Menu Sidebar
Menu

Not a creature was stirring…

Originally published on December 24, 2012

It was the morning of Christmas Eve and once again it didn’t feel like Christmas. 

It had been years since I last celebrated Christmas – but I remember it well.  It was in 1983 at my Mom & Dad’s place in Midland, Ontario.  My family always got together to celebrate Christmas at my parent’s place – but I had missed the last couple of Christmases because I was living in Vancouver.  My Dad came to the Toronto airport to pick me up – I had yet to see their new home in Midland – but I was more excited about seeing my Mom and brothers and sisters and my niece and nephew.  That’s what Christmas was all about to the St. Andrews family – being together and enjoying our own special traditions.  Some of those traditions included arriving on Christmas Eve and spending the night – so we could all get up together – just like when we were all growing up at our home in Oshawa and then later in Georgetown.

At my parents home in Georgetown, my Dad had built a wonderful bar in the rec room and he would wear a Christmas hat while he served drinks from his perch on a stool – behind the bar – which he considered “sacred” ground.  You NEVER went behind the bar when Dad was on duty – the words “self-serve” did not exist in his bar.  So as we arrived on Christmas Eve, the first thing you heard when you entered their house was the laughter and shouting from downstairs.  A few hugs and kisses with Mom and then you would head downstairs to reunite with the clan.

Early on Christmas morning – probably no later than 6:00 AM, my Dad would be the first one to awake and ready to act as Santa.  We would all gather around the Christmas Tree in the family room and my Dad would give each person one gift to open – beginning with my Mom.  Everyone would watch quietly as each person opened their gift – and then there would be loud outbursts of “ooh’s and ahh’s”.  My brothers, sisters and I would then prepare a large breakfast for everyone – and let Mom have the day off from the kitchen.  Immediately after breakfast we would all gather at the Christmas Tree and continue to open all the gifts. 

About mid-morning, Dad would announce that the bar was open.  Later, Mom would bring a platter of Scotch Eggs for us to snack on.  And then about mid-afternoon, we would all gather in the dining room for a sumptuous turkey dinner.  Later, my brother-in-law Brian – a professional photographer, would get everyone together for a family portrait – which we would all receive framed copies.  Then some of us would start to leave to go to our respective homes – which always made my Mom cry.  She was happiest when she had every one of us together – as a family – and always pleaded with us – “Do you have to go so soon?”

So, on this morning of Christmas Eve, I was having a coffee and looking at one of those family portraits – and I got homesick.  Homesick because I missed my Mom and Dad – and family – and those magical Christmases we shared together.  And I missed not having that special feeling that I used to get every year – at Christmas.  Two years ago, I went to Costco and bought a ton of outdoor Christmas lights – and decorated all of the hedges, evergreens, and fence – I had just finished my cancer treatments and didn’t know how many more Christmases I would be around for – and desperately hoping that the lights would bring back that special Christmas feeling.  But it didn’t.

Last week I wrote a blog about buying a complete Santa Claus outfit – so I could visit all of the patients at the Fraser Valley Cancer Centre – where I was treated – and where I have been volunteering every week for the past 16 months.  And as I made my way through the various clinics – almost all of the patients’ eyes would light up with excitement.  I was hearing voices from all sides – things like:  “Hi Santa!” and “Merry Christmas Santa” and “Hey Santa, can we get a picture of you with us?”  Within five minutes that special feeling returned – and I was a kid again.  I didn’t rush home and decorate the house with lights though; in fact, within hours of leaving the Cancer Centre, I lost the feeling – which made me really sad.

So on the morning of Christmas Eve, I decided to get dressed as Santa Claus, again – and go to the Cancer Centre and to Surrey Memorial Hospital.  As soon as I walked into the hospital lobby a woman ran up to me, pleading, “Oh Santa, could I get a picture with you and my Mom?”  I said “Sure – Ho, Ho Ho!”  The mother slowly walked up to me – she was in her patient gown and was wearing a Christmas hat.  I gave her a hug and was posing with her for the picture – when her daughter suddenly said: “Mom, why are you crying?”  Before the mother could answer, I squeezed her closer to me and asked her why she was crying.  She stared up at me and with tears rolling down her cheek, she cried, “Because I never thought I would ever meet Santa Claus!”   I kissed her on the cheek and whispered into her ear “I will always be with you”. 

I toured the Cancer Centre and then walked down the hall to the adjoining Surrey Memorial Hospital and took the elevator up to 51 North – the Oncology Floor.  I had been a patient there several times during my cancer treatments – when I was at my lowest point.  I walked into each of the patients’ room and wished them all a Happy Holiday.  On my way back to the elevator, I noticed a Palliative Care sign over the entrance to another wing of the floor.  “This is where the very sick and/or terminally ill patients are”, I thought to myself.  I walked into the ward and all of the medical staff were surprised to see Santa.  After posing for several photos I asked if it would be okay to say hello to the patients.  They replied in unison  “Of course you can – you’re Santa Claus!”

I made my way around the ward; entering each of the rooms and then holding the hand of each of the patients.  I didn’t know what to say but what suddenly burst out of my mouth was “I know that you’ve always believed in me, and I just wanted to drop by to say hello”.  One patient – an older man – was wearing a Christmas hat and said that he had awoken that morning excited with the hope that maybe a friend or family member might drop by for a visit.  But none had – until Santa Claus.  He held my hand for the longest time and just stared at me and then muttered: “Thank you Santa – Merry Christmas”.  I turned to leave his room – my eyes were filling with tears and I didn’t want him to see me cry.  After all, he believed in Santa Claus. 

And now so do I.

Santa Danny in the Chemo Room, December 24, 2012

 

Hugs,

Danny

Today’s Tune (from Danny’s library of purchased music):

 

 

 

Eleven Oh One

Originally published on November 11, 2012

It must have caused quite a commotion when he arrived in this world.  Come to think of it,  I’ve never heard of it before (or since) – being born with different colored eyes.  But it’s true – although I never saw them myself – his wife told me about them.  She also told me that he was just a teenager when he left school to join the army – the Ontario Regiment to be exact.  She said that his mother didn’t even kiss him goodbye when he left for Europe to fight in the Second World War.  It was a long journey – boarding a train in Oshawa for Halifax – and then by ship to England.  But he had his guitar with him, and his buddies from the neighborhood, so he probably wasn’t lonely.  His wife also told me – with a look of pride – that he played his guitar on the BBC Radio, although it didn’t make him famous.  After a few months, his regiment was shipped to Sicily, Italy.   

She told me that he was badly wounded – shrapnel from a bomb or grenade had struck him in the eye.  She said that the medics placed sandbags around his head to keep him still while they removed the metal from his left eye – the operation took place on the battlefield.  But they couldn’t save his eye – there was nothing left of it.    He returned home to Oshawa – but the war for him was not over.  There would be many sleepless nights – reliving the horrors of war.  He wore an eye patch for quite some time – until he was fitted with a “glass eye”.  Nobody could tease him about his different colored eyes anymore. 

His wife told me that they had met each other after the war – and it was love at first sight.  She said they married and then went to Montreal for their honeymoon.  They started a family – their first child was a girl – and they named her Linda Mae.  Their second daughter was born a year later – they named her Leslie Heather.  A year later, they had their first boy and named him Daniel James.  Nobody ever called me Daniel though – it was always just Danny.  My brother Frederick (Freddy) was born a year later and then several years later, the stork brought Eric (Ricky) and then returned a year later to bring Randall (Randy).

I remember asking Dad about his experiences in the war but he would always remain silent.  In fact, he never talked about the war until I was an adult but even then, he would only talk about it in general terms – never the gory details.  My Mom explained that most of the soldiers that had seen action would never talk about their experiences.  I remember my cousin Jim Little from Calgary once telling me that he was a young boy when my Dad had returned home from the war.  Jim and his parents were living in my Grandparent’s home on Ritson Road, and he remembers that whenever there was a bad storm – with thunder, my Dad would be in the closet – taking cover.  My Mom told me that for years my Dad would wake up at night, screaming.  

My Dad was sick for the last year of his life.  My Mom called me after he had been taken by ambulance to the Oshawa Hospital.  I made arrangements to fly to Toronto the next day and took a taxi from the airport directly to the hospital.  My family was all gathered in his room – he was laying on the bed – his eyes were closed.  I asked my Mom if he was sleeping, but she sadly shook her head and told me that he wasn’t conscious. 

I went out into the hall and spoke to the Head Nurse – “Is my Dad going to regain consciousness?  Is he going to be okay?”  She told me that my Dad could probably still hear – but he wouldn’t be able to respond.  I remember walking back into the room and over to his bed.  I stroked his head and told him that I loved him.  I had never ever told him that before.  And my Dad had never ever told me that he loved me either.  

I had just sat down beside my Ma, when suddenly, my Dad sat upright and looked directly at me and pointed and tried to say something but it all came out garbled.  It lasted only a few seconds – and then, just as suddenly, he laid back down.  I ran over to him and stroked his forehead, trying to reassure him that everything was going to be okay.

My Mom suggested that we leave for the evening.  My brother Randy would be staying in the room with Dad and then I would return to the hospital in the morning.  We said goodnight to Dad and as we were leaving I glanced at the framed picture of my Dad in his army uniform – taken just before he left for the war in Europe.  My Mom had brought the picture to Dad’s room because it was Remembrance Day – November 11th.

On our drive back to their apartment, I told Mom that I had never told Dad that I loved him before and I hoped that he was able to hear me.  But I knew that he loved me – because my Mom told me so.  He was brought up in a family that didn’t show their emotions – so it just wasn’t in his nature.   We had just walked into their place and the telephone rang.  I answered the phone, it was Randy – he said that Dad had just passed away. 

Yes, he passed away on Remembrance Day, November 11, 2001 – – how befitting for a veteran. 

And my Mom, who was just a bit superstitious, would often comment on how strange it was that when she moved sometime later into a condo in Ajax, that it happened to be #1101 (eleven-o-one) and that Dad had died on 11/01.

And on September 26, 2010,  Mom was reunited with Dad.

Rest in Peace, Dad.

Rest in Peace, Ma.

