OG Dinner

Just before the holidays I met a couple of the “OG” (original Glenwood) crew for a nice dinner and drinks at the Brazen Hall. I saw a picture last year of them out for dinner on the Facebook and remember thinking “man, I would love to get together with those guys and catch up” and this year I got the invite.

It was Corrine, Kelly, Melanie, and Dave. All people from the neighbourhood where I grew up. If you are doing the math I would have introduced Corrine and Kelly as my friends over the last 42 years. Dave and Mel I met when I moved to Glenwood from Varennes in 1985. Here we all are in 2022, sitting in the Brazen Hall sharing a gender-neutral bathroom and reminiscing about old times.

It was so cool to learn about who everyone still had contact with especially since we all kind of went our own way for high school. We all went to Glenlawn but up until grade 9, we were like family. I would see these people for 8 hours a day. We would funnel down Des Meurons and walk to school together. We hung out on the weekends and after school at the rink, or at someone’s house. Once we hit high school we all branched out on different paths but those formative years at Glenwood would connect us forever. Not just those who could make it this night, all of us I think.

Corrine lived on my street so I was hanging out with her the earliest. I would get in trouble for crossing Des Meurons by myself to get to her place. I was fascinated by her Smurf collection (she had all 100+) and we (I) would play Air Sea Battle on her Atari. My first exposure to video games, thank you very much! I am sure my wife thanks you as well.

Kelly, I met through Corrine I think and we all started hanging out after school in the same circles. She was the one I talked to the most about stuff. She lived a street up from me so I would often catch up to her on the way to school, or the way home, and have good talks.

Melanie, we met at Glenwood when we started there and she and I shared some good times out in Rushing River over a couple of summers. One of my most vivid memories of Melanie was the time I was “doubling” her home on the handlebars of my gold Kuwahara and thought I could go “no hands”. Needless to say, that didn’t end well and I don’t think Melanie got on too many handlebars after that.

Gold “Kuwie”

Dave and I played ball together and for me, that was some of the best times of my life as a kid. I was never an athlete in school but in baseball, I could hang with these guys and Dave was a big part of that time in my life. His brother Ray coached us for one year and he could really motivate me. I went to my first concert ever with Dave and Ray in 1986 at the Winnipeg Arena. It was AC/DC, the “Who made Who” tour and I remember it was so LOUD my ears were still adjusting the next day.

Glory Days

So there we all sit 40 years later talking about our families and our kids. People I haven’t spoken to outside of social media coming together after all these years just to appreciate that time in our lives when we couldn’t have known we were making friendships that would last a lifetime.

Already looking forward to the next one. Glenlawn 100 maybe?

2023. Bring it.

Obviously, my NY resolution is to write more. Also, yoga. I need more flexibility in my life.

In 2022 I moved over to a new secure host because I had all kinds of issues with GoDaddy and vowed I would write more. The end result was 3 posts. The positive spin on that is in 2023 I really only need 4 posts to achieve my new goal.

For my mental and physical health this year my intention is to take up yoga. Not any of that extreme hot yoga but the kind where you get down to your underwear in the basement and do some Yoga with Adriene.

Back in October, I suffered a hamstring injury playing hockey and it was a nothing play. I was just skating backward trying to keep the puck inside the blueline and “POP”. The guys had to push me off the ice and roll me out of the gate. Some yoga will prevent some of these injuries, and I think making some time in the evening or a Saturday morning will be good for mental health too.

I was all healed up just in time for the Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament in December. This would be our second year as a team and for me, it was a little harder to raise the money. Timmy G and Bry did an amazing job putting on a fundraiser and without them, I may not have made it! Once again the tournament was top-notch. We drafted Russ Romaniuk this year and he proved to be a class act on and off the ice. Unlike Garbutt who was out there playing like he was hoping to get another chance to play with the Ducks. Once again we won best dressing room.

