A terrible phone call…

23.5.05 11:25

you’re as white as a sheet….

Receiving dire news either about oneself or ones’ loved ones. Awful stuff, cant forget that emotion of devastation, chaos, fear.

Back in the early seventies or late sixties, I had graduated from high school and had decided to take a year off before I continued my education whatever that may be. So still living at home and working not too too hard I must say, I took on jobs to save up for perhaps …going to nursing school in London. One of those jobs was a sort of telemarketing job, but it was a fairly decent hourly rate and was not compromised by commission or not. In a large room sat myself and about thirty other women of varying ages and circumstances. We had our own desk and telephone. We were calling on behalf of Canada’s most respected department store, Eatons to inform people that an exciting new shopping mall was near completion in lovely Etobicoke and that it would of course include a spanking new Eatons and do you have an Eatons credit card? And if not would you like to have an Eatons credit card? Hey it actually was not too bad for a temporary gig, an pretty darn good for a telephone soliciting job…

It was at this job that I met a most unlikely alliance who was to become a good friend. Lana was a year older than me and already had 2 kids, Page, aged 2 and Danny, aged 3. She was married to Ben who was white whereas she was black. We somehow ended up sitting at adjacent desks and within a few days we connected big time. Its funny to think that Lana had not one tooth in her mouth, but that after a few weeks I did not notice.

I got a call from my dad one afternoon at my job. This was strange as my dad never called. The words that came out of his mouth struck cold terror in my heart, could you come home now, huh, no real explanation except that something was wrong with my 17 year old sis Xtine and hearing my dad crying on the phone was strange and very alarming!  I of course said I would be home ASAP.  I was shaking when I hung up. Lana looked at me and said ‘what the hell’s wrong, you’re as white as a sheet’???  I guess the colour must have drained very quickly from not just my cheeks…

I murmured something about my sister being sick and left. I cannot recall everything, except that my dad was home and told me that Xtine was at TGH (Toronto General Hospital) and that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis!!  This disease was not in the ready reaches of my mind, but for some reason, terminal and hopeless and paralysis came to mind……….I don’t know from where, maybe Dr. Welby, I don’t know.

Dad drove me to the hospital where mum was at Xtine’s side. My brother Ross, was he at school?? I cant remember. Maybe dad felt it best not to interrupt his normal day? My dad was sobbing the whole way to the hospital, I don’t think that I had ever seen my dad cry, or a grown man cry come to think of it. But to see one’s dad weep is unsettling. I was perhaps 19 at the time. Hell, I was the family weeper, but I did not weep with my dad, I was still in shock and awe. Maybe I wanted to be the strong one? Worse to come was that Dad told me that Xtine did not know the diagnosis yet! Oh my God! How do I deal with that!!/

xtine's beautiful leggs

Mum was there at the bedside with Xtine. I felt terrible knowing the cruel life sentence about to be pronounced upon her, as she sat in the bed looking so pretty and as usual, being so upbeat. I don’t recall when she was told but I don’t think that I was there. My poor sister, my poor family.

the fates are again casting cruel sentences on the women in my life…….
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