All My Love Forever and Ever,

Danny

Today’s Tune:  The Band Played Waltzing Matilda ~ The Dubliners

 

Dedicated to my new friend Dale C., a veteran.

 

Rambo and His Kids

Although we had never met – they were perfect strangers, it hurt to see them there in their temporary shelter.  They weren’t much older than teenagers, and yet, there they were all bundled up under an assortment of mix and match blankets and towels – sleeping on the sidewalk.  Laying beside the young couple on the sidewalk, was a large dog.  The dog was all covered up too, with just his head showing.

All three of them were asleep, as I stood and stared at them.  They had a cup and a handwritten sign asking for a donation and another cup beside the dog with kibbles, and a small bowl of water.  I reached into my pocket but didn’t have any cash on me – just credit cards.  I felt guilty as I walked away – heck, these were just children, I thought.

I had come to the city to attend the Crazy8’s Film Info Session at the RIO Theatre on Broadway Avenue, just a few doors down from where the kids and their dog were sleeping.  I checked the time – it was at 11:30 AM – and the event was supposed to end at 4:00 PM, so I doubted that I would ever see them again.  Their reason for being on the street is probably similar to many of the homeless, but I can’t imagine how their current living condition could be better, than what they were trying to escape.   I wanted to stay and wait until they awoke and at least say hello and be a friendly face.  I also wanted to meet their dog.

But the information session was crucial, and I needed to get a good seat, so I rushed into the RIO with my buddy Robert Mahe, with whom I recently started a film production company.  We met as actors on set in 2008, and have been great friends ever since.  We both wanted to produce films and will be using one of my published stories from my website as our first film project.

One hour later…

Although I was really enjoying the session, my mind kept wandering to those kids and their dog, laying on the pavement in the doorway of some building, on a cold and damp October afternoon.  I got up and quickly walked outside the to see if they were still there.  And they were!  So I approached them and said hello.  They looked up at me and smiled!

The dog appeared to be their spokesman because he suddenly gave me an evil-looking stare and then started to bark at me!  I cautiously stepped back to reassure the dog, but that just seemed to make him angrier!

I asked if I could pet their dog, but now the dog was standing and on full alert!  His stare became even scarier and his barking continued – non-stop!

I knew that a barking dog doesn’t mean that it’s vicious – or that it doesn’t like you (unless it’s my dog, Holly).  Barking is their way of communicating.  But it wasn’t his bark that gave me a bit of a chill.  It was his eyes – I’ve never seen eyes like that before in my life!  This was definitely, the scariest-looking dog I’ve ever seen.

“I’m sorry that I upset your dog,” I quickly uttered.

The young man politely explained that the barking indicated that the dog wanted me to pet him!  And although that sounded somewhat counter-intuitive, their love for that dog was apparent, and it was all the reassurance I needed.

“May I take a video clip of your dog?” I asked.

“Sure!” they cheerfully replied.

I asked them for their dog’s name, and then I softly clapped my hands and said: “Come here, Rambo!”

Here’s a video clip of what followed:

Click to view – Rambo and his two kids

But Danny, you took me away from my hectic life to read about two homeless kids and their dog?  Your stories used to be almost interesting, but now they’re redundant.

Relax,  Spanky. And stop picking your nose!

Anyway, I posted this because I told the kids I would post the clip on my Facebook page and gave the boy my card.  But it wasn’t until I got home a few hours later that I remembered that my Facebook page isn’t under my full name; I changed it several months ago.  The library on Georgia Street is probably where they access computers to view their social media pages, and it bothered me that they might be disappointed when they can’t find my FB page.  But my business card also has this website address, so that’s why I’ve written about them and their dog, Rambo – in the faint hope, that they’ll visit my website or email me.  I went to a nearby ATM to get some cash and then returned and gave them $20 and wished them well and then walked away.  The three of them were huddled together in the blanket, and that’s how I’ll always remember them.

It’s heart-breaking to see kids that young on the street and homeless.  And yet, the Little Danny in me admired the fact, that these kids would rather be homeless than be apart.  When I was their age, I too made a sacrifice to leave home to be with the one I loved and worked my way through the last year of high school just so I could be with her.  There were many days I went to bed hungry, but it was worth it.  But here’s the difference: when my girlfriend’s father forbade her from seeing me after we got engaged, she obeyed him, and I never saw her again.  I didn’t know it at the time, but her father did me a favor – because his daughter didn’t love me enough to run away with me.  I heard that she married a rich guy, which now makes sense.

So in closing, I hope that the kids get to read this and see the video.  I also wanted the kids to know that I would have made the same sacrifice for love as they have and that they and their dog will always be my heroes!

And now the sky is crying!  Bye, Rambo!

Hugs,

Little Danny

Today’s tune from Danny’s music library (purchased):  Positively 4th Street ~ Bob Dylan

 

Lyrics:   Positively 4th Street

You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend
When I was down you just stood there grinning.
You got a lotta nerve to say you’ve got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on the side that’s winning.
You say I let you down you know it’s not like that
If you’re so hurt why then don’t you show it.
You say you’ve lost your faith but that’s not where it’s at
You had no faith to lose and you know it.
I know the reason that you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd you’re in with.
Do you take me for such a fool to think I’d make contact
With the one who tries to hide what he don’t know, to begin with.
You see me on the street you always act surprised
You say, “How are you?” “Good luck” but you don’t mean it.
When you know as well as me you’d rather see me paralyzed
Why don’t you just come out once and scream it.
No, I do not feel that good when I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief perhaps I’d rob them.
And I know you’re dissatisfied with your position and your place
Don’t you understand it’s not my problem.
I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment, I could be you.
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you.
Songwriters: Bob Dylan
Positively 4th Street lyrics © Bob Dylan Music Co.

Little Danny (1952)

On the Nickel

The mystical Nickel (5 Cents) CANADA 1962 – I found on the Promenade in White Rock, BC

A few weeks ago, I found a nickel during my morning walk at the Promenade, in White Rock.  However, I didn’t realize the significance of that five-cent coin, until today.

It has awakened a quiet voice from within – which has been silent for too many months.  And it’s not that I’ve been sulking or feeling sorry for myself – it’s just that I had given up on a beautiful dream, and couldn’t imagine anything that would excite or inspire me enough to want to write again.  I haven’t written a blog since my cousin Ruthie passed, in November 2016, although I did post a few photos of an exciting day walking on the edge of the CN Tower in Toronto, this past April.

But back to the nickel.

After finding the coin and almost dismissing it as of little value, I suddenly remembered a saying my Grandma Puffer used to tell me:  “A penny can be the difference in your ability to pay a bill on time.”  I’ve never forgotten that or the many other words of wisdom that came from her lips.  But that was back in the ‘60’s – we don’t even have pennies anymore – here, in Canada! 

And yet, as I stood there, beside the totem poles, I had a pressing urge to leave the coin there, on the bench, in the hope that a child, might find the nickel and be filled with the excitement of their sudden good fortune! 

When you’re a kid, with nothing in your pants pockets but holes, finding a coin –  of any denomination – is like finding sunken treasure!  And for a brief moment in time, you’d hold it tightly, in the palm of your hand, for fear of losing it before you could share the news of your good fortune, with family and friends.  But greatest of all, was the fact, that a nickel could buy a lot of candy at Pop Taylor’s store on Mary Street when I was a kid.

Little Danny (1952)

So, in an impulsive urge of shameless, self-promotion on various social media sites, I grabbed my cell phone and shot a short video clip of me leaving the nickel on a bench by the totem poles – stating that I hoped a kid might find the coin.

I remember smiling at those thoughts as I continued my daily walk along the Promenade.

After walking for another thirty minutes or so, I reached the halfway mark of my walk and turned to head back to my starting point, 1 ½ miles down the walkway.   It wasn’t particularly busy, so I wondered if the coin would still be on the bench.  And the more that I wondered, the more I became worried that the coin would be gone!

“Danny, why would you be so worried?” I asked myself.

“I don’t know,” I answered to myself, “but my worries are now becoming panic!” 

But as I approached the totem poles and saw the bench, I noticed the coin basking in the sunlight!  My heart was racing, and I was almost gasping with excitement, as I picked up the nickel.  I was excited but didn’t know why?  I studied the coin carefully – the usual beaver on one side and the Queen on the other.  It was one of the older designs, with the octagon shape, and dated 1962.  It was in good shape, so I shrugged my shoulders and put it in my pocket.  Later, I put the coin in my wallet – as a good luck charm.  Who knows what drew me to the nickel?  But finding it sure made me feel like little Danny, again!

This morning, I was having a coffee and emptying junk from my wallet and noticed the coin.  And when I held it in my hand, my eyes were drawing my attention to the date – 1962.  And that’s when it all made sense!

Danny’s first bike (used) at age 9.

*******

Chapter 2 – ’55 Pontiac, Camp Samac, Duck Lake, Violet  & Public Hair

A penny for your thoughts…. a nickel for your memories… and a dime for a coke!  

I began to smile as my mind raced back to the year 1962.  I was twelve years old and full of piss and vinegar!  Or as one of my uncles used to say, “loaded for bear,” although I never knew what the term meant.  Nevertheless, it became one of my favorite sayings, at the time.

Most of the mornings in 1962 were pretty hectic – especially, with six kids in the house!  But my Ma was well-organized, and she would have made us our breakfast and then packed a lunch for the four oldest of us, and we headed out the door for the bike ride up Simcoe Street to Camp Samac for our swimming lessons.  And inside our bag, Ma would put a dime for the Coca-Cola machine beside the pool area.  And we would be there for the entire day: a lesson in the morning, followed by paddling the canoes during the two-hour lunch break and then back to the pool with our swim classmates for the afternoon.

And if we were lucky, and Ma had given us each a quarter (twenty-five cents), we could stop by the Tastee Freeze across the street from Camp Samac, for the long, exhausting ride home.  

I also remember some mornings, when Ma would drive us, I would get the car keys from the counter and within a minute, I would be sitting in the driver seat of our ’55 Pontiac, with the radio on, listening to Dave Mickie, the AM jock from CKEY – which was the most popular radio station in Toronto in the early 60’s.  Of course, I didn’t know how to drive – I was only twelve years old.  But I would hold the steering wheel with both hands and pretend I was driving – complete with simulating high-speed racing along dangerous, mountainside roads and then faking a head-on crash but jumping from the car – just in time, as the car rolls off the cliff and down the mountainside, into Lake Ontario – at the same time that my two older, and infinitely more mature sisters, stood in the driveway, shaking their heads and waiting to tattle tale (rat on me).

