A community’s heartbreak

It seems you can’t turn on the radio or TV without hearing about the global pandemic. The Covid 19 virus does not discriminate, attacking all age groups and having a particularly hard impact on the sick and elderly, but it doesn’t stop there. Perfectly healthy able bodied young people are succumbing to this unpredictable illness. The economy is tanking, people are social distancing, not by choice but out of necessity, and it seems life couldn’t get any worse. Or could it?

Last weekend the small community of Portapique Nova Scotia experienced horrors so unimaginable it made Covid 19 almost bearable, and much as we’ve needed to hear something ‘new’ in our broadcasts, no one could ever have wanted to hear this.

A 51 year old man went on a shooting rampage killing almost two dozen people and terrorizing an entire city. He targeted those he knew and gunned down those he randomly encountered during his reign of terror, killing perfect strangers, just because. He even shot two dogs – it seems no living creature was out of range of his gunfire.

Little has been revealed about this man other than to say he was a successful businessman and a ‘nice guy’. So what makes a supposedly ‘nice guy’ shoot innocent people in a fit of rage? Little has been said about his personal life, the people he was close to, if there were any he was close to. Was this something that had been brewing over time, or did he just snap? The fact that he had what looked like an RCMP vehicle and somehow garnered an RCMP uniform suggests this was planned, and in the absence of any access to this fellows psyche, we may never know what his motivation was. All we do know is that it was pure evil.

Whatever his struggles were they were clearly deranged and extreme, and normally I would feel only compassion and support for one struggling with mental illness but it’s hard to muster up any sympathy for someone who randomly, senselessly, murders another. If you have insurmountable issues that you feel you cannot overcome, by any means, then go ahead and do what you have to,,,,,to yourself. Don’t take down a community of innocent people.

The terror inflicted, the lives lost, and the families scarred by this will change the face of this small community forever. We may never know what motivated this heinous crime. The gunman was killed by police during his capture so his explanation, whatever it could be, will never be heard, and maybe that’s a good thing. I can’t imagine wanting to witness the inner workings of such a deranged mind – it’s even beyond the stuff horror movies are made of.

As the residents of Portapique grieve their loss and struggle to make sense of these events, the rest of the country grieves with them because every community is ‘ours’. These are our people and this happened in our backyard. Covid 19 might be the global threat that brings us to our knees, but like any world catastrophe, we will survive it, and we may even be able to rationalize it in time. This is our war and we fight it together. A mass shooting, on the other hand, brought about by an evil mind, is the bigger monster and the bigger threat, because it shatters the very foundation on which decent society is built.

Words cannot describe the pain we all feel for our fellow Nova Scotian’s as we mourn the loss of their loved ones and struggle to heal a country’s broken heart.

Broken heart




The puppy who captured the heart of a community

I love people, and I love animals. I’m especially a dog lover, but ALL creatures are sacred to me (except spiders)

Yesterday I, and a number of others, experienced the ‘experience’ of a lifetime, when it came to ‘ pet love ‘. My daughter, who is almost 7 months pregnant, has a puppy. A beautiful little (ok, not so little) Vizsla, named Ben, He’s lovely. Big floppy ears, and the most amazing green eyes. Typical of a puppy, he’s clumsy and awkward, and has a way of always being under foot.

Well this 8 month old puppy, Ben, had a seizure 2 days ago and in their attempt to get him in the car to rush to a Veterinarian he panicked and suddenly bolted. He literally jumped out of the car and ran into the woods. The kids were frantic. They live in a community surrounded by forest and they only moved here 10 months ago. They know,,,, well,,,,no one,,,except the odd person who saw them walking a dog.

I was chopping vegetables for a chutney (totally irrelevant) when my husband got the call,,,,,a hysterical call,, from our daughter. Ben was gone and they needed help. She also posted an SOS on her and her communitys’ Facebook page. Now I am not on Facebook or Instagram, never was, never will be, because I don’t feel the need to be that connected, but in this case Facebook proved to be a lifeline for little Ben.

My husband and I literally dropped everything, jumped into the car, and drove to her neighbourhood. Cruising the area, we stopped every person we saw walking to ask if they’d seen a loose dog and every single one advised that they too were on the hunt. They’d seen the call for help on Facebook and, it seems, so had many many others. People were walking their own dogs up and down the street hoping to lure Ben in. Kids were on bikes riding the streets and calling his name. More than a dozen locals were cruising the streets in their vehicles, and a number had set up a slow moving convoy on the highway just behind the homes in case Ben ran into traffic. A group of residents who had recreational vehicles coordinated to ride through the wooded areas and a local pilot offered to send up a drone to try to find him.

