WHY THIS BLOG?

I AM PARCA'S CHOSEN:
My name is Denise Sevier-Fries (nee Buchy). Parca is the Roman Goddess of Childbirth and Destiny and after you get to know me, you will see why I believe she has, without doubt, made me her Poster Child. Come here for some serious issues, but mainly just some cheeky fun; satire with the odd parody tossed in, and a generous helping of hyperbole, with a dollop of facetiousness.

I am Canadian so expect a bit of politeness too. Sorry.

_________________________________________
1) MY eBOOKS CAN BE FOUND ON AMAZON: here

2) MY eBook Trailers are on YOUTUBE
3) My website:denisesevierfries.com
4) My Photo-Art Youtube Trailer is here too.





Tuesday, October 25, 2022

THE CAT DIDN'T COME BACK

Some people cannot cry at funerals.

Rather than finding this abnormal or unfeeling, I understand perfectly. Not that this my issue... every molecule of moisture from my entire body pours out of my eyes like the flood raising Noah's Ark, but this is precisely why I get it. Who in their right mind would want that? If it can be avoided, naturally or by design, more power to you. 

My flood hit yesterday morning. 

My Hero, my Defender and my big brother Bob Buchy, age 71, passed away October 22 2022, three days before my birthday. The diverse reactions of various members of my family inspired this post. 

I wrote a small story about Bob in another section of my blog recently regarding, in part, his own journey which was both excitingly fortunate and painfully tragic; joyful yet sorrow-filled. He was a beautiful, amazing man who lived a warrior's life till the end, baffling doctors with his stamina and resilience, and breathtakingly defying the odds of those suffering his particular type of progressive, debilitating and wholly evil Multiple Sclerosis. There should be medical books written about him. He was a phenomenon. A bloody Legend. 

You can click on this link for that story (and to understand the title of this post!): Better Hands on A Snake: A Brother Broken By Disease and The Sister Who Picked Up The Pieces

My sister Linda, the eldest child in our family, passed away Feb 14 1964 at age 16 in a tragic car accident, but I still have three sisters and another brother. We live scattered about in all directions with myriad nieces and nephews now having myriad children of their own. I also have an aunt who will have been on this earth 96 years come December and theoretically, I could swing a dead cat in a circle anywhere in Canada and probably hit a cousin or two.

In other words, the reactions to the news of Bob's passing have run the gambit. 

Bob was, as you'll read in the aforementioned link, a lucky son of a bitch from the get-go. Tall, smart, athletic, handsome as hell, a bit of a scoundrel and so damn funny! My God we laughed a lot! In his active younger years, he naturally generated in those around him a sense of awe, admiration, and most likely some justifiable jealousy. In his later years, his condition kept him steeped in a self-inflicted solitary existence with precious few allowed in. It was his way of dealing. So, it's been no surprise that there's been a mixed bag of reactions to his passing:

May he rest in peace.

It's for the best. That wasn't a life.

He hung on so long! But he isn't suffering anymore.

That's so sad.

That's too bad.

He's in a better place now.

It's God's Will.

I could go on and on, but it's that one remark that I want to address...and I think you know which one. Not the one that piqued the atheist in me, no...it's the 'That wasn't a life' comment. 

It wasn't said harshly or in a mean-spirited way at all. In fact, I think it was meant as a comfort, oddly enough. Nevertheless, I know in my heart many feel that way about people with Bob's level of MS, or any quadriplegic for that matter. Assuming they haven't a life worth living.

Let me tell you something. My brother, even in his most dire straits, was a better man than most. And thrilled to be alive. His will to live, his extraordinary passion for life, his ability to eke out some measure of pleasure from the simplest of actions is beyond commendable. His desire to fight his disease, to wrestle it in place and dare it to keep him down was limitless. I know I couldn't have done it, even though I'm cut from the very same cloth. His resolve knew no boundaries. My resolve tends to dissolve.

Instead of becoming a victim to his Fate, Bob made a choice to square off and meet MS head on. But not on its terms. He made it a promise: it could take his body by force, but it would never take his mind.

In the years before his voice was taken, we would chat on the phone and I'd hang up and think, 'you'd never know he was sick!'. Ever sharp as a tack, ever playful, and perpetually busy planning his next project. The Charming Pirate seemed to have a lot of slaves at his beck and call, and he was never short of things for them to do, directing them from his wheelchair like a fabled Hollywood director, minus the slanted beret and megaphone. At various points in time, he would be unable to move his legs... then hands... then arms... and eventually his head, but on the phone, you would have never guessed it. 

