Wednesday, 19 February 2014


When our son Christopher sat his PhD Oral Exam, I experienced a restless, sleepless night before and then paced for the day of, stomach violently churning, unable to eat until Chris contacted us from London.  Upon hearing his outstanding results, I sobbed like a baby. Two years ago, waiting for Matthew to round the bend and come into view at the Mont Tremblant Iron Man finish, I felt physically ill and faint, so faint that I grasped the crowd barrier as if my life depended upon it.  As Matt successfully crossed the finish line and the PA system announced,  Matt Lockett, you are an Iron Man, my throat constricted and my eyes filled with tears. I cover my face with a pillow watching tense or scary movie scenes at home or when in a theatre, bow my head, eyes closed. I cry with relief at happy endings. I should own shares in Kleenex.

During the Men's hockey final between Canada and the U.S. at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, I managed to find a riveting ( not ), essential ( not ) task in our kitchen, all the while humming very loudly so as not to hear the sportscast airing in the family room.  Today, during the tense Canada/Latvia Hockey Game, in which for moments it appeared that we may not advance to the Gold medal final, I adjourned to another room and asked Jim to turn down the TV.  Tears flow as I watch our successful athletes mount the podium. I have been known to sob during the playing of our National Anthem. I am a mess! Perhaps I should apply as the national poster lady for Kleenex.

Developed and fine-tuned over the years, my recipe for watching the Winter Olympic Games when Team Canada is involved has become:
1 pillow +
2 ear plugs
1 Major Diversion or room out of audio range.
1 Giant Box of Kleenex +
1 Internet Olympic Summary +
Event Re-runs
and I am a happy camper.  No racing heart beat, no rising blood pressure.  Hard to believe, but I love these games, I just can't watch them on the first run through.

Anxious? Yup!  Stressed? Yup!  There is something very wrong with me.  The final diagnosis, I am loathe to admit, is that I am a chicken or the cowardly lion or yellow-bellied or all three.  You choose!

Please excuse me, but I am now off to watch Olympic re-runs.  I thank the powers that be that these games only held once every four years.

Monday, 17 February 2014


Diagnosed at fifty with inherited  ( thanks, Dad! ) osteoporosis, I have been treated for over fifteen years with osteo meds primarily to reduce spinal fracture risk.  Osteoporosis is not to be taken lightly. Single handedly it is responsible for over 1.5 million fractures annually. I was thus relieved to have my condition discovered early and to be undergoing drug therapy.  Ooops.....don't speak too quickly, Daf. Medical research has now indicated that treatment for more than five years can result in brittle bones and femur fractures.  Spine versus femur? Hmmm?  

And to think that weekly I have delayed my morning coffee fix while these now questionable osteo meds were completely absorbed into my system.  Oh, and about that coffee....

Medical research has recently revealed that women should take periodic caffeine holidays.  You are kidding me, right? How will I wake up?  How will I function?  And why women specifically?  That's not fair, I whine.  Apparently my morning addiction may cause hot flashes, diabetes, ulcers, liver disease and breast lumps. Ah, come on!!

Oh, and speaking of breast lumps, medical research now also indicates that mammogram screenings do not reduce cancer death rates.  What?  Given that early detection of breast cancer has saved the lives of two dear friends, I strongly protest.  Experts do indicate that mammograms help uncover cases of breast cancer, but do not reduce the number of cancer deaths. Self examination, "they" say, is equally as effective.  Please, please do not tell me that years of having my breasts painfully mashed between two frigid metal plates in the presence of a total stranger were for naught, that an equally effective examination could have been performed while in the privacy and comfort of a warm shower at home.

However, for me, an annual mammogram has been a "must".  To relieve the symptoms of menopause - hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss and mood swings ( Jim was particularly fond of those ), years ago I underwent HRT, otherwise known as Hormone Replacement Therapy.  And we all know what the medical world concluded about HRT - a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer. Thus, my annual mammogram!  Frankly, I am beginning to believe that I am a freaky medical miracle in that I am still here.

I do attempt to take care of myself, at a minimum downing a daily dietary supplement.  But wait!  You guessed it.  "They" now state that dietary supplements have few benefits and may even prove harmful.  Overwhelmed with guilt, I must now aplogize to Christopher and Matthew for all of those formative years in which you chewed on your Flintstones Vitamins.  What have I done?

