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MuskokaONline.com News - #GOTLOCAL



Posted: 2022-04-04 16:10:26 By: thebay

As I begin this report on Sunday, frozen rain is spitting down on our front lawn, the sky is grey and forbidding, and the weather is, as the Irish would say, desperate. It’s been more than a week since the spring solstice, and while we have certainly had a tease of warmer weather, we are now in that dreaded limbo between winter and spring. I think that groundhog was lying. I’ve been so desperately anticipating spring that I germinated and planted some flower seeds indoors, in anticipation of the upcoming growing season. Of course, I’m too early, and it will likely be the end of May before I can plant outdoors, but I was simply eager to see something sprout. I need hope.

A friend from the local community passed on last week, and the news hit us pretty hard. We met Jim McCuaig and his partner Karen Shenfeld at some musical event around 5 years ago, and we bonded almost immediately. Karen is a poet laureate, and both shared a love of music. Jim and Karen had moved up to Magnetawan, Ontario from Toronto not long before we met them. They met later in life, and while they did not have an entire lifetime together, they seemed like young lovers. As Karen remarked, shortly before Jim passed, they had gone through the beginning, middle, and end stages of their relationship, just much faster than everybody else. Jim opened my ears to much more of the Canadian music which I now like and the songwriters I respect. I wish I’d had more time to spend with him. The last time we saw each other was late last summer when he and Karen visited for a boat ride. It was a wonderful, hot, sunny day, and Karen later told us it was one of the happiest moments of Jim’s last year, largely spent dealing with medical appointments and invasive treatments. 

I am reminded of Yvonne Heath’s motto, “Just Show Up” (www.LoveYourLifeToDeath.com). Yvonne was, maybe still is, a nurse who specialized in end stage care, and she hosted a talk show at Hunters Bay Radio by the same name. Her main theme was that, amidst the chaos and lack of control which all of us experience, a simple act of kindness can be the difference between hope and despair. Be it the reporter who endangers his or her life to bring us news of an unjust war, or the person who doesn’t shy away from a difficult phone call or visit with a terminally ill friend or family member, every gesture with the right intention is a good thing. Sometimes it's not about what you say, but the sentiment behind the communication. I am concerned that love has become harder to come by, trumped by fear and ignorance. We would all do well to understand how little control we have over many of the bad things that happen to us. It's one of the things we all have in common. A little empathy and sympathy for and from others coping with the chaos can make things better; not only for the victim, but also for the one providing solace.

As I complete this report on Monday, the sun is shining, there is a hint of spring in the air, and just a glimmer of hope that better days are coming. It’s a good metaphor for life. The constancy of change is a challenging reality, and loss is one of the hardest things with which I deal in my life. Nevertheless, I can cope with loss if I have love surrounding me. And I do. I cannot survive without hope, and love is the only thing that gives me hope.


Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED