Thursday, June 22, 2006


Yes! The moving day is approaching fast.

We decided to move this weekend (June 24) to avoid the "moving jam" of the next weekend. We have been packing away, at times I wonder why do we possess so many things, how did we get into this situation. I envy those who have found the way to simplicity.

Thanks for the wonderful help of so many during this packing period. Thanks to those who will help this weekend in the moving. Thanks to those who will help us unpack. We are indebted to all of you for your generous help.

Jan has been struggling with the stress. She also suffers the side effects from the medication. But, all in all, she has been a trooper. Remember her in your meditations.

Fede and Jan

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Dear Jan,

I often wonder what goes in the mind of those who visit or who have seen you after you came home from the hospital.

There are good times that are like a oasis for all if us. We almost feel that we are talking with the Jan before... Other times, the bad days, it is hard to understand what you want to communicate or what you are feeling. We get frustration clearly expressed through your voice -the uninitiated would think you are angry-, or in just giving up trying to tell your idea, or in crying -most people ask if there is something wrong-. On these occasions most people do not know what to do. Some look at you in silence, some others try to comfort you, or try to find whether you need something, painkillers, water. Your frustration or sadness stirr-up deep feeling in all of us. We feel feelings that we don't know how to name: compassion, sadness, concern, anxiety, ar all of them at once inside of us. But we all are quick to forget that this is just part of the healing.

This is the challenge for me. How to address the person I knew in a way that it is momentary, that approaches you just in that moment in time and leaves the encounter without making any judgements or taking with me any scars.

You are a work of art in progress. I must keep this in mind.

The good news is that we will be back in our community soon. Our loved friends will be close enough to see them more often. This is something to look forward to.

We ask all those who wish to help to subscribe to the Yahoo group. That is the best way to coordinate.


Friday, June 16, 2006

A friend in need is a friend indeed

If anybody told you that life was about something else than friends and loved ones, they are missing the point. We are wired to love and to be loved.

When we stop the flow of this life-giving energy, we get "emotional constipation" and risk a myriad of emotional and physical problems. Life is not about knowing more, nor having more things or security, nor having more titles. It's about giving and receiving love and friendship.

Ask Jan. She knows it well. Her aneurysm challenged her language but flooded her days with love. She lost some mobility, but her friends from close and far all made the trip to correspond to her in person or in words the love they feel for her. When posed with the question of what is the most valuable possession she has in her life, Jan answers without hesitation: the love from God, from my family and from my friends!

This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have rough days. That’s just part of life. But even in the middle of these dark days, there is plenty of love going on in her life.

Today, we picked up our cat from the hospital. He, too, had an operation to be “fixed”, so Jan provided to him some TLC.

Jan was in speech therapy this morning and is in the waiting list to continue with physio and occupational therapies. However, the service provider may change when we move.

When sending emails to indicate your interest to help, please provide us with a number or email to contact you. Thank you everyone for the love you show for us both in practical ways.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Moving is closer

The move is getting closer. This afternoon doing our routine visits to places with some potential, we went to see this flat in the High Park/Annette area that Jan thought it just was the right place in the right location: recently renovated, lots of privacy, space, smack right in between the community of RUCs, and, I think, the deciding feature was the back yard. Having grown up in open spaces she is always on the look for fresh air, green grass, a view of the sky and a place to BBQ. If you are interested and willing to give some time, please check the yahoo groups on top of this blog during Saturday the 17, or the 24 & 25) We will be eternally grateful for your kind help, until the next move...

Jan continues her amazing progress. Her speech is progressing, her balance and walking have also improved considerably. Her temper is intact (someone once told me that she wears it on her sleeve, so it was not affected by the operations), her determination is admirable, considering the mountains she has to climb, her capacity to love is deeper and of a higher quality; her faith stronger than ever -she really has demonstrated to be a water walker- Please remember her in your prayers. She needs and welcomes your support.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Packing time

The last two days were a continuation of the packing prelude for the big move. Dearest Jan, at times like this you sound very close to GI Jan. Yes, Ma'm, Sir! selecting things for the "Sally Ann" from things to keep. I am amazed at how well you Keep your balance among the hundres of items and boxes found all over the place. Everyone comments that this is 100% Jan. If there was any doubt that you were back, here is the proof! You a

I know you banned me from writing about you in this blog, but how can you ban light? or how can you stop the rain? How can you ban me from talking about my wife?

Donna was a wonderful companion for you on Saturday. The two of you accomplished a lot and at the end of the day, we could see the back walls of your closet. Wolf kindly took care of the backyard and shared with us his everpresent joy.