Sightings were reported and all would rush to that locale but Ben remained at large. My daughter consulted with Bens’ Veterinarian who advised he was likely disoriented from the seizure but it was promising that he was conscious and mobile. The search was into its’ seventh hour, dusk was only a couple of hours away, and there had been no sightings for at least 2 hours. Hope was waning and all feared he would not be found before nightfall. Temperatures were dropping below freezing, and the woods are home to any number of animals, coyotes, in particular, are a concern. An innocent puppy wouldn’t last long in these conditions.

As my daughter and I prepared to cruise the streets again the call came in. A young boy was searching on his ATV and found Ben quite far in the woods. We would not have found him on foot, he’d gone that far. He couldn’t bring him back on the vehicle so he radioed his father who gave us the location and all able bodies headed into the woods, my 7 month pregnant daughter jogging ahead of everyone (I was sure she was going to bring on labour!) Ben was freezing so the young boy took his own coat off and wrapped it around Ben while he waited.

After about 35 minutes the group emerged from the woods with Ben in tow. His paws were bleeding, likely from running blindly through rough terrain, but he appeared otherwise no worse for the wear. A crowd had gathered on the street because after an entire day of searching people needed to make sure it was him, and not for the first time that day I was humbled at the kindness of these strangers.

The community of Waverley, Nova Scotia, is truly amazing. A fellow resident was in need and everyone came out, full force, to help. In a time when social distancing is mandatory, due to the Covid pandemic, all maintained necessary protocols, but the restrictions did not stop them from helping. The collective sigh of relief when Ben was found rippled through the whole neighbourhood and we all slept better that night knowing this innocent puppy was safe.

Now Ben will still have some challenges, namely finding out why he had a seizure in the first place, but knowing he is in the safety of a loving community brings some measure of comfort. We cannot begin to thank all those wonderful strangers who so selflessly gave their time, vehicles, and efforts to the search. In a world where most keep to themselves we all feel a renewed sense of appreciation for the kindness of strangers.

To the wonderful community of Waverley Nova Scotia and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Ben (2)

The Monarchy

When I was a child I remember every morning at school we said the morning prayer and then sang ‘God Save our Queen”. As a child I didn’t really understand why it mattered and before I was old enough to figure it out the protocol changed.’ God Save the Queen’ was replaced with  ‘O Canada’ and life went on.

Throughout my youth I watched news coverage of royal addresses, royal visits abroad, and it was fascinating to see these larger than life (or so I thought) people, navigating life as ‘Royals’. Gold carriages, sparkling jewels, and beautiful gowns; the stuff fairy tales are made of. I was in awe of these special people. Then I grew up, and saw reality. These were just normal people who’d been unfortunate enough to be born into royalty.

There was a time when the power of the monarchy was influential. They had a ‘say’ on matters of politics, and a direct impact on society. They were admired and respected. The Queen of England could appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister, any minister actually. And she alone had the power to dissolve Parliament, or declare war on any other country. That is no longer the case today. In fact, the role of the monarch holds very little power today, especially in Canada, and the Queens’ powers for the most part, are ceremonial. (guess that’s why we stopped singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in school?)

And it’s a lucky thing her responsibilities have been relieved in that regard because her days are filled enough with internal family shenanigans. Raised in an ice castle and shielded from real people and the real world how can we expect this monarchy to understand our lives? And yet they find themselves struggling with real life hardships; marital woes, infidelity, negative publicity. (How common of them!)

I think the biggest challenge of being a Royal has to be the monarchys’ control of their personal lives. Protocol dictates every aspect of their lives; how they dress, what and where they eat, who they marry, even the naming of their children. And if that isn’t enough they have to endure the constant and complete invasion of their privacy. Small wonder Harry and Megan seek to leave the Royal life behind. Seems even the Royals don’t see themselves as necessary to the British public any more. (And who wouldn’t crave ‘normal’ and strive to break out of this cocoon?)

Charles loves Camilla, he always did, but she wasn’t good enough for ‘Royal Standards’, so he was forced to marry sweet innocent and pure, Diana…and it destroyed both their lives. So much for royal protocol.  At the end of the day Charles got to be with Camilla, where he should’ve been all along. And Diana found her escape, sadly, in a tragic death. It’s a miracle those two sons aren’t more screwed up than they are, then again, who knows how they really are. So much is covered up to protect the precious royal image.