Next thing you know it’s Christmas and WTF, we are all healthy! Last year I spent 10 days in the basement over Christmas with the “vid” and watched the kids open gifts from a distance. This year it was nice to have some normalcy over the holidays. It was nice to get my mom over for dinner and around the kids as well without worrying about her getting sick from us.

NYE we ordered up some 4 Seasons (damn the ginger beef is good) and spent the evening with the Grants and Morrisons. Fun Shan got some games going, we watched some hockey, had a few slurpees. Again, it was nice just to be together and have the kids together.

Lexi and Ashlyn head back to school on Thursday for 2 days. Ashlyn is into horseback riding and Lexi will be starting Volleyball later this month. Lexi is still playing soccer as well so we are busy during the week with activities and such.

I will do better with updates in 2023 so that I am less overwhelmed with summarizing an entire Peever year. It hardly does it justice.

HHTH 2022

Fundraising time!

The reality is that each player MUST raise $500 to take part in the tournament. You donate on my behalf and I get to have all the fun. I get to spend the better part of a working day playing hockey with my friends and whooping it up in the dressing room. It sounds pretty selfish when I hear myself say it out loud. But…

Last year our team alone raised over $10,000 for Winnipeg homeless and this year we are hoping to top that. The tournament provided over $150,000 of resources to support local shelters and is back to do the same in 2022. Our team raised well over the required amount and each player made a personal donation as well. We also collected 3 bags of clothing including 8 winter jackets along with another box of daily essentials. We do not take the cause lightly.

On December 16th, I hope to be participating in the 3rd Annual Hockey Helps the Homeless Winnipeg Tournament, raising awareness and funding for 3 very deserving local homelessness support agencies. To do so I need your support.

Tax receipts will be issued upon receipt of the donation for all gifts $25 and above.

Greta Van Fleet

I first learned about Greta Van Fleet in 2019 while listening to the Fighter & The Kid Podcast. Will Sasso came on and was talking about this Band from Michigan who sounds a heckuva lot like Led Zepplin. I don’t think he was bad-mouthing them but talking more about how an artist emulates their influences. Strangely, I have never considered myself a Zepplin fan but I have come to love this band. So much in fact that they are now a staple in my car and at home. The kids love their music too so when I saw that they were coming to Winnipeg I wasted little time securing tickets.

This is also the first REAL concert that the kids have been to so I wanted it to be something they would never forget. I remember my first concert and I think I was about Lexi’s age. It was the “Who Made Who” tour in 1986 at the Winnipeg Arena. I was 12 and I went with Dave Clarke and his older brother Ray. It was unbelievable. After the concert, I remember thinking that I might be deaf for the rest of my life, and at the time…I didn’t even care!

When we arrived we went straight for the merch table. Lexi picked up a GVF sweater and Ashlyn picked out this cool chain that we would later see around the neck of lead vocalist Josh Kiszka. When she first saw him on the big screen next to our seats wearing the chain her eyes got all big and she pointed it out to me. It was a really cool find for her and “the most expensive piece of jewelry in her collection”!

We made it to our seats in time for “The Pretty Reckless” who we knew very little about. We found out quickly that Taylor Momsen the lead singer rocks it out pretty hard and has a dirty mouth. The girls liked it and they are actually getting some air time at our place now. It was Ashlyn who pointed out after the show that GVF was all about love and peace and it was funny that their opener dropped a bunch of F-Bombs and hated on men!

GVF was amazing from start to finish. It had great energy, there was pyro, and the band really left it all out on stage. I mean there was 10 min drum solo to end the 2nd song. I have no idea how the drummer finished the show, to be honest. If there was one thing I would have changed it might have been less riffing and more songs. Regardless, the vocals were amazing and when I describe this band I am always telling people that the lead vocals are like another instrument the way he riffs with the band throwing in little quips and yells. It was amazing to see up close and I can’t not see it when I am listening to their music now.

Shout out to Gary and Gavin who helped me get some tickets in advance. Couldn’t have asked for a better show.

Summer 2022

Ask one and it’s the summer of Pineapple and Bacon pizza. To the other, it’s night binging BTVS (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and going to bed later than dad. Either way, summer has changed for all of us and this year is rushing past in a blur.

Here is a little recap of what I can remember…

Canada Day at Joel’s kicked the summer off as it usually does except this year there was no Lexi! She busted out of school a day early with Kaelyn on a trip to Regina. Gone are the days of our little Blueberry Girls cartwheeling and dancing around Massey park much to the enjoyment of our Windsor Park neighbours. It’s all about the fireworks now and this year’s display tasted just a little bit sweeter on the other side of Covid19. Plus we helped pay for them this year too!

Next in July, I booked off a week for our annual trip to Blue Lake. Five families this year, 8 kids out, one neighbour child, and one Easton, who still counts as a Ratte kid in my books. The only Ratte kid this time sadly. Highlights this year include a rainy Tent City, Play Nine, Mandy’s wings, sunset swimming, multiple bug zappers, an impromptu trip to Rushing River, boat rides with Uncle Paul, wrap slap, getting of the wood, Charski’s 50th and of course the highly anticipated “Jiffy Off”. Congratulations to Shannon “Forearms-on-fire” Peever who took home the honours.

This trip I look forward to all year. I don’t care if I have to sleep on the ground for 6 nights, or if the bathrooms are always closed, or if the bugs are eating my legs to the bone in the first 10 minutes of set-up. It’s the people who make it great. Some of the best people.

Home for a week of BTVS and then Shan took the girls to Toronto to visit her mom and Pad for a couple of weeks. This trip wasn’t in the books for me and to be completely honest I was looking forward to some quiet time at home. Just me, the dogs, and time. It took about 3 days and a few pictures sent my way before I was really missing my family. Of course, they had a blast and Gerrie and Pad went all out to show the girls all over Toronto and the surrounding area. They went to Ottawa to see family, and Collingwood to see Anne & Bill, before rounding out the trip at Casa Quint.

It was really cool to see Pad hitting all the rides with Lexi at Canada’s Wonderland. It should have been me but I thought it was pretty cool how much he seemed to embrace their visit. Two weeks is a long time to host people in your home and show them around town. Hearing about the little surprises he had lined up for them each day made them feel so welcome and at home. I am sure having Gerrie there helped a little too!

What about me you ask? Well, Paul was able to come in on the weekend and we feasted with Joel, Al, Puncher, and Brey at Carnaval. We hit a few pubs, and had some late-night nachos…you know the drill! I got some chores done, saw the dentist, and all that fun stuff.

Joel waving goodbye to Puncher.

Regardless I am glad to have them home or had them home. Home for a week and now off to Echo Bay for some Spicy Banditos weekend at Pat and Carla’s. Little travellers this summer. When they get home Shan is back to work and it’s only two weeks before school starts.

Hardly any top-down days left.

– insert photo of Jeep here –

Hockey Helps the Homeless

On December 3rd, I will be participating in the 2nd Annual Hockey Helps the Homeless Winnipeg Tournament, raising awareness and funding for 3 very deserving local homelessness support agencies in Winnipeg. RAY Youth Centre, Willow Place, and Red Road Lodge.

Each player in the tournament has a minimum goal of $500 to get on to the ice. I am lucky enough to have the support of GB Agencies to help me reach my initial goal of $500 but I am pushing for $1000 total to go above and beyond. If this is something you might typically support I can tell you that all the money raised stays in Winnipeg and there is a tax receipt for all donations $25 and over.

You can support me, or someone else on our team who might appreciate the boost toward $500.

If you’re like me, I never support these things unless the person asking has also made a donation. You won’t see my name on my list of supporters (maybe Shan’s), but I have already donated to a team member and will likely support another to reach their target.

Couple of good old G-Wood boys.

I am very excited about the event and look forward to being out with good friends, for a great cause, playing the game we love. I can’t promise any goals on the ice, but we all get a win with your assist!

Things I Wish I Had Known

Cancer is a thief. It robs people of their livelihood, their bodies, their independence, and their dignity. It creeps in and relentlessly takes people away. People we love.

When my Dad got sick it all happened pretty fast. I mean, he didn’t feel well for a long time and by the time any proper testing was done he was already on death row.

“Stage four cancer Mr. Peever, it has spread to your lungs, bones, and liver.”

Here are a few things I wish I had known:

#1 – Advocate for yourself

If you are not feeling well and in pain somewhere in your body, go see your doctor. When you are there insist that they take some blood and look for anything that would suggest cancer. It really should be a no-brainer these days when it seems like most people either have cancer, don’t know they have cancer, or don’t have cancer yet. Google says 40% of the population has had a taste.

My Dad was in pain for a long time. Lower back, neck pain, increasing fatigue. He was getting up there in age and was also a long-time smoker. He had gone to the doctor many times in the last couple of years before he passed. He was admitted to the hospital for 2 weeks with pneumonia in 2019 and never really recovered. I assume they looked at his lungs during that visit but never reported any signs of cancer.

I am sure he saw his doctor 10 more times for various pains in the year and a half after that. The stabbing pain in his side and lack of breath was treated with steroid puffers and inflammatory creams. Just a month or two before he passed the pain was intensified again and during this visit to his doctor, he was diagnosed with Shingles. The kind you can’t see on the outside but under the skin Shingles. He was given large blue pills to take every day and the grapefruit-sized tumor continued to grow, and be a pain in his side. Perhaps it was only the size of an orange at that time like the one they found in his other lung at stage four. My Dad was a heavy smoker for most of his life. His doctor talked to him many times “about the smoking” but never looked for cancer on his visits? Just seems odd to me.

Ask your doctor to take blood and look for anything that might indicate cancer might be present. Catch it early and act.

#2 – Nurse Navigators (204) 784-0237

Once Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and released from the hospital, it was hard for us to keep his information straight. Due to Covid, we weren’t able to visit so if we needed to know something we would have to call Dad or try to get through to his nurse at the hospital for more detailed information. Once he was released we didn’t know who to talk to. Once you leave the hospital you are no longer in their care. We weren’t sure who to contact for things like oxygen tanks, home assistance, and treatment appointments. We didn’t know who to call for what!

Al told me about “Nurse Navigators” so I gave them a call and talked to someone there who immediately took all of his information, contacted Dad, and took on all things related to his care. Basically from that point on we could call them any time there was a breakdown of communication or we weren’t sure about something. They were a huge help throughout this process in the realm of “what do we do now?”.

#3 – Treatments (Quality VS Quantity)

Once my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, doctors told him that without treatment he had about 6 months to live. Maybe a little longer with treatment. It was difficult to talk about this as a family because everyone was dealing with their own emotions. Selfishly we all agreed on quantity because not accepting treatment just seemed like giving up. But Dad still had his mobility at this time and there was a good chance that treatments could make him sicker much sooner. He loved to get out in the car and visit my sister, his people, his dogs. He also feared that rejecting treatment meant that Cancer Care would no longer be there for him, and in a way he was right. He decided that he would do the radiation they suggested in hopes that it would shrink the tumors in his lungs and help with his daily stamina and getting around. He opted out of the chemotherapy that followed and his file was transferred from Cancer Care to Palliative Care.

I will talk more about Palliative Care moving forward but the most important takeaway from treatments is to make sure the decision is ultimately made by the patient. My Dad would do anything for us, even suffer longer to save us the pain of losing him. More life isn’t worth living if the quality of life is the compromise.

#4 – MAID (204) 926-1380

Medical Assistance In Dying – I don’t think a lot of people know about this because doctors aren’t really allowed to talk about it as an option. Doctors are under oath to do everything they can to keep you alive for as long as possible, even if you would rather be dead.

Medical assistance in dying occurs when an authorized doctor or nurse practitioner provides or administers medication that intentionally brings about a patient’s death, at that patient’s request. This procedure is only available to eligible individuals.

