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Reply by Jimmie
11 May 2015, 5:29 PM


Though all of us on this site often write very personal notes to each other, we are actually quite unfamiliar with each others lives.

I really enjoyed reading your latest post because of the details about John and your youth you coneyed.  I am wondering, if the spirit moves you, if you would mind telling me more.  I would love to hear more of your memories of growing up in a small town, and to "meet" more of your neighbours.  I would also like to learn more  about John. As a kid, I always dreamed of having an electric train set, but never did.  Sounds like John's set was highly personal in creation.

No pressure ......but, as noted, if the spirit moves you.


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Reply by Xenia
14 May 2015, 5:49 PM

Good Morning All:

Nat and Old Bat aka Old Bag, where are you.  I hope you are not ill just busy as most of us are in our daily lives.

Went to the Ortho on Monday, he tells me my shoulders are shot.  Need to have surgery to repair or replace the ball joint or wors to that effect.  I have to think about this very har as it takes 4 months of physio, etc.  Since John has passed all the little pains and such which have been put on hold for the past few years now have reared their head and need to be looked into.  

I am still having days of wanting to ask why John is not here all the while in my heart I know he is gone and life must go on.  I need to put on my walking shoes and get out of the condo early in the a.m. and go back to life before John became too ill.  I seem to have forgotten how I would get up, get dressed and head out before John awoke.  When he became more incapacitated I changed my days and went out when the respite came.  To-morrow is my bake day for the Legion Ladies Auxiliary.  We have bake sales monthly to help raise funds for the Legion and other groups that could use a bit of financing.

Jimmie:  What is it like to live in a small town.  A small town in Saskatchewan is truly something one has to live in to appreciate it or be glad to get out of when it is time to get employment and leave family and friends behind as the big ===note the big towns of Regina or Saskatoon bekoned one and find their vocation.

My parents, mother born in Canada, father born of Ukrainian parents under the Hungry-Austrian government at that time came to Canada as a child of 8 months and he wrote about how the few pennies his parents had when they came to Canada probably came from the sailors who gave Dad pennies to see him take his first steps.  They settled in Saskatchewan and as such became the farmers who could raise wheat and help Canada become one of the largest wheat producers.

My mother's family also came from the Ukraine and mom tells us how grandpa and grandma ended up on the prairies and grandpa had to go to Brandon to get his papers for the land they could claim as settlers.  Poor Grandma was waiting for him to come back, stuck in a wagon with children, heat and all not knowing when or if he would come back.  Lo and behold some Indians (Native Canadians) found her sitting there under a parasol (that is what they called Umbrellas in Europe).  Poor Grandma was frightened and had been told they were savages. So, all she could do was give them some of her meager supply of bread which they took and as grandma says they probably wondered what this silly white woman was doing sitting in her wagon with her children under the hot saskatchewan sun.

From these sturdy grandparents our family of 9 brothes and 5 sisters learned to be self sufficient and make our way in the world.  Living in a small town my parents were able to help others as they both had the benefit of going to school and getting an education.  Dad a teacher and mother as well. However, due to circumstances of the WW2 they were unable to teach due to predjudice that these people were foreigners of questionable backgrounds.  This did not disway our parents as they were go getters and helped others who needed their help getting their naturalization papers, now immigration papers, dad could understand and write in 3 languages, English, Ukanian and German so he was in demand for the many uneducated immigrants who came to Canada to become citizens of this great country they were proud of.

Our home was a small 4 room house, filled to the brim, we were loud, happy and industrious and above all Dad constantly told us to get an education.. We did and as such we prospered, not rich but comfortable.  Dad because he could not teach became a stationary engineer, meaning he shoveled coal into 3 huge boilers to bring the steam heating to the round house and the station.  44 years on the CNR and mom recived $90.00 a month in pension when dad died.

We had no running water, yes we did, we had to run for it and carry it home.  Rain water was collected in a big barrel, everyone did that as there is nothing worse than the hard water one has on the prairies.  Soap curdled and mom would caution the girls not to wash their hair in the bath water, rain water was for the hair.

School was a few blocks from our home so we walked along the dusty road, saw the sites of a small town.  A church, a small grocery store, the school yard with the swings and of course the baseball diamond.   Everyone took part in the activities in the small town especially when there were important days.

My brothers were cadets and 6 all jointed the forces at various times in their lifetime.  We had RCAF, Army, and Navy in our home and you can imagine the talk about who had the most dangerious calling etc.  Poor mom with all these tall boys seemed to be able to get them settled down and was so very proud of them when they accompanied mom and dad to church.  The church that mom and dad undertook to help build as the immigrants needed a place to come to and learn and mom and dad did a lot of this.

