Downhome magazine only has space for a mere fraction of the great stories sent to us by readers. Luckily, they're all available here. You'll find fond reminiscences about the past and personal experiences to which we can all relate.
My Subscription Story
Dear Downhome: I have lived away from my home of Fortune, NL for some 23 years now. I get home to visit as often as I can, typically every two or three years. There is no other feeling in the world than when that plane drops in St. John's, regardless of the weather. My sister Dora is almost always there to meet me and there is always several copies of the Downhome magazine stuffed ... click to read more
Dear Downhome: I have lived away from my home of Fortune, NL for some 23 years now. I get home to visit as often as I can, typically every two or three years. There is no other feeling in the world than when that plane drops in St. John's, regardless of the weather. My sister Dora is almost always there to meet me and there is always several copies of the Downhome magazine stuffed into one of my bags for the trip back to Alberta. In your July 2010 issue, there she was with a story of her own. Because of her curiosities and love of old photos and other old things, she had found someone's past for them through a photograph she had discovered. She promptly sent a copy to me so I could read the story. Every time I get a Downhome I read it cover to cover several times. Well today, I was getting the tub ready ( that's where I read ). I turned on the jets and was ready to get in for a good soak and another read. I had forgotten my reading glasses so I went to the kitchen to get them. When I got back, my magazine was whirling around in the tub with the front page stuck to the suction valve. I pulled it all out in little pieces and the first thing I thought about was my sister who had sent it to me, so proud to have her story published and now it's floating around in my tub. Well that was the kicker. I had put off ordering the magazine so many times, I figured I better get at now. Anyway, if it is possible, may I get another copy of the July issue and send it along with my first issue as part of my subscription? I will gladly pay the extra if required.
Looking forward to the long winter ahead reading my Downhomer in the tub.
My story actually starts many years ago growing up in Regina, Saskatchewan.
I had a love for fireworks ever since I was a kid on the Prairies either firing our own fireworks on the farm or waiting for the big Regina show ... click to read moreMy story actually starts many years ago growing up in Regina, Saskatchewan.
I had a love for fireworks ever since I was a kid on the Prairies either firing our own fireworks on the farm or waiting for the big Regina show every year on a holiday called Pile O Bones day, when us kids would climb up on the roof of our garage to watch those wonderful shows light up the clear, Prairie sky.
Little did I know then that I would be training as an apprentice with that same man firing those beautiful shows I watched as a kid.
My new profession started when I was old enough I was able to get in touch after many phone calls to find what I needed to become a pyrotechnician.
I finally found out that I needed to take a federal course from the Explosives Regulatory Division in Ottawa and luckily enough, at the time they had enough people interested in the course that they flew out a trainer from Ottawa to Regina.
Now when I say "enough people interested," I mean it was me and the Regina Bomb Squad taking the course.
After the training, I had to find a fireworks company to get the hours in to work towards my license and unfortunately, I hooked up with the wrong company at first.
The first night, I would have to say I was very nervous at first to say the least.
The head of this company actually used me in case one of the fireworks in the mortars did not light. I would be there with a road flare crawling between the explosions lighting the extra fuses as this fellow was 200 ft behind in his safe bunker, igniting these fireworks electrically while I would be there in just jeans and a nylon jacket in the middle of this war zone with fire raining down on me burning through my clothes and into my skin.
This fellow had given me clear instructions beforehand telling me how many seconds I had between racks and over mines as if I did not have the counting correct, I would not live until the next show to work towards my license.
I did survive this show and I actually thought this is what a pyrotechnician must be like as after the show, I had little of the clothes left I had come to this show with.
Next show he had me do was in Regina on New Year's Eve setting up on this small lake in Regina in -50 windchill weather.
Now as it was so cold that day, he had us wire this show actually beforehand in the shop and of course, had me drive the truck with these pre-activated shells. Let me tell you, I have never driven so slowly and carefully in my life and let me say, without a seatbelt on, with my hand on the door handle in case this thousand lbs. of high explosives tipped over, I may have a chance of jumping out and surviving the blast.
