Circle of life

Alice and John had three children. Each of the three had four of their own. From those twelve grandchildren came nineteen great grandchildren. Now it gets hard… The nineteen-great grandchildren have now had thirteen great great grandchildren.. whew .. don’t worry there won’t be a test.. but I do have a point..

Sunday, we went to the celebration of life for the last of Alice’s children. He was ninety-six. Defying all odds, he outlived his brother (E’s Dad) and sister through sheer stubbornness. His life achievements filled a full page (single spaced). He was a father, a psychiatrist, a MLA, the Chancellor of SFU, Chairman of the board of the Maritime museum, a musician, an ardent defender of social justice and an instigating force to bring Medicare to British Columbia in the sixties. The celebration was an excellent testament to his life’s work.

When E first became ill in July of 1999, our children were on the island for their usual summer vacation with E’s Dad, their Papa. I phoned him to explain that E had suddenly become gravely ill and that he might need a heart transplant. As you can imagine Papa thought I had lost my mind and had his doubts to my news.

I was sitting outside the ICU at VGH when I made the call to Papa. It wasn’t an hour later, sitting beside E’s bed when his uncle came storming in the room demanding to see the chart. He was a psychiatrist not a cardiologist but that didn’t stop him. He sat with us the rest of the evening, comforting me, assuring me that we would get through this. That the family would get us through this… I imagine he phoned Papa when he left and explained I wasn’t nuts….. not as far as E’s diagnosis went at least. I did in fact need a lot of anti depressants to get through the next years.. but I wasn’t nuts…

Saturday, the day before the Celebration of life, we went to the first birthday party of our granddaughter. She is the thirteenth and newest great great grandchild of Alice and John. We brought her back to the island with us while her parents are so busy, just as Papa would bring our kids here to help us…

When Alice, the Matriarch of this family was in the hospital months before her death at age 92, we brought our first child to her room and placed the six pound boy in front of her. She stared for several minutes. Rarely found speechless she smiled and spoke gently to him

“And so it should be” she said “the

circle of life”

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