Special Moments

Yippee! What a weekend – Friday night dinner to celebrate our "one month" anniversary. Crystal cooked me din din, and she got a rose, a card with "wuv yu" (yes, next stage), a puppy dog calendar (on which to mark important dates, like March 23rd – never mind), and a snuggly poo dog to remind her of me, except for the wrinkles and the sad face, of course. Saturday was yet another yummy dinner, and off to the Corral. Sunday was yet another great breakfast – french toast, ham and home fries – good cook. We were planning to go x-country skiing, but there was a race on at Telemark, and it would be very busy, so we went skating instead. Although she hadn’t skated in twelve years, she did just great! Unfortunately she didn’t need me to hold her up nearly enough. Back to my place for a great steak dinner, thanks to Ron and Wendy, and some all important cuddling watching the tube.
Special moments? Friday was surprising her with the "anniversary" gifts.   Saturday was coming "home" after the Corral, having showers (yes, separetely – damn) and snuggling. Sunday was when we were skating and I was guiding her, I hugged her and gave her a kiss. The skating monitor guy, an older guy, saw us and told me there were rules about hugging and kissing at the rink. When I answered "as much as possible?", he said "yes." Very cute.
Oh, and there was one "not so special" moment as well. Crystal informed me that she was off to Fiji February 3rd through the 19th!!!! A trip planned before she met me. Sixteen days without my sweetie!!!! That’s going to be a tough one. I kid her about meeting her hunky "cabin boy" there, and I’ll be toast. Oh well, absence makes the heart grow fonder, eh, like that’s possible for me????    

A new low

Those of you familiar with the regression of Alzheimer’s know there are various stages of the disease – each worse than the previous stage. My mother has been a stage two for years, but has recently gotten worse. Because of our worsening financial situation I had no choice but to take on a job for a friend, removing sod and planting cedar trees for her – a brutal job and one I had to be away from Mum for, obviously. It wasn’t far away, and I only worked for a few hours at a time, coming home to feed her and check on her. On Saturday, my sister was coming down from Revelstoke, and I had written a note on mum’s "memory board" reminding her what time Wendy would be here. I reminded her I was on my cell if she needed me and left notes with my number.
When I came home around five, a neighbour came running up to tell me that they had found her wandering around the park, scared, and that she was at a neighbour’s house. The front door was wide open and she only had a sweater on when they brought her home. I asked her why she had left, and she said she was scared. When I asked of what, she said she didn’t know. When I asked why she hadn’t called me, she said she forgot. When I asked about the note that Wendy would be here any minute, she asked, "what note?"  She had wiped her board clean and put it away under the coffee table. She denied there was any note.
I was thoroughly exhausted after this brutal work and needed to lie down. I told her Wendy would be here soon and that I had to sleep. She came down to my room every five minutes and knocked on my door, crying and asking me to come and sit with her because she was scared. Needless to say, I got no sleep.
She has become terrified whenever I have to go out, even for a few minutes. She starts crying and begging me not to go. She wants to know where I’m going; when I’ll be back, and why I have to go. It’s suffocating and a repeat of exactly how she was with my Dad. He couldn’t as much as go to the bathroom without her wanting to come with him. I knew that was tough on him, but now I know just how tough.
Interior Health has now escalated her need to an "emergency" first available bed status, whatever that means, compared to the eight months her previous "first available bed" status got us. With her deteriorating health, not eating and the pills not working, and having no strength or energy, she’ll get more and more critical as the days go by. With her elevated blood pressure these new developments will no doubt increase her danger level. She refuses to quit drinking, although the good part is that she had five drinks in the fridge recently, forgetting she had made them.
One tiny bright spot is that we did go to the show on Tuesday. It’s the one thing she seems to remember and look forward to. She asks me every day if it’s Tuesday so we can go to the show, so she’s right one day out of seven. Although we had already seen it, my friend wanted to see Walk the Line. I suspected that Mum would not remember seeing it, and I loved it enough to see it again. After the movie, when she said how much she enjoyed it, I joked "more than the first time you saw it?". She couldn’t believe she had already seen it because she didn’t remember a thing.
Sidebar humor: when we left the house she asked if she should bring her purse, to which I said "no", she didn’t need it, so naturally she brought it. When we got to the restaurant to meet Crystal, she asked if she should bring her purse in, and I said "no", she didn’t need it. While we were eating, she started looking around where she was sitting, and, when asked, said she was looking for her purse. Crystal  told her it was in the car. When we left the restaurant, she said she thought she left her purse in the restaurant. When we got to the show she asked if she should bring her purse, and I told her to leave it in the car. When we were in the theatre, she was looking around for her purse, and Crystal told her it was in the car. When we left the theatre, she worried that she had left her purse in the show. Damn purse.
She was going to Bingo wednesday night, so I asked her to get her dabbers and her pouch to be ready. When she got to her room and I heard her opening drawers and swearing, I reminded her she was looking for her dabbers and her pouch. She asked why? I said she was going to Bingo. She asked if I was coming with her, and I said "no". She was in the living room and I asked her where her dabbers were, and she asked why she needed them. I told her she was going to Bingo, and she asked if it was tonight. I told her to get her dabbers. She was banging around her room, crying and swearing and muttered as she went down the hall that she wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t going to Bingo because she couldn’t find anything. I went into her room and the six dabbers she has were sitting on her dresser. I gave her forty dollars and showed her that I put it in her hip pouch. That was around four, and she only asked me seven more times to give her money for Bingo, in between asking if we were going to the show and why were her dabbers on the table, and if we were going out tonight.
When I went to take her to Nancy’s she asked if I would give her some money, and why I wasn’t locking the door behind us when we were going to Bingo.
You gotta have patience and a sense of humor to keep going.   

