Last night around 9:30pm I received a phone call from my mom. When the phone rang, I was just sitting down to a late dinner prepared for me by Dom (which was absolutely delicious, and also already delayed by me as I had spent some time on the phone chatting with my friend Matt). Anyway, when the phone rang I half considered not answering. I figured my mom was calling about my Christmas list – but then I remembered that I had already emailed that to her – so I picked up.
Hi Dan, I’m just calling to let you know that Bernie [my brother] was in a car accident. Becky [his wife] is on the way to the hospital.
Unfortunately my mom really didn’t have too many details. I was left knowing only that he was taken to the Simcoe hospital, and Becky was on her way. My mom informed me that she would keep me posted, and asked that I tell my brother Aidan (whom she tried to reach but couldn’t).
As the event unfolded, I ended up speaking/texting Becky, and my brother Sandy. He was headed to the Hamilton General Hospital (as they decided to move him from Simcoe to HGH for better care). This made me a bit anxious because it made the event a bit more real, and seem a lot more serious. Of course, not having information made my mind race; something I try to control because I find it anything but helpful. Up until that point I think I just kept thinking it’s nothing. Sadly that was an understatement.
Between texts/phone calls with Sandy, my mom, and Becky, I learned that Bernie had been t-boned by a distracted driver at a t-intersection. The road Bernie was driving did not have any stop signs or lights. The other driver however did have a stop sign. From what I understand, she/he was smoking and dropped their cigarette. When they bent over to pick it up, they took their eyes off the road and slammed right into my brother. Unfortunately they hit the driver side head on. This sent my brother’s car into a roll. I’m not sure exactly how many times it rolled, but more than once is too many times in my books.
I still don’t know who called the police/ambulance, etc., but someone did (thank you to whomever that was). I don’t know who used the Jaws-Of-Life to cut the roof off of the car (but thank you to whomever that was). I don’t know who pulled my brother from the car (but thank you to whomever did). I also don’t know who took care of him and got him to the hospital (but thank you to whomever that was). I also don’t know all of the people who worked on him, took care of him, and kept him with us (but again, than you to whomever you were). And I have no idea of all of the people who will help him through the next few days, weeks, and months of his recovery (but a big thank you in advance for all that you are going to do).
All I know is that Bernie is still with us. He is banged up pretty bad, but it’s nothing that he can’t get through. I know this for several reasons. First, he’s a Gillis, and we are notoriously bull-headed. And if that isn’t enough, we are also Ennis‘ (on my mom’s side). If you think Gillis’ are bull-headed, you’ve never met an Ennis. So yeah, we are doubly bull-headed. Second, I’ve seen him deal with so much more and come out the other end with a smile on his face. I’m speaking of course about the month that he and Becky spent last year watching over their daughter, my niece, Haley, as she battled with the flesh-eating disease, sepsis, collapsed lungs, cardiac arrests, etc. And third, he has a family that will kick him in the ass if he thinks about slacking off or giving up (which of course I know he won’t do because of the first reason I’ve provided).
Of course, I also know the next few days, weeks, and months are going to be a challenge on many levels. But he will get through this. We all will. Because that’s what Awesome does. And he is, if nothing else, Awesome. And so are we.
Anyway, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has already shown their love and support, those of you who have sent messages, and words of encouragement. Please continue to do so – they mean so much to all of us.
For now, I’m just happy to let you know that my brother is stable. While his pelvis has been shattered, while he has a collapsed and perforated lung, a fractured skull, a lot of bruising, and a broken collarbone, he is by no means broken. He simply has a rather large boo-boo. But nothing that he can’t and that we can’t handle.
Let me begin by explaining that I always have my phone on while I’m in class, but the ringer is always off. The reason: most classes are lacking a functional clock for some undetermined reason. Anyway, I use the clock on the phone to keep an appropriate pace while lecturing, and to know when class is over1. Regardless, should someone call and the phone vibrate, I simply continue lecturing while I click the appropriate button to send the call immediately to message.
Some might find my use of a phone in class a bit of a shock, considering I make such a big deal on the first day of lectures that all phones are to be off. They are distracting at the best of time. They are disruptive all other times. Plus, I really don’t know what could possibly be so important that one would need to get a text or call during class. Seriously.
Regardless, today was no exception as I had my phone next to me while lecturing. Anyway, around 3:30 (close to the end of my class) I received a most interesting text. Now, as I wrote above, I don’t respond in any way to my phone except to send a call to message. In this case, the text caught the corner of my eye. It was just a glance, but enough to get a general idea of what the text was about. And it was both hilarious and unbelievable. Of course, I continued lecturing for the remaining few minutes, knowing that I could and would check the message once class was over.