This is what I thought it would always be like until I finally met Dave, whose fireworks I had marvelled at as a kid.
When I started working with Dave as an apprentice, I found everything I had done before with that company was illegal and downright dangerous and when I told Dave what I was doing before was absolutely crazy and I should actually get a medal for surviving it.
I worked for many years with Dave doing all the big Regina shows and small Saskatchewan town shows earning my licence.
In fireworks after your course, you needed so many shows and certification to earn your level one license and if you were lucky enough to actually work with a level two shooter, you could actually earn your level two, which is the highest there is in commercial fireworks licenses, and that is what I finally did and now could fire anything there was internationally.
Now after many years of every type of show including large pyromusicals around Saskatchewan, my life actually took a dramatic turn as I would meet my wife to be - a nurse from a faraway place called Newfoundland.
When I met my wife to be, besides being a pyrotechnician, I was also the crew for Sundance balloons most evenings, giving balloon rides to customers that would come from everywhere to encounter the finest form of flight there is.
When I met my wife to be through a mutual friend, I had asked if she wanted to go for a date on a hot-air balloon and to my surprise, she accepted.
A few days later I was doing the Regina Pile O Bones day show and asked if she would like to come and see how a commercial fireworks show is done and watch from up close.
She loved the idea and even though that night had a small injury from debris from one of the shells, soon after I decided to ask her father if I could marry her.
Now this did not go exactly as I had planned as when I phoned her father, I could not understand a word he said. But I am sure he said yes. But I asked my wife to explain why he was always calling me "boy," and with a laugh she explained he was saying "yes b'ye." Anyway, that was good enough for me.
After we were married we had our first child and we started thinking we really need to raise our children around family in a safe environment, and the best place for us was a place I always wanted to go to my whole life, the most beautiful place on earth - a place called Newfoundland.
We started working on this and bought a house in Sunnyside, Newfoundland.
I could not believe this place when we actually got there. It was oceanfront and absolutely beautiful. And to top that, I was standing on the deck and actually saw dolphins and whales from my deck on this very first day, and it was then that this Prairie boy said, "I am home and am never going back west again."
As a pyrotechnician, it is too hard to actually make a living at this and I knew it would be just as hard here, so my regular job in Saskatchewan was one of the managers with Wal-Mart. And so I was able to transfer here to the Clarenville Wal-Mart, and my wife being a nurse was able to get on at the Clarenville hospital, so everything was looking great except my pyrotechnical work.
I was lucky enough to get on with one of the biggest and best fireworks companies in the world called Fireworks Fx, which does most fireworks shows in Eastern Canada and all of Newfoundland and most resorts in the Carribean and Europe
Now I am able to travel the whole island here doing what I love, and to hear the cheers and honking after a show makes it all worth it.
I love Newfoundland and love what I do here, as I travel to towns and cities and stay in the beautiful bed and breakfasts in the most beautiful locations for their wonderful celebrations. I am always treated like family as I am always included in their celebrations, as is my wife and children.
I have done training for bands and movie sets and met various celebrities, but nothing compares to being in a small Newfoundland town doing a show for the people that treat us like family wherever we go. And if i can make those people happy with a fireworks show, that is what it is all about for me.
Ever Heard of Blue Honeysuckle? (Submission for Bonkers for Berries)
No b'y, never heard of dat... the invariable response to the title question. It puzzled me to think that one of the most prolific areas of wild berry harvest had no knowledge of an edible berry plant that lived in the region. ... click to read moreNo b'y, never heard of dat... the invariable response to the title question. It puzzled me to think that one of the most prolific areas of wild berry harvest had no knowledge of an edible berry plant that lived in the region. Lonicera caerulea is a medium sized bush that is found in many regions of the northern hemisphere. In Russia and Japan, the plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant; however, within the last five years that the taste of the plant has improved by Dr. Bob Bors at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Bors has been releasing the plants as an edible fruit crop.
