Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Five Years

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My Dad has been gone for five years now. How has five years gone by without my Dad here to tell a joke or tease me when the Leafs beat the Canucks or pick me up at the airport with a Tim Horton’s coffee in one hand and a sign that says “Dr. Snow” in the other? He never knew that I bought a home (he’d have been proud), that I got some cats (he would have been chagrined) and some frogs and fish (he would have been amused). My sister and I have both long since finished the degrees we were just starting when he died1 and gone on to get fancy jobs that he would have proudly told about to anyone and everyone. He would have loved the antics of my nephew, who was only a tiny baby five years ago, and he would have loved the antics of my niece, who’s now nearly a teenager! He would have enjoyed the tales of my mom’s world travels, which he wouldn’t have gone on himself, not being much of a traveller, but he would have wanted to hear all about it. Who knows what he would have gotten up to in his retirement, which he didn’t get nearly enough of after a life of working hard?

I still miss you, Daddy.

  1. A Masters of Design and a Masters of Business Administration, respectively. []

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So Ducking Adorable

So I was out for a run on the Quay after work today and as I was on my way home, as I walked up to Front Street, I saw what appeared to be a woman standing in the middle of traffic. As it turned out, however, she and another woman were in the process of catching some baby ducks that had wandered into the street (and all the drivers were stopped and some were trying to help them catch the ducks). For those who aren’t familiar with New Westminster, Front Street is a pretty busy street with lots of big trucks on it and it was really lucky that one of these people had spotted these little guys walking down the street before they got run over! One of the women who managed to catch two of the four ducks was so shaken up – she just kept saying “I’m shaking!”, so I took those two ducks from her. The other lady who had the two other ducks and I were then standing there thinking “What the heck do we do with these ducks??”, as there was no sign whatsoever of their mom. Someone else grabbed a paper bag from their car so that we could put them in that rather than trying to hold them and I decided to call the SPCA to ask what the heck we should do. The SPCA said that we could take them to the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby, which fortunately is not too far from where we were. Since the other lady did not have a car, I decided to take them and so off I went with my bag of baby ducks:

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I had to take them up to my apartment to get my car keys and their chirping briefly caught the attention of the kitties, but mostly the kitties just seemed affronted that I’d come home and didn’t feed them immediately.

The ducks did not seem overly happy about being in a car, as they chirped loudly every time I accelerated1 and one particularly brave one jumped out of the bag, which required me to pull over and catch him or her. I mean, I don’t think “duck running around in your car” is specifically described in the distracted driving legislation, but I can assure you, it should be.

When I got to the Wildlife Rescue, the volunteers there were very happy to have these rescued ducks brought in. I had to fill out some paperwork about where I found the ducks and such, and they told me that they would raise these little guys up to adulthood (which would take about 6 weeks) and then would release them back into the wild. They said that they figured these little guys were probably only about a day old and that often a duck has their nest away from the water and once the ducklings hatch, they mom walks the brood to the water, but often loses some along the way, because it’s hard to keep track of that many ducklings.

When I was telling my sister about my adventure tonight, I said, “I was channeling Dad!” because my Dad loved birds and was always rescuing them. But then she pointed out that if I were really channeling Dad, I’d have four ducklings swimming around in my bathtub right now, which is totally true.

I’m really glad that the Wildlife Rescue Association was there to help these little guys! Six weeks from now, I’ll be looking out for these guys while I’m out running at the Quay!

