Christmas Letter - 2012

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Another year has passed, and I again find myself writing a summary of my life so far. This year has had both it's good and it's bad events, and I gladly bid it adieu.

The year started well; Terry and I took another Caribbean cruise in February. We visited a number of ports that we had never seen before, and enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather immensely. Interestingly, the cruise ship was the Serenade of the Seas, the same ship that we had travelled on the previous year.

The winter was mild, and I managed to get out hiking on the Bruce Trail a number of times. But, I had a hard time waiting for spring to return, and bring the good weather with it.

Spring did arrive, earlier than usual, and my Wisteria started to bloom magnificently. And then, an unexpected frost took all the early blooms away, and left an unadorned shrub to shade my hot tub. I do hope that the new year brings a better, more consistent spring, as I do enjoy the Wisteria flowers.

With spring came Terry's birthday. This year, I surprised her with a weekend B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Cecile's House graciously hosted us in sumptuous surroundings while we explored the wineries of the Niagara region. A play at the Shaw Festival capped off the weekend celebration.

The summer proceeded almost uneventfully; Terry worked and I renovated. I replaced both the garage door opener and the central vacuum (from All Canada Vac) as they were old, and failing.

I rebuilt the closet shelves and repainted the back bedroom just because it needed some work. And then I repainted the kitchen, as it had needed renewing after some repairs to the ceiling. With the new paint job in the kitchen, I also took time to replace both the stove (which was over 20 years old and had finally fallen apart) and the fridge (to match the new stove); more new appliances for me to play with.

I spent several weekends exploring southern and northern-central Ontario (particularly, the Tobermory area) in my quest for things to do.

Terry and I took a quick jaunt out to Montreal to visit her family. Mr. Mercurio treated us to fresh veggies from his garden, and we visited with all the family.

In June, I received news that my uncle, namesake and godfather, Llewelyn Francis Pitcher, had passed away in Nova Scotia. Uncle Lew had helped me through my father's illness and, later, his passing, and had been my favourite uncle for ever.

In early August, I went up to the cottage for a week, to build my mother a new porch and stairs. The old ones had rotted to the point that they were unsafe to climb, and fearing for my mothers safety, I vowed to build new, safer replacements. Mom met me at the cottage, and we had a great week together. I tore out the old side porch, brought in new lumber, and built a smaller, half-porch leading to the front entrance. To that, I added new steps from the ground to the porch, with a concrete platform at the bottom as a landing. It wasn't the prettiest job I've ever done, but it will last, and I will pretty it up in the spring.

But, that was the beginnings of the bad part of the year. Mom had what seemed to be a persistent chest cold. I made her promise to see the doctor when she returned home to Barrie, and (a couple of weeks later) she did. The doctor didn't find much, but scheduled some tests for September.

Early in September, I received a panicked call from my brother Bob. He and mom had just returned from another trip to the cottage, and mom had started coughing up blood. I advised Bob to call an ambulance and get mom to the hospital, and I left home for Barrie, an hour and a half away. I met mom in the Emergency room at Royal Victoria Hospital, and stayed with her for the rest of the night and the next day.

This started her first visit to the hospital. They admitted her with an unspecified respiratory problem, and promptly put her in isolation. From the CAT scan taken in Emergency, they decided that she either had Tuberculosis or Lung Cancer, and as a precaution, started her on antibiotics (for the possible TB). Further investigation didn't turn up any answers; as far as I know, they never determined exactly what had caused her to cough up blood, nor exactly what it was that they saw on the CAT scan.

Mom was concerned about Bob, who was staying at her place during this time. She had stocked the apartment with lots of food, and was afraid that Bob wasn't eating. He has had a lot of problems over the last few years, and had recently lost most of his appetite. The few times I saw Bob, he told me that he had been eating, and that I wasn't to be concerned.

Well, when mom was finally released from the hospital, I helped her to return home. We found Bob, weak, fallen and unable to get up. It took three days of convincing before Bob consented to go to the hospital. From Emergency, they admitted him to the Renal ward, with acute Liver failure. He stayed in the hospital for about a month, and finally passed away on October 13. I stayed with Mom for a week, helping her through her grief, getting her to and from doctor's appointments, and handling Bob's funeral and estate. Afterwards, we kept in close touch, just because.

In November, Terry and I took another cruise. Starting in Spain, the cruise would take us to various ports in the Mediterranean, and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami. Two and a half weeks (of which a full week was at sea) of new vistas, warm weather, good food, and no cares in the world. I lost (and regained) my luggage and broke a tooth. But, I also saw Barcelona, Seville, Majorca, Tenerife, and the second largest suite on the ship. All in all, a pretty nice cruise.

Through this cruise, I asked Mom to house-sit for me, in part just to get her out of her apartment and into a different place after Bob's death. After a week of progressively feeling sicker and sicker, Mom returned to Barrie, and had herself admitted to hospital. Terry and I returned home on schedule, and I immediately went up to Barrie to take care of mom. The rest is, as they say, history; mom passed away from complications due to cancer on December 19.

Needless to say, I never got around to Christmas preparations this year. And now, I'm managing both my brother's estate and my mother's estate.

So, this hasn't been the best year. It's had it's up moments, and it's down moments, and I'm glad that it has passed.

To all of you, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year. May you live as long as you love, and love as long as you live.