Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Care-Givers, Wave-Catchers and Grave-Diggers; We

*WARNING! This is a HUGE post!*

Well it was a whirlwind tour. Landing at 6 pm on Thursday night and departing at 9 pm on Monday night, but we got a lot of visiting in!

First and foremost it was about visiting family. Dad and Mom are in great spirits. Having completed 6 weeks of his therapy, my Father has, as of today just started his third (3 week) cycle and received his latest Chemotherapy. Aside from the typical exhaustion and slight fever however he is doing rather well. He's doing so well in fact, that along with the encouragement of his Dr., he started a 4 year religious study program. And I'm all for that. His religion is important to him (and Mom as well) and I think that aside from leaning on his spiritual beliefs, but to be expanding and strengthening them at this time can only be an aid and a comfort.

Our time with Mom and Dad was interspersed with some incredible meals, both home cooked as well as of the restaurant variety! Chineese from "East West" on Thursday night. A brunch at Cora's on Friday. A Homemade Spaghetti dinner Friday night, Fish n' Chips on Saturday, our Turkey Interrupted - belated Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday and yet another feed of fish down at Boondocks in Eastern Passage on Monday. Add to that, Didz and I had some more incredible Chowder and Crabcakes down to Peggy's Cove and we ate like KINGS!!!! (and a Queen!) Countless bowls of Ice Cream, and an Apple Cobbler (by me) and the picture of edible decadance is complete!


Thursday night was over before we began. Dinner and an hour or two of chat and we also gave my folks some pictures taken during our summer vacation, including, that picture of Dad and Me at the beach on PEI.... and before you knew it... it was already bed time.


Friday saw us on the road already. After the typical "Ill take the bill", "No. I'll take the bill" sparring at Cora's, (I won that one by just walking up to the cash and paying! lol) Mom, Didier and I headed over to my Grandmothers to pick up a few things, and take a few moments to show Didier around my Mother's first home. Share a few memories, and marvel (this had eluded me previously, but as a new home owner) at the workmanship of my Grandmother's home. Built in 1942, all the floors are hardwood, and not a floorboard, or stair creeks, cracks or makes the remotest sound.

From there we went over to the Veteran's Hospital to Visit my Grandmother. This, like my taking Didier home to my parents two years ago for Christmas left me with great trepidation...Then, not only had my parents never met a previous boyfriend of mine, they certainly and not received one in their home, had them stay as overnight guests, no less during the Christmas holidays while other family was visiting. They were nothing but grace and hospitality, and I can say they they love him, as much as I do.

...now where was I? Oh yes... Visiting my Grandmother. Now you must understand, I've never really, officially come out to my Grandmother. I was inadvertently outed by my mother, some 4 or 5 years ago... One time while my Mother was over at my Grandmothers and reminiscing about yours truly, my Grandmother commented that I didn't seem to have had a girlfriend in quite some time, and that she pondered, did my Mother think I might be, you know... gay? My Mother replied, 'well I don't think he's gay, I know he's gay.' To which my Grandmother asked 'Well, why didn't you tell me before!" Mom said, because it really didn't matter. :-) Cut to a phone call between my mother and I 4 years ago, I asked if she had outted me to anyone new, (not that I cared who knew, but it's always nice to be prepared for who was going to as about either my being gay, or did I have a boyfriend and so on...) and she replied, "well, yes, you might want to know that your Grandmother knows... YIKES! I was not prepared for that one! lol Knowing her as I do it was either going to spark no conversation in particular or be the (inappropriate) subject over the Christmas dinner table. Having been a nurse for over 30 yeas, I was prepared for a speech on ensuring proper use of condoms... In then end nothing was said, and to tell you the truth I guess nothing needed to be said, she knew, I knew she knew, and she knew I knew she knew... no big whoop. Well it's an entirely other kettle of fish when the woman I adore is in hospital and this is where she is to be introduced to my ... same sex partner. Talk about uncharted territory!

Well, to make a long story short (too late) The visit went very well. She was sweet as only a grandmother could be. She said how lucky he was to have me, (Hey, I told ya before I was her favourite!) And she took to even joking with him a bit, which if you know her, means she approves. :-) I was pleased as well. Very much so. I've said it before, but I'll say it again... I've got myself one incredible family!

When I was home in the summer I took a few pics of She ad I at her home and so when we went to the hospital I took in a framed 8x10 of the two of us. She was pleased by that, and so therefore, so was I. And as I spoke to Mom to his evening, she said that Nanny (That's what I call her) was making sure than anyone and everyone that has come into her room since has been directed to look at the picture, and is told just who that handsome man standing behind her is. :-)

There's nothing serious about her condition, other than to say simply that time has caught up to her. and she is the victim of old age. It's likely that the only way she will leave the hospital and return to her home, which her ferociously independent spirit seeks, will be with daily nursing aid... much to her displeasure. I think only in a little time will she realize this is the fact, and that no amount of stubbornness will assuage.

