The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!

Tag Archives: grief

Marc Wolfgram – RIP

Some of us never get a chance to meet the people who have made a difference in our lives.  I never had the pleasure of meeting Marc in person, however I did correspond with him through email on several occassions.  For those of you who read this blog who have never had Esophageal Cancer or been a caregiver to someone with EC you would not have a reason to know Marc.  But you see, if it were not for Marc I am not sure where I would be today.

Marc and his wife Tammy are the owner’s of a website called Cathy’s EC Cafe.  I found the Cafe on the night I was diagnosed with EC.  It was on page 26 of my google search and when I clicked on the link and went through the site I knew in my heart that no matter what happened to me I was not ALONE.

Prior to finding Cafe I had seen the stats, I had read about the awful fate I had been handed and if I wasn’t scared before I was now.  In finding the Cafe and in turn joining the ACOR ECG Listserve (another or Marc’s “babies”) I found a place where, although I was still scared, I didn’t have to be scared alone.  Everyone there had been there, done that and most of them had the scars to prove it!

Not too long ago a member of the ECG List thought that perhaps she should leave as her husband who had EC had passed away. I replied to her email (as below) and when Marc read it he asked for my permission to post it at at Cathy’s Cafe.  Of course I agreed…

This was my reply:

For M— and anyone else who wonders if staying on the list does any good.

I found this list the night was I was diagnosed, through Cathy’s EC Cafe. Within 24 hours of posting my story I had emails from all over the world telling me that I too could beat the beast. One of those emails was from Jane Pickett, our 35 year survivor. Some of those who emailed me are no longer with us and that makes me sad. That was almost 5 years ago.

I couldn’t imagine my life without this list. I have laughed with all of you and cried with all of you. You make me smile, you make me laugh and someday you make me downright angry but I still come back, day after day. Some days, this is home more than my physical home is.

We all have something to contribute – whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

The friends I have made from this list will always be my friends which is a little strange considering that for the most part I wouldn’t know you from Adam walking down the street. Those of you I have had the honor of meeting will forever be ingrained, not only in my head but also my heart.

As most will admit, this is not a group anyone wants to join, but once in, always in.

For me, leaving would be like cutting of a limb and sorry folks, but I have lost enough body parts to this disease as it is, I refuse to give up anymore. Perhaps it is the comfort of knowing that everyone here has been there, done that and won’t think that my questions and or suggestions are totally whacked! (Just a little bit, because, hey, it is me after all LOL).

So M—, don’t ever think that you are not helping someone because somewhere out there, someone will sleep a little better tonight, eat a little better tomorrow, and feel a whole lot better due to you!!!


In a nutshell, that is what Marc did for me, he gave me a home, he gave me a family and he did this all “just because”.

Since surviving EC I have tried to be a better person- sometimes I am and sometimes I fail miserably but I still try and I know that if Marc had not given of himself the way he did, I would have given up long ago.

To his wife Tammy and his 3 beautiful daughters, you have my most heartfelt condolences.  I cannot imagine how sad and lost you must feel right now, but please know in your hearts that there are many of us who consider Marc an awesome human being and know that there is a special place in heaven for him and that he is there now.  I know you will all miss him terribly and so will I.

Marc Wolfgram - RIP


Marc W. Wolfgram

Marc W. Wolfgram of Hartland, died tragically on Monday, February 15, 2010 as the result of an automobile accident at the age of 55 years. Marc worked at GE Med Systems in Pewaukee, Eaton Corp. in Milwaukee and Rennaissance Learning in Wisconsin Rapids. Eventually, he was able to follow his dream and started his own computer business MacCetera. Marc was a consummate computer geek and Mac guru for all his customers, family and friends.