And so, I eagerly live for the day when "they" debunk all of these medical flip-flops and declare the research totally flawed. It is all just so confusing.  In the meantime I think I need a drink.  At least red wine is good......oops......hold that thought!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


'This is a letter which, at first, refused to be.  Overwhelmed with aching sadness, for days I simply stared at a taunting blank page incapable of 'putting pen to paper' and expressing my emotions in words. From high school days, you, Jim and I have enjoyed a long, loving, happy friendship.  Memories flooded in and I couldn't bear to say goodbye. My brain churned in anger.  Misdiagnosed by medical experts, your cancer was allowed to advance undetected, to Stage 4. It had metastasized and you were at the point of no return.  How could this possibly happen? my mind demanded.   Why do you take the best? I yelled at God.  Did I thank you frequently enough for your friendship and for your professional guidance?  I was tortured with "Did  I's?"  

Our son, Christopher and the moving beauty of your Memorial Service today, have thankfully released my floodgates. Christopher, devastated upon receiving the heartbreaking news, phoned from St. John's. In conversation he lovingly gave me permission not to write, permission I was unable to grant myself. As this self-imposed giant weight lifted from my shoulders, my thoughts miraculously coalesced. Your best and lifelong friend, David Onley....or should I say the Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.....eloquently gave today an emotion-filled, often teary eyed, tribute in which he laid out his grieving heart.  If David can so speak, I can so write, if only for myself. My memories and thank you's could fill a novel the size of War and Peace, but, for you, John, I will keep it concise.

And so, dear friend, no more silly notes with funny faces scribbled on income tax receipts, business financial papers, etc.  No more joking phone calls.  This is my final letter to you. Serious, this time.  For closure, I need, as Faye Hamilton kindly advised, to wrap myself in warm memories and, one more time, to say thank you.

In sub-zero temperatures, New Year's Eve's skating at City Hall followed by garlic-infused meals and insane charade games until the dawn hours of New Year's Day.  What were we thinking and how did we do that?  Couldn't be that wine was our fuel, could it? Your love of Italian food and learning to make pasta in your home.  Many, many sumptuous dinners followed by crazy board games. Small wonder Shelley and I lost, you and Jim cheated! Just sayin'. Sailing on Lake Ontario followed by laughter-filled BBQ's on the Club deck. Fiery political discussions.  Could we have been more diametrically opposed?  But with much mutual respect, we always agreed to disagree.  Oh, how I will miss those debates.  Thank you, dear John, for your loyal friendship. 

So brilliant was your mind that you experienced difficuly in determing the best direction in university.  No avenue was impossible for one so talented. The possibilities were mind boggling.   Long discussions with my Father, who so enjoyed your intelligent company, lead you ultimately to becoming a Chartered Accountant.  After my Father passed away in 1985, we discovered that you had set up a scholarship at U. of T. in his name as a thank you for his guiding you to the path you ultimately chose.  No fanfare.  Just a quiet, incredible act of thoughtfulness.  I like to think that those discussions with Dad will now pick up where they left off.  Please give my Father my love. And thank you, dear John, for your generous kindness.

How many years were there of tax planning advisements and filings as I progressed though a career as a real estate sales representative, then broker, then brokerage owner?  In a field upon which Revenue Canada takes perverse pleasure in picking, never once was I personally audited.  No red flags on my filings. You kept me on the straight and narrow.  Intrinsically a real estate and people person, with the exception of mortgages, I abhor anything labeled "financial". With great expertise and welcome advice, you took over my brokerage books.  In 2007, Revenue Canada performed a sweeping audit of real estate brokerages and into that net we fell.  I never worried.  I ran a squeaky clean operation and I knew, because of you, our books would be correct, accurate and honest.  How much fun it was to watch that humourless, sour-faced auditor dig for five days, but to no avail.  Grudgingly upon her departure, she complimented me on impeccable books.  I bit my tongue and showed restraint before could retort, Why did we waste everyone's valuable time?  I could have told you that! You saw me through the successful sale of Royal LePage York North Realty and advised Jim and I as we moved into retirement. Thank you, dear John, for your sage, professional counsel.

On Saturday, we attended a long awaited, joyous wedding.  I know that Katie and Mike, the newly weds, look forward to starting a family.  Funny, but that thought is, at this moment, holding me together.  I tell myself that life moves forward, generation to generation. If we cannot keep you here with us, then I must be grateful for the time we enjoyed with you.  