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he cried himself to sleep every night and cursed the Gods, his mind's eye seeing his raised fist challenging the Heavens...but in the clear light of day, the face he showed the world was determined, intelligent and exceedingly curious. After he lost his voice, it must have been completely and utterly exhausting having his feelings and needs known, but he managed it as best as was humanly possible. He NEVER gave up.

Forever witty and engaged. Forever willful and stubborn. Till his final breath, he was always Bob.  Multiple Sclerosis couldn't rob him of that.

I would argue a very few of us could have lived my brother's life and displayed even a modicum of his bravery, or a single minute of his patience and tolerance. Who among us could have maintained such a level of calm composure and soundness of mind while being wracked with the fear and mental anguish that might be for most, understandably, the daily norm. So please, when you see someone like my brother, look through eyes of compassion, surely, but not of pity. He or she, without a doubt, is a much better and much stronger person than you or I will ever be.

                                                                                  *

 “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” 💔















Monday, May 10, 2021

Life Before Social Media (or: How I Spent My Youth in a Tiny Prairie Town)

 

One would be correct in believing the  FB page "The Good Old Days of Dauphin" has got my sister Rhonda (Buchy) and I talking a lot. She still lives in Dauphin and I have called BC home for almost 40 years. And we’ve always chatted a lot, but these days, reminiscing about our shared Dauphin experiences has flourished. Take our conversation today for example:

We lived in the South West end of town, so if you wanted to go to the curling or skating rink, Grandstands, baseball diamond, outdoor rink or ‘pool’, that’s where your feet had to take you. I believe you can see the path worn into the ground from our family home to the South East end of town on any aerial map of Dauphin.

Life pretty well centered around us watching our brothers Ken and Bob playing hockey with the Kings (read more about Bob by clicking the link HERE ), and playing baseball with the Redbirds (they played for Team Manitoba too). *As a side note: our dad Steve Buchy played for the Redbirds as well, in the 50’s. He actually threw out the pitch in a Redbird’s reunion (?) many years ago and was tickled pink with it all! So sweet.

Then there was the old outdoor rink across form the Plesh’s house that we either used or cheered on family and friends (or boyfriends!) day and night, and the old pool that I have absolutely no memory of. Rhonda insists there was one there, and still is, and in the old days it was uncovered and if it thundered outside, you had better get the hell out of it quick! Perhaps I didn’t get out fast enough one day and my memory got fried along with my melting bathing cap….

And before there was Selo, there was the Great White Lady herself, The Grandstands!

That old wooden structure was the Go-To Place of its day and I was so sad when I heard it burned down in 2009. So many memories there. Who can forget the amazing fireworks displays that colored our youth, and the carnivals on the fairgrounds (that saw one of my friends run away with the circus! Truth!) From our house, you could sometimes smell the garlic and onions cooking and hear the cheering crowds and booming voice of the MC. We fell asleep licking our lips…our hearts beating in rhythm to the music pulsating over the town.

And all the shows! It was always a thrill to climb the stands and find the perfect spot for the RCMPMusical Rides, horse races, and the Ukrainian Festival! I even met Al Cherney (of the old Tommy Hunter Show) once backstage by accident and we shared a cigarette. I was around 14 years old and thought that was pretty cool. Not that Al was a looker…he was older than dirt even back then, but he was my first ‘celebrity’ eyeball-to-eyeball meet and I was excited! Kept that butt for years in a secret place (because my parents didn’t know I smoked) and it’s probably still there because, well, apparently I’m good at keeping secrets, even from myself.

Back then, the Festival brought so many people to town you needed a cattle prod to forge a path to The Dairy Dip. Myriad Silver Airstreams and campers filled Vermillion Park and every school playground in town. The streets were closed to traffic and they burst to the seams with tourists, and we couldn’t recall anyone get angry, fighting or causing trouble. I think it was the camaraderie everyone felt but Rhonda thinks it was the endless flow of beer. Perhaps the two don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive *smile*.

The old Grandstands were where Mackenzie Jr High (and other schools?) had all day Field Day competitions as well (see pics). We’d dress up in costumes and makeshift team uniforms, and the school would empty and we would fiercely compete with each other’s classes to get the most awards and gold badges. I personally never saw one up close but I hear they were nice. I remember feeling the crippling weight of my athletic family’s honor on my shoulders one race around the track, and being fairly wimpy, I barely made it over the finish line at all. Red-faced, huffing and puffing, I flopped to the ground and Mr. Nadolny, much to my embarrassment, had to quickly pick me up (I think he needed a spatula), and made me walk around as to not get debilitating leg cramps. I use that race to this day to get out of doing stuff, like an old war vet with a missing limb: “Sorry, can’t help you carry those plates to the table…old wound from back in ’74. 800 meter. Near did me in.”

