Friday, July 31, 2015

I think this is a little "reaching" for things that aren't there... but I can understand the concern (I have enough family drama. I don't need someone else's)

to:Cindy Smith
date:Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 9:07 PM

Read the story about Harry on your site. I'm only writing to give you some advice here as I had a similar situation involving my dad who made "friends" at his local Tim Horton's. My mother died a terrible death because of ALS. My brother and I are in our early 50s and we made the decision to put my mom (who was 74) at the time in an LTC facility because my dad proved mentally to us he could not care for her. Physically, sure, he's a former football player and military man but his mind could not handle what was happening to his wife. He would yell at her for having to wear adult diapers for crying out loud and he would call me to tell me he was leaving, that he didn't ask for this. He was resentful towards us when we decided to take over her care and I learned was telling his neighbours how ungrateful we were to do this to our mother. Anyway, when she died, my dad started complaining to his "friends" how my brother and I were pressuring him to sell the house and move closer to my family so he could become a full time babysitter. Talk about twisting around a situation! It was his idea to move closer and we only suggested selling the house because he was considering renting it and my brother felt he shouldn't have to deal with the stress of being a landlord.

So what happened is these "friends" staged an intervention. I had complete and total strangers on my doorstep one Thursday night telling me they were going to be taking care of my dad from now on so I could live my life completely free of the burden of caring for my father since my brother and I practically "abandoned" our mother by putting her in care. 

It was crazy! I had to call the police. I was so freaked out.

When I spoke to my dad, he had no idea these "friends" would do this. 
He's still friends with these people though.

What I'm getting at is, you made a point to mention it was none of you business. Harry's family is none of your business. Please be Harry's friend by all means but leave his parenting and his children's childrening out of the picture. Don't feel like you need to get involved to fix anything. Sometimes it's easy for people to give off a "woe is me vibe". It's not always the case.



rf said...

I'm with Kim.
If someone started hanging around with my dad and then showed up at my house and started telling me how my family should function, I'd be pissed.

Don't get involved CJ.

C.J. Smith said...

You and Kim are confusing comments that were made with my story.

I don't know Harry's family and I don't even know where Harry lives.

rf said...

Yeah but now you're going to go drinking with the guy which means you will become more involved. Kim is saying you need to be aware that you should continue to mind your own business if he talks about his family. Makes sense to me. Not sure why you don't get it.

Megan said...

I think CJ is rational enough to understand there are two sides to every story unlike Kim's fathers 'friends'. I wouldn't wish what happened to Kim on anyone, that would have been terrifying.

I hope this doesn't stop CJ from being a friend to Harry. I often think of my own grandmother when encountering elderly people on transit or out shopping and hope people are as nice to her as I try to be to others.

C.J. Smith said...

Thanks Megan.
All I want is to take the man out for a drink. Amazing how people can pull out the Consumers Distributing Catalogue and immediately turn to the Homewrecker section and start shopping.

Anonymous said...

Take him for a beer's the right thing to do. It's called caring! Thank God for people like you!

April said...

How terrible would the world be if we all just minded our own business? Oh right . . . exactly how it is now.

Harry is a widower and is now on his own. His children live far away. Why is it wrong to have a beer with him? CJ isn't going to see his children or staging an intervention, she is having a beer with the man.

We all need to take a little time and a little effort to reach out to the people in our community who are elderly, alone and widowed. Simple questions like "Does he have help? Who mows his lawn?" are questions we all should be asking the elderly in our neighbourhoods. More importantly, "How can I help you?". Many of these people want to live independently but managing a house is hard work. You aren't intruding by offering to mow a lawn or shovel a walk.

We used to live in communities, we helped each other, we didn't 'mind our own business'.

C.J. Smith said...

Exactly ... Kim, I appreciated the email but honestly and with sincerity, I have no other intentions other than to "help" Harry if I can with things he finds difficult to do. I have no intentions of helping him with his family.

Michael Suddard said...

CJ, you're an amazing caring person (except for finding lost items on GO Transit...get it together!).

You're doing what anyone would do whose from that age where, as I borrow from the biblical reference, "Love thy neighbour". You care about how others are in their time of need and trying to make sense of the world they now face themselves in. Harry may just need someone to relax and have a drink with who already knows what's going on.

