After 46 years, almost 47, my wedding ring is no longer on my left ring finger. On Saturday, my husband John died peacefully at home with his family around him. Cancer is a bitch. Not only have I lost a companion and best friend, I am also now a widow.
My mother kept her wedding and engagement rings from the marriage to my father on her left finger until she died. She was widowed twice, once in world war two and once a month before my own wedding. The first set of rings she gave to Bob’s mother as they had only been married a few months. The second set she wore for 27 years after my Dad died of cancer. Cancer is a bitch.
I have decided to move my rings to my right hand ring finger. A google search told me that widows create pendants from their rings, wear them around their neck, move them to another finger, or keep wearing them on their left hand. Occasionally rings are put in the coffin of the spouse. I do not believe in putting jewelry in the ground. My daughter wore my mother-in-law’s ring during her marriage. Her marriage is ending in the usual way these days, by separation.
I did not realize how many times my thumb touched my wedding ring these last few months. Now it goes to touch a ghost and there is the indent of 46 years. I never took my plain wedding ring off, not even in the shower.
The ring on my right hand seems odd, a little tight and heavy. It seems sad. I wonder if I should take it off and have naked fingers like I did in the 1970s when I met my husband.
I will keep it on my right ring finger. Over the years of working, I collected a lot of lovely rings. My engagement and wedding rings will continue to join them.
Due to COVID, John’s obituary and funeral will be a little delayed. There will only be 7 family members at it. I will post his obituary and the livestream of his funereal when the arrangements are final. A reception will be held when the pandemic is over. Thank you for all your condolences.
When my daughter was getting married, her husband’s father flew in from B.C. We had dinner with him and Mark’s step-mother at King’s Buffet. After the dinner, when they had returned to their hotel, I asked Mark and his brother, “Is your father native?” They both looked ashamed. It turned out that their father is one quarter First Nation. Both blond haired and blue eyed like the German side, Mark and Alan had been taught not to talk about that side of the family.
Eventually my grandchildren were born, both blond haired and blue eyed like the English and German parts of the family. My husband is interested in genealogy so my daughter followed up with Mark’s father about his ancestors who were English and First Nation. His wife sent us the papers that showed the children were one sixteenth Chippewa of the Thames, Ontario.
The children’s great-great grandmother married a white man. From 1876 to 1985, a First Nations woman who married a white man lost her status and so did her children, but a First Nations man who married a white woman kept his status as did his children. First Nations status continues to follow the patriarchal line that only men can transmit status. This led to a large group of non-status First Nations, Metis and Inuit. There are also First Nations and Metis that are not recognized as official bands or part of an official band.
We have been told that we shouldn’t say that my grandchildren have First Nation heritage as they are white and they are only one sixteenth. My husband can trace our family back to the gentry that inspired the book Tess of the D’Urbervilles around the same time but we can’t speak about the children’s First Nation heritage.
We carried on, my younger daughter taking a few courses on First Nation history out of interest but being careful not to publicly talk about this part of their heritage. I did slip once before we knew about this and mentioned the sadness I felt at my son-in-law’s shame in a speech.
Recently my daughter’s marriage ended. Through the children’s organization involved with the break up, a woman phoned her. The woman was First Nation. She had discovered that Bronwyn had put down First Nations as well as English, German and Swiss for the grandchildren on an intake form. She informed Bronwyn that hiding this heritage is part of the First Nations genocide. Robert and Mary, but especially their father, are part of the reconciliation process.
I bring this up because my older daughter sent me an article by Michelle Latimer, the producer who left the CBC program Trickster for not being First Nation. CBC shut down production of the second season of this excellent show. Shame on the CBC.
In the following article, Michelle describes how she lost everything when people thought she was pretending to be Metis or First Nation. With much research and the help of genealogists and relatives, she has proven she is First Nation from a small village flooded for a lake. Her family is non-status.
My husband and I watch the program, “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” on PBS. Many times only verbal knowledge is passed down in a family, or no knowledge at all. I know a woman who was part of the 60s scoop who had to work to regain her status. Another woman is Metis and has detailed her family history on her twitter feed. Her family are not regulation Metis.
