years ago and this has hurt me immensely every single day since. We always had a wonderful father-daughter relationship and she was the one who encouraged me to leave my terrible marriage and move out West. I couldn’t leave her then, but I did years later when my mother had cancer and was given less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months (she lasted nineteen years). I had to be with her. It killed me to leave Heather but I thought we would be together again soon when she came out to visit. After she said that she actually wanted to see me I drove down from BC in the dead of winter to see her, but my ex and her new husband hid her away from me. I have never understood why. Despite being married for twenty-three years he wouldn’t even let me have coffee with my ex-wife.

My daughter has two sons I have never met. My son and his girlfriend had three daughters, only one I had met when she was just a baby, Danielle. Although it is yet another long and complicated story from my youth I also have another son, Andrew, who had decided he wanted nothing to do with me either, regardless of how hard I tried to connect with him. Andrew has actually met my son and daughter, a most complicated situation to say the least. He and my son, Chris, look like twins. Two years ago I reconnected with my granddaughter, Mackenzie, on Facebook. She was very angry that her parents had told her I was dead. She felt that it was her decision whether she connected with me or not. I was overjoyed that we had found each other at long last. She was now fourteen years old and totally gorgeous. She told me that she was coming to Mexico next May for a wedding and that she would let me know where so we could meet. Nothing in the world had ever given me more hope in the future than meeting her and I couldn’t wait. Of course, that was then and this is now. I honestly don’t know if she is going to be angry with me now or just disappointed a little. Forgive me, darling. Someday you will understand better.

Not that I am in any position to give advice to anyone, but I did want to share one aspect of my life that had a truly devastating effect on my entire life and one I hope others can avoid. I want to be very clear that there was nothing criminal about what I did, which even the Crown Attorney who prosecuted me agreed with, and no one lost a penny. Although the exact circumstances of what happened were only ever of concern to the RCMP, who apparently spent over two million dollars on a wild goose chase, it involved the disposition of forklifts that had been damaged by sea water on their trip overseas from Japan. The shipment was fully insured so there was no loss to the company I worked for at the time, American Hoist. After I arranged for the insurance settlement I was given clear instructions that the forklifts were to be destroyed, which was my plan.

Shortly after one of our dealers from Nova Scotia, Sam Osmond, came to our location in Brampton. He met with Terry, our warehouse manager, and they had a conversation about the fact that there were numerous forklifts in the shipment that would still be good for parts. They agreed that is was a shame that they would all be ground up and destroyed. Sam came to talk to me and suggested that he was willing to take the shipment off our hands as we had been instructed to do, but he wanted to offer us some “compensation”. I told him that the company had already been paid the insurance settlement so there was no way we could “sell” the goods to anyone. He said he understood but would talk to our General manager, Gerry Waterhouse. Later that day I was summoned to a meeting with Sam, Gerry and Terry. They had apparently agreed to “sell” the shipment to Sam for thirty thousand dollars in cash. All I was asked to do was to issue an invoice to Sam for zero dollars, clearly marked “sold as is, where is, with no warranty expressed or implied”. I didn’t see any problem with that because it showed that we had disposed of the goods as directed, so I had done my job.

Later, Gerry, who remember was my boss, said that I had been elected to fly down to Dartmouth to pickup the money. In exchange the thirty thousand dollars would be split equally, three ways, me, Gerry and Terry. Ten thousand each. To this day I remember wondering if I was just being played, especially by Terry who I never got along with, but at the time I was struggling financially and ten thousand dollars was sure attractive. I agonized over whether I had done my job properly or if there was something dangerous about doing this. I realized that I had done my job totally and the company had not lost a dime. It all made sense to me at the time.

Unfortunately at this exact same time Gerry and I had been approached to take on another line of forklifts from Japan by a company called NYK. For several other reasons, all of them the fault of management at American Hoist, we knew that it was a house of cards that would soon collapse, leaving us out of a job. Because of the contract between TCM in Japan and American Hoist we were not allowed to take on another line, even though the products from NYK, electric forklifts, were not competitive to TCM. It looked like a golden opportunity too good to miss. On our way flying down to Chicago to meet with the executives from NYK we formed our company, Canada Lift, at least that’s what we would tell the Japanese.

Soon after landing the distribution for Canada from NYK I organized a floor plan financing program with the Bank of Nova Scotia and we held a dealer meeting at the Millcroft Inn in Caledon. The dealers, many of whom were TCM dealers, were most impressed and they placed orders for over a quarter of a million dollars worth of NYK products. We had the Letter of Credit in place with the bank so we were off and placed our much welcomed order with NYK.