After conquering esophageal cancer in 1995, Marc devoted much of his time to running an online esophageal cancer support group and maintaining Cathy’s EC Cafe web site, to help others in their battles with esophageal cancer. Marc was an incredibly kind and giving person, with an ever-present sense of humor. He was a friend to everyone and earned people’s respect wherever he went.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years Tammara (nee Hoffman), his daughters Jennifer (Brian) Jambretz, Gwendolyn (Scott) Tracy and Megan Wolfgram, his grandchildren Breanna and Brian Jambretz Jr. and Kieran Tracy and his parents Gordon and Ruth (nee Fitch) Wolfgram. He is further survived by his brother Paul (Rachel) Wolfgram, nephew Michael Wolfgram, in-laws Harold and Patricia Hoffman, other relatives and many friends.

Friends may call at the Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church, W299 N5595 Grace Drive, Hartland, WI on Friday, February 19, 2010 from 3:30 PM until Services at 6:30 PM. There will be refreshments following the Service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy or the charity of your choice.


Cathy’s EC Cafe

ECG Listserve


Guest Post: LEAP of FAITH (to all cancer warriors/families)

I was blog surfing last night and came across this blog. I was very impressed by the writing.  This post put into words what so many of us feel and think but cannot figure out how to say it – Keith Ng has done an excellent job in saying it!!!!

I asked Keith if I could repost this on Serendopeity and he agreed.  I wanted to post it here as I think it can help many of us explain how we feel.  I don’t know about you but I sometimes have a hard time putting into words how I feel about a lot of my cancer experience.  I can talk about Esophageal Cancer until I am blue in the face, but trying to explain how I feel personally about the disease is sometimes a futile attempt.

So with Keith’s permission I present:


To all cancer warriors and their family members:

 Cancer does not and will not define who you are. It is just a part of life. Everyone of us have our own trials and obstacles. But it does not define who you are. If you have goals and dreams that you want to pursue, don’t stop. Go ahead and accomplish what you want. Just because you are restricted in some ways, it does not mean you’re restricted completely. Don’t stop living. Set your goals. This is just your particular journey, your particular experience. You may have to modify the way you can achieve them, but complete them in the best way that you can. Just be realistic as well. Keep going, while knowing what your limitations are. Having cancer, of course, it is inevitable that you have days which you don’t feel comfortable and needs more rest. Get ready for this. Have as much right nutrition as you can and ask as much questions from your doctor and fellow fighters who have been through what you will be going through. In any case, even the average person falls sick on certain days. It just simply means that you have to learn to adapt to some changes into your life. Addressing cancer may be a difficult issue, because even if you choose to ignore it, it is still there and it still changes things. But at the same time, it also doesn’t change things. It’s hard to explain. Most survivors would still be the same person as they were in many ways, but at the same time also not. They may appear different, feel different and think a little different. But then again, even if for someone without cancer, he would also probably look, feel and think differently after a few years as well. The first thing that you have to do is to get yourself as educated as possible on your situation. I know that with the prognosis, it can be quite hard to get your thoughts clear, but you got to make an informed course of decision to see how you can get yourself treated with the best possible options. Life gains a certain urgency when you have cancer but it will focus your mind on what’s really important in your life. There are a lot of things you can learn from having cancer. It’s kind of bad that we have to have a disease like this to learn so much. We would have wished that we could have learned the things we know now without having to go through it. But that is part and parcel of life. Everyone knows that you never know how many tomorrows you have left. But it changes you somehow when you are actually being told that you have something that you can die from. It changes the way you look at things. It changes the way you approach things. It changes the way you feel about everything. But those are not bad changes. Cancer is not good, but sometimes the things that evolve from it can be very positive. Having that realization would make us reevaluate and prioritize the things that are really important to us. Whenever events or specials occasions have been planned for, go ahead and realize it. Don’t put off vacations or any other time with your family if you would like to. Being a cancer warrior gives you something that the average person doesn’t have. You learn to value and love life more. You appreciate friends and family more. It helped you to not sweat about the small stuff anymore, which the average person can be so miserable about. You will have a greater understanding of what it means to be alive and to appreciate the suffering that other patients have been going thru. And when you finally come to the point whereby you can proudly say that you have been through something really horrible and you overcome it, you might want to spread the light. There are two ways to spread the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Be a source of inspiration to other warriors. Everyone who got to where he is had to start from where he was. Now that you have come a long way to learn how to manage cancer, you might want to guide others and bring them through this the way that others have done so for you. Share your experiences to fellow warriors who might need your knowledge on certain issues that comes along. Alternatively, simply introduce fellow warriors to people whom you know can be of great help to them. Every small act that you do will be critical to their recovery phase. Nevertheless, uncertainty is an issue that you will have to learn how to grapple with. It can cause a lot of frustration and anger. That is normal. You might be wondering if you are going to live to an old age. But then again, think about it. Even if you have not been diagnosed with cancer, there is also no guarantee that you would live to an old age. Life itself simply has too many uncertainties and cancer is just one of them that are made known to you for now. There are people out there unaware of the illness that’s within them, but are still living lives to the fullest. The same should go for us. It is those people that live with the false sense of illusion that they are going to live forever, that are going to have a lot of regrets in their life. One day, you life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching. Humans have a strength that cannot be measured. This is Keith Ng. By reading this, you are the resistance. The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Never stop fighting. The battle has just begun.