My name is James Dawson, originating in Riverhead, Harbour Grace, NL. I'm a PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan and I got to live out what many Newfoundlanders talk about: seeing as much of the Island as you can. When I came into Dr. Bors' program he had just come back from a sabbatical year where he had travelled from BC to Nova Scotia in search of wild specimens of blue honeysuckle. He had only one place left on his list, Newfoundland.
We landed in Deer Lake on the 24th of June, with the goal of finding wild specimens in as many locations as possible throughout the province. It was also important to try and sample the four corners of the Island. The basic method for the collection was to travel approximately 30 km, get out, search for the plant, take cuttings and take information about the site. We split the trip between the west and east side of the Island. Dr. Bors and I would collect on the west side and I was to go on and collect on the east side. I was aided by the fact that both my parents live on the Avalon Peninsula and both have degrees in plant science. With the continued effort, we were able to find the blue honeysuckle in 58 locations throughout the island (photo 1) and managed to sample all four corners of the province.
On this trip, I saw a variety of the more renowned flowers that habituate the island such as pitcher plants, moccasin flower or pink lady slipper, yellow lady slipper and dragon mouth orchids. We found the plant mostly in bag areas, however habitat did vary. I was able to see more of the Island in two weeks than I had in my 20 years of living there, and had one of the most colossal berry picking excursions in history.
PhD student, University of Saskatchewan
Photo caption 1 (Map_of_NL.jpg). Collection areas for Lonicera caerulea specimens
The Person I Admire the Most Is________________ Because. . . Hello. my name is Emily Randell and I am from Port Rexton, NL. I am 14 years old and I go to Bishop White School. The person I admire most is my dad, because he has had surgery on his brain a couple of years ago because of a brain tumour. I admire him because he has been so strong and I consider him my hero.
A couple of years ago my mom, ... click to read moreHello. my name is Emily Randell and I am from Port Rexton, NL. I am 14 years old and I go to Bishop White School. The person I admire most is my dad, because he has had surgery on his brain a couple of years ago because of a brain tumour. I admire him because he has been so strong and I consider him my hero.
A couple of years ago my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, my niece and I were at my house when my dad had a seizure; it is something I will never forget. That is when everything started. My dad had to go to hospital, but the hospital told him to go home and go back to work. He got home, and a couple of days later, we went to St. John's, because he felt that he was going to have another seizure; when we got there, the doctors and nurses told him that he got there just in time. They said if we waited much longer he could have died. Just a couple of months later, we found out he had to have surgery, because there was a tumour on his brain the size of an orange. When he got it removed, he had to have 30 radiation treatments in the Health Sciences Centre; he lost hair on his left side.
Since March 11th, 2007, when he had that first seizure, he has had two more, but they weren't as bad. Later, he had to have chemotherapy, but instead of having to go into St. John's every week to get the chemo, he took chemo pills instead. He later got his hair back, but there is still the scar from the surgery. We have recently found out that there is another tumour on his brain, but it is very tiny. The nurses of the Health Sciences Centre took him off his chemo pills because they don't want his body to get immune to it. Other than having to have an MRI every 3-5 months to keep us updated on his tumour, he is doing fine. The only thing wrong is that he can't get the flu. It is harmful to some people, but it will be more harmful to him, because he no longer has an immune system. He sometimes worries my family because he feels sick at times, but we help him as much as we can, and so far I think that means a lot to him.
I love my dad because he is still strong and happy, and that means so much to my family and me. He still does the things he used to do. He makes things out of wood; he makes wooden lawn chairs, and he makes shelves for my room. So the person I admire most is my dad, because I love him, and he is my most absolute hero. ... Hide full submission
Emily Randell Port Rexton, NL
(1.33 rating, 3 votes)
On My Own This is a story my 10-year-old daughter Miranda decided to write up. I didn't realize what she was producing until it was printed out. So, very impressed with it, I thought I would share this with you. It's completely unedited and in her own words and I thought I would send her story in to you. So proud of her and her vivid imagination. My daughter's name is Miranda Caley. Enjoy!
