Hanging on to Humour

Through everything, I’ve tried very hard to maintain a sense of humour.

I thinks it’s important to laugh – through the light and the darkness. It’s the one thing that keeps me going and keeps me somewhat sane. I have a dark and dry sense of humour. ML tells me constantly that I will go to hell for some of the things I laugh at and make fun of, but without my sarcasm and wit, I’m nothing.

Stupid things make me cry, and equally, stupid things make me laugh. I’ve been blessed with a husband who gets me, and a Father in Law who loves to spar with me. His Scottish sense of haha cracks me up, and when we get going, one of us usually has to pee. He usually outlasts me. My bladder doesn’t work anymore, so it’s not really a fair fight. But then, his prostate is giving him grief now, so we’re evening out.

More than anything, the sound of ML laughing at something dark and ridiculous makes me laugh harder than anything else. He’s one of those people who laughs until tears run down his face, and once he gets going, it’s impossible to stay sad and morose. He laughs with his whole body, and usually throws in a snort or two. Classic. I love him for it. There have been times where we’ve been in a very bad place, with my anxiety levels rising, and he’ll find something so stupidly funny that it brings me back to earth. We’ll be going to hell together I fear.

This has kept me going over the past few years. Finding humour in pain, depression and disappointment is almost impossible, and the fact that he can find a way has brought me out of the depths of my grey sludge more often than I can count. There isn’t a lot to laugh about these days. Watching the news makes me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and rock and weep. Thinking about and talking about family issues – his and mine – makes my internal ball of anger glow like a bonfire and the tears pour.

We worry about our future and whether I’ll get worse and require more care. We worry about money and whether we have enough set aside to see us both through to old age. We worry about one of us being left alone and how we’d cope without the other. There’s nothing funny in any of this, so when things get too deep, we try to find something funny in the darkness to turn things around. It doesn’t always work, but I love him for trying.

We worry about today, we worry about tomorrow, but we always find moments to find the funny in the fury.

I knew I had the right guy when, on our 38 degree wedding day, we both cracked up at all the flies buzzing around us during our oh so romantic ceremony, and at the sweat pouring down our faces. We didn’t care – we’d found each other, we were getting married and everything else was just funny. Two hours of pictures in the heat – hilarious! We were unbelievably happy and everything else just didn’t matter.

There have been few ups to our downs lately, but finding the funny keeps us together.


The Aftermath

The Widow lives on. I truly have never really “hated” anyone – I’ve dismissed them, or cut them from my life, or tried to find excuses for bad behavior. I hate this woman. She made the last few years of my Father’s life a living hell. Her treatment of him confused him. He didn’t know how to fight back. He couldn’t find the words to communicate to anyone just how bad his life had become. He had vowed to love her in sickness and in health until death. He had no way out but to die.

Dad very rarely had anything bad to say about any single person. There was one man earlier on who swindled my parents out of a business, and Dad forgave him. It simply made him sad that this man had acted so abhorrently, and I think he worried more for his soul and prayed for him rather than worry how it had affected him and our family. I never heard him say one bad thing about the Widow, he simply complained about the circumstance he had found himself in. It wasn’t her fault – he had simply made a poor choice of companion and found himself in hell.

There were prenups and wills in place, everything was well documented, and yet….

What followed could only be described as a shit storm. It got ugly and everyone was pulling and being pulled in different directions. I was on the other side of the world and living in a pit of depression, anxiety and indescribable pain. I had gone through with my scheduled surgery, but what they found when they opened me up was a hundred times worse than they could have imagined. Left to fester and grow, endometriosis is a cruel disease. Mine was one of the worst my surgeon had seen.

I tried to engage, but there were things happening with what was left of my parents’ estate that I had no control over. Our family heirlooms were disappearing, small things that meant so much to us, had so little value to anyone else, were gone. Fingers were pointed and the police called in, and it just all became very ugly. That’s when that little ball of hate and anger grew to a size that I could no longer live with.  Things were thrown away,  given to charity without a thought. No one talked to me – I was ill and not to be bothered. But there were tiny things that were important to me. All gone. Given to the Widow’s family who already had so much, tossed away as though they had no worth. All without our knowledge or permission.

I’m a sentimental wreck. Pieces passed down through my parents’ families and carefully transported to Canada and cared for. Gone. Pieces gathered during a long marriage – gifts, collections, things part of our family’s history. We didn’t have much. We didn’t have a lot of money, so every gift and acquisition was important. Important to us. Pieces that I saw every day on our shelves and in out cupboards as I was growing up. Not worth fighting for? I thought they were. But I had nothing to say, and from the other side of the world, nothing I could do.