 Leap of Faith

Live Strong,

Keith Ng Zhi Wei

A year ago today.

On April 19, 2008 my “Big Brother” Kyle died.  Kyle was not my big brother by blood – he was, instead, my big brother by choice.  And he was everything anyone could have ever asked for in a big brother.  He was always a smile when I needed on, a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the ass when one of those was warranted. He was one of the smartest people I knew, sometimes even smarter than me, which was a good thing be cause he made me see things that I never would have seen on my own.  The intelligence or rather the “smarts” he possessed didn’t come from any formal education. Rather, Kyle had what I refer to as “street smarts”.  A free spirit if ever I had met one; Kyle danced to his own drummer and the rest of the world be damned. 

I met him in Edmonton when I was 19 years old.  I thought I knew everything, like many people at 19.  I knew just about nothing and Kyle made it his mission to teach me alot.  I am who I am today partly because of him.  I had left Toronto, going to Alberta in the boon times to find myself and my place in life.  Instead, I found Kyle.  It really does prove the theory that what is meant to be will be.  We became instant friends.  Kyle had come to Edmonton from Regina and with him came his “motley crew”, Billy and Chris.  Between the three of them, Donny and my new friends we became almost a family, replacing those we had left behind in our former “lives”.  Well, as things go, stuff happens and we all drifted apart but Kyle was never far from my mind nor my heart.  We lost touch for a while, but my perserverance paid off and one day I got a call from him.  I had written a letter to his mother in Regina and through her Kyle and I were once again together.  I had moved back to Toronto, Kyle was moving around from place to place and was back in Regina to go to school.  He was always going back to school somewhere, but in true Kyle fashion that never really lasted for more than a semester – something would come up and Kyle would drop out, a couple of credits short of whatever it was he was trying to attain.  I always supported his decisions to leave school – perhaps not for the reasons he gave but rather because I knew sooner or later he would go back.

Eventually Kyle ended up in Victoria B.C. as a Life Skills Councellor.  If there was ever anyone who knew life skills it as him.  He “settled” down – this from a man who would get all nervous and shaky walking by a store with wedding dresses in the window – and I was so happy that he had finally met someone that could “tame” him. LOL.  He and Lori were together and although I never met her I felt as though I knew her from what Kyle had told me.  With Lori, they built a house in the “country” outside Victoria, and Kyle became the guardian of a man who was very mentally and physically challenged.  Kevin was a handful but Kyle had finally found something in his life that he was excellent at.  The three of them finished building the house.

