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Friday, September 8, 2017

Why are people afraid to say the word suicide?

Why are people afraid to say the word suicide? 
My brother Jim and I doing homework.
He was always making people laugh,

They act like they are going to catch it if they say the word out loud. I have actually heard someone say “Don't tell anyone it was suicide. Tell them it was a heart attack because if you say suicide it becomes an option for other people in the family who are seeking attention.”

This past March, a week after his 56 birthday, my brother came home, put out the garbage, went to the shed in his back yard and hung himself. I asked my husband, a retired police officer, why he would put the garbage out. He simply said, “Tomorrow is garbage day.”

Looking back there were signs. Nothing big. Just little things. Nothing that would send up a suicide red flag. He suffered from anxiety and depression then medicated with alcohol and drugs. I thought once we got through Christmas he would be OK. I always thought if he was going to commit suicide it would be around Christmas.

Over the last two years I spent more time with my brother than I have in the past 20 because of a financial issue he had gotten himself into. I have learned when a person suffers from depression and anxiety, and medicates with alcohol and drugs, they become an easy target for those who want to take advantage of them.

There was no shortage of people who wanted to take advantage of him.

I've had people say to me “Tell him to get his arse out of bed, get showered and shaved, get dressed and get himself together.” My God, don't you think if a shower to shave could have eased his pain he would do it ten times a day? Depression and anxiety can't be cured with a shower and shave. It's only lipstick on a pig.

During the funeral, a friend dropped in on her way home from work to offer her condolences. She asked “He was only 56 years old. Was it a heart attack?” I said, “No it was suicide.” She looked at me and explained the parking lot was extremely busy and she was double parked. She basically ran out of the funeral home. I thought, “That was odd.”

Then another friend came by to offer her condolences. Once again, I was asked “He was only 56 years old did he have cancer?” “No” I said, “It was suicide.” She said she was sorry. Then turned around and left the funeral home.

It felt like because I said “suicide” his death wasn't good enough for everybody. If I had said “Heart attack or “Cancer” I would have received more sympathy. I think some people still have the mindset that if a person commits suicide they should be buried outside the graveyard fence.

I decided to take a different approach. The next time somebody offered their condolences and asked if he was sick? I said, “Yes, he suffered for a long time.” Then they would ask “Was it cancer?” I would reply “No, anxiety and depression.” They would look at me very funny and say, “Oh.” Not wanting to ask the next question. So, I would follow up with “He died of suicide.” Then they would look at me with wide eyes and a mouth open not knowing what to say. 

Everyone is obviously uncomfortable or too embarrassed to say the word… suicide. You can’t catch it if you say the word. No one asks me how I am dealing with the loss like they ask other people who have lost loved ones to other diseases. 

After my experience at the funeral home I decided I would change my approach to how I treated people who lost a loved one to suicide. I would treat them like their loved one had suffered from a disease and died from it. Because they did! I would not turn on my heels and say I'm double parked I must go. I will take their hand and say, “Would you like to talk?” It is like anything I suppose, if you haven't gone through it, you don't know how to react to it.

People think suicide is a cowardly act. They couldn't be further from the truth. It takes an enormous amount of courage to put a rope around your neck and jump off a bucket. I couldn't do it. At least I hope I could never do it. But then again, I'm not going through the kind of anxiety and depression that my brother suffered from.

I wish I could answer the question; How do we stop people from committing suicide? I don't know.

I know over the past two years I did everything I possible could to help him. Sometimes he welcomed the help, sometimes he didn't.

I asked Father Mark Nichols, my parish priest at St. Mark's to give the sermon. He had never met my brother and asked to meet with me before the service. We talked about my brother’s life for two hours and I told him the truth. I told him about the alcohol and drugs. I told him about the anxiety and depression. I told him about my frustration when I had to deal with him and the times I walked away because I couldn’t take it anymore. There was no sense in lying to a priest.

During the sermon, he told the story of a friend of his who boarded a plane with his young child. During the flight, they experienced severe turbulence. The child became very frightened and started to cry. The father comforted the child until the turbulence stopped and then the child went back to playing. On the flight back from their vacation the child became very anxious when he had to board the plane and began to cry. People around them started looking. There were comments of “What a spoiled child!” “Why can't you get him under control?” And of course, the angry stares and judgement.

The father just sat there with the child and rocked him, comforting him. Father Mark said, “The child’s father knew how he got that way.” The father knew it was a past experience that created the anxiety and made the child cry. He knew the best thing he could do for his son was ignore everyone around them, and sit and comfort his child until he stopped crying. He then said, “God the Father knew how my brother got that way. And he was now in his arms being comforted without judgement.”

