My Mom time to tell….

My Mom – Time to Tell A Story by L.J. Hamill on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 at 04:54 My mom has finally decided to join her daughter and mother on the other side. My mom has been the strongest woman I have ever known. When we fled the country in 1967, Centenniel Year, I was not quite 18. When I think back, a very immature 18. My sisters before me were tossed out onto the street to fend for themselves well before they were 18. My father was a cruel man. He had threatened to throw me out too. I was devastated as I would have no way to survive out there. In 1966, mom asked me if I would leave the country with her and go to England. I was not ready but should not have been asked. My decision making abilities were undeveloped. A year later the threat became more real and I was ready to move away, far away. I kissed my nephews, Kenny and Jimmy goodbye. They were my pride and joy. Still are of course. We hid out at my sister’s home for over a week. My father tried to find mom but to no avail. We were sworn to secrecy. We had many supporters in Moose Jaw including the Bidwell Studios who took our passport pictures and never breathed a word to anyone. Our belongings were left with Kathy. Mom’s intentions were to return to Canada as soon as possilble. Life in England was not easy. Although I enjoyed it. The first part was spent living with my Uncle and Aunt and cousin, Richard in Alysham, Norfolk. A lovely home. They even had a housekeeper. We had the guest room with a bathroom and our own sink in the room. It was luxury. Mom and I both smoked and when auntie would come in we would both hide our smokes behind our backs. Once, I realized later that I was standing in front of a mirror so she would have seen it anyway. My Aunt and Uncle paid for me, mom and my little sister who was 10 to come to England. My uncle drove a Jag. He was a wild driver and I loved to go for rides with him. On one of our rides he asked me about my life in Canada. I told him the gruesome details of how my dad was so abusive. And how on the last New Year’s Eve he had kicked in the apartment door where mom and I lived and he hit me with an upper cut to the chin. My uncle was shocked but he believed me. He said he had heard this but did not believe it until now. He is a kind gentle man and his wife Edith took us in. Well as you know sometimes staying at someones home can be a bit too long. By then mom had a job. I did too. I was taking a bus regularly into Norwich to work at Norwich Union Insurance Group. I love the independence. For the first little while Uncle let me work in the office of his business but because of my immaturity I was over stepping the limits. He never said a word. He just managed to get me this job at Norwich Union Insurance Group. I was an uneducated, uppity brat. Where I got airs from I am not sure. But I remember what I was like. So mom decided we would move out. There was a thatch roof cottage for rent in St. Faith, Norfolk 1/2 way between Aylsham and Norwich. So we got help from Uncle and we moved into this quaint ancient home. This was an adventure. It only lasted one night but that was enough. (to be continued) This was me at that time.

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Memories – Linda

by L.J. Hamill on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 18:41

Memories keep those we love
close to us forever
Although words seem to say so little,
I hope they help in some small way
to ease the sense of loss
that you’re experiencing today.

Hold fast to your memories,
to all of the cherished moments of the past,
to the blessings and the laughter,
the joys and the celebrations,
the sorrow and the tears.
They all add up to a treasure
of fond yesterdays
that you shared and spent together,
and keep the one you love
close to you in spirit and thought.

The special moments and memories
in your life will never change.
They will always be in your heart,
today and forevermore.

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by L.J. Hamill on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 at 16:44

Dying doctor plans to choose quality of life over quantity.

I am a 55 year old retired family doctor with a large, loving family and innumerable friends and former patients whom I see often. I am an extraordinarily lucky man.

For the last five years, I have also been a patient. I have ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a cruel neurological illness in which a normally functioning intellect becomes trapped in an increasingly weak and eventually paralyzed body. Soon, I will die from it.

Through my career, I tried to honour my patients’ end-of-life wishes. But after a quarter century as a firsthand witness to death, I’ve developed my own perspective.

It’s not that I’m a quitter. I have struggled against adversity of one sort or another all my life, and those challenges have helped prepare me for what I face now. I still delight in accomplishing difficult things, and I always wear a bright red ALS wristband that says “Never Give Up.”

That said, there will come a limit. I have made it very clear to my wife, my family and my doctors that I want no therapy that will prolong my suffering and lengthen the burden on others. I do not want a feeding tube nor a tracheotomy when the time comes that I can no longer eat, drink or breathe for myself.

