Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa, I Believe!

When I was but a wee girl, the week leading up to Christmas was a time when many an argument would be had as our parents sent us kids to bed early, so that "Santa" could wrap our gifts & magically place them under the Christmas tree.

That is until Rex, my aunt's dog, would get a hold of them and open a few on his own. Apparently, HE didn't get the memo, & neither did Grandma, who still fed him oranges and other food under the table. Grandma, after all, placed special white envelopes ON our trees, not under.

Envelopes that seem to keep showing up some 30 yrs later. Imagine that!

Although there was that one other white envelope that had my name on it, when I was 8, and contained tickets to the Montreal Forum to see my beloved Habs! WHAT!!!! No way!!!!! 10 rows behind the Canadiens bench, no less. Santa, I believe! I believe!

I don't think my feet touched the ground until the New Year, second week in.

Some of the relatives (and pet) from my childhood are no longer with us, but I'm sure, as was our old tradition on Christmas Eve, they will be sitting at a special table graced with many a palette-teasing foods & plenty of drink to make Grandma's cheeks colour. Dad might just be trying to fill Grandma's glass, yet again. Silly Dad, like mother, like daughter.... neither could or can hold their liquor.

I wish you and all your loved ones a blessed and Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year full of joy, rip-roaring fun, happiness, good health and many fond, memorable moments.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I have a stalker

I have a stalker.

Even in this rather restricted basement setup that I currently occupy, waiting for my next surgical procedure. Where it takes but a few steps to reach from the main room to the laundry area and a small setup to fix breakfast and a make-do toilet. A toilet with no plumbing.

That's a whole other story.

My stalker has medium-length hair, with specks of charcoal gray, and silver. Green/gray eyes that gaze at you, sideways and head on. A nose that can sniff out any odor or non-odor from great distances, even multiple floors above my basement perch.
Short, yet nimble legs, that dart in and out of small spaces, quicker than you can blink. Quicker than you can try and close a door. Quicker than crumbs, falling to the wall-to-wall carpet.

Have I forgotten anything? Oh yeah......there are two pairs. Of those quick, nimble legs.

A long charcoal gray tail that rises when she is up to no good. A crown that needs scratching every day around 3:00 p.m., if you want to get on her good side. Down her neck, if you want to remain there.

And yet, she stalks.

Every morning, when I prepare my fruits and cheese, or cereal with flax seed. Before I've even finished cutting my fruit, she's there. Right behind me, waiting for me to turn around. If I choose to ignore her, she'll move forward, in a threatening manner. One step forward from me, and she'll move to block the doorway.

All of one feet tall, and she has the menacing look down pat. For good measure, she'll throw in a "not by me".

"Move", I tell her.

She sets her paws more firmly into the floor. "Nope" she says.

"No way you're getting anything today. Now move."

"Not doing it."

This may go on a for a few more moments, trading idle threats until I finally relent and throw her a piece of cheese. I get a hiss for good measure, and off she goes, throwing me a backward glance that clearly tells me she's not done yet.

Stalking me, that is.

Not done, whenever I treat myself to a popsicle, quietly removing the plastic wrap while I tiptoe back from the laundry area, when I realize she's at the foot of my bed, waiting for me. WTF! How did she materialize?

Not done, whenever I go for a late night snack. I open the refrigerator door and before my hand has even withdrawn a cookie or some other delectable, she magically appears two feet away, with the same look usually reserved for our breakfast showdowns.

Not done, whenever I need to resort to eating apricot paste, for a case of constipation. I haven't even fully opened the wrapping before I hear footsteps scrambling down the stairs, from two floors above. That one usually gets me several meows, a hiss and a pawing at my hands. Fortunately, she was de-clawed at a young age.

Now if we could just do something about her teeth.

Double hiss. Up yours. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Surrender

My last surgery was on March 15th.

Or, as some would know, the Ideas of March. The date in 44 BC that Julius Ceasar was killed, stabbed 23 times by a group of conspirators led by Brutus. On the day, it is said, when the seas succumbs to chaos and a full moon brings high tides. Although Ceasar was warned by soothsayers to be aware of the March of Ides, ego prevailed, and the warning was dismissed.

Last year, when I shared the date of my surgery with some friends, they joked about the Ides of March. I laughed, and also ignored the warning.

Well, we all know how that surgery went.

This year, my surgery is on June 18th. The 200th anniversary of the declaration of that famous War of 1812. The war that the US lost to Canada, when all was said and done.

Have I mentioned that my surgeon is an American? On Monday, June 18th, 2012, this Canadian will enter the operating room, waving the white flag.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So There!

While I await the funnies to revisit Casa Kalaydjian, feast your eyes on this!  Maybe this cat has the right idea on how to turn an upside-down, inside-out world right-side up.  You gotta love it all the way up there, Dad!

Cat upside down 2

Sunday, July 10, 2011

R.I.P. Dad

You were and will always be the heart and soul of our family.  Your courage inspired us, your determination fueled us.
You are finally free.  Free from Parkinsons.  Free from the hospitals.  Free from the doctors.  Free from it all.

Free to create, free to enjoy, free to walk, free to run, free to dance, free to laugh, free to eat, free to drink.

As you knock on the gates of heaven, St. Peter would be wise to let you in without delay.  By then, you will have sized up heaven's landscapes, and determined what and how you could improve your new neighbourhood. Much like the neighbourhood in Mississauga you scoped out for us in the 70's before we moved here from Montreal.

