Suzy Snapper
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Romantic or Psychotic?

An absolutely heartbreaking incident happened in Penticton on Tuesday.

A 77-year-old man walked into the front doors of the local hospital, through to where his bedridden 80 year old wife was. She had been in medical care since a stroke 28 days ago. He pulled out his handgun, shot her in the head and then himself.

They had no children. Both in failing health in an already overburdened health care system, it would seem they chose a quicker end to their time on this earth.

Last week, they were told that she would not recover from her stroke and the decision was made to place her in a care home. He had lovingly cared for her, visiting her every day and spending hours upon hours with her. From the news reports, it sounds like it was simply too much to bear to be separated after so long.

Of course, some must make it into a bitter commentary on gun control.

As I've found recently with the declining health of my aunt, it is increasingly difficult to find solutions to the long term health issues of the elderly. To many of our elder generation, the mere thought of having to rely on others for their basic upkeep is unthinkable and a bitter pill to swallow. They're the generation that survived the Depression, World War II and other wars, didn't have the modern conveniences we have today. They made it. They coped. Now, as they become incapacitated and are offered beds in overcrowded hospitals where even more diseases lurk, or homes with chronically understaffed overworked nurses, the thought of the McCaddens is more a romantic end than anything else.

When my Aunt was in hospital in April for her stroke, it was not a serious threat to her health as far as these things go. She had a TIA which affected some of her speech, vision and mobility but did not affect her ability to care for herself. However, 3 days into her hospital stay, amid discussion of returning her home, she contracted the Norwalk virus. Her entire floor was quarantined. We were not allowed up there, nor any telephone communication with her. Calls to overworked nurses were met with exasperation as they did not want to update conditions, but tend to the patients - as they should. We had no way of knowing how her condition was - or if she was fairing ok. And of course, she does suffer from severe depression which was also on our minds. Finally on the 5th day of 'quarantine', I decided enough was enough.

I arrived on the floor and demanded entrance. I told them, while I understood there was a quarantine and that I was taking my chances, I would scrub and gown up just as they were. They relented and allowed me in.

I found my aunt in squallid conditions at the end of the hallway. Very confused and not completely aware of her conditions, she had virtually been left. Because she was not the 'sickest', the nurses were tending to those who were. She had only suffered 2 days of the Norwalk symptoms and now was simply resting. The only people my Aunt had seen in the previous 5 days were the food handlers (who left food in the hallway as their contract stated they did not have to enter quarantined rooms), and the nursing students to bring the medication. No physiotherapist, no doctor. She had no idea why she was there, or what was happening. If she tried to enter the hallway, she would be shoo-ed back in lest she get farther down into the higher quarantine area.

Is this what we have to give to our elders? I hope not. As much as I would hate to see more of the Penticton situation, I can understand how this man felt this was his final option.
A Simple Conversation
Hwy 101, Aug 2003

I had a bit of an enlightening moment this evening. A random comment to someone at work got me reminiscing of a time when I gave myself the permission to write.

My old blog, as some of you tried and true friends will remember, was updated far more regularly and in my opinion, with much more substance than this one. That happened for a variety of reasons. I began censoring myself when I found out a couple of acquaintances of mine were not reading out of enjoyment, but to glean information in a negative way. Soon after, a bunch of personal issues came together and I did what I do best. I turtled.

This coworker of mine is an avid follower of current events, and had been reading the blogs of some of the more prolific conservative Canadian bloggers. He was shocked to know that not only was mine linked by the top of the tops for a while, but that I also hosted the Red Ensign Standard many moons ago. I took a look back...I'd had nearly 25,000 visitors to my site this time last year.

It made me a bit melancholy for the enjoyment I felt when I researched and wrote an article. Be it on something small or heartfelt, or striking and profound. I found that not only did I enjoy writing, I thrived on it. But then that fell apart. Those little naysayers inside yourself that remind you that there are many more people much better than yourself.

I joined NaNoWriMo last November. I finished it in a fit of frenzy in just 21 days. 50,000 words (well, 51,825 but who's counting) in just 3 WEEKS! I made pacts with friends to go to 100,000 and complete a second draft. But have I looked at it since? Nope. Not even once.

Maybe I burned myself out. Maybe I let my negative realism come through. Maybe just life itself made me need to try and find other outlets. I never wanted my blog, or my writings to be another complaint forum or to sound hard done by. But the fact of the matter was...there were more than a few things that have been sapping my energy of late. The knee thing - nearly a year on crutches ain't a fun thing emotionally, but at the same time, I start to think of those way worse off than I - so no point in saying anything. At least it wasn't fatal!

Losing my last job had a bigger toll on me than I wanted to admit. I knew that it was a deadend world where my strong work ethic was taken advantage of. I knew that those who called themselves my friends truly weren't. But even though I knew I had to leave, when I finally got those walking papers, it still stung. It still felt like a rejection. It stung my core, with me trying to deny that every step of the way. I got my new job the following day. 6 hours out of work before the offer was signed. How could I possibly feel rejected? But I did.