Of course, time was not kind to those old buildings and Stands and they are all but gone, but they certainly had their time in the sun. More than one first kiss, first cigarette and first beer were had under those Stands and we owe the South East a lot for making our community a great place to grow up in. And maybe once covid worries are gone, I can come home for a visit so Rhonda can prove to me that pool wasn’t just in her imagination…

                                                                       **

                                            Brother Bob playing for Manitoba:


                                                   Dad with a Redbird trophy:




School Field Days at the Grandstands:



                                                         Mr. Al Cherney in action:



Friday, May 7, 2021

CELEBRITIES TURNING 60 THIS YEAR and why it's really fucking up my day

Meg Ryan.

George Clooney.

Ricky Gervais.

Heather Locklear.

Peter Jackson.

Obama.

Gretzky.

FREAKIN' NADIA COMENICI ! (was I really her age when I watched her win 5 Gold Medals and earn the  first 100% score in Olympic history?)

So many accomplished, outstanding people are my age. 

MY age! (Well, one year younger but whatever....)

What, from the bottom of my heart, the hell?

I feel gut punched. My tongue is rolled out of my mouth as I slouch my way over to the fridge like a dejected Quasimodo to check if there's enough wine in the box (yes I said box) to numb the pain of the giant LOSER sign nailed to my forehead.

It's times like these that make you question what the hell you've been doing your entire life. What have you created that is lasting and impressive?

Well, I have 5 beautiful children and they have given me (so far) 7 gorgeous grandkids...but that is, however lovely, not an especially headline worthy accomplishment. Sorry kids. The world doesn't share my feelings of your utter and complete uniqueness. 

And it's true that the model of my hand I made at my first real job as a 19 year old dental assistant (using a milk carton full of alginate...the pink stuff used to take teeth impressions) is a classic 'rebellious youth' statue (also known in Canada as the Trudeau Salute) ... but one careless elbow can knock it off the shelf and ALAS! my legacy is lost.


*sigh*

I will have to do better these next 10 years so when the NEXT list is made, I will sit and take a peek through it and think "Whatever. Losers." and with my head held high I'll turn my scooter into the produce aisle and drive off to find an economy size bag of prunes.


(Below...the source of my angst!)

60 Celebrities Who Are Turning 60 in 2021 | Best Life (bestlifeonline.com)








Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A RADIO LOVE AFFAIR: the rekindling of an old, staticky flame

Radios.

Back in youth...I'm talking the 60's and 70's...in small town rural Canada, the height of personal entertainment was the radio.



We would listen to our old radio in the kitchen a lot, but mostly it was turned on to 730 CKDM to listen to Bernie Basaraba "The Voice of the Kings" as he commentated the local hockey team who both of my brothers each Captained at one point or another. 

My social life centered on watching the games live when I was old enough to walk to the arena myself, but when I was younger (or older but babysitting my sister) listening to the game on the radio was pretty damn exciting! Games and the local radio station playlist was all we got, except on a cloudless night when we could tap into a Winnipeg station now and then. Scratchy, staticky signals weaker than a preacher's whiskey.

But those big radios were permanent fixtures in most homes, like ours in a nook in the kitchen above the counter, so privacy for listening alone was impossible. 

So, when I was given a small, hand held transistor radio, I was crazy happy! It made an indelible mark in my childhood. I listened to it pressed close to my ear so often, I'm sure you can still see its imprint some 50 years later.




I went to bed every night with that transistor radio next to my head on the pillow, or if my sister complained (we slept two to a bed in our big family) I turned down the volume to a ghost's whisper and slept with it under my ear. I learned to contort my body so my full upper-weight was on my arms under the pillow and the hard plastic radio was less painful under my head. 

That must be a mannequin's hand holding the radio pictured below because, trust me, 10 minutes in that position, your hand would we numb for life. 



It wasn't until I was about 19 yrs old (1979) when the Sony Walkman came out that earphones/headphones were common. There may have been something similar for transistor radios before that, but not in our house. None of that fancy stuff for us.... *eye roll*

When I happen to catch an old tune on the radio now, it immediately sends me back to my room at home. I can smell Mom's honey-dipped donuts cooling on the rack; I hear the boys arguing out back, fighting over who has to mow the lawn; and I see my posters of Donny Osmond plastered on my wall like love-sick, teeny-bop wallpaper.