On My Own ... click to read moreThis is a story my 10-year-old daughter Miranda decided to write up. I didn't realize what she was producing until it was printed out. So, very impressed with it, I thought I would share this with you. It's completely unedited and in her own words and I thought I would send her story in to you. So proud of her and her vivid imagination. My daughter's name is Miranda Caley. Enjoy!
On My Own
Alyssa had a boyfriend, she grew up with him, they had known each other since preschool. To her, he was the only one for her, the most important and precious boy out there. But to him, well, she was just another girl...
"Hey Ollie! Wanna maybe go to a movie tonight?" Alyssa asked Ollie when she saw him walking down the street. "Umm...I can't," he responded softly. Alyssa giggled, "Studying at home for the science test, I see?" "Err...No." Ollie mumbled. Alyssa looked at her boyfriend very confused, "Then what are you doing?" she said with a small smile. Ollie looked at her. "I'm meeting up with...a friend," he forced a smile at her.
It was pretty much always like that with him. Ollie met girls right in front of Alyssa, like it was nothing. To him, she was just another one of his girlfriends. The word "Love" never came out of Ollie's mouth...only hers. Ever since preschool, she had never heard the three words she'd always wanted to hear from him, "I love you." There weren't any anniversaries at all. He didn't say anything from the first day, and it continued until 100 days...200...
Everyday, before they would say goodbye, he would hand her a doll. She had no idea why. Then one day...
"Umm...Ollie?" Alyssa stuttered. "What? Spit it out," he said with a smile. "I...I love you," she finally said. "Wha? You.. What..? Just take this doll...and go home," Ollie mumbled to her. That was how he ignored her three words and handed her the doll. Then he disappeared, as if he was running away from Alyssa.
The dolls she received from him everyday filled her room, one by one. There were many of them.
Finally, one day came, her 15th birthday. When she got up in the morning, Alyssa pictured a party with him in her mind. She stranded herself in her bedroom, waiting for his call, but lunch passed, dinner passed, and before long the sky was dark, and he still didn't call. It was tiring to look at the phone anymore. Then around two in the morning, he suddenly called her and woke her up from her sleep. Ollie told her to go outside her house. She was so excited.
"Ollie..." Alyssa looked up at him. "Here, take this," he said, as he handed her a little doll, yet again. "What's this for?" she questioned. "I didn't give it to you yesterday, so I'm giving it to you now. I'm going to go home now...bye," Ollie responded as he began to walk home. Alyssa ran after him, "OLLIE, Wait! Do you know what today is?" "Today? What about it?" Her heart sank, she thought he would remember her birthday.
He walked off like nothing had happened. Before he could get away, she shouted, "Wait!" Ollie looked at Alyssa, "You have something to say?" He asked her. Alyssa gazed into his eyes. "Tell me...tell me that you love me!" She shouted. "What did you say?" "Tell me, please. It's just three words Ollie," she frowned. "I don't want to say that I love someone so easily. If you are desperate to hear it, then find someone else," Ollie muttered. He then ran off. Alyssa's legs felt numb, and she collapsed to the ground. He didn't want to say it easily.
"How could he?" Alyssa thought that maybe he wasn't the right guy for her.
The next day, Alyssa stranded herself at home crying, nothing else. Ollie didn't call her, although she was waiting. He continued handing her a little doll every morning outside her house, that's how those dolls piled up in her room, more and more, everyday.
After a month, she got herself together and went off to school, but what made the pain resurface was that she saw Ollie on a street with another girl. He had a smile on his face, one that he never showed Alyssa, as he touched the doll, she ran straight back home and looked at the dolls in her room, tears fell out of her eyes. "Why did he give these to me?" Alyssa asked herself. "These dolls were probably picked out by some other stupid girls!" She yelled. She was really angry, and she started to throw the dolls, smashing them into walls. The phone rang. It was Ollie, "Come out to the bus stop outside your house," he told her. Alyssa calmed herself down and walked over. She kept reminding herself that she was going to forget him, that it's going to end. Then he came into her sight. He was holding a big doll.
"You came, I thought you were mad at me," Ollie said. Alyssa couldn't help hating him, acting like nothing had happened, and joking around. Soon, he held out the doll as usual. "I DON'T NEED IT!" Alyssa screamed. "What? Why?" He asked sadly. She grabbed the doll from his hand and threw it onto the road. "I don't need this doll! I don't need it anymore! I don't want to see a person like you ever again!" She spat out the words. Unlike any other day, Ollie's eyes were shaking. "I'm sorry," he apologized in a small, shaking voice. He then walked over to the road to pick up the doll. "You idiot! Just leave the doll, throw it away!" Alyssa yelled at him, but he ignored her, then the sounds of a truck were heading toward him. "OLLIE! MOVE! GET OFF THE ROAD!" Alyssa shouted as loud as she could. He stood up and looked at her with sad eyes. Then, CRASH! The sound was terrifying. She screamed and she cried, but she knew nothing could bring him back.
No matter how much she wished that she could take back the words that she had said to him, she couldn't. That was how Ollie left her.
She had to go through everyday with the guilt and sadness of losing him. After spending two months crying, she finally took out the dolls. Those were the only gifts he left her since they started going out. She remembered the days she spent with him, and she started counting the days, when they were in love by counting each doll. "One... Two... Three..." Alyssa started to count, "484, 485..." It all ended with 485 dolls. She then started to cry again, with a doll in her arms. She hugged it tightly, then suddenly, "I love you, I love you," Alyssa dropped the doll, shocked. "I... Love... You?" She picked up the dolls and pressed its stomach. "I love you, I love you." It can't be! Alyssa pressed all of the dolls' stomachs as they piled on the side of her room. "I love you, I love you, I love you." Those words came out non-stop. "Why didn't I realize that his heart was always by my side, protecting me?" she asked.
Why didn't she realize that he loved her this much? She took out the doll under the bed and pressed its stomach. It was the last doll, the one that fell on the road. It had his blood stain on it. The voice came out, the one that she was missing so much. "Alyssa, do you know what today is? We've been loving each other for 486 days. I couldn't say I love you. Since I was too shy, if you forgive me and take this doll, I will say that I love you...everyday, until I die." The doll said. "I love you." Alyssa cried. Tears came flowing out of her eyes. "WHY?" She asked, "Why do I only know about all this NOW?" He couldn't be by her side, but Ollie loved her until his last minute. For that, and for that reason, to her, it became courage to live a beautiful lif
Please God, Don't Take My Smile (1 comments) Please God, Don't Let It Take My Smile
It was a sunny day in May 2005, the flowers were just coming in which Mom loved and she told me she had something called ALS. Mom just had her 65th birthday in September. ... click to read morePlease God, Don't Let It Take My Smile
It was a sunny day in May 2005, the flowers were just coming in which Mom loved and she told me she had something called ALS. Mom just had her 65th birthday in September. She was involved with the Heart Institute in Ottawa at the Civic Hospital as a volunteer. Mom loved working there, and loved talking with people and sharing different ideas with them. Mom also went to the Nepean Sportsplex once a week for exercise class. My mother enjoyed having lunch or dinners with her friends and family and enjoyed going to the Arts Center for plays and concerts. My mom was very independent. Mom loved listening to what was happening in her children's lives and was always ready to give advice. Mom was a very outgoing person, and had the most beautiful smiles.
Several months before May, Mom started to trip a lot, getting off buses, walking down the street, she had several problems. Mom, who never ever complained about things, thought she should go to the doctors, and see what was wrong with her. So off we went to her family doctor, and then off to specialists. She had tests for this, and tests for that, and then mom was diagnosed with ALS, and at that moment, life would not be the same as she knew it.
