Joy, Love, Memories, Videos

what it looks like when an angel loves you

Our angel Gabrielle Vallée McKenna almost made it to her one hundredth birthday. She wasn’t quite sure of her exact birth date, she knew the year and the month (February 1916), but her recollection of the day varied between the 21st and the 29th. I know the date she died though: August 20, 2014. Her goal was to reach 100; she didn’t quite make it. Mom joined Gaby on August 17, 2016. I hope the two BFFs are raising Cain wherever they are.


On May 10, 2014, Mom was too sick and/or sedated with antipsychotics to do anything more than listen to Eric’s beautiful piano playing. She couldn’t sing, play or clap as was her wont. There were no Beatles tunes.  No Ain’t She Sweet?, no She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, no Doe a Deer either.

All Mom could do was sit in the chair with her eyes closed and let the melodies soothe her. About 15 minutes into the session, as Eric played What a Wonderful World, Mom’s BFF Gaby came in to the drawing room to spend some time with us. That was a bit out of the ordinary as Gaby slept most afternoons. As she walked past Patti, Gaby spontaneously bent down to kiss Mom’s cheek. I was lucky to capture the precious moment with my iPhone.

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Humour, Joy, Life & Living, Music

mcnamara’s band and mwaaaaah mwaaaaah


Flashback May 7, 2015: Yesterday Mom and I sat outside – she in her wheelchair, I on a deckchair. It was a stunning spring afternoon. The sun shone strong and bright. Birds warbled and twittered. A little breeze kissed our cheeks. We sang old favourites: When You Wore a Tulip, A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, My Darling Clementine and then this:

As our musical session drew to a close, a carpenter working on the house next door began to hammer and cut boards on the porch where he had set up a workspace “au plein air.” The renovation cacophony clattered across the property line, climbed onto the deck and interrupted our duet.

“Goodness!” Mom exclaimed. “What a racket.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. I looked over just as the workman began to slice through another piece of plywood.

“Mwaaaaaah! Mwaaaaaah!” Mom nailed the sound of the saw completely out of the blue. I burst out laughing. “Mwaaaaaah! Mwaaaaaah!” She harmonized with the workman and his saw. Again I laughed out loud. It was too funny. Besides cracking me open, Mom often cracks me up.

“What sound is that Mom?” I wondered if she could identify the piece of equipment.

“It’s it’s it’s….the sound of the…song,” she answered.

“The saw song?” I grinned at her.

“Yeah,” she answered back. We giggled. She finds life amusing too. Mom and I have had loads of fun together in this lifetime. We still do. We make a point of it. Like any relationship, ours has had its fair share of ups and downs. The downs have mostly melted away into the past. I’m grateful we are able to discover joy amidst the dementia challenges. It takes creativity, determination and a sense of adventure to extract treasure from tragedy. Lucky us, we find ways to do it.

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