Beyond that she's has more than come to terms with her own mortality. What with having selected her final outfit, to having asked the kindly minister that visited her on Thursday afternoon if he would preside over her funeral. He agreed and she'll hold him to it! Luckily he's a minister well known to my parents and so at the Synod on Saturday that my parents had to attend for the Anglican church, to elect their new Bishop - a woman, dontcha know - they discussed the funeral arrangement with him and so all is well, for that fateful day I dearly hope is still many years away.

While we visiting with my Grandmother, where there, and having discussed all things funeral, we got to discussing the landscaping of the family plot down in West Dover (just a couple of miles before Peggy's Cove. My Grandmother asked my Mother if she'd go out and trim the shrubs around the headstones. Of course what with Mom already taking care of Dad and visiting Nanny daily, she has no time for that. Having been something of a gardener in my day, I eagerly volunteered, and it would make for a nice side-trip for Didier and I and we could add in a visit to Peggy's cove (a typically necessary visit for me on all trips home) All were agreed and so it would be done.

From there Mom and Didier and I headed back home to join Dad (who cannot visit Nanny due to his compromised immune system... Ain't cancer fun). Spaghetti for dinner, and then the four of us looked at pictures burnt on CD on their TV. (Didier and I took down 2 disks of pics of our life over the last 2 years here in Montréal, so Mom and Dad could see what they can't because of distance...) And then before you can say.... "900+ pics", it was bedtime...


Saturday Mom and Dad were at Synod, as I mentioned, so Didz and I took the opportunity to sleep in! :-) 11:30 am comes quickly though, so up we got, got a little breakie, washed up, did the dishes and were off to visit my Aunt (and God Mother) Eileen whom we both accidentally snubbed back in August, by not visiting... - hey! there just was not enough time! And JUST as we rounded the corner onto her street, Mom called on the cell asking us to pick her and Dad up as they were done at Synod and were ready to go home. Ah yes... Ellis timing... impeccable as ever! Fortunately someone offered to take Dad home (he needed a wee dodo) and Mom was dropped off at my Aunts. We visited for a couple hours and then, made a quick trip by to see my Grandmother again. :-)

Saturday night would bring Fish n' Chips, and FOUR cd's worth of our vacation pictures from Aug/Sept... They enjoyed it much, if only, as you will recall for the many 'Touristica' photos, as I previously published under the Gag Reel.


Sunday was a full day!

Mom and Dad went to church, I made my, soon to become, legendary turkey stuffing, and then when the Parentals returned home Didier and I left to go do some Grave-digging! heh! Well what else do you call taking a shovel into a cemetery and digging in the ground?!?!

After we trimmed back the shrubs, we dug them up and then moved them to their new position BETWEEN the headstones, instead of IN FRONT of the headstones, where no one could read jack... What I can say about the soil there, is it's really not fit for man, nor beast, NOT plant! More rocks than dirt really and the roots were WELL ... ROOTED after more than 6 years.... And I swear, both my Grand Father and my Great Uncle Orrin were playing tug-rope with me and Didier and those shrubs! It was no small feat that we finally got them up-rooted and re-planted. And thankfully in enough time to pass the church where a funeral was just finishing, for it's final moments in the same cemetery... I mean how insensitive would that have been... the grieving family seeing me pulling like a man possessed at the shrub planted above his dearly departed family members begging "Come on Granddad... LET GO! Uncle Orrin! Let go of those roots!" Yea... no shortage of potential therapy there!

After all that grave-diggin, we worked up an appetite and so had a feed of Chowder and crabcakes at the Sou'Wester restaurant in to Peggy's Cove...

And it seems that lady luck was shining on us, as well as Mother Nature and heck I'll say it, God too! 'cause not only was it sunny, warm (about 18), it was also high tide and there was a wicked wind. The waves were BEE-YUO-TEE-FULL! It was just the right mix of everything, and thankfully not a lot of tourists , so that we could enjoy or time out on the rocks and take some mighty impressive pics...

and just for you doubters, a vid too of the true majesty and beauty of the place...

THIS is why I come back tine after time after time...

Oh yea Leo came with us too!...

