Thursday, 15 May 2014

Toy time

The last time I drove my car was almost a year ago, June 24th of last year.  We had been at a Fete St. Jean party at the club.  When we left to go home it was raining hard, and the car had a flat tire.  I could not even contemplate changing a car tire, I might as well lift a house, both equally impossible.  A kind person changed the wheel for us.  The drive home was a nightmare, the rear right wheel locked up for some reason shortly after we left the parking lot.  I decided I would get the thing home if at all possible without me having to get out of the car.  I was frightened and close to panic.  The car shuddered and squealed from the seized wheel but I was able to keep it going, somehow.  I was so afraid of having to get out of the car, move, talk to people and coordinate getting the car taken care of and getting home.  It was all too much.  As George T. had warned me once, don't let your mind write checks that your body can't cash.  I was out in the rain with a busted car and about to get into real trouble.  We made it home safe.

I decided not to fix the car right away, to do without for a while, save some money.  Summer past, fall then winter and now spring is here.  I have not driven a car.  I got rid of our car in November when I first started to realize that maybe it would be better if I gave up driving.  Better for everybody. Better for that little kid I will not hurt because I lost consciousness behind the wheel.

Driving was something I learned to do in the 60's.  I bet I spent time during the late 50's on my dad's knee steering on the highway. Those were different times.  I crashed my first car twice, both times lucky to get away clean, before I was 19.  One was my fault, the other not.  Both I would have skated away from only a few years later when I had learned to control a car.  I worked hard at learning how to control a car.  Parking lots and losing control were one of my favorite things to do.  You gotta lose it to know how to get it back when it's all going south on you.  I ran the uninhabited dirt roads in Rawdon where there were no houses or people, yet. I think I got pretty good at it if I do say so myself.

Back then we were, collectively, idiots when it came to driving. Everybody drove smashed.  If you could walk or crawl to your car you were good to go.  Really, it was only as a young adult that awareness that perhaps were were being assholes started to creep in with public service messages on tv.  I drove so drunk, so many times it is unfathomable from the perspective of 2014.  How I did not kill someone during all that time?  We learned and we all stopped doing it.  Life went on and a whole lot of folks got to keep living.  Ask my bro in law about crossing the T Can in Alberta someday.  

When I parked the car last June I had full intention of getting back behind the wheel.  Now, I know I never will drive a car again and it's my choice.  Fate, karma call it what you will protected me when I was ignorant.  I am no longer ignorant about the harm that a vehicle can cause.  I had SIX heart attacks last year, and hundreds of minutes where I was debilitated instantaneously by coughing, for minutes at a time, eyes closed, entirely out of it for a minute or two.  

This is really the most thought I have given to the matter since I decided for certain a couple of months ago.  If I thought about it much the pain would be too sharp to bear.  Like a lot of things about this journey, you just have to go with it and not look back. Looking back is death.  Looking at now is life. I don't look back much at all and I do not look forward either.  I try to see and be.  That's all.  

A couple of days ago I was sitting by the big window watching a little girl walk with her mother.  She kept stopping to bend down to play with the daisies.  Nicole and I were talking about me, about how I was doing with being stuck and shut in, the not driving, all of the huge changes in my life. I pointed to the little girl and told Nicole that the little girl was my role model, to become as her was my goal.  I want to make all of the adult complexities that permeate life go away.  I want to destroy the ego that will one day erase that child.  One a man, twice a child.  I think I have done well so far.  I do not see as I did.  I do not carry weight I don't need.  I am at peace with the world.  As this world shrinks the possibilities expand.  


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

It is 10:00 AM, I am outside, the temperature is 16 and rising fast. A glorious day to spend outside.  I think I have cleaned up about 1/3 of our property.  My goal is to get another 1/3 done today, but, who knows.  I am writing now because I have a story to tell and I rather hope it takes all day to flesh it out as it deserves.  

Quick health update: I feel excellent, better than I have in two years at least.  Don't take that to mean I have more breath.  I don't. I do however feel much stronger than I have in a long time.  That, combined with the skills I learned at rehab and a mind free of clutter makes life most excellent at the moment.  Everything is working.  Time to push hard.

It is playoff time in these hockey mad parts.  Last night I held my breath, screamed in agony followed by cries of joy and generally lost my mind for a few hours while Nos Glorieux, Le Club de Hockey Canadiens, my Habs battled the evil, satanic Boston Bruins.  We won and lead the series 2 games to 1, but that is not the point of this story.  How I came to be a die hard Habs fan for life, is.

Some of my earliest memories are of Saturday night hockey games. I was maybe three or four, the year would be 1958 or 1959. Hockey Night in Canada came on TV at 8:00 PM, midway through the first period.  Of course at that age I was not watching the game, I was either tucked into my bed at home, or as often would be the case, lying on a pile of coats, along with my sister, at Nana's or Auntie May's house, supposedly sleeping.  Now, if we were at home only some drapes separated our bedroom from the living room where the tv was.  Invariably there would be a significant number of people in that living room, whooping it up and drinking beer and rum and cokes.  Our parents at the time were the ripe old age of 21 or 22, the grandparents double that.  It was a large and young extended family that lived close to each other.  Saturday nights were for getting together and having a good time.  It was hard to miss anything.  

