death

Story Slam and New Camera Day

DSC_0146Photo taken near my house with my brand new Nikon Camera

Today’s Blog:

     Well, I wonder what my growing list of regular readers would like to hear about today.  Last night I went to a ‘story slam’ competition and got up in front of a large crowd of people and recited a five minute story I wrote about my mom’s passing.  It was something that affected me greatly, I think I will post the story here for anyone to have a look at:

A TRIBUTE:

Mother. Mama. Mommy. Mom. So many names for the same thing, that one special person in all of our lives, in the lives of everyone here, everyone that ever lived has had a mother. Mine is no more.

 

The Catholics consider Mary Mother of Jesus to be the first Saint. She was the first one close enough to our Lord to appeal to him when wine ran out at a wedding. When the time came for me to perform a miracle for my Mom, I was unable.

 

It was six or seven years ago. My Dad was far away in Toronto at my sister’s wedding and I was taking care of my mom. At 63 she had just about everything go wrong with her that could. In her day, my Mother had been a bank manager, she had been an expeditor for a rail company. She had been her first family’s sole support at 16 and nearly earned herself a full scholarship to University. All she had wanted in life was to become a teacher, but she had to satisfy herself with teaching three kids.

 

Life and medications had taken so much out of her. My mom had turned from an intelligent and active adult to a child in a 63 year-old body. I had to answer to her every call, be it for her meals, for help to go to the bathroom, or even just to bring cold water. As I did these things, I thought of all she did for me and tried so hard to keep having patience.

 

One day, she called my name. The name only she could get away using. “Leify!” she said. Leify. Me, her little boy, the one she had carried and loved and spoiled.   And now she needed me.

 

I went in to see what was wrong. Her arms were flailing but she wasn’t speaking. I felt cruel and cold as I looked at her, tried to explain I didn’t know what she wanted. I put my hand to her chest and somehow I realized she wasn’t breathing. I don’t know how much time went by, but in what seemed like hours and at the same time like split seconds I had dialed 911. “Do you know CPR?” the operator asked. Yes, I have taken it many times, in boy scouts, in air cadets, I had read about it, even watched it performed once on a heart attack victim.

 

“No.” I had to reply. It had been too long, and this was my mom who wasn’t breathing. They told me to lay her flat on the floor. This I did, wondering how much damage I was doing to the back that suffered from crushed vertebrae and osteoporosis. I made a seal on her lips and blew, still being able to taste her last dose of medicine on her lips. I pushed on her chest a few times then tried to breathe life into her again. Nothing was happening.

 

In no time the paramedics were there. There was a lot of them, they crowded into my parent’s small apartment, pounded her chest and put a breathing bag over her mouth. They tried so desperately hard but nothing was helping. One of the paramedics told me she could still hear me, to not be embarrassed, to say what I wanted to her. “We all love you mom.” Is all I can remember saying. “We all love you mom.”

 

I was given a ride to the hospital and the paramedic explained that there was no hope to be had. At the hospital this was confirmed. I had to make a decision. She was brain dead and breathing through artificial methods. Her pain, her joy, her suffering, her crying fits and bedsores were all over now. I told them they could take her off life support.

 

It really was a beautiful thing, to be with someone when your end comes. Her breathing slowed, then stopped. I looked in her eyes and they seemed so alive, so real, I wanted to cry out that she wasn’t gone, that there was still a spark in her, but she was gone no matter how alive she seemed. I went into a waiting room, was given access to a phone and called my Dad to tell him my mom had died-on my watch.

 

It was discovered she had died of choking. Complications of acid reflux. Her and I shared a malady, the one that makes us take medications, we both had Bipolar Disorder. It gave us a special bond but it was also eating away at our souls and some of our vital body systems. My last true friend was gone, my mom. Three more days and she had an appointment to fix her throat. She didn’t have to die. She was a victim of waiting lists. I was a victim of guilt for many months.

 

My family goes on. My sister married and she has a child, a wonderful little child who had loved her grandmother. I look in her eyes and it warms my heart when she tells me she wants to grow up to be a teacher. Sometimes she cries because she misses her gramma. Now, I still reach for the phone when I want to talk to her, then I remember and pray to her instead. She can’t respond, but I know she can hear me. I know because when we visit her resting place I can feel her tears in the rain and her whispers in the wind. She will be in my heart forever.