Physicians and families sometimes feel an obligation to do all that can be done to keep someone alive. I believe this is based in equal measure on a fear of death and on western medicine’s increasing ability to prolong life near its end.

I was able to diagnose myself at a fairly early stage of the disease. My case was slower to progress than some, and so I was able to keep working as a physician for nearly two years. During that time, I was enormously grateful – for my patients, for sunsets, for golf games with good friends. Life has been truly wonderful, even as I have slowly lost the use of my hand, then an arm, then both legs and my speech.

But as much as I have stayed focused on what I am able to do, it has become harder to ignore the things I am losing. Today, my guitars sit idle. I haven’t used my stethoscope in years. My jogging shoes gather dust in a closet as I watch my belly grow from lack of exercise. I remember the last time I tried to shoot a free throw with a basketball, and I was five feet short of the rim.

Today, I find myself facing the kind of “quality of life” issues I discussed innumerable times with patients. Answers vary from person to person. But the fundamental question is always this: At what point is the quality of life no longer worth the emotional and physical costs of maintaining it?

I am not afraid of dying or death, and that is a wonderfully comforting thing for me right now. I have seen so many “good” deaths in my time as a physician that I know this passage can be peaceful, spiritual and even comforting to those left behind. I hope for such a death. I have also started to think about how I will know when I am ready for it. To that end, I often think about what I call the “100 things you do most days. Some are routine, some are “chores,” some are pleasurable. Get out of bed and walk to the bathroom. Kiss your wife. Answer the phone. Drive your car to work. Go play golf with your friends. Brush your teeth. Write a letter, lick and seal the envelope closed and put a stamp on it. Hug your child.

Of course we do many more than 100 things each day, but for now, just imagine 100 that are essential to the life you live. Now if you take away one, you can still do 99. Is life worth living with being able to smell the rose in the garden? Of course it is! How about losing two or seven, or 23 – is life worth living? Of course.

But suppose you get to where you’ve lost, say 90 things, and now with each thing taken away, a bad thing is added. You can no longer walk well, and you start falling, and it hurts. Your grip is gone and you also suffer in ignominy of wetting your pants because of bladder spasms. You can’t turn over in bed, and that also means you will get bedsores unless someone turns you frequently. Life is still worth living, but you’re getting tired.

At some point, no matter who you are or how strong, you can lose enough things that matter – and acquire enough negatives – that the burdens will out weigh the joys of being alive. This is the stage when, as a doctor, I would reassure my patients and their families that they had fought the good fight and it was now OK to accept moving to the next phase.

I know I will one day reach that point. And that’s why I worry about feeding tubes and ventilators. It has been my experience that these things are at times started almost automatically, and once they are started, they are next to impossible to stop. I have seen too many unfortunate people kept alive for years in hospitals or nursing homes, beyond all quality of life. Sometimes it causes untold stress in a family. Som of these cases even have made national news, and, unbelievably, our government and some national religious leaders even weighed in, as if they had a right to do so.

I worry that at some point a feeding tube, or other artificial substitute for a basic body function, will be medically “indicated” in my case. Intervention at the time might seem to make sense to those around me. But the result may be that I am kept alive only to count off the remaining things on my list of 100, such that I am forced to live well past where I would want to say: “enough.”

I like to know where the road leads before I set out on a journey. Right now, one path I could take leads to a place I don’t want to go. I am determined not to start down that path, even if others think I’m being premature in my decision. In short, I may well be ready to die before my family and friends are ready to say goodbye. But they know that, as I face my diminishing list of the 100 things that make life worth living, the choice of quality over quantity has to be mine to make.

Martin Welsh grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles. He resides with his wife in Camino, California.

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Angela Mari Bizley 1956

A Poem she Wrote in 1956


Never again to see your face,

Unhappy thought

never to hear your voice or

Feel your touch

To miss the waking and

The resting down

And all the dear familiar

Things I love so much

A bird’s song will not

Sound so sweet

The bluest sky will never

Lift my heart

Nor will I feel the crisp

Snow ‘neath my fee

No happiness if we should part

and yet what else

What other answer now

For love’s  bright flame has

Now become an ember

With just a spark to see

It never was

And only the best time

to remember

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Kathy’s Clown was her Favourite Song

I am grateful for the gifts that Kathy brought into this world. And all of them are sitting in this room. I love you so much.