For Dad, this was just a tool in his toolbox. When/if it got to the point where the suffering was unbearable he could play this card. He never had to use it but at least not dying a slow painful death was an option he had. I am sure this could be considered controversial but cancer is merciless. There is no need to prolong suffering, it’s a choice now.

#5 – Pallitative Care

I can’t say enough good about Palliative care. We were given a contact after Dad finished his last bout of radiation and they did everything toward making him as comfortable at home as possible. They paid for and managed all of Dad’s prescriptions while he was under their umbrella. We were to contact them for anything Dad needed and a nurse came out twice a week for home visits.

Dad wanted to be at home for as long as he physically could. If there was an emergency we were to call them and they would send someone out to assess the situation. If he needed to go to the hospital it went through them which was good to know. I had called a couple of when he had a rough day and we weren’t sure if we should take him in or not and they were very responsive. They were on call 24 hours a day if we needed them.

One of the first things they ask for when setting up Dad’s file was “who do you have to pick him up if he passes at home?”. You are required to make those arrangements right away so that there is a plan in place. This brings me to…

#6 – Cremation (204) 808-4490

Alterna Cremation

We had to have a plan in place as a part of the palliative care health directive. We had to make arrangements for someone to be on call to pick up my Dad in the event that he passed at home. Initially, I just started looking online for places that were close and found that very few websites had pricing on them. When I called everyone I talked to wanted me to “come in and have a sit down” to talk about arrangements, and receptacles, etc. I just needed someone on the books to pick him up, do the cremation, and call me to pick him up. That’s it. When I pushed over the phone for pricing it was starting at $5000, which seemed a little steep to me. I finally found Alterna online and what appealed to me was that they were the only place I could find that had transparent pricing right on their website.

Our $1395 Direct Cremation package includes everything you need except an urn; And you don’t even need to buy one from us. We do have very affordable, quality urns available, but you can also choose to have your loved one’s remains returned in a basic, dignified container provided by Alterna at no additional charge.

We were very happy with everything they provided and the price was exactly as stated. They took care of all the paperwork, made sure Mom’s forms were all filled out for CPP and PPE and down with OPP, and provided a few copies of the death. certificate in case we needed a few extra. We also opted for them to submit the Obituary and that was expensive but I don’t think they added anything other than their cost.

#7 – Probating the Will

We found ourselves in a very unique position with my Dad’s new car lease. He has been leasing a Honda CRV for the last 15 years or so and his new lease was only about 6 months old when he passed. I called the girl he always dealt with there and she knew who I was right away and gave me her condolences. I expected that I could just bring the car back there and they would take care of it but it wasn’t that simple. She told me it was a Honda Canada issue and gave me a number to call. I really just wanted to get the car back to the dealership. In short, HC told me that we were responsible for what was still owed on the remainder of the lease even though my mom’s name wasn’t anywhere on the lease. Our options were to sell the car, have someone take over the lease, or take over the payments ourselves. None of which we were willing to do I told the nice lady on the phone. She asked me for a copy of the death certificate (which I sent), and a copy of the will (which is none of their business). I called a second time to speak to someone else, maybe they didn’t understand the circumstances but they made it crystal clear we would be responsible or it would come out of his estate.

His estate? I wasn’t really sure how that all worked but when I asked our lawyer he said to think of it as anything my Dad would have had that my mom didn’t already have access to. Like if there was a cottage in his name that he had left to her in his will or in this case a car that she was no part of. If there were some assets to be gained by “probating” or accessing the will then you don’t get to pick and choose which ones you want. You couldn’t just accept the cottage, you would need to accept the car lease too as a part of his “estate”. So because my Mom is still alive and well, and there are no assets she doesn’t have access to there is no reason to access the will. Meaning there is no estate.

I called back HC a third time and asked again “where can I drop off the car” and again they told me to try and get someone to lease it, or sell it if I don’t want to take on the payment. By this time we had already made a stop payment on the car. I told them very clear that it was my full intention to return this vehicle and just need to know where to bring it? Again I got some pushback. Next, I asked if the call was being recorded and I told them again it was my full intention to return this car. Finally, she told me to bring the car back to the dealership. I was to call them and make arrangements and let HC know when it was done. For ass-covering I had drafted up a receipt that I had them sign on its return and I took pictures and video of the car on the lot.