My dad got me playing, or rather, trying to play hockey at a normal, young age.  A canadian boy in the early 60's played hockey, outside, on a team.  You cleaned the ice before the game, and between periods, yourself.  The changing room was an old CPR caboose with a wood stove.  It don't get more authentic than that.  To my dad's everlasting disappointment, and maybe just a tinge of shame, I was entirely hopeless at hockey.  I could not skate off my ankles.  No supports available at the time helped.  I skated on my ankles seriously bad.  I tried immensely hard to learn how to skate.  I walked the four blocks up to the skating rink at the park on Vimont and la Fontaine to skate by myself hundreds of times in attempts to get better.  I could not skate backwards nor stop properly.  I played anyway for a few years, my dad tying my skates, cheering me on, hoping I think against hope that I would find the spark that would turn me into a hockey player.  Even at that age of 6 or 7 kids were being identified as being serious players with potential.  I was nowhere near that quality.  I think in the maybe 3 or 4 years I played I distinguished myself by getting 1 penalty.  No goals.  No assists.  I was so desperate the last year to do something, anything, that one game the kid who was the goalie did not make the game.  I guess in those days teams of  7 year olds did not have back up net minders.  I volunteered.  Big mistake.  I don't think I stopped a single shot, and 7 year olds with wooden sticks hardly did anything with a puck that resembled shooting.  Everything happened in slow motion and I was paralysed.  Not good.  My poor dad.  He knew it was over.

A few years later as a 10 year old I came out of the athletic wastelands a wiser lad.  Hockey had a million negatives for me, but there were lessons learned as well.  I loved to move, run and compete, even when I had no success.  I found soccer and football, curling and other games that I excelled in at various times.  I think my dad was sort of "meh" about them though.  It was not hockey.  

By time I was 6 or 7 I was allowed to watch the game through the second period on Saturday night.  The Canadiens always won the Stanley Cup, year after year it seemed, until I was 25.  

I went to my first game at the Montreal Forum for my 10th birthday, a present from my dad.  The Detroit Red Wings were playing the Habs in a late February or early March game.  Gordie Howe was my dad's favorite non Habs player.  Dad had been talking about how good he was, how he did things in the corners and how mean he could be.  It was a night I am sure my dad always remembered.  I think Howe had what was known as a Howe hat trick, a goal an assist and a fight.  It was to be the first of many, many games at the Forum with my dad.

Later, during my early teenage years my dad took a part time job at the Forum slinging hot dogs and beer at Habs games.  I don't think dad really needed the money but it helped.  He enjoyed playing the angles and he loved being able to see all the hockey he wanted.  After a while, when he knew the folks and the ropes, the doors to the Forum opened for me.  I more or less had a standing room season ticket.  I lived the dream of a Montreal kid by going to the Forum when I wanted to.  So many great memories.  "The Stanley Cup parade will take the usual route" says Mayor for life Drapeau each and every spring.  

My dad's connection to the Forum and les Canadiens stayed strong the rest of his life.  Once, I would have been 30 ish, I needed something special for a golf tournament fund raiser that Nicole and I put on for Children's Wish Foundation.  I asked my dad if he could score a couple of season tickets to the Habs, an impossible request here in Montreal.  Dad came up with them and the auction raised over 10K.  Dad made a lot of good friends at the Forum.  He was part of a great and glorious tradition.  How could I not be Bleu, Blanc, Rouge for life?

Go Habs, Go.  Dad is watching the Drive For Twenty Five.

Friday, 2 May 2014


What we doin here
I started writing Transplant story when I realized that I was inevitably going on what I had come to view as a journey. It's for me.  In the last thirteen months I find myself looking back at early posts in order to better see where I have been and where I am going.  It has been helpful to me.  Keeping that record helps me to adjust my thinking and perspective as circumstances change. That is the only reason I do it.  It is sad and somewhat telling that sometimes people might view it as a means to an end, a manipulation if you will, or sadder still, an attempt to elicit sympathy. That Transplant story is wound into my G+ experience is a happy coincidence, a most happy one for me.  It was just a matter of timing, I found G+ at the same time I decided I needed to write about what was going to happen to me, and they acquired Blogger about the same time and it was right there in my face, so I grabbed it and started.  

I joined G+ in mid March 2013.  A lot of the folks who comment on Transplant story regularly I met very early on through G+.  Virtually all the comments that are made on Transplant story come from my G+ world, not MRL.  In a perfect world I probably would not spend upwards of a half a dozen hours or more everyday interacting with my circles, that time would be spent with RL people.  I am shut in, mostly.  The phone rings a few times a week.  There is a knock on the door once a month or so.  Out of sight out of mind.  I have no bitterness.  My RL is quite full, considering. I am very loved.  There are though far too many hours, days and weeks where it is just Nicole and I.  G+ fills the void and does so in an amazing way.  I have heard "your internet friends" said a few times IRL during the last year, always with disdain and a lack of comprehension. What a wonderful thing I have found and become community with.  I leave the comments on because most of the comments come from people who help keep me strong and who encourage me.  Any thoughts someone might have that suggest otherwise says a whole lot more about you than it does about me.  

A few G+ people have written me privately to tell me some wonderful things.  I have touched and inspired them.  That makes me feel fantastic.  

Transplant story has about a year before any real transplant stuff takes place again.  I plan to tell some stories, talk more about Nicole and share my feelings about the universe.  I like stream of consciousness dumps too but I seem to get into trouble with those.  On vera.  

I love you RL, you too G+ peeps.  Find me anytime on G+.