Free at last.  

Until we meet again, Dad.  I love you always.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garo's Way

Dad’s way has always been about family. 

From the family that he was raised in, for whom he sacrificed his own higher education and career aspirations in taking over a family business for an unappreciative father, to supporting his younger brother throughout his university years so that he could follow his dreams.     

To our family, and the sacrifice of leaving our extended family behind in Montreal in 1977, so that my brother and I could have a more prosperous future, absent of the economic and politic shift in Quebec during its tumultuous years in the 70’s and 80’s.

To his new community in Mississauga, for whom he worked feverishly to set up Community Watch, after several homes, including ours, were broken into the first Easter we spent in our new home province. 

To his new brother-and-sisterhood, the Parkinsons Community, for whom he toiled to raise funds for research and education, after he was diagnosed in 1997.  And for whom he has agreed to donate his brain after he passes, so that Dr. Lang’s team at Toronto Western, along with the many other doctors who work tirelessly in pursuit of a treatment and solution to this insidious disease, can one day be victorious.

His way has also been about a strong will, truth and desire to live, love and enjoy.  A spirit that shines in every nook and cranny in our familial home and every space that he occupies, indoors and out.  A spirit that shouts out “Here I am, ready or not.  And while you’re at it, just watch me”. 

A spirit I inherited from him, come what may.

That spirit helped many a neighbour when household or outdoor items needed repairs.  Sprinkler systems needed to be designed and installed?  No problem.  How about car repairs?  I’ll be right there.  Need your driveway shovelled?  I’ll take care of it while I’m doing mine.

All done in his spare time on weeknights or weekends, after a long day or week spent at Hawker Siddley.

That same spirit helped the owners of a hotel we stayed in for many a summer holiday in Florida, during our youth.  We might have been at the beach or in the ocean, enjoying the white-sand beaches of Clearwater, while Dad could be found back at the hotel, helping the owner re-wire a hotel room fixture, or fix a pump, or secure a faulty lock.    

Dad was never good with free time.  Free time was lost time. 

Unless it involved Mom.  In Dad’s mind, his time was her time.  Any day, hour or week.  Any chore, occasion or concern.  Done, done and done.  Well, maybe not dusting, cleaning washrooms or trips to locations not bearing beaches.  Those were not part of any bargain.

And then there was his love for the Blue Jays.  During the World Series in 1993, he was found huddled over a portable radio someone had snuck into a wedding reception, drink in hand, ready to salute his favourite team. 

A couple of years ago, when Parkinsons and recovery from a broken hip significantly hindered his mobility, we were able to secure some seats for Dad and Mom at Rogers Centre.  The smile from ear to ear said it all.  As did a peaceful night, absent of nightmares and struggles that mars many a night for most Parkinsonian patients.

That spirit also helped him overcome a spinal infection in 2004, a broken hip in 2007, and since December 25th, 2010, three seizures, two bouts of pneumonia, and a cracked rib.  Most Parkinsonians wouldn’t have made it through these setbacks.  Dad has.  Much to the surprise and bewilderment of many a doctor, specialist and therapist at Trillium and Toronto Western who were ready to write him off again and again.  A middle finger to all of you, his spirit and will shouted. 

That shout was also evident a couple of weeks ago.  Dad can no longer eat or drink, and relies on a gastric feeding tube to get his nutrition and hydration.  He has great difficulty in speaking, even the fewest of words.  For a man who loved and cherished his food and cold, tall glasses of water, it is heart-wrenching to see.  Dad, on the other hand, never gives up, asking for souvalki , peanuts, mango juice, and his favourite, baklava, to be magically transported through a 3/8” feeding tube.  Bring it to me, I’ll figure out a way, his eyes tell us. 

On this particular occasion, he was alone in the family room, asleep, so we thought.  I was in the basement, Mom organizing some files in her bedroom.  I heard Dad waking up, and moments later, ask for water in a very hoarse and unclear voice, in Armenian, his native tongue.  He repeated it several times, not loud enough for Mom to hear.  Undaunted he switched to English, and called out again, several times.  Once again, Mom did not hear.  “Agua” he finally yelled out, using the Spanish he had learned from all those years of summer holidays in the Dominican Republic.  Agua it was, although all Mom could offer him was water across his lips.

So, while he has valiantly fought this disease for 14 years, his heart and desire leading the way with gusto, his body and brain are now failing him, and the end is near.  He may not be able to read this tribute, this recognition of his many ways.  This appreciation from a daughter who is far too much like him, to have always appreciated the ways of her father.  But, he can recognize his picture next to post.  And he can recognize the walkway dedicated to him, Garo’s Walk, adjunct to Clifton Public School, in recognition of his community work and dedication.  His pride swells, thrilled with the recognition the city bestowed to him.

Family.  Friends.  Community.  His sacrifice, love, perseverance and desire to help any and all that came his way.  That’s how I will always remember, honour and cherish Dad.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  A week early, just how you like it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I normally keep things edgy on this blog, sometimes with a little lightness sprinkled in for good measure.

But as mentioned on my previous post, it has been a difficult time for our family lately, in large part due to my father's declining health, more than likely now in the last stage of Parkinsons disease.   I mention it here, as I am providing a link to my other blog, for those interested in learning about our on-going journey, more like nightmare, in dealing with the Ontario healthcare system, particularly Trillium Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario.

Stay tuned.

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