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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dear John

My brother Johnny was very bright, kind and handsome.  He was a geologist.  I didn't see him laugh a lot though.  He was very serious and analyzed everything.  At least, that's how I remember him.

I do remember 2 times when he laughed real hard.  And both times, it left me furious.  The first time was when I went to live with him and his wife Mary in Calgary, just after graduating from high school in 1976.  I was 17 and flew, for the first time, standby from Ottawa to Calgary, but bumped in Toronto first.  Anyhow, they had 3 small children at the time - Michael, Lisa and Carolyn.  While there, I joined Weight Watcher's for the first time in my life.  (If I thought I was fat then, you should see me now!)  I digress.

One evening, after coming home from WW, Johnny somehow got hold of my little weigh-in booklet.  He wanted to know how much I weighed.  I yelled at him to give it back.  He just laughed real hard, ran off and wouldn't give it back to me.  When he realized how upset I was, he did apologize and felt bad.  He realized how much it meant for me to keep my weight a secret.  The damage was done.  He saw how much I weighed!

The second time I saw him laugh hard was in the summer (or fall) of 1979.  My sister Barb and I were sharing an apartment on Byron Ave. in Ottawa.  For some reason he came to visit.  I'm not sure why, or where he was living at the time.  I think they were back in Toronto by then.  He had to use our bathroom and went number 2.  When he came out, he said that the toilet was blocked and I didn't have a toilet plunger.  OMG!  I freaked out!  There is no way I was going to let him leave, with a plugged toilet.........and it wasn't even "my number 2".  I got so upset with him, but he just smiled from ear to ear (he had an infectious smile) and told me that he would just go knock on the neighbour's door and borrow a plunger from them.  That's all I remember. I was just so disgusted with him.  I'm guessing he found a plunger and unplugged the toilet, because there is no way he was leaving my place without taking care of that first.

A few months later, on January 19, 1980, Johnny suffered a severe cerebral aneurysm.  It caught everyone by surprise.  Johnny was a very healthy energetic person, full of life and this was unthinkable.  He was too young, married and a father of 3 very young children after all.  This couldn't be happening!

He lay in a coma in hospital for a month, fighting to live.   I visited him once during that month.  (It was too difficult to visit him more often as I was going to college in Ottawa and didn't have a car.)  When I saw him it was surreal.  He lay there, almost motionless.  He didn't look like Johnny anymore.  I gently grabbed his hand and whispered "Johnny, it's Paula".  I remember his eyes teared and he squeezed my hand.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that someone in a coma doesn't hear or sense things around them, because they do.

Johnny passed away February 20, 1980 at the age of 33.  He fought a tough battle.

I've always felt bad about that time on Byron Ave, but am positive that Johnny doesn't worry about that too much.  He's in heaven now, with mom and dad, the grandparents and all those who have passed before and after him.  He's doing just fine, thank you very much!

We miss you big brother.

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