Kathy was my guardian. We were only 2 years apart but she always looked upon me as a “younger” sister or a daughter.

I remember they had a “gang”. My cousin Dana was a part of it. But not me, they didn’t usually take me.

It was in the back of the old Capital Theatre. We had to climb up the various buildings to crawl into this upper room. There was an old cupboard full of their stash from the 5 and dime. It was exciting to be invited this day. Kathy brought me. And when Margaret saw me she was not happy that I was there. Margaret said well you will have to be a blood brother like the rest of us and you have to pledge that you will not tell anyone. You can’t imagine my shock when I learned it involved blood letting, “Mine”.

Kathy stepping in for me and said no way. She will not tell.

This may have been the first time she saved me. She was my protector after all.

Many years after I found myself in England where she knew my troubles and nagged Jim for the money to bring me home to Canada.

Thank you Jim. This is why I will always love you! Living with Jim, Kathy, Terry, Jodi, Jim and Lori was the closest thing to a normal family I had ever known.

I loved being a second mom to you kids. We all moved to Saskatoon and in 1969 you made a decision to move to Moose Jaw. I just could not come back here.

But Kathy and I were never far apart. Birthdays, Easter hunts, Christmas. Kathy made the best turkey dinners. Speaking of turkey, one year Kathy hauled the turkey from the freezer and put it in the sink to thaw. The next morning we awoke to the sink full of grease and bird.

Kathy had thawed the neighbours goose.

The first Christmas I was separated, I was scheduled to work. Well Kathy was having none of that. She Packed her whole family up, turkey and all and arrived in Saskatoon to make our Christmas a happy one. And it was.

Kathy and I never fought, never argued. Until around 1982. It was a bad one. We were so sick about it that we called each other the next day and couldn’t get through because our phones were busy. We had been trying to call  each other.

Once we spoke it was all over.

Of course the last separation was the very worst but I believe that people who enter your heart are there forever. No argument not even death can change that.

I want to tell you grandchildren that your grandmother is not far away. She is in your heart right now. When you miss her speak to her and tell what your day was like. Have lunch with her because she is not gone she is in your hearts. And remember the good times.


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Well New Fun on the Horizon

So who holds your destiny?  Well truly, a lot is determined by yourself that is true but not always.  Sometimes you are controlled by your neighbours. Let us say that you have a chunk of property and some of it is empty. You are tired of cutting. Although it is nice to have the distance between you and the neighbour to the south, it is 50,000 bucks sitting there unused. So you decide to sub-divide. Off you go to the local town office and begin the adventure. They tell you sure go ahead and you say how is it done. They say run your butt here and there to get this and this signed. So you do it. Now you sit back and wait. When things are not happening you say what do I do now. The town office says give us 20,000 bucks to put water to the curb and you have to build an access road to this piece of land. Hmmmmm. Wow they have me over a barrel don’t they. So finally they get their money for the curbstop and I still have nothing. Then I find out I need a free title piece of paper from the Land Titles. Okay off I go. I got it. Put it on the market and wait. Well the calls come and come and come. But no offers. I cannot figure it out. We have a great location and no one is making any offers. So off I trot to town office and say “Whatz up here”. What are they telling people. The say we are telling them everything is find here and so I go away. Later on I am getting really frustrated. We call in a second real estate agent who tells us we aresking too much. So we drop the price and he goes to the town office and finds out that the town office is not only rude to our possible customers but also telling them that their house can only be 20ft wide on this lot. No exceptions on this issue. Well the real estate agent says Pardon??? So  now we are at the bottom of it all. It is the town office that is putting road blocks in our path. It was not a surprise as we suspected something awhile back.

So now here we are again paying the town office more money to allow for a variance so someone can put a decent size home on the lot. Now we have to wait. Here is where it gets interesting. All the neighbours around us get the same letter we do. Announcing that we have requested a variance on the yard to allow for a larger home here. We have requested 5 foot side yard which would be 18 ft from our home and 65 feet from the neighbours yard.  There is a road allowance between the neighbours on the south. But they have already spread word around the neighbourhood that if we sell this chunk of land they are moving.

So here we sit. The meeting is in two weeks and I can already see the rumblings in the neighbourhood. The neighbour to the south has gone to talk to the neighbour directly across the road. The neighbour across the road should be our biggest supporter. Since a few years ago he put his business into his yard. All the neighbours were up in arms and tried to get me on board. I refused and said mind your own business. But it is funny how easily these people forget how much you helped them because as soon as we subdivided he had his knickers in a twist about it. It really surprised me and saddened me too. Since I supported him. So here we go. Keep your fingers crossed for me… or don’t! Whatever.

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Relationships & Relationships – ummm It’s not me… It’s YOU YOU YOU

Relationships – ummm it’s not me… It’s YOU YOU YOU.


My Goodness how time has flown. I am updating this November 2010. It was originally written in 1999, transfered here in 2009 and the beat goes on. I am still asking the same damn questions. I must be really stupid. I continue to be in the line of fire. I have other writings all over the place on this same subject. The old why me?? What did I do? Well I didn’t do anything wrong. It is hard to convince myself of this since I am still asking the same old questions. I know that I didn’t do anything wrong but someone couldn’t accept the responsibility and guess what? I was there. Gotta learn to dodge other people’s responsibilties.


This is the most difficult challenge in my life. Relationships. What are they? How does one end a “relationship”? How do we keep the perfect distance between us and others? So when the time comes for them to turn on us… we do not feel any pain? Painless separation. Can there be such a thing?


I have to wonder what the world would be as we all float in our own bubble. Our own bubble made up of a soft padding surrounding our physical bodies. So as we brush up against others there is no real touching just a superficial touching and the separation is easy. A body just goes “oh that was Kewl” or “oh that was not kewl”. floating in and out of encounters.


There are times that I need some time away from my “friends”. I get that. So take the time you need but do not abuse me just cause you accidentally hurt yourself. Stand up and take the hits. We all have to. You are not special nor am I. We are all co-existing here. Some for longer than others. We have no right to attack anyone. Verbally or any other way. We do not walk in the shoes of that other person. It is best to give people in general a large path to create their life in. We do need to observe people and realize what is good for us and what is not. That is our decision to make. We need not let that feeling of “not kewl” to last more than a nanosecond. Cause in our gut, we are right about those feelings. If you feel it … it is there. Walk away as fast as you can. Do not look back.


Not fair to shoot unkindly at what used to be a “best friend”. Leaving “best friend” saying, WTF. That is called dumping dirty stinking baggage on someone you used to love and now have turned into a enemy.


Oh well, one thing for sure. I will have this conversation again. Since I still don’t have the body bubble invented yet. I guess it is life. Here is me daydreaming again .. wishing that things could be different. So until the next time…..





Every relationship has it challenges. One has to wonder if it is worth having others in their lives at all. Some are offended about this or that. And sometimes they tell you other times they don’t.


Whether they tell you not, you will still feel it and know that something is amiss in the friendship. So you have to decide how many days you want to lament and wonder about this unknown equation in your life. Asking them if you offended them may get you no where, except in the doghouse.


I am already over 50 and I just realised that all the books and movies that we watch are about relationships. In the last few years I have resolved myself to eliminate high maintenance relationships. Those that make me feel guilty or are rude or hurtful to me. My life has been improving since hauling around rotten stinking baggage for someone else.


I have even realised that the flesh and blood sister who has disowned me for some ungodly reason of her own is not and never was someone that I need in my life. She just happened to born of the same parents.


About three weeks ago, I was sitting in the hospital waiting one of my sisters to go through a test of some sort. And there was a woman sitting there after returning from the ordeal, which awaited my sister. I heard her ask the nurses to call her husband and the nurses said no one was at the end of the line. The woman was sore and sad. I said that next time she needed to have something done at the hospital that she should bring a sister. She replied with I don’t have a sister. “Well” I told her, a sister is not someone who has to be blood related. It could be a good friend. I realised how true that is. Cause whether or not you have flesh and blood sisters or not they may or may not like you. But if you create relationships that are good and kind these relationships you need to keep. These relationships withhold the pressure of time. They forgive you or overlook stuff because they live in the world of reality. They know that it could happen to them. ACCEPTENCE.


