Archive for the 'family' Category
My mom called yesterday to tell me that she got a letter from the Trillium Gift of Life Network saying that my dad’s eyes, which we donated after my dad died, had been used in two sight-restoring surgeries. Which means that two people who would otherwise be blind can now see thanks to my dad’s generous gift. He’d let us know that if he were ever in the position to be an organ donor, he wanted to do that. And it gave us comfort – on a very sad day for us – to be able to carry out his wishes, so it was a bit of a gift to us too.
It’s funny, too, because just yesterday I was looking at the beautiful river view I have from my new apartment and I thought, “I wonder what Dad’s eyes are seeing right now?” Even though we didn’t have confirmation of it until my mom got the letter yesterday, I was pretty confident that my Dad’s eyes had been transplanted into people who needed it and it gives me some comfort to know that a little bit of him lives on – that he was able to help someone out one last time.
Because I was having a grumpy day not too long ago, my sister drew me these pictures of robots. With flames.
Because who wouldn’t be cheered up by robots and flames? No one, that’s who!
And who doesn’t need such pictures adorning their work computer to make them all happy, all the time? No one, that’s who!
Thanks, sister! I love my robots with flames!
Just finished a weekend of classes. As per usual, I learned a tonne of stuff, the people are super awesome and I’m freaking exhausted. Freaking exhaustion will thus be my excuse for a lack of coherence and plethora of typos I will likely make in this blog posting. Apologies in advance.
And now – a bulleted list1!
- My mom, sister, and baby nephew came to visit last week. And I totally didn’t blog any of it because I suck. Or perhaps because we were having way too much fun to spend time blogging. Yes, I think it was latter. They were only here from Friday to Tuesday, which was waaaay too short! But we did manage to have such adventures as fish & chips for dinner on Friday at Cockney King, checking out the boardwalk at the New West Quay (since I now live near there and all), a trip to Granville Island, and, because my family is so awesome, finished setting up the apartment2
- We also had our housewarming party last weekend which I also failed to blog. It was super awesome to actually be able to host a party3 and to be able to show off our lovely view – which was the first thing that pretty much everyone commented on when they came into the apartment. And Devon got to show off his mad bar tending skills, which were also highly appreciated. Thanks to everyone who came out and made it such a great party. Also, we somehow seemed to have ended up with more booze than when we started, so you all need to come back again to drink said booze.
- Another thing I failed at was taking photos while my family was visiting was taking photos. I took a grand total of one – it’s my mom holding my baby nephew Thomas, who in turn is holding a pint of Guinness4:
- My nephew Thomas is the best baby in the whole wide world! He’s adorable and hilarious and extremely brilliant5. He also loves to watch kitchen appliances in action – especially the mixer and the coffee grinder. Seriously, he lost his little mind anytime the coffee grinder was turned on – wherever he was in the apartment, as soon as he heard the coffee grinder, he’d crawl as quick as a flash into the kitchen and insist on being picked up by whoever was closest to the grinder. And then when it was done he’s stick his hand out towards it, which is his baby way of saying, “More! Grind more coffee! This is the most entertaining thing in the entire world and I MUST SEE MORE OF IT!” Now I can’t grind coffee without feeling guilty that Thomas isn’t here to watch it.
- In class this weekend, we spent some time with students visiting from Shanghai, where UBC has an MBA program (known as the “International MBA”), which was pretty cool. We had lunch with them at the Hotel Vancouver and then they joined us for a discussion on a case study of a trade dispute between China and the US over solar panels. It was pretty cool getting to know the students and hear about what they are up to in China. We will see them again in just under 2 weeks to do another case study – this time on Cirque du Soleil!
- I have sooo many more things to blog about6, but it’s way past my bedtime, so those things will have to wait!
- Somehow bulleted lists make my lack of coherence seem less obvious than if I tried to write paragraphs with segues and suchlike. Or so I like to tell myself [↩]
- We had only gotten the key to our storage locker just a few days before they arrived, so it was actually a bit of a miracle that we got our place *mostly* set up before they got here, but there was a coffee table to put together, furniture to rearrange, and things to clean! [↩]
- As the vast majority of people would never come out to my old place. Not that I’d blame them! [↩]
- For the record, in case anyone is thinks I’d actually give a baby a pint of Guinness, let me clarify that that was a stress ball in the shape of a pint of Guinness – also known as a “stress pint.” [↩]
- Not that I’m biased or anything. [↩]
- Note to self: Those things include, but are not limited to: my new plants, my new t-shirts, the May Challenge, Prosper, a whole bunch of photos that I have collected here, there, and everywhere [↩]
What Absolute Niceness Looks Like
The very first time I met Jeff was on a trip back to Toronto for Christmas. I arrived during the day when my sister was at work, but since Jeff works from home, he was there to greet me and right from the get go, I could tell this was one of the nicest people I’d ever meet. And for Christmas that year, he made me a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Now, remember, this is someone that had never met me before, yet he spent untold hours designing and creating the best FSM I’ve *ever* seen – and which I always get compliments on whenever anyone sees it – for my Christmas present. He also built a spreadsheet to crunch all my financial data to help me figure out the best way to get my student loans paid off and my RRSPs built up. Jeff is the guy that will help anyone out without even thinking twice. He’s the guy who fixes a hole in the neighbours’ basement when a raccoon got inside – and these are neighbours that he barely even know! Jeff is the guy who goes over to my cousin’s place for lunch and ends up fixing their washing machine. Jeff is the guy who spends his weekends doing runs to the local dump to help my mom clean up my dad’s stuff. And he really, truly never expects anything in return.
