The wolf howls no more

Of all the tasks to be handled after Randy’s death canceling his cell phone yesterday brought me to my knees. He had downloaded a wolf howling as his ring tone and oh how he loved to see the reaction of people hearing it for the first time. His eyes would light up and he would have this smirk on his face – I mean who expects a wolf to be howling in a hospital or grocery store or such? He would be right in his glee!

Randy had an angel tattoo on one shoulder, he said it represented me. On the opposite shoulder he had a tattoo of wolves howling. And on his back on his right shoulder he had a tattoo of the wounded warrior. We both have indigenous ancestors but we were raised very much in a white, privileged culture. Needless to say we both had deep sympathies for our Indigenous sisters and brothers, even though we both had much to learn regarding the challenges First Nations Peoples face.

Randy was never a lone wolf – he loved people and would have long chats with anyone at all who had the time. He definitely was a “pack” kind of person, especially where family was concerned. Over the past few years his energy waned and he no longer could stand for long chatting away. He became a “wounded warrior”, his body battered by a long struggle with heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Toward the end even his lungs were giving out and he needed an oxygen machine. It was a very slow, agonizing, and painful walk to the western door. I would not wish him back to continue suffering. But I miss him, something awful.

Yet, I know he is at peace and made whole again. The wolf howls no more – instead, he is smiling, perhaps a wolfish smile, at us all.

How many days off work for a death in the family?

A question posed by the grief reality got me thinking about this. For some reason WordPress would not allow me to post a comment. Weird. So I am answering it here, with a few twists. Many places of employment have a sliding rule based on closeness of relationship . I cannot remember what the exact policy was at one place I once worked but I remember this: I could have more days off for the death of my mother than I could in the case of my mother-in-law. Which was the case at the time and I guess that’s why it sticks in my memory. It’s weird, isn’t it? I mean, a death in the family affects us, no matter what the relationship happens to be. For some people their mother-in-law may hold a closer bond than they had with their own mother. At least that’s what one friend told me. She’d had a rocky relationship with her Mom but a close and loving one with her mother-in-law.

At any rate, how do employers come with this policy? How do we as a society measure the time needed to heal the wounds of grief? It’s such an individual thing. The pain cannot be measured. Some take much longer to recover than others. I dislike arbitrary rules but I guess there must be some policy or all would be chaos. Or would it?

My experience has been that grief is something most people avoid speaking of and often feel very uncomfortable around bereaved individuals. Why? Death is the one thing that is guaranteed in life. No one gets out of here alive. It’s just a fact of life.

If you’d like to check out the grief reality here’s the link:


“Some people don’t believe in heroes. But they haven’t met my brother.” Author unknown.

Today is my brother’s birthday. Sadly, he is not here to celebrate. He was ripped from our lives almost four years ago when a drunk driver smashed head on into his van as he was driving home from work. It has taken a lot to come to grips with his sudden (and needless) passing. I miss him. He was so generous, kind, and funny. He loved really, really bad jokes (the kind that makes me groan out loud). He was born two and a half years after me and he, my sister, and I were constant companions. We fought like crazy at times, competing often, but always we knew we had one another’s backs. The day he was killed was a terrible shock. Days like today that represent a special occasion tend to deliver aftershocks. Grief knows no deadlines. Yet, I can smile as well remembering the hero he truly was to me and to many others. The world has been lessened tremendously by his loss. On his birthday, and on the anniversary of his death especially, I think of all the people who continue to drink and drive and I wonder if it matters to them. That risk they take that has the potential to inflict so much pain. Distracted driving, whether through impairment due to drugs or alcohol, or through texting while driving kills so many people every single day. And so, to honor my brother, this is my small attempt to bring awareness. On that day, that horrible day, so many lives were forever changed. And I beg you to never, ever drink and drive.

Thinking of bereaved families in Nova Scotia, Canada

It is a very sad day all across Canada this morning. My social media is filled with news stories and memes about the weekend massacre of over a dozen people in Nova Scotia. (Final tally of deaths is not yet complete as RCMP continue to investigate several crime sites.)

I cannot even begin to imagine what these families must be going through in the midst of a global pandemic. Among the dead was a veteran RCMP officer of twenty-three years. My heart is heavy as I write and I invite my readers to keep the families of the slain in your thoughts and prayers.

Warning: yet another post about Covid 19, a.k.a. the Corona virus

I am doing my best to stay positive, but being a bit of a news junkie and having so much time on my hands I find it next to impossible to stay away from online news on the computer and the overwhelming number of stories centered around Covid 19. Some stories really rip my heart out like the news out of Italy that they may be forced to make a decision on who gets life-saving ventilators and who doesn’t. Absolutely heartbreaking. The criteria seem to be whether you are (or were) in relatively good health prior to contracting the virus, your age, and other criteria, leaving doctors in the untenable situation of deciding who lives and who dies. These two stuck with me because 1. My husband I are no spring chickens and 2. My husband’s health. It is such an alarming and sad story.

