We were still wondering where our furniture was when during breakfast the next morning we saw in the local paper (The Charlottetown Guardian) that a truck driver from Ontario had been hit by a car when he stepped out of his truck somewhere in Charlottetown and was now in a coma in the hospital.
Through a number of telephone calls we determined that it was indeed “our” driver, which explained why no furniture had arrived. With the help of the local agent for the van line we were using we managed to get our furniture out to the house in Dunstaffnage and unloaded; but not before having to rent a bulldozer to haul the trailer up and down the driveway quagmire and then bring in a few truckloads of gravel to make the driveway passable by car.
The driveway proved to be a bane to our existence. Every time it snowed, which during the winter of 1974-75 was often, we had to get a neighbour who had a plow and blower to clean it out. But because we had no garage (which, strangely we hadn’t noticed back in the summer), before I went to work I’d have to shovel out our two cars. We’d rented a second car for Anne, otherwise she’d be stranded six miles from town because I had to drive in each day to work, another little item we overlooked back in July.
My regular trips to Toronto meant that Anne, pregnant with Alan, was alone a lot of the time in what seemed to us, after living so long in the middle of Toronto, to be in the middle of nowhere. Then, just after Christmas the real problems began. Matthew began suffering frequent febrile convulsions. After a few trips to the emergency ward we were instructed to immerse him in cold water when this happened. I can still hear the poor little guy screaming, “No, Mommy! No, Daddy!” when we did this. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Anne when this happened while I was in Toronto. He was also prescribed the drug prednisone, which caused him to stagger around like a drunk when he was on it.
After a couple of months of this we insisted that our doctor run whatever tests were needed in order to determine what could be done. These included a spinal tap and a brain scan, which were very painful for Matthew and distressful for us. The results of the brain scan were devastating: we were told Matthew had a brain tumour and should be taken to Halifax for further evaluation.
One of our former neighbours in Toronto was Dr. Doug McGreal, a neurologist at Sick Kids Hospital. We called him and described the situation. He asked how soon we could get him to Toronto and we arranged to fly up the next day. The day after that he was under Dr. McGreal’s care at Sick Kids. Unfortunately for Matthew, he had to undergo another spinal tap and brain scan (and got bitten by another kid while playing in the play park at the hospital). But the news this time was great. Dr. McGreal informed us there was nothing wrong with Matthew that a tonsillectomy couldn’t cure. When we asked how the brain scan could have been so badly misread in PEI, he said that a blocked sinus (which Matthew probably had because of the tonsil infection) would show up on the scan in much the same manner as a tumour and that the scan should have been redone before giving us a diagnosis. Anyway, we were so relieved that we weren’t even angry at the PEI medical folks. Shortly after returning to Charlottetown, Matthew had his tonsils removed and has been healthy ever since.
Oh yes, while all this was going on two other important events took place. The first, and most important, was that Alan was born on March 11, 1975. But even that wasn’t without some drama. He was jaundiced and had to remain a week in the hospital, and Anne was back in the hospital a couple of days after getting home because of hemorrhaging. There was a bit of comic relief involved here. On one particular day, with both Anne and Alan in the hospital and Matthew staying with Anne’s parents, because of another blizzard I was staying at a motel in Charlottetown; not one of the most pleasant days of my life. A local radio stations (then CHTN, now Ocean100) had a daily feature in which they dedicated the day as a “be kind to (someone) day.” That day had been designated “be kind to Lyman MacInnis day.”
The other important event took place about three weeks earlier when I informed my partners that I didn’t think the situation was working out and that I was going to return to Toronto. They seemed to fully understand the situation, were supportive, and we all remained good friends. Not one of them ever hinted at this, but I suspect there was some relief on their part in no longer having to put up with a very unhappy, outspoken partner who spent so much time in Toronto.
When Anne and I agreed that we would go back to Toronto, we also decided that, having endured this much winter agony, we should stay until September and enjoy the summer at our cottage at Lakeside. When she asked me what I was going to do back in Toronto I replied, “I don’t care if I have to be a soda jerk at Kresge’s (a department store chain that no longer exists), I still want to go back.”
We put both our Dunstaffnage house and our Lakeside cottage on the market (the cottage because it was just too small for a family of four) but neither had sold by the time we left to return to Toronto. We rented the house to a Charlottetown family with an option to buy at the end of a year, which they didn’t take up because they were certain the house was haunted. In fact, as a kid I was always told that it was a haunted house, but this was news to Anne. We certainly didn’t experience any ghosts, and there some lonely nights that winter when we probably would have welcomed the company.
This haunted reputation caused us some more serious grief when a potential purchaser of both the house and the cottage (an entertainer whose name many of you would recognize, but which I will not reveal here) pulled out of the deal because someone told him about the house’s reputation. He had to forfeit a substantial deposit because there was no damn way I was giving it back to the superstitious bugger.
Both the cottage and house eventually sold, but we learned that there’s one thing worse than not owning a house, it’s having two houses when you need only one.
About the middle of the last week in August another moving van and a loaded car (including the nasty cat, but two kids this time) headed back to Toronto. We had bought a house in Toronto during a visit back in the spring, ironically less than a month after we finally sold the house we had left behind the previous November. Not only that, but our new place was less than three blocks away from our old one. However, this did mean that getting back into the neighbourhood was rather seamless..
And, as it turned out, I didn’t have to take a job as a soda jerk at Kresge’s.