  1. Smart cars are not know for their quiet engines. []

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Two Years

Two years ago yesterday my Dad went into brain surgery, which he didn’t survive. We wouldn’t know that he hadn’t survived for three long days, during which we sat at his bedside willing him to wake up. We didn’t know his brain had suffered too much damage during the surgery and could no longer do anything but the most basic functions to keep his body going, but even then only with the assistance of artificial life support and even with that life support, it was barely able to do that and his body started shutting down over those three days. He couldn’t hear us talking to him, he hadn’t had a thought since he’d gone into surgery, scared but hopeful that the massive tumour in his brain would be removed and he would be OK. He also hadn’t known the tumour was malignant melanoma, as on the scans that they did before the surgery, it looked decidedly like a benign meningioma, which would have meant that removing it would have made him feel better than ever. I’m generally not a believer that “ignorance is bliss”, preferring to face facts over being in the dark about things, but in this case I’m glad that the surgeon wasn’t able to tell what kind of cancer my dad had before the surgery. It would have done my dad no good to go into his surgery knowing that his cancer was incurable and that he would only have suffering, debilitation, and death ahead of him. Given that the surgery turned out to be non-survivable, I’m willing to accept that in this case, where knowledge of the stark realty would have offered no way to have done anything differently and only would have served to make my dad’s last weeks of life that much more depressing, ignorance was preferable.

Around this time of year, I can’t help but think of my dad’s death and everything that surrounded it – the diagnosis, the waiting for surgery, the surgery, sitting vigil by his bedside, the moment that he stopped breathing and then, shortly after, when his heart stopped beating, the funeral. But I don’t want his death to overshadow his life. My dad was a man who believed in living life to its fullest. He was larger than life. The life of the party. He loved his family and we loved him.

I think of the things that have happened in the past two years. I did a whole MBA. I moved into a new place with a boyfriend. And then we broke up. I got pet frogs – that I think my dad would have liked – and pet cats – that I think he wouldn’t have1. My nephew has grown from a wee baby to an energetic, hilarious little toddler. My niece has continued to blossom into an intelligent, creative, and hilarious little girl. My mom and I went to Ireland together, and we know he would have loved to hear all about our trip. So many things he never got to see. So much life he will never get to live.

Last night, his Toronto Maple Leafs played my Vancouver Canucks and for the first time in more than TEN years, the Leafs won. And I would have given anything to have gotten a phone call last night after the game for him to tease me about it.

I miss you always, Daddy.

  1. My dad liked birds, so he didn’t like cats. []

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En Reconnaissance

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Medal in recognition of my dad’s donation.

This past week, my mom, my niece, my grandpa, and my aunt attended a “Celebration of Life” ceremony held by the Trillium Gift of Life Network 1 in honour of those who have been organ and tissue donors. As you know, when my Dad passed away last year, his eyes were donated and two people received sight-restoring surgeries because of his donation 2. The Celebration of Life ceremony was a way to thank the donor families and to share the effect that their donations have on the lives of the recipients3. There was a speech by a woman who received a heart transplant and another by the mother of a three year old girl who received a liver transplant when she was just a baby. Both of these people are alive today because caring people decided to donate their organs and made sure that their families knew that they wanted to donate.

When my dad died and we received the phone call from the Trillium Gift of Life Network asking if we would be willing to donate his eyes, we knew immediately what to do. My dad had told us long ago that if he were ever in the situation where he could be an organ donor, he would want to be one. We even had his driver’s license card where he’d signed the organ donor card4. And we were so grateful that in that horrible moment, we didn’t have to wonder what Dad would have wanted to do or try to make the decision on our own. The decision was made by my dad and we were merely carrying out his wishes on his behalf, since he couldn’t do it himself. It gave us solace to be able to do for him what he let us know he wanted done and to this day it comforts me to know that his corneas are out there, somewhere, helping someone see the beautiful world around them. Maybe they are seeing their kids or grandkids, or their partner or parents or friends, or maybe they are watching the sunset or rise, or maybe they are watching the Leafs play the Habs. Whatever they are watching, they are making someone’s life significantly better and I’m sure that they are thankful for that donation every single day.

So what I want to say to you all is this: think about whether you’d want to be an organ donor and make that wish known. I know that not everyone is comfortable with the idea and if that’s the case for you, let your loved ones know so that they don’t have to guess, should you ever be in that situation. And if you are willing to be a donor, please register with your provincial transplant organization (see below) and let your loved ones know your wishes. Then, should the situation arise where you could be an organ or tissue donor, your family doesn’t have to wonder what you would have wanted to happen and your tissues and/or organs can go on to help improve or save a life.