Over the decades the public has been granted a closer look at the Royals and we are all surprised and relieved, to find they’re every bit as normal as we are. They speak out and rebel, they fight for their right to live their life (some of them) their way. They have marital issues, and they have character flaws (oh no!) And over time their effect on society and political circles has waned, and rightly so. They are after all, just figureheads. Expensive figureheads. And one has to wonder if the value of the monarchy is worth the cost. No longer do they wield political influence. In fact, other than providing the public with soap opera-like entertainment, they have little positive impact on society (and I know there are countless royal-watchers out there who would challenge me on this) British taxpayers support the royal family through a “sovereign grant” and the costs have never been higher than they are now. Are they really worth it? (Where’s the bang for your buck?)

At the end of the day I feel really sorry for those born into these lives of servitude, because that’s all they are; servants, pawns in a game of thrones. On the upside, they have a beautiful home, wardrobe, and an endless supply of money. On the downside, they have a monotonous trail of ribbon cutting ceremonies, library dedications, and boring state functions to attend in the name of ‘duty’. Surely there are days when they’d like to take the kids to McDonald’s or a movie without a team of Paparazzi hiding in the shadows, snapping photos. And I suspect there are days they’d like nothing better than to saunter down to their local variety store in torn jeans, messy hair and no make-up, to buy a bag of potato chips, but they can’t. Because protocol dictates that they dress conservatively and hide in the midst of their security entourage.

The onerous tasks of ‘Royal duty’ take a heavy toll on the lives of otherwise normal people, and their financial burden on society is unfair and unnecessary. I wouldn’t wish the burden of royalty on anyone because the financial perks simply don’t make it worth while. Plus the crown is really heavy…..that’s why I gave it up.


Do as I say

My friend and I were walking, chatting about nothing and everything, inevitably ending up on the subject of our children. We both have adult children, gainfully employed, self-sufficient, and independent of us financially, but you wouldn’t know it if you heard us talk. We worry about their health, their jobs, their partners, everything we shouldn’t have to worry about, and yet we do. Because once you’re a mother you never stop worrying.

It’s not that our children bring us these worries. We just ‘see’ them from a distance. We see them making mistakes that could be avoided, the very mistakes we made when we were young – does experience count for nothing? Apparently not, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned and both agree upon, it’s that our children won’t listen. Clearly they have to hit the same brick walls we did to get it right. What a painful and unnecessary exercise!

And if you try to offer your unsolicited opinion, you’re met with ‘the hand’, because they’re going to do it their way regardless. It doesn’t help either, to tell them that we made these mistakes in our young adult lives and simply want to help them avoid the same pitfalls, because the response will invariably be, “I’m not you”, and that is the perfect segway for us to play the Do as I say, not as I do, card. (assuming they’ll listen, which they won’t)

As a child you are warned not to touch something or there will be consequences, an injury perhaps, or the something will get broken or damaged, but you had to learn for yourself, so you touched it. And the predicted outcome happened (you should’ve listened to mother….) but you’re a child, and that’s how you learn.

As an adult, however, you should be beyond that. Didn’t the mistakes of your childhood teach you to heed the advice of those with experience? (namely, your mother) Ignoring valuable advice (especially from your mother…ask your father, he’ll confirm this) often means you are destined to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation (us), and we want better for you.

But you don’t always listen, and when you’re stinging from the hurt of hitting that brick wall, it’s all we can do to keep from saying “I told you that would happen, you should’ve listened”. But maybe that’s the lesson.

Maybe the impact of the hit is what sends the message home. They say much of the learning that occurs during childhood is acquired through observation and imitation and I’d venture to say that as young parents we’re probably so busy raising kids and working we don’t notice the image we’re portraying. I know my parents tried to tell me how to live, and I didn’t listen, convinced I’d navigate the mistakes a little better. But I didn’t. I made them anyway and that’s how I learned.

So my friend and I walk on, changing the subject because we both know this one’ll never be resolved to our satisfaction. Our children will do what they please with or without our guidance, so we resign ourselves to waiting quietly in the shadows until they need us to comfort their souls and bandage their booboo’s.

You know, this’d be a lot easier if they’d simply do as I say and not as I do!

Do as I say