Friday, April 18, 2014

Giving death the slip

I am in hospital. something really  wrong with my innards.
I seem to be in n internal medicine ward and they have just moved somebody in next door.
He is a slightly greing  fiftyish man, not yet really old, wheeled in by what seems to be an entourage of family and friends.
I pick up from their conversation as he is helped into bed, that his name is Sam and from the paddock talk, a horsebreeder throughout our region and even the United States.
Immediately to  his left  pleasant brunette seems to be almost tucking him in. I take it is his wife. I pick up that he has been diagnosed with cancer.
The unfairness of it all. The successful business--the other people around him treat him with great respect, almost love.
He was/is somebody.
First bleeding ulcers. And the the godawful diagnosis. Cancer of the bowel.
Right in the middle of his success, the livery business, which today has to be  high end, the loving wife the loyal partners.
They all talk shop for a while, the four of them, and eventually the three men leave, but not the wife. It is getting late, past visiting hours, but she is not leaving.
I see her lift his blanket to lie down beside him. Apparently she will try an all-nighter, keep him company of the staff will not ask her to leave.
I listened to their talk for most of the night. The nurse had been in but no one was asked to leave. She left in the morning with a loving kiss and hug. Sam had been a lucky man.
The money, the ribbons the prizes. But the creeping sickness. The first time he had  just had the bleeding ulcers and ending up in a V.A. hospital. Ex-marine. Gulf War. Back home in one piece, to recover and succeed. And eventually here, Joker's Hill, East Gwillumbury, to be  told that he has cancer.
The unfairness of it all. Right in the middle of your sucess, two Big Ones in the bank, international notoriery, and then bowel cancer. Real bad. He still has the slight American drawl.
Sam the man, felled by something viral and stupid.
I make a dusting-myself-off gesture.
I am neither smart or successful. And I have this persistent bleeding ulcer. The doctor had said  it doesn't feel like cancer.
But poor Sam Hill.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My tapeworm left me this morning. Now I have to walk alone

My tapeworm left me this morning.

Now I'll have to walk alone.

The parting was far from amicable, downright traumatic, as the silvery nematode undulated somewhat gracefully this way and that in his bowl, the squarish head, light sensor on each side, seeming to say, "All right, wise guy, it was bad
enough not getting any mustard on that last dog, but now you';ve really pissed me off."

I knew something was wrong for weeks. The little bastard liked to roam around a lot at night, and sometimes he'd forget the way home and end up sleeping on my scrotum. Then, before I could say, "gotcha, you little bastard", he'd disapear faster than you can say "Tally ho! The Fox!."

The fox hunt went on for quite some time until, as an old Air Force guy, I thought of Agent Orange and where it could be gotten. Sure enough, down at Camp Petawawa, I saw some denuded trees (along with at least one denuded Warrant Officer). I plucked forth the nearest branch, rotten apple and all. I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

That was the night before I gave the eviction notice to my
tapeworm. He ignored it to his peril.

There he is, splashing around in his bowl. Aggressive bastard, really. Didn't realize tapeworms were fully equipped with scuba gear. They are aquatic. And they like to roam around at night sometimes. Creepy, what?

"This is hurting me more than you. Parasites are supposed to clean out the intestines. Too much bowel cancer around."

"Fuck off," said the tapeworm.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

It was surely an ice age. But today, it's spring

It's spring.

The aspens are bright and silver.

The month just passed seems certainly to have been an ice age, whose remnants still linger, there under the hemlocks, the pines, the tamaracks along the Holland River where I walk on the Tom Taylor Trail.

I am walking just behind a  group led by bicyclist  called Fish, from the other cyclists who keep calling out to him. He is eighty and can pass for sixty, younger even, for though his face is parchment, his fine legs are ageless as he easily rounds the corner of the bikepath and turns his helmeted head to urge the rest of of his troupe  on.

They seem  an eclectic crew.
They have slowed a bit, and I am almost caught up to them.
The effort of biking had freed them, it seems,  from pedalling against another load, a pushcart full of pain that many of us had been  walking and now pedalling against, often back-pedalling against the awful weight of it all. It seems to me today that  everybody in the group is pushing or carrying something.

Baggage from another marriage, the great sprawling novel that would not come to life, the smoky air of Seventies barrooms, the first adrenalin rush of a heroin injection.

There is the real hope of a steamer on the horizon--that we shall be rescued from this Raft of the Medusa by a jovial, somehow Germanic sea captain.
Yet one must be chary of such a notion.

Recovery is miraculous and dramatic. It may come this spring or it may not. The local Indians will tell you it is all on the whim of the Creator.
In the meantime the Indians will tell you to stay away from waterfalls, great confluences of water. And large lakes, like Simcoe, for there is an ogepoge in each one, each with its own monster.

The  cyclists ride side-by side. Then uncouple to ride alongside somebody else. 
What has brought us all  to this bikepath, along this river, along these aspens, along these tamaracks that seem to the greenhorn like so many reddened, discarded Christmas trees--but they are not, for these conifers will regain their needles and will again be bright green and bushy. Hopefully like us.
The cyclists have now paused, and  I am talking to a woman already in capri pants and white adidas.

Like me this spring, she is a little whimsical and vulnerable and kind of shy. But she had been pedalling  in there pedalling for all she's worth, like and out-of-luck teenager pushing a baby carriage, which, back home, is probably the case. She is trusting to God and good people.

The people are still good, but this is a dark age and the liberal sentiment says one thing and does another. They have stolen a large portion of the welfare money. Stolen. Yes. Mafia Miltie. Don't kid yourself. Fiddling with welfare funds is the first sign of Tony Soprano getting a cut. Meanwhile, our cyclist, whose name might by Rosie Quackenbush, puts on a brave and pretty face, gulps air and pedals on.

I move on to still nother  another party of cyclists.

An entire family. Father a little bulgy with the Speedo. Helmetted mother in ski pants and a yellow top. Little ginger-haired daughter in shorts and sandals doughtily holding up the rear.

We are all , moving, now past the tree, past the bird, past the little piles of discarded green potter's clay and other small bits of rubbish along the Holland, where they have just refurbished some condos. Yet the river may yet regain the flats!

The nearness of water and bright greenery here and there have given us hope for another, better season.

Ahead of us all now, there is the ringing of Fish's bell. He has seen something on the path, which turns out to be a snapping turtle the size of a Humvee wheel. It moves slowly, methodically out of the way, its fast, avian beginnings completely evolutioned-out over the billions of years, leaving just a mechanical crawl and a beak, which, like a construction backhoe, seems to droop a little before snapping up something. It takes the turtle a long time to get off the asphalt path.

Fish rings the bell again. We can go on.

He rings now, I suppose for spring.

And I suppose like the turtle we have just passed,

We get this sense of knowing.