Special Moments

Well, this might be a dangerous concept – a diary of my love life, with details. Uh Oh. None-the-less, I had a previous relationship, with, at that time, my one and only true love of my life, where the last thing we did every night was to decide what our special moment was for that day.  My one regret is that I never wrote them down anywhere, and have forgotten most of them. I’ve learned my lesson and, this time, I’m going to try to hang on to them by writing them here.
A little history – I met Crystal one fateful night last year, December 23rd actually. I say "fateful" for a number of reasons. Life is timing and the moon and stars must have been all aligned perfectly that night. My family was celebrating an early Christmas for a number of reasons, and, well,  I had been partaking of the wicked brew a little, thinking I wasn’t going anywhere. My best bud, Wade, came into town though and phoned to say let’s meet at my fav watering hole – the Corral. I knew I wasn’t driving anywhere, but my uncle was here and could drop me off if I asked him nice. I told Wade I could probably get a ride in, but I couldn’t afford a cab home. Being the sweetheart he is, he offered to pay for my cab home, so I went. We were to meet a little later.
Now, a little history on me and the Corral, which has a bearing on my meeting Crystal. In the thirteen years or so I have been going to the Corral I have been very lucky that women like to dance with me, and ask me, so I’ve never ever had to ask a woman I don’t already know to dance. This also meant that the very thought of asking someone struck terror in my heart. What do I do if they say no? Sheer panic. But, having had a few libations, I was either confident enough or stupid enough to approach Crystal. Why? The dumbest approach known to man – I thought I had seen her picture on one of those dating sites, and was curious. I went up to her and said this could be the most embarassing moment of my life, but asked if she was on one of those sites. She slowly said, "no", so I died and there was an awkward silence. Just as I was about to slink away to my corner, she offered, "but I used to be". Saved! I asked what her nickname was and she said "ShyGurl", which I remembered. "Yeah, that’s it!" Whew. Saved.
We went on to have a discussion about how women on these sites are way too open with their real names and addresses and personal information, and they should be more careful. They don’t realize they could be talking to some convict in jail, who will hunt them down and whatever. We got to talking about some shared interests and, at one point I asked her to give me her phone number. She said, "NO". When I asked why, she said I told her not to give out tha kind of information. In protest I said, "not me. I was talking about the other guys!". This was the first insight I got into her incredible wit.  I eventually got up the courage to ask her to dance, and she said  I was too good for her. Yeah, right.  Well, three hours later we were still dancing, and talking, and having a ball. I felt an instant connection and hoped for more.
A little sidebar here, about why I was comfortable with her. Now, she’s a vision – cute, petite, sweet little figure, beautiful smile, but I thought she was maybe in her mid thirties – no danger there, right? In our chatting while dancing I asked her if she had any kids, thinking, if she did, they might be 9 or 10. She said she did – two sons – one 24 and one 22! I can do the math, so I said, "oh, you must have had them when you were nine". We laughed. Danger, Will Roibinson. Danger! She was "old enough" now.  
I don’t even remember how I ever got through the incredible wall of security she has, but somehow I got the precious phone number, at last. I think it was after about thre hours of begging when she had actually remembered my number and called me. Of course her number came up as "private number". I called to see if she wanted to play pool for a bit, and she actually said "yes". If you knew her liike I do now, you would know how hard these "yeses" are to come by. They’re a rare commodity. We agreed to meet at the Corner Pin, near where she lived. And, no, I didn’t get an address from her. No surprise.
Well, for me, that first night was pure magic. There was an instant connection and we laughed and laughed. I was very hesitant to be affectionate in any way with this "shy" girl, so I strained to be more reserved than I wanted to be. I did hug her hello though and she didn’t punch me out. She hadn’t played a lot of pool, so I was doing my best to give her some help, telling her how to hold her cue and so on. At one delicious point she said, "isn’t this the point where you are supposed to be holding me and showing me how to shoot instead of just talking?". Yes, this was my kind of girl! Four hours later we were still laughing and having a ball. I didn’t want the night to end.
Since then we’ve many, many "special moments" – hiking, dancing, talking on some very long phone chats, dinners, movies, or just cuddling up on the couch, watching a movie. There is no better feeling than when I hold her in my arms. We "fit" so well physically. And, yes, she passed the number one test – she likes to "spoon". That’s a biggie! And, number two on the "must be" list, – she’s okay with PDA’s (public displays of affection). Critical.
She is a wonderful, sweet, intelligent, warm, kind, affectionate, funny, and, yes, charmingly shy, girl who warms my heart, and a few other places we won’t talk about here, or anywhere. Where are we now? Well, despite lots and lots of advice against it from friends who know me, Gary is making the fatal mistake of overwhelming her with affection and running "full speed ahead" in our relationship. Not what Crystal wants at this point. She is the cautious one, who doesn’t want to make another mistake with the wrong guy. Go figure – me? the Wrong Guy? Not a chance. Come on. Be nice. Agree with me here. Work with me. You’re supposed to be my friends, eh?
As I said, this is the spot to note our "special moments", so I’ll try to catch up to date:
  • dancing with her the first night.
  • the first call to her actual home number. Yippee! Oh, and her answering "CIA" when I suggested she could teach them a thing or two about security.
  • the "shouldn’t you be holding me" comment at pool.
  • our first kiss – awesome, my toes tingled, and, oh, never mind.
  • spooning.
  • spooning.
  • spooning.
  • her first "okay" after the gazillionth time asking her out.
  • after a two hour conversation, when I asked her if she wanted my home number (she only had my cell) and she said, "what for". Then when she said yes, asked "it’s Gary, isn’t it?". What a lovable smartass.
  • agreeing that PDA’s at the Corral were okay.
  • seeing her wear something other than black, just to show me.
  • changing her MSN Messenger nic to "special moments".
  • laying her head on my shoulder at our first show last night.
  • talking on the phone for two and a half hours last night after the show, and encouraging me to just "be myself" when I was worried I had to back off to stop scaring her off.
  • spooning.
  • cooking our first breakfast. Good cook. Bonus! And, no, I hadn’t stayed over, in case you were thinking that. No such luck.

Stay tuned. I hope there are many, many more "special moments" to record here.