We grew up, poor, clean and never hungry.  So I will let the next chapter tell you of growing up in a small Saskatchewan town where Sid Able of the Detroit Red Wings hockey fame grew up.  Where we learned about Tommy Douglas and how we would have health care, where the doctors didn't want health care and went on strike.  

Life in a small Saskatchwan town could be hard but could make us staunch Canadians who were thankful for being able to come and live in this wonderful country as my dad used to tell us.

All for now.

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Reply by Jimmie
15 May 2015, 11:47 AM


I wonder too about where and how Old Bat, and Nat, and Frustrated are?  I hope they write soon.

I want to thanks you for sharing some of your family's story with me.  IT reads like a classic Prarie immigrant story.  IN Sydney, Nova Scotia, there is a section called Whitney Pier.  The Pier was a very cosmoolitan community made up entirely of immigrants who came over not to farm but to work in the steel mill.  They came to the pier from the same areas of Europe as your family.  MY two best friends here carry surnames which are a testament to thois heritage: Starzomski and Marenik.  MY brother in law shares the same story - his surname is Rusinal.  Our own family name is Mulcahy and our ancestry is Irish.  The first members of my family came over to escape the potato famine.  The settled in Halifax because their traditional work had to do with the sea and ships.

I thik it is important that our strories be told and somehow registered.   It is a way of keeping those who have gone before us alive for others.  It is a way of honouring those who have passed.

At the risk of becoming a nag, I would love to hear how you and your husband met.  I am wondering if he came from the same town?  I am wondering what the courship rituals were in your community.  I am wondering about your ealriest memories of him and your family's reaction to your wedding.

I know it can be a drag - especially with sore shouders - to write at any length, but I would love to hear more about your life if you would be willing to share it, Xenia.  Your writing allows me to "see" you more clearly and because of that to understand and appreciate more deeply your love for you husband - and your grief at his passing.

Thank you, my friend

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Reply by NatR
18 May 2015, 3:03 PM

Hello to you all...I am sorry to have been silent.

I have seen your notes go by and I am now writing to let you know what has been going on with me.

First of all...your notes have been great to read, little tidbits from your lives Jim, Xenia, Nouce, Oldbat and everyone...

I have had a lot going on personally and decided it was a good time to write you and let you know

I have always cared for others, I have always been looking out for my sisters and brothers, and through life I continue to help whereever I can...and as you know I have a special granddaughter with a rare genetic disorder who is in a facility in our town, aged 20 and now settled for the rest of her days.  But...I will always want to check in on her, make sure she is happy and well and try to be her voice.  She cannot speak...she is like a baby...and will always be mine;)

My story is....over a year ago...in Feb. of 2014 I was offered an apt. in a senior building...a 60 unit complex near downtown, the bus depot etc.  I thought it was wonderful...as I had been living in a bachelor apt...so to speak...an old motel renovated into bedrooms for long term guests...and it was a bit cramped...after 2 yrs.

so I was grateful to move, get settled, have a real apt with a real kitchen and an honest to goodness bedroom...

But I soon found out that the owners of the building were slum landlords and I was horrified to find out...over time...that some of the people who were my neighbours, seniors, people with mental health or physical disabilities also...were living with drafty broken windows, mold on the frames, and a lot of repair neglect.

I began keeping notes, taking pictures and last fall I ended up whistleblowing to the local fire dept about leaking rooms...light fixtures that were filling with water...all things that the landlord was aware of ...but who was not doing anything.

I started a tenant association, everyone was scared but about 12 to 15 people attended my meetings..in my apt....that was fun in itself...squeezing chairs in...borrowing from neighbours...talking about the issues...everyone was in agreement...but very nervous...about the backlash from the landlord.

we began meeting when the landlord was in Florida and Mexico and out of touch.  he left for the winter and no one was in charge, no one could find anyone to fix anything.

I spoke with my local MPP and office - which was very helpful...they even attended a meeting with tenants.

When the landlord got a letter from us...as tenants, well the action began, and it wasnt positive
Tenants got notices pushed under their doors...telling them that to talk to other people..(the association) about repair issues would delay their problems being fixed...and would also possibly affect their tenancy...and they could be in breach of the contract.

Talk about intimidation and fear!!
It worked...everyone backed off, people phoned me, talked to me, dropped notes under my door and they all said they couldnt afford to get involved...despite the fact I was a nice person and was trying to help...

Then my friend and I...who began the association....got our first order to Vacate!  Yep...they wanted us out...and I was shocked, horrified and afraid that I was going to end up on the street with my belongings.

There is no place to go...there is a huge waiting list for cheap places to live...many of us cannot afford the luxury condos and apts. in most cities.

Miraculously a friend spotted an apt on Kijiji that I could afford and we went to see it...in two days I had the apt. and was paying first and last month rent.

So I have been busy dealing with a lot of stress...and moving.
I am feeling so lucky to have found a peaceful and safe place to live and I have not forgotten the peole who still are dealing with the toxic environment in the apt. building.