This is what I found:
My cleaning lady2, who is completely full of awesome, was moving a box in my guest room that my friend is currently occupying. Said box contained a bong, which was full of bong water. The movement was enough to send the bong flying and bong water spilling all over the bed.
To be perfectly honest, I thought this was hilarious. She on the other hand was mortified and thought I’d be terribly upset over the idea that my guest bed might be sullied with bong related nastiness. Or that I’d be most unhappy because the duvets and duvet covers might be ruined. She probably assumed I was this anal because I do like to keep my house very tidy. But, that isn’t the case. In my mind, it’s all material stuff that means nothing and can easily be replaced. Plus, I have my own non-bong-sullied bed in which to sleep.
When I arrived home, I found the following posted on my fridge:
Hilarious. I have the best cleaning lady ever. And the cleanest house ever. AND, my bed isn’t full of bong nastiness. Sleep well Jebus. Sleep well indeed. :)
1 I could, if allowed, talk about math and stats ad nauseam. Given that I loathed when profs would go over time, I don’t want to be one of those profs.
2 Yes, I have a cleaning lady. She is full of awesome. If you are in the Guelph area and are looking for a cleaning lady, let me know and I will pass her contact info on to you.
NOTE: My friend, whose bong was the inspiration for this post, wanted me to assure you that there is, in fact, no wet spot that he would have to sleep in.
And with that, Dan & Rick’s Excellent Hawaiian Adventure has come to a close. I just left1 Rick in San Francisco so that I might board my flight to Toronto. His flight to Calgary was leaving 18 minutes after mine. Truth be told, I miss him already. To say that the trip wouldn’t have been the same without him would be a gross understatement. I mean, he did save my life by insisting I go to the hospital after smashing my face into the ground while I was attempting a handstand. But in all seriousness, he proved to be the perfect travelling partner for me. The voice of reason when I needed it (which is required far more often than some might think), and the one to push the boundaries of adventure when I was being a giant wuss-bag. Case in point – trying to jump down from a hole in the wall that I had very easily been able to climb up to. I mean seriously Gillis, grow a pair.
In lieu of describing every single event, I’ve decided to present a timeline of the adventure. Some of these are described elsewhere on this blog, some are not described at all, and others are provided with basic details.
I depart from Toronto for San Francisco, via Chicago.
Rick and I meet in San Francisco, offer up a very quick hug, board, and then proceed to be those people on the plane. You know who those people are; the loud, obnoxious ones that you likely want to shut up because you are trying to sleep, but they are too busy getting caught up that they barely notice their surroundings. Ya, that was us. But, I figure that with all the crying babies and misbehaving children I’ve had to put up with recently (not to mention their oblivious and borderline negligent parents), it was my turn to be the ass. As far as I know, that’s how karma works.
Arrive in Honolulu, Oahu. w00t!
January 15, 2011
We begin the day by missing our flight to Hilo, on the Big Island. We may or may not have read our itinerary incorrectly. Undeterred, we bravely carry on with our vacation.
We visit the Aloha stadium to attend a giant-assed flea market; a collection of bric-a-brac, trinkets, and baubles that neither of us want to own, but feel the need to browse, try on, and judge. The visit isn’t a complete waste as Rick purchases some cool shades, and we also consume some delicious iced-100%-kona-coffee, and fresh-from-the-coconut coconut milk. The stadium also offers some choice picture-taking venues, especially venues offering photos of the ‘disobey a posted sign’ type. Not that we would disobey signage informing us that we are not to climb on a particular sculpture. Us? Never!
Depart Honolulu, Oahu for Hilo.
Pick up our rental car. Have it mysteriously upgraded by the clerk from a Chevy Aveo to a black convertible Mustang. At no cost to us. Awesome.
Arrive at our home for the week. Best. Vacation. Rental. Home. Ever. The place is amazing. And it has everything you could think of. And it is all ours. Ours. OURS! <insert maniacal laughter here> Well, to be perfectly honest, we have to share the home with geckos. Of course, in proper form we toast our new home and our new gecko friends with a bottle of wine. Already this is threatening to be the best vacation ever.
January 16, 2011
Rise early to watch the sunrise on the huge lanai. With fresh Kona coffee. This is the best way to start any day, and will be one of the things that I miss the most. Anyone that has never woke to the sound of waves crashing is missing out. After coffee, a little yoga on the lanai. This is my new favourite way to do yoga.
Small walk to the black cliffs just below our lanai. Here we grab some photos, and a rogue wave takes out Rick’s expensive SLR camera. On the first day. Ya, we are cool like that. Thankfully, like a boy scout, he is always prepared. In this case, Rick has brought 2 other back up cameras.
Next we venture to the lava fields near our home. They aren’t currently active (at least where we were), so there was nothing really to see. We prepped for a long hike based on my previous lava field hike, but it wasn’t necessary. The walk was maybe 1.5 km. Undeterred, we venture to a nearby eatery for some burgers and fries. Oh so delicious.