Not long after, both of us were escorted off the premises of American Hoist’s TCM division and duly fired. Shortly after that we were given the opportunity to turn ourselves in to police voluntarily. We learned that we were being charged with several offenses, mostly conspiracy to commit fraud. From our previous employees we learned that the RCMP had turned the place upside down looking for evidence to support these charges. Of course, there was none because there never was any conspiracy.

At our later trial I was most unlucky to have the dumbest Legal Aid lawyer ever. I wrote out the questions to ask that would have clearly disclosed to the jury that there was no conspiracy and not a penny had been lost by American Hoist, but he completely ignored me. Sam Osmond, the dealer, took the stand and basically played dumb Newfie, saying that he knew nothing. Joe Barone, the President of American Hoist, took the stand and basically said he knew nothing about nothing. Even my poor assistant, Betty White (not that Betty), took the stand and admitted she had no clue what anybody was talking about. It was all a total farce, but, boy, did I pay the price!

Mostly because the actual “facts” never came out in the trial I think that the jury was totally confused, but they thought that if the RCMP had spent millions on this investigation there must be something illegal here. They dropped most of the conspiracy charges but found us guilty of fraud. I still have no idea who was defrauded out of anything, but it was what it was. Outside the courtroom even the Crown Attorney said that the only reason I had been convicted was because of my stupid lawyer. When it came time for sentencing he was one of my best witnesses, admitting to the judge that he had failed to see any evidence of any fraud or any loss. Jon Leheup, the President of the company I worked for at the time, Indal Products, also gave a glowing description of how valuable I was to the company and that he would regret losing me if I went to jail. Given the severity of the charges, but the total lack of any evidence, the judge sentenced us both to ninety days to be served on weekends. As much as I may have dodged a bullet at the time, I had no idea how disastrous this was going to be for the rest of my life.

After losing our jobs earlier and despite being charged and facing a trial Gerry and I had to continue on with life. We both felt that we would never be convicted because there was nothing to be convicted of. I had some serious regrets about being the one who had gone to collect the money because the RCMP had my flight records and my hotel bills, so they had me on that, but, so what? It proved I went to Dartmouth to visit one of our dealers but what else did it prove? Nothing. Even Sam wasn’t stupid enough to admit to paying the thirty thousand dollars that he gave me on the trip.

We had rented an office and warehouse in Oakville, getting ready to receive our first shipment from NYK, all of which was pre-sold and we were working on our next order. That all came crashing down when we got a call from the Bank of Nova Scotia saying they wanted to see us at their Head Office in Toronto. When we got there we learned that our floor plan financing had been cancelled. Our Letter of Credit which gave us six months of free financing had been pulled. We suddenly had no way to pay for the NYK order that was on a ship heading to us and no way to ship the trucks to our dealers. Regardless of how hard we pushed to understand why they refused to give us any answers. One of the people in the meeting with the bank was their lawyer who just kept shaking his head no every time we asked a question.

On the way down from the bank’s penthouse office we stopped into a very famous lawyer’s office to see what we could do. After a lengthy conversation with him he said we would unquestionably win. The bank was clearly at fault. Good news, until he then said the bank would drag us through the courts for probably ten years and he would need a retainer of fifty thousand dollars! I still remember his fateful words. In Canada it’s not how much justice you have. It’s how much you can afford. We knew at that exact moment that we were done.

So everything I had worked so hard for was gone. No choice but to accept that we had been defeated and lost our business and all the profits that would have come in the future. Our weekends at the Metro West Detention Center were a lesson in humility. Yes, we called the guards Boss and we were stripped of any dignity we ever had. After a while we were sent out on charitable works like peeling potatoes and cleanup in various group kitchens where we were always treated like child molesters. Some people may well feel that the punishment did not fit the crime, but I can tell you it was horrible. My one saving grace was that my son had a hockey tournament in Lake Placid. A really big deal. They actually let me go which shocked the hell out of my son.

After my three months were finally done I tried to get back to a semblance of a normal life. I applied for a really good job and was within minutes of getting it when they called and said I lost it because I had a criminal record. That was the case for the rest of my life. I tried on numerous occasions to apply for a pardon. I wrote to every single Minister in the government but got nowhere. Eventually I learned from my local MP that I had a twelve hundred dollar fine that I never knew about. Then the Minister at the time, Vic Toews, changed the entire pardon system and I was told that after I paid the fine I could apply for a record suspension, as it was now called, in just TEN YEARS! I gave up hope of ever being cleared or that I would ever get a job again. At one point I was going to be hired for two weeks at Christmas at a call centre, but the day before I was to start they called and said that their client couldn’t accept anyone who had a criminal record.

