About me

I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A great lady dies of cancer

   Last week my wife's aunt died of cancer.

   I make it sound sudden but of course it wasn't sudden. In the fall she had an unceasing headache and chronic pain in her back, and scans revealed tumours in her back, her lungs, and her brain. The doctors tried various therapies, and she lost her sense of balance, her continence, and when relatives visited she was often too nauseous and in too much pain to enjoy their company. The last few months she was bedridden and mostly unconscious.
     There is a picture on many a facebook page of our extended family: that of this woman, playing in a band during last summer's family reunion. In this photo she is all of sixty-five years old, slender and fit, beautiful, with dark hair, and wearing flattering white pants, standing beside her husband playing sixties tunes for my kids and their cousins. It's a wonderful photo and the very essence of her.
    Yet if you know anything about cancer, you know those tumours were inside her, posing for that same picture. They were sitting there, patiently growing. Cancer is doing the same thing to millions of unsuspecting people around the world.
    Cancer is the perfect dichotomy of the endlessly tragic and the grindingly mundane. In every first world city there is a hospital that is the main thoroughfare for cancer patients. In Toronto it's the Princess Margaret. Writers with cancer describe going for their first consult and seeing in the waiting room their kids' pediatrician, local judges, old schoolmates, former workmates, relatives of friends. Oh, you too? I'm so sorry. How old are your kids? How are they handling things? My family has been great. Cancer tragically kills your mother and then it invades your prostrate. It sneaks in under your armpit and eats up your breast. The sun can start cancer growing under your toenail, or the sole of your foot. And there is more and more of cancer.

    We consume frightening movies and books about horror and the apocolypse so we can forget about the things that kill us. Vampires, zombies, werewolves - they all follow rules, have you noticed that? Specific vulnerabilities, times of weakness. They can be defeated. We watch them, so we don't have to think about cancer and things like it: Alzheimer's, heart disease, strokes, or that great and undiscussed gift that keeps on giving: a type-1 mental illness. But you cannot ram a stake through cancer's heart, or shoot it with a silver bullet. You can only start to make phone calls to relatives, the specialists, and in many cases a hospice that can manage pain and provide comfort.

   The funeral was wonderful. People laughed and sang, and it was so packed the funeral home air conditioner broke down dealing with the heat of all those extra bodies. She was a woman who lived her life with grace and humour, who could have lived another thirty years, and who left behind a son before he could give her a grandchild.
    This is my best memory of her. In February of 2002, when my first son was six weeks old, we visited my in-laws. The new great-grandmother held him for most of the visit, then the new grandparents, and then the baby-crazy neighbor. My wife's aunt just manned the snack trays, coordinated the visits and parties heralding the clan's first child of the new generation, and was chauffeur to her mother-in-law.  Finally, at the third party at an uncle's house, when all the old people were napping in their chairs, and everyone else was readying to go home, she quietly asked if she could hold the baby.
    Of course we said yes. She was our favorite aunt. She always will be.



  1. I watched cancer devour my father. It was not quick and it was not kind, but he was brave in the face of his coming death. They had told him, when they FINALLY discovered he had lung cancer, that it was terminal. He didn't tell us, though I'm not sure why, or we'd have spent even more time with him. I was with him when he took his last breath and then did not take another. Cancer sucks! He should have had at least another twenty years of life! I miss him, can you tell? My sympathy on the death of your aunt.

  2. Everyone does seem to have either suffered cancer or lost a loved one too soon to the ruthless disease. This tribute is especially loving and I cannot imagine a fonder remembrance.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that. I am not sure it gives you any comfort to know that my best friend's Mum gave up her long battle against cancer at the beginning of this year. It was six months ago last week and so she was in my thoughts all week. if you so wish, you can read the poem that i wrote when she stopped the treatment (she died three months after) - here http://a-pastiche.blogspot.com/2010/09/is-there-ghost-in-my-house.html . Thinking of you and your family at this difficult time.

  4. Thank you everyone - My wife has been very affected by this woman's passing, and I thought I was an onlooker. Then I opened a new post this morning and this poured out. I guess I was thinking about this more than knew.

    Kathleen - thanks for reading it. My father's side of the family is especially vulnerable to cancer.

    Melody - I'm sorry about your dad. It does devour people; your body just rebels and starts producing these rampaging immortal cells. It sucks - apparently Mordecai Richler's funeral was a one long and profane tirade against cancer.

    Georgi - heading over to your blog right now.

  5. I just noticed this post. So sorry to hear about her passing. My father has terminal cancer (Leiomyosarcoma), was diagnosed two years ago at the age of 64. Like your father's side of the family, his too is susceptible to cancer (prostate).

  6. Thanks, Terri. I hope your dad is doing as well as he can under the circumstances.