Unfortunetly Kyle and Lori’s relationship fell apart and the house was gone but Kyle and Kevin stayed together buidling a new house in Sooke, B.C.  And to add to the pot, Kyle took on another young man, Donny.  Both Kevin and Donny had been labeled by society.  Kevin was prone to verbal and physical outbursts, some very violent.  Donny had his moments also – no one wanted the boys and they were left to be institutionalized.  Kyle took them both home and there they thrived.  He told me once, that when he first met Donny, he was not living, he was merely existing.  He was on so many meds that he was a zombie, sitting in a chair everyday doing nothing but staring into space.  When I met Donny and Kevin, both of them called Kyle “pops” and both of them led productive lives, each day going off to day programs and doing their chores once they got home in the afternoon.  I went to stay with Kyle, Kevin and Donny for a month.  At first I was a little hesitant, but I knew that with Kyle in charge I had nothing to fear.  And I was right.  I called them the “Three Muskateers”.  Living with them for that time was one of the happiest times in my life.  Everything was so simple, and yet so complicated.  From who got what meds when to hiding the “real” coffee and only leaving out the decaf it was truly an experience I will never forget. I instituted an “appetizer” before dinner policy and fed them food other than red meat – this was something they were not used to.  They were also not used to folding clean clothes.  Kyle would dump them on the bench outsidde the laundry room door and whoever needed what would get it from the pile.  Long after I left when I would call and talk to Kevin he would always ask when I was coming back to live with them.  “Pops” had left the laundry on the bench and they needed it folded.  Plus, “Pops” was back to red meat all the time and they needed a cook – it was nice to be wanted for whatever the reason.  I left Sooke, again with hesitation but of a different kind.  I knew I would miss Kyle more than ever. 

See, the problem with staying with someone for more than a night or two in thier home and as part of their life lets you see a whole different part of them.  At that time I had known Kyle for years but people change, situations change – Kyle never did. He was the same as he had always been.  I left B.C. not knowing if I would ever see him again.

But I did.  Kyle was not the type of person who just disappeared from your life.  He may have flown under the radar once in a while but he was never really gone.

I saw Kyle a couple of times after that – always on a vacation somewhere. We were in Montreal for Grey Cup one year, he came to Toronto for my brother Al’s wedding, things like that.  In 2002 when my life was a total mess and I really didn’t think I had anything to live for Kyle called me one day and out of the blue told me he was moving to Toronto and did I have a place for him.  Did I?????  Holy cow, I sure did.  I had no job, no money but I did still get Unemployment Insurance at the time.  We had been through worse we would be fine.  Kyle showed up with all his earthly belongings – a suitcase, 2 packer boxes and a knapsack.  That was Kyle.  Everything important to him was packed.  He was burnt out – giving Kevin and Donny up and back to being wards of the Province of B.C., something I never thought he would do.  However as someone who has also suffered from burn out I do understand why he did it.

And we did survive.  Kyle found a job working with Covenant House and street kids – a job that he loved but something was always missing for Kyle.  He hated the impersonal feeling of a “big city”.  He never really felt at home in Toronto.  His son, daughter -in-law and at the time first grandson lived near, about 70 miles away and he was his happiest when I would drop him off at Cory’s on my way to Mom and dad’s in Brighton.  But that was not enough for Kyle and after reconnecting with a woman he had known he became disillusioned with Toronto, packed his things and off he went back to B.C.  I wish I had have known at the time that I would never see him again.

While in Toronto, Kyle became ill.  We thought he had food poisoning – he was always stopping in China Town on his way home from work.  But it wasn’t food poisoning.  When I finally got him to a doctor – and that was a job in itself – he was diagnosed with Diabetes.  Not severe enough to warrant insulin shots but he did have oral insulin he was to take on a regular basis.  And, he had to stop drinking the copiuos amount of alcohol that he was used to consuming.  I never really thought about it until then, but I think back now and if I had to guess I would have to say that Kyle was an alcoholic.  Never mean or nasty, always in a good mood while he was drinking, unless he was provoked.  I had seen that on only one occassion and it was not something that I would want to see ever again.  I do know that what happened was to protect someone we both loved, and I do not condone what happened, but I do understand why it happened.  We never spoke of it but I knew in my heart that if ever presented with the same situation he would defend me and anyone he loved to the death.  Luckily that never happened.