Some of those early tunes are:

The Archies
Sugar Sugar:




Lay Down 
by Melanie & The Edwin Hawkins Singers:



Three Dog Night
Mama Told Me Not To Come:



Freda Payne
Band of Gold: 



The Guess Who
American Woman: 



I was so madly in love with Canadian singer Burton Cummings from The Guess Who, I told everyone my first baby was our Love Child. My husband at the time just smiled and let me have my fun. *smile*

So...the point of this post, finally, is to share with you an app I found called RADIO GARDEN. It's a mobile or webb app actually and it's bloody amazing! And it's FREE whether it be on your phone or computer

 "From the (click link in blue letters) Radio Garden app site on the Google Play Store Radio Garden allows you to listen to thousands of live radio stations world wide by rotating the globe. Every green dot represents a city or town. Tap on it to tune into the radio stations broadcasting from that city.“ The app designers are adding stations constantly. You might be surprised what stations you will find just in your area you didn’t even know existed. As long as you have a phone signal you can tune into Radio Garden. Just select a green dot or city, there is drop down menu for all the stations in that area on the app. 

For your computer just go here to radio.garden. Or just Google it yourself. There is an app, of course.

I just LOVE it! Sure, I have access to tons of music, but nothing beats listening to music (or programs of all sorts!) on live radio from ANYWHERE in the world, 27/7! You can be your own DJ!

And it looks SO cool. When you turn on the app, an animated planet Earth comes on your screen and it rotates and takes a few seconds for the bright green dots (the 'seeds' ) to get planted...which only means it's getting populated with the stations for you to use...




Then you can scroll around the world immediately listening to what looks like hundreds of thousands of radio stations playing LIVE in their towns and cities globally. You can type in the city or town etc...where you wish to listen, or look randomly, like I usually do, and listen to one of a gazillion stations in Brazil ...



...or the USA, or Germany, Iceland, Poland, Sicily...anywhere! I like to find a lone wee green dot in the middle of the ocean on an island somewhere remote and listen in on what some lonely Lighthouse Keeper in may be listening to...


I can't tell you the thrill I got the first time I played with that radio app. To listen to CKDM again in my hometown...


....or to the music my daughter may be listening to in Edmonton, or the news in German my sister-in-law listens to in her little village in Germany...or my grandchildren in Australia...it was mind-blowing!



I have travelled extensively in my life and it was just so beautiful to sit in my comfy chair outside in the sun last summer, close my eyes and listen to some tunes out of Jamaica, remembering the feel of warm sand at my feet and an ice cold Red Stripe beer at my fingertips. I could almost smell the unmistakeable mix of salt water and Caribbean blooms. Then, when I grew restless for maybe a talk-show in a language I knew nothing about, I'd spin over to Rome and find a channel that had some that passionate Italian spice I heard while visiting the Vatican in 2016... so many incredible memories!



And finally, I often seek out a radio station in Ukraine and wonder if it's the music I'd be listening to today had my grandparents not taken a leap of faith and left the Motherland for Canada. 

That always gives me the shivers.

I hope you find some pleasure in this new technology and awesome new means to 'travel' the world.







Wednesday, September 16, 2020

IN TIMES OF GRIEF: How My Canadian Daughter Found Love and Support From Her Aussie Rugby Family

 

I am Canadian and know nothing of rugby.

Neither did my daughter Chantal until she married Duncan, an Aussie rugby fanatic. I knew she had grown to love the sport over the years (their boys played it, Duncan coached it, and their daughter cheered them all on) but I didnt know just how amazing the rugby community was until she lost her sweet husband to cancer a few months ago.


She started writing a grief blog about single parenting to perhaps help ease the trauma that has invaded her life, and this piece in particular is one that I feel not only rugby lovers and fans will appreciate, but anyone who has lost a mate and fought to move forward.

Living so far away, one feels helpless when tragedy strikes...but how very lucky my daughter and grandchildren are to be a part of this rugby family in the Land Down Under.

Here is the link if you wish to read it. It is very well written and will tug at your heart: One Parent Camping: RUGBY




Grandsons Max and Oscar




Chantal, Oscar, Max and Duncan
(missing from pic, granddaughter Alex. Probably off playing soccer... or swimming!)


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

OKAY UNIVERSE. I'M LISTENING (but enough with the brain tumours already)




I have always believed in Signs. Oddball or stranger-than-usual coincidences that grab your attention, even for a split second, and you just KNOW there is a message there somewhere. 