My friend and I alerted a City Councilor and the local Housing office...and they are investigating the situation...and paying attention the the seniors who are at the mercy of this landlord.

It has been a unique experience for me, I learned from it, and I look back and wish I could have done things a bit differently...but I did Advocate for others...and I did make a positive change.  For that...I have to be grateful...and for the fact I am now in a better location...I just wish I could have taken everyone with me....out of that place.

So, be encouraged...each of you...no matter who you care for, who you meet, how you live - there is always a way to be of help, to make a difference.

I am very proud to know all of you...as you are giving your best to your loved ones...and you are learning how to move on past the grief and loss that happens to us all.

sending you each a hug...and hoping you have sunshine today

We do...but we are to get snow tomorrow...if you can believe that....arggghhh 

best wishes..
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Reply by Xenia
18 May 2015, 6:26 PM

Dear Nat and all:

I am so proud of you Nat to undertake a landlord and the conditions in your residence.  We have had a lot of out of country landlords in Vancouver and we see this many times on T.V.  People being given notice to get out of their apartments because they dared to speak out.

It seems that the cities councillors just turn a blind eye to the conditions of people living under these dreadful conditions and you can be sure the landlord is getting his rent from the disabled and disenfranchised as many have their rents sent right to the landlord.

Do you not have a government rental agency that could be contacted?  I see you did the right thing and I congratulate you on undertaking for others.  I too have experienced the let down when people who have been complaining, behind you in the beginning then back out.  No wonder so many people or caring persons like yourself feel they cannot help others as there is always a backlash and they end up getting hurt more than the others.

I believe it is time for all governments, federal, provincial, municipal, etc start looking into housing for the disabled, etc.  I know that Ontario had a great public housing program going on and then when governments changed that all went down the drain and now Canada Mortagae and Housing is looking after the buildings they were and are in charge of but there is no new building going on.

Talk about advocacy.  We with palliative and end of life care, you and others with needing housing.  Where do we turn to when there are so few ears that hear us or even want to hear about the problems so many seniors, disabled, poor and such are facing on a daily basis.  Good On You and I salute your endeavours and something good will come out of this.  

It is a very sunny day to-day in B.C. in the Valley.  I was sitting on the patio with my eyes shut and heard a buzzing sound, opend my eyes and lo and behold a humming bird was fluttering above my head heading to the feeder.  It kept going back and forth and drank his fill then buzzed around again then flew away.  

Oh How I wished John had been here to see this as he loved to watch the hummingbirds coming to the feeder.  When we lived in the Cariboo, northern B.C. we had many hummingbirds and often the would buzz our heads getting to the feeders.  We had a lot of birds, used to sit and watch them along with the coyotes who would play games with our dog trying to entice him to go down the hill, sort of a catch me if you can game.  The odd time a black bear would pass down the bottom of the hill as we would sit and watch.  Life was good but we could not stay there as John was becoming quite ill and life can be hard in the winter up North so we moved back to the lower mainland.

To all, keep posting, I miss you all and know you are busy so I will just say welcome back when you get the time to post.

Love and Hugs to all.

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Reply by NatR
19 May 2015, 2:57 AM

Hello Xenia,

yes i I agree with you that housing and support for seniors and those dealing with health issues or their spouse /partner issues needs more focus.

i did alert the local housing - which is run by the provincial government and also through the local MPP.

we seniors seem to do our share of trying to figure out how to access services and deal with people who don't always have our best interest at heart
thankfully I have ended up in a better place with decent people as landlords.

i am so glad you had birds and fine weather today Xenia.
i know that your thoughts go to your John, wishing he could enjoy what you see and hear.
your life together was good and your memories are warMing our hearts as much as yours.

Have a good night everyone,
best wishes,
natR 😉 
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Reply by Xenia
22 May 2015, 12:26 AM

Hello All on Who Advocates For Me:

Just signing in to let you know that once again our family is faced with a serious illness and no room at the inn.

Our brother, youngest one in the family, who has been living with our daughter in Vancouver became very ill on Wednesday and was taken to hospital.  We have been looking for a place for him in Extended care or any type of hospital care but there is no room and you have to have your name on the list for months.

He is now in hospital with pneumonia, heart problem and COPD that has turned much more serious.  He needs constant care and we cannot do that as I live in another city, all the family works and it is time for him to be placed under care.  He is a self managing schisophreniac and has been living with our daughter for 10 years.  He is a gentle soul but his illness, not his mental illness, is progressing to the point where he cannot be left alone anymore.

We have been searching and to no avail.  Perhaps this is the best solution that he is in hospital and will be put on the list sooner.  However, here we go again.  But please let this help.

Just letting you know that I will be away from the computer as I am going to Vancouver for a few days to help my daughter.  Miss you all and will be in touch asap.

