Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Muddle of a Post---Miracles, Cats, Comas, Old Friends and a Lakeside Retreat

From E's enchanted house.

OK, this is an advanced warning of the muddled and convoluted nature of this post.
If you get fed up with my story-in-a-story thing, you may want to click NEXT about now.
But this story has a few sub stories that I find interesting and feel relevant to this blog/journal of mine.

Last Thursday evening, I went out walking with my camera, hoping to get some shots of the marina near my house.  I live in a town of 260,000 people.  It is on Lake Ontario and has 2 major creeks (rivers) one on each end of the town.  Each end of town has a marina.
Here's a shot of the creek.  My mum used to live in that condo right here, before her stroke.
I ventured down towards the marina,
but ended up spotting an old family friend sitting on the terrace of one of the few original cottages left by the marina.
E's creek side retreat.

E. used to live in my mums old apartment building.  Although much younger than my mother, E became good friends with my mother.  Despite having 9 cats (5 inherited after her mother died), E is not a crazy cat lady, and is indeed a stylish and lovely local restaurant owner.  My mother became her cat sitter, and would make my dad carry a tray of 9 little dishes of tuna on the elevator to E's apartment when she was cat sitting.

When my father died, E. hosted my entire family at her restaurant the night of his funeral, closing one whole part down,
 and providing us with dinner and wine all as her gift to us and my mother.

E and I have a special shared experience.  7 years ago, my poor mother suffered a debilitating brain hemorrhage. She slipped into a coma and we were told she was brain dead.  We were advised to (and did) remove my mother, not once but twice, from life support. 
 Each time, she seemed to get a little better......more aware.  After the second time, we were really just sitting in vigil for her, at her bedside, knowing we had days or hours only left with her. 

One evening, I was walking the hospital halls, when I spotted E and another friend of my mums, walking down the hall with a basket, looking kind of guilty and stealth like.  Turns out, they were sneaking into my mothers room with mums favourite cat.

What happened next can be described as eerie, weird, unexplainable or if you are religious....miraculous.  When Girly was set on the bed, my mother in her coma, reached out and started petting the cat.  I have pictures of this, but can't publish them out of respect for my mums privacy.

Amidst much confusion and sadness for the next few days, we planned her funeral and met with the hospital clergy and staff for advice.  One Friday, whilst conferring with my brother and hospital Chaplin, my mother came out of her coma and started speaking (with a much more proper English accent). The Chaplin and nurses were crying, my brother and I stunned.  We then had to telephone the rest of the family who were all set be coming to her funeral and tell them she was now alive. 

Phoning my brother in the UK to tell him that his mother was not really brain dead, but now alive and talking, was one of the most surreal things I have ever had to do.

My mums journey from there is a long and complicated one, but she now lives in a nursing home, enjoys her favorite TV shows, visiting, trips out and can dial the phone on her own. Although not a perfect life, she certainly has all her wits about her.

So back to E.  E's own mother passed away a few year ago and she inherited a bit of money that she squirreled away knowing the perfect opportunity would arise.
After New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, the fellow that owned this house, wanted a quick sale, so that he and his boyfriend, who had just lost his home to the Hurricane, could move to Costa Rica and start a new life.

E. drove by, knocked on his door and after a look around fell immediately in love with it.  She went to the bank and lawyer that afternoon and spent her inheritance.

Over the past few years E has lovingly brought this "shack" back to life.  Everything has been done with Craigslist or garage sale finds.  Everything.  It is quaint and lovely and unique and charming. 
 Just like E.

This night that I walked past was the anniversary of her mums passing.  She invited me in and we reminisced about her mum, and my mum and Girly and the "miracle" .
She let me take pictures of her special "RETREAT". 

Her home is called Shangri Lili.  She has used a lot of black matte paint and mirrors to visually expand the tiny space.
Garage sale finds with her Shabby Chic touch.
Candles and chandeliers.........
Everything here is rescued from garage sales and road side trash....she loves a little animal print.
Pretty chandeliers....
The view from her makeup table
A found chair in her dressing room.. 
Her bedroom should be in Romantic Homes Magazine
Chalkboard paint in her kitchen.
Her restaurant vibe is apparent in the tiny kitchen.
The faux fireplace composed on garage sale bits....
Her glamorous living room.......
Bits and pieces reflected in the mirror

Black and White E's on the mantle.
Her workshop
The view from her patio
You can see here that she has a little spot of peaceful tranquility here by the river, with the town moments away.
The town beyond.
So E. got her piece of paradise, knowing that by keeping her mums money (who could do that for 4 years) the purpose for it would be found.  She said she knew deep down that there was a reason why she shouldn't spend it at the time.  All of her family members spent theirs right away.  She thinks it was fate that she would hold it till this little cottage became available, and that only did because of the fateful events from hurricane Katrina.

It is a very odd and special thing that E and I shared with my mum.  We don't often mention it, but that night seemed the perfect night to talk and marvel at the whole thing. Alignment of the world again.

I returned home hours later, Mr. Raz not knowing where I was, with my lips and teeth all stained red from wine.  "Just out taking pictures" I told him.


  1. What a beautiful story. Not once did I want to hit "next". I enjoyed reading every word.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience here.

  2. That is an incredible story about your mum and just shows that science and medecine don't always have all the answers. xx

  3. This was an inspiring and hopeful story. As a RN I have witnesses miracles before. Medicine often does not have the answer. I belive God has his own timing. hugs♥olive

  4. Chania,

    This is a wonderful story and I am so impressed with E's talents.

    A perfect Sunday morning tale for a very blue Mama, whose baby girl returned to NY late last night. Thank you.



  5. I very much enjoyed your story. I love tales like this, that makes one wonder, why and when things happen to us. I love the mystery of life! Her house is lovely too by the way! Kit

  6. Chanie that is such an amazing poignant lovely story. How wonderful that your mum made it through those hours of darkness. I would call it by it's proper name - a miracle!

  7. Beautiful Chania, beautiful story.
    Love your Sanctuary place you create. Thank you Chania for your visit to my Sanctuary.

    Will be back to see how you are going to top this post :)

  8. Oh Chania what a gorgeous GORGEOUS post....I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes & a lump in my throat....THANK YOU for recounting this fascinating & uplifting story of what I can only imagine must have been a terrible time for you....How fortunate for you all to have had the FABULOUS E & Girly in your lives....Talk about the 'healing powers' of our furry Friends hey....!!!

    I'm GLAD E's a vintage/recycling enthusiaste as well as a FABULOUS Family Friend....Seems only 'appropro'....!!

    Cheers for now Lovey,
    Tamarah :o)

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  10. What a wonderful story Chania - and it just goes to show that we really don't have all the answers, some things just can't be explained. But isn't that what makes life so magical? Absolutely beautiful post. K xx

  11. Chania, there is a peace and elegance to your story...thank you so much for sharing it.

  12. also from ontario, on lake huron
    i love the story of your mommas miracle.
    E sure does have a sweet place

  13. You and E have a very special connection. I enjoyed reading more about you and your life. xx

  14. What an amazing story - your Mum's recovery sent shivers down my spine (good shivers, of course!) Truly remarkable. And I love your scenic photos -your part of the world looks like a gorgeous place to live.

  15. I have been reading this from the beginning to the end with joy and admiring for this person E... the amazing cat story and I am happy you still have your mum with you.

    great post!

  16. What an utterly fabulous and remarkable story!

    Kat :)

  17. Hi Chania - I found this story really moving and I must admit a little spooky! Beautifully told. Wish we all had a friend like E. Lou x


I love to read each and every comment and are thrilled that you take the time to send one. Thank you so much. Chania