How one is to interpret or read those Signs is another thing.

What the hell use is there of a message one can't understand? Ah...well, I'm beginning to think only age and experience can reveal that answer. Not a satisfying revelation, I must say.

Take, for example, the events of the past month: we all get good news and bad news, that's life, but how often do they come in patterns that repeat. It may be a pattern that has visited me before but I was too young and racing at Indie 500 speed to notice.

Youth doesn't pertain to me anymore. Speed isn't my friend.

So, here's the thing. Twice now, I have gotten either fun/good news that is immediately followed by truly harsh and unimaginably sad news. I'm talking within seconds of each other!

Just weeks ago, someone in my immediate family (cant say who cuz they would shred me) won a few coins in the lottery. $500,000.00. Quite a few coins actually. And within 3 seconds of hanging up the phone in wonder and awe of how many Creamsicles one could buy with half a million bucks, the phone rings to say our dear sister-in-law in Austria died of a brain tumour. Andrea was the beautiful wife of my husband's youngest brother Michael. She was diagnosed and hospitalized only 2 weeks before passing. It was a shock and sorrow double-punch to the gut. You reel back at the sudden tragedy and grasp for answers that nobody can answer. She was a kind and lovely soul.

And it feels somehow worse because Fate had made your heart extra happy first, lifting you up high so the fall is worse. Felt more keenly.

'Okay', I said.  'That's just bad timing. Such is life. Deal with it and carry on carrying on.' (like the posters say). Struggle with the happy thoughts of the good news battling the tears of the sad. All day long. All week long....

But then today, it happened again. 

The Happy High wasn't a big lottery win (that would have made it a Proclamation, not a Sign) but a silly fun win. I had written the Chimes candy company weeks ago, whinging that my bag of Ginger Mango Chews ripped me off with an empty, air filled wrapper. It had been like the 4th time this happened and I was right pissed off! Trivial, perhaps, but it seemed unfair to not get what you paid for...so there ya go. Old People World Problems. Loads of Pandemic Time on my hands.

Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call from California (I am in Canada) from the Chimes company PR rep who apologized profusely for my deep suffering at the loss of my single ginger mango chew (with sincerity, not a trace of condescension) and explained to me that the weight of each bag is consistent, and the empty wrapper was common but irrelevant. Then he offered to send me some free chews for my trouble and sweetly said goodbye. Nice!

I clicked off my phone with a massive Cheshire grin, and immediately within seconds of hanging up, received the news that my son-in-law Duncan had died of a brain tumour. Duncan was the husband of my eldest daughter Chantal, and father to their three young children. My gorgeous grandchildren. It was another shock and sorrow double-punch to the gut. With the added shank to the back because, well... kids.

Ummm...hello? Universe? Are you trying to tell me something?

Admittedly, the Happy High wasn't as lofty as the lottery win but I was floating on a cheeky win nevertheless and doing the happy dance, then, well, you know. Devastating sadness. Unspeakable heartbreak. For everyone. And the loss of a wonderful guy. So funny, so smart, so good.

'Okay', I said.  'That's just bad timing. Again. Such is life. Deal with it and carry on carrying on'. (like the posters say).  But now there is the added absurdity of that Californian sun-soaked voice repeatedly saying "I am SO sorry you had to go through that..." about a fucking piece of missing candy, while my mind sporadically spits out sparks of reality to my head about poor Duncan. All day long, making me fight tears that wont change a bloody thing.

So yea. This is a repeated Sign I have to figure out what the message is about. And soon. Or I just wont pick up the phone again.

Not worth the risk. 💔

(💫Believe it or not, I just remembered this pattern happened before: In Year 2000, we took the kids to Europe for 6 weeks on a first ever family tour, and when we returned, all Happy High, I called a best buddy Lana to chat about our amazing trip, she told me her husband Bernie, the most adorable man ever created, was diagnosed with a brain tumour just after we left, and died a week after we returned. Man...I need to process this...)

DONATE: If you wish, please donate what you can to the CURE BRAIN CANCER FOUNDATION (click capitalized name for email link). In memory of Duncan Cutler, Australia, if you like. THANK YOU.💓

Saturday, November 23, 2019

BETTER HANDS ON A SNAKE: A Brother Broken By Disease and The Sister Who Picked Up The Pieces



Rhonda picked up Bob’s hand and placed it gently on the Stanley Cup.

Splaying his fingers so they could feel its cool steel patterns, she helped them travel down the side and up again, allowing a slow and thorough sweep over the decades of engraved names.

