Thursday, June 24, 2010


I knew all four of my grandparents when i was growing up. I have a Grandma and Grandpa - my Dad's parents - and a Grannie and Grandpa - my Mum's parents.

Grandma and Grandpa were what I would call the more "traditional" grandparents - and although I cannot remember my Grandma ever actually baking cookies, she sure knew how to buy them & feed us junk food. My Dad's parents built the cabin and my brother and I spent almost all summer, every summer, until I was 16, with them at the cabin. The year I was 17, my Grandpa English died.

That year I dated someone for a few months shortly after my Grandpa died, and, in that boyfriend's presence, I remember having my first real, honest to god CRY over losing my Grandpa. He made it feel, well, SAFE to actually let go and cry over losing my Grandpa. As a matter of fact, I think we were in his parents big red car - I forget what kind it was - the car, I mean. He just held onto me while I lost control of my emotions and cried myself out.

Bless his very wise (17-year-old at the time) heart for that. He is still one of my very best friends and one of my favourite people in the world.

This week I lost my Mum's mother - my Grannie.

My Mum's parents were decidedly NOT traditional grandparents. They were both in the military during WWII - Grannie enlisted to drive trucks - not even knowing how to drive! Her story of her Dad teaching her to drive is one of my best memories of her - she laughed like she was 19 all over again when she told me that one.

My Mum's parents were at the very forefront of transcendental meditation, were co-founders of the Vivaxis Energies Research International Society (V.E.R.I.S.) went on teaching trips into the US for a number of years with V.E.R.I.S and were two of the most open-minded people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

My Mum's parents were very young and busy when my brother and I were young and so we didn't see them as often as we saw my Dad's folks. That didn't mean that we were any less loved for it.

When I moved to the Channel Islands I finally got to start to know my Mum's parents better. As an adult, I mean. When I moved there, everyone here went out and changed their long distance plans to ensure we could still talk as much. And talk we did - much more so that when I lived in Ontario to be honest. The first time Grannie called me there she told me how thrilled she was to hear the quick ring-ring that she hadn't heard since she was a girl. We talked for at least an hour every single time.

I was concerned that, once I moved back to the island, those calls would thin out - but they didn't. Just last week we spoke for at least an hour. I didn't know it would be my last time talking with her - but I guess by the conversation I maybe should have.

We talked about the garden - which has been the bane of her existence for the last few years - she swore up and down that this was its last chance (for the fourth year in a row) and that if it didn't step up and produce she was giving up on it for good. I didn't believe her this year any more than I did last year.
(smiling through my tears now)

We talked a little about how things are coming along here and how everyone is doing.

And we talked about grandparents - I think that she needed to hear from me just how much I have liked having her as a grandmother - and I hope she knew then (and knows now) just how much better she made my world by taking part in it. I told her I loved her - she told me the same back, and that was the last thing I heard her tell me.

She had an initial stroke Saturday night and then Tuesday morning another, much more severe one. I was at the hospital - had arrived around 10:30, I think. At 12 or so Mum suggested i take Grandpa down for some lunch and, within 5 minutes of Grandpa and me leaving the room, she passed away.

When we came back upstairs we were met by my cousin Lynn who told us what had happened and then, looking Grandpa straight in the eye, she told him that in her experience (and Lynn was a Geriatric nurse until she retired) that she has seen it time and time again. As soon as the person who means the most leaves the room, they let themselves slip away - wanting to spare them seeing it happen. Makes sense to me. And they were the best of friends their whole married life - all 66 or so years of it.

So the day before yesterday, 23 years later, I lost my second grandparent. Believe me, I know how extremely lucky I am - I am so grateful to still have two of them. I will cherish every day i have left with them and, when it's time, I'll do my best to be strong and filled with grace when I have to say goodbye to them.

Right now, tonight, though, I could sure use having that (now 40 year-old) best and dearest friend here to hold me while I cry myself out.

I'll miss you Grannie.

Eunicé Norah Henderson Jepson
1923 - 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Relay for Life, Dog shows and "Episodes" and Graduation

This weekend has been filled to the brim with events and activities and I can honestly say that I am totally wiped out. Sleep tonight will be VERY much appreciated and is, at the moment, desperately needed. I worked a four hour shift on Saturday - one thing that I had maybe blocked out of my brain about being casual part-time is that if I do not work, I am not paid... and so at this point I am accepting any and all shifts I am offered - which has been making for 6-days-a-week of working... that one day off is cram-packed with all of the "other" activities that need doing.