The story really stuck with me.

I knew it was true. Only God knew how he got that way. Only God could comfort him through his turbulent times. I will forever carry the loss of my brother in my heart but I do take comfort knowing that he is in the arms of God being comforted without judgement.

Even after going through the suicide of my brother, I still don't know why people do it. I guess it's the only way they can stop the pain. 

I wish there was some enlightening advice I could pass on. But I learned nothing. Other than, if you have a loved one who suffers from anxiety and depression, remind yourself “God knows how he got that way” and comfort him without judgement.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The abandon La Manche Village

There’s nothing more eerie than walking through the abandon skeleton of what once was a thriving village.  
The footprint of a house

La Manche Village was a community on the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula between Cape Broyle and Tors Cove in a small inlet surrounded by steep hills. It is about a 45-minute hike from La Manche Provincial Park.

The area is now more famous for the LaManche suspension bridge. 

The village and bridge have two access points. The easiest access point is to park at the end of the La Manche Road, off highway 10 past the entrance to La Manche Provincial park, and walk for less than 2 km to the bridge. This trail is easy but hard at times so be prepared. 

La Manche Suspension Bridge
You can also hike 2.7 km along the East Coast Trail from Bauline East. You can park at the designated East Coast Trail parking place at the harbour and hike south from there. Be sure to make a pit stop at the beautiful and hidden Doctor’s Cove beach.

In French "La Manche" means "the sleeve". The area is named for the shape of the harbour, which is long and narrow with high sides. This harbour was probably first used by the French because of its seclusion which offered cover between raids on Ferryland and St. John's.

The remains of a house
The community was first settled in the 1840s, apparently by a George Melvin from nearby Burnt Cove. La Manche had been used as a fishing harbour for many years and was known as one of the best fishing coves on the southern shore.

La Manche Village was one of Newfoundland's most picturesque communities. Limited by the amount of land available in the area, the community remained small, its population peaking at about 54 around the time of Confederation. 

Although a majority of residents were apparently opposed to resettlement, the closure of the school and the continuing isolation of the community prompted some to leave.

Stairway to the past
By 1961 the population had fallen to 25. Others continued to reject the notion of resettlement, but their resolve gave way in 1966 when a severe storm demolished the community's extensive network of stages and wharves.

Today, its stages, flakes and wharves have disappeared into the ocean and thick brush. The concrete remains of houses and rock walls have been destroyed by spray paint vandals, drunken campers and mother nature.

It is such a shame to see this small hard-working community sink into the past. It is only a matter of time before even the concrete basements and lone standing chimney fall to rubble.

The inside of a abandon house
Throughout what is left of this small village you will see: concrete stairs to houses that no longer exist, frames to basements with window holes still intact but glass long gone, carefully built rock walls and fences that still withstand the harsh Newfoundland weather.

Standing inside the remains of a house I wonder: Who were they? Do they ever come back? What is their story?

The area surrounding La Manche Village is absolutely beautiful. You can set up camp there and I have on two occasions. If you do, please be respectful and don’t leave your garbage behind.
The basement of an old house

Visit but don’t destroy. 

Think of the fisherman and their families who built this community and the history that is hidden in its high hills.

If you love the outdoors put La Manche Village and the suspension bridge on your list of things to visit in Newfoundland and Labrador.

** Details found at Maritime History Achieve
Newfoundland and Labrador Government web site:
The remains of a hand built rock wall
A chimney that looks a grave stone

The remains of a rock wall
A window to a basement

Friday, April 28, 2017

Monkey Business- Watch them. They steal!

I love cruises. It’s such an easy way to travel and relax. Your every whim is
catered to from delicious meals to tropical drinks and 24 hour a day fun. You can’t have a bad time on a cruise unless you’re just a miserable person who finds fault with everything. In that case, you should just stay home and stay away from me.

It’s so exciting to stop in different countries and spend the day experiencing their culture and doing excursions to see what life is really like for the locals. Or just lay on a beach, drink bear and make fun of people who wear thongs. We took a seven-day cruise to the Western Caribbean and one of the countries we stopped in was Mahogany Bay, Honduras.

We took the opportunity to tour this beautiful Island and visit a monkey sanctuary. We were told in this sanctuary you don’t have to stand outside a fence and look at the monkeys like in a zoo, you could go inside this huge cage where monkeys roamed free and interact with them.