Many people have asked, what is ALS? ALS is better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS strands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS is a rapidly progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease that is characterized by degeneration of a select group of nerve calls and pathways (motor neurons) in the brain and spinal cord. The loss of motor neurons leads to progressive paralysis of the voluntary muscles. The heart is not a voluntary muscle, and therefore, remains unaffected by the disease. However, since breathing is controlled voluntarily by the chest muscles, death usually occurs when the chest muscles are no longer able to help the lungs achieve adequate oxygenation. Generally there is little impairment to the brain or senses.
ALS is not contagious, but it is fatal. For the most part, the battle is short, with 80 per cent loosing their lives within three to five years of diagnosis. While between 10 and 20 per cent live 10 years or more after diagnosis, others only live a few months. While the cause is unknown, research is being conducted in areas related to genetic predispositions, viral or infectious agents, environmental toxins and immunological changes.
For some people, the muscles for speaking, swallowing or breathing are the first affected. This is known as Bulbar ALS. The term "bulbar" refers to the motor neurons located in the brain stem that controls the muscles used for chewing, swallowing and speaking. ALS symptoms, and the order in which they occur, vary from one person to the other.
In 85 per cent of cases, ALS affects the lower portions of the spinal cord first. This is known as limb onset ALS. In these cases, muscle weakness, cramps and weakened reflexes affects the muscle in the arms and legs as the first signs of ALS. The rate of muscle loss can vary significantly from person to person with some patients having long periods with very slow degeneration.
So when Mom told me she had ALS, I went to see her and told her you will not go through this on your own. I will beside you all the way through this disease. I started to read all I could about this disease and possibly slower it's progress. As I sat beside my mom, I told her you have to keep moving your hands each and every free minute. Mom you need to move your arms, and legs, we need to keep those muscles alive as long as we can.
I made an appointment with the ALS chapter for eastern Ontario, where I now met an amazing person and very good friend Marion Williams, who was the regional manager. Marion explained to me more about ALS and how horrible this disease was, and that it didn't get a lot of support from the government or even local governments and that most money and time comes from the ALS patient families. Sure ALS doesn't kill like cancer or heart disease, but ALS has horrible odds also.
Well Mom had just moved into her apartment, and was just getting settled when this flashed into her life. Had to move around items, in her apartment, so she wouldn't trip over things. So then had to start getting rid of some of her favorite things, so she could move freely in her apartment. Had to go to doctors every two to three weeks at the Ottawa Rehab Centre at the general hospital. Would pick Mom up and we would spend mornings going to see specialists. Mom and her best friend Sandra began looking at nursing homes. They would visit many of them till they could make a list of three that Mom would eventually end up living in one of the three.
Life as my mother knew it was changing very quickly. Mom was starting to divide up her precious belongings to my sister and brother and I because she couldn't keep them anymore. It was just more stuff in her way. Mom began having troubles with the stairs to get to her apartment, it was just so tiresome to climb the stairs to get to her home, she just stopped going out. So we called the head office, and asked if it was possible for her to get an apartment on the first floor. Within a few weeks, they called us and said they had one. So we moved her downstairs.
Mom said to me, "You have to find a way to bring awareness to this disease." I promised my mother that I would find ways to raise awareness and monies for ALS, that way families who did not have a lot of money or resources, it would be there for them. So I had the first Drive4ALS in the Ottawa area, and raised just over $4,000 dollars for the ALS community. My mother would start buying equipment, and never use it just so other families would have the use of it when they needed it.