After he returned to BC we spoke almost weekely by phone.  Always about what was going on in our lives – he had gone back to a relationship that had a ready made family with it and in the beginning he was happy with that.  But like all other things “Kyle” he became disillusioned with that.  They tried something different, moving to Red Deer Alberta, and then on to Calgary but that didn’t work out and once again he ventured out on his own.

When I was diagnosed with Cancer he was one of the first people I called.  Once I had assured him – or rather made him believe that everything was going to be ok and that I was going to be ok – he wanted to come to Ontario.  I told him to wait until I was all better – I didn’t want nor need him to be here while I underwent everything I had to, to be well again.  In retrospect that was the biggest mistake of my life.  If I had let him come, he might still be alive today…

Again we talked weekly – the converstation always started out the same – was I ok? Was I going to be ok? How was I feeling?  Even in my darkest days I never let him know how sick I really was.  I do regret that now – maybe then he would have told me how sick he was.  As always we talked about everything and he told me that he had been speaking to Cory (his son) and was thinking about moving to Ontario to live and work with Cory.  Cory has his own business and needed the help.  The last time I spoke with him he was still thinking about it.   I was so excited, Kyle was coming home.

But that never happened. 

One afternoon I was checking my email and there was a message from Facebook.  Someone was looking for me.  As soon as I saw the name I knew it was Kyle’s daughter-in-law, Sara.  Panic set in – why would Sara be looking for me?  So I called Kyle in Calgary to see what was going on.

Kyle didn’t answer the phone, a woman did and I asked to speak with him.  Hesitantly she told me that he wasn’t there.  I asked when he would be home…She didn’t say anthing so I explained who I was and why I was calling.  Then she told me…

She had found Kyle dead in his bed…he was back in Regina and in fact, the funeral was that very afternoon.  Not only had I not been there for Kyle when he died I was also missing his funeral because there was no way that I could be in Regina Saskatchewan from Brighton Ontario in less than 4 hours.  I was already in a fragile state, having found my Uncle dead and going through the whole funeral thing not but 2 weeks before.  I remember more about the first funeral and the time surrounding it, than I do about finding out about Kyle.  I do remember speaking to Cory on the phone and I do remember searching the internet for anything I could find about Kyle.  Other than that, it is a big blur.  I know I was angry, a feeling that lasted longer than I would have liked to admit, but at the same time the sadness was something that I had never felt before.  It was different than when my grandparents or other relatives died.  This was Kyle…he was my rock and the more I found out about how he died the more angry I became.  How dare he????  How dare he give up, disregard what the doctors told him.  How dare he not tell me how sick he was.  How dare he die on me???????  How dare he leave without saying goodbye????

It took me almost a month but when I was finally able I sat down and wrote his mother a letter.  I explained thatI found out too late to be there but if I had I would have stood up in front of all his family and friends and  told them about Kyle.  When I was finished, 6 pages later, I had written a eulogy that Kyle would have laughed at had he been able to read it.  I would like to think that he was looking over my shoulder as I wrote it.  His mom, Audrey, sent me a beautiful than you card and said that she reads it often and sometimes she cries and sometimes she laughs but no matter what she feels when reading it she understands why Kyle loved me so much.  And maybe thats what I need to focus on, but it is tough – I miss him so much and as I sit here and write this the tears won’t stop.  I want him back – just one more time to tell him that I am sorry that I wasn’t there for him and that I miss him and love him and will never ever forget him.

Good Bye Kyle.  Rest in Peace.