Not long after dropping off the car Mom got a letter in the mail addressed to “the estate of Brian Peever”. It was a bill for the cost of the car. Not just what was remaining on the lease, the cost of the car along with some handling fees and storage now that the car was on their lot. $45,000 needed to be paid in a month’s time. Our lawyer said not to worry, there is no estate. Just last week we received another letter this time to the estate of Brian Peever letting us know that the car was sold and that we need to pay the difference of $4500 or they would be contacting a 3rd party collections agency.

I wish I had known how shitty the dealerships could be when something like this happens. My Dad was a loyal customer for 15+ years and now instead of trying to be empathetic, Honda Canada is sending a collection agency to shake down his estate after already re-selling the car for who knows how much? Used cars are in HUGE demand right now! Makes me sick to my stomach.

Good luck with that Honda Canada. Kick rocks.


My dad used to do this thing at the dinner table that is literally burned into my memory. After supper, he would always have a cup of hot tea. He’d bring it back to the table, add a little milk and sugar, and give it a little stir. Then he would randomly pull out the burning hot teaspoon and casually rest it on my arm or hand until I noticed. I would scream and then we would all laugh. It never got old and this went on well into my adult years.

Family is everything to my dad and he would do anything for us. He used to “tuck us in” at night and if I was cold he would lie across my blankets until they warmed up and was careful not to crush me. We had meetings in the bathroom that mom and Marcy would just never understand and despite a nagging back issue I always had someone to throw the ball with. I remember being like 11 years old playing football in the front yard with my friends and my dad was returning a big kick-off. He pumped a couple of fakes, juked left when he should have juked right, and then down on the grass hard. I remember him lying there on the grass holding his knee when I heard the front window slide open and my mom pressing her face up against the screen – “yooooooou aaaaaaasshole!” she said.

Marcy & head-to-head football

I watched him like a hawk on the weekends doing yard work on that double lot we used to have on Handyside. Mowing that football field of a yard dripping sweat and then still making sure to do the Thorpes. He also did their walk in the winter and made sure the public sidewalk was clean in front of our house. He looked after people like nobody I have ever known and always put the needs of others before his own.

During my glory days, I played hardball for Glenwood CC with the likes of Riel, Clarke, Dowhy, Boychuck, and Serridilla. I used to pitch some games and my dad would find a spot tucked right behind the umpire and every time I was locked into a full count with a batter, or 2 strikes in, I could hear him yell “THAT’S THE ONE…” as soon as I launched off the mound. Didn’t matter what I threw, the batter would swing and I had so many strikeouts that year. Guys on the team always wanted to ride with us after the game because he would take us all for Slurpees! I come by that naturally.

We never had a lot of money but I don’t remember ever going without. I don’t know how many quarters he gave me growing up to play video games at George’s Burgers at the end of the street (enough to finish Double Dragon and master Karate Champ). He even took us to the Ex every year and we all know what a rip-off that can be. He replaced every hockey stick I ever broke. I sometimes found money in my jeans before school if I needed something off the grid. School supplies were sponsored by Manitoba Hydro and we had all the colors of white-out.

The old Hydro truck & Granny Peever

Relationships were his currency and friendships were gold. He would do anything for his people and it seemed like they were always there for him. The furnace is broken? He called a friend. Need a sidewalk poured? He called a friend. Need a tree cut down? The list goes on. It wasn’t until I was older and I would walk into a place to rent a tool and they would see my last name and ask if I was related to Brian Peever. “Just take it…” they would say, “your dad does a lot for us”. When I went for my driver’s test I was met by this huge man who would be taking me on my road test. When it was complete, he said I did really well and started to fill out my paperwork. “Peever?” he said. “Are you related to Brian Peever by chance?” – Then he went on to tell me about a time some guy was giving him a hard time at a pool hall and my dad stepped in. Told me he was badass back in the day and I was like “my dad?”. Sweetest guy I know!