CONTINUATION OF BLOG:

The story I read was just slightly different from how it appears here.  It must have been pretty powerful because when I got off the stage I noticed that three women were in tears.  One of them was one of the contest judges and she gave me the only 10 our of 10 of the night, though I didn’t win the competition.  Grieving a loss is a funny experience.  There have been times in my life when I was greatly worried that I was some kind of Psychopath or Sociopath, but after experiencing my mom’s death I realized that I do have a lot of compassion and feeling in me, I think I just register it differently.  The whole experience hit me from a blind side.  On the day my mom died I only cried one tear, as I held her hand after life support was taken off.  I was comforted that I was there with her, comforted that my name was the last thing she said.  I felt horrible for my Dad, worse for my brother and worse still for my sister who will always be reminded of her loss on her wedding anniversary.  I found myself doing odd things after my mom passed, I would lay in bed and say “mom” over and over again, I was in a bit of a fog of depression.  Now, seven years later, I feel a lot better about the whole thing.  My mom was the kind of person who made you feel very wanted, very needed.  I found my life somewhat lacking in purpose after she was gone.  I will never forget a friend of hers and an old teacher of mine who came to one of my book signings and said, “Your mom would be so proud.”  That meant a lot, but of course there was still the hurt that she never saw me publish a book and my mom dearly loved books.  I think though I will have to leave off there for now, it is early morning in Edmonton and I am extremely tired from lack of sleep.  Thanks so much for all those who have been liking my page and joining up, I hope you are getting your money’s worth out of reading my blog and that it moves you enough that you check out my eBooks and paperbacks.  All the best Dear Readers!

DSC_0038                    Downtown Edmonton’s Hustle and Bustle at Lunch Time Midwinter

 

Some Say I’m Brilliant, I Just Want To Be Happy

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LOOKS NOTHING LIKE THIS NOW, JUST WANTED TO SEE AN IDYLLIC SHOT OF THE OPEN ROAD.

Well, I had a great day today.  I didn’t start the day off with a swim, which perhaps could have made it better, but I did get up on time and had a chance to speak on the phone with my very cool reporter friend who works for the St.Albert Gazette, my home town newspaper.  We went over some of the projects I’m working on and he was very kind to take note of my campaign to raise money to print and distribute a ‘mental health’ comic book.  I wrote this script you see for a comic and had it looked at by a person who does this sort of thing for a living, and he was impressed.  It is the story of a young man who ends up having mental health difficulties and nearly kills himself and goes in and out of treatment for his illness.  I wanted to do this project because I have a new job starting up soon where I will be going to schools and talking to young people about Bipolar and Schizophrenia and other mental health disorders and I want to be able to give them something they can relate to.  I have put a notice at http://www.gofundme.com/oneinfive1in5 asking those who want to help to donate until I reach my goal of $750.00.  It will take more than that, but that will help a great deal if I can get assistance.  Anyhow, my friend Scott Hayes from the Gazette is going to run the URL in the newspaper, which is kind of exciting.  I have had a lot of exciting news lately, I met with a woman who is going to connect me with a person who is writing a screenplay about Bipolar.  If it makes it to a movie, and I can be of help, I think I might be able to get work on the film as a creative consultant.  That’s all a long shot though, but I have to admit that I am greatly enjoying my life.  So, as my day progresses, I did the interview and then after supper I went to something called a “Story Slam” where you go and read a 5-minute story to an audience and random people judge your story and if you get enough points, you win a hatful of money ($180).  I didn’t win, but a number of people (not the number 0) told me I did well, and two people bought books off me for $20 each plus I won a new CD.  It was great really.  I won’t be performing another story there for two months, but I definitely want to make this a regular occurrence, I really liked the people I met and it was kind of cool to get up and read my story.  Tomorrow is going to be interesting, in the morning, a photographer from the Gazette is coming to take my picture and then at noon I am attending my first talk with regards to my new public speaking job and then the day finishes up with me attending an orientation session for work at 6:00pm.  The weather here in Edmonton is nice too, above freezing anyhow and all is well.  Check out today’s poem below the second photo of the day, below.