Shortly after the golf tournament, Mom was no longer using a cane, but was now in a wheelchair, her legs were no longer strong enough for her to go out and walk. She was able to walk somewhat in her apartment. Next to come was a motorized wheelchair. She would use it to go outside on her own. All these changes were within a two year frame. Mom's life had changed drastically. So many things had changed. She could no longer cook three meals, she couldn't bathe on her own anymore, could not do her laundry, all things that you and I take granted. But with ALS that takes energy that you don't have. So we needed to get a PSW worker in with Mom three times a week, and every morning. After only being in her apartment for no more then three months, Mom said it was time to go to the nursing home. So we made the call. On June 30th, 2007 the Gary Armstrong Nursing Home called and said they had a room for her. So I took Mom up to see it. She loved it, and made friends instantly before she moved in. That Thursday of the same week, we were moving Mom into the nursing home. I felt so bad, but as Mom said we would have more time together this way.
Life with ALS progressed very fast, Mom could not do a lot any more, and she was a prisoner to her wheelchair. Everywhere she went or did was in this chair. Could no longer take her out in the car for a drive, or go to Tim Hortons and get a coffee, and sit in the car because she was too small to sit in the seat with a seatbelt. She was the size of a four-year-old in weight and only flopped around in the seat. Mom then found a friend in the nursing home named Jenny, and they began to explore the city from their wheelchairs. They found a way to go to the Rideau Mall, Tim Hortons, Wal-Mart and that gave a spark to Mom's life again. Mom had a great summer in 2007 with her new traveling friend Jenny. But soon after that Mom's breathing would become very tight and shallow, and she had very hard time breathing.
We had another golf tournament with help of others who lost loved ones from ALS and we were able to raise about $8,500 for the ALS Society. And that made my mom smile again, and felt proud that she was helping others with this disease. Mom now needed a machine called a bi-pap machine to help her breath when she lay down, because the muscles around her lungs were dying. So when she lay down, there was no muscles nor would gravity pull Mom's lungs down when she was laid down, so she got this machine called a bi-pap, which forces air in and out of her lungs helping Mom breathe. We went to the Rehab Centre of Ottawa, and got lessons on how to use the machine, and what it does for us when we use it, how to use the machine, how to clean the machine. So Mom would explain to each and every PSW worker and nurse on the floor how to use and how to clean this machine. Mom taught everyone she ran into the nursing home how to treat a patient with ALS. She became a true advocate for ALS.
Mom's life was getting smaller and smaller each day. Mom used to go outside on her own, enjoy the fresh air, look at the birds, and talk to everyone, and just enjoy life the best she could. Mom was really starting to have trouble breathing now, so the home suggested she didn't go outside on her own anymore in case she didn't have the energy to get herself back into the home. And that was another hurdle for her to get over. Mom was beginning to feel her life was really starting to crumble, but she just kept on smiling! Everything was disappearing from her, but she still had that wonderful smile.
Christmas 2007, Mom began to tell me she was dying. The ALS was finally beginning to take over her life. We began to talk about funeral arrangements, and stuff I needed to do, people I needed to call, stuff she needed to buy for the ALS Society so others would have it. Mom always worried about others than just she. I remember a man at her table couldn't see outside when eating, as it bothered him, so she asked the staff to move him, or change with her. Mom always made sure we smiled at others in the nursing home, and gave everyone big smiles. She always had nice things to say to the people visiting the nursing home for the first time, on how wonderful the staff was, all the staff. Didn't matter what their jobs were, she always talks highly of them. Her world was getting smaller and smaller, as she was also. Mom said she was starting to realize what ALS was. All the muscles in her body were beginning to shut down, her legs began to swell. Every other Sunday I would take in a baked potato from Wendy's, it had to have butter and sour cream and chives, and that would be enough to fill her. Mom was eating less and less. Every level of ALS that affected Mom, we thought the end was coming, but she just kept fighting this disease 'till the fullest. She lived another year and surprised everyone. Mom even worried about when to die. She would say she can't die Dec. 12th because that was my father's birthday (even though they weren't married anymore). She couldn't die because that was Greg's birthday. She couldn't die Dec. 18th because that is when her younger brother died, and then Christmas, and then Jan. 6th, 2009 because that would have been her anniversary. My mother even worried about dying on important dates for others. So we got through Christmas, and now Mom weighs no more then 75 pounds, and loosing weight what seemed to be hourly. She looked like an old frail lady. She was like 65 pounds soaking wet. Having an extremely hard time breathing. But every morning she awakes with help from the nursing home, and puts on that incredible smile. Till this day as I am writing this story, Mom is now like 55 pounds, can hardly breathe, and is still smiling when I walk in the room. Today is March 24, 2009, and my mother is still with us as I write this. She is now on drugs to calm her when she lays down and uses her bi-pap, still gets up with lots of hardship, but still gets up, gets in her chair, and joins the rest of the residents for breakfast.