1955 Pontiac Chieftain

But I loved that car. And I loved listening to the songs on the hit parade.  I knew the words to every song – and would even perform them if I was alone.  And one of my first major purchases with money from my paper route tips was a $6.00 Sanyo portable radio – complete with a blue leather case and a shiny, pop-up antennae.  I remember laying in bed, every night, listening to CKEY until I fell asleep.  

But Danny, this was supposed to be about 1962…

Relax, Spanky…

We were at a turning point in our life, anxiously awaiting becoming teenagers and having that almost-grown-up ‘teen’ word added to our age; we would be thirteen years old!  And that, was “Cool, Daddy-O,” as Maynard the beatnik used to say on the Dobbie Gillis Show.

Camp Samac was also the place that I learned that teenagers had everything that grownups had and they got to do grown-up things, too!  But the most shocking thing I learned at camp that summer, was that teenagers, like my swimming instructor, had hair growing in places that you only got to see if you were in a change room or nudist colony, and as far as I can remember, there weren’t any nudist colonies in the Shwa in ’62.

 

Camp Samac Pool (the 1960’s)

When I wasn’t swimming at Camp Samac, I would be playing sports at Connaught Park, but I was also beginning to notice girls.  My cheeks are turning red, as I write this – I remember that feeling – of seeing someone special for the first time.  Our eyes would meet, and a sudden spark or flash of interest would be exchanged – without a word spoken!

Her name was Violet M., and she was from Toronto.  

But I met her at my uncle’s cottage on Duck Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario.  The grownups were all gathered in the cottage, drinking beer and enjoying their holidays and suddenly they decided to become ‘match makers, ‘ and then, there we were – face-to-face in front of adults who endlessly tried to embarrass us.  We’d leave and take a walk along the lakeshore.  And we would talk – which was a first, for me.  The only time I ever spoke to girls before then, was with my sisters and then ONLY if I had to.  But talking to Violet was like talking to a grown up and being treated like I was a grownup, too!  Afterall, she was already a teenager – and a very mature, thirteen-year-old, at that!

I still remember one of her questions – which at the time, I didn’t have an answer.  She asked me whom I thought childbirth was the most difficult for – the mother or father?  At the time, I didn’t know anything about the birds and bees; I just remember when my Ma was expecting my youngest brothers, that she had a big stomach.  So of course, I answered that childbirth was most difficult for the father.

Violet simply shook her head and explained the complete birth process to me.  It was obvious she had been told the facts of life (I still prefer the babies are delivered by a stork theory).  And I remember feeling like a five-year-old.  But she was a sweet person and made me feel… kinda… like a teenager!

Violet and I were together for the rest of our time at the lake that summer, and she was my first kiss.  And I guess that it’s okay to kiss and tell now, these many years later.   So here goes:

We were sitting at the end of the dock, with our legs dangling in the water, holding hands and I was fumbling at trying to kiss her without being too forward.  There may have been a full moon that night because I have this image in my mind, of the moon’s reflection in her dark eyes.  And then she quickly kissed me.  And then we kissed again and again.  

And that was also the last summer that I played sports or took swimming lessons.  I achieved my Bronze Medallion which qualified me to be a lifeguard the next year after I turned thirteen years old.  And little Danny’s mind was already thinking about the many, many girls that will surround him, as he sits high above the water, on a lifeguard tower, with a whistle on a rope necklace, hanging around his tanned neck and hairless chest.  

Hairless?  I thought back to the boys’ change room at Camp Samac and the teenage boys with armpit hair and hair around their you-know-what.  At the time, I probably wondered if they’d still be able to make the farting noise with their hand under their hairy armpit, while the other arm moves up and down on the hand, resulting in an almost perfect duplication of the sound?  (By the way, you can!)

I wondered if girls grew hair in their armpits and the other place(s), too?  But I was very shy and awkward, in those days, so I never thought to ask Violet.  But she would have been happy to tell me, in detail.  So instead, I asked my Ma and learned that the hair that grows in that hidden area of the body is called ‘pubic hair.’  But that word didn’t make sense to me, so I figured that she must have meant to say ‘public.’  And for many years, it’s how I referred to it, although it wasn’t a subject that came up too often.  And one last thing – why are public washrooms, not called Pubic Washrooms?

Anyways, after that summer, Violet and I used to write each other letters, but our worlds were far apart.  She lived in Toronto, and although Oshawa is just 40 miles east, it might as well have been 5,000 miles when you’re a twelve-year-old kid with holes in your pockets.  She was my first girlfriend and my first kiss.  And up to that point, our talks were the closest I ever got to learn about the ‘birds ‘n bees.’   I used to hear my Ma arguing with my Dad about him not wanting to tell me the facts of life.  And every time my Ma tried to tell me, I’d be too embarrassed to hear that kind of stuff from my mom, and I’d run out the door.  I don’t think anyone ever told me the facts of life.

And although Violet and I never saw each other again in future summers at the lake, I never forgot her.  And believe it or not – many years later, when I was in my twenties, I was in a store in Parry Sound and bumped into her at the checkout.  Our eyes met, and for a brief moment, we stared at each other.   The child in the stroller she was pushing began to cry, and that’s when I noticed that she was a mother and probably married.  And at the time, so was I.  So, I quickly glanced away and pretended not to recognize her.  But as I passed her and opened the door to leave the store, I heard a faint… “Hi, Danny!” 

I never turned around to answer and kept walking, but I wanted to take her in my arms and tell her that I still remember our first kiss.  It was my first kiss – I’m not sure if it was hers or not.  In baseball terms, I had finally made it to first base – with her as my coach – in the summer of ’62.

*******

Chapter 3 – 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts, First Date, Football, Crutches & Amy 

I can’t remember why I joined the 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts because none of the kids in the neighborhood were in Cubs or Scouts.  And although the scout hall, where we had our meetings, was located next to the church that my family attended on Hillcroft Street, it wasn’t  associated with any particular church or faith.   But I remember that I liked the fact that the sea scout uniform was very different than what the regular boy scouts wore.  Our shirt, shorts, and knee socks were all dark blue, and our neck scarf (tie) was black and white.  And the white hat we wore was the same as the Sea Cadets and sailors in the Navy.

I don’t think that any of my classmates at North Simcoe school belonged to the 8th, but many of them were in regular scouts.  And the 8th was the only sea scout troop in Oshawa, at the time.    

The scout hall building where we met every Wednesday evening (during the school year), was torn down in the 70’s and the 8th was disbanded at the same time.  I don’t remember why but I’m sure that it had to do with money.  The 8th also had a small fleet of wooden rowboats (each held 6-8 scouts) that were kept in a lockup at the Oshawa harbor.  We used to go there for some of our meetings in the summer and were taught how to row together, as a team. 

The leader of sea scouts was known as the skipper or skip, and his assistants were called troop leaders.  And within the 8th, there were smaller groups that each had a leader and assistant leader.  The skipper and troop leaders were usually grown-ups – some married, some single, some who had kids in either the 8th Oshawa Cubs, Sea Scouts or Rovers.  And one last thing about the 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts – we had two separate and distinct troops, namely Port and Starboard.  I belonged to the Port troop, and our meetings were on Wednesday nights.  The Starboard troop met on Thursday nights.

My greatest joys as a kid came during my years in the 8th Oshawa.  There was only one low point – my Dad decided to get involved in scouting but became a troop leader into the Starboard troop!  Their skipper’s name was Derek.  I remember my Ma questioning my Dad’s decision to be in the Starboard troop and not my Port troop.  I never heard his reasons, and I never asked my Ma, but I remember how hurt I was.  But I kept the hurt hidden – maybe I was too proud to reveal my feelings.  But it was just one more reason to feel rejected – the last boy to get picked on a team in the neighborhood.  But there was one joy in having my dad being a scout leader in a different group – many of the ‘cool’ guys at school – none of whom, ever had time for me – suddenly became friendly.  The reason for their sudden interest was my Dad.  They were in the Starboard troop, and they would ask me what it was like to have such a cool dad!  My Dad was a lot of things, but at the time, to me, he wasn’t so cool.  I wonder if it ever bothered him that Skipper Derek’s son was in Starboard and it wasn’t a problem for father or son.  But Dad’s reasons went to the grave with him.  My dad wasn’t a bad person – he just wasn’t the type of father that little Danny needed.  And if you don’t have an older brother to teach you things or to look out for you – who do you have?  

And although I seldom mention people’s last name in my stories, I want to mention the Skipper of my Port troop.  His name was Don Thompson, and he lived across the street from the scout hall.  His mom and dad were very friendly, and they would be sitting on their front porch every Wednesday night and waved to us as we arrived for our meetings.  He had a greater influence on me than any other person in my youth, and I know that he is probably in his late 70’s now and still involved in scouting.

My first date was also to an 8th Oshawa Sea Scout Christmas Party at Camp Samac that year.  There was a girl at school that I was crazy over but although I was somewhat financially secure from my paper route, grass cutting and snow shoveling revenues – I wouldn’t have any means of transportation to get to her house in North Oshawa and from there, to Camp Samac.  I don’t remember the girl’s name or much else about her except that it was my Ma who chauffeured me on my first date.  But at least she didn’t see me holding the girl’s hand, much less, witnessing us kissing.  But I remember the joy on my Ma’s face as she drove the car and tutored me on the “do’s and don’ts of dating.”  My track record was beginning to improve – two girlfriends and lots of kisses in 1962.

North Simcoe Public School (now Dr. SJ Phillips School)

 

But I also broke my leg playing football at my school that year and had to wear a cast for two months.  It left me with a slight limp, which I still have to this day.  I mention it because it meant that I couldn’t go outside for recess with the rest of the kids.  I had to stay at my desk, with my teacher – the feared Mrs. Trotter.  Most of the students referred to her by her first name, which was ‘Amy,’ but never to her face.  But I became very close to this grade-eight teacher, and I owe her for an amazing lesson she taught me.