She avoided looking at his tear-filled eyes, giving him a period of grace to enjoy a personal moment of wonderment and awe, and a sliver of the privacy that his disease had stolen. Bob knew he could never die a happy man, but he and Bobby Clarke had touched the same Cup. That was happy enough.

Millions of people go to see the Stanley Cup, but how many people can say the Stanley Cup came to see them?
                                                                            *

Born in a small prairie town in Canada, my brother Bob and sister Rhonda could not have been further apart. In every sense. A fifteen year age gap leaves a lot of dead space between siblings. The rare shared experiences don’t really stick. There is just a thin shared branch of a family tree.

Where Bob was a tall, fit, Hollywood-handsome jock with the kind of aloof self-assurance and blue eyes that melted chastity belts like chocolate bars on a June dashboard, Rhonda was a sharp-tongued girl with a pleasant face and the meaty Ukrainian thighs the women of our family were legally required to own. Where Bob walked under a perpetual spotlight of attentive admiration, Rhonda was, I admit, largely ignored by her shitty babysitters (read: the sisters, including myself). A household with seven children is bound to have issues, and we had our fair share, but we were always close-knit. We laughed a lot and went through myriad decks of playing cards. That’s my memory anyway. Until that awful summer.    
                                                                              
Most of us had grown up and left home...going off to university, finding jobs, getting married or, in Bob’s case, joining an NHL farm team in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Mom had a scrapbook full of Bob’s headline-news hockey career, and we were all mighty proud.

He was 19 when St. Louis nabbed him. 6’0”, 185 lbs, playing Centre with a smooth, effective style. He played for the Billikens first, and then went onto play in Syracuse, New York, and a few other American teams. 

Like all his teammates, he was waiting to get called up to the big leagues. He had always been a top-notch hockey player and much of my childhood was spent being a rink-rat watching him play with the local Junior A Hockey club, The Dauphin Kings.

Captain Bobby Buchy. Always the star of the show. At least in my eyes.

Well, maybe not just my eyes.

Scoring 5 goals a game was not unheard of for him, and when a team in Montreal tried to trade 4 of their players for him, it wasn't a surprise. They surreptitiously flew him out to Quebec to court him, but Coach Steve 'Boomer' Hawrysh wasn't having any of it. He called them back to block the steal and refused to let him go. 

Bob was a joy to watch. And funny at times too: I can't count the number of times the games were stopped so the rink staff could shovel the ice to find Bob's lost contact lens, the jam packed crowd of 2000 fans cheering uproariously upon its recovery! 

His dream, like most Canadian kids who slept with their blades on, was to play in the NHL and nothing was going to stop him. 

However, Multiple Sclerosis had other plans. 

I was 9 when Bob left home. He started his professional career with all the eagerness in the world, but all too soon, he just wasn't doing as well as he knew he should be. He wasn't feeling himself. Was it nerves? Not enough sleep? These things were never an issue before, so why now? There was nothing obvious to point to, so it must be that he just wasn't as good as he thought he was. His stats never grew and neither did his confidence. He blamed himself. Who else was there? 

He then moved from team to team, his total points dropping while his penalty minutes rose. At home he'd been a lover, not a fighter! 

Not anymore.

Now the only life he had ever wanted was slipping from his fingers.

Desperately unhappy, with his self-assurance and dreams now shattered, Bob left hockey and entered dental school, trying to wrap his head around his unfathomable loss and stark new reality. But his naturally positive good nature and instinct for survival soon helped him refocus and his new path began to look brighter.

And then we got the call.

I was 14. My big brother was my hero, and now my hero was blind and couldn’t move. MS had drawn his name on Fight Night and it was Round 1.

Sucker punched. A TKO.

He was sick for months, and then unexpectedly he went into full remission. But at age 24, he was forever a changed man.

He began the life of a Free Spirit. Quitting dental school, living in the bush up North, building log homes, grabbing at pleasure at every turn, doing whatever the hell he pleased and living in constant fear of a relapse. People who didn’t know him thought him an odd duck, a drifter...or a Charismatic Pirate who was quick to laugh and cheat you at cards. And steal your girlfriend. 

He wandered.

And that was Bob’s life until, 10 years later, MS rang the bell for Round 2. This time it wasn’t a TKO, but he was on the ropes. And he’s hung there ever since.

A lifelong, slow and unrelenting attack.

