downtown

Story Slam and New Camera Day

DSC_0146Photo taken near my house with my brand new Nikon Camera

Today’s Blog:

     Well, I wonder what my growing list of regular readers would like to hear about today.  Last night I went to a ‘story slam’ competition and got up in front of a large crowd of people and recited a five minute story I wrote about my mom’s passing.  It was something that affected me greatly, I think I will post the story here for anyone to have a look at:

A TRIBUTE:

Mother. Mama. Mommy. Mom. So many names for the same thing, that one special person in all of our lives, in the lives of everyone here, everyone that ever lived has had a mother. Mine is no more.

 

The Catholics consider Mary Mother of Jesus to be the first Saint. She was the first one close enough to our Lord to appeal to him when wine ran out at a wedding. When the time came for me to perform a miracle for my Mom, I was unable.

 

It was six or seven years ago. My Dad was far away in Toronto at my sister’s wedding and I was taking care of my mom. At 63 she had just about everything go wrong with her that could. In her day, my Mother had been a bank manager, she had been an expeditor for a rail company. She had been her first family’s sole support at 16 and nearly earned herself a full scholarship to University. All she had wanted in life was to become a teacher, but she had to satisfy herself with teaching three kids.

 

Life and medications had taken so much out of her. My mom had turned from an intelligent and active adult to a child in a 63 year-old body. I had to answer to her every call, be it for her meals, for help to go to the bathroom, or even just to bring cold water. As I did these things, I thought of all she did for me and tried so hard to keep having patience.

 

One day, she called my name. The name only she could get away using. “Leify!” she said. Leify. Me, her little boy, the one she had carried and loved and spoiled.   And now she needed me.

 

I went in to see what was wrong. Her arms were flailing but she wasn’t speaking. I felt cruel and cold as I looked at her, tried to explain I didn’t know what she wanted. I put my hand to her chest and somehow I realized she wasn’t breathing. I don’t know how much time went by, but in what seemed like hours and at the same time like split seconds I had dialed 911. “Do you know CPR?” the operator asked. Yes, I have taken it many times, in boy scouts, in air cadets, I had read about it, even watched it performed once on a heart attack victim.

 

“No.” I had to reply. It had been too long, and this was my mom who wasn’t breathing. They told me to lay her flat on the floor. This I did, wondering how much damage I was doing to the back that suffered from crushed vertebrae and osteoporosis. I made a seal on her lips and blew, still being able to taste her last dose of medicine on her lips. I pushed on her chest a few times then tried to breathe life into her again. Nothing was happening.

 

In no time the paramedics were there. There was a lot of them, they crowded into my parent’s small apartment, pounded her chest and put a breathing bag over her mouth. They tried so desperately hard but nothing was helping. One of the paramedics told me she could still hear me, to not be embarrassed, to say what I wanted to her. “We all love you mom.” Is all I can remember saying. “We all love you mom.”

 

I was given a ride to the hospital and the paramedic explained that there was no hope to be had. At the hospital this was confirmed. I had to make a decision. She was brain dead and breathing through artificial methods. Her pain, her joy, her suffering, her crying fits and bedsores were all over now. I told them they could take her off life support.

 

It really was a beautiful thing, to be with someone when your end comes. Her breathing slowed, then stopped. I looked in her eyes and they seemed so alive, so real, I wanted to cry out that she wasn’t gone, that there was still a spark in her, but she was gone no matter how alive she seemed. I went into a waiting room, was given access to a phone and called my Dad to tell him my mom had died-on my watch.

 

It was discovered she had died of choking. Complications of acid reflux. Her and I shared a malady, the one that makes us take medications, we both had Bipolar Disorder. It gave us a special bond but it was also eating away at our souls and some of our vital body systems. My last true friend was gone, my mom. Three more days and she had an appointment to fix her throat. She didn’t have to die. She was a victim of waiting lists. I was a victim of guilt for many months.

 

My family goes on. My sister married and she has a child, a wonderful little child who had loved her grandmother. I look in her eyes and it warms my heart when she tells me she wants to grow up to be a teacher. Sometimes she cries because she misses her gramma. Now, I still reach for the phone when I want to talk to her, then I remember and pray to her instead. She can’t respond, but I know she can hear me. I know because when we visit her resting place I can feel her tears in the rain and her whispers in the wind. She will be in my heart forever.