There was the financial estate – clearly meant for the three children – the Widow and her family threatened to go after that as well. It wasn’t enough to fight over – the only winners would have been Revenue Canada and the lawyers. It actually made me ill. It made me feel physically sick and sent me spiraling further into the black hole, covering me even more with grey sludge.

I was broken. I could no longer speak. No one in the family were speaking to each other – we’d all scattered off in a million directions to grieve and deal with what was happening. No one could quite believe what was going on, and we simply stopped talking.

I spent time in a psychiatric hospital. My mind and body had completely shut down. Everything I was dealing with daily finally broke me completely. I don’t remember a lot from that time. It’s all sort of grey and each day blends into the next. Coming home was no better. I did nothing. No reading, no sleeping, no eating, no computer. Nothing. Crying – a lot of crying. I’d left my job, I had no future, nothing brought me joy. Except ML. He tried so hard to pull me through, and to pull me out. But, I needed more – I needed my family. I hadn’t been able to go to my Father’s funeral, and his grubby Widow was taking my parents’ things, and I needed to talk about it. But no one wanted to talk about it. I had no one to share my grief with.

I had well and truly hit rock bottom. Pills got me through the day, pills made me sleep at night. ML had to physically take me to the shower, or to brush my teeth, or force me to eat something. And in the midst of this, my physical health was going downhill fast. I cannot describe to you what it was like – I’ve blocked a lot of it out. There are no words to describe my anger, grief and anxiety.

The only thing I though about was which pills and how many would I have to take to just go to sleep and not wake up. This plan kept me going. Knowing how it would affect ML kept me from going through with it. I made two attempts, weak and unsuccessful.

I couldn’t even get that right.

Crazy Old Widower III

So, he struggled. Overmedicated.

And he was sick. More than sick. He was dying. He knew it, refused to see a Doctor or seek treatment. He told me he was sick, and not to wait too long to come and visit. I felt paralyzed and stuck. I was too sick to make the trip, and definitely would not be able to make the trip  on my own. I was in so much pain physically and mentally, but I knew he needed me. My brother tried to hold it together, but his Aspergers made it hard for him to make things happen. And they found it impossible to have a proper conversation.

My Dad needed a firm hand and a no nonsense discussion with someone who loved him. But he was stubborn, and would not be swayed. He knew what was best, and kept plodding along. He started acting strangely – driving to my brother’s house with no shoes to take a nap on the sofa. We were all afraid for him, and there was an underlying suspicion of violence. Dad had bruises – he may have been falling a lot, but he may have been pushed. Again – just my opinion, but I believe what I believe and it tears me to bits.

A difficult time of year – Mother’s Day, my brother’s birthday, and in the middle of the afternoon I got a call at work. It was my brother – Dad was gone. It was all a bit muddled and confusing, and I didn’t understand what was happening. I fell apart and a kind co-worker drove me home.

He had fallen ill at home. Sweaty, nauseous, chest pains – all clear signs of a heart attack. Rather than call an ambulance, the Widow called my brother, who raced over and rushed him to hospital. They gave him a brief looking over in the ER and sent him home in an ambulance, with my brother and the Widow following close behind. They said he was having an anxiety attack.

See – eight weeks on the psych ward puts a big old “Crazy” stamp on your medical records. No effort was made to check him out, they didn’t check his heart, or keep him overnight for observation. He was obviously mentally ill and having an anxiety attack. Let’s not waste a bed. This is why I carry that little nugget of fear around inside me everyday – I wear the same damning stamp.

Dad got two steps into the house and had a massive heart attack that killed him instantly. The paramedics that brought him home tried everything, but it was too late. My poor brother had to sit by and watch my Dad die. On the floor. He was returned to the same hospital – this time to the morgue.

Yes, the hospital  made a huge mistake. Yes, we could have sued. My brother walked the hallways and sat outside of offices of the hospital until they finally agreed to perform an autopsy. Dad’s body had to be sent to Calgary to have the autopsy done. He had prostate cancer that had spread. Yes, he was very ill and must have been in agony for months. And yes, the coroner found that it had been a mistake to send him home without further testing. But, no, we didn’t want to lodge a lawsuit and put our family through the hassle and fight of suing the hospital and government. It was all just too much. The Widow wasn’t bothered – just concerned about what was going to happen to her. Who would be looking after her.