Facing the fact that I would never be pardoned and never get a job I planned to move to Panama, which I had been researching for months,  hoping to put all this behind me. No sooner had I got to the border then they told me to pull over. The midget, failed police officer with Homeland Security asked me about my criminal record. What followed was three hours of questioning like I was a convicted child molester, fingerprinting, and telling me it didn’t matter if I ever got a pardon in Canada because that meant nothing to them, and then barring me from even flying through a US airport. I quickly drove back to West Kelowna, stopping into BCAA to get a direct flight from Vancouver to Panama City that night. Panama sure didn’t work out for me, getting arrested when the girl who worked for me, Verushka Valenzuela, lied about me being a drug smuggler, in the country illegally and accusing me of raping her. After stealing my rings, my phone, my new camera and ripping me off for every cent I had she forced me to return to Canada.

Some years later, facing the same dilemma in Canada because of my criminal record, I moved to Ecuador. That proved to be just as disastrous, especially when I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning because of the fireplace with no ventilation in my cabin. I was also ripped off by my landlords, my driver and the private hospital they took me to, who charged me fourteen hundred dollars US for four days of pathetic care, when they could have taken me to a public, free hospital. It didn’t help that Service Canada, who had told me there would be no problem receiving my GIS, instead denied payment for more than six months until I contacted the Minister responsible. I had been left penniless, borrowing money from friends back in Canada to eat plus being ripped off for three hundred and fifty dollars US by the person handling my residency application. She also refused to return my passport which nearly stopped me from flying back to Canada.

There. All the bad news and my total confession. When I read it back to myself I can’t believe the bad luck I’ve had and wonder why I didn’t give up long ago.

Right now I know that with the legalization of marijuana in Canada a lot of people are hoping that the government will just expunge their criminal records for simple possession. With what I have been through my entire life I hope they agree to do that.

So long mi amigos.

 

 

A startling discovery today. A Facebook page dedicated to the memory of the Club Bluenote.

Posted on the club’s Facebook page today. 

UPDATE: It came as quite the surprise that Pat objected so strongly to being included in the story. She threatened to report me to Facebook if I didn’t remove her from the post. I contacted the pages’s admin and asked them to delete the post, which only they can do and takes about two seconds. Their response was to criticize me for including her in the comment and said how difficult it was to delete the comment. Not true. I have followed this up with numerous messages requesting the deletion but they have done nothing. I told them she had threatened to report me to Facebook which I don’t want, of course, having been on Facebook since it started. My last message to the admin is that I will report them to Facebook, who may well overreact and take down the page, which I will very much regret. I do not understand why they are being so difficult. 

Wow! A whole lot of memories come flooding back. I was the drummer in the house band at the club for nine months way back in 1967, 1968, I think. Zak Marshall was on keyboard. Nolan Yearwood was our lead guitarist and Allan McQuillan was our rhythm guitarist and resident nutcase. Among our various names over ten years of playing I don’t recall what we were at the club. Either The Bow Street Runners, The Clyde Valley Showband, although I doubt that in a blues club, or maybe even HappyFace, when I painted my bass drum with the bright yellow logo.

Boy did I ever get some lessons in life at the club. Smoked my first joint thanks to Eric Mercury. That was a total disaster when our next set opened with You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge, at about half speed because I was so stoned and groovin on the sound of my kit. Never again!

We played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, backing the floor show from about 1:00 til 4:00 in the morning, which was quite the challenge because we all had full time jobs during the day. By Sunday morning I don’t remember driving home to Streetsville because I was beyond tired. I worked at the bank at the time so who knows who I gave too much money to on a Friday?

Our gig was no doubt the same as for any other house band there. Top name entertainers like The Platters, The Ink Spots and many more would do their shows at other venues in town, then head over to the club for the floor show. I met so many talented people as well as a lot of rising local talent. Among my friends were Shawn Jackson, who I loved to death. I still remember having a long talk with her at a party at Al’s house. So many more who would go on to become famous, especially for Canadian artists at the time.

We became better known because of the club and got invited to go places with other musicians. I still remember going down Yonge St for a rehearsal for Grant Smith and The Power. Stony thrilled the heck out of me.

It was during this time that I first met George Olliver. Pretty sure they became the Mandala during this time period. A really cool guy. We were playing on the second floor of some club in Toronto and Domenic Troiano came down to ask if they could use my kit because theirs’ went missing. I was happy to help. I think Whitey Glan was with him then. Sorry to learn he’s gone.