Mrs. Trotter’s appearance could be quite intimidating.  But not because of her stature – she was shorter than most of her students.  She also appeared to be very old.  At the time, she seemed to be much older than my Ma and she may have even been older than both of my grandmothers.  But that wasn’t why she was intimidating to me – it was because she never seemed to smile.   And as a rambunctious, twelve-year-old boy, there were lots of things in life worth smiling about: namely, weekends, scouts, sports, Summers, candy etc. 

But after a few days of silent and boring recesses spent sitting in the classroom alone with the ancient Mrs. Trotter, the silence was broken by her sudden outburst:  “Danny!”  

The school year had recently started, so I really didn’t know her at all – other than the rumors about her mean spirit.  I don’t remember if all of the kids were afraid of her, but I was!

“Yes, Mrs. Trotter!” I stuttered, wide-eyed and surprised by her sudden interest in me.  

But she didn’t say anything at first.  She just stared at me and then it happened!  Her stern face suddenly softened and a smile appeared on her face.  It wasn’t the kind of ‘ear-to-ear’ smile that people get when they’re eating candy or doing neat stuff – but it was a smile, just the same!

Mrs. Trotter then began asking me about my family and what I did during the summer recess.  Suddenly, I felt the warm glow of making a friendship with no boundaries.  Yes, she was much older than me and there certainly wasn’t any physical attraction involved – although, she may have been the only woman teacher that I didn’t have a crush on.  But after one of two recesses, I’d told her all that there was to know about ‘me’.  And although I don’t remember her ever talking about her personal life, I felt like she was my first grown-up friend.

During subsequent recesses, I would amuse myself by walking around the classroom on my crutches; going to the boy’s washroom and/or by staring out the classroom windows.  But our grade eight classroom was on the third floor and the windows didn’t face the playground – my line of vision was limited to Simcoe Street, which was one of the main streets in Oshawa.  The other main street in Oshawa worth noting is King Street, which ran east to west.  And the intersection of Simcoe and King Streets was known as the ‘Four Corners’ which was a popular landmark.  But that’s another story.  

I spent much of my youth on or around a ‘Simcoe’  either Simcoe Street, Lake Simcoe or Simcoe, Ontario.  And in the Shwa, if you had lots of coins, you probably lived on Simcoe Street between Adelaide Street and Rossland Road.  And if you were really affluent, and your backyard bordered on Alexandra Park, you could get into the Oshawa Fair and other neat events for free!  You just had to climb your fence and then sneak into the park.  Some of these wealthy tycoons even had gates that opened into the park!

The other thing you should know about Simcoe Street is that one of the prettiest and most popular girls at North Simcoe School was Beth R., the daughter of a prominent doctor, and they lived in a beautiful house on Simcoe Street.  And although I was getting interested in girls, I didn’t have a girlfriend at school and Violet lived in Toronto, which although only thirty miles from the Shwa, it might as well have been 1,000 miles to a twelve-year-old, socially-awkward and insecure in the ways of love.  And although Beth R., wasn’t in my class, she might as well have been at a private school because she had a boyfriend, who was also the most popular boy in school.  

His name was Grant O., and I knew him fairly well, although we never hung out together.  He lived down the street from me on Jarvis Street.  Grant was very athletic and was interested in running.  I used to see him running all of the time but can’t remember if he pursued it after leaving school.  What I do remember about him is that he sold me his Oshawa Times newspaper route.  And that paper route was an improvement over the Toronto Star newspaper route that I had had for a couple of years – because the Times was much lighter and the customers were more numerous, so your route wasn’t as large as the less-populated Star subscribers.  I had that route until I started high school and then got a paper route at the Oshawa General Hospital.  

Grant was in my grade nine class at OCVI but that was in 1963 when I was a grown-up teenager!  The last that I saw of him was on a city bus, during my senior year at high school.  He was working full-time and we chatted about stuff but I don’t remember what else we talked about.

But back to Beth R., the prettiest and most popular girl at Dr. SJ Philips elementary school (formerly North Simcoe School).  

I didn’t know Beth, any more than I knew Grant because we traveled in different social circles.  I don’t even recall ever having a conversation with Beth, although I think that she was in my sister’s class in high school.  But I remember delivering newspapers to Beth’s family home on Simcoe Street.  I wonder if she ever saw my buddies and I sneaking into the Oshawa Fair at Alexandra Park by cutting through her family’s backyard and jumping over their fence?   If she did, at least she never ‘ratted’ me out!  Because even in 1962, nobody liked a tattle-tale!

The next thing that I remember about Beth is crashing one of her parties when I was in high school.  I was with a couple of my buddies and we were hoping to find where the good doctor’s booze was hidden.  We were in the downstairs billiards room which had been locked and ‘off-limits’.  One of the guys had used his comb to open the door (credit cards weren’t invented yet) but there wasn’t any booze.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing Beth or Grant for that matter – perhaps they were hiding in a secret room guarding the good doctor’s booze?

The next time I saw Beth was in the 70’s at the nurse’s office at the General Motors Truck Plant.  I was both surprised and pleased that she recognized me and I asked if she and Grant ever got married?  We exchanged family updates and said our goodbyes.  She was still very pretty and married at the time but not to Grant.  I asked who the lucky guy was?  I’m not sure but I think it may have Bill H., who had been one of my fellow 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts.  

My next Beth sighting was ‘virtual’.  I had joined an internet social media group called Classmates, in hopes of connecting with some of my friends from the area.  I hadn’t lived in Ontario since my move to Vancouver in 1982 but was getting more proficient on the internet.  We became friends on Classmates and then our virtual friendship migrated to MySpace and then later to Facebook.  We’re still friends on Facebook and we keep in touch and I think she’s read some of my blogs.  I’m hoping to meet up with her for a plate of ‘shoestrings and a Coke’ at the Globe Restaurant on King Street, if and when I ever get to Ontario again.

As for the title of this blog – On The Nickel.  Its meaning is also tied to the Tom Waits song by the same name.  When he wrote the song, the title referred to a street where the homeless, alcoholics would gather.  The street was 5th Street and when you were on it – you were ‘on the nickel.’  

Not all of the homeless, alcoholic people On The Nickel, are strangers, though.  

Because I have a younger brother who’s been battling addiction his entire adult life.  He probably doesn’t remember much about Oshawa or North Simcoe School and I haven’t had any contact with him in almost two years.  But I hope that there is still a little boy inside of him that has a lingering memory of what it used to be to like to have family, friends, love, and dreams.  Having me as an older brother didn’t help him much and for that, I will always have regrets.  

Brothers Ricky and Danny (2015)

And finally, I know that this story began with a nickel that someone lost – and so now, I’m going to be searching for a ‘penny’ – because we no longer have pennies in Canada.  And if I find one dated 1969, I’ll save it because that was the year of my first broken heart.  But then again, I probably won’t write about it because the wounds are still deep, almost 5o years later.

Correction:  I know of one penny that might still be in circulation in Canada. – and that penny is the former Mrs. Vitale of Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding fame – my dear friend Penny D., a gal actually from the Jersey Shore!  I haven’t seen her for several years – I wonder how she’s doing?  If you see her, tell her that Nunzio says hello!

Nunzio (Danny) and Mrs. Vitale (Penny) at a Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding show (2008)

 

*******  

Hugs,

Danny

 

Walking and Living on the EDGE

 

On April 11, 2017, at 2:00 PM, I walked on the edge of the CN Tower EDGE WALK in Toronto, Ontario.  It was almost the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life!   Almost! 

I had traveled to Toronto to attend the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer – Innovative Approaches to Optimal Cancer Care in Canada conference (April 7 & 8th) at the Harbour Castle Hotel (as a patient advocate) and had extended my trip a few days to do this, as it was the second last item on my Bucket List of things to do.  

The adventure took ninety minutes – with thirty minutes actually walking around the outside of the tower and doing various poses for the camera.  There were two staff members accompanying us at all times – one giving instructions and the other taking pictures and a video – which were included in the price of the package.  It was definitely, one of the most exciting things that I have ever done in my life.

UPDATE  June 1, 2017:  Here is a link to the four video clips of my walk.

Danny’s EDGE WALK VIDEOS

“Living with Cancer isn’t a death sentence – but giving up on Living is.  Never stop chasing your Dreams and you’ll live Forever!” ~ Danny 

Hugs,

Danny

 

Moonshine in the Maritimes – The Final Chapter

My Ruthie

Readers of this blog will remember my original Moonshine in the Maritimes posting from November 8, 2016 –  a blog that was both painful to write and impossible for me to complete a final chapter.

But all of that changed this morning, and now my heart is racing, and my legs are shaking, and I can’t believe how excited I am!  And now, the final chapter is pulsing through my body – from my brain to my heart – and from my heart to my brain.  There’s so much that I want to say…

It’s currently Thursday, March 2, 2017, and I am leaving to go to the Promenade in White Rock to do my walk.  Walking helps me think, and I need to put all of these highly-charged emotions into words, sentences, and paragraphs.  And it has to be believable because frankly, it is – but I’ll leave it to you – and your judgment to decide for yourself.

But don’t ask me to re-publish the original blog – I deleted it one night when I was deep in a depressed state – missing my cousin Ruthie and feeling sorry for myself.  Isn’t that why we cry?  We’re hurt and feeling sorry for ourselves – wondering how our lives will ever be the same without our loved one.

So, my story will resume on the morning of  November 12, 2016, just before we said goodbye to my cousin Ruthie and witnessed her passing while holding her in our arms.  That moment changed my life forever, but it left me with more questions than answers.  But now I know for sure, that Ruthie is still with me – just like my Ma and Grandma Puffer are – and now I have proof!

Stay tuned kiddies, fasten your seatbelts and stand behind the sneeze guard – the ride is about to enter the dark tunnel, and you’re trying frantically to get out before the ghouls and goblins appear from the shadows.

The Last Chapter

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The trip to Moncton to visit my cousin Ruth had been planned for early Summer 2016 but I had a few medical issues that I was dealing with, so it wasn’t until that Sunday, that I booked my flight to Moncton.

