A New Year and a New List

Don

A New Year and a New List

Don
ChecklistFirst published January 1, 2013 on facingcancer.ca

Time for list making.  Something I seldom do but given what transpired in 2012 with a little bit of 2011 tossed in for good measure, there are some items to record.  These are by no means resolutions.  I shall leave that very solid undertaking to my fellow blogger Stephanie Sliekers who has done such a remarkable job.

No, this is just a collection of not so random thoughts and reflections and hidden within are many expressions of everything from gratitude to outright rage.  Wouldn’t be Riding Shotgun without a little rage now would it?

In no particular order then (uh, well, apart from the numerical order) here we go with my annual list:

1. Achievement – my beautiful wife is with us still and for years to come!

2. Achievement (hey, it’s my list I can do what I want) – Kate’s remarkable journey to re-creation through mindfulness meditation, yoga and a discovery of her latent interest in healthy food and embracing the culinary arts.  If I am not exceptionally careful I may just end up in an improved state of mental, physical and spiritual health.

3. Friend – this list could be extraordinarily long but there was only one person who shaved off an otherwise perfectly attractive head of hair to show support to Katie and while doing so raise several thousand pounds for cancer research in the U.K. Alex Pittortou – I will love you forever for standing by Katie’s side.

4. Health care support worker – Keegan MacKenzie, administrative assistant to Dr. Michael Reedijk at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto who consistently went above and beyond the call of duty to help us get answers we so desperately wanted when it would have been so easy for her to hide behind the veil of bureaucracy.

5. Vitamin – Vitamin G!  What?  You don’t supplement your spiritual diet with a daily dose of Vitamin G?  Some of you will know VG better as blogger Both Sides. Some will know her as Dr. Alex Ginty.  Some who are very fortunate, such as Katie, Gabriel, Samuel and Don Kerr know her as friend.  I am so very glad of our first encounter at the Green Bean and the ensuing girl crush that has developed between Katie and the good Doctor.

6. People I wish I had never met but am so very grateful that they arose from the miasma of confusion, sadness, fear, and loathing which featured so prominently this past year – Chantal Richard my FCT angel; Mara Bonadie my FCT encourager;Sherry Abbott my FCT inspirer; Katie Evans (The Bald and the Beautiful) who helped me find the humour in all of this horridness; Catherine Brunelle (Bumpyboobs) who is a wonderfully inspiring writer and quite possibly the sweetest person I have met in eons;Nicole Scobie (Cancer Dragon) whose journey down this dark trail with her son boggles my mind in how she handles herself with such grace and good humour; Terri Wingham(A Fresh Chapter) who has shown me the way to turn the page and move ahead without disavowing the past; Dr. Michael Reedijk who somehow finds a way to keep empathy alive while being entirely transparent and plain-spoken in a world where one could become cold and clinical; almost every nurse in the Chemo ward at Credit Valley Hospital who were so solicitous of my darling bride – almost because the one who tried to shoot her up with poison with an injection in the top of her hand is on my permanent naughty list (and apologies to anyone present offended by Katie’s thundering “F2*k” resonated throughout the halls of CVH!); Sam, John and Vilma at our local pharmacy (yeah, I knew them before but never so well as now) who reminded me of how small gestures of kindness and consideration are so very welcome; the unknown person who bought me a quad venti latte at Starbucks; the girls and ladies at the Oakville location ofWant Boutique who have been so very good to Katie in helping her reconfigure her wardrobe (losing 50 pounds will do that you know); Filomena at Elte who kindly helped us part ways with several thousand dollars as part of Kate’s retail therapy program;Staci Edwards who is probably the best upholsterer and savvy stylist in the GTA and a really good person to boot who loaned me the Stig’s autobiography at a time when I really needed a mindless but entertaining read;  and finally, Rachel and Philip – I remember my first siting of the enchanting Rachel (Philip, while a good guy is not so enchanting) in the chemo ward at CVH.  She carried herself with distinction and dignity and was always supported by caring family and friends and now we have two new dear friends in our lives forever – brought together in horrid circumstances but kept together by mutual respect and abiding affection.

