Thursday, November 3, 2016


Death and dying. I sense a theme. Is it the age I am at? Really? Early forties?! A mite young for contemporaries, but we are exposed to death at any age.

At age of 5, my father died. A few years later, his mother died from grief—god speed Gaga.

The years passed and family friends faded away; some old, many young. Cancer, you fiend, you were often the cause.

Lest you be a stranger, cancer came knocking again. After a seeming lull, you knocked on my door to announce your presence in my husband's life; his leg. You took your pound of flesh, then within a scant few years came calling for the rest.

Thirties—that's what Brad was. Too young, but you don't play with numbers. I have seen children touched by your mark. You are ruthless in your indeterminate arc.

I thought I had made peace with you. After fearing the C-word for most of my life, I saw the other side. Some fought the good fight and won. They looked you in the eyes and met you—survived. They were given a reprieve; the gift of rebirth. Oh, I know it means you lurk forever in the wings taunting with what-ifs, but when given the second chance to cherish every day once more, it is worth the gamble.

But today, you snuck in from the wings. Bert hadn't even seen 60. She lived a good life; rarely drank, drove the speed limit, took care of her mother... No matter. It was enough for you. It seems unjust! She lived for her cats, to do a good job at work, and to make sure her mother was well cared for. Now what? She complained, but not early enough. Surgeons opened her up to find you everywhere. Your chaos was more than anyone could battle. Within a month poor Bertie was gone.

And I found out too late.

No funeral, no mass, no fanfare. It was her way, but leaves me hollow. How does one say goodbye when the guilt of days passed stands in the way of goodbye? I should have called. I could have visited. No more.

I'm sorry Betha. I wish you had been given a fairer shake in this thing called life. More moments, Bigger joy, in depth love to make a heart swoon. It was not to be.

Perhaps this is my reminder to reach for those moments myself. Just this week I noted my lack of joy, the infrequent pangs of love, and the crazy busy life I lead, which, while hectic, doesn't fulfil my heart's desire. Is someone trying to tell me something? Live life before the unknown number of allotted days are gone...

Oh Bert. I am so sorry for your quick departure. I hope you find your way to the next life and discover more joy in it. Blessings to you my friend.

RIP BK. Soar...

Monday, October 24, 2016

tissue paper hands

If I squeeze too tight
tissue paper hands will tear
my dying vigil
your forehead's stress lines
passed to survivors

In memory of my grandmother, Margaret McLeod

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Daily updates
from my phone
no change...
no change...
never any change;
but the worst is in store.

Three, the number of 
weeks one can live without food...
You have been going on eight months.
No solids have passed your lips.
No voluntary movements towards fork or spoon.
How does a body survive on memory alone?

Three, the number of 
days one can live without water...
You stopped drinking two months ago.
Occasionally thirst will get the better of you
and a dixie cup can be coaxed between lips;
that third day must be the charm.

The number of spilled tears
counted in family;
children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.
The amount of sweat equity 
counted in people;
nurses, doctors, support staff.

This is what a life comes down to
at the end of a day;
measuring tears, sips and breathes
until they all run dry,
but today's update:
about the same...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Missing Steps

Missing Steps by Paul Cavanagh, © 2015, Not That London, Publisher

Dean Lajeunesse has a chip on his shoulder. He was only 10 when his father first started showing signs of early-onset Alzheimer's. Back then, no one knew that the erratic behaviour, memory lapses, and withdrawal from normal everyday activities were signs of a disease. They were embarrassing at best, and stress-inducing every step of the way for everyone touched by his father's illness.

Dean's mother coped the best she could; she worked several jobs, leaned on the neighbours when they needed to borrow their vehicle to track down Dean's Dad after he had wandered off, and tried to stay stoic in the face of his worsening condition.

Dean's brother Perry lost himself in sports, extracurricular activities, and his school studies. Any closeness that had existed between brothers was lost in the confusion surrounding their father's illness.

And Dean? He was left to figure out his Dad's dementia on his own. His response was to draw away from everything and everyone. And even after his father was hospitalized, institutionalized, and then died, Dean still refused to step out of his own shell.

Flash forward several decades and not much has changed for Dean. He is still loathe to let people in to his life and blames others for his lack of intimacy and overall success. But when his boss pulls him into his office to discuss his recent questionable behaviours and erratic performance at work, Dean can't help but fear that perhaps his father's Alzheimer's has struck him. Before he can think too much about it though, he is summoned to his mother's bedside and discovers not only that she is dying, but that his big brother Perry, who was always the successful and popular one, has been diagnosed with the dreaded Alzheimer's disease. And the years of animosity, standoffishness, and enforced separation come tumbling down when their truths are laid bare.

Paul Cavanagh doesn't aim to have you like his characters, but as his stories unfold, you learn to understand them and perhaps get a little insight as to why they act the way they do. We are all formed from the experiences we live, but we don't have to be stuck in their shadows. With a little honesty and insight, we can learn or perhaps unlearn a lifetime's worth of lessons. Sometimes we just have to give life a chance to show us the way and accept help when it is offered.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All Waiting is Long

All Waiting is Long by Barbara J. Taylor, © 2016, Akashic Books

The generous folks at Akashic Books often send me emails regarding books they are publishing. When I heard that Barbara J Taylor had a sequel out to Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, I jumped at the chance to read it. And it didn't take long to get through.

As the book opens, sisters Violet and Lily Morgan arrive at the back door of the Good Shepherd Infant Asylum. The front door is only for doctors, adoptive families, benefactors and the clergy; and the girls are none of these things. Lily has gotten herself pregnant at age 16 and her older sister Violet has agreed to accompany her to the asylum as a cover story so no one will guess her real predicament—her illegitimate pregnancy. The problem is that when Lily delivers the baby, Violet struggles to abandon the girl to strangers.

As the years pass, the girls clash and struggle from the decisions made years before. Taylor deftly weaves a tale that quickly pulls you in wondering what will become of them and the lies they've propped up around themselves to make it all work. Will their relationship survive? And if the truth were to come out, what would their husbands, family and the townsfolk think?

I won't spoil the novel any more than that, but suffice to say, if you enjoyed 'Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night', you won't be disappointed with Taylor's newest novel.

Thanks again to Akashic Books for offering me the chance to read an advance copy of 'All Waiting is Long'! Another great read from the Kaylie Jones Books line.


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