Ruth, or Ruthie as her friends and family called her, is my first cousin on my Mom’s (Puffer) side.  Her Mom and mine were sisters.  We were never very close because Ruthie was ten years older than me, but we always seemed to have a connection.  My earliest memory of her was when she came to stay with us for a weekend visit; I was probably seven or eight years old at the time.  And she was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen in my life.  At the time, I was hopelessly in love with Annette Funicello the Mouseketeer, on the Mickey Mouse Club Show on TV.

Annette Funicello – Mouseketeer

 

 

Annette Funicello 1942 – 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Ruthie became her replacement, and I was now hopelessly in love, with a much older girl – who probably hardly knew I existed.  And that’s how little Danny first fell in love and began to dream and believe in the impossible.  Because sometimes, impossible dreams do come true!

Later in life, I would sometimes see Ruthie at weddings or funerals, but I never spoke to her as an adult until we saw each other one night, at her brother Terry’s house in Bramalea, Ontario in the 70’s.  It was a family get-together, and I was there with my parents and was in my twenties, and Ruthie and her husband Mike were standing in the kitchen with a crowd of people, laughing and enjoying themselves.  I told her that I had had a life-long crush on her – and still did.  She giggled and then hugged me and gave me a kiss on the lips.  I have never forgotten that moment – and how excited she made me feel.  I also remember telling Mike, her husband, how lucky he was to have her as his wife.  I never saw either of them again until I saw Ruthie at my Dad’s funeral in 2001.  She and her sister Patty and Patty’s husband came to the funeral together – and we sat and talked for quite a while about our lives and loves.  Once again, I told Ruthie that I still had my boyhood crush on her!

A few years later, on the week that my youngest brother Randy was getting married, my cousin Patty’s husband passed away.  And although I had only met him once – at my Dad’s funeral – he was a Newfie, and my family and I liked him.  So on the day after Randy’s wedding, I went to the funeral home in MisterandMissesAuga to pay my respects.  Most of the Walkers were there, but as I scanned the room, I couldn’t find my Ruthie.  I was standing at the coffin with Patti, and she gave me a white rose, which she explained meant ‘goodbye.’  It’s why I dislike white roses – because some goodbyes are forever and are often accompanied by a broken heart.  It’s also why I’ve always been frugal in saying goodbye – to loved ones.  But as I turned to walk away from the casket, I saw her!

My heart started thumping as I quickly made my way across the room to where my Ruthie was standing.  She had been talking with a couple of her lady friends and gave a shriek when she saw me.  And then she introduced me to her friends.

Ruthie:  This is my cousin Danny.  He used to wack off while fantasizing about me.

My face turned a scarlet red, and I became tongue-tied.   What could I possibly say in reply to that embarrassing introduction?  But without missing a beat, I shrugged my shoulders, turned to walk away and waved, saying…

Me:  And I still do!

And then I quickly ran outside to my car and drove back to my hotel in Toronto.  We never hugged or kissed, and it was another secret that I had planned to take to my grave.  But instead, I’m sharing it with you because I know that you can keep a secret.  Promise!?

I was on a plane home to Vancouver the next morning, still shuddering with embarrassment at Ruthie’s introduction.  But it made me smile and chuckle all the way home.  And it’s making me grin again this morning, as I write about it.  I mean, how did she ever find out about my secret fantasy?

Several years later, in June ’07 or ’08, I learned that my Ruthie was now living in Moncton.  I gave her a call and told her that I was planning a trip to visit my buddies Bill, Scotty and General and asked if she would like to get together.  A few weeks later I was staying at Junior’s place in Moncton.  I had set his father up in business years ago and then hired his son, Allan, as one of my District Managers for Western Canada.  HIs nickname was Junior, and he was now married and living in Moncton and had invited me to spend a few days with him and his wife, Jennifer.

While there, Ruthie and I got together and went out-on-the-town and partied until the early morning hours.  She came out to the couch where I was sleeping at about 5:00 am and suggested that I should probably leave before her daughter’s family wake up (they lived in the upper part of the duplex).  I was supposed to come back later to meet her daughter, but I time didn’t allow, and I returned to Vancouver, the next day.

But that night that we spent out-on-the-town, was like a first date and I learned so much about Ruthie… and our family’s history.  We never spoke again until after my Mom’s funeral in September 2010, a year after my cancer treatments had ended.  And it was at my Ma’s funeral that my family learned that I had cancer.  I hadn’t told anyone about my cancer because I was afraid that they’d tell my Mom.  And my Ma’s health was too fragile to withstand the news.  View Danny’s Cancer, Story

After Mom’s funeral, I returned to Vancouver and called Ruthie in Moncton.  News of my throat cancer had already reached her from the family grapevine but she still seemed surprised when I told her.  It had been less than a year, since my last treatment and I wasn’t sure about my future.  I was still clinging to the belief that I was in the “40% Group” that survives my type of cancer – but I was also a realist, and needed to have some basis in fact, to continue believing that I would survive.  And Ruthie was just the medicine I needed!

Ruthie had battled three different cancers over a 42 year period – and survived!  In fact, while I was going through my treatments in 2009, Ruthie had a part of her lung removed (lung cancer).  Years earlier, she had both breasts removed.  She was such a positive voice – and her words of encouragement were just what I needed to help me in my own battle.

 

To be continued.

Hugs,

Danny

 

Danny goes to Camp!

Danny will walk on the edge of the CN Tower in April

 

“In the dark of the broad daylight, I promise I’ll be there” ~ For Whom the Bell Tolls ~ BeeGees

It started the way all great trips start – with a simple plan.  Get to the CN Tower in Toronto – home of the Blue Jays – and do the Edge Walk outside the top – suspended by a leash.  It’s the kind of excitement that’s been missing in my life and I’ve convinced myself that it will restore the flame that once burned passionately in my soul.  But I couldn’t get passed the main obstacle to fulfilling this bucket list item – I’d already said all of my goodbyes to my hometown in Ontario, last Spring (see  My Last Visit ).

And it’s hard to justify the cost for hotel and airfare just to satisfy a silly need or whim, right?  Of course, it is Danny.  But all of that changed when my phone rang.

I looked at the call display and didn’t recognize the number, so I just disregarded it as I do with all unknown callers (telemarketers, scams etc.).  But this one left a message.  And the moment I heard it, I got excited – really, really excited!

It was the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer calling to confirm my attendance at the upcoming cancer conference in Toronto in April.  I had not understood that I had been invited to attend but the phone message was a request to discuss my flight and travel arrangements and meeting schedules etc.  And as excited as I am about anything related to cancer – I was selfishly happy to know that I might get to fulfill one of my last bucket list items, after all!

But then, I remembered what my buddy Billy used to say – “be careful what you ask for – ’cause you might get it!”  Scared, Danny?  Yup!  Still going to do the walk, Danny?  Yup!

And then today, as I sat watching my Blue Jays first preseason game on television, I decided to buy a ticket to their home opener on April 11th.  I was going to get the best seat I could get – who knows if I will ever be back to see another game.  I share the same philosophy on concert tickets – why watch the artist from the nose bleed section if you can afford to sit in better seats?  I mean, if I don’t smoke, and don’t drink, then surely attending a few concerts or sporting events in nice seats is not extravagant.  Well, it’s not to me – money has never been important to me.  It’s why I dislike being around people who appear obsessed with it.

And isn’t it great that I can order my ticket online and choose my seat?  And when you only are buying one ticket – you will always get better seats.  But then my heart stopped beating – the home opener is already sold out!  WTF? (Why The Face?).  Of course!  The whole city of Toronto will probably be closed for the day – to celebrate the home opener.  And right they should!

I quickly moved my cursed cursor down to the next game April 12th and quickly grabbed a lone seat, a few rows above the Dugout on the first base line!  And including my donation to the Blue Jays children’s fund, it only cost 80 bucks, all total!

In high school, we used to have a saying for being outrageously happy.  It was “YIPPEE SHIT HEMORAGE!”

And although I’m not really going to camp, it sure feels like shouting “YIPPEE SHIT HEMORAGE!”

And it’s what you’ll hear me shouting when I get the CN Tower Excellent Adventure, captured on my cell phone camera – and posted to this page in early April.

Hugs,

Danny

UPDATE 4/4/17:  I will be in Toronto for one week and will be visiting the following:

  • Parents grave
  • Cousin Donna & her family
  • Aunt Fern
  • Peter & Alice
  • Western Region Alumni (offsite)
  • The old ‘hood’ in Oshawa

– Danny

 

Snowflakes and Ice Cream

Danny’s place February 6, 2017

 

Nobody knows when it happened – but everyone knew that it had snowed during the night.  It’s an excellent example of the legal term ‘circumstantial evidence’ – although you didn’t see it actually snowing during the night – when you awoke and looked out the window – you accepted it as a ‘fact.’

But it seldom snows in Vancouver.  At least not like it has in the past three days!  In Seattle, yesterday was the second largest snowfall ever recorded in the past seventy years!  I’ve used my snowblower four times in the past two days – and now another five to six centimeters of snow this morning!  

I’ve been waiting for the ‘right’ time to resume my writing.  I can’t remember a year in my life when I had more hurt and disappointment than the past year (2016).  Usually, I bounce right back from setbacks but lately, I’ve found it takes much longer.  Life can sometimes seem to be like trying to put toothpaste back into its tube or feathers back into a pillow.

I recently returned from Montreal, where I had attended a meeting of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Measurement Steering Committee – Person-Centred-Perspective.  Our committee’s five-year term ends in March 2017 but the mandate of CPAC has just been renewed for another five years by the Government of Canada.  I am hoping to be invited to serve as a patient advocate on one of the new committees.

So, now that I am back at the keyboard – and anxious to reveal all of my ‘uppers and downers’ of last year – where should I begin?

To be continued…

Hugs,

Danny

 

Dying Embers of Summer

Holly enjoying a Fall morning in Lotusland

I’m told that one of the perks of being a grandfather is babysitting – except for when the occasion includes changing a diaper.  It’s not that men CAN’T perform this necessary ritual – it’s just that they’re afraid of pinning the diaper to the baby’s skin!  And that’s why they wait until after the child is ‘toilet trained.’   Note: this ‘rule’ does not apply if you’re a father (unless you celebrate ‘celibacy.’)

