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And now… my dad…

The morning my uncle died I got the news that my dad was missing from the hospital. He had received an overdose of meds and had received bad news and decided to go home. He called the ambulance a few hours later and was returned but was in end stage renal failure and refused to go through dialysis. I talked to him briefly that night and he said he would call me back.

(My dad and I when I was about 9 months old)

My dad and I (5 months)

My Dad was another that had a hard life. Drugs, alcohol, partying, jail time and countless other hardships. My mother left him and took me with her in the middle of the night when I was about 18 months old. He tried for years to find me and to get me back. I met him again at the age of 9 and we had some rough times and times that I stopped all contact. Finally, in the years before I got married I let him back into my life.

(My dad, brother, Xavier and I the last time we were all together)

Over the week I prepared for my uncles funeral and waited for my dad’s call but my mind was elsewhere. He was in and out of the hospital often because of his COPD so him being there was not a shock especially since he spent 2 1/2 months there around the holidays. I won’t go there with the kids so I told myself that I would go see him on the weekend. Saturday was the day of my uncles funeral. In the afternoon, I got a call from my aunt saying that things were not looking good. I needed to stay at the funeral but I decided to head to the hospital before heading home. It was nearly 10pm and the security guard wanted to stop me but I told him that I was going up anyway. It was a shock to see him. His legs and belly were so swollen because of the fluids and he was suffering. It tool him a few seconds to realize I was there and who I was but when he did he sat up and for 15 minutes he said goodbye to me. We held each other and said “I love you’s” and then I left to let him sleep.

On Sunday, I decided to go spend the a bit of time with him and then go to supper with a friend to change to give my emotions a bit of a break. It was a rough time at the hospital with him. The swelling was at a point where water was coming out of his skin and dripping down. He was hallucinating and seeing people who were not there. He was alternating between talking about current events, talking about the future, talking about death and  repeating over and over that he wanted to die and then being completely confused and not there at all. He told me that he wanted to go be with his mom… he had always said he would not die before her, but now that she was gone, he wanted to go be with her. He was tired but could not sleep as much as he tried. I knew that being there was not helping him relax so I said goodbye and helped him lay down and gave him a kiss and left. I talked to the nurses just before leaving and I knew that he was nearing the end. I told them to call me if there was any changes.

I went for supper and talked with my friend for  a few hours which felt great and then drove the hour back home arriving at about 11:30… I looked up what my dad was going through and it confirmed what no one wanted to say. Simon asked me if he should stay home Monday and I said no, that I would call him if something happened and he said “I just hope that it doesn’t happen in the night again”… I told him… “It always happens in the middle of the night”

I wrote my half-brother on Facebook (he doesn’t talk to our dad) and told him in a few words that it probably wouldn’t be around much longer… and the 5 min later my cell phone rang. I just knew why. The nurse on the other end told me that he could not wake my dad up and that though his oxygen was at the highest setting, his breathing was laboured and that I should come in.

I left within minutes and like 8 days before I drove down the highway in the middle of the night to say goodbye to a loved one. I talked to Annie and my mom on the highway to keep my mind occupied and arrived at the hospital at about 1:25am. The nurse met at the elevators and I went to be next to my dad. He had been agitated but as I arrived he calmed down. He had suffered for so long and I didn’t want him to suffer for longer than he should. I asked the nurse what was the best way for him to go. He told me that if we took him off the oxygen he would be gone within a few minutes. I told him to do it.

I held his hand, I kissed his forehead and watched him take his last breaths and said goodbye to him for the last time. He died just before 2am.

I gathered his things and went to my car and wept and then headed to my grandmother’s house to try to relax a bit before morning. I fell asleep around 4 and woke up at about 7 and started to make a few phone calls. I went and got my aunt and headed over my other aunt’s house and we talked about what he would have wanted and I then realized that being his daughter, I was the one that needed to make all of the decisions and do everything. I knew that he didn’t want anything special, he didn’t want the funeral at a funeral home and all that comes with it. So I decided that we would forgo that, even though one of my aunt’s doesn’t understand, and instead, everyone that wanted to honour him memory would gather at a restaurant and we can raise a glass to him and be together and think of the good times.

(with Xavier, Colin, Khéna and Wilhelmina)

 

My grandmother, his mom, who died on new year’s day, had not been buried yet, so their ashes will be buried at the same time, next to each other in the family plot. He will be next to his mom.

My Dad and Grandma

I have so much to think about now… so much to do and so much to process… He was just 60 years old and he too is gone…

I’ll miss you Normand…

A Treasure-Trove of History is Lost…

I have talked about my uncle Marc here before. I have shared his Roast beef recipe and his struggles with diabetes.

He was a man of extremes and suffered from depression and didn’t lead a happy life. He would rather be alone then with people, but with those he loved, he opened up to. When we moved back to Montreal when I was a young girl, we lived in the apartment below my grandmothers. He lived upstairs with her along with my other uncle and I spent hours and hours talking with him and learning from him. He loved classic movies and history. He loved genealogy and for years I knew I could alway find him at the library, he spent hours and days looking through books and microfiche, spanning hundreds of years retracing our roots, not only our family’s history but everything he could get his hands on. He was a treasure-trove of history.

The last few years were hard on him. He battled with his depression and could not keep his diabetes under control. He was in and out of the hospital and near death on more than one occasion.

