Things I love about riding my bike this time of year:
- Kids’ chalk art adding a pop of colour to the bike-trail tarmac
Things I could do without:
- Diesel pickup trucks giving me 2″ of clearance
Or, as Galileo put it (albeit apocryphally), E pur si muove.
Hey. Just a warning: This isn’t an easy read. It wasn’t easy to write, either.
Today is January 25th, when Bell, inspired by a spirit of boundless compassion*, will give a pile of money to mental health initiatives, so long as you tag your discussion correctly. So… here’s my 5¢ worth, I guess.
As some of you know, my dad recently died. He was in a nursing home for years before he left us, a victim of pretty severe dementia. So in a way, he died twice: once in the mind, slowly falling away over years, and then in body, later, more quickly.
Even before the dementia became apparent, there were hints of depression. Maybe things could have been different if he’d spoken up, or if we’d asked the right questions. (Let’s talk, Dad.) Hindsight is, of course, always 20/20, but Dad just wasn’t the type to talk about these things. (Neither am I, really. Not usually.)
I’m like Dad in a lot of ways. I look like him, I sound like him, and many of his mannerisms and turns of phrase are deeply ingrained in me too. We both love science fiction. We both lack a spleen, thanks to a genetic condition whose name I never learned.
But I’m also unlike him in a lot of ways. I do my best to go to the gym, which I think he might find a foreign concept. I don’t like canned peas (grey salty sadness pellets), I enjoy kiwifruit and yogurt, I read the occasional fantasy novel.
Sometimes—not very often, but sometimes—I wonder if his fate is my fate. People tell me that it’s not, and I do my best to listen.
* I imagine there are tax benefits, too.
James Gillis Johanneson passed away January 4th, 2017, in Ste. Rose du Lac. He was 70 years old.
Jim (“JJ” to his students and friends, “Jimmy Danger” to his sons-in-law—ask them why!) was born in 1946 in Winnipegosis, MB, to George and Jeanne (née Gilliam) Johanneson. He married Theresa Hrushowy in 1970, and they had three children: Patrick, Nicola, and Susan.
In his late teens Jim worked up north, in Hay River, NWT. When he returned south he took teacher training. He taught Industrial Arts (ie, shop) and Computer Science classes at Ste. Rose Collegiate Institute (later Ste. Rose School) for over 25 years, and then, later, taught shop in Lac Brochet, MB. He was a well-loved teacher, the favourite of many students. He had an approachable, down-to-earth manner with everyone, students and fellow teachers alike.
In addition to being a shop teacher, he was a carpenter and all-around handyman. If something needed fixing—plumbing, electrical, insulation, you name it—he could generally fix it. He undertook several major renovation projects at home, and also did a lot of work at his kids’ houses. (Ask Nicola about the bathroom mirror, or Patrick about the siding and deck.)
Jim served on the Manitoba Teachers’ Society executive for years. He was also a dedicated volunteer with Westman Media, creating tons of content for the local Access TV channel.
He loved to read, and the house in Ste. Rose was full of bookshelves overflowing with science-fiction and war novels. He enjoyed camping, and in summer 1981 some of the extended family made a month-long convoy trip across western Canada to Whitehorse, Yukon.
Jim loved kids. He would often go for walks with his children and (later) grandchildren, pausing to check the level of the river or teach them to skip stones at the beach.
In the last part of his life, Jim was afflicted with dementia, and he lived the last six years in the Dr. Gendreau Personal Care Home.
Jim is survived by his wife Terry; their children Patrick (Kathleen Kalberg), Nicola (Joël Parent), and Susan (Jeff Walden); grandchildren Julian, Isaac, Cedric, and Genevieve; brothers Brian (“Oscar” to all), George (Brenda), and Bill (Bonny); and his uncle Bill and aunt Phyllis Johanneson. He is predeceased by his parents George Sr. and Jeanne Johanneson, and his parents-in-law Nicholas and Regina Hrushowy.
Memorial donations may be made to:
- Canadian Alzheimer Society
- Canadian Foodgrains Bank
- Dr. Gendreau PCH in Ste. Rose – Box 60, Ste. Rose, MB R0L 1S0
A very special “thank you” to all the dedicated staff working at the Gendreau Home; thanks to you, we never had to worry about Jim’s well-being.
This is my dad, Jim Johanneson. “JJ” to his students, his co-workers, and his friends. “Jimmy Danger” to his sons-in-law.
A couple days ago, he left this world. I miss him but I know he’s not feeling any pain now.
I will surely say more later, but for now: Thanks, Dad.
If you’re interested in making a memorial donation in Dad’s honour, here are the charities we as a family have selected:
- The Canadian Alzheimer Society
- The Canadian Foodgrains Bank
- Dr. Gendreau Personal Care home — Box 60, Ste. Rose du Lac, MB R0L 1S0
If you’re interested in sending flowers, please, spend the money on one of the above charities. If you want to leave a note of condolence for us, the ones left behind, you can do so on the funeral home’s site.
For those that didn’t care for yesterday’s Giger delights, I offer this.
When I was a kid, we had this song (along with the other two Snoopy vs. the Red Baron tunes, and a bunch of Royal Guardsmen songs on the B-side) on an LP with a pink cardboard sleeve. I must have come pretty close to wearing the record out over the years.
I actually still have the record (thanks, Mom!) but a) I don’t have a record player and b) it’s pretty badly warped now, so the last time I tried to listen to it, it sped up and slowed down to a degree comparable to the songs they play on Lip Sync Battle.
Fun fact: As a kid I assumed the sound effect on the line “The Baron then offered / A holiday toast” was a toaster popping out toast. Now I know it’s a champagne cork. Ah, youth.
It’s nice to be able to forget my gloves in the office and not worry about having my fingers shatter.