I still read the news voraciously. I still have many opinions - and strong ones at that - about the plight of the world today.

Tonight's conversation with my coworker made me want to write again. The intense sense of accomplishment is something I've not found since. I miss it.

I think - I hope - I'm coming back to the blogosphere. Properly this time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006
Aurora Borealis

A new family member!

My brother's family (the ones with Ms Thang and Lil'Dude) lost their pup to cancer back on February 14. It took a while to mourn the loss.

This week, there have been negotiations and I'm pleased to say a new little soul is coming to join our extended family. She's a French Mastiff - yup, she'll be big - and currently lives in Missouri.

Towards the end of September, she will be flown up here to join us. That is a part of the story I don't want to know anything about. 10 years of working in logistics and coordinating the delivery of live animals has made me somewhat jittery, but I know that I'm just being overcautious.

Her name? There have been many thrown's gone from fantasy-laden names like Eowyn to mundane names like Daisy. Getting a whole family to agree is not an easy task. The other night though, the words "Aurora" kept coming up for them every where they looked. Be it the name of a town, a random word, or of course the Aurora Borealis.

Auri will be a very welcome addition to our family and I can't wait for her arrival.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Dignity at All Costs
Been busy again lately and as usual, time does not stand still. I've been taking a lot of new photos and uploading them to my Flickr account. Take a peek when you have a chance.

Last night, an unfortunate experience occurred while we were out that I just can't seem to shake the annoyance of.

As I've mentioned before, my Mom has a lot of health problems. Emphysema and osteoporosis make the most common task a challenge for her. She has been down the last little while as her best friend passed away last weekend of lung cancer.

She received a letter from our local casino last week inviting her and 3 guests to a special concert with Julio Iglesias. 4th row, I might add. He's not one of my favourites, but any excuse to go to a concert works for me.

We decided to invite my Mom's sister, Peg. She has had her own battles of late, most of which are centered around caring for her daughter through breast cancer radiation. My cousin lives in a small town in Northern BC. As there is no cancer clinic close by, she must come down here 5 days a week for her treatment. I'm glad she has family here and we can help her, but it certainly does make me wonder what happens to those who don't.

Off we went last night to enjoy ourselves with a quick bite to eat and a little trip to the slot machines.

As my Mom sat down, a heavyset lady sat down beside her. She immediately turned to my Mom and said in a loud voice 'Excuse me but your perfume is horrendous. It's making me gag. You need to leave'.

I just stared at her incredulously. There are ways to say things, and there are ways not to. Clearly, she had been reading the manual on the latter. And for the record, my Mom wasn't even wearing perfume. As I suffer from migraines so badly myself, my Mom doesn't wear any when she is with me. The 'smell' this lady had to be referring to was the smell of the kitchen about 20 yards away.

My Mom, the picture of class, smiled at the lady and said 'I'm sorry, but this is my machine and intend on playing it'

At first, the lady sat at her machine pinching her nostrils with her fingers. Like a spoiled child, not a 50-odd year old woman. Then she progressed to sticking a tissue in her nose, leaving it half hanging out and making gagging noises.

I sat beside my Mom, watching her behaviour get more and more bizarre.

Then she called over for someone to reserve her machine so she 'could go throw up and get away from the stench'. I must have sighed or made some frustrated sound at her comment, as she turned on me.


There are few times in my life when I have truly seen red. Absolutely and completely lost my cool. This was one of those times. However, my Mom had drilled into me from a little girl to 'always keep one's dignity at all times'. I heard that voice in my head (or maybe it was my Mom's hand digging into my arm. ;-))

'Excuse me, Sweetheart", I heard my voice say very icily 'I absolutely DO know what chronic pain is so don't go judging me. The difference being I don't make my problem every one else's. I have class'.

The funny thing is I have never called anyone 'sweetheart' in my life and was quite surprised that was the comment my brain decided on.

She began to bellow some more about 'wishing me dead'. I simply said 'You're a very rude individual'. By this time though, my mom's nails were digging into my arm enough to make me sit back down and not make a scene.

However, I had decided enough was enough. Over my mother's protest, I found the floor manager and explained the situation.

He was empathetic, but as she had not sworn nor touched us, he was limited in what he could do. Unfortunately, being verbally abusive and acting like a fool is one of the 'rights' of living in a free country.

Pointing to the overhead camera, he told me that they would be watching. All I would have to do is say 'Help' or 'Come now' to the camera to summon them.

I went back to the machine beside my Mom, and my Aunt on my other side. Crazy Lady reappeared and promptly stuck her tissue back up her nose and continued with the gagging noises.

At this point, I was loathe to say any more and while part of me wanted to leave, we had as much right as she did to be there.

Suddenly, she grabbed a security guard and pointed at me. 'She is intimidating me. She needs to be kicked out!'

I turned to the security man and said as calmly as possible, 'I have spoken with your manager about this situation. He is aware of what's happening and...'

With that, she began screeching 'I'm TALKING! It's MY turn! Not YOU!'

She burst into hysterical tears and yelled 'I spend 12-24 hours a DAY in a casino. I KNOW my rights'.

