Tuesday, 17 December 2013

To Everything there is a season

Where to begin? It has been said that bad things happen in threes. If so, perhaps we are finished with death for a while. In September Pat's aunt died. Verna was the last remaining sister of Pat's mom, Rita.  Although very frail for a long time, she was sweet and had her sense of humour right to the end.

In late October we were shocked to learn that our brother- in- law, Gale, had died. He was only 67. Gale was the father of three and husband of Pat's sister Janice. Once again we were in Peterborough to attend his funeral and try to help our nieces, nephew and Pat's mom cope with this huge loss. Gale is mourned not only by our family but by his many patients.

As sad as these deaths have been, it is this third one that has hit us the hardest. Our world simply stopped and shifted dramatically three weeks ago, when Pat's brother, Matthew died unexpectedly while on holiday in California. Matt hated winter, so every year around this time, when the days are so short and dark he would get laid off from his job and head south. He would usually stop in California to visit his cousins before going to Guatemala for a few months. In March or April he'd make his way home, resume work and take up residence again at his cabin in Douro, outside Peterborough. His home was known by many names, most often Windswept Meadows or Shaughnessy Research Labs.

Matt arrived at his cousin Peggy's about noon on November 26th, just before American Thanksgiving.  Once there he soon collapsed and although family and paramedics worked on him, they were unable to save him. It was hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Matt was only sixty but had high blood pressure, high cholesteral and diabetes.

We are comforted by the fact that Matt died with Peggy and her family, in their home, where he was very much loved. Being able to speak with them, as we dealt with his out of country death, has made the whole process more bearable. We will always be grateful to them for the loving care they gave Matt.

Matt was quite a guy; a unique character. Over these past three weeks there have been countless tributes written on Facebook and many heartwarming stories told at his funeral. He has been described as rambunctious, larger than life, a man of many amusing titles. Peterborough Examiner writer Ed Arnold wrote this special tribute.

In the days ahead I will share more about this whole experience. It is like we were in a time bubble for  two weeks and then gradually emerged back into the real world.  I have nothing earth shattering to add to the literature on the subject of life and death. For now I will simply suggest the usual: that we all cherish life, make the most of our days, create good memories and nourish our relationships.

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