Friday, May 27, 2011


Well after the flood came the clean-up then after that came the raking of leaves. When you’ve got literally close to two tons of fallen leaves spread on the lawns of the property, let’s not kid ourselves, the novelty of raking them soon wears off. Add to that, the pouring rain and the heavy winds blowing them back where you just finished raking and guess what? One tends to get a bit pissed at all this and is just about ready to pack it in.

Oh I know, this could be construed as small piddly ass problems when you compare it to what’s happening in the rest of the world but I guess when you don’t see the sunshine for the better part of a whole month, not only does the sky seem gloomier but also your mood. My present continuous battle with the ever flying leaves is nothing when you compare it with the poor folks of the Montéregie region in Quebec. They have been walking in knee deep water for the last same month and are being subjected again to a huge rain storm. Those those poor folks living in the mid-western states of the USA aren't any better. They have been pounded day after day by devastating tornados. In both these situations, many good honest folks will be left with nothing much more than souvenirs of what life used to be. Yeah, when you do take time and look around you, you do tend to realize that your problems are small compared to others but the secret is, “You got to stop and think about what you should be thankful for.”

Anyway, I was livid at the beginning of the week. Nothing seemed to be going right. So to again re-energize, I decided to go to the “Outpost” and vegetate. The various pressures were mounting and it was time to do something about it before I blew a gasket. Usually, I go up there with “Mosqua” in tow but that day, I had the brilliant idea to bring three most deserving dogs with me. “JR”, “Jacko” and “Irving” had worked so hard throughout the winter that I thought that they could use a break from the kennel routine so decided to take the “Boyz” for a night on the town. Monday night went well and the dogs were treated to barbecued wieners till it was coming out of their ears. After a fantastic sleep and while the hounds were still curled up in the hay in the porch the next Tuesday, I was up early and enjoying a third pot of coffee and daydreaming. Suddenly, I was awoken back to reality by some alarming “bear like” growl that strongly suggested that there was imminent danger brewing. I jumped out of my chair, slung my coffee cup to the side and rushed to where the noise was coming from. It wasn’t no bear but the scene turned my stomach upside down and sent a rush of adrenaline through my system. Here were “Jacko” and “JR” on top of old man “Irving” pulling at each end, trying to rip him apart. This was no ordinary dominance fight. Rather, for some unknown reason, they were trying to actually kill him. There wasn’t much time to think so I reacted. Punching and kicking at the two younger dogs, I managed to get them to release my loyal friend but a lot of damage had been done. Scared shitless, the old timid dog didn’t stick around for another mauling. He took off through the woods and would disappear for two days…

If you recall, I was not having a good week and this was to sour my mood even more. On top of everything, now I had to worry about finding “Irving”. He was most definitely hurt and to see him in my mind, he was lying there somewhere in the bush, bleeding to death and this did not sit well with me. It set me in one of those moods where I visit the darkest side of my dark side. This is an area that I try real hard at repressing back because it’s ugly and it scares me. When I’m in that frame of mind, I go into survival mode and get “tunnel vision”. In this state, I don’t think straight and instead of dealing with situations rationally, I tend to go in “Combat Mode” which is something that can best be described as a “Kill or be killed” attitude. From the outside, I seem to be totally normal but inside, I’m not. I’m like a “Time Bomb” ready to explode and this anywhere and anytime. Although I would love not to have to deal with this syndrome called PTSD, it’s not my fault that I’m this way. Like the many others that served, I’m just the product of a most effective military system where they teach you the “Art of Warfare through a most efficient training program. Don’t get me wrong, in violent operational theaters, these are most valuable skills to have. However, what these military geniuses tend to forget is that once they’ve used you up till you have nothing else to give, you still have to eventually face the real world and function in it. They have no way of deprogramming you and their solution to the problem is to shove pills down your throat and hope that you stay comfortably numb and happy. There are not too many job opportunities that can use these unique skill sets unless you want to stay in the same line of work as a potential “strong arm” in some private security outfit. However, when you have visited the bottom of the toilet bowl of the human race and you’ve still got half a brain, eventually you tend to say to yourself, "Enough is enough." So you turn in your rifle in and go out there and see if you fit somewhere in what many perceive as the “free and civilized society”. A lot of us face a rude awakening and find it nearly impossible to adjust. Where we tend to believe that we went out there and served in the best interest of our people, this same population seems to take this freedom that they have, for granted. If this is not enough, these same individuals have got the balls to belittle these men and women in uniforms to the point of calling them welfare cases and a waste of tax payers money. These revelations can be shocking to the true professional soldier and a lot of times, this same person will retreat and look to find a comfortable zone in whatever form that assures his survival at the time. Some will resort to alcohol and or drugs to escape while others will seek some fulfillment using religion or some other spiritual venue.

I was one of those guys that was left to fend for himself and to tell you the truth, I was one “fucked up” specimen. Drugs, alcohol, religion, nothing seemed to point me in the right direction. Diagnosed with what they call “chronic depression” on top of the syndrome, the first ten years after retirement were a living hell. It didn’t matter whether I was awake or asleep, I just could not seem to part company with the ghosts of a previous military life. It took a while to adjust and deal with the whole ball of wax and I would suggest that I’ll never be cured of this syndrome. However, I have discovered that if I’m surrounded by love and compassion, this tends to help me get through the day. If I stay sober, this gives me the strength to stay stronger and deal with the day to day problems. And I guess, doing good deeds and helping a fellow man gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside that makes me say that it’s good to be alive.