Julia noticed that after a couple weeks of not seeing you, your speech continues to improve, in spite of the medication. Orent and Josephine spend a few hours packing away with us. I feel privileged to know this crowd through you Jan.


>>Time is getting short and we would like to be out of here before the end of the month. This is a special call for help on the weekend of the 24 to finish packing and possibly moving. Please check the yahoo groups for more info. The button on top of this page is a link to the site where a registration process has to be completed to eb a member of the group.<<

The hou

Friday, June 09, 2006

Jan's first blog

So far I have been writing this blog as a coversation with my Jan, however she warned me yesterday in no uncertain terms to stop writing about her; that from now on, she would be the only person authorized to talk about Jan. So, here is the first blog from Jan herself:

Hello, here is my own version of life. I'm getting my life back now. My friends are very dear and I am greatly treated. This is all for now.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Visit to RM School

We went to visit your school. This was a very symbolic visit for you. It touched deeply the very core of your identity. At the core you are a teacher. You were designed to take complex things and make them easy to understand, and have fun while doing it; to take the minds of children like a garden plot and plant the seeds of future beautiful flowers and wonderful tools they will need in life; to see promise where everyone else sees only trouble. You are a teacher because your heart knows well about giving the precious gift of learning. Going to the school was a reminder of who you are. And this was more poignant when I consider that it is possible that you may never teach again in a school.

The symbolic value of the occasion, however, was more in our minds. What I saw at the school when we arrived was a heartwarming expression of love and care for you. Schools are very stressful workplaces. Stressful places create frustration and shorten tempers. Stressful feelings push people apart. Caring is often the first casualty of the rush of everyday life. Nevertheless, I saw a Principal and Vice-principal setting precious time aside to visit with you. I saw teachers genuinely moved by your visit. What a wonderful parade of the most beautiful emotions that make us really human. I was a privileged witness of the bonds you had with these colleagues. Jan, you made a mark on them. They also made a mark on me with their generous hearts.

You were so happy. No amount of money could buy this happiness for you. You were basking in the warmth of these lovely expressions of friendship. God bless them all for filling your cup with so much joy in just 50 minutes.

I will always remember the radiant faces of the students who came to see you. Their candid questions: “When are going to be back, Miss Walton? Will you be our teacher in September? The best reward for a teacher may be to see the thirst for more of whatever quests and dreams you planted in their minds.

When we left you were radiant. I don’t now how many synaptic links were re-built during the visit, maybe in the thousands. The visit refreshed your memory of events not too distant. I felt glad to see you rejuvenated.

They said that you are a walking miracle. I say, that they need to have a closer look of the many miracles they may be taking for granted in their lives, such as language. They said our love is rare. I say that they all have exactly the same capability to love the same and more, if they only took the time to find it. After all, it took an aneurysm to test how much we meant what we said we feel for each other just a few months ago. But love needs not this type of tests to shine in our lives. It just blooms if we let it breath.

My wish for your colleagues is that they may experience the same warm embrace in their lives like the one they extended to you during this visit.


Wednesday Blog

Dear Jan,

Being back at Bridgepoint this morning was a strange experience for me. Perhaps it was a reminder of what the hospitals are: places in which people in various degrees of brokenness are put together to the best knowledge and tools available to the staff. I became acutely aware of the profound brokenness in which you were when you arrived here; I also realized how much you had advanced in your rehabilitation since then. The feeling was bitter-sweet. I was struggling to mix in the same thought memories of gratefulness and pain.

I saw that you were more at ease coming back. For you it seemed to be a trip back to a place that has come to symbolize so much for you: routines and the certainty of support upon request, rehabilitation programs and the endless variety of faces and interactions that satisfied your curious nature. We passed in the hallways a coupe of therapists and nurses and all greeted you with so much happiness. Obviously you made a mark on them, but then again, I know now how you can impact people deeply everywhere you go. I am amazed at the depth of your impact on my own life in the brief time we had together before the aneurysm. Perhaps it is that you have found a way to love people fearlessly, and that can only invite reciprocity.

You had sessions of speech therapy and physio. Then we went house-hunting in the west. We ended up at your brother's home. We talked and planed and ate and drank some of his nice wine (well, you didn't) and for a moment this seemed normal life.

We got home late, way passed your bed time. You were gracious and peaceful. I was happy to be back home, my familiar territory. You told me you were happy wherever I was and I felt blessed.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


This is a call for support from those that are able to set some time to help with day to day logistics for Jan.

If you are willing, please send a message to the yahoo group:

Do not forget to enter:
  • Your telephone number or email
  • Dates when you are available and time
  • There is a calendar tool in the group site in which you can see when help is required.