After a couple hours in the Cove we took a short drive over to this part of the coast that me and friends had gone hiking on for years and affectionately called 'The Barrens' Now it IS and ISN'T barren. It's mostly Glacial deposits of Granite boulders, and march, peat-mossy bogs and hummocks, stunted pine trees, and bayberry bushes. Outcroppings, and cliffs, impressive vistas and dream-like landscapes, almost as not of this planet. Add to this the Autumn colours, and clear skies and fabulous waves...

(in the distance of the next pic you can faintly see Peggy's Cove and the Lighthouse)

...and we lost total track of time! We were supposed to be home by 6 pm for our Thanksgiving dinner, and we only started back to the car at 5:30! A quick call to Mom, to give a 'late heads up' and we were on our way home.

Only 40 minutes late, and we tucked into a Thanksgiving feast! Turkey, stuffing and gravy, potatoes, turnip, squash, carrots and sweet potatoes! We ate well for certain....

Unfortunately for me, it seemed that both my Great Uncle Orrin and Grandfather won the tug of war... Seems I buggered my back., or more correctly REbuggered my back. I have two herniated disks from a work accident back in the mid 90's and that workout at the cemetery certainly unleased a new hell in my lower spine. As I was preparing the Apple Cobbler for dessert I bent down to pick up the bag of apples and ended up fetal on the floor for the better part of 20 mins before I was able to regain enough composure to stand and finish the cobbler and then retreat to the loving embrace of a heating pad and a back brace I borrowed from my father. (Not only do we share devilish good looks but we too share many of the same ailments... diabetes, high cholesterol, and bad backs... and I hope that's where it ends... )

After ingesting not only a little cobbler and ice cream (natch!) and a couple pain killers, we settled down to watch THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! - part 1 (a 4 part DVD set I gave mom a few Christmases back...) It's one of many things my Mother and I share... Musicals. :-)

And in no time at all... we were all headed to slumber.


Monday, we took dad to the Dartmouth General for his weekly blood work (for his therapy) and then we went down to the Eastern Passage and the Fishermen's Cove area, had lunch at Boondocks...

...and then walked around a bit... did some shopping, took some pictures...

(you can faintly see Halifax in the distance... to the left of the wheel)

... and then dropped Dad off at home for a nap, heh, and went over for one more visit with the grande dame of the family. :) From there we went down to the Historic Properties with the double intention of having a COWS Ice Cream, and as well getting JB a ball cap, but alas... they were closed for the season... )sorry JB... next trip down...) So we walked around a bit more, did some more shopping and had gelato on the boardwalk... took the bridge back to Dartmouth once last time...

... had dinner with Dad and then headed to the airport to come on back to Montréal... but not before our traditional pic with the Lobster! :-)

I can't help but miss the place the instance I leave, looking forward to our next trip back and what wonders of my homeland I can share with Didier (and then all of you) next...


Newsguy Bob said...

Wow! It IS huge -- the post, I mean.

I'll read it when I have a month off. :)

Quick scan of the pics: Awesome!

Misster Kitty said...

Read it by Friday... there will be a quiz...

JB said...

Okay, pictures of Eastern Passage? You tryin' to make me cry, or somethin'? My hometown! My little village!
I know. You're trying to get me back for when my posts make you tear up. Touché.
Awesome shots, by the way. Funny - Boondocks didn't even exist until just after I moved away. Now, my little village is all touristy'n'stuff. When I went back - after having been in Southern Ontario for about 6 months - to sign all the papers related to the sale of my house (in Eastern Passage), the real estate agent took me to lunch at Boondocks. Strange irony there.

Nice story about your Gran, my friend. She looks great, too. Lotsa life and mischief in her face, eh?

No worries about the hat. I had a feeling they might have rolled up some of the sidewalks already.

Newsguy Bob said...

Okay, I've read. Now I need a nap. First though, great pics, glad Mom, Dad and Nanna are all doing well.
If I was your Nanna, you'd be my favourite, too.
Okay, snooze time now Zzzzzzzzzzzzz


humongous blog...
but nice story telling!!
would i've loved to see you in that cemetery.
cove looks nice, no tourist.
but really liked "the barrens".
glad all went well & that you all had a good time.


Maria said...

very good to see your nanna doing so well.

Glad your parents are in great spirits they seem awesome. Your one lucky fellow.

I remember being a wee one back in the early 80's and my best friends brother came out to his family and what did they do? Being the very conservative "greek" family that they were THEY SHIPPED HIM to Florida... I always wondered why her brother went away. Then again living in Florida was not so much of a punishment now was it... look who's laughing now. I am thinking maybe I should have been gay, if it would have gotten me to Florida!

OK that was a long post and I am ready for Friday's quiz.

Maria said...

Where's the quiz?? I studied all night.