Tuesday, September 5, 2017

La lutte final de l'ancien combattant

Below is my recounting of the the death of my grandfather (aka "The Captain") on September 4th at 1:50 a.m.

If you are uncomfortable reading the specifics of dying please stop reading here. 


I received a message from my cousin on August 30th at 8:00 p.m. saying this about my grandfather:

"He refuses to eat or drink or take his medication. After several attempts, and different methods it has been decided for humane reasons, to no longer use force or heroic measures to maintain his health. My Dad (Danny) has been advised by Grampa`s doctor that it is only a matter of time and that he is comfortable. My father has seen a rapid change in the last 3 days.

On Sunday, September 3rd my Dad picked me up from my home at 2:00 p.m. We shared the driving and decided to drive straight to Quebec instead of stopping at Auntie Sandra's in an Ontario city an hour away as we heard from Uncle Don that Grandpa really wasn't doing well. He was given a morphine injection around 5 p.m.

We got to the hospital around 7:15 p.m. When we got to the parking lot we called uncle Don and he said Grandpa was really bad. We  had to sign in with security and were worried we were going to get to Grandpa's room too late. I sent Dad on ahead of me while I hastily filled in the sign in sheet.

I went up to the 7th floor and arrived in room 723 out of breath. Grandpa was convulsing, his eyes rolled back in his head, making noise and appearing to be in pain. Uncle Don was sitting on Grandpa's right and Auntie Diane was on Grandpa's left. Auntie Diane moved and Dad held Grandpa's left hand and I stroked Grandpa's forehead and put my other hand on his chest. Dad prayed for him and we spoke to Grandpa until the morphine shot they'd given him at 7 p.m. kicked in.

After a bit Dad, Uncle Don, and Auntie Diane stepped out for some fresh air while I stayed with Grandpa. His breathing was quick but regular and I couldn't hear the chest rattle at that point. They returned to the room and Uncle Tony and Auntie Ruby arrived around 8:30 p.m.

Grandpa wasn't due for another morphine shot until 11 p.m. but around 9 p.m. he started convulsing and crying out again. The doctor agreed to give him a partial dose of morphine to help him manage until 11 pm. Dad, Uncle Don, and Uncle Tony said their goodbyes and left. Uncle Tony to Don Junior's, and Dad to Uncle Don's. 

I suggested we put some rolled wash cloths in Grandpa's clenched fists so his nails wouldn't cut into his hands. When he would get agitated Auntie Diane would stand near his head and stroke his forehead and talk to him about all the people he would see when he passed. We told him he'd completed his work here and was free to go.It seems those who are passing benefit from being told this and reassured that it's ok for them to go.

Auntie Diane, Auntie Ruby, and I recited Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
We sang and hummed parts of "This is My Father's World"
This is my Father’s world,And to my listening earsAll nature sings, and round me ringsThe music of the spheres.This is my Father’s world:I rest me in the thoughtOf rocks and trees, of skies and seas;His hand the wonders wrought. 
This is my Father’s world,The birds their carols raise,The morning light, the lily white,Declare their maker’s praise.This is my Father’s world:He shines in all that’s fair;In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;He speaks to me everywhere. 
This is my Father’s world.O let me ne’er forgetThat though the wrongSeems oft so strong,God is the ruler yet.This is my Father’s world:The battle is not done:Jesus who died shall be satisfied,And earth and Heav’n be one.
At 11 p.m. the nurse administered morphine and Grandpa was changed and repositioned to try to make him more comfortable. During this time Auntie Diane, Auntie Ruby, and I went downstairs to look for some food and drink and we walked around for a bit before going back up to Grandpa's room.

At midnight he was taking a breath every 2 seconds. By 1 a.m. we could hear the chest rattle and the nurses returned and gave Grandpa another shot of morphine as well as an anti-convulsant. From then on he was more peaceful and we kept watch as his breathing slowed more and more. It slowed to a breath every 3 seconds, then every 4, then every 8. He went 9 seconds a couple of times, then 10. 

At 1:50 a.m. on September 4th Grandpa stopped breathing so quietly that we weren't sure if he had passed. His colour began to change from a creamy colour to a yellowish colour. The nurse came by and checked his breathing and pulse then had another nurse come with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. The nurse listening to his chest teared up and offered her condolences. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Working on Zero-Waste

I recently finished reading The Zero-Waste Lifestyle by 

The Zero-Waste Lifestyle

This book is described on Goodreads as:
"A practical guide to generating less waste, featuring meaningful and achievable strategies from the blogger behind The Green Garbage Project, a yearlong experiment in living garbage-free.
Trash is a big, dirty problem. The average American tosses out nearly 2,000 pounds of garbage every year that piles up in landfills and threatens our air and water quality. You do your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but is it enough? 
In The Zero-Waste Lifestyle, Amy Korst shows you how to lead a healthier, happier, and more sustainable life by generating less garbage. Drawing from lessons she learned during a yearlong experiment in zero-waste living, Amy outlines hundreds of easy ideas—from the simple to the radical—for consuming and throwing away less, with low-impact tips on the best ways to:
•  Buy eggs from a local farm instead of the grocery store•  Start a worm bin for composting•  Grow your own loofah sponges and mix up eco-friendly cleaning solutions•  Purchase gently used items and donate them when you’re finished•  Shop the bulk aisle and keep reusable bags in your purse or car•  Bring your own containers for take-out or restaurant leftovers 
By eliminating unnecessary items in every aspect of your life, these meaningful and achievable strategies will help you save time and money, support local businesses, decrease litter, reduce your toxic exposure, eat well, become more self-sufficient, and preserve the planet for future generations."