So when a friend’s three-year-old granddaughter said that she had to go to the washroom, he started to panic.  It’s not like he could just walk into the Ladies room with her!  His eyes began scanning the sports complex for a woman who could get him out of this jam and then it hit him!  He would take her into the Men’s Room – after he checked to ensure that the ‘coast was clear.’

Fortunately, the changeroom appeared empty, so he quickly went back out to get her.  But as they entered the room, a naked man suddenly appeared from the shower area!

His three-year-old granddaughter quickly raised her hand to shield her face and shouted “AWKWARD!” as she quickly ran out of the room.  It’s one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time and it’s probably why KIDS can sometimes appear to be much older than their years.

I thought about that story this morning as I got ready to go to the to the States to pick up some stuff from Trader Joe’s and Costco.  But first, I need to call Norm to see if he’s back from their cruise yet.  He and Dorean flew to Quebec City to cruise the St. Lawrence River and then along the Atlantic Coast to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  But they did it during the recent Hurricane Matthew storm!  

Thankfully, Norm spent many days and nights at sea fishing on his Dad’s boat, so he wouldn’t have been as afraid as most of the other passengers.  In fact, knowing Norm, he was probably helping to reassure and comfort all of the other passengers (and crew)!

Oooops!  There’s the phone ringing now …. and it’s Norm!  

“Hi, Norm, when did you get back?” 

“This morning!” Norm replied, “but you’ll never guess what happened on the ship during the storm and then again on the plane en route to Seattle last night?!”

To be continued.

I had so much to tell him because much had happened since we last had coffee together in late September.  I know that he’ll want to know how my cousin made out with her brush with the law.  It still makes me angry just thinking about it!

My cousin, who is in her late 70’s, lives in another province and is dependent on public transit to get around.  On this particular morning, she was standing at the bus stop, when suddenly she saw and heard several police cars racing down the street with sirens blaring.  She wondered briefly what the commotion was all about, but she was more interested in seeing if she could see her bus coming down the street.  

The next thing she knew, she was laying – face down on the ground, with a knee pressing against her back!  It happened so quickly; she didn’t even have time to scream. The two RCMP officers helped her up, and it was then that she learned that it was their police dog who had knocked her to the ground – at their command!

“We warned you to stop, and you refused our order, so that’s why we gave the ‘attack’ command to the dog.   You fit the description of one of two teenagers who had just committed a robbery in the area,” the Mounties explained.  

And then they left her standing there at the bus stop – alone!

My cousin had her back to them and had no idea that they were there and didn’t hear them calling out to her.  She somehow fit the description of a teenage boy – from behind!

My sweet cousin is also a cancer survivor – three times!  She had breast cancer 43 years ago and had both removed; several years later she had thyroid cancer, and then a few years ago, she had a cancer tumor removed from her lungs.  She is at best in fragile health and certainly posed no conceivable threat to the officers or their dog.

“Oh my God!” I yelled into the phone, “the Mounties did this to you and then just left you standing there?”

“Yes, and then when my bus arrived, I didn’t have my bus pass – it must have dropped from my hand when I was tackled to the ground,” my cousin replied.

She didn’t have any change in her purse so she couldn’t give the driver the exact fare, so the driver gave her a free ride – which was a bit embarrassing.

When she got home, she called 911 to report the police incident and got told that her call wasn’t an emergency!  But after my cousin angrily objected, two female Mounties arrived at her home.

The Mounties interviewed her and then left.  My cousin peaked through the window and noticed that the two Mounties were sitting in their car, but it didn’t appear that they were leaving.  In fact, they sat in their car for thirty-five minutes and then came back to her door.

“We’ve interviewed the two officers and their version of the story are different than yours.”

I couldn’t believe my ears!  My poor cousin, who has gone through so much pain and suffering in her life and now this?

“Are you going to charge the two Mounties?  You should at least lodge an official complaint,” I urged.

To be continued.

My cousin decided that it would be too stressful to pursue charges and although she is probably right, it still makes me angry just thinking about how stressed out she’s been because of the actions of those two brave policemen!   Their dog probably hates them for making it attack a helpless, senior lady.

But I guess it could have been worse – they could have tasered her too!

I can already imagine Norm shaking his head in disbelief when I tell him about my cousin’s ordeal.  Things were much different when he served with the Force!

                                        *******

Well, I will tell Norm about my incident in the washroom with two nurses, after my gall bladder operation on October 12th at Langley Memorial Hospital (LMH).  He will probably shake his head when I tell him about this incident, too.

I had arrived at LMH at 7:00 am for my 9:15 am surgery.  After prepping me for the operation, a nurse advised me that it would be delayed an hour.  Later, another nurse informed that there was now an additional delay.  They finally wheeled me into the operating room at 11:45 am, and that’s when the fun began!

In my meeting with the anesthesiologist the day before, it was decided that they would have to administer the oxygen by passing a hose through my nostril, down my throat and into my lung through the lung valve – and they would be doing this while I was awake!  The incubator that they usually place inside a patient’s mouth/throat might cut into the scar tissue inside my throat – causing my lungs to fill with blood.  So that is why they needed to use a different, more uncomfortable procedure.  But I had gone through this when they diagnosed me with throat cancer, seven years ago, so I knew what to expect.

The last thing I remembered was sitting upright and fighting with them while they held me and tried to put the tube down into my lungs.  And then, just as suddenly, I awoke in a darkly lighted dormitory.  It felt like being in a Spa!  

A nurse told me that they would be keeping me for about four hours and then I could go home.  I hate being in hospitals – even though I love the health care workers.  It’s just hard to sleep in a bed that’s not like the one at home, and I spent three weeks in hospital during my cancer treatments in 2009.

About two hours later, they moved me to the final recovery room.  It was painful trying to move or change position in bed.  The nurse tried to help me change positions, but I would get a sharp pain if I tried to lay on my side – I had to remain on my back.  She told me that I would be there for at least two hours.

I laid there and stared at the clock on the wall outside my room.  I watched the second hand as it slowly and continuously circled.  

“Hello, Nurse!” I shouted weakly, ” when can I go home?’

“Not until you go pee.”

“Okay, please bring me a can of ginger ale.”

About five minutes later, I had two nurses helping me to sit up in bed and then to walk me across the room to the bathroom.  The nurse pointed to the red cord beside the toilet and told me to pull it if I needed help.  She also said not to lock the door.

Now my Mom taught my three brothers and me to sit when we had to pee in the washroom at home.  So I was house-trained.  But the drill on this occasion called for me to remain to stand; which almost made me giggle with excitement.  But as I looked at the red cord and then down at the floor I noticed a steady stream of blood dripping on the floor!  And the front of my gown was covered in blood!  

I pulled the red cord.  I was no longer giggling.

The door suddenly burst open, and two nurses had things under control within a short but scary few moments.  And as they helped me back to my bed, I could see and feel their concern.  And that made me feel loved. 

I overheard the head nurse talking to my surgeon on the phone; mentioning “significant bleeding,” which added to the fear I felt creeping from within. 

But the two nurses cleaning me up had calmed everything and changed my dressings like I was a newborn baby!  And that too, made me feel loved.

I giggled for the rest of the evening until my release – on good behavior at 9:15 pm.  Soon I  would be home with my little Holly.  I hoped she wouldn’t be sulking again!

 

You can leave if you perform...

but the nurses wanted to see more!

How's this Nurse Cratchet?

No, my shoulder!!!

Okay, how's this ladies?

The nurses said I could now leave but they hid my clothes!

 

So then I tried a different tactic – a selfie!

 

 

 

Holly was happy to see me.  I spent the next four days in bed.  Lots of time to think about my life.

                      *******

I’m hoping to resume writing in the New Year but my highest priority is to find a new ’cause’ to support (volunteer)!  I’m leaning towards something involving dogs, seniors or children.  If you have any suggestions, please drop me a line…

Hugs,

Danny

Shadows of September

The Ides of March had long stopped marching, and I had finally reconciled my heart and mind to the notion that ‘you can’t look back.’  I had returned to the land of Ontario only to find that everyone had left without leaving a Dear John or whatever type of note that one usually expects.  Even little Danny disappeared in the end; unable to keep up with his older and wiser self.  But ‘hurt’ is only ‘healed’ with time and wine; and besides, it was good to get back to Holly and my other families.

I decided to cease using social media for the Summer and rent a cabin somewhere on the Sunshine Coast with hopes of ‘rescuing the novel that had been held hostage by yours truly, a procrastinating writer.  A few of the rentals appeared perfect but were expensive, or they didn’t allow pets.  So we stayed at home to write the book.  

And every morning I got up early to begin writing, but it was impossible to focus on anything but the shadows of September racing through my brain until I decided to fight back – one more time – but this time with no secrets!  Those who wish to know will follow; others will please leave quietly without slamming the door. 

Now, as much as I try to remain neutral on the pros and cons of Facebook, it is an ideal platform to communicate with friends and family en masse as opposed to contacting each person individually.  And sometimes, posting a few pictures helps with the update or storyline.  So I decided to use Facebook to update everyone on the upcoming shadows of September – with hopes of being able to write a blog later to summarize with the details and hopefully, a happy ending. 

But I purposefully delayed writing this blog until today, October 1, 2016 – because it was easier to keep the source of the shadows hidden in a dark hole, covered by my fears, concerns, and regrets.  And it’s also because I’m just a little superstitious – as in ‘break a leg!’.  

So, dear reader, I will be writing about the weird Shadows of September with regular updates over the coming days and weeks.  And the final installment might surprise you!  So why not pour a drink, avoid rolling in your rocking chair while I lead you through the shadows of September.

Friday, September 9th  

Today I had a Contrast CT Scan of my lungs to see if the spots and shadow areas had grown or remained stable.  For most cancer patients, this is a time to be nervous.  Not that the procedure is unpleasant – it’s not.  It’s just that sometimes you have to wait a few weeks before you get the results from the oncologist.