You remind me of what I witnessed today. I got my hair cut today (my 8 month old daughter thought it was hilarious when it was done). But at the barber shop the barber looked a little thinner. He said his wife was in the hospital the past 4.5 months and was now moving to a Rehabilitation unit. An old friend of 50+ years stopped by and asked how he was doing and had he lost weight? The Barber explained he did and his situation. The friend headed next door to the Tim Hortons and got a large coffee along with some muffins for the Barber to nibble on that day. He also inquired if the Barber's car was working and if he needed anything. The Barber nodded his head and appreciated the concern but there was nothing anyone could do. The friend promised to check in on him next week.

Upon leaving, I made sure to leave a significant tip (even though the Barber refused it at first) and insisted he treat his wife to something better than any regular hospital food either via takeout or after she was finally at home.

You're doing the right thing Cindy! Go do it and be that friend that Harry needs.

C.J. Smith said...

^ That made me cry.

Since when did it become a crime to be kind to one another?

That was awesome Michael. Poor guy.

April said...

Awesome Michael!

I don't know when it became a crime to be kind to one another, but we need to put things back the way they were. Keep doing what you are doing with Harold. Everyone needs friends.

I am only a couple of years older than you, CJ, so it isn't like I am an 80 year old talking about the 'good old days'. I grew up in downtown Toronto. When my grandmother died neighbours brought caseroles. When my daughter was born neighbours down the street made her a blanket. When I shoveled our sidewalk, I also shovelled the ederly couple next door, the ones across the street and the single mom next door. I remember sitting with the old man across the street when his wife died, they had no children and he was lonely. We played cards.

These are not hard things to do, they are a minimal kindness. I would never, ever stage an "intervention" on someone's family. Kim's father's friends are crazy.

We have lost our way. We spend way too much time sticking our noses in where they don't belong, no time reaching out a hand when we should, and we have no ability to tell the difference anymore.

Kim said...

I feel like my point was lost. It's okay. People who have been in my shoes will understand.

Harry should have friends his age to be there for him. If he doesn't, it's nice that strangers want to help. I'm sorry if I'm cynical.

Neighbours on the other hand, are wonderful to have. Perhaps CJ can reach out to his neighbours and make sure they are helping in the ways April described, more of an advocate way??? I'm really sorry if people thought I was telling CJ not to help.

Nora1968 said...

If Harry lives in the Townline/Hwy 2 area, Cindy is his "neighbour" (in the fashion of both living in the same general community, not necessarily on the same street).

Kim's situation would have been frightening and, not long after, ire-inducing. And there certainly are two sides to every story, but in my vast experience on this subject (courtesy of some very messed up, selfish extended "family" members and some very elderly, vulnerable in-laws) it isn't always true that each side of the story is equally credible or fair. As I said in a previous post - if the kids decided to move Mom to LTC in their neck of the woods, rather than to one of several that are much closer to where Harry lives, I hope to heaven they were visiting their mother on a very regular basis, since Harry was unable to do so. In that situation, I'd have been looking for care for Mom as close as possible to Dad, or at the very least make sure he had the means to visit her as often as he wanted to.

But I digress. Ultimately, this poor man is now widowed, grieving and is clearly very much on his own in the day-to-day. Not saying his kids don't love or care about him; just painting the picture of what elder loneliness looks like and from what I've witnessed, it can be devastating. If Cindy - or anyone else for that matter - feels inclined to offer this fellow some friendship, an ear to listen to stories probably untold for many years, or a nice distraction to his daily life, I'm not sure it's anyone else's business to weigh in on that.

Marilyn said...


I'm curious. You have chosen to live a portion of your life in front of me, your reading public; people who won't know you if we tripped over you, on the street.
Do you have a written guideline of what you would post/not post or do you consider the what ifs after a "Harry" story takes on its own life and make decision at that time to either curb ( which I hope not; ain't nobody's business but your own what you say) or go your own way.


C.J. Smith said...

Are you asking if I censor public opinion?
Not on this story yet as people have been supportive.
Or are you asking did I consider not everyone would want to know about Harry?