Reading everyone’s comments I had a few laughs and a few tears. Those all too short months playing at the club changed my life forever. Haven’t had so much fun since.

Cheers from Mexico. Shameless self promo – check out my website at AjijicToday.com.mx.

Mary Jane, or maybe now it’s Kanni Bas? Only in Canada, you say?

Now that Tricky Trudeau has made good on his election promise to legalize marijuana, mostly to get votes from young people, the roll-out was so typically Canadian.

Justin made the promise in the “federal” election, committing to legalize recreational use of pot by the “federal” government, which, okay, he actually did, but as is so typically Canadian he left it to the provinces to decide the logistics. Who can grow it? Who can sell it? Who can buy it? Who can and will still be charged for illegally selling it? Who will enforce the law? And, the big one, who is going to buy it?

As usual Canadians couldn’t agree on anything. In some provinces it’s sold by the government, through existing liquor control boards (vice control?), or new government run stores (can you say Brewers Retail?). In other provinces it’s run by retail private enterprise, although it was a nightmare for them trying to decide to stay open before the law was passed, which meant being shut down and denied a license after the law came into effect. Go figure.

The stated goal was not to encourage the use of pot, especially by young people, despite the fact that they were already the largest group of users. No. It was to eliminate the “black market”, particularly organized crime. How? By making the legal price lower than you paid your local pot guy. Seriously? No. It was to collect all the new tax revenues from legal sellers, something they had never got a dime from before. Not only sales tax, but what drug dealer, big or small, ever paid income tax on the huge amount of money they made. That’s why so many seniors who were not able to afford to live on their meagre pensions started to grow pot. All that money and no tax! Cool!

Our feds have no problem laying down the law for pipelines or carbon tax. Not up to the provinces and not even any real consultation with all the native bands who manage their land. But, marijuana? No way, Jose. Other than signing it into law they wanted nothing to do with the very idea of having a national law that would cover every aspect of the business, plus things like policing, medical use and the expulsion of some half a million criminal records for simple possession. That would be far too simple.

For me personally I grew up in an era of some limited pot use, mostly because I was in a band and, well, there was always temptation everywhere. My one experience with pot was when I was the drummer for the house band at the old Club Bluenote in Toronto. One of the star entertainers we backed, Eric Mercury, offered me a joint in our dressing room. Of course I was in awe of this guy and felt stupid to say no. Peer pressure at its best.

The first song of our next set is a song only known to old guys like me, You Keep Me Hanging On, by Vanilla Fudge. Maybe you can’t stand the song but check out the tempo.

It’s pretty funky enough, but when I hit my snare in the warm-up I realized just how stoned I was. It sounded incredible! I counted in most of our songs so I started. Next thing I knew our lead guitarist, Nolan Yearwood, was turning around shouting at me to speed up! Apparently I was so stoned that I was playing it about half speed just grooving on this whole new sound from my kit. That was the last time I ever toked before playing, in fact, it pretty well scared me off pot forever.

Okay, I tried it a couple of other times in my life, but that’s a different story. Life’s cruelty caught up with me when I started to suffer terribly from a complication of my newly discovered diabetes. I got what’s called peripheral neuropathy in my feet. People have often asked me to describe what it’s like and the best description I’ve come up with is it’s like someone is holding a lighter under your feet. Excruciatingly painful and you are never without pain.

When I lived in London, Ontario a neighbor in the building asked me if I had ever tried marijuana for the pain? I hadn’t, so he said there was a nice senior on our floor that sold pot to the residents. I think it was ten dollars for three joints. I hid them in the freezer. Don’t forget it was very illegal and I figured the police had nothing better to do than bust a bunch of seniors.

So, one night I thought I would give it a try. Can’t hurt, right? It was the first time in years that my pain was gone! It only lasted a couple of hours but those were the best hours ever. I knew that medical marijuana was available so I thought I could get some that way. No sooner was I thinking that I might have some relief from my pain than I learned it would only cost SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS to apply! So much for that idea.

How has this personal experience formed my personal opinion about the possible benefits of marijuana?

Well, I believe that study after study has proven the medical benefits of pot for mitigating pain. No question. Recreational use? Well, a whole lot of folks like marijuana more than smoking or drinking, both of which have well documented perils. Not sure there has ever been a driver who has ever killed anyone under the influence of pot instead of being drunk. How many people have died of cancer from years of smoking cigarettes? How many innocent lives have been lost because of drunk driving? How many families have been destroyed by alcohol? Pot? Sure sounds a lot less dangerous to me.

