What a week

Layna Lee, May 5, 1943 - Mar 4, 2008You’ve heard the expression “rollercoaster of emotions?” Well, this past week has been a pretty wild ride for me, I gotta say, from the top to the bottom. Lets start with the bad news. Tuesday morning (Mar4) I got a call from health officials in Calgary informing me of my mother’s death at age 64. She died in her sleep, at her home after a prolonged period of suffering from extreme arthritis and lupus, and after an acute illness that required stomach surgery. She was hospitalized for two of the last three weeks of her life, but spent the last week of her life in the comfort of her own home. Its always difficult to lose a beloved parent, but I take solace in the fact that she is no longer in pain, no longer suffering … for someone who spent the final decade of their life in constant pain, death feels as much like a release as an end. RIP Mom, you are loved and will be missed, but I am glad you are no longer suffering. A service will be held Wednesday afternoon from 1PM to 3PM at Calgary Crematorium in Queen’s Park Cemetery. A permanent memorial will be created online as well, at http://laynalee.wordpress.com, with a backup on my own servers at http://laynalee.globalparadigms.com … comments and memories from one and all are welcome. Her obituary, published in the Calgary Herald on Mar 9, 2008, follows this blog entry.

So that was obviously the low point of my week. I rushed into Calgary on Tuesday to help with the arrangements, and to spend some time with my brother and his family. We spoke with the funeral home and set up an appointment for Wednesday to start organizing the service and cremation. Literally, while I was sitting in the funeral home office discussing the arrangements, my cell phone went off. I’m not even sure why I answered it, given the importance of the meeting I was in, but I did anyway. Turned out to be the national office of Yuk Yuk’s from Toronto calling me to invite me to the national round of the Great Canadian Laugh Off in April in Toronto, despite the fact that I didn’t make it through the local rounds of the competition (congrats to Lori Gibbs for winning the free trip through the contest!!!).

I really have no idea why I got the call, when others didn’t. There is a random lottery component to the national round, so thats certainly a possibility. Regardless of the reasons though, given the timing of the phone call, I will be dedicating any sets I do out there to the memory of my mom. The contest runs from April 7 – 13, with one preliminary set on one of the nights from the 7th-12th, followed by the finals on the 13th if I make it through. I haven’t gotten all the details yet, but I believe the shows will all be at the main Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto, so anyone in the area is certainly welcome to come down and check out my set … this will be my first set outside of Alberta (well, not including the virtual shows on SL, lol) so its the first chance for any readers from outside southern Alberta to see me perform. And besides me, you’ll be seeing some of the best new comics in Canada on the stage, so it should be well worth the cost of admission.

I’ll post more specific details when I get them, but all I can say right now is that its been a helluva week. Its kind of strange the way life seems to throw different pitches at us, and it can certainly be difficult to adjust to the new pitch and still take a credible swing. I’d certainly rather be going to Toronto at another time … trying to do comedy so close to my mother’s death, and doing a show that is so closely associated with her, will be difficult, but its also an opportunity that I think she would have wanted me to take. Without getting too flaky, the timing of the call was just too weird to ignore, for me anyway, and I’m taking the timing as a message that I need to do this, regardless of anything else. So, RIP mom, and thanks for the opportunity in Toronto … I hope you enjoy the show.

LEE _ Layna (nee Johnson-Bateman) May 5, 1943 – March 4, 2008

After a prolonged illness, Layna passed away in her home at the age of 64. Layna is survived by her husband Gordon, children Jamie and Lyle, daughter-in-law Deb, grandchildren Jessica and Devon, sister Mary-Lynn, brother Jay, and many nieces, nephews, extended family, family-by-choice and good friends. Layna was predeceased by her parents, Lloyd and Marie Johnson (nee Raffa) and brother Ben.

Layna’s fondness for words led her to create crossword puzzles, some of which were published in the New York Times, and she helped many people through their Stats courses by tutoring them. She had a strong desire to help people and put her psychology education to use working with women at the Calgary Women’s Shelter and with autistic children.

A Memorial will be held at CALGARY CREMATORIUM CHAPEL, 3219 – 4 Street N.W. (within the valley of Queen’s Park Cemetery), on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy as donations to the Calgary Women’s Shelter are appreciated. HERITAGE FUNERAL SERVICES “Calgary Crematorium Chapel” Telephone: 299-0111.

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One Response

  1. Congratulations Elron, on your invitation to Toronto! It’s with a bit of sorrow that I find myself posting to you, and catching up a bit on your life through this medium, and for this particular reason. I haven’t seen your Mom in ages, but as my daughter told everyone at the memorial, I did speak to her briefly just after Christmas. It was so out-of-the-blue, but, now I understand why I heard from her. I can’t express how sorry I am I couldn’t attend today to pay my respects (and my respects for her are high!). It would have been nice to see family again, even if for such a sad reason, because I tend to keep such a great distance between myself and the rest of the clan. I just wanted to let you know that I remember your Mom with love, and despite the tears I fought on my way home on the train, I still know to celebrate her life, not mourn it, because that is how she would have wanted it. She and I talked about this occurence so many times in the past, but it’s still such a shock. Take care cousin. I’m thinking of you all. And feel free to contact me through my email address (assuming you can see it) and to pass it along to other family members who are interested. All the best!

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