I believe that this absorption into the colonial culture through marriage and children is another way of destroying a people. It is not lost on me that both shame and discounting of heritage are working to make this part of my son-in-law and my grandchildren’s heritage disappear.
We got the long form census. I filled it out. On the question that asked “What is your cultural background”, I wrote about my grandchildren, “English, Welsh, German, Swiss, First Nation.” I then had to answer if this was status or non-status, (non-status) or Metis (yes), official Metis (no). First Nations is now part of my family tree. We won’t be looking for status cards, or special grants, or pretending to be First Nations or really anything. We want the acknowledgement that First Nations is part of my grandchildren’s heritage and must not be lost.
As you know, my husband has cancer. He is presently doing well on oral chemotherapy. Whenever we look south to the United States, we are proud of our public health system. Wait a minute! Should we be proud of Ontario’s health care system?
My husband does not pay a cent for his cancer health care and his chemo. Our neighbour around the corner has a son with cancer. That son pays $5,000 a month for his cancer related medications. A woman I used to work with has macular degeneration. The good news, she has the kind that has a cure that will save her eyesight. The bad news, she has to pay $1700 a month for a shot in each eye. Why? They are both under the age of 65. There is no Pharmacare for people between the ages of 24 and 65 in Ontario. Those under 24 can only have Pharmacare if their family does not have private health insurance.
With unemployment increasing due to COVID, more and more people do not have Pharmacare benefits through their work. One of my best friends must now pay out of pocket for her insulin. Unlike countries in Europe, which include prescription drugs as part of their public health care, Canada does not. This leads to B.C. having Pharmacare for all and Ontario not having Pharmacare for all.
We have a minority federal government. In the past, the parties of minority governments have worked together to bring benefits to Canadians. The Liberals and the NDP both promised Pharmacare in the last election. Certainly COVID has taken everyone’s attention but with the many side effects of the virus, surely it is time for Pharmacare across Canada.
I am thrilled that my husband and I are not losing all our retirement savings and maybe our house due to the cost of his oral chemo. What about everyone else? We know the Conservatives would never endorse a Pharmacare program but what’s holding up the Liberals bringing forward a plan and the NDP, Bloc and Greens endorsing it?
Here is a template for the political will for Pharmacare.
Lester B. Pearson was the LiberalPrime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968. His government saw Medicare introduced on a national basis, after his party wrote and introduced the legislation for hospital and out-of-hospital treatment, and received the support of Douglas’ NDP.
Yesterday my husband decided to take the dog for a walk while I was at Sobey’s. Our dog Amber loves the city plowed trail behind our house. To get to it, my husband and the dog decided to go down the walk through. My husband fell on the ice of the unmaintained route. He scraped the side of his head and strained his arm. He was lucky he didn’t break a bone.
Discussions on social media from active transportation activists have talked about having the Cities of Waterloo Region plow all the sidewalks, as is done in Elmira. Waterloo decided to up bylaw enforcement instead. As you can see from the above pictures, the residents in my neighbourhood are very good at keeping our sidewalks clear. The only place on the sidewalk that is solid ice is in front of the pedestrian walkway. A sign says “No Winter Maintenance”. This seems to include the patch of public sidewalk in front of the walkthrough. I talked my neighbour who lives beside this patch of ice. He says that part of the sidewalk doesn’t belong to him. It doesn’t belong to the neighbour on the other side either. It belongs to the CITY OF WATERLOO.
The unmaintained walkthrough is used by children going to school, dog walkers, cyclists, and pedestrians generally, many with strollers. If the City of Waterloo is really for increasing active transportation, if the City of Waterloo is really for clean sidewalks in the winter, as they say they are, they should maintain pedestrian walk ways. I know at one time men from the House of Friendship cleaned the sidewalks in downtown Kitchener. It’s an idea that could work.