The book is broken down into 3 parts: Getting Started, Trash-Free Challenges, and Next Steps. It also includes an An A-to-Z Guide to Recycling (Just About) Anything, Further Reading, and a Bibliography. In the first part you get the context for why this book is needed (A Trashed Planet), and then you are helped to develop a plan to go waste free, reduce and reuse, recycle, and deal with organic waste.

Part 2 walks you though your home as you find ways to apply a more "zero-waste" lifestyle in each area. It covers the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, cleaning, kids, travel, the workplace, and holidays and special occasions. My favourite part at the end of each chapter is the list of Easy, Moderate, and Advanced things we can do to work towards a zero-waste lifestyle.

Looking through the lists I found many ideas that I could apply right away:- already in progress is wild-flowering our front lawn
- added an organics bag in a basket in the laundry room (for dryer lint) and in the bathroom (for hair, nail clippings, and Q-tips that don't have plastic)
- added a recycling bin to basement (previously we only had the one upstairs
- removed garbage cans from bedrooms so that all waste will be diverted and sorted correctly
- created a reusable kit for my car and work - these contain a travel mug for hot drinks, a stainless steel water bottle, a cloth napkin, reuseable utensils, and a reusable container. Now I can use my travel mug when buying coffee and I can request no paper napkin or utensils if I buy take out. I can use my reuseable container to package any leftovers when I eat at a restaurant.
- reused some prescription bottles to create little sewing kits for work, the car, and the van
Kids Konserve - Stainless Steel Drinking Straws- bought two stainless steel straws. I had already started ordering my water "no ice, no straw" (the ice hurts my teeth if I don't use a straw) and now I can just say "no straw" and enjoy the cold water with my own straw. Glass ones were very difficult to find and I couldn't find anything in my area. I'm going to be adding one of these beautiful inspirational ones to my Christmas wish list.
- bought mesh bags to use for produce instead of using the plastic bags at the store
- bought a DivaCup! And I love it! I may even create a separate post about it because it's so fantastic! I have been using cloth panty liners and pads for about 12 years but this DivaCup is a whole new level up! More importantly, consider this: If the average woman menstruates for forty years and uses approximately 20 tampons per cycle (240 tampons each year) she uses 9,600 of these items during her entire menstrual life cycle. [http://divacup.com/eco-divas/] That's a lot of garbage we're producing.

and some that I've added to my "to do" list:
- get a rain barrel - this has been on the list for a while, but now I have the date and time on my calendar to purchase one from my region
- take reusable containers when shopping at Bulk Barn
- switch from dryer sheets to liquid fabric softener since the dryer sheets go to the landfill
- use coloured pencils where possible instead of pens since pens generate landfill, pencil shavings can go in the organics bin
- get a staple-free stapler
- save comics & maps work to use as gift wrap since they can be recycled and most gift wrap can't
- when buying clothes choose woool, leather, silk, cotton, hemp, or linen since they break down and synthetic materials don't

What about you? What can you do to reduce your footprint on the earth?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


On Saturday my mom, my siblings, and our families took part in a 5K walk to raise awareness and funds to fight Lewy Body Dementia. We did this in honour of my grandfather, Papa, who suffered from this disease and passed away a year ago in April.

On Tuesday morning I found out that a gentleman who had taught three of my children some of their first Bible verses passed on Sunday away at the age of 83. This sweet man was a "Cubbies" leader through the AWANA program at a local church. 

Tuesday afternoon a staff member came in to work crying and distraught because her neighbour's 62 year old husband had passed away and she had just found out. Another staff member was triggered and also began crying.

When a different staff member arrived this morning I knew something was wrong. "Are you ok? Are you in pain?" I asked. Her 32 year old nephew had passed away in India, leaving a young child behind. I held her as she wept in my arms, grieving so deeply.

So much loss, so much grieving. It has triggered grief in me too. Not only for the loss of those who no longer walk this Earth, but even more for those who do.

I am a third culture kid, a TCK, and loss is part of my life. In my childhood I learned what it is to become attached and then lose special people and places. In my adulthood I grieve the loss of relationships with aunts, uncles, cousins. As if that weren't enough, my parents formally separated this year. I don't even know where my Dad lives.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: Only Time Will Tell

Only Time Will Tell Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars. Now I'm dying to read the rest of the Chronicles to find out what else happens to these characters!

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Review: Underground Airlines

Underground Airlines Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars. Interesting concept that I think has a universal application. Thought provoking and would lend itself to discussion at book club.

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