Till this day, Mom thanks God for not taking her smile. She has lost almost every other motion, but as rough as ALS has been to her, she still smiles.
Mom passed away April 17th 2009 ... Hide full submission
Harbour Breton Lighthouse History of a lighthouse. May be of interest to readers in light of the recent federal declaration of surplus lighthouses in NL, etc.
~ Harbour Breton Lighthouse ~
Lighthouses were established in Newfoundland as early as 1810 (Fort Amherst) and by the 1880s, lights were established at all major capes and harbours around the island. Newfoundland was a direct route for merchant vessels coming from ports in Europe and a rocky coast ... click to read moreHistory of a lighthouse. May be of interest to readers in light of the recent federal declaration of surplus lighthouses in NL, etc.
~ Harbour Breton Lighthouse ~
Lighthouses were established in Newfoundland as early as 1810 (Fort Amherst) and by the 1880s, lights were established at all major capes and harbours around the island. Newfoundland was a direct route for merchant vessels coming from ports in Europe and a rocky coast and foggy conditions led to navigation lights along the coast, including the lighthouse on Rocky Point in Harbour Breton, NL.
The Rocky Point Lighthouse (#124, Hydrographic Chart CHS 4830) is located at the southern point of entrance to the community of Harbour Breton, located at the head of Fortune Bay, on the south coast of Newfoundland.
Harbour Breton is one of the oldest and largest fishing centres on the south coast of NL, with a large sheltered harbour. First lit in 1873, it was one of the first of the out-harbour lights established by inspectors Oke and Nevill to serve the needs of the fishing trade on the south coast. This first light was a lantern mounted on a square wooden tower. In June 1881, the wooden light tower was destroyed by fire. Immediately, an iron light tower was ordered from Mr. James Angel, of Victoria Iron Works of St. John's and was installed later that year. The tower was painted with red and white horizontal bands, and the light room had 16 triangular panes of glass. The light is located 20.5 meters (68 feet) above high water mark and is visible for nine miles. Attached to the tower was a wooden building for fuel storage and conveniences for the lightkeeper. The overall height of the light tower is approximately 28 feet from its concrete base.
The first lightkeeper was William Lorenzen. The lightkeepers for the first part of the 20th century were Albert Jensen and William Jensen.
In 1931 the light was changed to acetylene gas and became an unwatched light. A caretaker was still necessary to change the gas cylinders and to make sure the light remained lit.
The Rocky Point lighthouse has guided many a vessel to safety since 1873. From Newman & Co. sailing ships, British Man-of-War, banking schooners, trawlers, longliners, and small fishing boats, the light has guided them all to the safety of the protected harbour. Today, the lighthouse is automated with a solar panel and continues to be a guiding beacon for many a sea going vessel. The Canadian Coast Guard realizes that changes in aids to navigation will make many of the traditional aids to navigation unnecessary but they are committed to working with municipalities and groups to preserve the history and heritage of lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The South Side Road will take you directly to Rocky Point Road where you can enter the walking trail leading to the lighthouse. The view from the lighthouse is indeed impressive as visitors can see the resettled community of Jersey Harbour, Harbour Breton Bay, Gun Hill, Sagona Island, Thompson's Beach, etc. Having your camera is a must when you visit the lighthouse on Rocky Point. ... Hide full submission
Doug Wells Harbour Breton, NL
(4 rating, 1 votes)
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