Fortunately, my husband will heal and probably won’t need physiotherapy, but I am sure that if we talked to the lawyer who got my older daughter $10,000 dollars after a car ran into her when she was cycling, the City of Waterloo would be liable, despite the “No Winter Maintenance” sign.
How does the city get away with leaving a solid patch of ice on the sidewalk when the rest of us have to clean our walks? How does the city get away having a heavily used pedestrian walkway left as a sheet of ice? This policy must be changed.
I am sitting here in tears. Tears of gratitude to my neighbours. As you may have guessed from previous posts, my husband is on the cancer journey. Two of our neighbours just came to our sidewalk with their dog dressed up in red lighted ropes and a long silver sweater. They had Happy New Year on a piece of cardboard along with other words of greeting for my husband. They had a socially distanced talk with John and Amber. Thank you so much.
My husband is a big walker of our dog, Amber. I never realized how much he is loved in our neighbourhood. We have had cards and little gifts and everyone always asking me how John is doing. (He is doing well on oral chemo). When it snowed, a neighbour snowblowed our walk. The last snow, a neighbour shovelled our walk and humbly said, “I was just walking by with my shovel and noticed you hadn’t done your walk yet.”
My friends have given me books to read and people have asked me how I am doing as caregiver. (Fine)
I would also like to thank the wonderful people at the Grand River Cancer Centre. Most of our visits with the doctors, symptom management staff, and dietitians have been by phone, which is actually not a bad thing for a tired cancer patient and they are so supportive. Plug here for hopespring.ca who have counselling, support groups, and even wig delivery.
Also, thanks to my two daughters and son-in-law who have also helped with the snow and my eldest daughter drops of Lady Glaze donuts for her Dad.
My 2020 started off with the funeral of one of my best friends, Laurie Strome, an extraordinary community organizer. Then came COVID and I retired from HopeSpring in April. Which was good, as John seemed off and I fought for a CATscan for him.
My grandchildren are taught from home as they have seizures, as does their mother. Their epilepsy is under control but helping teach kids with mild autism at home is not a treat. Thanks to my daughter and the kids’ teachers.
My daughter is also a PSW at a nursing home. If you think your year was bad, be an isolated patient in a nursing home. My daughter’s home is a good one, very safe, but it has been hard for her clients to be alone, she says. My daughter takes her violin and plays the piano for her clients as they had no events at all over Christmas. My daughter got her first COVID shot on Dec. 29. A great ending to 2020.
Happy New Year 2021. Despite it all “Life is Good”
In one of the few cases prosecuted by the GRCA, the owner was fined $10,000 and made to clean up the fill. This was a long and drawn out case. The owner hired a lawyer associated with a group who feel they can do what ever they want on the land they own. This is a similar philosophy to the anti-maskers.
A few years ago, a GRCA staffer did a study for an advanced degree. She looked at flood damage in a similar river system in the United States that did not have the Ontario rules and regulations that restrict building on flood plains and inside flood lines. The GRCA looks after flooding along the Grand and its tributaries. People complain about the restrictions, saying in this time of climate change, “It has never flooded here.” The study found that the system that allowed building suffered millions of dollars of damage, GRCA lands had very few problems. Some floods on the Grand do cause damage, but this is mostly to properties that were already in flood prone areas before Hurricane Hazel in the 1950s. The flooding caused by Hurricane Hazel is the bar for flood control in Ontario.
Conservative governments in Ontario don’t seem to like conservation authorities, which is odd since the original GRCA was founded by business owners disgusted with the state of the river. In the mid 1990s, conservation authorities were mostly funded by the province. The conservative Harris government took that money away and many GRCA staffers were laid off. The GRCA turned to the municipalities with a levy that funds the dams and flood control. Permit fees cover the work of dealing with building and property concerns. The GRCA works with property owners, developers and municipalities, using science, to keep our watershed and ground water safe and available and to prevent flood and drought damage.
While the present conservative Ford government has made a few good last minute changes to schedule 6 of bill 229, thank you, there are still some pressing problems with it. The association of large municipalities and many others have asked that schedule 6 be removed from a bill dealing with COVID relief. David Crombie, a Conservative and former federal cabinet minister, resigned as the Chair of the Greenbelt Council in protest over any changes to the present Conservation Authorities Act. He says schedule 6 will cut environmental protections in the province.
