Monday, April 29, 2019

ROBBLOG #780- Goodbyes and Memories

Five years ago today April 30th, I said goodbye to my Mum- Marion Ruth Bartley, for the last time.

She passed at 2 pm.
My Sister Lynn and my brother Scott were there in her room and my brother-in-law Jim. Tom was
at home waiting for "the call" and arrived in the minutes after she left us.

Mum always claimed she was going to live to be 100, maybe 120.
She did her best. 92.
Old age, Lupus and maybe a bit of Cancer did her in.
The falls didn't help. The bit of memory loss but once she started falling that was the beginning of a downhill slide.

I didn't see my Mum for two and a half years- before she took ill.
We lived in the same city.
I saw her-thank goodness, over the last four months or so before she passed.
That good thing.

When Tom and I were planning our "Formal and Legal" Wedding, she dug in her heels and said she wouldn't come.
She said to me- "Why do you always have to make such a big deal of everything?"
I said- "I don't know if it is such a big deal but I have to do this. We both want this."
Eventually- in the week before 200 plus guests were to arrive for the party, she decided to come.
Thank goodness...

We spent some quality time in the past few months when she didn't really get out of bed.
I had her outside in the fresh air in this special wheelchair- once.
Tom and I had her to the dining room- where she valiantly tried to feed herself before yelling and throwing the fork down in disgust- once.

Mum was stubborn.
I inherited that from her.
She had a good sense of humour and loved to laugh.

Marion Ruth Reid
It was so hard that April afternoon leaving her alone in that room. We took down the prints we had hung on the walls a month or more before, trying to cheer the place up a little. We cleaned out some of her cupboard drawers all while she was lying there so still.
It was a sad parade as we closed the door to her room, seeing her laying there. Walking down that hall to the elevator and out the front doors to our vehicles was difficult but we all did it.

~sigh, tears~

In the final few days I never saw her eyes open and both my sister and I sat with her for many hours. She called out for her Mum- Lottie Bartley, a lot and her older sister May. She seemed to have the fear that May would head off to school without her and Mum always had to look after her younger sister- Wilma. She couldn't leave her behind.
Nothing you could say would calm her.
It was awful listening to her plaintiff cries...

She liked to listen to music and had a nice voice. In the 1950's, she always had Juliette's noon hour CBC Radio show on. As a kid in the 1950's I listened to Mum and Dad's old 78's on a humble phonograph player that plugged into our Northern Electric Radio. I think it was made of a lighter form of bakelite. Not too many plastics were around in those days.
When I would touch the needle to place it on a record by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney or Guy Lombardo, I'd get a shock. Not all the time but enough that I was always a little hesitant to touch the tone arm.
I'd have Dad do it for me. He was my Dad after all and he wouldn't feel the numbing pain of electricity run through his fingers like I did or at least that's what I thought.
I think that where my appreciation of "good music" comes from. It all started all those decades ago.

My Dad. Walter Harvie Reid.
He passed on May 6 just after 7 in the morning. A cool, brisk morning with the sun shining and the birds singing.
That was 1992.
Dad had Cancer. Lymphoma. It rushed to every part of his body within weeks.
He never got home from the hospital once they had him in there the first time. I always had some hope he's magically get to come home but no.
He didn't.

Me and My Dad.
He was lucid until the last day or so.
On one of those days- although he kept his eyes closed, we were trying to make him comfortable. I sat on the edge of his bed, leaned in and said to him-
"Dad, are you comfortable?"
His blue eyes popped open. He sat up. Looked me square in my blue eyes and said in a loud voice that could be heard all the way down the hall at the Nurse's station and beyond-
"I'M DYING!!!!"

We all kind of chuckled. I looked at Mum and said something like- "Well, that's that! Good to know."

Dad also had a great sense of humour and loved to laugh at the British "Carry On" Films. He loved George Formby too- another Brit.

He would laugh so hard, he made me laugh watching him as I sat next to him on the chesterfield.
His lips were stretched to the limit and his one gold tooth sparkled as he guffawed.
I have gold tooth too. A molar on the side.

Dad smoked cigars occasionally. Outside the house.
He loved to fish. I didn't.
He could never teach me the patience required to sit in the rowboat on calm Lake Couchiching on a hot summer day or in the stinky, oil-heated fish hut in freeezing cold January with the snow piled high.
Ugh. Winter and the smell of fish!!
Not my cup of tea.

Dad was a great gardener and his thumb was very green. For a few years we had several greenhouses in our yard on Cochrane Street in Orillia. He'd sell the "boxed plants" from the greenhouses or from our front yard. 3 boxes for $1 in those days.
We'd even take the plants to the Saturday Morning Market.

I remember how moist Dad's blue eyes became when his Mother Lillian (Watson) - my Grandmother, died. His Dad- Norman, died a year and a month before Grandma Reid.
I remember watching him sit at our kitchen table when Grandad died.
He looked lost.

Mum and Dad loved to camp. It all started in a 9 by 9 foot green tent. Dad would pick up bails of hay from the side of the road and shove it underneath the tent's stitched in flooring in order to make a comfortable bed for us all.
"Hell, why d'ya need an air mattress when you have straw?"- he'd tell everyone who'd listen that we slept on straw.
Jesus. Mary and Joseph!!

I loved Beavermead Park. It was on the shores of Little Lake in Peterborough. I thought we were living in pretty upscale accommodation the year Mum and Dad bought a box tent with two rooms- a kitchen diner at the front and a bedroom behind.
Since I was a teenager, I had graduated to my own little blue tent. The blue die always rubbed off onto my feet and summer shorts. That tent never lost it's "new canvas smell".
I can smell it right now. It takes me back...
Oh, I had an air mattress by then.

In later years Mum and Dad had a comfortable trailer with indoor facilities but you could only do number one- a pee, never a poop in the toilet. One had to walk up to the washroom at the park for that bit of business. I had stopped camping years before but when Tom and I visited them at Beavermead Park on Armour Road in Peterborough- their summer address, we knew full well- never but never, ever poop in the trailer toilet.
Only pee.
Get it? Got it? Good.

I have so many stories. I have started many times to write them down. I think I have told many in several of these blogs over the years.

Time goes by.
I get older.
Now, I'm a Senior.

I still miss them both- every day.
Love you Mum and Dad.

I'll see you soon...