E was soaking in the bath trying to get warm. He wore on his face the long scruffy beard he had grown over the previous four and a half months. He and his Dad, committed hockey fans had grown “playoff” beards as they marked the time until the big prize. We had just watched the final game of the spring hockey tournament at the local arena. Along with the quilt draped around his shoulders, his beard helped to keep him warm as his circulation failed him. He looked closer to seventy than his forty four years.
Two of our kids were watching tv, the third at a sleepover, all three under fourteen years old. I put the kettle down to answer the phone. It was 9pm, March 21, 2000.
Mrs. P., it’s BC Transplant. We think we have a match. If you and E could make your way down to the hospital, he can be prepped and ready to meet his new heart in the morning.
Two of my girlfriends joined us for the wait. We hurried through the front doors of St. Paul’s. To this day, I do not believe how calm and relaxed E was as we walked in. The Doctors were, after all, as he described, about to cut out his second favorite organ. As he went through the prepping process he tossed other pearls of wisdom out to us. “If this doesn’t go well ” he says “I think you should throw a big party at Splashdown. All the women can wear bikinis as they take turns carrying my urn down the slides” he says….
They took him at 6am. The surgery was seven hours. The next time I saw him he was on a ventilator, packed in ice attached to 21 different machines.
Five days later he was climbing stairs, another six months and he was playing hockey. Sixteen years more and we live here. The kids are grown. Nice kids, very close to and protective of their Dad.
E has cancelled his attendance at a meeting tonight in town about the marina expansion. He wouldn’t have made it home before dark and had been kindly offered a room to sleep at the W’s. But, although I’m home and doing well I still need a lot of help. It’s also important to us to quietly mark this anniversary and give thanks to the family who so selflessly gave E life. (and saved me from wearing a friggin bikini).
Wherever they are