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Friday, September 21, 2012

Just what I needed!

Although my story is pretty heavy, there were wonderful uplifting moments during my hospital stay, and I have been thinking about one in particular for over a week now.  But you will need some background.

I love music, when I think back to my childhood and teenage years, I actually have a soundtrack in my head that goes with certain memories.  I had aunts and uncles that loved everything from Johnny Cash to the Guess Who and everything in between.  Growing up in Cape Breton meant that you listened to "Scottish Strings" at 6p.m. after the five o'clock news was over.  At least at my house.  Fiddle music was like the backdrop music to the memories, like sitting in the cars at the square dances in Glencoe and listening to "our" music while the sounds of the fiddle drifted out into the night air from the hall.

But as much as I loved music, I don't even know if I can tell you how much I adore one musician in particular.  Those that know me, will be chuckling by now, because I loved Matt Minglewood before it was cool to love him, and everyone knew it.  I don't remember which aunt or uncle introduced me to Matt's music, but I know it was either my aunt Mary, or my uncle Neil.  I do remember that Mary was the one who bought me my first album.  On a hot summer day 32 years ago, I met Matt Minglewood for the first time.  I was seven at the time, and was wearing a spaghetti stained spiderman shirt, shorts, and rubber boots.  I do not remember if I even talked, but I remember how he picked me up and put me on the hood of Dads' old green truck and addressed me just as he was talking to the others that were there.  He signed my "Movin' On" eight track, and I became an even bigger fan.

Over the years I can give you such amazing stories about the great fun that I had with my friends and family when I went to see Matt Minglewood play, the first time I saw him live was at a prom in Judique, and I stood there with a silly look of amazement near the stage when I wasn't dancing.  LOL, no wonder my friends would give me a hard time for being a groupie.  Little did they know, I had collected every scrap of paper every written about Matt since I was in about grade five, and kept it all in extensive scrapbooks.  I showed a few to Matt one time, and I am sure he thought I was a bit of a weirdo.

So two days before my transplant Matt was playing at the arena in my hometown of Mabou.  I was determined to go, and I remember begging the doctors to let me out, I promised I would return in the morning.  I thought that if I was going to die, I needed to see Matt one last time, and dance with my friends to my favorite songs.  Colleen MacDonald and I would dance like no one was watching when we went to Matt.  We knew people talked about how we would dance from the very first song Matt sang, while others were still gaining their courage with a few rum and cokes.  We would dance with each other when no boys were ready to hit the floor, and we always danced to Whiz Kids because that was "our" song.  I told all this to Dr. Neville, and he said he was sorry, but there was just no way it could happen.

When my uncle Neil and aunt Marion heard how I longed to see Matt, Neil went to the arena to see Matt just to tell him how sick I was in hospital in Halifax.  Years later my aunt Marion told me how they couldn't get a babysitter that night, so Neil went anyway, and when he went out to start the car some kittens had crawled up under the car, and they both had to go out on their hands and knees to coax them all out before he could leave.  The things that people did for me!  But I didn't know all that.

Meanwhile, I had the transplant behind me, but the drugs were taking a terrible toll on my body.  I was in and out of consciousness, and so sick, that part never ended.  But remember how I told you the nurses would come in to tell me if I had a visitor?  Well, Matt had arrived in the unit, and all the nurses were busy with other patients.  I had no clue he might come to visit, and was asleep when he entered the room.  So when I opened my eyes I thought that I had finally died and Matt Minglewood was the first person I was seeing in heaven.  I was groggy, and confused, he was wearing his trade mark cowboy hat, but he had on one of my doctor's jackets.  When people came in they had to put on gowns and masks to see me, with no nurses around to direct him, he had dressed the doctor part, and had stayed while I slept so he could see me.  I am not sure how long he had waited, but I honestly was so overwhelmed I rang for the nurse.  I asked her to sit me up some, and wash my face, while I apologized to Matt for how horrendous I looked.  I could not believe he was there to see me.  He did not know me that well, so for him to drive to Halifax to visit this sick teenager, well, now you know what kind of person he is...simply fantastic. 

Under his arm was a "Gund" dog, and he tucked him in beside me as he sat in the chair beside my bed.  The word on spread on the floor, and several nurses from Cape Breton found excuses to pop into my room in the next while to meet a living legend.  It was pretty funny how some of them pretended to not know he was there, but I shared the whole experience happily.  Matt's real name is Roy Batherson, and the new dog by my side quickly gained the name Roy as well.  He still sits on my dresser in my bedroom.

Sometimes when we show each other kindness, you really don't know how much you can affect the other's life.  I don't think Matt has ever understood how much his effort meant to me, and to all my family and friends.  Or maybe he is just a very modest man.  However, his visit brought me such joy that it carried me through many rough days to come.  As is came time for him to leave, he leaned in towards me on the bed, and very softly sang me a verse and the chorus of "Me and the Boys".  There are some days when I still think about that day, and it still brings a tear to my eye.  Be nice to each other, it is better to be remembered for touching someone in a positive way than a bad one.  And love people, and music with passion, they will both carry you on your worst days. 


  1. This is a beautiful story. Matt is & has always been a fabulous person. Of course he would do that to lift your spirits, it would be natural for him. Thanks for sharing.

  2. WOW...such a great story...another definition of a real star..!