Playing cards at the kitchen table (a family tradition), Bob would sometimes stand up and his legs would wobble. Those long muscular legs that used to pump like an iron horse on the ice, thrilling us all with their solid elegance, now barely able to push back his chair. Struggling visibly, he would shun anyone stupid enough to offer assistance, and then leaning on the countertops and walls, he’d drag himself, tortured step by tortured step, to the bathroom. The usual 10 second walk became a 10 minute ordeal. One way.

We would sit back and wait, feigning interest in small talk. An unspoken agreement to provide a half-assed background din so Bob wouldn’t be embarrassed by us overhearing his difficulty making it up and back down the hallway. Grunting. Shuffling. Heavy breathing. None of us making eye contact with each other, only half hearing each other speak, listening instead with perked ears for the dull thud of a fall. Or a call for help. Lost in our private anguish at the unseen evil that was attacking our brother. All of us helpless to fight back. Not allowed to help.

He would make it back eventually, sweating and red-faced from the effort, and we’d start up again like nothing happened. Deal the cards.

A true warrior, he fought. And he fought. And he fought.

Much later, suicide notes were found tucked in-between book pages: I will NOT end up in a wheelchair. I’d rather die.

What does one do with old suicide notes?

Rip them up.

Cry.

Don’t tell Mom.

                                                                    *

Although my brother won his battle against Suicide, he lost his war with The Wheelchair.

Rhonda had remained at home and soon, mom and dad couldn’t live without her selfless, invaluable help. It suited them all perfectly and they had their routine down pat.

Then at age 35, health worsening, Bob had to move back home. Rhonda was now 21.

Things slid downhill quickly after that.

Defeated and dejected, Bob was learning to cope, but our family home wasn’t very big and definitely not wheelchair friendly. His legs were near useless now and his hands were starting to numb. Mom catered to him devotedly but inside, she was crushed. And scared. Dad just lived in some kind of blind denial. Accepting the truth would have broken him. The weight of all that fear and sadness became tangible and the symbiotic nature of their home drastically changed. Duties shifted and allowances were made, whether they were welcome or not. Rhonda fumed. Bob fumed. Frustration and anger mounted. Clashes of personality began to hit hard and daily petty spats between Rhonda and Bob eventually turned into shouting matches. 

I think it was Mom’s obvious distress that finally made them run up the white flags, and they simply recognized that they were just two people who were pissed off at what life had dealt them and they’d become each other’s convenient punching bag. The wall of contempt fell and the healing began.

It started with civility. No more name-calling or rudeness. No arguments. They ignored each other for a while but spoke politely when circumstance necessitated. And then one night during a regular game of Rummy with Mom, Bob couldn’t hold his cards easily anymore. His fingers could barely move so they called it a night.

Next game, Rhonda unexpectedly joined them and helped Bob deal the cards. She then shifted them around in his hand with his instruction. Looking at his cards, he shook his head somberly and said, “I’ve seen better hands on a snake.”

The laughter around the table was loud and cathartic. Like a giant chalkboard brush wiping the slate clean.

                                                                           *

Bob, ever defiant and hungry for independence, soon decided he needed to be on his own and wanted to live in his old cabin by the lake. How’s that possible, one could ask? Great question. How can a man who cannot walk or move more than a finger look after himself?

He can’t.

And so the Charming Pirate re-emerged and with assistance from his new ally and astonishingly resourceful sister, arrangements were secured to have help come up twice a day to the lake to 1)  get Bob out of bed and 2) get Bob back in bed.

In-between those times, save for the odd visitor, he was all alone.

 It wasn’t ideal. We worried. A lot.

“What if a hungry bear comes by, or your cat curls up on your face and smothers you one night? ”

“Then I die. My choice.”

Freedom to choose saved him from despair. Complete autonomy became his standard, and his life became bearable. 

Then years later, at age 58, his condition worsening, Bob finally threw in the gloves and moved back home. Our aged parents were a handful for Rhonda to manage, and Bob, now a quadriplegic, became a full-time job in his own right. Drastically lessening the hours (and income) from her job as a Teacher's Aid, she became nurse, secretary, chauffeur, concierge, personal shopper, cook, maid and most importantly, lottery ticket and bingo card buyer to them all.

Bob was in and out of hospital with so many near-death bouts of pneumonia, we lost count. We’d visit him in hospital and he’d whisper-sing the Fred Penner kid's tune, ‘The cat came back, the very next day…’ and we'd laugh through our tears.

A cat with nine lives, indeed! But then the whispering stopped.

MS took his voice.

So Rhonda and Bob developed an exasperating and painfully tedious way to communicate that we dubbed 'AlphaBlinking'. When lip-reading fails, Rhonda starts with ‘A’ and works her way down, all the while looking to see if he is blinking once for ‘yes’, or twice for ‘no’.... slowly spelling out his words.