At 3am thursday morning my grandmother called an ambulance after finding my uncle in pain, confused and hyperglycaemic and hypothermic. He was unresponsive by the time the ambulance arrived and had went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. He went into shock, was placed on a ventilator, his heart rate was high, his heart blood pressure was dangerously low so he had machines and medications to control his blood pressure, and he was in a coma. On Thursday evening he developed a fever of 40.6 (105.8) and stopped moving, even in a coma he was always agitated, so it was very different that he was not moving at all. We saw that he was stable so there was no reason to stay so my mom and I headed home at 3am…

He remained stable on Friday and my mom headed to the hospital to be with him in the evening. I decided to wait for a call and head there in the morning. My grandmother showed up at the hospital at midnight, it was the first time she came to see him, she never wanted to see him like that, but something made her go. Just before leaving she told her friend that she felt that he was not coming home this time.

He was still stable when my mom left the hospital to go get some rest, but was called just minutes from her front door. Even the machines could not keep his blood pressure up… there was no oxygen getting to his brain. It was the end. She called me just as I was going to bed at 2am. She was an hour away from the hospital and was scared she would not make it in time. I called my other uncle and told him and his girlfriend to head to the hospital, I got dressed and drove parallel to my mom with St-Lawrence river between us.

We arrived within minutes of each other and had about half an hour with him until the resident-on-call came to see us. We had to make the decision to prolong his life with no hope of recovering or let him go in peace. He was not there anymore, there was no hope. We gave the permission to stop the medications and take the ventilator out. He never took a breath. He died at exactly 4am Saturday morning.

We said our goodbyes and then headed to my grandmother’s to give her the news. She knew the second she saw us in the hall. We took turns holding her and comforting her. I saw my grandmother as a fellow mother. A mom that has just lost her child. Something that no mother should ever have to go through. He had never really left home so she had him close for 52 years and she was realizing that he will never walk through the door again.

There are only a few times in the last few years that we saw him really and truly happy and taking care of himself… One of those times was when he spent the summer with my mom at the cabin…

Doing work at the cabin

Marc and the boys Summer 09Marc (summer 09)Marc and the boys Summer 2009

I will miss you Marc…

Marc (summer 09)

Uncomfortable subjects…

I talk to the kids about almost everything in a very comfortable way, but the other morning I came across a subject that was uncomfortable to discuss. My family.

Colin was asking if we knew anyone named Justin, and I almost said no. Weird, since that is my step-brother’s name and we were once close. When my step-dad died almost six years ago, he was going through a tough time and we haven’t been in contact since. So I was telling Colin about him and that he was like a brother and was a brother by marriage but not a brother by blood. That led my to the subject of my half-brother… my dad’s son.

When my mom and dad were still together (before I was 18 months old) my brother was part of my life. My mom left my Dad, packed the car and headed across the country and I only saw him and my brother almost a decade later. I was about 10 when I met my brother again, he was 15. I have a feeling that I took away some of the already limited attention that he got from my father and he resented me for it. On my part, I looked up to him and wanted a relationship with him, but it always led to disappointment. A few years ago I let go of the hope of having a relationship with him and instead decided that I would cut him off completely. The other morning, when the conversation turned to him it became uncomfortable.

It was uncomfortable because as I explained that he was my Dad’s son and not my Mom’s, I saw him realize that parents are not always together. It was uncomfortable because I explained that we were never close and that we haven’t talked in years and I saw his confusion of having a sibling that is out there that you don’t see or talk to. It was uncomfortable because he asked to meet his uncle and I said that he probably wouldn’t, he wondered why… It was uncomfortable because I know that they would get along great if they were to meet.

Some subjects are really hard to talk about and they are often not the ones that I expect….

Remembering…

It is World Aids day today…

A day to raise awareness, to remember those that have died.

This morning I talked to the boys about Miguel, my step-father who died of Aids in 1997. I talked to them about HIV and Aids. I shared pictures and our story. It has been nearly 14 years since he died…and though life goes on there are days like today that are full of memories and a few tears.

So today I am Remembering Miguel and other friends that have died of Aids over the years…

little house on the mountain…

I was looking through some pics yesterday and found some pics of one of the houses I grew up in…so I thought I would share…

We moved a lot… but this is one place that we stayed in the longest during my childhood before we came to Montreal and one of the places that I have the most memories from…

childhood home

childhood home

I think my mom was paying about 50$ a month in rent to live in it… the owners lived right next door and they had two children who were very good friends of mine… It was one room, with a loft that had two beds on the floor that my mom and I shared… there was a water pump with cold water and we had minimal electricity… enough for a fridge , a radio and a small TV … we had a wood stove to heat and cook on and no bathroom… the outhouse was a bit up the hill and baths were no more than cleaning ourselves with a washcloth in warm water by the fire…

When I was not at school, I spent my days in the forest going as far as I felt comfortable.. I climbed trees and discovered buroughs… I played in the stream and built dams with rocks… I played with my friends and tried to find were the cat had hidden to have her kittens… It was simple, it was rough at times but it was an amazing place to live…

The house is no longer there and the area of Nelson where it once stood (Mountain Station) is now filled with lavish houses… so different then the time that we were there…

These pic were taken on a trip back to BC about a decade ago… the house looked the same as when we lived there except for the stairs that seem to have fallen apart…

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