We make our way to the closest (or so we think) black sand beach. The awesomeness of the black sand beach is only increased by our performing head stands and jump shots.
After the beach we wander up to the Caldera for a proper hike, which of course includes tree climbing, jump shots, corpse poses, and yoga. This leads us, prior to hiking the crater, to the Thurston Lava Tubes. Venturing into the unlit area of the tubes, we decide that it would be fun to scare the next people who make their way by us. And we do. Thankfully it is a group of 3 twenty-something women, so they aren’t too upset by our shenanigans.
Our hike across the Caldera takes a turn for the interesting when the sun goes down. Thankfully we have our trusty flashlights. Regardless, making our way across the crater in the dark is an adventure on its own, especially given my eyesight.
January 17, 2011
We begin the day by walking to a nearby black sand beach. Only to discover that it is a nude beach. Full of naked old people. We may or may not hang around (no pun intended).
Jumping into the car, we travel North East to explore the other beaches and wave pools. We also visit the Lava Tree National Park.
We return home to once again visit the nude black sand beach – but it is pretty much deserted at this point, so we have it all to ourselves. Playing in the ocean commences, as well as vegging on the beach.
January 18, 2011
Today we drive to Mauna Keo mountain to hike it. w00t! We also end up altitude drunk. Awesome. Further, it is cold up here. My everything is frozen.
After the mountain hike, we venture to the Kaumana Caves. Longer than the Thurston lava tubes, and darker.
January 19, 2011
Today we hike the lava fields with a guide. We poke the lava, basically play with fire. We also practice hot yoga, climb some trees, and dive into random holes. Cuz we are clearly cool like that.
January 20, 2011
We venture into Hilo to visit Coconut Island and the nearby parks. Afterward, we head to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden; a private nature preserve. We don’t know if we should be here as we just walk in without paying. Interesting. No response from the authorities. The garden is blanketed by spiders. I’m freaking.
Visit Waipi’o Valley. Epic.
Take various photos on the black sand beach, then we head home.
January 21, 2011
Helicopter tour of the island. Amazing!
Visit the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut farm. Try as many free samples as humanly possible. Buy macadamia nuts.
Capture some more photos by the house, and hang upside down from vines. Because we can.
Say goodbye to the house on the Big Island, drive to Hilo, drop off our Mustang, and fly to Oahu. Check in to the Aqua Wave hotel, then wander the city.
Lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Wander the main strip, check out the beach and the eye candy. Coffee. Rinse. Repeat.
Watch the sun set over Waikiki. Stunning.
Randomly run into Chatty Jen – a woman I went through undergrad with, and whom I haven’t seen since then. RANDOM!
January 23, 2011
Hike Diamond Head crater.
Walk Waikiki beach, watch the sunset again. Eat at Hawaiian Cheeseburger. The onion rings are delicious. So is the turkey burger. Highly recommended! Oh, and the pina coladas are pretty wicked awesome too.
January 24, 2011
Take the bus to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for snorkelling and sun tanning. Swim with the fishies!
Thai for dinner with Rick’s friend Rob. Then we head to the Hula bar for more drinks. Perhaps too many drinks. The waiters are very friendly.
January 25, 2011
Suffer through a mild hangover. Medicate with Starbucks and water. Plus a very late breakfast (after noon) at the Hawaiian Cheeseburger. I have the Kalua Pig Babies (a type of slider) and the onion rings, because the onion rings are just that good. The Kalua Pig Babies are really good too. Ordered mainly because I thought the name was hilarious.
A low-key day drinking lots of coffee and eating great food.
Meet up with Rob for dinner. Call it an early night, because we are just that cool.
January 26, 2011
Head to Koko crater. Hike it and love it. But it is super hot. Yoga poses (of course) at the top, plus jump shots. The crater is amazing. We can see Molokai from the top.
Take a ‘charity’ cab back to Waikiki. Cabbie tells us to try Ono Hawaiian Foods (for an authentic Hawaiian meal) and Leonard’s bakery (for a delicious not-a-donut known as a malasada).
Venture down to the beach to get jump shots into the ocean at sunset, attempting to satisfy Manon’s photo challenge. Rick excels at the jump shots, while I excel at the yoga shots.
Dinner with Rob, and then we return to Hula’s. More drinks, but not as many as the last time. We apparently learned our lesson :)
Return to Toronto. It’s cold here. I want to be back in Hawaii.
Find out my luggage has not made the trip with me. It smartly stayed in San Francisco where it’s warmer. After an hour or so dealing with the airline representatives, I feel like I need another vacation. Thankfully my next one mini vacation is only 3 weeks away.
1 Where just means several hours ago, as I’m sitting in my bed finishing up this post and trying not to fall asleep.