12 June, 2013

and now back to our regularly scheduled program

mister monkey has been studying for an exam he will write this friday. it's been dull and arduous but such is life. this morning:

mr. monkey: after the exam, i will buy myself a spoon.

moi: a spoon? why?

mr monkey: well, how else do you celebrate after an exam?

11 June, 2013

live well

my uncle, my father's brother, died last night in poland. he spent his last days in a hospice, drifting in and out of consciousness, his body slowly shutting down as cancer took his liver, his lungs, and finally his other organs. it was an ugly way to go, dirty and undignified. 

my parents had spent the last three weeks taking care of the details, dealing with the official paperwork, saying goodbye. they were about to leave when things took a turn for the worse and they extended their stay - he died 5 days later. my 93-year old grandma is taking it as well as can be expected - she's about to bury one of her sons.

today, my aunt (mother's side) and cousin both called me to express their condolences. my cousin told me his memory of my uncle - he used to take us to a military training ground that was close to my grandparents' house and we'd swing on the ropes and jump on the tires. i was thankful to him for supplying me a happy memory because most of my recent memories are less than happy - they are of an increasingly bitter man, living in a dysfunctional relationship with his elderly mother. his parents treated him like a teenager and in response he acted like one. they controlled him, he skulked off and drank. he drank himself to death and lived the saddest life.

i guess that's the worst thing - not dying, we all will do that, sooner or later, but having lived in a way that means so little, that leaves nothing behind. i'd ask my parents if any of his drinking buddies visited him at the hospice but i'm afraid, because i fear what the answer might be. he spent the last few years alternately drunk and belligerent or sober and bullied. he read a lot. he watched television. he had opinions but i don't know if he had hopes and dreams. if he did, they might have died a lot earlier than he did.

but he was once a young man, highly intelligent, but what the victorian novelists liked to call "of weak character" and so instead of running away from controlling parents, the way my father did, he stayed and was broken and alone with no love, no companionship except that of drunks who, i am certain, were nowhere near his intellectual equals.

i would like to take my cousin's cue and remember my uncle as the guy who took us on walks and let us climb ropes, and not the man he became in later years. 

i would like to remember him by living as well and as fully as i can. 

02 June, 2013

'tis cold in sweden

friday night, a small but shiny bunch of us gathered to partake of pizza, alcohol and conversation, and lo, it was good. talk turned to the different types of cold* and ways of coping. i told the story of leaving a -40ºC canadian winter and flying into a -1ºC polish winter and freezing my nuts off.

moi: this is why i bought a shearling there, and it was the only thing that managed to keep me warm in a measly -1ºC! and now when it hits -30ºC in edmonton, i wear it and am warm.

mister p: shearling... isn't that what the ikea monkey was wearing?

*if you think there is no difference between a dry cold and a wet cold, don't even bother commenting, because you know NOTHING.