The woes actually began in March when my last surviving brother died in PEI. Although he was ninety-five years old and had had a long, fruitful life with good health until shortly before he died, it was still a major loss.
In May we got a call in Toronto that, although our sump pump was working overtime, there was water in our basement in PEI. All basement carpeting had to be thrown out (which we replaced with tile) and a diversionary pipeline had to be installed to prevent our sump pump from flooding our neighbours’ properties. Later, when we arrived in PEI, neighbours told us our sump pump ran 24/7 for over three weeks.
The following week in Toronto, both our main sump pump and the backup failed, resulting in a minor flood in one room in the basement. No significant damage, but we spent a couple of hours stemming the flow until the plumbers arrived. We also had dinner guests that evening.
Shortly before we arrived in PEI in early June, Kevin MacAdam, a member of a family that we’ve always been close to, died suddenly from a ruptured appendix. My niece is married to his brother, Garry.
Then shortly after we arrived in PEI, Ferne Stevenson’s mother died. Ferne is one of our best PEI friends.
In early July, during a very heavy rainfall in Toronto, we had another flood in our basement there (a different room this time) with considerable damage that still hasn't been repaired (you'll see why shortly). The cost of repairing this damage, and to take the steps necessary to prevent it from it happening again, is very significant; an act of God, so no insurance.
Later in July, Cathy Coffin, died unexpectedly. It was her brother Kevin who just weeks before had died suddenly from the ruptured appendix; so in addition to being a good friend of ours, she was also my niece’s sister-in-law.
On August 4th, we had a major flood in our Toronto house when a connection on an upstairs toilet broke and water ran for at least a day before being discovered by our son. About 40% of our walls, ceilings and floors had to be demolished. Estimated cost of restoration is well in excess of $100,000. (Apparently God doesn't deal with toilets, so, thankfully, this loss is insured. However, we aren't able to live in the house, and probably won't be back in it until November; and even then there will be repairs being carried out in the basement. (In the meantime we’re living in a rented one-bedroom apartment, managing to adjust to about 700 square feet instead of our much larger home.)
Then a couple of days after the major flood at our Toronto home, I learned that a very close PEI friend, Gil Collins, had suffered a heart attack and was in intensive care.
On August 8th, while taking my daily walk on our beach in PEI, I watched in horror as a woman from Washington, D.C. drowned after getting caught in an undertow. The waves were so high that neither swimmers nor boats could reach her. A helicopter was summoned from Greenwood, N.S., but did not get there in time.
On August 14th another life-long PEI friend, Angus Geldert, died. Angus walked me home from school the first day I attended grade one at the little red (honestly) schoolhouse in Morell, PEI.
A couple of day later I learned that my last living sibling (my 89-year-old sister in Brampton, Ontario) was hospitalized with bladder and kidney problems. After three weeks she was released from hospital, but suffered a heart attack that same day.
A week later, another of our best PEI friends, Preston Coffin, died of a heart attack after competing in an old timers' hockey tournament in Edmonton. He was two days short of his 73rd birthday. To compound the misery of this one, he's the contractor who built our PEI place and who has been looking after opening, closing, and maintaining it for the past fifteen years.
A day after Preston’s death, another long-time PEI friend, Betty Ann Ferris, died.
Shortly after we got back to Toronto, Bryce Hunter, with whom I played hockey back in the 60s, and with whom I remained friends all these years, died.
Then my sister died.
Last week, Preston Coffin’s sister, Eleanor, died.
In the past two weeks, three former professional colleagues of mine in Toronto have died.
I hope we never have a summer that makes this one look good.