Well, who wouldn’t want to interact with monkeys? Right?

What they don’t tell you in the brochure is these monkeys are trained jewel thieves and members of a notorious gang. I was traveling with hubby and our two teenaged kids at the time. My son decided to stay outside the cage because basically it was dirty and smelled like these animals couldn’t use a toilet properly. So much for animals who have a thumb like us. Monkeys go when mother nature calls and sometimes that’s when they are in a tree above your head. It’s not like a bird dropping either. It’s more like some perverted old man giving you a golden shower without your consent.

Myself, hubby and our daughter along with other tourists went inside the cage. We were surprised and delighted to see that the monkeys immediately started interacting with us by jumping on our shoulders, putting their arms around our necks or jumping into our arms for what we thought was a cuddle.

Now the first thing you need to know about monkeys is they have no acceptable social boundaries. The first thing you need to know about me is I don’t like being groped because I will punch you in the face if you grab my breast. Their leathery, hairy human like hands were all over me and it felt like I was at happy hour on George Street. These monkeys are seriously going down your top and in your pockets at the same time.

It became too overwhelming for my daughter and hubby so they got out of the cage and went for a walk around the sanctuary while I stayed in the cage determined to get a selfie these furry primates. I am willing to suffer for my art… or a great selfie.

It was as if the monkeys knew my family was out of site. Suddenly, they began to pounce! Then I realized what they were doing was robbing me! I was wearing a backpack and one monkey climbed on top of it. Another tourist told me the monkey was unzipping the backpack. Then we all realized they were stealing things from the pockets and purses of everyone in the cage. He was joined by a second monkey and they were putting their hands in the backpack taking things like my sunglasses and lip balm then scooting to the top of the cage and hiding the items in the trees. While I was trying to get these monkeys off my back another one was hanging on to my belt and putting his hands in the front pocket of my shorts. The pockets were empty but I got the feeling that this little Trump supporting monkey wasn’t looking for coins. He was getting his kicks.

Other tourists clued in and realized we weren’t visiting monkeys as much as we were being mugged by monkeys! Our tour guides were no where to be seen, on purpose I would imagine. We were all laughing in the confusion of the moment until it hit me that if they took my passport or wallet I would have to explain to authorities that I had become the victim of a Honduras monkey gang and would end up in some immigrant jail cell while the head monkey used my MasterCard to buy bananas and Michael Jackson paraphernalia on eBay.

A nice fellow tourist was able to scare the monkeys of my backpack but the little Trump monkey was holding on to my belt for dear life and determined to get to know me better. I decided then and there that I was not going die in a caged being raped to death by monkeys. I did lean off and punch this monkey in the face.
It was like the whole tour group decided at once to leave the cage and we all ran towards to door. Keep in mind that there were children of all ages, seniors as well as able bodied people. Now I know, that a group should only move as fast as the slowest person but I was wearing shorts and this greasy monkey was grinning his big yellow teeth at me while acting like an animal. I ran like a little bitch through the group. There was a local guarding the door to the cage and helped pull Trump off me. He says, “You’ve met Frisky.” To which I responded, “Yes we’re quite intimate now.”

Outside we assessed the damage. Several people had lost sunglasses, one guy lost his house keys, lots of change had been stolen from pockets and my innocence was gone.

The whole experience hasn’t changed my mind about taking cruises. I have done several since then. Except now I don’t get into a fight cage with monkeys. If you do happen to take a cruise in the Western Caribbean and land in Honduras. I do recommend the monkey sanctuary but bring some mace. Oh, and tell Trump I said hello.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Misguided Messages

I really do have a medical condition that causes memory loss. I can’t blame it all on menopause. This condition creates daily hurdles for me to jump over so I came up with a few coping strategies to help me remember things. One of those strategies is to email myself.  This is normally done on the fly using the mic on my iPhone. For example, when I am getting out of the shower and remember I need to pick up milk or when I am just about to start a yoga class and remember I need to sew the hole in the fork of my yoga pants. I’ll just send myself a quick email using the phone’s mic so when I look at my phone later I will remember to buy milk and wear underwear to yoga.

The problem with this strategy is I don’t always take the time to make sure I have selected MY email address or that autocorrect understands my Newfoundland accent.  

A few days ago, I received an email from a friend who had typed, “Stay strong. I am surprised, but I’ll support you no matter what you decide.” I was confused at first. Then I scrolled down through her message and discovered the email I thought I sent to myself earlier that day had been sent to her by mistake. The email I sent to me was “To do today: Clean out hubby and my closet. Bag and bring to goodwill.” The email SHE received said “Today told hubby I am out of the closet. Sad to tell him I am Bill.”

