Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Cousins, 1994

This is me with my cousin Oscar at the Margo School Reunion 16 years ago, when everyone who'd ever attended any Margo school came home for the weekend. Festivities were held in the rink— meals, dance, so on, so forth. Hundreds of former students showed up.

Oscar's dad and my grandfather were brothers, so Dad and Oscar are actually cousins and Oscar and I, as I understand it, are first cousins once-removed. He's only a few years older than me and we grew up in the village of Margo, and of course when a little girl like I was has a slightly older boy in the family who happens to be sweet-natured and kind, she follows him around like a puppy and pesters him mercilessly. Some of my fond childhood memories are of checkers played in the afternoons at Oscar's house — he must have had so much patience! — and of being dragged around the floor by the leg, probably because I wouldn't leave the poor lad alone. (Nowadays when I see my niece Jordan, who is in Grade 3, with my son Everett, who is 18, I think it's much the same dynamic.)

As teenagers we often went out driving around the countryside together, having a few drinks and laughing pretty much constantly. That was social life in rural Saskatchewan back then, for teenagers. It's probably the same today, although I like to think that drinking and driving has fallen out of favour. For us, there was nowhere else to go when you wanted to escape your parents' home. You got into a vehicle and went out to see who else was out and around, and then you hung out on the back roads somewhere.

Oscar married his high school sweetheart and they set up on a farm north of town and had three fine boys who are grown now; one works with Oscar in the family business and two of the three have started their own young families.

Not long before Christmas, Oscar had a mole on his neck removed and the diagnosis that came back from the lab was melanoma. His doctor got him into the operating room right away and exploratory surgery showed two out of three lymph nodes on one side were cancerous. So back into the hospital he went for radical surgery, removing lymph nodes from neck, chest and back. The next day they kicked him out and sent him home, which is a three-hour drive from the city where the surgery was performed. He spent several days in a lot of pain and discomfort but when I called him on New Year's Day he was, though still sore, starting to feel himself again.

Today he and Barb are in the city, getting the results of tests done after the surgery. With luck, the operation removed all the cancer. It HAS TO have.