Anyhow, this weekend has had a different flavour for me.

Wednesday after work I drove Jasmine down to Cedar-by-the-Sea and dropped her off with Terri (her breeder) because she was entered in a dog show this weekend - her first - and I needed to have her with Terri a few days’ before-hand to allow time for settling in, grooming and practice. Plus, Jazzy gets to play with her sister Scarlet - and she LOVES to play with Scarlet when they are together.

I can't believe how QUIET my place is without my shadow following me. So lonely!!

Saturday night I took part in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
On April first of this year I lost a dear family member to Cancer and this past Thursday another dear family member had a mastectomy because she, like her mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer. While the ladies have a breast exam with every physical and men have the prostate exam (with every physical? I don't know about this one but it seems to be common sense to me) most people do not have the tests for colorectal cancer done because they are embarrassed to ask. And when was the last time a man ASKED for a breast exam? Yes gentlemen, you CAN get breast cancer.

Suck it up folks - ask for the tests. It's 100% between you and your physician - and wouldn't you rather have the peace of mind? I know I sure do!

I will step off my soapbox now...

Anyhow, I was able to spend a great couple of hours walking the track with some amazing cancer survivors at a fantastic event that I can promise you I will be taking part in again next year, no matter where I am living!

I got home around 9:30 last night and had a message waiting for me on my answering machine. I thought it was Terri letting me know how Jasmine had done, but it wasn't... it was my Dad leaving a message to tell me that my Grannie (Mum's Mum) had had what appeared to be a stroke and had been air-lifted by helicopter to Victoria General Hospital and letting me know to call when I got the message.

You know that feeling you get when you have the wind knocked out of you...?

A call to Dad let me know that Mum and her Dad had headed to Victoria and that things didn't look too great. Dad didn't have much more to share with me at that point other than they had done a CT scan and though they couldn't see any blockages, there is a great deal of plaque build-up (which we knew about) and that Mum & Grandpa would be spending the night - more details to follow this morning. I had almost no sleep last night - worrying for Grannie, worrying for Grandpa, worrying for my Mum and Dad, and yes, also fretting over my sore feet (blisters.)

5:30 this morning my alarm went off... quick trip to Tim Horton's to get coffee and hot chocolate for those amazing people on my Relay for Life team (who stayed on the field & participated all night long) and I was then home again, to shower and ready myself to drive to Nanaimo, pick up my Dad's Mom (Grandma) for breakfast & then go see how Jasmine was doing at the dog show. She got no "points" (don't ask - I don't know) but both days got the "reserve" placement - which seems to be the position where if, for any reason, the winner is disqualified, she gets their ribbons & points.

While at breakfast I had a further update from Dad that there was no update yet as Mum hadn't called with one. What I was able to find out this morning, though, was that Grannie was stable overnight, that she still has use of her arms and legs and that the scans hadn't proven anything other than that she had had some sort of "episode" and required more tests.

Before leaving Nanaimo to head back up here to Comox I checked in again & Mum & Grandpa were in the ferry line-up to head back across to Thetis tonight and then when I got home I called & Grannie is doing alright - though she has lost the ability to speak at this point (we don’t know if this is permanent or temporary) and will be in the hospital for a few more days at the very least. Mum will be getting updates a few times a day...

Tomorrow Mum & Dad are heading back down again - I assume with Grandpa - and I also understand, with my brother. I had booked off work tomorrow and Tuesday for my Graduation ceremonies - and though I will keep the days off, tomorrow I am going to use the clear day to catch up on some stuff and then on Tuesday I am going to Victoria to see my Grannie.

As important as participating in the Grad ceremonies was to me, my family is WAY more important - and this has been a really frightening reminder that, as much as I want them to live forever, my grandparents and parents and brother may not be around forever. I want to spend as much time with the people I love as I possibly can.

Call your Mum / Dad / Grandparents / Brothers / Sisters and loved ones tonight - tell them you love them.

Have a good night.