When I say he would do anything for Marcy and me, it was almost to a fault. You almost had to watch what you said around him because he would always want to help. One time I told him I really liked his new padded toilet seat and a couple of days later I came home after work to find ours had been replaced. He would pop into our house while we were at work to “let the dogs out” he would say. Sometimes it was multiple times a day and we always came home to a tidy house with dishes put away and kitchen swept. All the poop in the yard was taken care of. In the summer he would mow the lawn and in the winter he would clear the driveway the best he could. It didn’t matter how many times we told him not to bother. One time we were heading out somewhere and we saw Papa in his car at the stop sign at the corner. We gave him a wave as we drove off and I said “I wonder where Papa is going?” and without missing a beat Ashlyn said, “he’s probably going to clean our house!”.

He would leave the girls treats and little messages. When Lexi started coming home for lunches he started bringing her McDonalds on Fridays so they could have a little visit. He loved the dogs and they loved seeing him even on weekends when he dropped in with donuts the dogs would go bonkers and he would pull something out of his pockets for them. In fact, when we were going through his things I opened up the top drawer on his dresser and there was a sock toy ready to go for them. It was just like him to leave something behind for “his puppies”.

He used to pull up in the driveway and pop his hatch and he would have all kinds of things in there. Stuff that people had given him, or things that he had for other people. It could be anything! “You need a vacuum?” and he would pull one out of the back of his car. When he would take Marcy shopping he would wait in the car and drive around the lot looking to see what people forgot in their carts. “You’d be amazed what I have found in carts…” he would tell me, “will you guys eat these pizza pops?”.

My dad was a guardian angel to so many people. If I believed in all that stuff I would say he was put on this earth to take care of people. He told me about how he used to look after his grandpa Bannister when he was battling cancer. It seemed like such a huge responsibility at such a young age. As a kid, we would go to visit my grandma Phillips and he had such great banter with her. He affectionately nicknamed her “Shorty”. When she was in the care home fighting dementia he used to visit her at least a couple of times per week and would do things like trim her nails and comb her hair. Maintained her dignity and I always thought about how special their bond was. I went with him often to visit Art and Tilley and after Art passed away he would often check in on Tilley to make sure she was doing well. He would often drive Marcy to bingo where he met Lil and he soon became a friend and caregiver for her as well. Driving her to appointments and taking her shopping became a part of his regular routine. He took care of people, that’s what he did.

He took care of my mom for many years and saw her through her aneurysm and knee surgery. Taking on the cooking and cleaning for two as she continues her battle with fibromyalgia. He loved her unconditionally through all 50+ years of blissful marriage. He would visit Marcy almost every day and would bring her coffee and take her out to run errands, buy lottery tickets, and just hang out. He was my “go-to” if I forgot my lunch or Ashlyn needed dry clothes at school because she “fell in a puddle”. He spent nights sleeping on my couch while we were away so that the dogs wouldn’t be alone overnight. He was always there and you don’t even realize how much you take that for granted.

50th Anniversary

When we realized he had cancer it was all so sudden. None of us were prepared. He put on a brave face for all of us in true dad fashion and took it head-on. He continued to make his rounds, oxygen in tow until he was physically unable to do so. His independence was everything to him because without it he felt like a burden. It was our time to take care of him and he would hardly let me drive him to his radiation appointments. His sisters and family were there for him sending love and food and he would say “you don’t have to do that.”. He never wanted people to fuss over him. The day before he passed he got in his car and drove over to Marcy’s place for a drop-in just like any other day. For some reason, this time he stayed for a couple of hours and Marcy made them both breakfast. The following night he fell asleep in his chair watching TV and never woke up. Independent to the end, just how he would have wanted it.

