Saturday, March 24, 2012

North Vancouver Island Weekend for a Friend

My friend is 81 yo.  He was falsely accused of domestic violence. His 81 yo wife has developed psychotic dementia.  She's begun to attack him. The police arrested him however when she phoned them and spitefully falsely accused him.
He's crippled with a pace maker and diabetes. He was hurt with the bullying and  hand cuffing and jailed for a day.
He's a hunter. We've been hunting together for a quarter century.  I know his son well and his daughter. He is one of the most caring and generous men I've ever known. He has dozens of grandchildren, was always a hard worker and served his community and church for years. His home was invaded,  his privacy violated.
All his guns were removed from their locked storage.  He's never been anything but a responsible gun owner. I know his concern and respect for gun safety from dozens of hunting trips with him.  He was jailed. He is crippled, frail, having had heart attacks, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  A young Rambo cop obviously had unresolved father issues.
Thankfully, older RCMP officers intervened who knew him as I did. They saved him from further physical abuse. His son, a lawyer friend and his church minister all came to his aid.  His wife was hospitalized. She's been doctor shopping,  not taking her medications and increasingly bizarre.  She's now in a psychiatric ward.  She's still calling him daily to take her back.  We know he wants to, out of duty and love,  but we tell him he can't.  "You're not the only ones who are telling me that,"he says. We're glad  as I can see this almost killed him.
Laura and I decided we'd come over to the Island to provide moral support.  He's a great man and it's terrible that at 81 years of age he's been brutalized,  his home invaded, his property confiscated, his reputation maligned, and all because of a false accusation by a tragically disturbed person whose principal caregiver was the person she turned on. Canada isn't the country it was or could still be.

It was a lovely trip up the island. We took the Horseshoe Bay ferry enjoying the ride across Georgia Strait.  I love Nanaimo since I've begun sailing my 40 foot Folkes sailboat over there and enjoying the town as it's meant to be enjoyed, from the sea inward.  This day we just drove through as I've done too many times before.
I'd lived in Parksville for several years.  I still miss the property I developed there and the work I did, the life of country living and the friends.  I can't go by the place without feeling immensely guilty not stopping to see the friends I have there who are simply some of the worlds' finest of people.
I drove the coastal highway reminiscing all the way about coming first to the island as a doctor in Courtenay and Campbell River before moving later to Parksville.  I was just driving through these places steeped in wonderful memories of decades back, youth, foolishness and women more beautiful that the spring flowers beginning to blossom on the island.  I remembered my dog Shinto too.  Gilbert is a great companion today and he and Shinto would have been the best of pals if they'd had a chance to know each other.
Passing the turn off to Mount Washington I told Laura how much fun the mountain was, so much more laid back than Whistler,  how much we enjoyed skiing powder there and how I'd love to ski there again.
Then there were the roads I took to the interior to go fishing sometimes, hunting other times.  My mouth watered passing the oyster beds I once knew. Then there were the anchorages I'd found along the coast where I'd spent nights using my dinghy to go ashore.
We called my friend and visitted his place. It was awful to see having known the tidiness and care he'd once had for his cabin. Now there was the chaos of an obviously sick person, nowhere to move and no ability to clean. I could tell my friend was sad I saw what he'd been living with.
He sang her praises, told us of her achievements, but hinted at the stress of the last few months,  He's a proud man and it was obvious he felt so sad he couldn't care for her any more.  This person he loved and admired had become someone else.  I told him he has to protect himself.  He's too old and frail to withstand more attacks physically or socially.
We had dinner at Salmon Point Restaurant. I remember eating there with someone glamorous decades back when as a young doctor I'd brought dates to just this place because of the view, the service, the fine food. It was like it hadn't changed except now early in the evening families with children dominated.  I couldn't help seeing how my friend had aged, my own grey hair and added girth coming to mind as well.  We listened as he told stories I'd heard a dozen times, tales of hunting, stories of family, shared memories of struggling through snows and climbing hills to get to places in the dark where we'd wait for game together.  It was a lovely evening.
Then Laura and I were leaving him back at his cabin, driving in my Ford F350 truck on to Discovery Inn.  I've stayed there often and love the rooms. Tonight our suite had a hot tub as well. Gilbert was welcome and Laura was pleased.
Tomorrow we'll go to church with my friend before heading home.  His son will come by on Monday to help clean up her stuff. Then he get get a cleaner in.

It's sad to think these things are common.  The Gun Registry for hunting rifles is being scrapped even now. It will go with all it's politically inspired hatred for men, hunters, outdoorsmen, our grandparents, farmers, trappers,  the explorers and settlers who made Canada the country it is.  The tragedies of aging won't be coupled with further humiliation and insensitivity.  Maybe then a man could care for his dementing wife without fear for his life, but not now.  Sadly not now.

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