It was now nearing time for our concert anyhow, so we were ready to leave. Not a moment too soon, though. The manager turned to me and said, somewhat conspiratorily, "If she'd treated my Mom like that, I would have hit her". I smiled and said, 'Yes, but I have too much dignity'.

As we walked towards the concert doors, we looked back to see her surrounded by 6 security personnel. I am not quite sure what happened after that, but I did enjoy the rest of my night.

It just saddens me that verbal abuse like that can be tolerated as 'someone's right'. I understand we live in a country where we can be free to speak as we like, but seriously, when did manners become an option?
Friday, August 04, 2006
Has it been nearly 5 years already since the world as we knew changed? Is it possible that a child born on September 11, 2001 would be entering school this fall? Has it really been that long?

In some instances, the tragic events of that day feel like they were yesterday. A day doesn't go by without some reminder - whether it be the scary state of the world or some other comment that makes you vaguely think back, a thought etched somewhere between your conscious and sub-conscious.

2,996 people lost their lives on September 11. Sometimes, it helps to put that into perspective. Think of being in a movie theatre, or a sporting event. Imagine all those people around you...gone. Each person representing a family, a life, a purpose.

The remembrance is never truly gone. Sure, some want to move on. Maybe not forget so much as place the memories of how things changed into a little memory box and to imagine the world a bit better place. To cope, everyone has a different method. There is no right way. There is no wrong.

If you haven't heard of Kevin Cosgrove, I urge you to listen to his call into 9-1-1 operators as he sat trapped in an office on the 105th floor. I listened to his desperate and increasingly frantic pleas, feeling like I was listening to a private conversation. Some have said he sounded almost rude, demanding, angry. To those, I say ask yourself how you would sound in his shoes. As the acrid smoky air became more and more toxic and each passing moment an enternity.

As the towers collapsed and the sounds of his final words echoed in my ears, I reminded myself that forgetting the events of that day do a dishonour to Mr. Cosgrove, his family and the 2,995 others that lost their lives that day.

Is it easy to listen to? Absolutely not. Horrific comes to mind. WestCoast Chaos says it well here. But it is - at least in my mind - a tribute to him. He is the voice of conscious memory. Some things aren't meant to be easy, but they are important.

Who was he? His obituary reads as follows:

Kevin M. Cosgrove
"A Good Snuggler"

"Mommy, it broke my heart when Daddy died because he was a good
snuggler", said 4-year old Elizabeth Cosgrove.

She was speaking of her father, Kevin who was vice-president of claims
at Aon. Wendy Cosgrove simply held her daughter close and said, 'I

Mr. Cosgrove, 46 of West Islip, NY did a great balancing act between
work and home, Mrs. Cosgrove said. He could often be seen shoveling the
walks of elderly widows in winter and helping elderly couples carry bulky
packages throughout the year, she said.

But he especially liked to indulge his children, Brian, 12, Claire, 10
and Elizabeth.

"'Mommy, Daddy let us eat dinner backward' the kids used to say to me
when I would come home after they had spent a day with him," Mrs Cosgrove
recalled with a chuckle. "'We ate brownies and ice cream before
dinnner.'I would tell him that it made me look like the bad guy because I made
them eat dinner. It was funny'.

Now Brian would be 17, Claire 15, and Elizabeth, 9. Well grown up, and surely missing their father. I only hope this publicity is not too painful for them. It must be very difficult for things to resurface when you are grieving every day.

Today, I heard of a very special project being undertaken here - The 2996 Project. The idea is simple, but powerful: have a special tribute for each victim of 9/11, with each tribute being created by a different blogger. A name is assigned to each volunteer to research and write a tribute on their blog to be published on the 5th Anniversary.

I signed up today. So did a fellow Iraqi blogger friend of mine. I hope you do too. We have blogs, and we enjoy writing. Let's put it to good use.

My honouree was a single mom of a 15 year old daughter. She was born just 3 days after my brother. As I begin my research about her life, I can't help but feel the world is a bit poorer of a place for her loss. It gives me great honour to be able to do justice to her memory, and bring her alive again for at least a short moment. You'll see that post on September 11, 2006.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
A Military Daughter
I received this in my email this morning, and rather than pass it on privately to all I thought I would share it here. True or not, it's a moving story.

From the daughter of a Soldier..

Last week I was in Trenton, Ontario attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest act's of patriotism I have ever seen.

Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camo's, as they began heading to their gate everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red blooded Canadian who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.

Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal. Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said "hi," the little girl then she asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her. The young soldier, he didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.

The mother of the little girl, who said her daughters name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Corporal and had been in Afghanistan for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter, Courtney, missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up. When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it.

After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, "I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you." He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying "your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon."

The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event unfolded. As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, their were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.

We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to be a Canadian.

Red Friday

Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Canadian who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority". We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions.

Many Canadians, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of Canada supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that.. Every red-blooded Canadian who supports our men and women afar will wear something red.

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the Canada on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers.

If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long before Canada is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is...We need your support and your prayers.

Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear something red every Friday.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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