You cannot pick your family members. Some of them may feel you have to, or you may want to tolerate because they gave you birth or they donated sperm. Sometimes that is the case. But as for siblings you have no choice in that matter and you were not responsible for bringing them up either. That is the parent’s responsibility even if they left it to you.

I am the mother of one child. As a young person I really never thought I would have any at all. And that was because I did not want any. I remember my mother being dismayed at that. She would say when you meet the right man you will want to have children with him. Well I really only think deeply about that statement now. She had five of us with a no good husband and she knew it after the third.


Well I was convinced to have a child when someone threw my birth control pills in the garbage and threw grease on them the next morning. I wasn’t about to dig them out and I thought well what the heck. So I got pregnant.


First off, I gotta tell you that I would never trade my life for anyone else’s right now. But that baby was an awful handful. She was beautiful and smart. But she cried all the time and projectile vomited all the time. The rug in the apartment we rented was bleached all out from puking. I cleaned it up of course but it bleached the rug. My husband at the time was not interested in resolving any of this he went golfing. And I was left with the difficulty of what to do next. Doctors said she was okay. There were many days that we jumped in a vehicle and drove to the big city just to have a different doctor look at her. He would say do this or do that. And you know what? It worked for a bout a half-hour.


I remember going to Calgary where one of my sisters lived. My mom was visiting from England at that time. My sister Margaret had a daughter too a little older than mine. At the same time my cousin Tony was visiting Calgary from England and he and I wanted to go to the Calgary stampede together. My mom and my sister were great. They said go for it. So Tony and I took off for as many hours as I could get away. When we got back my mother was amazed at my daughter’s ability to stay awake and her staying power to wale each time you tried to lay her down. She would wail even if you tried to sit your sorry ass down. She wanted a tour of the whole house. And if you didn’t give it to her she cried and cried and cried and cried. Imagine a woman who had five children, my mother was amazed. It has been worth keeping the relationship between my daughter and me. She is a genuinely beautiful person. And now she has two children of her own. I know she wonders what life would be like without kids sometimes. I bet it would be peaceful. But maybe later very lonely.


That is what relationships are all about. People who bring feelings to you life. I think the feelings should all be good.


Those hermits you see are people who have honed their place in life without any other people in it. They have experienced the nastiness of people and have decided that they have had enough of it. Is that so bad?

Well we have to wonder don’t we. I remember as a child if someone lived a singularly life they would be weird. We would make up stories about he or she killed their spouse and stuff. Or they live in a haunted house. Or they are watching us. Lord knows what can be made up about loners. We work at it too. People who have no children and live all alone are targets for us. The hermit of our society has had to give up what people think of them and just do the best they can with what they have. Sometimes that is a lot of things. Some hermits gather all their money and hoard it and watch it grow. That is the pleasure they get in this life. They have no relations to leave it. Perhaps they have a houseful of cats and they leave it to the cats.


My sister Margaret had no unkindness towards anyone. She took in all kinds of older people into our home. We all got to the point that we knew if anyone was going drag home a stray whatever it would be Maggie. Well one day my mom was washing floors. And Maggie brought home a very elderly lady. Mom was so annoyed. Mrs. Ott. She was a beautiful old lady and became my mom’s closest friend for many years. Mrs. Ott left us all with a little something. She taught me that when sharing out candies she would always say “one for you and one for me” then she would pause and say “and one for me again.” I will never forget that. She would never fail to bring us some sweets. Many of the people that Maggie brought home have long died and are gone forever. But Maggie continues to have an openness that has never been quelled even after all the teasing and the firm demands from my mother. Maggie’s life mission is to notice the lonely. Perhaps she has a profound loneliness herself. Who knows? I do know that when this woman hugs you; you know you have been hugged. She can make you feel so important just by that hug. Thank God for people like her. I bet there aren’t many because I only know one.


If you have a partner who is as irresponsible as the day is long you have to decide what you need to do. I got out. I like the guy he just never did me any favours. I have a beautiful daughter and she is all mine. Cause I was there for her. She asked me to walk her down the aisle the day she got married. That was one of my very special moments. And the rewards for being with my daughter through thick and thin cannot be measured.


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