My grandmother was born in 1898 and died at the age of 102 in 2001, thus living a life touching three centuries. At the time of her death she was of diminished stature and eyesight but was otherwise ‘healthy’. She had never contracted polio, as my grandfather had, and she was never stricken with cancer or heart disease, or any other ailment. She simply died of old age as her body just could not sustain life anymore.
My grandmother lived most of her life in England, moving to Canada when she was eighty. She survived two world wars, and was not among the millions of people who perished in the bombings or in concentration camps.
Grandma was not in Manchester in 1996, nor was she on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.
She was not visiting the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon in 2001. She was not on a flight that day destined for a quiet field in Pennsylvania.
She was not on a train in beautiful Madrid in 2004, nor was she strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice in 2016. She adored visiting Paris, but was not there in November of 2015. My grandmother was not enjoying a summer afternoon on La Rambla in Barcelona last year. She was also not crossing London Bridge in the city she loved so much.
My grandmother would likely never have gone to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and, similarly, would not have enjoyed a wonderful country festival in Las Vegas. Grandma was not in Oklahoma City or San Bernadino, nor was she teaching innocent children in Dublane, Scotland or Sandy Hook, Connecticut, or Parkland, Florida.
My grandmother was also not walking on Yonge Street in Toronto yesterday.
In over a hundred years she was never in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not once. But so, so many other people were. They left home one day and never returned. None will live to the age my grandmother did. They have all had their futures stolen from them and their families have been forever destroyed. Simply because they were in those places at the worst possible moment. In many of those instances, a few short minutes was the difference between life and death.
I’m glad my grandmother was not alive to witness 9/11 and the continuous horrors exacted across the globe in the subsequent years. I sometimes imagine that human beings are an experiment; one that will prove to be a complete and utter failure. It seems we will never cease finding ways to kill each other.
Yes, my grandmother was lucky. As am I as I write this post. And all of you, my lovely FJ friends, are, too. I hope we will all be as fortunate as my grandmother.
Because it is all just so fucking random.
There once lived a beautiful nineteen-year-old girl. She was a nursing student in a quaint seaside town in the south of England. At a dance one night, she locked eyes with a dashing young man of 24. They fell in love on the spot and, a few months later, they married. They had twin boys, followed twenty months later by a daughter. The girl turned twenty-two a week later.
This girl and boy eventually moved to Canada where opportunities for a talented photographer were better. The family flourished, as did their relationship. They held hands everywhere they went. They went on some beautiful trips together. They loved each other.
The love story ended on Saturday, March 12, 2016. The boy had to say goodbye. He has cared for her for the past two years, and especially the final three months, sitting by her hospital bed each and every day. Teaching the new nurses how to change her dressings. Getting warm blankets for her cold legs. Helping change her ostomy bags. Kissing her. Loving her. He doesn't know what he will do without her. He is eighty-seven now. And he is lost.
My mum died last night. She was supposed to get better. But instead she got worse.
But, the truth is, the love story is not over. Not at all. He and I stood by her side and he destroyed me with his words. He loved her. He will always love her. But he is lost.
And so am I.
As some of you may know, my mum has cancer. She is 81 and has, until recently, never been sick. She is a very good tennis player but hasn't played for months. Her mum died in 2001 at the age of 101 (and a half), and we thought Mum had a good many years left.
She has cancer of the vulva. She is in agony, and has been for over a year. She recently had some scans and, because the cancer hasn't spread, the doctors feel they can remove, well, everything. She will have a colostomy and a urostomy. Two bags. This is the good news!
My mum is, and always has been, my best friend. Today she stood in the shower while I exfoliated and lotioned her legs (she wants to look nice for her surgery). She hates that she cannot do this herself.
My 86 year-old dad is her nurse, basically. His knees are shot but he's in there helping her clean herself and helping her try to get comfortable. They literally saw each other across a crowded room and fell in love. She was 19 and he was a very handsome 24 year-old in the RAF. They celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary this past April.
So, this is where we are. I, and my brothers, have had it easy until now. But now the time has arrived that we all fear.
For those of you who still have your parents, please, love and appreciate them. I don't mean to be a downer here, but, life one day bites us all in the ass.
And I think of the young lives taken in Paris and Beirut and everywhere this shit is happening. My parents would no doubt change places with them. Just, everyone, appreciate those you love.
Sorry, I guess I just needed to have a bit of a release. Thanks, FJ, for being a place to do that.
I would like to discuss photography. When we moved to Canada years ago, my Dad became one of the highest sought after advertising photographers in the country. Any fellow Canadians who have purchased Loblaws or President's Choice products will have had his work in your home (Decadent Chocolate Chip cookies, anyone?).
In the last ten years or so I have really taken more of an interest in taking GOOD photos, even though we've never had an expensive camera.
I'm hoping that some FJers will post some of their favourite photos here that we can all enjoy.
I will start with one of mine from our trip to Italy. I saw this vignette and just about wet my pants.