Goodbye, my dear friend.  You will remain in our hearts and thoughts.  You will be deeply missed.


Friday, 7 February 2014


Emailing a dear friend who had just undergone breast cancer surgery in 2012, I signed off with Be Strong.....or so I thought.  Thank god I reread my note before 'Send' was pressed as the line actually read Beef Stroganoff. 

What the...? I muttered and so began my introduction to the Autocorrect on my new iPad.

The Spellcheck function, on my desktop computer, benignly underlines the misspelled word in red.  It is then up to me to personally review the potential problem spelling and change it, choosing from a list of possible revisions.  Now I found myself in possession of a computer that tried to read my mind, completing a word based on what it thought I meant.  Sorta' creepy actually.  Is this a bizarre, cruel joke?, I initially wondered. Problem is, I much prefer the virtual keyboard on and mobility of my iPad.  No going back now.

For iPhone users, texting and being autocorrected is just an everyday experience.  In 2007 when I essentially retired, I also retired my Blackberry.  With no burning business need to receive critical texts nor the desire to now do so, I opted to carry a simple cell phone. Thus Autocorrect was for me, a new phenomenon.  

The internet offers a plethora of hysterically funny sites dedicated to raunchy Autocorrect changes made to what began as relatively bland texts.  I must admit that thus far my iPad Autocorrect has made only slightly embarrassing or just plain weird changes to my emails and blog writings, nothing to get my heart racing. Why not turn the function off?  Ah? Nope!   Autocorrect has actually rescued me from hundreds of typos and, quite frankly, some of the corrections are extremely amusing, my laugh for the day. I know! I know! I need to get a life.

Real estate frequently becomes rear estate.  Who knew?  All  those years I thought I was involved in the sale of homes, I was actually merely selling backyards. Whenever, I mention OREA (Ontario Real Estate Association), it reads urea.  I'm sure the powers that be would appreciate that one....not! Emailing my niece and her husband on seeing photos of their new daughter that she was absolutely adorable, I thankfully spotted absolutely affordable and made the appropriate change. Say a special hello to your parrots ( parents ) I emailed a dear friend who responded with, I don't own any pets.  

Ain't progress grand?  To all of you with iPads or iPhones ( and their clones ) experiencing the joys of Autocorrect, I say, Be sure to proof read. Oh and , Beef stroganoff!"

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Like the movie set for The Shop Around The Corner in You've Got Mail, our town treasure of a bookstore, Blue Heron Books, immediately welcomes the reader with its unpretentious, quaint, homey feel.  None of the sterile shelves and chilly tiled floors of a Chapters/Indigo or Barnes & Noble greet you.  Instead, creaky floors, wooden shelves and comfy chairs ooze the warmth of Uxbridge's literary hub.

Do not, however, allow the cozy atmosphere to lull you into believing this is merely a backwoods bookstore.  Our beloved Blue Heron Books holds the honour of being Canada's Number One Independent Bookseller.  Shelley McBeth, the owner is a passionate, knowledgeable bookseller determined to create a happening place for her community.  And that she has more than accomplished.  Something is always happening - art shows in a separate room in the rear of the store,

book events, reading and signings,

and a plethora of classes and workshops,

all announced on the Blue Heron Website, but also on a charming blackboard which prominently hangs from the store rafters.

So why my title, In Our Prayers, you ask.  Shelley McBeth is the heart and soul of Blue Heron Books 

and for me one of a triumvirate of unique business women (Lisa Hutchinson of The Passionate Cook and Cathy Christoff of the Roxy Theatre) who have lent much to creating the vibrant, community-involved town that Uxbridge is today.

On Monday, January 27, returning from Pass the Book Launch, Shelley was involved in a horrific car accident on Lakeridge Road which required that she be transported to a Toronto Trauma unit.  She has suffered undetermined head trauma which cannot currently be fully assessed. The respiratory implications of heavy sedation necessitate a breathing tube.  Her injuries include a broken clavicle and ribs, multiple fractures of her left arm which required surgery, and a bruised spleen.  On the positive side, Shelley can squeeze hands and recognize faces.  

And so our mighty little town holds its collective breathe and in an outpouring of love prays for the full, speedy recovery an Uxbridge treasure, Shelley McBeth.