7. Meal – the feast we enjoyed from a local Thai restaurant and all of it ordered and handled by my Rabbi Len Rosen and his beautiful wife Sherry!

8. Escape – a boys-only weekend in Markdale with Grandpa, Uncle Jack, Tyler, Jack and Gabriel.  I even made a book about it so we’ll never forget!

9. Inspiration – besides my darling Katie – our darling Judy who chose to fight the dragons and will win while inspiring me to enter the fray with demons as well.  We love you Judy.

10. Advice – ‘You can’t fix it.’

11. Irritant – the complete muppets at Oakville Trafalgar Hospital especially the traffic wardens who hover about waiting to meet their ticketing quota in the Emergency parking area.  A pox on your houses.

12. Totally unexpected delight – Uncle John sending all of the Kerrs to Disneyworld and doing a whole bunch of other stuff which will just embarrass him if I post it here.

13. Party – Run for the Cure after party where Jeff and Blaine blew the hospitality doors off.

14. Constant contact – my friend Rebecca who never left my virtual side and always provided cheering support.

15. Distraction – Angry Birds.  There, my dirty little secret is out and I don’t feel bad at all because there have been moments when staying in the present was just to hellish to contemplate.

16. Spirit – a very close battle between Bulleit and Tito’s.

17. Neighbour – Rick and Mark…oh wait, they’re not really neighbours but they have been working on the landscaping at my neighbour’s for the past two years and now that they’re done I kind of miss them…seriously, they were kind, considerate and my boys couldn’t get off to school without a morning chat with the men from Bosk Environments.

18. Simple pleasure – see my blog of October 4.  Thanks Andrea – I’m due and will see you this week!

19.  Verse -

Garlic and sapphires in the mud

Clot the bedded axle-tree.

The trilling wire in the blood

Sings below inveterate scars

Appeasing long forgotten wars.

The dance along the artery

The circulation of the lymph

Are figured in the drift of stars

Ascend to summer in the tree

We move above the moving tree

In light upon the figured leaf

And hear upon the sodden floor

Below, the boar hound and the boar

Pursue their pattern as before

But reconciled among the stars.

At the still point of the turning world.  Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered.  Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline.  Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been; but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

The inner freedom from the practical desire,

The release from action and suffering, release from the inner

And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded

By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,

Erhebung without motion, concentration

Without elimination, both a new world

And the old made explicit, understood

In the completion of its partial ecstasy,

The resolution of its partial horror.

Yet the enchantment of past and future

Woven in the weakness of the changing body,

Protects mankind from heaven and damnation

Which flesh cannot endure.

Time past and time future

Allow but a little consciousness.

To be conscious is not to be in time

But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,

The moment in the arbour when the rain beat,

The moment in the draughty church at smokefall

Be remembered; involved with past and future.

Only through time is time conquered.

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

20. Event – Mirror Ball at the Royal York where I had the opportunity to share thoughts on our cancer trek.

21. Event by-product which proved to be better than the event even though the event was great – Sharing time with the remarkable Dionne Warner.

22. Other event – My Mom’s 100th birthday celebrations including her striping a ball off the tee at Galt Country Club!

23. Disappointment – my personal failure to be as solicitous to my 100-year old Mom as I should have been.

24. Relative – My remarkable niece Elaine.

25. Clients – Torlys; Fish out of Water Design; Muna Lallas; Branding for Good; Pigeon* Branding and Design; Octopus Ink.

26. Quote – “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

27. Book – The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt in a dead heat with The Beginning of Was by Ania Szado.

28. Loss – Our beautiful Aunt Snoozie.

29. Adventure – A wonderful week in Bayfield with Katie, Gabriel and Samuel.  The birth of an annual tradition?

30.  Movie – Still and always Shawshank Redemption for its story of redemption.

31.  Superhero – OK.  This is for the boys but regardless a very close race between Superman and Spiderman with the nod finally going to Luke Skywalker after Gabriel was trained as a Jedi knight.

32. Units – For helping us beyond measure Nana, G.D., Grandpa, Bapa, Wendy, Roger, Mom & Dad who by some miraculous circumstances are all wrapped up in just two people!

32.  Superhero for real life – Kate.

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