RIP: Laki

With a few tears shed in the Baroutsos household, we bid farewell to our canary, Laki. RIP little buddy.

On a similar note, we’ve not seen the other white rabbit we’ve had for a while, not since Shadow joined the Baroutsos Farm anyway – so I suspect he may no longer be with us either. For now, I think we’ll stick to the cat and dogs.

The Godfather

The title of this post has nothing to do with the Marlon Brando movies but with my Godfather.

It was just another ordinary day, except for Cape Town because it was the last World Cup match to be played in Cape Town with Netherlands clashing with Uruguay at the Cape Town stadium.

Late in the afternoon, a little after 5, I got a call from my brother with some distressing news – it seemed so unreal that I just couldn’t accept it as truth. I then contacted a good friend, my god brother who, for all intents and purposes is just like a brother to me to confirm the news. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not at all that I didn’t trust my brother, whom I do trust, but I just couldn’t fathom it as truth, it just didn’t make sense.)

A few minutes later, it was confirmed, my godfather had passed away, at home, from a massive heart-attack. Just like that, once again, the world is a little different.

The plan after work, usually around 6 in the evening, was to join friends along the fan walk (since our office is right on the fan-mile) towards the stadium, just for the spirit of it all, then head back and when things had subsided a little, head home. Since the office is right on the fan-mile, trying to drive is next to impossible, so I’m forced to wait.

We walked the fan-mile, and under normal circumstances, I’d be taking it all in, the sights and sounds, but today was just different. The only thing I can really recall, while walking the 2.5 km stretch there and back, was the Caltex garage on Somerset Road.

Why on earth, a garage, you’ll ask. Well for many years, my godfather owned and ran the Caltex garage in Rondebosch.

My godfather has always been involved with motor vehicles so much so that after he retired, selling the garage business, he worked from home, servicing vehicles at home, for family and friends. If you had a problem with your car you could ask him or have him fix it for you. Ever since I’ve had a car of my own, my godfather has always serviced it. For one, whom better to put your trust in to service your vehicle and know that it will be serviced properly and why not support family financially.

If you didn’t know my godfather and met him for the first time, you’d probably think he was your typical older generation Greek and stubborn. But that was only one side to him, he was a smart and respected man whose home was always open.

So after heading back to the office just a little before 8 in the evening, most of the people traffic had subsided and I could leave the office and drive through to my godparents house. I hadn’t spoken to my godmother yet, I didn’t want to call as I wouldn’t know what to say over the phone.

I stayed there until a little after 10:30 in the evening. Chatting with my godmother and some friends and family that were there and helping out where I could and with whatever was needed.

The next day I arranged a half-day off to pick up both my god-brothers from the airport heading into Cape Town from London and Johannesburg. We’ve not seen one another for a while now, but this was not the circumstances that any of us thought or would have wanted to meet. But nevertheless, good to see them again and spend a little time together. I dropped them off at home and headed off to work. It’s such a strange feeling, wanting to do as much as you can, but at the same time stepping back and giving them the space they need and do what they need to do, as a family.

Today, I’ve taken the day off as in a little under an hour we’ll all be meeting at the church to say our final goodbyes and celebrate his life. It’s all still a little surreal to be honest.

Peace be with you, Nonno.

Update: Back from the funeral ceremony and wake and I realised I’ve come full circle. In the exact same church that my godfather baptised me, I helped carry him in and out of. A moving ceremony and time spent with family and friends – now, we keep moving and looking forward, cherishing those precious moments from before.

Precious little time

I begin this post with a huge lump in my throat (a little more than 36 hours after I got some distressing news my mind has finally began to process it) and although I post this on the 1st of April, let me make one thing clear from the get go – this is in no way an April Fool’s joke.

It seems like just the other day, but 6 months ago my family and I lost my aunt. Just over a week earlier my cousin’s twins were born. I guess the universe has a strange way of keeping the balance. To make space for new arrivals, others must leave this world.

To some, six months might feel like an eternity – to others, it’s barely a drop in the ocean. When my aunt passed away I mentioned how difficult and unfair it must be as a parent, to out-live your children – but when we’ve lived a full life, it seems slightly less unfair. You had a good life, you saw your own children and grand-children grow up, your time came and those that are left behind have to deal with the loss.

But, how do you deal with this as a parent losing a child, of just over six months?

One of my cousin’s twin sons passed away suddenly in his sleep yesterday morning. As a parent (and even before becoming a parent) I’ve known known about SIDS and how today it remains unexplained. But you never, in your wildest dreams, think it could happen to someone you know, let alone yourself.

I cannot begin to imagine what my cousin, her husband and children must be going through right now. How does one process what has happened? How do you explain it? Whom do you blame? Something inexplicably wrong has happened, someone or something is to blame? You want answers, I know for sure I’d be questioning everything and everyone if, God-forbid, something like this had to happen to me. All I know for sure, is that it’s not fair – life just isn’t fair.

Since my cousin and her children live in New Zealand I’ve never seen their children in person, other than photos on Facebook and keeping in touch electronically. Regrettably, I never got to know my little namesake, but we shared an invisible bond of a family name and a blood-line. I know he will be missed by many, but especially so by his parents and siblings.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you dear cousin. May you all somehow find the strength to get through this. I’m not sure I could, you’re all much stronger than I am.

If today was your last day?