Other stories make me downright furious such as a story I read on social media concerning staff at a popular coffee shop in Ontario cheering on the fact that the population of elderly citizens in their town will potentially be radically reduced by the virus. Apparently, the staff were young people and were joking around about the virus being a “Boomer Remover”.  Yeah, I’m not laughing either. I thought a lot about writing about this on my blog because I know these young people are in no way representative of the younger generations. But it really hurt me. I am, after all, one of the baby boomer generation. And, I know they are right, “the truth hurts”. This virus will likely wipe out a lot of older people.

As I said, I know these particular young people are not representative of their generation, but it makes me wonder if the elderly are getting the respect they deserve – not just because of age but because we are all human beings. And what about the sick and vulnerable? Do they not also deserve our concern and protection? Are people taking seriously the need for social distancing? Seeing images of crowded beaches in Florida makes me wonder. In a couple of weeks, I have no doubt that the number of people infected will jump tremendously because of the March break celebrations. It’s very frustrating. I suspect the number of deaths in Italy will pale in comparison. Perhaps it’s time government stepped up and made self isolation mandatory. In the meanwhile, there is little I can do but hope and pray. Stay healthy my friends, and stay safe.

The fallout from impaired driving

In honor of our younger brother, Chris, who was killed when an impaired driver crashed into the van Chris was driving. Today is Chris’s birthday. It has been nearly three years since he was stolen from us. He died on the 19th of November, 2016 and we have all been dealing with that tragic event to the best of our abilities since then.

Unlike death caused by natural causes, when a loved one is snatched in this way there is so much more anger and grief. Initially we were all in shock and as we gathered for his funeral the one question that could not be answered continued to reverberate, whether spoken aloud or not: Why? Why Chris? He was such a good person, quick to offer help to everyone, not only his family. The funeral itself revealed how wide spread his kindnesses ranged. People he had worked with over twenty years ago turned up to pay their respects. There were literally more people than we could count. It was a great comfort at such a hard time.

As we tried to pick up the pieces and carry on, we were all terribly worried about his children who were teenagers at the time. Memories return as I write this of our niece standing stoically at the graveside. Her brother at her side. Their strength was amazing, but their pain could not be hidden. They are still grappling with it.

I have written many posts about the tragedy and the long drawn out court case that followed. On the other side of the coin was a second family that was torn apart by this totally preventable and horrendous event: the family of the impaired driver. He was found guilty of impaired driving causing death. At the time of the “accident” he had just left a baby shower – his child would be born shortly before he was incarcerated. He would not be there for those precious formative years. That child would not know her father for many years. The mother of the child was forced to be a single parent. His parents and family members will carry the pain and the shame of knowing he killed a good man. The impaired driver was 38 years old, if memory serves. He will live out the rest of his days with this on his conscience. He wrote a statement which he read out in court on the day he was sentenced. In it he apologized to our family. I have to say it helped somewhat, but many are still struggling through the grief that hits again and again.

The number of people affected by this senseless tragedy is staggering. Our family alone is very large, add to it our extended family: aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Then there is the community of which Chris was an active part. The number of friends and coworkers, team mates, and more. I do not know a lot about the family and friends of the impaired driver, but will assume there are many. All of us impacted by one senseless and stupid decision.

And so, as I have many times, I implore readers to consider our story and the awful fallout that follows when a person drives impaired in any way and I say, please, don’t!

Life’s curve balls – about grief

Many years ago, my father had a massive heart attack. It would be followed over the years by many more as well as angina attacks. My siblings and I were all braced to meet his final demise. We were all sure that we would lose him first. Then life threw us a curve ball – as it is wont to do. Seven years after my Dad’s massive heart attack we learned my mother had cancer. She was a diabetic and had been admitted to hospital to learn how to take insulin by injection. When they did the blood tests, they found the cancer. She died ten days after she was admitted. Dad died four years later.

Two years ago, my brother was killed instantly when his vehicle was hit by a drunk driver. He would join his infant daughter on the other side of the veil. In 2012 we lost two of our nephews – one to cancer and his older brother six months before that to a brain aneurism. There have been a lot of deaths in our family. Now, we are all growing older and facing the one certitude in life: one day we will all die. It is life’s one and only guarantee.

Life is hard at times. My husband is in hospital once again. If you follow this blog you will know he is in poor health – a diabetic with heart and kidney disease. We recently were told he also has lung disease. It is one more hurdle to face. Another challenge to meet. Once again, I am grieving the day he will no longer be at my side. But, as my parents’ deaths taught me, we do not have any guarantees in life. What my husband’s arduous journey has taught me is to live life one day at a time and to be grateful for all its small blessings.

Life is so precious and so fragile. I am grieving my husband’s failing health and all it may mean. I pray I will be given the strength to help him and the wisdom to know how best to do so. And I pray I will recognize the blessings that come my way each and every day. And I will celebrate the life we have, as limited as it may be. I will celebrate the love I have known. I weep, but I also give praise with open hands to the Creator who is teaching me and helping me learn the lessons that come with each curve ball.