YOU try it. Good luck.

Once, I flew home cross-country to see Bob in  the ICU at the hospital, thinking his time had finally come. I tried to AlphaBlink his final words to me and failed miserably. I was devastated. Rhonda stepped in to help and we eventually realized that he was asking about his old battered goalie stick from his childhood that had been recently unearthed from the deepest dregs of the basement. He had been spelling it G-O-L-I-E and it had been throwing us off for 20 minutes! We laughed so hard... until he was airlifted to Winnipeg and I knew that damn stick might be the last thing we ever talked about.

But, the cat came back.

Predictably, set routines drastically changed after he needed a tracheotomy: feeding tubes; perpetual throat suctioning; nightly distress-checks every 2 hours. Very much like a newborn babe needing regular feeding and changing. 

If anyone asks Rhonda if she has kids, she doesn't know how to answer. Her life was like motherhood!

My brother and sister carved out a life for themselves with the tools they were given. Neither are prone to verbally expressing affection (NOT a family trait...the rest of us are embarrassingly mushy), but they give each other the gifts of kindness, laughter, and a love that is never spoken, but always shown. Every single day.

I love getting pictures of Bob's bright, colorful birthday parties. His brilliant, hilarious Halloween costumes. Their lovely Christmas celebrations. Scenic day-drives to the parks and lakes.

What could top that?

Well...there might be ONE thing.

                                                                       *

It happened on August 22 2018, when Rhonda gave Bob the most treasured gift of his life.

Any true fan would kill to touch the Stanley Cup, and one day, to Bob’s utter amazement, news hit that it was coming to the house.

To THEIR house!

Dauphin Kings Alumni and Head Coach of the Washington Capitals Barry Trotz brought The Cup to town to raise money for charity. Hearing that Bob couldn’t possibly come to the fundraiser to see it, he brought Lord Stanley to see Bob.

Why would he do such an amazing thing?  

Barry once said, in a SPORTNET article: " [my] favourite player was a centre named Bob Buchy. He reminded me of Jean Beliveau — tall, graceful, skilled. Everyone has a favourite player growing up and I guess a lot of them are [NHL] stars these days. Mine was a player from our hometown.” (link to article CLICK HERE )

Carrying the large, iconic trophy carefully in his arms like a big shiny baby, Barry walked up the wheelchair ramp and into our hearts. My brother’s eyes were as wide as any Knight newly gazing upon the Holy Grail.

Rhonda’s face split into such a wide grin, she found teeth she didn’t know she had.

A chat.
Pictures.
Pure magic.

They say that our experiences in life are like Deposits that we save in the Banks of our Minds. The more we experience, the more we save, and then in our solitary Golden Years when its hard to get up from our rocking chairs, we can make Memory Withdrawals, enjoying them over and over again. My brother had led an interesting life for a while, but MS robbed him from filling that memory bank. That special day did much in way of enriching that vault.

There must be a special place in Heaven for people like my sister Rhonda and Barry Trotz…but Bob? Well, I’m not sure where pirates go…
                                                                            *
                                                          
                                                        **UPDATE**
My beautiful brother Bob quietly passed away in his sleep on Oct 22 2022. My tribute to him can be read here: THE CAT DIDN'T COME BACK

                                     PHOTO ALBUM:

AGE 19: CAPTAIN BOBBY BUCHY of the Dauphin Kings:
                                                                              

   





Off to play in St. Louis: (Rhonda is in this pic too!)



 Number 19:



Handsome bugger!


Me and my Hero:



In remission:



Many years later, already in his wheelchair:

                                        Bob and my twins Scott and Chaelan circa 1992




Bob with Mom and Dad:


Happy holidays and celebrations with Rhonda: here in Christmas 2019










And my personal favorite:


Bob, Barry and Lord Stanley:



And finally...
                                                  
Bob and Rhonda:                          

                                                                    THEN AND NOW




                                                                    Here in 2010:



THE END? Nope, not by a long shot...

***

NOTE ADDED:
I was delightfully surprised at the overwhelming reaction this blog piece received on the hometown Facebook page I posted it on (as a last minute link in another story actually) but my most cherished comment(s) of all, was from retired Senior Associate Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of Manitoba, The Honourable Jeffrey Oliphant, who was born and went to school in Dauphin. Here is his post, which is followed by a dozen other back and forths (not shown)... mostly me gushing all over the poor man for his encouragement. *facepalm*