A rather painful discovery

Last Saturday a friend and I went to see the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  We also signed sittingup for, and attended, an all-day symposium on the artist, his work, his influence (then and now) and his legacy.

Other than an hour of walking around studying his art early in the morning, we essentially sat in one place from 10:00 a.m. to almost 5:00 p.m.

Well, most people sat.  I fidgeted.

Not because I was bored, although the afternoon panel of speakers didn’t exactly enthral me (or anyone else, for that matter from what I observed).  Except for Thelma Golden, Director and  Continue reading

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After I’m gone …

I recently completed a project for an estate and trust lawyer.  And another client of mine is an investment advisor.  Both of them are in the ‘money’ Figure in the fogbusiness.  One helps clients accumulate it; and the other helps them dispose of it.  But I’ve always believed that money is the least of what we leave behind — our legacy, in other words.

Which is the reason why I decided to take a stab at a recent WordPress Daily Prompt for this post:  “Imagine yourself at the end of your life.  What sort of legacy will you leave?  Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.”

A good place to start is probably the non-monetary legacy my parents left me.  They were kind, loving, generous people.  Everyone was welcome in their home, in their lives and in their hearts.   It didn’t matter who you were, or where you came from.

They were honest to a fault.  Their ‘word’ was like a blood oath.  And there isn’t a human being who ever knew them, who would ever have questioned their integrity, or their intentions.

Family and friends meant everything to them; and whenever anyone needed help my parents could Continue reading

No better way to start the day …

The minute I read this WordPress Daily Prompt I knew exactly who I’d be writing about:  George.  The doorman who works the 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Freezingshift at my apartment building.  He is, hands down, one of the nicest, kindest, gentlest men you will ever meet.

And he just so happened to be the first person I saw this morning.  Which is the subject of the aforementioned prompt.

George has worked at the building for many, many years.  He is a fixture there.  Known and loved, not only by the residents, but by every taxi driver, delivery person and visitor who’s ever pulled up at our front door.  Seriously.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out, hailed a taxi and, as soon as I’d give the driver my address, he start waxing poetic about George.

“You have the most wonderful doorman”, they gush.  “He is so nice.  So polite.  So kind.  So cheerful.  Such a warm smile” … and on and on it goes.

Which is one of the reasons why I look forward to Tuesdays.  It’s my day to volunteer at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Continue reading

Celebrating a couple of great gals …

Leo believe in themselves and manage to move forward.  The people born under the sign of Leo have the inclination to be romantic, idealists, leoambitious, faithful, powerful, devoted, generous, honourable, fair and sometimes too brave.  The interests of Leo are aimed at entertainment, children (especially their own).  Leo zodiac sign generosity attracts the friendship of people.

This morning a Facebook friend posted a happy birthday wish to her twin daughters.  As I ‘liked’ it I realized, with a start, that today is also my late mother’s birthday.  Interestingly enough, she was also a twin.  Today is also my friend, Karen’s birthday.

Seems I’m surrounded by Leos.  Not a hardship, by any means.  They’re wonderful people.  Warm and loving and kind.  Always upbeat and smiling.  Totally outgoing.  The description above is certainly accurate — at least as far as the Leos in my life are concerned.

Sadly, neither my mother or aunt are around to celebrate with me, today.  But hopefully, wherever Continue reading

Day 344. It’s Bitchin’

I remember it very clearly.  It was a long, cold, miserable winter, we had this year.  Endless, in fact.  It started early and ended late.  Lots and lots of snow.  More heatwavethan I’ve ever seen, in the almost thirty years I’ve lived here.

And it was damp.  Went right through you.  Chilled you to the bone, no matter how many layers of warm clothing you had on.  I shivered day after day, week after week, month after month.  If I didn’t absolutely, positively have to go out, I did not.  I hibernated.  Like a bear, in a cave.

It was a misery, all right.  And I remember the promise I made to myself, when we were really in the thick of it.  When it seemed like there’d be no end to it.  When it was still snowing and blowing and freezing in March.  When it was supposed to be spring.  When I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering.

“If summer ever comes, no matter how hot it gets, I will NOT complain.  I will NOT moan.  I will NOT groan.   Continue reading

Day 289. Mixed Feelings

“Life at best is bittersweet” Jack Kirby

Normally I probably wouldn’t have used yesterday’s WordPress Daily Post as inspiration for a story. “Bittersweet Memories”. “You receive a gift that is bittersweet photosand makes you nostalgic. What is it?”

It is a bit too melancholy for me. But I was at the hospital volunteering when I read it; and it instantly conjured a memory for me.