For any of you that read this blog on a regular basis you know that I can be very “wordy” for days on end and then nothing for a while.  Sorry about that but sometimes life takes the fun out of well, life!  I can blather on about most subjects, and tend to at most times LOL.  But the last little while has been a bit difficult for me to muster up the energy required to sit down and have the discipline to do much more than answer email and play a couple of games before hitting my pilow at night.  After finally getting over the nasty stomach bug we all had I was hit with a upper respiratory infection of sorts.  Probably just the garden variety – but enough to set me back once again.  I will have the “type” confirmed later today at the Doctor’s but at least I am able to get out of bed and function for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  I am sure that I did not feel as bad the last week as I did when the chemo was killing me.  For a couple of days my sense of taste, smell and my balance was way off.  I couldn’t even smell the Vicks Vapo Rub that I was wearing and some of it was right under my nose LOL.  But that was then and this is now and it’s time for an update.


First off – Jean had her surgery yesterday and is home and resting as comfortable as can be expected.  She will not find out anything for at least 2 weeks when she returns for her post-op check up.  I would like to thank all of you who visited and took to heart what I had said and granted my request.  I am sure that it has helped and I look forward to reporting that all is well.

Landlord Man is here today and he is granting me access to the big living room.  He is most humble these days.  This morning he told me that he actually has to look for a job – he hasn’t worked in 15 years – Awwww muffin – welcome to the real world.  Sorry – I could almost feel sorry for him if he wasn’t such an ass.  He also told me that his wife has had to get a job – again….awwww. 

Mom and dad are doing ok.  The case worker was here last week and starting next week I will have some help.  Monday mornings for an hour, Wednesday all day when they go to a Day Program and then Friday afternoons will be covered so I can go out and get some stuff done.  I am looking forward to having some time off. 

We are back to BINGO on Thursday afternoons and both have their weekly groups to attend.  Mom is going to her’s this afternoon and Dad will be at his Thursday morning.  This Thursday we will be celebrating Ivy’s 83rd birthday complete with Cake and Ice Cream, Candles and presents.  No, not 83 candles – the fire dept is busy that afternoon so we will stick to one LOL.

Much has been written lately and the talk shows are having a field day about the Derogatory remarks made on a FOX broadcast about the Canadian Military.  Ya know what people, get over it – it was FOX and that says it all right there.  This is the same network that spawned (for lack of a better word) Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter.  Like I said – it’s FOX.  Consider the source and move on. There are some people who never, in a million years and with all the information available will think of Canada in any other terms than they do so you have choices.  Mute, change the channel, refuse to watch the network.  It is too late for apologies or retractions – what’s done is done.  There are more important things to worry about – like for instance -BRINGING HOME OUR TROOPS.  OK, nuff said.

Dancing with The Stars is once again proving to be some good TV in an otherwise lacklustre season.  My favourite is of course, the pairing of Tony and Melissa.  I really like Shaun too. She is just so cute and they make a cute little couple.  For 17 years old she is proving to be a contender. 

Bosco is Bosco and always will be.  He never changes except maybe when he steps on the scale LOLOLOL.  Its ok, he’s still my boy and I love him to death.  I amthinking about getting a cat too.  I miss Spooky and Bosco really loved having a playmate even if that playmate swiped at him for no good reason other than they were in the same space LOL.  There are always cats available for adoption at the Vet’s so we will see the next time I am there .

The sun is out but it is still in the minus numbers here but supposed to warm up over the next week.  Most of the snow is gone but there are still spots where the sun doesn’t hit that have some snow – like my front lawn but the coming rain will wash all that away and it will be srping. FINALLY!

Have a great week.


When is ENOUGH ENOUGH?????

I am Canadian.  And today I saddened to say that.  Saddened because 4 more of my countrymen have been killed needlessly in a war that we have no business being in.  Oh wait, we are not at war with ANYONE.  WE ARE PEACEKEEPERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And yet, I will again, go and stand on a bridge, waive my Canadian Flag and cry unashamed when the hearse’s carrying these HEROES drive by.  I will wave at the families and hope they know that although I did not kn0w their sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins that at least for one moment in time I could feel their pain and wish that it would end now.

