Monthly Archives: May 2016

Goodbye Grandpa

StanCuthand
Stanley (Stan) Cuthand
Dec 22, 1918 – May 23, 2016

Rev. Canon Stan Cuthand died peacefully after a lengthy hospital stay on May 23, 2016. Stan was born in 1918 on Little Pine First Nation, son of Harriet and Josie Cuthand. He was a survivor of the Spanish Flu epidemic at four months of age. He attended day school on Little Pine, followed by boarding house to complete high school in Prince Albert. He convocated in 1944 with a Bachelors of Theology. He worked as a priest for the Anglican Church. He met and married Christina Lennan in 1944 and they had four children, Doug, Beth, John, and Ruth. His life’s work was translating the bible into Plains Cree Roman Orthographics and Syllabics. His secular work included a stint with Indian Affairs in 1969 until 1975 when he became an assistant professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. He retired to Saskatchewan and worked at the First Nations University of Canada (S.I.F.C.) and Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre. He taught until he was 80 years old, he enjoyed his students immensely. His greatest reward in teaching was getting the students to think for themselves. He was computer literate, his file names were all in Cree and he enjoyed his Facebook page to keep up with his many relations. He lead an active and healthy life and was a loving, funny, devoted husband, father, and grandfather.
Stan was predeceased by his parents, Harriet and Josie Cuthand, brothers Aaron, Adam, and Issac, sisters Beatrice, and Jean, childhood friend and cousin Smith Atimoyoo, grandson Christopher, and beloved wife Christina.
He is survived by his four children Doug (Pauline), Beth (Gerry William), John (Eileen), and Ruth. Grandchildren Lorne (Marcella), Steven Paul, Lisa George, Sky, Luke Morrisseau, Thirza, Shawn, Deanna, Sharlene, Shannon, and Jenny. Great Grandchildren Danielle, Jordan, Taylor, and Kristjan Paul. As well as numerous nephews and nieces.
The family would like to thank the staff at Stonebridge Crossing, and St. Pauls Hospital, for caring for our loved one so well.
The Memorial will be at Acadia McKague’s Funeral Centre in Saskatoon on Wednesday May 25th at 2pm. Wake will be held Thursday evening at Little Pine First Nations Elders Hall, and Funeral on Friday May 27th 2pm at the Elder Hall. Feast to follow.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Stan Cuthand Scholarship.

Venting until a phone call

Waiting at home for a phone call which MIGHT not even come tonight. We were told today that death would happen soon, but no one can give exact estimates and “soon” is a very vague term. I spent six hours in Grandpa’s hospital room with my family this afternoon and finally we got so tired some of us left and are trying to get back into having shifts of people staying with him. I’ve been up 12 hours, which isn’t so long but I have been sleep deprived because people do their laundry in the morning which is right next to my room and my dogs go apeshit and wake me up so really I’ve probably been sleeping about seven hours a night for three weeks. It’s very exhausting because I need way more sleep, like ten hours a night, just because that’s the way I have been my whole life.

I think I am moving into the Angry phase of whatever this grieving process is. I’m easily fed up with people online, especially the way they say nice words but it doesn’t really mean anything cause they aren’t coming by with food or something more useful, I’m wondering why our family seems to be doing this alone except for the people at the hospital, I’m super mad at the hospital for ignoring our wishes so long and working like they were trying to save him when we clearly wanted palliative care and said so over and over and he didn’t get assessed for palliative care for a week after he was admitted. I feel the clear need to have a living will for myself because he didn’t have one like Grandma did and we’ve had to talk about things the doctors have suggested like feeding tubes and iv fluids and other unnecessary things that would prolong death. I am irritated that I feel like I can’t openly talk about this whole process because it would annoy some family members and OVERALL I am angry at society for making dying so taboo that it isn’t talked about in our education system or society so people have to go seeking out information when it finally presents itself. And I’ve been trying to apply for a job back in Toronto that I would be really good at but the organization in charge of funding it isn’t being compassionate at all about the fact I am out of province for my Grandfather’s death and can’t sign a paper in the office in front of someone. So there are a lot of things pissing me off and I feel like I’m going to be stuck in Saskatoon forever and never get off welfare and never be able to grieve properly. And there are some issues with persons with addictions in my family who are of course not handling this in a healthy way. But none of us are really handling it well cause it’s oncoming death and we aren’t given resources to support ourselves through this and it just seems to be us not wanting him to ever be alone even at night which is really wearing us out.

That’s a long list of things to be angry about.

My only time alone is late at night like right now. Aside from that people are with me ALL THE TIME and for an introvert like me it is really hard to not be able to recharge by listening to my tunes and dinking around on the internet. And the worst part is as a bipolar person I have been taught all about how important self care is and being an advocate for my own mental health, but when someone is dying it becomes all about THEM and I feel like a shitbag for being stressed to my limits and needing to take up my own space and time for myself. I really really want to go home and I can’t until after the funeral and we cleaned out his apartment so at least I don’t have to deal with that cause I know if we had waited I would have to stay longer after the funeral to help out. My Mom’s house is PACKED with people right now, there are five of us staying here and that isn’t including the downstairs tenant. And four dogs, and two of the people here are smokers so they go in and out all the time and Little Mister is ever vigilant and barks every time and I get so fed up with all of them I wanna be like “Shut up Mister, and YOU stop freakin’ smoking or stay outside!” OMG! I think of all kinds of things I want to yell at people but I don’t but I want to and honestly I have so many cutting remarks going through my mind that I’m not saying.