Well, as you can imagine I had to make a quick phone call and go into damage control mode before word got around. I thanked her for the support but assured her  the occasional facial hair was from menopause not hormones. We had a good laugh and I made a mental note to read emails before I sent them.

Of course, I forgot that note five minutes after I hung up the phone.

A good friend of mine is a Priest. Last year I accidentally sent him an email that said, “Why do I sweat more under my boobs that my armpits?” I had met with my doctor a month before about controlling some annoying menopause symptoms. She had put me on a new drug but told me to keep track of the symptoms and any questions I had for my next appointment. That morning the annoying symptom was boob sweat. My Priest friend emailed me back with, “I don’t know but I’ll pray for you.” Can you just picture this poor man on his knees hold Rosary beads chanting “Please Lord Jesus give us world peace, stop the suffering of little children and cure Helen’s boob sweat.”

This morning was the worst. I can no longer leave my house. I have also banned myself from email. I woke up to an email from my former boss who is a high-ranking officer in the RCMP.” All the email said was “???? Did you mean to send this to me?” I jumped out of bed and scrolled down through the message. Last night, before I fell a sleep I sent myself an email that said, “How do you cure vaginal dryness?”

Oh, sweet hearted, jumping in the garden Jesus!!! I can’t believe I did that!!!
I had to send him back an email that said, “Sorry. That was meant for me only. (P.S. was asking for a friend).”

Moral of the story is; if you ever get an email from me that seems a little weird or embarrassing. Please delete it and don’t answer it. Or, if someone tells you I am a lesbian with boob sweat and a dry vagina please tell them you have it from a good source that rumour is not true.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Exploring abandon places: Naval and Air Station Argentia, NL

Footprints to the daycare & school. How many American children grew up here?
Footprints to the daycare & school.
How many American children
grew up here?
Years ago, when I was a member of the OZFM/ NTV media, we had a soft ball team. We were often invited to the Naval Base in Argentia to play the American team. It was always a great weekend. They welcomed us like celebrities and we loved going to visit. Naval and Air Station Argentia is a former base of the United States Navy, it operated from 1941-1994 and was established in the community of Argentia, NL about an hour drive from St. John’s.

Peeking through the school gymnasium door.
After an afternoon game of soft-ball we would dine like Royalty at the main building. The Americans sure did know how to feed people well. Then we would go to the ten-pin bowling alley for a game and few drinks. It was always a grand time. At one point, approximately 12,000 American military personnel were stationed at the Argentia base. We made some great friends and I often wondered what happened to them after they left.

The eerie school hallway is quite now.
The base closed in 1994. There is rumoured to be an active submarine base still there. Today, the base has been taken over as an industrial site. Many of the original buildings are still standing but abandoned. Most of the housing and the main hall have been demolished. You can drive or walk around the base and look through the windows and imagine its former glory. There is also a walking trail that takes you through the wooded area around the base.

Can you see the ghost on the wall?
According to Wikipedia, on August 7, 1941 the heavy cruiser USS Augusta
carrying U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in the anchorage at Little Placentia Bay off the base. Roosevelt inspected the base construction progress and did some fishing from Augusta over the next two days. Augusta was joined by the British warship HMS Prince of Wales carrying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 9, 1941. While in the Argentia anchorage from August 9–12, the chiefs of staff of Britain and the U.S. met to discuss war strategies and logistics once the U.S. joined in the war. The two leaders and their aides also negotiated the wording of a press release that they called a "joint statement". That press release was issued on August 14, 1941 in Washington, D.C. and was issued simultaneously in London, England. Several days later the Daily Herald would characterize the public statement as being the Atlantic Charter. However, there never was a signed, legal
document called the "Atlantic Charter". Neither Roosevelt nor Churchill signed it. The conference concluded the evening of August 12, 1941 with the British and American warships and their escorts passing in review before departing the area for their home ports. The joint declaration was publicly announced on August 14, presumably after Prince of Wales had returned to UK waters.

February, 1942 saw the Argentia base at the centre of one of the worst disasters in the US Navy's history when USS Pollux and USS Truxtun were wrecked 75 mi (121 km) southwest of the base. Over 100 victims were buried in Argentia's military cemetery.

were stored at the Argentia Base in the 1960s according to a CBC story.

See the full story here:

History on the area can be found here:

If you like exploring and military history, you must visit Navel and Air Base Argentia.