Two provinces have online registration systems for you to register your wish to be an organ donor:

For information on registering as a potential donor in other provinces, check out: Life: Pass It On.

  1. The Trillium Gift of Life Network is the agency that coordinates organ and tissues donations in Ontario. []
  2. Because my dad had cancer, none of his other organs could be donated, but we were thankful that his eyes could be used to help people in need. []
  3. You don’t actually get to know who the specific recipient of your loved one’s organs or tissues were, but you get to hear from recipients about how they are alive today and able to function thanks to the donation they received. []
  4. Which is how they used to track who wanted to be an organ donor in Ontario. Now there is an online system where you sign up. []

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Good-bye, Daddy.

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.

  1. 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. []

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Jack Snow

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:

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Happy 40th Anniversary to My Parents

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Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad! Here’s to 40 more years!

Image Credit: Posted by jon jordan on Flickr.

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Things My Dad Taught Me

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Today, my dad turns 66 years old. Over the past 34 years of him being my dad, he’s taught me a thing or two.

Working Hard is Honourable

My father takes the notion of “work ethic” to a whole new level. For example, he had perfect attendance at work – never missed a day, never even one second late for work – for the last 24 years of his career. Think about that. Up until he retired last year, he had worked every single shift he’d been scheduled for since 19851. My sister and I are both ridiculously hard workers2 and that is in no small part due to the example that our dad set.

Biology is Awesome

Although my dad worked most of his life in the automobile industry3, he really should have been a veterinarian or a farmer, as he’s most in his element when he’s with his birds. He has a bit of a hobby farm where he keeps all sorts of birds and some other animals too – so I grew up around chickens, turkeys, swans, pheasants, peacocks and, of course, the pigeons. When I was little, a blue jay died in our yard and my dad brought it into the garage to decompose so that we could examine the skeleton, because biology is freaking cool. I’m sure that my choosing an educational career in biochemistry/physiology was influenced by early zoology lessons at the coop!

How To Drive

My sister and I both got our driver’s licences when we were 16 years old – pretty much as soon as was humanly possible. And while we both took driver’s ed4, we spent a tonne of time practicing with our dad when we had our learner’s permits. To this day, I always back into my parking spots, rather than driving in forwards, and taxi red lights, because that’s what my dad taught me to do!

Be Silly

My dad is a big kid. My childhood summers were filled with trips to Canada’s Wonderland and waterparks and the go-kart track – and my father was always the first in line for the rollarcoasters and the water slide and he’d seriously race you in those go-karts5. At family gatherings, he’ll always be the one horsing around with the kids. So when you see me doing goofy things – and let’s be honest, that’s pretty much every day – I’m just being my father’s daughter.

Love Is Expressed in Gestures

My family is not big on saying “I love you” in so many words, but they are always doing things that show they care. Whether it’s greeting me at the airport with a sign with my name on it like a chauffeur would6, bringing me home a coffee, offering me a “cuppa”7 or watching my beloved Canucks play into double overtime (even though he’s a Leafs fan and it’s three hours later in Toronto than it is in Vancouver!), my dad lets me know that he loves me.

I love you, Daddy. I hope you have a very happy birthday!

  1. And for the 20+ years before that, he can list the days he missed work. Things like the days my sister and I were born or my grandparents’ funerals. []
  2. We probably work too hard, truth be told. []
  3. Installing transmissions into Mack Trucks and later making brake parts []
  4. He wanted us to take driver’s ed because he wanted to make sure we learned to do things the proper way, as opposed to picking up any of his bad driving habits. []
  5. Truth be told, the race always came down to him and my sister; I never really had the guts to go all out the way that they did! []
  6. No matter how many times he does that, it’s always funny to me! []
  7. That’s a cup of tea. []