My kids

Got to thinking today that if anything happened to me, no one really knows the whole story of what happened with my kids, including them. If I’m gone at least some of my friends know this site exists, and maybe some day my kids will see it as well.
My son, Christopher Michael, came into this world March 27th, 1970, the year after I married his mother, Janice, born Janice Kennedy Tyrrell. In 1977 along came the light of my life, Heather Tyrrell on October 2nd, 1977. There is so much to tell about how wonderful they made my life, and how proud I was of them. They were both very active in sports, particularly Chris, who was a truly talented hockey player, and was destined to play in the NHL until he lost his drive. This story isn’t about their lives though, rather, it’s what happened to get us where we are now.
They both knew things were not good with Janice and I, for a whole lot of reasons I won’t deal with here. At one point I came out West, where my parents lived since 1970, to take a break from work stress, and my kids came out for a three-week holiday. We had the best times of our lives during that three weeks, but it ended on a tough note for me. They both told me that they had never seen me happier, and that they knew my marriage was killing me, and that I should stay out west where I belonged. This nearly killed me, as I could not understand how my own children would want me to be so far away from them. They were a lot smarter than me. They knew what was best for me, more than I did.
Despite their good advice I returned to Ontario, if only because I couldn’t stand the thought of being without them. No matter how happy I was out here, losing them was too high a price to pay. I spent the next few years in a loveless marriage, never giving up that it would somehow magically get better, which it didn’t. I left home in 1992. Over the next few months it became increasingly apparent that my kids had busy lives of their own, and I had to almost make an appointment to see them. I realized that I was sacrificing my own happiness just to be there when they found time to see me. I believed that if I came West at least we would have terrific holiday times like we did before, at least that’s what I thought. Could not have been more wrong.
The hardest day of my life was when I left my daughter to come West. It broke my heart even though I felt I was doing the right thing. My son had a family of his own, with a new daughter, and I didn’t see it hurting him as much. We had had our challenges over the years between us, as most fathers and sons do. Of course, I was also under the impression I would see them soon, when they came out for a holiday. So, despite my concern over leaving, I packed up and headed West in the summer of 1993.
Although a vacation didn’t happen as planned, I still tried to stay in touch with them –  birthday cards, Christmas gifts and so on, never realizing something was wrong. Heather had phoned me to ask me to come down to her graduation ceremony in the spring, which I was planning to do. She said she had the option of going in the spring or the following fall, and would let me know. I came home one day and my Dad said she had phoned and said she decided to go in the fall, and would let me know. I never heard anything and this was the first sign of trouble. In a conversation with Chris he told me that it was just brutal for them to talk to me, because their mum gave them such a hard time about what I was doing, who was I seeing and so on. I sat down and wrote a long, heart-felt letter to Heather about how I was feeling and how much I missed her, and how much I wanted to talk to her. The following winter I knew something drastic had to happen, so I planned to drive down to Ontario to see them. Heather was to meet me at her place.
It was a scary drive down, thorugh the depths of winter, and I nearly bought it in quite a few places. I had planned to drive straight through, so there wasn’t much time for sleep. I pulled off the road into a truck stop, where there were all kinds of trucks parked at three in the morning. I woke up shivering and tried to see what time it was, but I couldn’t see my watch. It was because it was frozen over. I prayed the truck would start, which, miraculously, it did. When the radio came on, they said it was minus 53 degrees. There also wasn’t a vehicle in sight, so I could have perished right there if the truck hadn’t started.
When I got to Brampton I went to the condo Heather lived in with her mom, and buzzed for her – no answer. I asked the security guy if there was any message for me, and there wasn’t. I thought maybe I had got something screwed up, so I went up to her school, Mayfield, to see if she was waiting there for me. After hours spent in coffee shops and making phone calls to anyone I could think of who might know where she was, I finally got a hold of Chris at home. He broke the unbelievable news to me that they had hidden Heather away and were not going to let me see her. After taking my life in my hands and driving all the way across the country, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I ended up staying for a while with Chris, then drove all the way back without ever seeing her. I tried to have coffee with Janice to talk about it, but her new husband would not hear of it. This after twenty-three years of marriage.
Over the years, I have never given up trying to find them. Heather was planning to go to Carlton University in Ottawa, but I don’ t know if she ever made it. I had heard that Chris and Tina had another child, but don’t even know if this is true. My Dad called her step-brother from Arizona and left a message for Heather to call and that it was urgent. No response.
The most confusing thing for me is, even if I grasp why they cut me out of their lives, which I don’t, why did they cut off the entire family out here? Their grandparents loved them and they had a ball with them when they were out here. They have uncles and  aunts and cousins, but they totally severed any contact with them. The real tragedy in all of this is that we lost my Dad suddenly in May of last year, and they don’t even know their grandfather has died. My mum suffers from Alzheimer’s now, and her memory of them is fading rapidly. It is all so confusing and tragic.
There is not a single day goes by that I don’t think of my kids and wonder how they are. Christmas and birthdays are particularly hard, and they remind me of all the good times we had over the years. Although I do not regret leaving my marriage, or coming West, for one second, the loss of my children in the process weighs heavy on my heart every single day. If Chris and Heather ever get to read this, please know that I have never stopped loving you, ever, and that losing you has been an unbearable burden every day. I have had many many good days out West, and would never leave this paradise, but no matter what, they have never been as good as if you were sharing them with me. You, or your mother, made the decision to cut us out of your lives, and I cannot find an excuse good enough to justify this in any way. I have had days where I am very angry that you have not been strong enough to realize your mother does not run your lives, and that, whatever is wrong between us, Grandma and Grandpa should never have suffered for it. They did nothing wrong.