And I miss walking my dogs, cause we have no energy to do anything outside of all this hospitaling we are doing. We don’t even have energy to cook, so we are eating out a lot, and I am fucking sick of FUCKING TIM HORTONS!

And I feel pressured to be so fucking grateful for anything, for the fact I am still alive, for having time with my family, to be this perfect family member for a dying person and do everything properly so we don’t bring shame onto the family.

OMG THE PHONE JUST RANG!

Oooookay and the person who answered it didn’t tell us what it was about. So I have gone to bed. If I find out from Facebook that my Grandpa died I’m gonna be SO PUT OUT!

Smiles from Grandpa

I’ve been here a while now. We see Grandpa every day. Right now he is being treated for an infection but he finally got palliative care so that’s good. When I first got here and saw him he was more understandable and said he was glad. Not glad to see me (though I assume that’s what the full sentence was gonna be), just glad. He was starting sentences and then not quite finishing them.

It’s been over a week I have been here. He talks in Cree now, and I only know a few words. But this afternoon when I was visiting him he was looking at me and smiling and it made me cry and I was trying NOT to cry because I don’t want to make him feel like he has to stay just to keep our spirits up.

There is family here from out of town. People are all coping in their own ways I guess.

I will try to stick to my own feelings about the whole thing though.

I have a really low tolerance for self absorbed bullshit right now. I normally can indulge friends in trivial conversations on Facebook, but right now my patience for it is REALLY thin. I’m generally not engaging very much in those kinds of interactions. People ask how Grandpa is and I’m just like, dying. Because he is and there is not much more to say about it than that. Dying is messy and makes people uncomfortable and some people really just can’t handle being around it. Sometimes being with him is brutal and hard and really painful even for me and I’m not even the one doing the dying. And he’s in the hospital right now which is harder for me than when Grandma died at home. I think because we could all focus on her at her care home in her private suite and be with her, but he’s got all that hospital stuff going on and is in a room with at least three other people.

And the thing about dying, at least with both my grandparents, is that there’s not a lot of quality conversations that happen in the last days. It’s just not possible. So I feel protective of him and don’t really want people gawking at him. If someone is dying I think you need to have been pretty close to them to be able to witness their last days. I mean, that might just be me.

Anyway, sometimes friends send me innocuous texts or messages that seem to be missing the mark and I get really irritated. Not always. Some friends have been making me feel better. I like the snapchats I have been getting.

Sometimes I want to go away and visit someone and get away from all this dying stuff, but then I feel like no one will want to just hang out and shoot the shit at the last minute, and I have no ability to make plans in advance right now. And people seem to like advance notice that we will be visiting, when really I’m like “Wanna hang out RIGHT NOW because no one has died yet and I don’t know if it’s gonna happen tomorrow and I will be at the reserve the next day?” So that’s frustrating.

I’m low energy. My dogs have been making me get up at 10am because they hear people upstairs, and they will NOT let me sleep in when they could play with the other two dogs here. Mom and I had a fight this morning about something totally ridiculous and of no importance and neither of us said sorry because I think we were both ticked off. She guilts me when I go out with Deanna because she doesn’t like me leaving the house without my dogs and that irritates me too because I need some time out and because my dogs are fine on their own for two hours they don’t trash the place or try to set the house on fire. Actually a lot of people are kind of bickering with each other, which makes sense because there is a lot of bipolar in our family so mood disorders + major emotional life event = mess.

I miss my apartment back home. I miss my morning routine and walking the dogs and visiting my friends and seeing cuties. Logically I could do this here too, but no, it’s different. I’m in my Mom’s house, not my house, so I don’t have the same freedom even tho I am an adult. And I kinda got used to my routine.

And I guess I am pre-grieving, which is a weird thing. Like it’s gonna happen we all know it’s gonna happen but it hasn’t happened YET and I was holding out for so long trying not to be all teary. But now I have cried in front of him twice.

Also I am mourning the fact that Grandpa, who was so important in my life, is not ever gonna meet my future wife or my future kids. That this whole major part of my life is going to be disconnected from this other major part of my life that HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET!

And also all those stories he had, about our ancestors, and stories that were handed down to him from long ago before even our great great grandfather was born, will be gone. He told us a lot of things, and for the most part we remember them. But I’m sure there are other things he will take with him. And that makes me sad too.

Grandpa was really good at making our family’s history sound so exciting, being involved in the Northwest Rebellion, and running away to join American Wild West shows, and all kinds of interesting things that my ancestors did. And I guess I just hope that I can inspire that kind of admiration in the next generation. And he was a minister, and I really don’t want people to act like because he was a minister he wasn’t a good enough Native or he was colonized. I think some Native people are really self hating when they put down Christian Natives. Let people believe what they want to believe, what is it to you if someone brown prays to Jesus? Jesus wasn’t white either.

So that’s the scoop. There is more, but I am leaving out health details. Besides the obvious.

I think I need to figure out some self care stuff. Also I got a rash from this soap Mom has, and it’s super painful when I itch it and super itchy when I ignore it. Bummed out!

I’m staying up late after people go to bed to be with my thoughts. That seems to help. Like right now. Like writing this.