When my mother moved to Toronto she knew no one, other than me and my closest friend. When I was growing up she was a hospital volunteer. It was always something she enjoyed doing, so she told me she planned to do it here, as well. It would not only give her something to do, she figured it would also be a good way to meet people. So she signed up for two days a week, Mondays and Tuesdays.

She moved here when she was seventy-five. By the time she turned eighty, she’d made quite a few good friends. I wanted to make her a party. Eighty is, after all, a milestone. She didn’t want a party. She said she’d prefer to

Continue reading

Day 225. Another Calling?

I watched Tom Brokaw, the American broadcast journalist, on the OWN Network the other night.  Among the many things he discussed, he talked about how he emotionalalways knew journalism was his true calling.  How, as a young boy, watching the news with his family in South Dakota, he was transfixed.  And even then, he knew it was what he wanted to do.

Clearly he was right, because he is one of the most respected newsmen of our time.  Certainly one of my favourites, along with Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

God, now I am dating myself.  I’ll bet there are a lot of you out there, who don’t know who I’m talking about.  Well, there it is. Would it help if I told you, I was a mere child when they were on the air?  It’s true, you know.

Not that it really matters.  I’m glad I had the chance to see them in action.  I can’t think of anyone I’d stack up against them, now.

But that’s not the point of this story.  Destiny is.

You could say it was Tom Brokaw’s destiny to end up not merely reporting the news, but making sense of it, for almost fifty Continue reading

Day 176. Handling Anxiety

Yesterday I watched part of a Charlie Rose interview with Dustin Hoffman.  Just a month or so ago he (Hoffman) became a Kennedy Center Honoree.  Plus anxietythe movie he directed, Quartet, was recently released, so they had a lot to talk about.

When the discussion turned to Hoffman, the actor, he said something that struck a chord with me.  That actors are observers.  Of course they are.  And so are writers.  We have to be.  Otherwise we would never be able to create characters and story lines our readers could identify with.

Today is a volunteer day for me.  On Tuesdays I volunteer at a hospital here, in Toronto.  There are three areas where I help out.  An elective surgery recovery room, palliative care and a surgical waiting room.  All areas where patients and their families are under a lot of stress.  Emotions run high and everyone is anxious and scared.

I’ve been doing it for four years now, always in the same areas, and I’ve had a chance to observe a lot of different people; and how they handle their anxiety.  They’re all different.  Because of how long they can take, I spend the most time, in the surgical waiting room, with those who have friends or family members having surgery.

For the most part, these are complicated, serious operations.  They can last anywhere from a couple of hours, to more than eight or ten.  Sometimes even longer.  It’s here these ‘loved ones’ wait for news.  It’s here the doctors Continue reading

Day 60. A Milestone

It’s been two months, since I first had the crazy idea of attempting to write something new, every day, for a year.  Sixty days.  Sixty stories.  Sixty different topics.  Six hundred and twenty-one tags.  Forty-four thousand, seven hundred nineteen words.

And sixty grande Pike’s to keep me going.

Damn!  That’s half a novel’s worth of work.  That’s one mother load of a blog.  And I’m not even close to being done.  Done in, occasionally.  But not done.  I’ve written on more subjects I could ever have imagined, from aging to atoning.  From beauty to books.  The Caribbean to cycles.  Distractions.  Entertainment.  And fantasies.

On googling.  Health and history.  From ignorance to intentions.  Joy and love.  From mischief to  music and naturopathy.  Politics and prejudice.  Refining to rituals.   Continue reading

Day 46. Helping Others

A friend posted a wonderful Mohandas K. Gandhi quote on Facebook yesterday morning:  “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  It  made me think of the volunteer work I do; and how fortunate I am.

Every Tuesday you can find me, in my blue lab coat, at Mt. Sinai Hospital, in downtown Toronto.  With a program that includes about 1,000 volunteers, there is virtually no area of the hospital where you won’t find at least one of us.

We’re there seven days a week, even holidays.  We’re men and women.  Students, middle-aged and seniors.  Rich and poor. Canadians and immigrants.  Married, single, divorced and widowed/widowers.  We have families.  We have friends.  And some, have no one.  We’re in the pharmacies, labs, recovery rooms, waiting rooms, clinics, doctors’ offices, on every floor, in emergency, diagnostic imaging, and even at home, knitting warm hats for premature babies.  We’re visiting the elderly, feeding, filing, documenting, delivering, translating, organizing, making appointments, providing information, answering questions, giving directions and, mostly, assisting —  wherever, whenever and however we can.

What unites us, is why we’re there.  To help others.  To make strangers’ lives a little easier, a little better, a little less lonely, a little less frightening, a little less daunting; even if it’s just for a moment.  And by strangers I mean patients, families and staff.

I work mainly in an out-patient surgical recovery room, where patients come for minor surgery.  Typically they just need Continue reading