Wakonda and the Warming Fires of Memory


Wakonda and the Warming Fires of Memory

First published October 16, 2012 on facingcancer.ca

A million years ago I attended the late, lamented Camp Mazinaw.  Located north of Cloyne (O.K. Belleville is probably a more recognizable landmark.) on Lake Mazinaw, home to Bon Echo provincial park and the beautiful cliffs of Bon Echo, I spent many years on these shores as camper, guide, counsellor and director.

It was where I embarked on my recovery from my first mother’s death in 1967 and where I found solace, strength and encouragement from some of the most memorable people I will ever have the good fortune to meet.

One of those people is J. Brian Blackstock.

Brian is a teacher.  Although retired from active pedagogy some years ago he remains someone from whom I continue to learn valuable lessons.  He recently sent a note to Katie and I subsequent to his reading the Metro News article about Katie’s caregiving team.

Although I hesitated to share this for very personal reasons I thought that it would be better to do so as this is a grand example of how the network of supporters means so very much to battlers and caregivers alike.  There are some kind of embarrassing little bits in his note but in the interest of full disclosure I shall share them regardless.

“To Katie and her team,

“How How!! to you all (British translation – ‘Jolly good!’)

“It was so good to see the spread in METRO. I remember two or three doctors telling me that, in their experience, everyone reacts to cancer in a different way.

“Katie – to have such a terrific team to support you must be a kind of medicine in itself.  Your parents – Andy, Alexandra, John and Don along with Gabe and Sam, how formidable a group.

“Also Katie please know that there are many of us just ‘on the bench’ because it is hard for us to be there who, every day, are asking Wakonda to send down his sacred fire and burn those cells away.

“P.K. (P.K. Hambly, one of the camp directors and a stupendous fellow) always said “the most important thing we put on every day is the expression on our face.”  You all look terrific.  (However, even now you have more hair on your head than Don!)

“Don – way back – probably some 40 years ago now I fell under your magic.  If I were in Katie’s shoes I can’t imagine anyone more I’d rather have on my team.  I’m sure Blackie(Brian’s dad) and P.K. are sending you as much strength and wisdom as they can too.  I know you sometimes have been a bit sceptical of all the ‘up there’ stuff but you can pretend (just in case – look at it as insurance.)

“To you all my prayers and very best wishes to you all – each of us add our own small skills – like the ripples in the water – make enough ripples and we will create a wave that will wash the mightiest walls of resistance away.

“May the Great Spirit from our days at Mazinaw send you strength and the healing warmth of the Council fires.”

Brian – thank you.

To all the supporters out there who visit this blog – thank you too for the very real encouragement you provide just by channeling your thoughts in our direction.  You make a very important contribution.

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