That One Can Be Talented At Many, Many Things
Computer geek. Chef. Crafter (Did I mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster? And my niece’s amazing Halloween costumes?). Camping guru. Home renovation specialist. Jeff is an expert at all these things and more! And his multi-expertise inspires me -whether it’s to make one of his delicious recipes for dinner or to craft a FSM of my own!
What a Great Dad Looks Like
Jeff’s kindness, combined with his brilliance at many, many things, lead him to being one of the best parents I’ve ever seen. He’s so patient and such a good teacher and he always seems to know exactly what his kids need when they need it. Whenever there’s an issue, he helps my niece figure out how to solve it – teaching her important things like problem solving, creativity, and responsibility. And fun! If I get to be a parent, I’m definitely going to be applying all the things that I’ve learned from watching Jeff with my niece and nephew!
Happy 38th birthday, Jeff!
- i.e., my sister’s partner [↩]
I’m home. I’m tired. I’m glad I got in some good aunty time with my niece and nephew! I also got to go to my Grandpa’s 89th birthday party (though his birthday isn’t until March 16, his party was yesterday).
It was only one month ago today that my Dad died. It somehow seems like just yesterday, but also like it’s been 20 years, but also like it didn’t happen at all.
I’ve had two hockey games since I returned home from Ontario and both times while driving to my hockey game, I started crying. Being that I live so far away from my family, my Dad’s death still seems a little bit unreal to me. I mean, I was there when he went in for surgery, I was there when he didn’t wake up. I was there when he died and I was there for the funeral. But now that I’m back in Vancouver, my day-to-day life isn’t punctuated with his absence the way it would be if I still lived close by, because I didn’t see my Dad every day. But every once it in a while, it hits me. Especially, it seems, when I’m driving to hockey.
This makes sense, though, because not only did my Dad share my love of hockey, but due to my crazy busy schedule, I usually make phone calls while I’m driving1, so I can feel like driving is less of a waste of time. And often when I drive to hockey, I call my parents house to chat with them. When I talked to my Dad, I would always tell him that I was driving to hockey and we’d talk about how my team was doing, or what he thought was wrong with the decisions the Leafs’ coaches were making, or what happened on the most recent episode of Cash Cab , or what whatshisname at the pigeon club said the other day, or just whatever. And so when I’ve driven to my last two hockey games, it makes me think of my Dad and I know that I can’t call him and have those conversations ever again. I really feel the loss. It makes it more real.
I am really sad that my Dad never got to see me play in person – I didn’t start playing hockey until I moved to Vancouver and he never came out here – but I’m so thankful that he was able to see me play live on the Internet during the Longest Game for CF. He watched every minute of the game that he could and he told me that I skated just like him and my Uncle Harry. It makes me smile to think about how much he liked watching that game and how proud he was of me.
I’m sure that over time I’ll be able to drive to hockey without crying, but I think that I’ll never play a hockey game without thinking about my Dad.
- Using my bluetooth headset, of course. All good and legal. [↩]
Despite my coffee snobbery, I’ve started drinking Tim Horton’s coffees of late. It started when I was in the hospital for my Dad’s surgery. The coffee shop in the hospital1 was a Timmy’s. And my Dad *loved* his Timmy’s, so drinking it makes me think of him. I had one at the airport on the way home from Ontario. And when Devon texted this past weekend when he was on the way over to my place informing me that it is Roll Up The Rim to Win season and offering to pick up coffee, I said “Yes, please!” And when I rolled up the rim on that coffee, I actually won!
Of course, now that I am 1 for 1 on RUTRTW this season, I’m wondering if I should quit while I’m ahead…
- As an aside: the hospital also had a Colonel Sanders Wing. Like as in the Kentucky Fried Chicken guy. Apparently he lived in Mississauga at some point and gave a bunch of cash to the hospital and they named a wing after him. It was called something like “The Colonel Sanders Family Care Wing” or some such. I thought it should have been the Cardiac Care Wing, personally, but perhaps that is a bit too obvious. [↩]
I’m back home. As I’m sure you can tell from the obituary I posted last week, my dad’s surgery did not go as planned. The first bad news we got was on the day of the surgery itself, when the surgeon came out of the operation and told us that the tumour that we had thought was benign was, in fact, melanoma - skin cancer that had spread to his brain. He was able to remove about 95-98% of of the tumour, but in the process had lost one of the arteries (the right cerebral artery1) leading to my dad’s brain, as the tumour was all wrapped up in that artery, which was feeding the massive tumour and my dad’s brain. The reason that he couldn’t take out the other 2-5% of the tumour was because it was touching the left cerebral artery and he couldn’t risk it getting damaged, because you only have four arteries feeding your brain, and so it was crucial to keep that left one functioning, or else all there would be no blood going to the front of my dad’s brain. The surgeon’s hope was that the left artery would be able to feed both sides of my dad’s brain in the absence of the right artery. We would need to get a consult with an oncologist to discuss chemo and/or radiation and we would need a full body CT scan to look for other tumours, as the melanoma may have spread elsewhere.
