Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Where to begin? Your faithful correspondent is submerged, with arms flailing - HELP! Au secours!

Melodramatic as usual, Kaplan. So there's a tiny bit of stress - suck it up. As my friend Wayson says, Onward.

Just back from Ottawa - one wonderful Saturday at my friend Geoffrey's 70th birthday at a cottage on the Quebec side, swimming in the Ottawa River and eating lamb that had been roasting on a spit all afternoon. Then to Mum's, to spend 3 days at her side in the Ottawa Heart Institute. The last time I saw her there, 2 weeks ago, she could hardly stand when held up by 2 orderlies. This time, when I walked into the room, she was in her chair, dressed and reading the newspaper! I could hardly believe my eyes. Truly, a miraculous comeback.

But we mustn't get carried away. She is better and will get out of the hospital soon. But she is still weak and confused and her memory often vanishes. After I'd left her one evening - I'd told her I was going back to her place to have dinner with her sister Do - there was a message on the answering machine when I got home. "I'm so sorry I can't join you for dinner," said a wobbly voice. "They won't let me out of here." She often refers to my brother as "my husband."

But with her walker firmly in both hands, she marched around the ward.

I am getting to know my 92-year old aunt for the first time, outside of my mother's shadow. What a lively old bird she is, her mind and humour sharp though her body is bent sideways. My brother and I are trying to sort out Mum's affairs, went to see a lawyer, her accountant ... and daily, living in her flat, I try to get rid of stuff. Her recipe collection - a million clippings, stuffed into baskets and files and bags - she would have to live 3 lifetimes, cooking 3 times a day, to have made all those dishes she so carefully read, cut out and stored.

Home late last night, to utter chaos. My bedroom has been emptied, the ceiling and a wall ripped off, a mountain of garbage bags in the front yard. The termite/carpenter ant guys have been called. John and Kevin and John's son Johnnie - and my real handyman, whose name is John, soon to come - are working up there now, ripping and cutting. It's a horrendous mess. I have a call in to my insurance agent, and the roofer who did a huge job one month ago, right over the spot which is falling in.

The garden needs watering. The cat has no food. Mum wants me back in Ottawa as soon as possible.

But I know where I am. Battered as it is, I am home.

PS And the neighbour with the howling dog wrote to apologize. She didn't realize her pup was so unhappy. Now she knows.

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