I found a book I gave him for fathers day 10-15 years ago and it was the kind that gives you a sentence and you have to fill in the blanks. On page 32 I found this…

In my teens, my dad used to take me to Garry’s Billiards on Pembina for some good father-son time. From what I understand he used to spend a lot of time (and money) at the pool hall in his teens and it was there he taught me how to play Snooker. One of the things he said to me while lining up a shot I will never forget. He said…

“It’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”

Looking back now I can see this is as much about Snooker as it is about life.

Love you dad.

The Tree of Life

I found this tree one morning at Blue Lake when I decided to lie down on top of a random picnic table before the campground was awake. My mind has been so full lately that processing anything has been such a task and I really just wanted some quiet time alone with myself.

At first, I didn’t see anything. I just laid there on my back and stretched out my body, working out the aches that come with sleeping in a tent for a couple of nights in a row. I raised my arms over my head and felt a surge of pain in my right shoulder leftover from an old dancing injury. I struggled to bring my hands together as I extended past the edge of the table and relied solely on my own strength for support.

I closed my eyes for a bit and pulled my arm back in to ease off the pain as it has become such commonplace. When I opened my eyes all I could see was the tops of the trees and they immediately personified against the backdrop of the smokey-blue sky. Metaphorically each tree seemed to resemble a human life. At the top (the beginning) there were bursts and clusters of action like fireworks! Strong memorable moments of firsts, accomplishments, and relationships sparking a range of emotions in all directions. Looking at that tree like a timeline I reveled at the picture it painted of my own life and how full it has been.

Looking down the tree those bursts became more sparse. Still hits of happiness and joy but seemingly less. When I think about getting older and what that looks like it seems like those bursts come from the family you have built around you. Seeing your children succeed, attending a wedding, a grandchild. Eventually, you have lived your life to the fullest and your cup is full and memories are what feeds you.

I think the tricky part for anyone is knowing where you fall on this tree so you can fully appreciate those sparks. Claw your way as close to the top as possible until your body just won’t have it and know that you have loved as much as you are loved.

Thanks Tree.

Walter Gretzky

Heaven is a better place today and it seems like I have been saying that a lot lately. More and more is quickly becoming my personal obituary. Maybe more of a place to remember people in my life that will always be missed.

I hardly even remember the year I met Walter Gretzky (pre kids). We were planning a trip to visit our good friends Mel and Jeff in Wellesley for New Years and Jeff promised to take me to see the house where Gretzky grew up.

I remember being really nervous for some reason too. When we first arrived Jeff pulled up to the house and parked out front and we all just stared out the window of the car. Jeff was egging me to get out so that I could get my picture taken in the front driveway. There was some hesitation but I finally got out and I think I was taking one of Shan when Walter stepped out on the front steps and politely asked “Hey whatcha doing?”

Of course, we didn’t know what to say and asked his permission to take a couple of photos in front of the house. It wasn’t cell phone days so we had the old school cameras and Jeff’s was as big as Walter’s mailbox. He must have thought we were the press!

Next thing we know Walter invites us into the house “for a visit”. It’s all a blur after that but I do recall sitting in the living room “visiting” and I tried to tell Walter the story of when I met Wayne in Toronto, in his restaurant and Walter wasn’t having any of it. “Wayne who?” he said. Then he told us all about his golf game the other day and this one drive that went for days.

He showed us around the house a little bit and introduced us to Glen who I think may have been just visiting. Glen wasn’t very happy to see us and said something like “…he does this all the time…just don’t take anything” – which is funny because Jeff and I were both eyeballing the TV guide with the Gretzky address sticker on the cover. WHAT? They were just going to throw it out anyway!

We thanked Walter for having us and insisted that we should be on our way and not take up any more of his time. Before we left he insisted that we get some photos around his Christmas tree with Santa. He orchestrated the shots for all of telling us where to stand and seemingly enjoying the whole experience. Then he suggested we finish up the pictures we started outside and posed for a couple out there.

Sidenote: Since that day I have heard all kinds of stories like this so I know I am not special. But Walter is. To say he was GREAT is an understatement.

Thanks for the memories Walter.