    If you reply to this notice, tell us how we can contact you and at what time

  • Thank you, we couldn't do it without you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No more staples or bandages!

Another note to your memory dear Jan,

This afternoon the nurse came to take out the last staples. No more bandages, no more swabs or any problems with the left side of the head. You were relieved that this is another symbolic step towards the quiet healing happening in your brain.

Earlier we called the office of the school and spoke with the principal. She was ecstatic after a few minutes on the phone with you. She invited you to visit on Thursday, I am sure there will be other teachers eager to greet you. What a warm return to your place of work! How much love has come your way from colleagues that seemed disaffected in everyday life. Suffering and pain have a strange effect on people: it brings the best in each of us to try to ease the suffering. We are wired to do so, whether it is a Tsunami or a colleague with a SAH. One day you will see how many people were touched in a personal way by what happened in the privacy of your skull.

This week will be four months since you were rushed into the hospital with a SAH-R-NCA (an aneurysm in the left part of your brain). We are so thankful that you have beaten so many odds; we know you are more than a statistic, you are a precious daughter of the Most High. We know you have the determination to get well. Today you surprised me by climbing the stairs on your own -with close supervison-; you also helped preparing meatballs with both of your hands! I can see that you will continue 'waking up" that right hand. In all this, you mentioned that you felt fragile and over-sensitive -part of the process, you said-.

I can only imagine what it is to carry yourself though this ordeal with constant pain in your right side, with an uneven head for many weeks, with the dizzines and weakness after such operation, with a daring hairdo, with a new image of yourself; and yet, I have seen the grace with which you have accepted all this and kept it "skin deep". Yes, none of it even touched your self-esteem or your psyche let alone your heart or soul. You know deeply who you are and who is in charge. May you always love God this much with your heart, mind and soul. Without even intending it, you have already loved many a neighbour as yourself.

This is the time to help you with all we can to go the whole distance. It is time to be there for you, as you have been there for many.


Sunday Blog

Dear Jan,

How did we spent this Sunday?

It was a slow day with brunch at noon in a non-descript coffee joint. As you witnessed, I regreted for about 4 hours, drinking something that could wreck you car engine! But there is no one else to blame than myself for going with the coffee habit; Jan, you were wiser, and got bottled water which you shared with me.

We went for a drive house or appartment hunting around the Runnymede neighbourhood and did a pit-stop at Brenda and Jim. We were looking at streets and neighbouhoods. The maps can't give you this kind of first hand appreciation. We saw interesting properties and dreamt about living in community. We went to this particular brick home which somehow attracted us like a magnet. We asked for guidance and a clear indication if this was a "promised land". You were so happy visit homes and buildings.

On the way, we had a wonderful visit with Linda and then headed home. Jan, oyu were good throughout all this time. The nurse came to change your patch and take out every other staple from your head. Tomorrow she will come to take out the rest. Now, at last you will be able to grow your hair and comb it whichever way you want.

After supper, at 8:30pm you went to bed. I read today's page from Oswald meditations. Life seemed smooth, like the surface of a lake when there is no wind. You slept, I longed for my Sunday night group...


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rainy day

It rained the whole day inside and outside. Today was a difficult day for both of us Janita. All your senses seem to be heightened as a consequence of the operation last week. Your skin was already over-sensitive on your right side; I notice that your taste is somewhat affected; you prefer soft light to bright; and today even loud sounds were a major issue. You woke up with low energy and a very garbled speech. Trying to clarify what you needed or what you were saying, I asked you several times the same question and you took it as an angry response. Trying then to explain that I was not angry made it just worse and got you into a crying mode. I felt rotten for not being able to communicate with you even in the most essential things and for being the cause for you being upset. We had breakfast in silence, then while washing dishes, you asked me why was I so angry... I was very tentative trying to explain my feelings of frustration with the situation rather than with you, but it just didn't work. You went to sleep in the sofa until noon. We did some chores together and had lunch. In the afternoon I invited you to go food shopping, you agreed happily. The store was a zoo. We went through the fruit and vegetable sections before you got dizzy and ran out of gas. I tried buying some chocolate milk for you without much luck, then, while explaining why we could not have the drink, you began crying loud. I took you to the car and as an apology I told you that I was sorry for bringing you to this busy place, "you are not ready yet" I said. You cried harder and kept telling me that I was angry. The store is a few blocks from home but it felt like an eternity. I was worried the crying could cause trouble in your head. I stopped at the corner store for some chocolate milk. At home you went back to sleep for a short time. Omar arrived mid-afternoon. After a while, I put a video on for you and went to buy some food, this time alone. The nurse came to change your bandages while I was gone. We talked for a long time about what had happened, your speech was clearer. It was a fascinating conversation with a lot of depth. Once you understood my intentions this morning, you were OK. We prepared dinner together; you loved the fried zucchini and the potatoes, not so much the pork chop. We continued watching the Fiddler on the Roof with a lot of commentary on the Old Testament from your part and went to bed at 9:15pm. You were really tired, the emotions of the day had drained most of your energy.