Many people were dead set against legalizing recreational use of marijuana. I don’t agree that we should necessarily be promoting it, but I do believe one hundred percent that it needed to be decriminalized. Not long ago there was a case where a father was denied access to his flight from Canada to Disneyland with his four kids because he had a forty year old conviction for simple possession. It that fair? No way!

If legalization had been handled properly at the federal level there are tons of existing laws about the sale of cigarettes and alcohol. Why not just add pot as another controlled substance? That takes away the profit motive for all these huge companies jumping into growing and selling it. A twelve year old can’t go into a liquor store and buy beer, so what’s different with pot?

What the government could have done, in my mind far more responsibly, was allow people to grow their own for their own use. After all, it’s a weed! Someone like me could grow enough for pain management, something I still can’t do. Expunge the half a million criminal records for people charged with simple possession, which has grossly affected their lives, like not being able to get a job because they have a criminal record. Truly stupid.

What’s done is done, of course. Far too late to bring any common sense to the whole issue. I consider myself liberal, not in the political sense, open-minded and progressive, but I think Canada is going to regret this move. It’s already started off with huge challenges, like stockouts across the country. The whole issue of edibles has been delayed at least a year so there’s more trouble to come.

Just one man’s humble opinion. What’s yours?

A question for you my dear readers.

Having lived in Panama, Ecuador and now Mexico and visited Costa Rica many times, my question is about basic services – electricity, water and internet.

These counties in Central and South America (some consider Mexico part of North America) and quite possibly others, have been referred to as “third-world countries” when it comes to many things, such as hospitals are concerned. The shifting winds of governments over the years, together with the influx of Expats to these countries has brought on many improvements to healthcare, highways and sewage treatment, for example in Panama City where 40,000 metric tons of raw sewage were previously dumped into the Bay of Panama daily. This was the primary reason that all the big hotels on the bay, built to launder drug money, sat empty.

In the countries I have lived in or visited the most frequent occurrence was no water, no electricity or no internet, often for days on end. My question is if this is a result of inadequate infrastructure to support these services, corruption either in private companies or the governments, a lack of funding, incompetence or maybe just a lack of intent?

Each of these countries have at one point made International Living’s Best Places To Retire list. First it was Costa Rica, then Panama, then Ecuador and now Mexico. Those who have been part of the Age Wave, the baby boomer generation, are shocked when they move to these countries only to learn that the basic services that they have been accustomed to in their home counties are often not available. Electricity (power) in particular is an exception because people have experienced a loss of power as a result of thunderstorms, ice storms and high winds taking down power poles, but, except in extreme situations, such as the recent tornados in Canada, power is usually restored fairly quickly.

That is not the case in the countries mentioned because weather is seldom a contributing factor. Instead, the power just goes off for no apparent reason at any time of day or night. In some situations I understand that it is because of the electrical grid not being designed to allow localized outages for work to be done. The entire system must be brought down.

Water supply can be just as problematic. Unlike in more developed countries where water supply is a public utility, in Panama, for example, water is supplied by private companies which are often underfunded and ill-equipped to deal with problems that arise. Again, in Panama, a pipe broke in the system supplying my water and I had no water for over a week. Not so great to not be able to flush the toilets for a week. Here in Mexico it’s the well known don’t drink the water. Bottled water is the norm, although I for one don’t know what the problem is with the water supply. I can only assume that it is a lack of purification that is a normal part of water supply everywhere else.

Internet is a whole other issue, although improvements are being made gradually. A common complaint here in Lakeside will soon be solved when iLox brings 50 Mbps service here soon. Telmex is also introducing fiber-optic service. no doubt in response to iLox coming. That being said, Telmex service is completely unreliable. Many areas get less than 2 Mbps, if at all. And just yesterday the service from Telmex was out all day here in Riberas. The question is why?

The new President has pledged to bring WIFI to everyone in the country. A very lofty goal. He has also pledged to stop Guadalajara from drawing a foot of water out of Lake Chapala every year, although there is no indication how that might affect the local water supply.

Obviously I can only speak to these issues as an immigrant to the countries I have lived in, but I wonder how the locals feel. Do they just accept that this is the way it has always been or are they just as annoyed at the constant failure of these services? If so, why aren’t there loud protests to clean up the mess that is, for example, CFE? Are Mexicans just used to no water or no power? Don’t Mexican businesses suffer the same consequences when they can’t operate their equipment? It costs businesses a lot when they must close because they can’t function without power. Their employees must be sent home with no pay, which hurts everyone. Food spoils in restaurants when there is no refrigeration. They can’t open at night with no lights. Bands can’t play music without power.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love Lakeside and I do everything possible to promote the area on my website. I simply want to believe that these issues can actually be solved to make life here even better.

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