My Week 12
I like to keep this blog lighthearted—that’s the entire point of writing it, so that I can focus on the positive aspects of my life, the quirky, funny things that happen every week. But sometimes a week can be so tragic that it seems dishonourable to ignore it. This past Tuesday, my family lost someone important to us—my brother-in-law, Lonzo Lucas Jr. He collapsed very suddenly while out Christmas shopping with Ken’s sister Karen, and couldn’t be revived. Lonzo had some major health issues, including the fact that he had no functional kidneys and was on home dialysis for 10 hours every day. He had been very ill this fall, but had begun to recover. He had regained a lot of the weight he lost, his doctors were impressed with his improvement, and he seemed to be getting his energy back, so his death was completely unexpected. Most of all, he had been very happy; he was looking forward to Christmas, and we had plans to see him and Karen at Ken’s parents’ place, our house on Christmas Day, and hopefully on New Year’s Eve for a raucous night of board games. So instead of my usual ramblings and sweary-ness, I’m going to tell you what I loved about Lonzo.
1) He was one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind, loved his family and especially his wife, and I never heard him say a wrong word about anyone. He and Karen had a tremendously rich life together—they took wonderful care of each other, loved the same things, and were genuine soulmates. He liked everyone he met, and was always sincerely and enthusiastically happy to see you. He always greeted us with a bear hug and “Hey, Sis!”, “Ken, my man!”, or “There’s my nephew!” This wasn’t an act, or an attempt to impress anyone—it was just his nature. If more people in the world were like Lonzo, there would be a lot less war and a lot more dancing (and he was a pretty good dancer).
2) He was one of the most singularly optimistic people I’ve ever met. He had many health issues, and had had a difficult life, facing health crisis after health crisis—I think the days when he felt lousy far outweighed the days when he felt 100%, but I never heard him complain. He and Karen would arrive at our house to stay for a day or two, lugging in jerry cans, tubing, machinery, and all kinds of strange and cumbersome things, but he never drew attention to it—it was just another part of the luggage. And he had plans for the future. He’d had several close encounters with death, but that never fazed him. As soon as he was home from the hospital, he and Karen were planning their next big trip. He loved adventure, and they spent a lot of time exploring the world together. Last summer, they rented a big-ass, 25-foot R/V and drove down to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park or Yosemite—one of them anyway…sorry, the details are fuzzy because as soon as someone says R/V, camping, or “outside”, I instinctively tune out…and they were planning to do the Rockies the same way this coming summer.
3) He sucked at math more than me. I am not a math person, and neither was Lonzo. He was a very intelligent man—in fact, he had a Master’s degree as well as a Bachelor of Education, but math was not his strong suit. The big difference between us though, was that Lonzo cared enough to become better at math. He needed it to be an elementary school teacher, and he persevered. He took classes, got tutors, and studied as hard as he could, until he knew he could teach math to 8th graders (and that’s hard math, y’all). Me, I gave up a long time ago, and my math skills are limited to calculating percentages for tips and discounts, and being able to determine the area for tiling jobs or flooring.
4) He was tremendously creative. He was a writer of stories, a sculptor, and an extremely talented painter. With Karen’s encouragement, he developed a beautifully unique style. I like to think of it as a fusion of black history, southern religion, and African mysticism. I would look at one of his paintings and be suitably impressed, but then he would tell me what the images meant, and it would become iconic. This past summer when we visited him and Karen in Barrie, he was excited about being able to spend time at the family cottage, where he and Karen could sculpt soapstone and driftwood to their hearts’ content without worrying about the dust getting everywhere. He had a huge piece of driftwood, and told us about his plans for it. We looked through his sketchbook together, and he talked about the canvasses that he was going to paint based on the ideas he had drawn. He loved collaboration as well—he and Karen often painted the same canvas together based on their shared vision, or worked side by side on projects.
5) He made me go down the Ridge Runner at Blue Mountain with no brakes on. No one else could have convinced me to do it, but he was determined that we all had to make a “no brake pact”. How was I supposed to get out of it, when the guy with no kidneys was going to do it? Plus he was so excited about it that I couldn’t say no. So I went straight down Blue Mountain at over 45 kph, through twists and loops, screaming one continuous scream. It was the most exhilarating thing you could imagine. When I got to the bottom, he and Ken and T were there, waiting to help me out of the cart—my knees were shaking, but I couldn’t stop laughing with the sheer joy of it. Thank you for making me do that, Lonzo.
People like Lonzo are a rare breed. Who knows what mysterious forces combine to create them, but when they come into your life, you are better for knowing them. His passing at the age of 46 is tremendously unfair. Perhaps on some level, he knew that his time in this world might be less than he hoped—maybe that’s why he treated each day, each person, each experience like a gift, and why his short life was a gift to us.
Ken’s Epic Conversation with a Guy on the Phone
I have to share this, because Lonzo would have loved it too. This morning, the phone rang, and Ken answered. Here’s the conversation:
Guy: I’m calling to notify you that your computer has a virus.
Ken: (mock horror) It does?!
Guy: Yes. Is it on right now?
Ken: Yes, it is.
Guy: Do you see any icons on the screen?
Ken: Yes…I can see an icon for This Is A Phone Scam, another icon for I Can Trace This Number, and an icon for I Should Call The Police.
Guy: *pause* You’re a smart man. *click*
Totally epic, honey.