Schedule 6 will strip powers from local conservation authorities and expand ministerial authority on zoning and other potentially sensitive environmental issues. A conservation authority must now allow a development if the province issues a minister’s zoning order. The minister’s zoning order will bypass public input and force a zoning change. The conservation authority must allow the development but can include conditions. These conditions can be appealed by the permission holder. The conservation authority and the permission holder must enter into an agreement for requirements that the holder must complete to compensate for ecological impacts. This would mean that the owner dumping fill from a provincial road project on his property would just pay money to continue if the minister felt what he was doing was fine, despite the objections of the GRCA.
Apparently this change is due to the objections of the Toronto Conservation Authority to a development project that would destroy an important wetland. In a pro-development government with a minister who has been openly hostile to conservation authorities, this is a disaster.
The good news if this change goes forward, is that in a democracy, governments and government ministers inevitably change. It always amazes me how the government of the day seems to think they will always be in power. Imagine a future where the minister’s zoning order is controlled by a member of the Green Party.
However, this is a power that is not necessary. Conservation Authorities and municipalities are at the forefront of scientific environmental protection. Schedule 6 should be abandoned.
For more information on the Grand River Conservation Authority, the Region of Waterloo and environmental protection, read my paper presented to the International Making Cities Liveable Conference here: https://wordpress.com/post/janemitchell.blog/1943
The Region of Waterloo runs 5 wonderful, high quality daycares. The daycare in Elmira has just been expanded. They are located through out the Region. Now once again, a review by outside bean counters has suggested the daycares be closed as they are not “efficient”.
This means that these daycares cost more because their staff are unionized and paid what Early Childhood Educators should be paid. Unlike the workers in even the best non-profit daycares that must rely on parent fees. Council feels that the 6.8 million invested in these day cares would be better spread, a small amount for each, over all the other daycares in the Region.
The closing of the Regional daycares was rejected in 2015 for several reasons. Some of those reasons still stand and now there are more reasons to reject this proposal.
The parents whose children attend the Regional daycares need good quality care, like all parents. Some of the children have disabilities. With the extreme shortage of daycare spaces, any parent who gets a good spot “wins the lottery”. Do not use that statement against them, suggesting they are privileged. How are they privileged? Are there parents jumping the One List daycare queue to get a regional spot? If so, the public needs to know how and why. Elmira Children’s Centre is the only daycare in Elmira. I know there are quality non-profit spaces, just that there are not enough.
Right now daycares are running at 70 percent due to COVID. 2000 empty spaces and 50 at the regional daycares. Here is the problem with those figures. They are temporary vacancies caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Schools also have physical vacancies. Children at home are not attending before and after care. This is caused by families not sending their children to daycare and school because of the risk of COVID.
All of these children and all of the waiting lists will return when parents return to work. Even working at home, you cannot work properly at a job and look after a child or children at the same time. The Regional spaces will be gone.
What happens to the physical buildings and equipment? In the last go round of this idea, it was found that existing daycare providers were not interested in taking over the Regional daycares. At that time, the union with its higher wages and benefits had to be part of the sale. I expect their desire would be even less when they are dealing with the effects of COVID. What a shame to see the equipment sold off and the buildings mothballed. Staff let go into a fragile economy.
KPMG has stated that the Regional day cares are not efficient. Why? The daycares are unionized and the staff get paid what ECEs should be paid.
Kudos to the person who thought up the sneaky statistic that 10 percent of the childcare money goes to the 1.9 percent of the children who go to the Regional Day Cares. Region owned Sunnyside Home gets a greater percentage of Regional money than the other Homes for the Aged and Waterloo Region Social Housing gets a greater percentage of Regional funds than the other non-profit housing. Similar statistics can be made for both those important social services. With this reasoning, obviously they are next on the chopping block.
