Let’s Talk

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.

My father’s obituary

Dad

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:

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.

 

Jim Johanneson

Dad

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.

Donations

If you’re interested in making a memorial donation in Dad’s honour, here are the charities we as a family have selected:

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.

 

Snoopy’s Christmas

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.

The Greyhound Chronicles

This all originally appeared on Facebook, but not everyone’s on Facebook. (Hi, Mom!) So I’m posting it here, too, for you to enjoy.

Any annotations are in italics, and mostly they provide context or commentary.

1.

Dec. 7th, 5:20 PM

I love paying a $3.50 “convenience” fee and then having to catch a cab to the airport to get on the bus. A fine use of irony there.

At this point I hadn’t left my sister’s house yet. I had no idea. None.

2.

Dec. 7th, 6:51 PM

I’m at the depot ridiculously early. Got my ticket. Found out my bus is delayed by 90 minutes.

If I’d known I wasn’t in a hurry, I’d have told my cabbie to not bother running those three red lights.

Thanks for the notification, Greyhound. You suck.

Any Wpg folks, if you’re bored, swing by and say hi.

One did. Thanks, Michelle!

3.

Dec. 7th, 8:07 PM

I wonder if the dude with the Australian accent running the metal detector over everyone who will be boarding the northbound bus ever looks out the window at the snow, sighs, and thinks about the choices he’s made.

One of my Australian Facebook friends assured me that he does.

4.

Dec. 7th, 8:22 PM

I just now saw a sign telling me that I can save 10% on a Harvey’s burger if I take my bus ticket to the airport terminal.

I was loath to leave the bus terminal, on the chance that my bus would somehow magically show up, and I’d miss it. Also, if you’re trying to lure me away, you’ll have to do better than Harvey’s.

5.

Dec. 7th, 9:05 PM

Douglas Adams pointed out that it’s no coincidence that no language has ever coined the phrase “as pretty as an airport”. Ditto bus terminals.

Self-explanatory, I trust.

6.

Dec. 7th, 9:23 PM

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Likewise self-explanatory.

I also posted a comment: “Greyhound, you owe everyone in this terminal a refund on their ‘service’ fee.”

7.

Dec. 7th, 10:00 PM

In line. Greyhound suuuuuuucks.

They herd you through “security” before they load the bus. It’s pretty funny, since people getting on at stops along the way aren’t subjected to a metal detector. Also, in the Winnipeg terminal, you can leave the “security” area and return without a second check. Just so long as you don’t move your carry-on bags out.

8.

Dec. 7th, 10:18 PM

They’re still calling it the 8:30 bus to Brandon. It’s 10:18 PM now. #greyhoundIsTerrible

9.

Dec. 7th, 10:39 PM

The Thompson bus arrived after the Brandon one. Guess which one is boarding first. Go ahead, guess. #ffs

10.

Dec. 7th, 10:43 PM

A dude has decided he’s not getting on the bus now. Cue the clown show of retrieving his checked bag.

He got yelled at for moving his carry-on bags from the “secure” area. He decided that the highway conditions were still too bad to travel. (He was partly right; as is tradition, the highway was terrible from Winnipeg to Portage la Prairie.)

11.

Dec. 7th, 10:54 PM

I’m on a bus.

It’s almost 11 pm. This is the 8:30 bus.

Never again, Greyhound.

The early bus was scheduled to leave Winnipeg at 8:30 PM and arrive in Brandon at 11:10 PM. The late bus was to leave at 11:00 and get in at 1:50.

The early bus left Winnipeg at 11:00 PM (ish) and arrived in Brandon around 1:30 AM. I don’t know the fate of the late bus.

12.

Dec. 7th, 11:00 PM

As we got rolling, I noticed that the front seat held two coolers of human blood, helpfully labelled Please Expedite Without Delay.

13.

Dec. 7th, 11:40 PM

A middle-of-the-night bus ride down a snowy Trans-Canada between Winnipeg and Brandon? Yeah, The Tragically Hip seems like the right soundtrack.

Coda.

Dec. 8th, 1:52 AM

Home.

Epilogue.

Dec. 8th, 9:29 AM

They just got in touch via Twitter and suggested I check their bus tracker next time. I tried that. Apparently “Winnipeg” doesn’t exist.

I snarked a bit on Twitter, too. The helpful people at the Greyhound Help account obviously didn’t realize I was talking about Greyhound Canada.

This also felt a bit like the post-credits scene, the last joke in a rolling farce.


On the up side: at least I didn’t sleep on the floor of the terminal, like the one guy loudly proclaimed he had the previous night. According to him, the temperature dropped overnight in the terminal — almost certainly a cost-saving measure — and no one was willing to turn up the heat.

At least I had a good book to read. (Stories of Your Life and Others, re-titled Arrival to capitalize on the movie, a collection of short stories by Ted Chiang.)