And I was on the other side of the world. We were in the middle of moving house, I was crippled with pain and could do very little. I couldn’t leave ML on his own to move, and was in too much pain to make the trip home. I was facing major surgery within a week. I got little snippets of information – one story from my brother, another from my sister, and no one was thinking about what needed to happen next. There were things that had to be looked after. I told my sister what to take to the funeral home for him to wear – his favourite tie, his gold cross lapel pin, and remove his current wedding ring and replace it with his original. He was to be buried with my Mom, and I wanted to make sure he had the right ring on. No one else was thinking of these things – they were all running around and getting in each other’s way. Everyone was angry – as was I – but that had to wait. The most important thing at that moment was making sure he was put to rest with my Mom with the most respect possible.

It was a mess. A disaster. I sat on the other side of the world and cried, and once he was safely next to my Mom, I fell apart.

mom and dad engagement

Crazy Old Widower II

I tried really hard to be happy – to be supportive, but from the moment I met her, I knew she was not the right fit for my Dad. She was horribly emotionally needy, and my Dad didn’t do “emotions”. He did not share his feelings in the way most people do, but he had his companion, the hooks were well and truly in, the rings had been purchased, and this marriage was happening.


Strangely, her family came to Canada from the Netherlands around the same time my parents did, and at one point shared a house – Mom and Dad and my brother and sister in the basement unit, the widow and her husband and two children on the top floor. They weren’t friends, as the widow and her family didn’t devote themselves to the same church that my Mom and Dad had. But, their paths crossed now and again, and now they would be together until death.

The wedding was an uncomfortable affair – we all knew this was wrong, and the look of sheer terror on my Dad’s face told the story. But, we all rallied and tried to jolly things up, and we hoped and prayed that it would work out somehow.

It did not. My Dad is “quiet guy” with his nose in a book, she needed chatty guy. They tried. They traveled. They tried to make the best of it. Dad spent hours reading to her. We spoke on the phone once a week, and I knew he was desperately unhappy. Ten minutes into the conversation I could hear her screaming at him in the background. Dad cried. We said goodbye and tried again the following week.


Dad started taking high doses of anti depressants, along with a vast assortment of “herbal” and “natural” remedies my sister swore by. She meant well. He began over medicating – I could hear that in his voice too. We all tried to talk him into leaving, but he had made his vows to her before God, and would never break them.

dad and terry 2008

I visited once more a couple of years before he passed away. It was awful. Her home was full of my Mother’s things and it broke me. Dad was a ghost of his former self. If he was difficult before, he was impossible then. My sister washed her hands of the situation, I did what I could over the phone, but it was left to my brother to keep things together.

During all this, my brother’s marriage fell apart. I felt desperate and completely useless. I was also having a very difficult time at work, and was physically feeling worse by the day. Dad kept begging me to come for a visit, but I just couldn’t do it on my own, and ML couldn’t face another four weeks of that level of stress and dysfunction. My world and my mind were slowly imploding, and my body was no longer working. My pain levels skyrocketed, but I kept getting up every morning and carrying on. Something was going to break. I could see a black wall hurtling toward me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I was too far away, I had a life that I was trying and failing to manage here, my Father’s “friends” had all but dropped away after my Mother passed away, and they did nothing for him. Yes, he was a difficult man, but a lifetime of friendship and fellowship should mean something. I was full of rage, constantly crying and feeling like the worst daughter in the world. I understood my Father, and he always opened up to me – too much sometimes, but that was our dynamic. It was not normal or healthy, but it was what it was.

Can I get away with part III? I’m tired and sad.

Crazy Old Widower

Two days after we buried my Mom, Dad and I went around town running errands – the practical things that need to be done when someone passes away. Changing the title on the house, banking, insurance, retrieving the wills, etc. By late afternoon we were tired and sad – sharing stories about Mom and wandering around a shopping mall aimlessly together.

We decided to stop and have a coffee and Dad said he wanted to talk to me about something. I thought we’d covered just about everything. Apparently not.


Without hesitation or preamble (Aspergers), he announced that he would not be waiting to find another wife. He couldn’t be alone. He wanted to travel, and he wanted a companion. Keep in mind that this was the man who knew to the hour how much time he had spent sitting in the hospital with Mom. I tried to remind myself that this man did love my Mom very much, and would have done anything for her. They shared a love and a passion that was impossible to ignore. I bit my lip and let him carry on. He wasn’t asking if I was OK with this, this was simply an announcement. The tears were so close, but I kept it together. I knew my Dad, and I knew how his mind worked, but this hurt me to the core.

A week or so later, the family home pretty much purged of Mom’s things (I knew if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done for months), my niece picked me up to take me to the airport. I said goodbye to my Dad – so hard – he cried and held onto me like I was taking the last bit of life away from the house. I look a lot like my Mom, and my Dad and I had an odd relationship – too close, stopping only at the edge of sick and creepy. I left sad, angry and confused.