CONTINUATION OF BLOG:

The story I read was just slightly different from how it appears here.  It must have been pretty powerful because when I got off the stage I noticed that three women were in tears.  One of them was one of the contest judges and she gave me the only 10 our of 10 of the night, though I didn’t win the competition.  Grieving a loss is a funny experience.  There have been times in my life when I was greatly worried that I was some kind of Psychopath or Sociopath, but after experiencing my mom’s death I realized that I do have a lot of compassion and feeling in me, I think I just register it differently.  The whole experience hit me from a blind side.  On the day my mom died I only cried one tear, as I held her hand after life support was taken off.  I was comforted that I was there with her, comforted that my name was the last thing she said.  I felt horrible for my Dad, worse for my brother and worse still for my sister who will always be reminded of her loss on her wedding anniversary.  I found myself doing odd things after my mom passed, I would lay in bed and say “mom” over and over again, I was in a bit of a fog of depression.  Now, seven years later, I feel a lot better about the whole thing.  My mom was the kind of person who made you feel very wanted, very needed.  I found my life somewhat lacking in purpose after she was gone.  I will never forget a friend of hers and an old teacher of mine who came to one of my book signings and said, “Your mom would be so proud.”  That meant a lot, but of course there was still the hurt that she never saw me publish a book and my mom dearly loved books.  I think though I will have to leave off there for now, it is early morning in Edmonton and I am extremely tired from lack of sleep.  Thanks so much for all those who have been liking my page and joining up, I hope you are getting your money’s worth out of reading my blog and that it moves you enough that you check out my eBooks and paperbacks.  All the best Dear Readers!

DSC_0038                    Downtown Edmonton’s Hustle and Bustle at Lunch Time Midwinter

 

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The Middle of Winter: The Middle of Summer

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Downtown Edmonton in the Summer

Well, here it is the middle of January and I have been happily writing poems.  I picked up a great little poetry review called “Tin House” and had fun reading it.  It inspired me to write a poem that I submitted to a poetry review.  This isn’t the poem I am posting below, these reviews have strict standards that you can’t have published or posted a poem you submit to them anywhere.  For some reason though, I had enough creativity in me to write two poems, so I will not deny my 193 fans the benefit of my literary musings.  I like to try and put some small measure of philosophy into my works, though I am not a philosopher in the more traditional sense.  I say that because I have a cousin who at one time was literally one of the foremost Canadian philosophers.  He had published a book on legal theory, was a fellow of Churchill College in Cambridge and was also a University professor.  One of the most interesting things about my cousin (Brian) was that he was also a boxer.  His wife is an incredible person as well, I have high hopes of visiting them in Ontario one day soon.

Aside from that, I suppose I could talk about my week a bit.  I did post already about my experience going to a college and job-shadowing a couple of public speakers who make an effort to educate college, university, high school and other groups about mental illness.  It really felt great, and people were so responsive.  One of the things I found most interesting was this woman (Michelle) who suffers from Schizophrenia was able to be quite candid about her voices and medications and some of the things her thoughts told her to do.  I think the greatest little tidbit of wisdom I heard though was from Jillian, who did an informational presentation in which she stated that you have a 400 times greater chance of being killed by a venomous plant or animal than you have of being harmed by a person with a mental illness.  Just yesterday I turned on the TV and there was a supposedly realistic television show that depicted a group of police profiling and chasing down a murdering schizophrenic.  It reminds me of a quote I once heard that stated, “against stupidity even the Gods battle in vain.”

Anyhow, back to the present day, I woke up after a nice restful sleep and a photographer from the St.Albert Gazette (the newspaper of my home town) came by and took a few pictures of me for an article they are running.  That event kind of inspired the poem I wrote and submitted to a literary magazine, but sadly I can’t share it here.  Hope everyone who reads these words is happy and blessed in the days to come, look for today’s poem after the below photo.

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Downtown North Vancouver, Across the Harbour From Vancouver

 

Downtown Edmonton

 

I need to be among all the action

See the women seeking satisfaction

Stroll through the night past all the sidewalk bars

The teenage kids driving their mother’s cars

 

To hear the rock and roll and see the moon

And everyone happy because it’s June

Some sit and drink their drinks, some just walk

I love to meet with friends and smile and talk

 

The bookstores stay open until it’s late

All the lonely people seek their soul mate

But me I’m happy just to breathe the air

I wouldn’t miss a weekend on a dare

 

Even in winter this place really rocks

I met a girl there once she was a fox

Every weekend turns to Monday I fear

Even when you have had your fill of beer

 

All things must end and something new begin

Just like a snake this world will shed her skin

And you and I will be the old ones then

I wish I could hold that off using my pen

 

At least I’m one who hopes and also tries

Perhaps these words will make me seem more wise

Wisdom or not my life will one day end

I hope when that day comes you are my friend

 

To all of you I want to say one thing

Walk down the road of life just like a king

Love yourself and love another too

Before the years slip past also for you

 

Leif Gregersen

January 16, 2015