I arrived at the Cancer Centre in Surrey an hour before my appointment so I could visit with my many friends on staff.  I told them that I wouldn’t be able to return for social visits anymore because of ongoing issues and concerns I was having with the BC Cancer Agency.  I resigned my position as a volunteer last December because of the increasing concerns I had re patient care and a respectful workplace environment – with both the Agency, Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Fraser Health Authority.   So social visits would be out, but I would stay in contact through Facebook and personal emails.  But it was hard; my healthcare gal and guy pals are like family to me, and I love each and every one of them.  And they return the love – times ten!

After the scan, I returned home to wait nervously for the results.  The appointment with Dr. K., my oncologist (and hero) wasn’t until September 21st, but I had lots of things to keep me busy during the wait.

Sunday, September 11th

Holly and I were alone, watching the Blue Jays game when the chest pains started and I knew that something bad was about to happen!  I was having difficulty catching my breath, but that was mostly because of the Fear that it was another attack.  I couldn’t determine if it was my heart because the pain surrounded my chest. 

I was buckled in pain and tried to get up from the recliner but got dizzy and had to sit down again.  Holly sensed something was wrong and jumped up on my lap and started to lick my face.  Holly is not a ‘licker’ – to anyone or anything but herself; so this was scary – I’ve always believed that animals are much more instinctive than humans.  And Holly sure looked worried!

I slowly walked to the front door and unlocked it and then returned to the recliner and sat down.  I popped a couple of Aspirin into my mouth and began chewing them as I called 911.  I told the dispatcher I thought I had a heart attack.  

Within minutes, three uniformed firemen came bursting through the door and surrounded my chair.  Holly was terrified and was trying to both protect me and hide from the huge men.  Then two paramedics came into the room and within another minute they were lifting me onto the stretcher which they had wheeled into the kitchen.  All the time that they were working on me, I was trying to calm Holly, but she was now beyond terrified.

They wheeled me through the front door, and the last thing Holly saw was me giving my house keys to one of the five giants who then locked her into the house alone and petrified. 

As the ambulance left my driveway, I worried about leaving Holly behind.  Dog people will understand – others will just roll their eyes.

Danny at LMH

Danny at Langley Memorial Hospital – September 14th – Photo by Nurse Cratchet

To be continued.

The paramedics wheeled me into Emergency and stayed with me until the nurse arrived.  My friend Norm used to be a paramedic with the ambulance service, and he told me that you needed to have empathy rather than sympathy for patients or you’d never be able to do your job.  Which doesn’t mean that you didn’t care – it just meant that you had to be able to keep your emotions in check.  And although I agree, I could also see the concerned expression on the paramedics’ faces – they made me feel like I was their Dad.  

My mind started wandering down the bumpy road of fear; maybe it’s the spots on my lungs.  That might explain why the pain was on both sides of my chest.  (I hate it whenever I worry about something; it always takes me to that ‘what if it’s Cancer?’ mind game.).

I was dying of thirst – my mouth felt as though it was full of sawdust.  But I couldn’t have any liquid before the ultrasound test, and that wouldn’t be until sometime on Monday.    

It was early afternoon when the lady in the Ultrasound Department showed me the culprit on the screen.  

“OMG!” I thought, “it looks like a baby ALIEN!” (as in the horror flick starring Sigourney Weaver.).

I jumped up and down on the gurney screaming “What is it?  What is it? Please get it out of me!  What is it?”

“Relax, Grandpa.  I’ll tell you if you’ll stop hugging me!” she giggled.

I slowly relaxed my arms and sheepishly muttered a “sorry!”

My eyes were searching her uniform for a name tag, but I couldn’t see one.  It was at that precise moment that I caught her eyes looking at what my eyes were staring at, and that made me blush.  (Danny note: are you still with me?)   

“They will probably suggest having it removed.”

“What, the alien?”, I asked.

“No Pops, your gall bladder.  They can remove it and then you won’t have any more problems,”

I tightened my arms around her and began thanking her for telling me that it wasn’t cancer.  And although I still had to wait for the results of my September 9th CT Scan, at least this wasn’t associated with my lungs.

“When can I get this operation done?” I asked.

“Lots of people get it done while there here,” she replied.  

“Great!  I’ll be able to get this done while I’m here but will I still be able to do the Terry Fox 10km Run/Walk on Sunday, September 18th?  I would only be walking and could always do the 1km or 5km route instead of the 10km option.  What do you think?” I asked.

“Your doctor and surgeon will discuss this with you when you get back to Emergency.”

A few hours later I saw a doctor who advised me that I had a fever and they wanted to keep me in the hospital until everything was back to normal.  They would do the surgery in four to six weeks, which will give my body a chance to recover from this episode.

“However, you cannot have any fat in your diet until you have the surgery.   Otherwise, the gallstone could start moving around again.”

“Will I be able to do the 10km walk this Sunday?” I asked.

“We will have to wait until we get your fever under control.”

I was finally able to drink, but I couldn’t have anything but clear fluids and jello for a couple of days.  But how would I ever manage to survive without fat for six weeks?  Even ENSURE and other food supplements have fat.  

On the second day, they moved me to a private room on the second floor.  It’s where a nurse took the above picture.  

I did a lot of thinking while in the hospital.  The next shadow of September was on the 18th, and it wasn’t just the Terry Fox Run/Walk that worried me.  No, it was the day before the 18th that I’ve always dreaded the most. 

To be continued.

I didn’t check my cell phone or notebook for messages during my first two days in captivity but started posting updates on my Facebook page.  (Some of my friends and family are not on social media, so I am repeating much of what I’ve already written.)  

I began receiving messages of support, and I tried to reply to each one, but my mind was not on my gall bladder or the surgery.  I was missing my Holly and knew that she was probably still grieving the kidnapping of her Daddy.  Dogs are different than humans – they love unconditionally – they cannot stop loving you – ever!

It was nice having a private room.  My previous hospital stays were during my cancer treatments seven years ago – and they were in semi-private rooms.  At the time, I didn’t realize that my health coverage had undergone significant ‘clawbacks’ from General Motors of Canada – the employer I spent 30 years working for and retired from in 2005.  A few weeks after my last radiation treatment, I got an invoice from the hospital for the semi-private room – I was no longer covered and had to pay the difference between a regular, four-patient room and semi-private.

Wednesday, September 14th

Today, my captors released me from the hospital.  All that I could think of was seeing my Holly Golightly and how excited she will be when she sees me come through the door.  I’m sure that she thought that I’d never be coming home again and I was excited about surprising her.

I was still weak because I hadn’t had any food since Sunday morning.   All of the homemade soup that I had stored in my freezer contained fat, so the only non-fat food I had was 0% yogurt.   But how could I survive on just 0% yogurt for six weeks, while waiting for the surgery to remove my gallbladder?  

And how would I ever be able to do the Terry Fox 10km Walk for Cancer Research on Sunday, which was just four days away!  I had people that made financial pledges of support, and I wasn’t about to quit.  

But Holly was all that I cared about now.  Everything else could wait.  I’m going to give her 100% of my attention, with hopes of getting her forgiveness.  She is almost ten years old and very loving.  But she is spoiled and stubborn – just the way I raised her and I know that after she gets over the excitement of seeing me alive, she will probably give me the cold shoulder and sulk for a few hours.

To be continued.

The pier in White Rock, BC

The pier in White Rock, BC

Every once in a while, if you’re lucky enough to be walking on the Pier in White Rock, you’ll notice an older man with a walker.  I used to see him when I took my early morning walks, and I always smiled at him because he reminded me of someone. 

He always appeared to be sad or lonely or maybe he was just tired of ‘being’ sociable to people who never, ever returned the nod or smile.  I guessed that he was all alone in this world – most of his loved ones had probably passed.  

But a few of his friends remain to keep him company, as he sits on the last bench at the end of the Pier.  

At first, he sits and just stares out at the ocean – as though stranded on an isolated island.  And then he pulls out a crumpled, paper bag from his pocket and pours a handful of seeds in his hand and then he waits.

I watched him as he silently waited.  I walked closer to see what he was doing, and it didn’t seem to bother him.  His dark eyes and weathered skin suggested he had spent most of his life in the outdoors.  Maybe, he was a retired logger or fisherman?

“Good morning, Pops!”  I waited for an answer, but he just kept staring out at the ocean.  I shrugged and started to walk away and then I heard his faint voice.

“I’m here!  I’m here!” he whispered.  But he wasn’t whispering to me.  And then a pigeon suddenly appeared on his outstretched hand and began to eat the seeds.  Within a minute, at least ten birds were sitting on his lap, shoulders, legs and even on the bench beside him.

He was now smiling and had a youthful sparkle in his eyes.  And although I haven’t seen that nice man for many months, I’m sure that the pigeons haven’t given up on his coming back to the Pier, so neither will I.  Besides, maybe he had an illness to deal with, too.

I envied him for that moment and couldn’t wait to get home to hug my Holly!

And that is the way it has always been for Holly and me.  We always miss each other and are always excited to see each other, regardless of how long we’re apart.  And we don’t give up on each other!

So I can’t think of any other way to describe how Holly met me when I got home from the hospital and walked through the front door!  It makes me cry inside each time I think about how she was so excited!  I was afraid that she was going to hyperventilate!

She got lots of treats and hugs and kisses for the next three days, and she would never leave my side for a second!  I still feel guilty about how terrified she was when those bullies came to take her Daddy away.  But her dreams were answered – because now her Daddy’s home!

Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny

Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny

I now had to gain strength for the Terry Fox Cancer walk on Sunday the 18th.  I wanted to be there at least for the Start of the run/walk, and then I could mingle around the area for an hour or so before going back home to bed.  

But first I had to deal with September 17th – the day in the month that I dread most.  

To be continued.

Saturday, September 17th  

It was on this day in 2010 that I called my dear Ma, who was in the hospital, that I was coming to Toronto to see her.  Her voice was quite feeble, and I know that she was tired when we said our ‘goodbyes,’ but I never dreamed that I would get a phone call six hours later telling me that she had passed away.  

She died without knowing the reason that I had not come to Ontario for the past 18 months for a visit.  I hadn’t seen her since early 2009, shortly before being diagnosed with Stage 3 Throat Cancer.  I never told anyone in my family that I had cancer because I didn’t want the news to get back to my mom, who wouldn’t have been able to handle the news.

And although Ma didn’t have cancer – she died with a broken heart.  She was the last of her brothers and sisters to survive.  And all of my Dad’s brothers and sisters are also gone.  