In the movie, Topol's world of traditions collapses; the way he expects life to happen goes through his fingers like water. At one point he looks up and ask why? I couldn't help feeling the same today, many times I asked: why? and felt emotionally very tired. I wished that like Topol and his friends, I too could just roll with the punches and keep moving forward, without letting bitterness or sadness take root in my heart.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Re-Learning to navigate banking

Dearest Jan:

It is hard to compete with the reliability of hospital services; this morning at 8:05am you asked me with a puzzled look in your face: Where is breakfast? It's already 5 minutes late! I was shaving and almost cut my chin when I heard your question. But you were gracious enough to give me a few minutes more...You ate little anyway, we discussed how to help you gain some weight, but you think that you are perfectly fine the way you are now.

Later in the morning Donna came, and the three of us went to the bank to "unfreeze" your account which had been tagged by the bank's security. What ensued was a one hour visit and dozens of procedures with an over-solicitous banker that occasionally added to your confusion.

I work with immigrants who need to learn how to navigate the Canadian licensing system to be able to practice their professions, but, I never imagined that my wife -one of the most Canadian of all Canadians I know- would be in any need of re-learning how to navigate the Canadian banking system! With an anxious face you endured the explanations and assurances that everything is alright. As always, Donna was great "translating" technical stuff into something more understandable for you.

I went to the office for a few hours while Donna visited with you. I would not have been able to do it without her help. Later we had BBQ chicken from a reputable joint and we had a great time laughing at the many comical situations you experienced during your stay at the hospitals.

You went to bed late, it was about 9pm. We talked some more before you fell asleep. Thus Friday was filled in our calendar.


PS: We still need help from our friends to schedule some time in the days to come. Those reading this blog, please call Jan.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

First Day at Home

Dear Jan, I am keep writing these lines with the hope that in one not too distant day you will be able to read them all by yourself and feel thankful. One day you will be able to see the countless ways in wich you touched people's lives and how their lives touched yours. It is a written memory of the 111 days you spent in hospitals, because your own memory was busy reconstructing broken links and neuropaths to be encumbered with other information.

These lines are a reflection of the liquid nature of time. The days flowed ceaselessly while you were asleep. But none of them was empty. There always was something unique, something that summed up deep feelings, spiritual experience, basic wisdom, basal hopes, or the incredible essence of life. I learned so much about the basic things in life just by visiting you day after day.

Visiting you in your frailty was an encounter with my own; witnessing your pain was an opportunity to reach out and touch my own; celebrating the strength of your faith was an encouragement to keep nourishing mine. You were the one in the hospital, the survivor of a tidal wave of blood in the centre of your words. You were the one washed away into the sea of unconsciousness and then tossed back onto the unknown beaches of broken words and right neglect. You were the patient body receiving medical care, we were the patient souls receiving hard and challenging questions about the meaning of life and its pain.

Your time has flowed swiftly and emptied itself in the same river where all of our times flow. You live to tell a story without words, a story about the resilience of your spirit and your faith, but most importantly, a story about grace. We join you to listen carefully and live in the awareness that nothing we have of real value we can claim as our own: our most precious relationships, our most cherished gifs, our carefully created plans, all are given to us on loan by the Highest; moreover, the only response we have is to echoe Job's: "He gives and he and takes away" we must hold His name high in our hearts. This is what our time together in the hospital revealed.

Jan, we all celebrate that now you are back home. You have improved so much: you walk without any mechanical help; you talk for longer periods with more clarity; you continue to expand your vocabulary; the wound in your head is healing well, your strength increases little by little. However. you still need to be with someone for your own safety. If the days in the hospital felt too long, these days may feel longer. I could hear you mentioning already the potential struggle with loneliness. It will be now when we may find the hardest lessons to learn. In all this, I admire your determination and I am honoured to receive your love.

Today, the nurse came to change the dressing in your head. You will be without any patches or staples on Monday. The long way to recover your words and find your R hand will continue. You are scheduled for an assessment for speech therapy on Wednesday.

Some of our dear friends ask us how can they help? Right now, help would be great by booking time to come to visit you so primary caregivers free some time. Scheduling the visit avoids having too many people at once, while at the same time maximizes the free time needed by primary caregivers to do things like grocery shopping, working, etc.

May God's mercy be with us.