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Always look on the bright side of life…

 

Some things in life are bad
 They can really make you mad
 Other things just make you swear and curse
 When you're chewing on life's gristle
 Don't grumble, give a whistle
 And this'll help things turn out for the best...
 And...
...always look on the bright side
 of life...
 (Whistle)
Always look on the light side
 of life...
 (Whistle)
If life seems jolly rotten
 There's something you've forgotten
 And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
 When you're feeling in the dumps
 Don't be silly chumps
 Just purse your lips and whistle
 - that's the thing.
 And...always look on the bright
 side of life...
 (Whistle)
Come on.
Always look on the right side
 of life...
 (Whistle)
For life is quite absurd
 And death's the final word
 You must always face the curtain
 with a bow
 Forget about your sin - give the
 audience a grin
 Enjoy it - it's your last chance
 anyhow.
So always look on the bright side
 of death...
 (Whistle)
a-Just before you draw your terminal breath...
 (Whistle)
Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it
 Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true
 You'll see its all a show, keep 'em laughin as you go
 Just remember that the last laugh is on you
And...
 Always look on the bright side
 of life...
 (Whistle)
Always look on the right side
 of life...
C'mon Brian, cheer up
Always look on the bright side
 of life...
Always look on the bright side
 of life...
Worse things happen at sea you know.
I mean - what have you got to lose?
 You know, you come from nothing
 - you're going back to nothing.
 What have you lost? Nothing.
Always look on the right side
 (I mean) of life...
what have you got to lose?
 You know, you come from nothing
 - you're going back to nothing.
 What have you lost?
Always (Nothing.) look on the right side of life...
Nothing will come from nothing ya know what they say?
 Cheer up ya old bugga c'mon give us a grin!
 There ya go, see!
Always look on the right side of life...
 (Cheer up ya old bugga c'mon give us a grin! At same time)
There ya go, see!

(Eric Idle)

VANCOUVER ISLAND – Continuing my project of focussing on the 10% of things excluded by the Pagun Principle , I want to talk about an extraordinary day my family spent with an extraordinary man in an extraordinary place.

The man to whom I referred is Bruce, one of the volunteer drivers for Wheels for Wellness, the organisation I mentioned in my last article. Not only does Bruce volunteer his time and energy to drive people with serious illnesses to distant medical appointments, but he works with his local community on a host of environmental preservation and rehabilitation projects, and he does all this while he is on a disability pension for a life threatening condition he endures daily.

The place to which I referred is Campbell River, British Columbia, a town about forty-five minutes up island from our Errington home.

The reason the day we spent there was extraordinary goes back to my last day of commuting with JJ to Victoria for my radiation treatments. The last radiation appointment, I discovered, is treated by everyone from Cancer Centre staff and doctors to volunteers; it’s called graduation day and everyone celebrates. In my case, Bruce was driving us back to Errington and asked if we liked to fish. I said that sure we did, but I haven’t had a rod in my hand for years and JJ has never even tried to fish…he likes the idea in principle only. Bruce said he’d call us if we’d like to go fishing with him in Campbell River and he’d take care of all the details; just bring our bodies and he’d provide all the equipment and take us to the best spots. Gee, that would be wonderful, we told him, and promptly filed the invitation under “Generous and Kind Offers that are Quickly Forgotten”.

To some surprise on our part, Bruce arrived at our door early one morning the following week. He was driving a Wheels for Wellness van and had one patient/passenger riding shotgun. Turns out that he had misplaced my phone number and had wanted to set up our fishing date, so he dropped by on his way to Victoria the first time he had to pick someone up anywhere near our somewhat isolated home. He even brought donuts to make up for the “inconvenience(!?)”

That night we talked on the phone and set up a date; he offered to come and pick us up, but we assured him that I was up to driving. A few days later Yolanda, JJ and I packed up some food for everyone, a cooler full of beer and extra clothes for JJ and we headed for Campbell River.

When we arrived at Bruce’s house on a beautiful sunny full acre in the hinterlands of the Salmon Capital of the world, he was waiting for us. He had put together several rod and reel combinations including both spin casting and fly rods and one especially easy to use set for JJ. After meeting his delightful wife, Heidi, we were off to check out his favourite fishing spots.

128

JJ giving me a few pointers

We settled on a spot on Campbell River where the pink salmon were running. These fish were returning from their sojourn in the ocean and were on their final journey up the river where they were born to spawn and then to die, replacing the nutrients in the stream with their own decaying bodies. As anglers we were there to take advantage of the mass final migration of these 5-8 pound pinks. Bruce hadn’t led us astray. We’d get a hit on virtually every cast and pretty soon we were landing some of these feisty and determined fish.

What we hadn’t anticipated though, was JJ’s reaction. I knew he was sensitive and very soft hearted; we had seen a deer hit by a car on the highway to Victoria and he had been inconsolable. For hours he had cried and kept asking if a doctor would fix him up. But Wednesday’s reaction was unexpected. He was as thrilled as any five year-old have been when Bruce first hooked a seven pound fish. He was dancing with eager anticipation as Bruce fought and reeled in the salmon. He was rapt while Bruce pulled the hook on the landed fish. But when Bruce went to bop his catch on the head to kill it, JJ freaked out.

Apparently he hadn’t connected the dots. That the fish needed to die in order to be cooked and eaten was something he hadn’t considered. He cried and cried that the fish couldn’t go back to its family and that its mother would miss him; he saw me and Bruce as brutal savages and wouldn’t speak to us even between sobs. He expressed his angered protest in a way that made perfectly good sense to him.133 He got naked and refused to wear clothes until we stopped fishing.

Bruce, however had the situation covered. We went back to the car and drove on the backroads that lead to the fish hatchery. Bruce then explained simply and patiently to JJ that every fish that was born in this hatchery spends several years in the ocean and then makes a trip upstream on the river of their birth and then spawns and dies. He explained that every one of the countless fish we could see from the shore of the river just below the hatchery was destined to die in the next few days and, in fact, there is a danger of over-spawning. Sport fishing, he explained, was necessary to maintain the balance of nature; that these fish had been hatched specifically to be caught and eaten.

Big Bruce and Little JJ

Big Bruce and Little JJ

The upshot was that we ended up with two beautiful pinks that we took home and cleaned. We ate one that night and the other one is in the freezer waiting for the right occasion. JJ was happy, Yolanda and I were happy and we had a great day that ended with us having a new friend.

I’m afraid I’m getting a little sunny in my last few pieces. Let me assure you that I am not turning into some 21st Century Dale Carnegie. I still see the flaws, faults, and failures of our species and they appal me just as much as they always have. I am seeing things this way at this time simply because, with the deaths of my parents, the various medical problems I’ve encountered, financial setbacks, and all the other slings and arrows, I need to focus on some positive things. And with people like Bruce, places like Campbell River, and an absolutely remarkable son like JJ, seeing the 10% of things that are not crap is all too easy.

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