Monday, May 08, 2006


On Thursday last week we received the unfortunate news that my father in law has been diagnosed with two brain tumors and one on his lung.

Daniel flew off to Toronto on Friday and his two brothers flew in from Vancouver and Sydney. This brought the three brothers and one sister together with their parents for the first time in close to three years.

Our family awaits the outcome of tests that have been carried out and on Thursday we will know the details of the prognosis and what the course of treatment will be.

This is a very new experience for Daniel’s family as they are fortunate enough not to have suffered illness and loss.

I realized while speaking with the various family members on the phone over the weekend that I am very well versed in living my life on the edge. By this I mean that in the last 9 years since I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, I have had all sorts of health challenges thrown at me. Daniel has gone through everything with me and living on that edge of not knowing what life is going to present you with from day to day has become very normal for us. I most certainly know that this reality is not unique to us and that life challenges everyone – but when there are health vulnerabilities you are constantly reminded of many things.

These things are all basic stuff. Human nature being what it is, we go about our lives and we sometimes forget the basics. As a family of four siblings who stepped up to the plate without a moment’s hesitation when this situation arose, I couldn’t help questioning why we don’t make a firm commitment to get together once a year in celebration of our lives and blessings. We are all very quick to be there when the shit hits the fan, but when we get caught up in the inevitable day to day comfort zones in our lives when things are good, we forget how important it is to live each day to the full. We forget that if we live away from our families, we should be sure to save so that we can see each other every year. When we do get together, either in smaller groups or all together, while we have to live with a positive attitude, we should have the courage to spend the time and say our goodbyes as if this might be the last time we see each other.
When we were still living in London, Marti and I stripped the wallpaper in the entrance hall in preparation to re-paint it. We only applied the paint about three days after we finished stripping the paper. I was astonished that the kids didn't even notice the difference and pointed out to them that in life they should not treat anyone or anything like the wallpaper. With further explanation I attempted to clarify the importance of not taking things or people for granted. I gave the example of how for three nights they had gone to bed just assuming the wallpaper would be there in the morning. I pointed out how important it is to know that things can change drastically at very short notice and it is essential to live your life consciously so that you are aware of everything and everyone around you all the time.

We go about our lives forgetting how fragile it all is. Everything hangs in such a fine balance and the scales can tip at any time. Hug your children, tell your parents, partners and anyone near and dear to you that you love them at every opportunity you have. And just for the hell of it, extend some love to someone you cross paths with and know you will never see again. You just might make the difference that being needs so that they don’t feel like wallpaper.