He was true to his word. He spent months chasing around town for a wife. We spoke weekly and I had to listen to every detail and give advice. I bit my tongue a lot. I kept reminding myself of who he was – he just didn’t understand that what he was doing and saying was so hurtful and wrong.


He came to Australia for eight weeks, and yes it was difficult. ML didn’t understand my Dad and his “ways”, and the lack of verbal filter. I was working full time out of the house, ML was running his company from his home office. Yeah. Not good.

We made it through, but the man who came to visit was not my Dad. This guy was flirting (badly), and ogling women. Ewech. It tore me apart and nauseated me at the same time. I didn’t know this man. It was like he had been reprogrammed. MUST. FIND. WIFE.

Now, they do say that people who enjoyed being married and lose their spouse, will try to find another spouse rather quickly. But it had only been about six months, and I just couldn’t deal with it. I cried a lot, and I was angry a lot, but I couldn’t show it. I tried to be understanding and supportive, but I was glad when he went back home.

He found someone shortly afterwards. Or rather she found him. She was a widow from our church, and as soon as she found out Dad was already looking, she got her claws into him quick smart. She was older than Dad, and legally blind. She needed a full time carer or she would have to go into a home. Good deal all round. Dad sold the family home (to my brother – whole other story), they married and moved into her retirement village home. Prenups and wills were drawn up – all very clear and clean. Her kids were happy to have someone else looking after her, and Dad had his wife.

This doesn’t end well. And it’s another two parter.

Just Because

I think I’ve mentioned that ML and I don’t do presents and cards – birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines Day, Christmas – whatever. It’s too stressful and you have to come up with the perfect gift and the most romantic card on the day the world says you have to.

We don’t do that. Never have. We do – whatever, whenever – just little tokens of love and caring just because.

He brought this home to me yesterday.

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I think he’s a keeper.

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Not much to write today. Today was a day for just the two of us – being together and enjoying each other’s company. Not rushing anywhere or running around getting things done. Just being.


(I just realised they have the same colour hair….)



The Real Me

So, I’ve shared my rather colourful life – bits and pieces of it anyway – and, yes, many parts of it shame me. But it’s me – it’s what made the me I am today.

When I tell people some of my history, the first thing they say is, we had no idea (Lily?), and how did I manage to keep so much of it secret and separate from other parts of my life? Compartments. I contained many me’s. They wore different clothes and makeup, had vastly different personalities and speech patterns, all of them were mysterious and kept themselves to themselves. They never shared a lot of information – it was easier to keep them all compartmentalized  that way.

Yes, it was exhausting, and yes, it messed with my head. I never did drugs (I smoked pot once with my sister – THAT was a fun night), I didn’t drink a lot but gave the illusion at times that I did when necessary. At no time could I allow myself to be out of control. Too drunk, and something might slip. Any drugs, and I might say something that revealed another life. I had to stay on top of my game at all times.

I only cried when I was alone. No matter how bad it got or how shamed I felt, no one saw the raw side of me. I cried and pulled myself together in my own time. Show no weakness.

And, truth be told, I had a lot of fun. There was a period of time when I flirted shamelessly and absolutely adored the attention. But, that’s all it was – attention. The wrong kind. I was the woman men wanted to take home, not take to meet their parents. I was the one dancing on the bar without a care in the world. I could get the whole club to sing along and dance to Copa Cabanna. Bouncers and bartenders loved me. I rarely waited in line, and rarely paid for drinks. But it was all fun – all look, but no touch. When I think about it now, I was playing a very dangerous game, and yes, I did occasionally pay for being overly friendly.

But, I’d always go home alone. I had a nice home, it was beautiful and cosy and safe. It was my place of solace, when all the layers were stripped off and I could just be me. I went days without answering the phone, just to have a rest. Very few people made it through my front door. I needed time to sort all of my “people” out in my head. I could put my fake smile away, my “everything is great and under control” smile. Keeping it all in order was exhausting, plus I worked two jobs and tried to be a good daughter, sister, friend and aunt.

I came to a point in life when I decided that a life alone was my future. I could no longer see myself settling down and marrying. Having children. I stopped putting my life on hold until I found a husband. A partner. So, I got on with life. I bought nicer furniture, I traveled. I accepted my fate. I was not the marrying kind. The men I attracted wanted something else from me. They wanted my brains and my beauty – something to show off like an expensive suit.

I knew my beauty would fade, and the admirers would fall away, but I was OK with that. I thought I was. I couldn’t see my future, but I knew I was capable of taking care of myself in many different situations. I’d get a couple of cats and become crazy old Auntie M with the cats. I’d still have my brain. I’d always have books and work. Love wasn’t for me.

I couldn’t have it all.