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?
– Chad Kroeger, Nickleback

My mom has been up away for about a week and a half now to be at the bedside of her eldest sister who was in hospital. She had malignant growths removed from her bowels and after surgery became more ill from a hospital virus she contracted. Her organs started to fail and she was placed in a medically induced coma as her body was to week to cope. For a period of time she was on a ventialtor as well as she could no longer breathe on her own.

My mom, her sister, younger brother and her mom (my gran is 92 by the way) have been going every day to the hospital and back to be at her bedside and to motivate her to fight and get better. Last week however they were told that she might not make past midweek. So the family has been preparing itself for the worst. A priest was also called in to say a few prayers.

A specialist told the family that she was not brain dead so they couldn’t legally turn off the machines and let her go. Over the weekend she stabilised so that she could be removed form the ventilator however still in an induced coma.

While all this is happening my cousin (daughter of the second eldest sister) is 39 weeks pregnant and just about ready to pop! Understandably her mom is being tugged between her sister’s condition and the miracle of her daughter’s pending birth. Not a situation I would wish upon my worst enemy.

I spoke to my mom again last night and she said that she spoke to her sister and commanded her to wake up and wish her for her birthday (yeah it was my mom’s birthday yesterday – she turned 60). After she left the room my aunt’s daughter-in-law noticed tears streaming from her eyes while she lay in a coma on the bed. I guess it must be true that we can sub-consciously hear people while in a coma.

This morning around 2am my aunt passed away. I guess she tried to hold on just a little bit longer so as not to leave my mom with the reminder on her birthday each year about her sister’s passing and not on the day her neice would give birth to her first-born. I really feel for my gran who I couldn’t imagine what she must be going through – as parents we should never be in a position that we should have to bury our children, especially not at the age of 92!

And so with the passing of one life the balance must be restored – any day now my cousin will give birth to their child and the ying-yang will be in balance once again.

Here’s the video to the Nickleback lyrics I was referring to at the beginning of this post. Remember, live your life to the fullest because today might be your last day. Rest in peace, aunt Pieta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jyy9Qj-FBw

RIP Snowy

Woke up this morning to prepare Melissa for Sunday school classes and as I looked out the back-door window I noticed one of our two rabbits lying on the grass. But something looked out of place, she was lying on her side as opposed to on her stomach or curled up. And they never slept out in the open in winter, only in their hutch.

I went outside to pick her up but only felt a lifeless, yet still somewhat warm, body of Snowey. She didn’t appear to have any broken limbs or any lacerations. There wasn’t any blood anywhere which, to my untrained eye, lead me to believe she probably died of natural causes or a heart-attack maybe, although she was only a little over 3 years old (we got them just before Rebecca was born, so that Melissa wouldn’t feel too left out since mommy was about to have a baby). Snowy had a set of 7 babies about 6 month after we got them and we had the male, Spikey, fixed shortly thereafter. Both rabbits have been healthy up until now and there’s been no change in their diet or health.

So upon Melissa’s request this morning we had an impromptu burial, hand-made cross and all for Snowy. RIP.

RIP: Tony Hart

I have fond memories as a child in the early 80’s seeing Tony Hart and his art gallery on TV. What made is special for me as a child was his little plasticine character, Morph. It was the earliest claymation I can remember and was definitely a springboard for other Aardman Studios characters, like Wallace and Grommit. 

 

tonyhartArtist and children’s presenter Tony Hart has died, aged 83.

Hart, who lived in Surrey, had suffered from health problems for a number of years, including two strokes. His family said he died peacefully.

The affable presenter inspired children to paint and draw on shows like Vision On, Take Hart and Hartbeat for nearly 50 years before he retired in 2001.

Fellow artist Rolf Harris led tributes, calling Hart “a very gentle and talented guy”.

“He enthused and inspired a whole generation of kids into creating their own works of art, simple or complex. [source BBC]

Condolences go out to the Hart family, his friends and all his fans. Another legend has gone.

Don LaFontaine "The Voiceover Master" dies at 68

Don LaFontain voiceover master

The entertainment industry and LaFontaine family lost a legend yesterday. Movie trailer and commercial voiceover master, Don LaFontaine died yesterday at the age of 68.

 

He died from complications from pneumothorax, a collapsed lung that causes air to build in the pleural cavity, his agent, Vanessa Gilbert, told Entertainment Tonight. –  You can read more about this on CNN.

I’ve always been a fan of his work and think that if it wasn’t for his talents box-office numbers and movie sales would never be near what they are today!

“My philosophy is that you have to really believe what you’re reading, even if you think the film’s a piece of junk,” he told Swindle magazine. “Even the worst picture is someone’s favorite film, and that someone is the fan I am always talking to.”

Things to make you think…

Last night we rented The Bucket List out on DVD and after watching it made me think how easily we take things for granted. Living our life day after day, stuck in a rut, without much thought for tomorrow, other than whether or not you’ll be able to finish the work you didn’t finish this afternoon or whether or not the bills will be paid this month.

 

It made me think, maybe a list like that isn’t such a bad idea. Yeah, we all know about the 1000 places to see or the 10 wildest things to do (if you’re a thrill-seeker like I am) before you die, but what about your list?  What are the things that you want to do before you “kick the bucket“? I’ve got a few on my list, some I’ve done, others not yet but I think there are still more to add, I just hope I get to do them in time.

I know elsewhere in the world this has been done before, and there are countless videos and articles on the web, but this was a first for South Africa – today we witnessed, televised live, an open heart surgery. And what an eye opener it was. I’ve always been fascinated by medicine and as a high-blood pressure sufferer found that it struck a cord in the back of my mind – look after yourself, before that happens to you!