Bring home our troops!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!  Let those who want to fight, fight, but leave us out of it.  Sorry Obama you dropped the ball on this one – you should be bring home your troops too.  Not over the course of a couple of years but NOW!!!!!!  Pull them out. 

Canada has lost 116 Canadian Soldiers on a PEACEKEEPING mission.  WHEN WILL ENOUGH BE ENOUGH?????????????????? In my opinion it’s about 116 too many.  Stop it now before it becomes 117 or more.


Four Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan Updated Fri. Mar. 20 2009 6:59 PM ET News Staff Four Canadian soldiers have been killed and another eight injured in Afghanistan in two separate improvised explosive attacks. The dead have been identified as: Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28, Cpl. Tyler Crooks, 24, Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, and Trooper Corey Joseph Hayes, 22. Vernelli and Crooks died in an early morning blast at about 6:45 a.m. local time while on foot patrol in the Zhari district west of Kandahar. Another five Canadian soldiers were injured in that attack and a local interpreter was killed. Bouthillier and Hayes were killed about two hours later when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb attack in the Shah Wali Kot district, about 20 kilometres northeast of Kandahar city. Three others were injured. All the deaths occurred as the Canadians were taking part in a major operation attacking Taliban command centres and supply lines. The operation was described as the largest joint Canadian-American military operation since Korea, CTV News’ Jennifer Madigan reported from Kandahar. All the wounded soldiers were evacuated by helicopter and are listed in stable condition. Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, the commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, urged Canadians in a statement to not consider the deaths a failure of any particular person or the mission. “Success in war is costly. We are determined to succeed so that Afghan lives improve, but the insurgents are equally determined to challenge and prevent Afghanistan from flourishing as the nation it so wants to be. Remember, the deaths of these superb Canadians occurred as Canadian Forces were bringing safety to those in peril. Today, they succeeded,” he said. Vance added that the soldiers died protecting the Afghan people. All of the soldiers were based out of CFB Petawawa. Madigan said the news of the deaths quickly spread around the Canadian base in Kandahar. “The mood was very somber, it was very quiet . . . people sitting around breakfast without saying a word,” she said. Vernelli was described as an experienced and well-respected soldier. He is survived by his spouse and six-month-old daughter. Madigan said that Vernelli’s tour of duty was postponed earlier so he could be home for his daughter’s birth and he was a “proud father.” Crooks was described as a keen soldier, an excellent athlete who “would do anything for you without even being asked.” Madigan said Crooks was very popular and often was seen sitting with much higher ranked officers. Both Vernelli and Crooks were of November Company, 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Bouthillier was known for his sense of humour, Vance said, and practiced martial arts. Hayes was a “proud and dedicated soldier . . . who stood up for what was right,” Vance said. Both Bouthillier and Hayes were of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. Defence Minister Peter MacKay expressed his condolences Friday saying in a statement, “Their loss was not in vain and Canada and the Canadian Forces are committed to this UN-sanctioned, NATO-led mission.” The deaths bring the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 116.

I “miss” my mom.

It is 11:18 am and mom is still in bed sleeping.  Dad is sitting downstairs, totally bored.  I asked him if he wanted to read the paper – so he is, at least, browsing it.  I feel bad that there isn’t lot for him to do.  His only real hobbies were hunting and fishing and he can’t do either of those anymore either.  I understand the boredom issue – I myself have moments when I wish there was “something to do”.  But there always is something to do around here so my moments are more of  laziness rather than boredom.

Mom would sleep 24/7 if we let her.  This is another phase of her disease.  I have been warned that there could also be the opposite where she does not sleep and will have to be watched 24/7. I am dreading that phase more than her sleeping phase.  At least while she is sleeping I can get things done without having to stop and ask her not to touch things please.  I hate asking her that as much as she hates hearing it.  It makes my job that more difficult when I have to do something twice.  For instance, the dishes.  I hate doing dishes.  When I first moved in here I had a dishwasher.  It bit the dust in May and as of yet Landlord Man has not replaced it as required in the Residential Tenancies Act nor as he promised he would do in June. 