My children and grandchildren attended the quality non-profit daycare I founded and was the first president. It is not easy for a group of working parents to build and run a daycare. My mother mortgaged her house and the executive director of the daycare bought the property at much lower prices than today, although her husband was a student at the time. Many sacrifices. Why should those lost spaces be recreated by the working parents who are now going through serious financial loses and stress due to COVID?
Two new schools will also have daycares added in the near future. Our Region will still be growing with new families after the pandemic. Those schools and daycares are for student growth. The spaces of the Regional Daycares will be gone.
Who thought up the idea that it was unfair for the Region to run its own daycare programs, programs that existed before the Region became the childcare service manager. Parents and children should lose their spots because somehow it is unfair for them to have a daycare spot. Am I to assume that the wonderful daycare spots will also disappear simply due to a philosophical, cannot even bring myself to say moral, reason?
Selling the Regional Daycares is a Band-Aid solution to a continuing problem: Despite many promises, a lack of Federal and Provincial movement to create a daycare system that mirrors our public education system.
Thousands of people in Waterloo Region marched for Black Lives Matter and moving money to social services. Saying you will help BIPOC children by what? A course on how to treat racialized preschoolers instead of a good daycare space for them? That just doesn’t cut it. An 8 percent increase in policing and the closing and letting go of 200 daycare spaces and well paid day care workers doesn’t look good on Regional Council.
Council needs to find a temporary solution for the COVID childcare problem, not a permanent one.
I have been obsessed about my weight for sixty years, since the age of 7. In my political and work life, I worked hard at pretending that my size was irrelevant.
Two instances have led me to finally talk about my size. As you know, I had difficulty advocating for a CTscan for my husband who was losing a lot of weight. I felt that I wasn’t believed by the doctor because I was a fat woman worried about my husband who was not overeating. This may not be true but it is how I felt. It did not come out of nowhere.
A surgeon refused to fix my hernia that was the size of a basketball unless I lost weight. As usual, no suggestions on how I would do that. The wonderful surgeon who eventually fixed my hernia and twisted bowel during emergency surgery has told me to come to her as soon as the hernia reappears. Three years and it has not.
Fortunately my husband did get the CTscan, unfortunately his weight loss did mean that he has cancer. Thank you for all your prayers.
Secondly, my dear older daughter’s post was taken down on a feminist progressive Facebook site for saying a cartoon of a very fat Trump was fat shaming. People have also complained about Anderson Cooper calling Trump an obese turtle. The point being that rather than talking about Trump’s many nasty faults, people laughed about his big stomach or big butt.
It is of course not just Trump who is called out for being fat. Stacey Abrams and other female politicans have had their share of fat shaming.
For me, the first instance of fat shaming as a politician occurred when I was a school trustee on one of the first chat rooms about education during the Harris years. A man on that board posted a picture of me where he had photoshopped me fatter than I actually was at the time. The idea being, I suppose, that if you are a fat woman, your opinion means nothing.
The second instance was at Regional council when we were approving the extension of Westmount Road from Lakeshore to Beechwood. A delegation called the road “My (Jane Mitchell’s) big fat road project.” Behind him, one of his supporters called out “Why don’t you try walking!” Fortunately Angela Vieth, now a long time Waterloo councillor, pointed out in her presentation for the road that she often saw me walking.
Overall, though I know people comment about my weight behind my back, I went on to become Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority and a long time Regional Councillor and people generally listen to my views.
Like smoking, taking drugs and alcoholism, there is a difference between making fun of a problem and working with compassion to help people solve it. I well remember how funny Dean Martin was in the 60s as a drunk, and the slapstick of drunks falling down. You don’t see that anymore.
I was skinny until I was 7 years old. We moved to an apartment while waiting for a new house to be built. Less exercise and I suddenly developed an appetite. It was the 50s, my thrilled mother gave me two hamburgers every lunch and I quit ballet when a little kid said, “Look at the fat dancer.” The lifelong struggle began.
