Memory of most important and influential person in my life as visceral as a mirror glance. Clearly I own my dad’s baldness and my grandfather’s bags under my eyes. Otherwise our sameness is not surface but rather a river of traits flowing beneath.
March 8th five years ago, after valiant efforts by doctors, nurses, machines and tubes – apparatus all pulled away – taking their sounds with them as stillness filled that room. He began his last communication. Snoring. Deep, loud and funny to hear just then. Someone so close to leaving, still making robust noise.
Fading to steady murmur but still snoring. He wasn’t struggling. Body shutting down peacefully. Just an hour before, when asked by a nurse if he knew who I was, he uttered his last conscious words: “yes, that’s my son Mark”.
I was then and have always been Hubert’s son. Still am. I’ve never not been …
Paying homage to memory is incompleteness. He was more to me than flesh, family and surname. He was character. He was kindness. He was gentleness. I’ve struggled to be those things in his image because, as much as I am like him, I am un-like him in many ways too. I’ve never known anyone like him.
We had plan B, cremation, if Plan A didn’t work out.
Plan A by pre-registration with the medical faculty at University of Calgary; they take, subject to capacity, bodies for medical school study. When you fill their forms they point out that they don’t take bodies with limbs or organs missing. When I questioned that, they explained how, between when people fill out those forms and death, that circumstances may change – accidents, surgeries, disease etc.
They only take whole suitable bodies for anatomy teaching purposes. And, they can’t predict if they’ll have room in their facility when your time comes. The very cool part of this story is that they keep and use bodies and their parts for 6-7 years for teaching purposes and then cremate the remains when they are worn out. Plan A worked. I take comfort knowing my dad is still alive and functioning still. Not snoring, but still smiling.
Mark, you are a star whose light I count on to find my path often. My turn to reach out to support you. JF, Calgary
Your mind is so full of the ability to fully appreciate the stimulus that comes your way, so capable of pulling out the kernels to peck on! I hope the business end gets easier for you so that ‘an ease’ becomes the norm...and just as important, that special lady to share your life with. You so deserve the relationship you crave to be in!, SF, Lethbridge, AB
Good musing today Mark. I was reading a book last night and read this: ‘Success in never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.’ The other thing I read, which I liked, is the definition of ‘compete’ which refers to constantly reaching for excellence; and quite literally means to ‘strive together’ It comes from Latin. It is not about triumphing over others. I found this interesting given the Romans’ propensity to triumph over others. Perhaps reaching for excellence and striving together is what contributed, so masterfully, to the growth and expansion of their empire. Anyway. I thought you would find this interesting. Keep writing and stay healthy, RT, Vancouver, BC …. p.s. I find you creative, tenacious and courageous. Actually, when I read that quote you came to mind. I just did not say that in the previous email because it seemed a little sappy.
Welcome to the human race Mark. LH, Lethbridge, AB