At her funeral in Oshawa, I said my goodbye and it was the first ‘Shadow’ created in my September calendar.  It was also the first time I cursed having Cancer.  It prevented me from seeing my Ma for the last 18 months of her life.  But the one thing that keeps haunting me is the day several months after my treatments had ended, that Ma called me and asked me if the reason I hadn’t been down to visit her was that I couldn’t afford the airplane ticket?  Could she send me the money to pay for the trip?  She said she wouldn’t tell anyone in the family.  

I could hardly talk at the time, but it sure made me cry inside.  I have never let my Mom pay for even coffee – she and Dad made enough sacrifice for us over the years.  

I still cry inside wishing that I could have been selfish enough to tell my Ma about my Cancer because I know that she would have given me a hug and told me that everything was going to be alright.  And I would have believed her, and it would have made me braver.  

But I didn’t have to be too brave during my three months of very painful treatments because of the outstanding care I received at the BC Cancer Agency in Surrey, BC.  They became my family, and so too, did my many actor friends in the Lower Mainland.  The support that I received led me to become a volunteer at the Cancer Centre in 2011.   

Sunday, September 18th 

I awoke at 3:30 am in the morning.  My doctor didn’t think that it was a good idea to try the Terry Fox 10km Run/Walk, but I said that I wanted to at least be there for the START.  I’ve always hated the idea of quitting – lots of people at the Cancer Centre encouraged me not to, and I wasn’t going to let a silly gallbladder prevent me from attending this important fundraiser for Cancer Research.

I said goodbye to Holly and drove to Douglas Park, in downtown Langley.  I stopped at Tim’s to get a coffee and arrived at the park at 7:45 am.  The Run/Walk Start wasn’t until 10:00 am, so I wandered around taking pictures and talking to the other early birds.  

danny_start_20160918_100345

Danny at Douglas Park, Langley BC September 18, 2016

To be continued.

I had just stopped a passerby to take a picture of me standing at the START / FINISH line when I noticed her!  Could it be Karen?  I walked closer to get a better look.

Yes, it was Karen M., a former St. John’s Therapy Dog Program volunteer, who used to visit the Cancer Centre in Surrey every Wednesday morning with Laura, her care dog.  Later, she began including Laura’s pup Jacob in their weekly visits, and patients and staff always enjoyed seeing the three of them.  Karen is a recovering cancer patient as well.

I walked up to her and asked her if she recognized me.  I’ve had lost a lot of weight in the four years since I last saw her and at first she didn’t know me – until she heard my voice.  We hugged, and she introduced me to her husband and Jacob’s pup.  Yes, Jacob now had a son!  Laura’s a grannie!  

“Wow! Where has time gone?” I asked, “and where is Laura and how’s she doing?”  

Karen said that Laura was home and that she was doing fine.

Danny with Karen’s family and Jacob and his pup/son.

Karen brought me up-to-date on her life and told me that she had a Team registered each year at theTerry Fox Run/Walk in Langley (Langley City and Langley Township).  

She introduced me to Fred, a new cancer patient currently undergoing radiation treatments for brain cancer.  

He and his wife were still trying to come to grips with the fact that Fred has cancer and the difficulty they had in remaining hopeful.  I told them my ‘40%’ story and how I was still here seven years later!  I also told them I believe cancer is also difficult for a patient’s caregiver/, family and friends because they feel so helpless; wishing that they could take away our pain and fears.  Cancer can be a ‘roller coaster’ of emotions, and you need to remain hopeful. 

I also told them I believe cancer is also very challenging for a patient’s caregiver/, family and friends because they feel so helpless; wishing that they could take away our pain and fears.  Cancer can be an emotional ordeal and can feel like a ‘wild, roller coaster’ ride.  Bottom line: you need to remain optimistic. 

I gave Fred my card and told him to call me anytime he wanted to talk.  

fred-karen-danny-20160918_093507_hdr

Fred, Karen and Danny – cancer warriors and best friends forever!

We hugged, and I wished them all well and headed over to the Dedication Wall, where you could write the name of the person you were going to be walking for in the Run/Walk.  

I asked Marg, one of the event volunteers if she would take a video clip of me putting my heart on the wall. Click on link below to view:  

https://vimeo.com/187539384

I then walked back to my car and had some quiet time alone with my thoughts about my Mom.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love from everyone and it made me miss being a volunteer at the Cancer Centre in Surrey.  But that will be my next blog – I’ve got to finish this blog first.  

At 10:00 am, everyone gathered at the START/FINISH line, but I stayed at the back of the group because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to walk the 10km, much less the 5km or 1km alternate route options.

I figured that I would get a passerby to take a picture of me at the START line – to prove that I made it to the event. Lots of people were responsible for saving my life, and this was my chance to give something back, so I wasn’t going to quit without at least walking part of the 1km route.  Besides, I had raised over $250 from my sponsors: Andy F., Hillary F., and Loren J.

One other person was standing there, and I asked him if he would take my picture with my cell phone camera.

“Sure” offered the kind stranger, “if you’ll take mine?”

I am the world’s worst photographer, and I find it difficult to understand how my LG phone operates, let alone this man’s ultra sophisticated iPhone.  [My previous phones were Blackberry, but they didn’t have a touch screen and only a limited number of Apps.]

Okay,” I answered, “but can you show me how it works?”

To be continued.

We posed for each other and then introduced ourselves.

“Hi, My name is Danny.”  (I wasn’t wearing a name tag, but he was.)

We exchanged names and learned that we both had much in common; we were both cancer patients and neither of us were able to walk in the event. 

“Well, why don’t we try walking for a couple of blocks?  We can always turn back if we get too tired,” we both suggested at the same time!  So we decided to walk the 1km route.

I am not sure how long it took Howard and me to finish the race, but at least we finished!  We were standing at the FINISH line and took each other’s picture.  We asked a passerby to take Howard’s picture because the ones that I shot were less than stellar.  The person also took a picture of us together.

Howard and Danny - Best Friends Forever!

Howard and Danny – Best Friends Forever!

We then headed over to the stage area and were presented with our certificates and ribbon.  Howard introduced me to Marg, one of the event volunteers.  I told her that I used to volunteer at the Cancer Centre in Surrey and missed it very much.  

 

hao-and-marg

Danny, Marg, and Howard with ribbon and certificate!

I was too tired to stay for the rest of the festivities and headed home to Holly.  I spent the rest of the week in bed, resting for the next event on my schedule, namely the Push For Your Tush 10km Run/Walk on Sunday, September 25th at Jericho Beach, Vancouver.  

But there was one more thing on my schedule that really had me worried – my September 21st appointment with my oncologist to get the results from the September 9th Contrast CT Scan on my lungs.

Wednesday, September 21st

I will be writing a short blog about the results from my CT Scan in a few days.  But the visit to the Cancer Centre in Surrey was a chance to see all of my friends for hugs.  These people are family to me, and I love and miss them very much.  

Sunday, September 25th

Lui Passaglia & Danny at the PUSH Walk at Jericho Beach

I arrived at Jericho an hour before the 10:00 am START and walked around the site as volunteers were busy setting up tents and booths.  I went over to the Registration Desk, signed in and received my Survivor’s T-shirt.  

Push For Your Tush was my second Walk for Colon Cancer, so it was great to see some familiar faces from last year’s event.  Here is the link to that event:

Push For Your Tush

And here are the links to my Tush Man adventure (2 parts):

http://danielstandrews.com/2015/07/17/the-tush-man-part-1-of-2/

 

The Tush Man – Part 2 of 2

I also noticed that BC Cancer Foundation now had a booth for the event and I wandered over to introduce myself to the gentleman who was setting up the booth.  He appeared familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I knew him.

BC Cancer Foundation was there to support the walk.

BC Cancer Foundation was there to support the walk.

“Hi, my name is Daniel, and I used to be a volunteer at the BC Cancer Agency,” I said.  “It’s great to see the Foundation supporting this awesome event!  We shook hands and exchanged business cards.

I read his name and then cringed!  

“Were you at the Taste For Your Life Gala at the Terminal City Club last Spring?” I asked.

“Yes, I was,” he replied.

I cringed again.  

He would have seen my presentation! I cringed again and muttered that I should get going.  There was little point in explaining why I no longer volunteer, but I did tell him that I had significant concerns regarding patient care and that I was working on a critical analysis of the BC Cancer Agency.

I then visited the various booths in the area.  I bought three ‘Tara’ bracelets – crafted by a mother whose daughter had passed from colon cancer.  I gave away the one I bought last year to an old friend in Ontario.

push_2016_tara_bracelets

Danny buying three ‘Tara’ cancer bracelets – he wears them every day!

We hugged and then I headed over to see my friend Lui Passaglia, a colon cancer survivor. He introduced me to his grandsons both of whom are football players!  (Lui is a legendary, BC Lion football player.) 

Lui’s grandsons, Lui and Danny discussing football

It was nearing the 10:00 am START, and I was already exhausted.  I hadn’t had anything to eat except 0% Fat Yogurt since being released from the hospital on September 15th.  I decided that I would only participate in the Start of the event and then just walk to the first marker.  

push_2016_survivors_cutribbon

Cancer survivors cutting the ribbon at the start of Run/Walk.

 

Danny walked with Mary & her family to the 1 KM - her husband took pic

Danny walked with Mary & her family to the 1 KM – her husband took this picture – Good Luck Mary!  You’re in good hands with BC Cancer Foundation!

 

dogs-kids-push-20160925_102902

Lui’s Team even had kids and dogs pushing for increased awareness of Colon Cancer

 

Is that the half-way marker? Whoopee!

Is that the half-way marker? Whoopee!

 

It was an awesome day.  I met some new friends and was able to complete the whole 5 km Walk!  However, I was the last person to cross the FINISH line and most of the people had left.  I asked a passerby to take my picture before they took the balloons away.

Danny arrives at the half-way marker!

 

20160925_092637

Danny made it to the FINISH but most of the people had already gone. But he did the complete 5 km!

And that’s a wrap!

(The End)

Hugs,

Danny

Older Posts

Daniel St. Andrews

A Personal Journal of my Loves, Fears, Cancer and Tears