After receiving this sobering news, we went up to the ICU to see my dad, he didn’t wake up. And he didn’t wake up the next day, or the day after that. There were lots of things that happened in these few days, which seemed like an eternity, but I don’t have the energy to type them all out. Suffice it to say that the surgeon came to us with the worst news on Friday, Feb 10 – it turned out that while we were hoping the left artery would feed both sides of my dad’s brains, it was, in fact, doing nothing. The right artery had apparently been feeding both sides of my dad’s brain and so, since that artery tore in the operating room on Wednesday, my dad’s brain hadn’t been getting enough blood to function. On Thursday night when they did a CT scan, they saw massive strokes all over his brain from insufficient blood flow. “He’s in a deep coma and there is zero chance that he will ever wake up,” is what the surgeon told us. Only the ventilator was keeping his body alive – and being kept alive by machines was something that my dad never, ever wanted to happen. We’d talked about it many times over the years and my dad was very clear that being kept alive on machines was, to him, not living. And I’m really glad that we’d had those discussions, because my mom, my sister, and I knew immediately that we had to take him off the ventilator. There was no second guessing, no feeling guilty that maybe we were doing the wrong thing – we knew undoubtedly that we were doing what my dad wanted. We called everyone in my family to give them an opportunity to come and say good-bye if they wished and that night, we took him off the ventilator and then we stayed with him, in shifts, for the next 14 hours. At 11:20 a.m., when he took his final breath and his heart stopped beating, he was surrounded by me, my sister, my mom, and my aunt (my dad’s youngest sister). It was important to us that he was not alone and that we were able to see that he passed peacefully.
We are incredibly sad, of course, because my dad was a good man who didn’t deserve his life to be cut so short and because we miss him and we mourn all the things that he will miss out on – and that we will miss out on him being here for – as we go on with our lives, but we take comfort in knowing that he didn’t suffer. The last conscious thoughts he had were when he walked into the operating room, they gave him the anesthetic and told him to count backwards from 10. He spent his last three weeks – though scared at the prospect of a dangerous surgery and unhappy that he couldn’t drive or do all the things he wanted to do – talking to and receiving support from his family and friends. He knew that he was loved.
We also take some solace in the fact that we were able to donate his eyes and that two people will be able to have sight-saving surgery that otherwise would not be able to see. It comforts me to know this and to think, “I wonder what Dad’s eyes are seeing today?”
We had a funeral for him this past Thursday and the funeral home was packed. We are not a religious family, so we did a family-run service at the funeral home, with speeches by each of his siblings, my sister, myself, and my niece. My seven-year-old niece, who was so close to her Grandpa, decided she wanted to give a speech about all the things she’ll miss about him – it was beautiful and heartbreaking. Truly, all of the speeches were beautiful – there were stories about my Dad that I’d heard many times before and other stories that were new to me.
There was much talk, both in the speeches and when talking to people before and after the service, about how my Dad loved to help people – in fact, pretty much every person I’ve talked to who knew my Dad had a story about how he helped them. There was also a lot of mention from his friends about what a proud family man my Dad was, about how he was always telling anyone who would listen about his daughters and his grandkids.
I really miss my Dad.
- I think I have the name of that right. The surgeon told us, but there was so much to hear and we were in shock, so I’ve looked up the arteries to the brain and I think that I have the info correct. [↩]
SNOW, Jack - Peacefully after complications from surgery on Saturday, February 11, 2012 at the age of 66. Survived by his wife Ann; children Nancy (Jeff Kramp) and Dr. M. E. Snow “Beth”; grandchildren Madeline Zammit and Thomas Kramp; his father Des Snow, brothers Gregor (Dale), Harry (Arlene) and sisters Gwen (Dennis) and Wendy (Rob) as well as many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his mother Mary and brother Bob. Jack loved to help people and we are pleased that he could donate his eyes to the the Trillium Gift of Life Program to give the gift of sight. The family will receive visitors at the J. Scott Early Funeral Home, 21 James St., Milton (905) 878-2669 on Thursday from 9 – 11 a.m. with a funeral service to follow at 11 a.m. from the funeral home chapel. In memory of Jack, please take the time to sign your organ donor card. Messages of condolence may be left online at the J. Scott Early Funeral Home website.
To sign up to donate your organs: