Fateful Destinies


Many early civilizations have developed methods of comprehension, acceptance and philosophies to manage the physical anomaly/mystery called ‘death’. Yet, with each civilization there was the strain on personal experience in wrapping one’s consciousness around what concept was offered.

In what I’m about to relate, there are periodic and timely Life offerings on the subject throughout my ongoing existence.





My first Life memory occurred very early. I was about four years of age, but by all accounts it could possibly be three. In any case, it was at a great-great someone’s funeral, and my ways of meandering were unrestricted throughout the venue. What I do remember is ascending a number of steps, three to five, onto a podium or platform whereupon rested a casket. From all appearance, to my memory, this casket had a glass-top, or was entirely of glass.

The floor was carpeted, red or some deep maroon tone, with deep-blue or purple curtains. There was a chair nearby and arrangements of flowers, and I meandered amongst the people who gave little regard to this little person moving between their legs. One thing did gain my attention during this period of observation was the odour. This I considered directly related to the person lying within the casket.

I stood looking into the casket, pondering the meaning of what I was seeing there. I was without emotional reference, or confluence, so I continued on my walkabout among the living.

That may have been the earliest reference/remembrance of a body laying in state. It was not to be the last. There have been many ever since, noted family members and accident victims in news media of the times, until I emigrated to the country called the Dominion of Canada.

Upon arrival, I was exposed to a different kind of death. Different, as my mind-scape began to seek references to goings on. There was the usual accidental deaths, deaths instigated by crimes of passion and the like; but, nothing prepared me for the deaths by hate. I was to be introduced to these in conversation concerning civil rights and slavery. A shock to my open mindset.

Still, those deaths were not in my immediate sphere of existence so the days moved on. Then, the first memorable one came a-calling quite unexpectedly. This death came in the form of a friend’s younger sister when I was 18, she was 15. Our families had gotten quite close, unusual given the social times where families of diverse cultures were not readily accessible. You see, his family was Italian and ours Jamaican. It may not seem like much, but in the sixties many friendships were on an individual basis, even though the community were of multi-national European preferences. We were a minority among minorities, which may have made it a mite easier. We posed no threat as we were a single parent family, matriarch dominant, the only one of colour in each neighbourhood we infiltrated.

This episode stands out, although there may have been others. Rocco and I were friends, and he had a crush on my sister. We were introduced to his family and spent time in each others’ homes. One occasion, his sister’s 15th birthday I believe, we were all enjoying the celebration and I was introduced to homemade wine. I excused myself and sought refuge in one of the bedrooms to take a nap. Everyone was wondering where I was, but soon forgot as it was a birthday celebration and I, like Rocco, was more like a chaperone for the younger one’s enjoying the festivities.

Two-weeks after the party I received word that there was a sudden death in Rocco’s family. I was surprised to hear it was his little sister whom I’d only just met, and had grown fond of her pleasant manner. I had not known my impact on his family, but was asked if I would be one of the poll-bearers at the funeral? To honour our friendship, I accepted the request and experienced my first Italian funeral, not one I could have been prepared for on so many levels.

The grief was unbearable, more so that I did not feel the depth of it as they which I gather is understandable. Then, there was the carrying of the casket, a weight I’ll always remember as I did not comprehend the magnitude of its composition. It was an expression of her value to the family. I did not understand ‘loss’ in that capacity at that juncture in my life.

I continued on with my life. And sadly, as the grieving subsided to manageability Rocco and I lost connection and drifted apart, due mainly to my growing discontent with my life and home, and moving away to university. I continued my insular existence, unknown capacity until my present condition.

The year was 1968 when I departed for university and, upon return a year later, I discovered I had a step-father. There was much adjustment to be made, the worst of it was discovering he was dying of cancer a year later. I watched/experienced this vibrant man, 186lb., devolve to 90lb as he succumbed to the malady. In the days remaining to him he reverted to his early-childhood conditioning, by my thinking, as upon seeing me was startled and ran yelling fearfully through the house where I was monitoring him. He was the loss that was to grieve my mother for some time.

Two years later, I met a young man about my age at a place I patronized, then later was employed. We were becoming close friends and, to solidify that friendship, planned to play tennis. We’d met two lovely lasses, and we four were chummy albeit platonic, at the time. Our tennis match was never to be actualized, as he kept postponing our dates for one reason or another. Then, after a postponement that involved a visit to a girlfriend in Ottawa, his auto was side-swiped by a transport truck on his return, as I was informed by the lasses we had befriended. Another sad turn of events in 1970.







I was to have a reprieve for a time, the deaths that occurred were of family/friends I was unable to attend in person. Others were in the form of grandparents during the eighties and early nineties. Some, unexpected yet expected, were the result of failing health and so taken-in-stride, as some would say. But, there were a few in the nineties that I learned to accept. They were that of students in a new school where each summer deaths were a common occurrence, and I became deflated but kept an optimistic countenance while awaiting summers where no deaths were reported. There were the odd serious injuries, followed by accidental and other untimely deaths through medical anomalies. Then another reprieve save distant notices of same.


4. GrandMother Malcolm


Then came 2001 with the passing of my father, which predicated the worldwide memorable 9-11. Then in the mid-2000s, there were information of deaths that came upon arrival during trips to visit family members, and other friends. The year I collapsed and had to retire early, before I could entire retirement fully, I was to attend a soccer player’s funeral who died by accident while celebrating his 18th birthday. I went away to allow myself some space from that entry, but a year later was to be inundated by an average of one-death/month of the subsequent 12 months. It was a trying time from October 2007 to October 2008, from the deaths of friends and family member of friends whom I’d befriended over the decades. Their ages were from 22 through 91, reason being that of the usual accident/health/age. The grief that was endured by their family members was immeasurable, but I forgot the I was not having enough time to process the mounting scope to which I was being exposed, especially with the knowledge of ‘how’ the deaths occurred.


3. Father- Victor


Since 2008, the deaths were more sporadic occurring less frequent, but still unexpected in the sense that many were younger than expected, and others with discovered illnesses.


5. Winston Malcolm Sr.


Then, in the last five years, relatives young and old were leaving this mortal coil. There was my mother’s older brother around 2010, now my father’s older brothers, one of the brother’s two sons and an aunt, all in the past year 2014/2015.


1. Uncle Lyn


I have lost count and, worst of all, knowing It’s not over I have little to cheer me as I await the inevitable in a quietude that cannot be shared, save here in this entry. I trust you’ll accept my apology, and indulge me, by taking a small peak into the abyss without fear as you hold the hand of your loved one as you journey here.



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