This was probably best illustrated, Wednesday morning when I started my day. Two things were to transpire that helped turn that awful sour mood into a “it’s going to be a great day, even though it’s raining” type of day. The first thing was a message via facebook, a request from Heidi, the widow of my best friend, Bruce Brown, asking if I’d do her this big favor. Strange as it might sound, Bruce had always thought our friendship to be more than special and she wanted that some of his ashes be spread on the property just because it was one of his favorite places in the world. This, as I explained to her was not only a possibility but it would be an honor to have his spirit live amongst whatever would feed off his energy. That in itself brightened my day. But if this was not enough, while I was walking some of the dogs, this pick-up pulls in front of the “Bunkhouse” and out comes this old friend of mine, an old crippled up “Lumberjack” that I hadn’t seen in over a year. Walking towards me with his cane, I noticed that he was more gimped up than usual and this was confirmed when with his bright but most courageous smile he said, “Sorry if I’m a bit late with delivering them but I almost died from two heart attacks last winter and I just got out of a wheelchair two months ago.” For a minute there, I was left scratching my head not knowing what he was talking about. That was till he opened the back hatch to the truck cab and exposed two “Adirondak” chairs. It turns out that I had sawed some cedar lumber for him the previous year and seeing that he was strapped for cash, I had told him to make me a couple of chairs as payment. I had totally forgotten about that deal but I guess he hadn’t. So when he was again able to walk and work in his shop last month, he took the time to build them. Of course, I was more than impressed that he had fabricated these two beauties for me but when we got talking, I realized that he was still hurting in the wallet department so asked how much he was selling them to his clients to which he told me. I thought that it might be time to do another good deed so I reached in my pocket and paid him the $200.00. He tried to refuse but I insisted. The money was not a big issue in my life and it made me feel good doing this as it was probably the best medicine that a guy like me could take at the moment.

Well folks, with all this mishmash of a text you’re probably wondering and saying to yourselves, “Where the hell is he going with this?” And that is probably a good question that deserves a good answer. To give you the correct time, I guess it all boils down to the news that I heard on TV this morning about that soldier they found drowned in a river in Edmonton, Alberta. Although they weren’t saying that he committed suicide, it is suspected that he might have and this was possibly attributed to this PTSD crap. He is not alone that has chosen that particular path and the number of soldiers that do take their own lives annually is beyond alarming. It is a most staggering figure and we have yet to have reached the high plateau of when and where it’s going to stop. Our soldiers are coming back in drone from far away places where they were tested beyond anything that most of us can comprehend. Although they can walk and talk most normally, there is not one of them that comes back unaffected. I get to speak with a lot of these young lads and their spouses and everybody is of the same opinion on two subjects. First, the person that has the syndrome is not the same as before when he left nor will he ever be the same again. Secondly, although the Government advocates helping our veterans afflicted with this condition, they tend to treat it as if it was a broken leg and seem to forget about them after awhile. I can only speak for myself but do believe that a few things must happen if one wants to help such a pour soul. Initially, the “patient” must be made aware that he has the syndrome. Once he recognizes this, he must be willing to accept this as a new way of looking at life and must adapt to his conditions. He must be given the proper education and tools so to be able to cope with the day to day irritants and stresses. And most importantly, he must be surrounded with love and support by family and friends. And that is usually the recipe that makes it that he has the courage to get up the next morning and face another day. Of course, in my case, running around the bush with a bunch of loyal sleddogs sure is an easy pill to swallow but this is not for everybody. But then again, a dog and it doesn’t matter what size it is, can lift anybody’s spirit up. Their unconditional love is something that can be a life changing experience.

To my American Friends, I say, “On this Memorial Day long weekend, it is yes important not to forget our fallen but it is also important to remember those who did survive and returned home with broken spirits. A lot of them are carrying with them excruciating pain and sometimes wonder who the lucky one is? I should know. - Every time I lower the flag for a deceased soldier at “CIMENT HILL”, I always conclude the ceremony with this private statement –

“Well at least your suffering is over, my friend”…

Peace on Earth, to one and all. And remember, together we can make a difference. = -)



To the “Boyz” in theater, hang in there. According to your respective governments, you are all “Short Timers” just about now and that is a good thing.

As for “Irving”, I finally managed to find him. Although he is in real sad shape, I’m “Aloe Veraing” him and he should be good as new in a couple of weeks (I hope).

On the leaf battling front, we will prevail. One of my tenants is being shorted on his hours and is only working an average of 20 hours a week. So I made a deal with him that I would take money off his rent in exchange for some raking. Like I said in the past, “Adapt and Overcome.

Later folks!

1 comment:

PowersHealth said...

I'm exhausted just reading your post Gino. Hugs to Irving. Hope he is back to normal soon. Poor baby. As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend here in the States I think of you and so many more who paid a very high price for all of us. Peace.