In my teens and twenties, I was slim but I did not know it. I could have slipped into anorexia. I thought I was fat after my second daughter was born, but I wasn’t. I jumped on the scale three times a day and tried every weight loss scheme going. The weight loss industry made thousands off me. What did I learn? Diets make you fat. It is very difficult or impossible to lose weight. Please don’t tell me to push away from the table or take up running.
Obesity is an epidemic in North America. So is type 2 diabetes. Everywhere we look there are cheap high fat, high sugar and high salt foods, the triple threat humans are designed to crave. Our cities are built for passive car driving rather than active walking and cycling.
I have had a lot of stress in my life, from family members with epilepsy, parents with cancer, to the good stress of politics. Dear departed Mayor Lynn Woolstencroft once told me that many Mayors and senior level politicians become alcoholics. Some of us eat.
I continue to struggle with my weight, but I am working on a new change. Lifestyle. Retired, I am walking the dog, learning piano, writing and taking a diabetes course from the YMCA. Lots of at home exercise ideas in this time of COVID. This means accepting my body as it is.
I have learned from my daughters not to jump on the scale and to enjoy a new lifestyle. This does not mean that my own daughters have not struggled with body image. That is our society. I worry about my 7 year old granddaughter when she wants ice cream with her pancakes, yet she is thin and bounces on her exercise ball, not a care in the world. I don’t want her to grow up worrying about her weight and how she looks.
When I talk about stopping the fat shaming, I am not asking you to be politically correct. It is like Trump telling Laura Ingraham she was being politically correct for wearing a mask. I am asking that people be civilized and try not to hurt other peoples’ feelings.
As the meme going around social media says: Be Kind.”
Some good resources about women’s body image and fat shaming.
Good news. My husband has an appointment for a CT scan on Oct. 5. However, through my social media channels, I have learned that there are a number of people who are waiting a long time for their scan. It maybe that it is not considered “urgent” but of course it is for the person involved. They may be caught in the limbo of the hospital being closed a few months ago.
Before COVID, people were able to get a CT scan in good time. Since everything, including testing, was closed during the quarantine, scans can be behind by two months as the hospitals catch up. I have learned there are no private labs with CT scans in Ontario and, of course, the border is closed. The machines are very expensive to buy and maintain, unlike blood tests.
The number of COVID cases are climbing again and many people are getting tested, as they should. If this second wave fills up the ICU and hospitals, we may end up with tests stopped. Routine tests for breast cancer have actually never started up again. Update: breast cancer tests have started again.
You know where I am going. Wear your mask and keep 6 feet apart from other people. Follow the rules for parties, events and services. Listen to public health. My husband’s aunt died of COVID in March. My cousin is still suffering from it. COVID isn’t just killing those with the disease, the side effects of another quarantine will kill others.
My husband has asked me to keep his health journey private. So I won’t be blogging about this again. Thank you so much everyone for your caring and prayers.
In the month of August, I noticed my retired husband began to nap twice a day with a full eight hours of nightime sleep. He lost his appetite, giving half of his favourite pork chop to the dog and not eating the mashed potatoes with gravy. Veggies have never been a favourite.
We made an appointment with the doctor. His heart, lungs, blood pressure, really everything seemed fine. Negative to COVID. We suspect but hope not cancer.
Our doctor sent in a requisition for a CTscan. Due to the labs catching up from the pandemic restrictions, it could be two months before my husband gets a CTscan. The doctor has put URGENT on the requisition and we are willing to travel for a test that will be sooner. Still it may take awhile.
I know as the retired director of HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, plus all the people around me that have or have had cancer, that two months to diagnose cancer means the difference between life and death.
Provincial Government, is there not some way to increase the capacity of the medical system so people can be diagnosed in a timely fashion?
I am sick of heart that my wonderful husband may end up a victim of COVID without having the disease.
Addendum: Please wear a mask, social distance and don’t go out if you are unwell. Don’t have big parties or go to large gatherings. If the COVID cases soar again, we could have another lockdown. We are now learning what the lockdown meant when everything was closed. A two month wait for people to have necessary medical tests. Breast cancer tests are still not happening.