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Reply by KathCull_admin
22 May 2015, 12:41 AM

Dear Xenia
Your brother, that 'gentle soul' is fortunate to have such a strong advocate for his well being. Maybe I should say advocates - it seems to me that your family look after each other - and that is a tremendous strength.  

I imagine this is a difficult time for your daughter and her family as well.

I will be thinking of you Xenia and hoping for a light in the darkness.  Safe travels.


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Reply by NatR
22 May 2015, 1:18 AM

Dear Xenia,

thinking of you at this difficult time - it's been a busy time for you this past few months
write when you can and know you are missed

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Reply by Xenia
24 May 2015, 1:25 PM

Good Morning Friends on Who Advocates for Me;

Thank you for your kind words regarding my brother, Stephen, whom I went to visit Saturday.  True to his being, he is a kind and gentle soul.  He was so appreciative of the help from the doctors and nurses, he looked at me and told me I looked different and I had a kind and pretty face.  He was amazed that I was 11 years older than him at 68, he danced with me at John's and my wedding.  Somehow since his bout with illness he has become more lucid and is able to carry on a much better conversation and seems to remember more of the past and speaks of his anger at his wife and how he calls it: I went crazy"  He is well looked after in acute care and the doctors have been extra kind to him and us and are doing all they can to help find him a permanent care residence.  As the doctor told, Gayle, our daughter, you have done all you can for him: now he needs 24/7 hour care and you have been his caregiver for 10 years since he left Stanley Park where he lived for 10 years.  Yes, he lived in our great park along with others who are homeless.  He was loved there also and was fortunate to have Pat and Barb look after him the best they could, bringing him sandwiches and making sure he was alive and not ill sleeping under a tree.  All in all he has been care for by a loving group of people.

To show our appreciation we held a picnic in Stanley Park and Barb and Pat by word of mouth told the many people who knew Stephen came to the picnic and had an appreciation lunch.  The dog walkers, the meditators, even a couple of City workers who knew Stephen and would give him trash bags as he loved cleanliness and helped pick up trash to keep his area and surround clean.  Yes, he was loved and is still loved so we continue our care for an Uncle, Great Uncle, Brother and father of 3 children who try to understand their father but cannot be blamed as with his illness he left when they were very young children.

This morning I was up at 3:00 a.m. What to do, turned on PBS and saw a quotation:  Memory is the treasure of all: by Cicero.  What a true statement and then I viewed a program called Pacific Heartbeat, what a lovely program.  Their were musicians from Hawaii and it was so relaxing and made one able to sit back and enjoy the softness of their culture.

A wonderful part was when they sang "A Time to Let Go" showing residents on the shores of the ocean placing verses on paper attached to wooden floats, with flicking candles in side, each float had a box made of paper or such with family and friends names on them pushed into the ocean, line after line of people placing these floats into the ocean letting go of their loved ones.  What a magnificient way to let go.

As I watched this I became more reflective on my mourning of losing John and what has been happening in my life.  I realized I am somewhat afraid to go out and walk by myself.  It seems that I must always have someone pick me up and take me to the pool, to the Legion, shopping, etc when I used to love to walk early in the morning and I always stated that we early morning people are so much more alive and cheerful as I had never seen anyone who did not say: Good Morning, early in the morning.  Now, I hesitate to go out the door alone.  Why, I keep telling myself to-morrow you will get up and go, never mind the chores you seem to make for yourself and again, I wait and of course then it is too late, the sun is out, it is too hot, etc. etc.

My family keep telling me mom you have to get out and walk.  Yes, I know that and I must talk to someone of my not wanting to do it.  Somehow when John was very ill I couldn't leave him alone until the care aide came and that was after 10:00 a.m and of course that made it too late for me to go out.  My days always started early, up early out by 7:00 a.m, back by 8:00a.m. and when John was not palliative but very ill he slept through that hour and I would hurry back to give him his meds and his breakfast, and bath or wash up.  Somehow, I just can't or do not want to get back into that routine, almost as if I don't want to take that first step out alone without the support of our son, daughter or friend.

Seems I just wrote a chapter in my life and it makes me realize I am still not over the losing John stage in my life, with this in mind I must make an appointment with the dr again and see if she has any clues to my dilema, also I need to see if my husbands medical will have help for widows and their need for support.

To all my friends, I miss you and to Nat and Katherine, thank you so much.  Jimmie, I am going to write about my small town in Saskatchewan and John.  So much to remember, some good, some not too bad but all with Joy as hard as it was growing up in a small town the experiences help make me and our family stronger and the ties that bind (a phrase we all know and it is truly  reflective in our family as like many Europeans, we are loud, we laugh when we are sad, cry when we are happy-especially to music, talk loud and people think we are arguing but when needed we are helping each other.

Take care and hugs to all:

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