To speak or not to speak: Responding to Grief

pexels-photo-356842 GRIEF

Photo Credit: Pixabay

It’s not so much the fact that loved ones die that keeps us mourning, but the fact we are here without them. In especially close relationships the grief seems unbearable. When that special someone is the person we shared our intimate thoughts with, confided in, laughed with, cried with, shared life with, the desolation is brutal. It’s said that time heals all wounds, but I disagree with that sentiment. I think we carry the wounds for the rest of our lives, but time does help us carry on, despite the wounds. I think the worst thing about grief is the way it takes us back to experience anew every single occasion where we lost someone we loved like some kind of twisted and tortuous boomerang.

In today’s world it seems like grief is either ignored, shamed, or bullied into a dark closet. But people can only begin to heal once they feel safe and their emotions validated. I find it strange how, in our society at least, that people are so uncomfortable with grief. Yet death is the one thing that is an absolute guarantee. It will come to each of us – nobody is getting out of here alive.

In my family it’s okay to talk about death – though we, as individuals, may deal with the aftermath in different ways. Some seem so dry-eyed and strong while others cry copious tears and wear their hearts on their sleeves. It doesn’t matter what the personal expression of grief may be, it is, by and large, respected and accepted.

I remember years ago when I went back to school after a sudden death in the family how uncomfortable and awkward most of my classmates were around me. But there were two very young men who approached me to say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ and how much their simple expression of condolences meant to me.

So, my advice would be, don’t be afraid to express simple condolences. While a grieving person may be in pain, your words may bring them a bit of comfort. Don’t be afraid to mention the person who died – most people are grateful to have their loved ones remembered. I think it hurts more to be ignored or to not have your pain acknowledged and/or validated.

I am speaking from my own personal experience, which may vary greatly with the next person’s. But I think we, as a society, have much to learn about coping with death. And to me ignoring it is not an option.

My beloved Uncle may you R.I.P.

Yesterday I found out that a beloved uncle has died. He was ninety-one years old. Many have said he lived a long life. Yes, he did. Others have said it was his time. That’s a fair point, I guess. But does age really matter? I mean, loss is loss, and no matter the age it’s still painful. My uncle was a fun loving, mischievous, and very caring man. I could live to be a hundred and more and never meet a kinder, sweeter person. It hurts knowing that I will never get to visit him again or hear his laughter – the man would laugh until tears freely poured down his face. He really enjoyed a good joke! He also loved to play tricks and pranks on his loved ones. And he could never hide it when he had a plan – his eyes would twinkle and his grin would give him away long before he could execute his plans. But he absolutely loved it when one of his pranks was carried off before his victim caught on to what he was doing. Here’s a little case in point:

We were building an addition onto the little house we’d bought and my uncle came to help. He and my husband were busy outside nailing down the floor joists. My husband was so caught up in what he was doing he didn’t notice my uncle behind him nailing another joist in place. They were standing on ladders as the addition included a basement and they were laying the foundation for the ground floor.   I was in the house when I heard a light tap on the door. I opened it to my uncle who was bent over, laughing hard, and gasping for breath. He couldn’t catch his breath to tell me what was so funny. He was pointing to the corner where my husband was caught between the floor joists and could not move. My uncle had him trapped there. And it wasn’t enough for me to see the results of his prank, he wasn’t satisfied until everyone in the house seen what he had done. Then, and only then, did he pull the joist off so my husband could move.

Aw, the many happy memories. This was one of my uncle’s favorite stories to tell at every family gathering of which we were part. Actually, it is also one of my husband’s favorite tales to tell whenever my uncle’s name comes up in conversation. Do you remember when…it always begins. With my uncle there are many remember when moments. They are memories we will cherish.

He was also such an exceedingly kind man. He loved his family dearly. I remember his stories of how he met my aunt and the love in his eyes as he related it to me; of how smitten he was with her. She also died in November, five years ago. He missed her terribly. That same pride would shine in his eyes as he told me of the latest news of his children or grandchildren.

The memories are a comfort to me. Yes, it hurts that he is gone. But he left us an example of a life well-lived and adversities overcome.  We will mourn the fact he is no longer with us, but we will celebrate the fact that he lived, loved, and celebrated life with gusto. I will endeavor to follow his example. Rest in Peace Uncle Leo, you will always be remembered fondly and with love.





Walking the Wolf Trail

Yesterday I spent two glorious hours walking the Wolf Trail with my daughter.

Walking the Wolf trail

The day was beautiful, at times overcast…


And at others the sun shone through, illuminating the beauty of a fall day…


We were treated to watching a pair of late season robins and butterflies

beauty butterfly

Sometimes the trees seemed so magical

mysterious tree creature

And the reds, though few, delightful


sometimes we were reminded how fragile life is

and that all life is made of seasons… time to grow… and time to go

Golden trails

and all life is golden… abundance for all… a time to harvest what’s been planted…and a reminder we reap what we sow…

Sow well, my friends, sow well!