After each meal I collect all the dishes and set them in the kitchen.  Sometimes I am finished my meal long before mom and dad.  I eat much less, therefore faster than them.  At dinner time I prefer to have my coffee and sometimes dessert later in the evening while watching TV.

Mom has this ingrained trait that dishes must be done as soon as a meal is over.  I do not share this trait with mom.  Instead, I do the dishes when I get to them, sometime between laundry, showering, sleeping and other general life occurances.   Mom also thinks that by wiping dishes down with a wet paper towel is washing them.  This is also a trait I do not share with my mother.  When I do the dishes I use the hottest water possible and wear rubber gloves.  I do this for two reasons.  It is more sanitary and when they are that hot coming out of the water they dry alot faster.  I told you, I hate doing dishes. 

There are times when inadvertantly mom is left to her own devices in the kitchen.  Usually, after dinner we watch TV.  And usually I fall asleep in the big easy chair…this leaves mom free and clear to enter the kitchen and wreck some havoc.  No one ever knows what they will find if she has been in there alone.   Once,  a container of Bungee Cords made its way into the fridge. Just yesterday I opened the fridge door to find a pile of clean dish towels on the shelf.  Ok, so it was neatly folded and stacked but that is not the point!

I never realized how picky I was about my kitchen until mom and dad came to live with me.  I am by no means a control freak, but I am a Virgo.  There is a place for everything in my kitchen, at least there is a place in my mind for everything in my kitchen.  Knives are separated by usage in the cutlery drawer.  As are spoons and forks.  In mom’s world they all go together.  Pots,  pans, baking sheets etc are under the counter in the cupboard.  Dish towels, dish clothes, rubber gloves go in the drawer in the microwave stand.  The list goes on.  In mom’s world something goes wherever she can find a place for it.  I have now come to understand what I once thought was an OCD trait in my father of buying something – kitchen things in particular was not in fact OCD but rather the fact that mom had put something away and didn’t know where so dad just went and bought new.  At one time they had 4 coffee machines.  Somewhere in their place are more dish towels than at WalMart.

I love my mother.  I always have.  Even in those wacky teen years when some children hate their parents…not really hate them, just think they do…I never did.  My mom and I got along great.  Sure we had our differences, what parents and children do not, but never anything that would have us running to a shrink for help.  My mom was a cool mom.  One that all my friends would come and visit even if I wasn’t home.  We had one of those homes where all the kids hung out.  Myself and my brothers friends even called my parents mom and dad. (Moreso my mother than my father…) To this day some of my friends still call them mom and dad.  Unfortunately mom and dad don’t remember most of them. 😦

Alzheimers has robbed my mother of most of her “motherly” traits.  Mom was always a shoulder to cry on, a calmer of all fears, a tender hand to wipe away tears.  I could talk to her about almost anything and she would understand and tell me what she would do.  She could see the good in almost any situation.  She was kind and compassionate.  That is all gone.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004 all she could come up with was that it wasn’t “fair”.  She didn’t understand the ramifications of the diagnosis, the severity of it all was lost on her.  On a daily basis she would ask what was wrong with me and what the doctors were going to do to fix it.  Explaining the surgery, what it entailed and the subsequent chemo and radiation elicted nothing more than a perfunctatory “that doesn’t sound good”.  One time and one time only, in a moment of lucidity she wrapped her arms around me and let me cry on her shoulder.  The moment was brief and ended when she decided she was hungry and wanted some toast.

I miss my mom.  Even though she is here physically she is all but lost to me.  She is not the same woman I called Mom my whole life.  I want her back.  I want her to wrap her arms around me while I sob and tell me it is all going to be alright.  But, that is not going to happen.  Instead I will go through my day wishing for some small miracle that includes just once her remembering that I am her daughter, her first born and not just the woman who lives upstairs.