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HERE IS A SUNRISE PHOTO OF THE LAW COURTS IN SUMMER IN EDMONTON

 

All To Dust

 

A friend can often be the one to say

You change the world in such a special way

A true love can say you are the best

Don’t listen to the crap from all the rest

 

My friend I want to tell you that you are

Someone more than you think you are by far

I say these words to you because I care

This world was meant for you and I to share

 

In days gone by we talked of those we loved

And those among us who pushed us and shoved

There are people who only want to hate

Forget them now, leave them to their fate

 

We must love those who care and hold them close

Forget those jerks who only strut and pose

My friend my life, my world is in your hands

One day we shall realize all our plans

 

But first we must get past those childhood days

Perhaps this friendship is simply a phase

Because though we cling together right here

We can’t be friends forever I do fear

 

One day a lover will come to us both

Who we will join to with a special oath

Perhaps also children will come to us

With love that turns our friendships all to dust

 

It’s sad but true that this is how things work

Just don’t forget this new love has its perks

Because as childhood friendships fade away

New love will give new ways to laugh and play

 

We will walk in true happiness and peace

Love will give our hearts and minds a new lease

Think of me Christmas each year my friend

Always warm wishes I will still extend

 

Leif Gregersen

January 15, 2015

Poetry of December

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Well, it has been a long week, it seems to be long anyway, even though it is just Thursday.  I think a lot about when I was a kid and how in elementary and junior high school I would look up at the clock and count the hours, minutes, seconds until I could leave.  Sometimes I would even do this when I had work to do although most of the time school didn’t keep me as busy as many of the other students.  I don’t regret my school days at all, actually I really started to like going to school when I made it to high school. Good old Paul Kane High, so many good memories.  Not long ago there was a 25 year class reunion posted to Facebook and I was blocked from viewing it by the administrators of the site.  It did hurt but as the man says, “The Best Revenge is Living Well”.  I really feel very blessed this year, I mentioned a few posts back that I had a great birthday, but my birthday seems to be still going.  Today I received a wonderful package in the mail from my old friend Caroline.  She sent me socks, a t-shirt she thought would look good on me, chocolates, special tea and even a delicious box of ready to make noodles.  And then later the same day my Dad gave me the news that my sister had just sent $75 in the mail for me.  I seem to be making out like a bandit this year.

One of the things that I think is very special about this year, and a few previous is how I seem to be able to form strong bonds with people.  Funny enough, I have a cousin who lives in Ontario who I don’t talk to a whole lot but I have become good friends with his wife Kirsten.  A few years back, her and I were chatting on Facebook and she had to go and answer a phone call and I thought to myself, “why don’t I write her a nice poem about England?” and so I did, right off the top of my head.  She came back and read it and said, “What a lovely poem Leif, who wrote it?”  I simply said, “I did-just now.”  her response?  “Fuck off!”  That really made me laugh.  I think I had to write more poems for her to convince her that I really do have something of a gift for poetry.  The super neat thing is that Kirsten and my cousin Brian at the time were University Professors and they used some of my poems as illustrations in their courses.

Yesterday a friend was talking to me and was telling me he was very sad because a close friend of his had a daughter who lost a newborn baby to an illness at the age of 3 months.  I felt touched by the words he told me and decided to write a poem for the family, perhaps to be read in the eulogy.  I don’t want to repeat the poem here, I kind of feel it is too personal, but it excites me that one day as I get better known I will be able to tailor-make poems for important occasions.  The whole world seems to be wide open for me right now.  I even have a new poetry book coming out some time soon.  Anyhow, I am going to post a photo here again I think, scroll down past it for today’s poem.  Thank you dear readers.

 

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A Poet’s Night

 

 

Winter’s night so dark

Crisp cold snow all around

I’m alone but not lonely

There is little sound

 

I don’t hurt inside

On nights like these

I have my books

I have mid-winter’s gentle breeze

 

My poems keep me

From wandering thoughts

Of all I once dreamed of

All the things I’m not

 

In the darkness

I can always say

Peace and contentment

Are never far away

 

I can open any book

And be in another place

In another mind

Even out in space

 

An old young man

With a soul that’s been to hell

Finally I have all I wanted

Happy alive and well

 

I’m so dearly lucky

To have my dim-lit room

Volumes of poems

Both to write and consume

 

Thoughts of loved ones

On this Earth and loved ones gone

Keep me working, writing

Keep my spirit strong

 

If there is just one out there

Who cares for you

No such thing as being lonely

No such thing as being blue

 

And if you lack a love

To call your own

Remember there are hearts out there

Even more alone

 

Tomorrow is your new chance

To find that hurting soul

Give a little of yourself

And feel warm and whole

 

Never stop hoping

That you will make your way

Never stop knowing

You have something to say

 

Pick up your pen

Write out your heart’s true longing

Speak of wandering

Of not belonging

 

And then one day

Someone will read about you

They will understand

Know your heart is true

 

 

 

Leif Gregersen

 

December 11, 2014