Friday, April 22, 2011

Obit: Dood Bayney

February 2, 1931-April 19, 2011
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Doodhraj Bayney on Thursday, April 19, 2011at the Grace Hospice, with his family at his side. Dood will be lovingly remembered by his wife Sharie of 59 years and his children Sandra (Robin), Sabena (Zaman), Karran (Kelsey) and Sophia (Darwin); his grandchildren Sharmila Sukhan (Trent), Sunita Coloma (Michael), Subhadra Sukhan, Shaun Ali, Stefan Ali, Dewan Bayney, and Nadira Bayney and his great grandchildren Izabel, Sahana, Sabreena and Ronin. He will also be greatly missed by his brothers and sisters, extended family and many lifelong and new friends

Following a private family cremation, a pooja/memorial service celebrating Dood’s life will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at the Manitoba Hindu Dharmic Sabha at 240 Manitoba Avenue at 4:00pm. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Cancer Care Challenge for Life Walk at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I now know what Dad meant...

when he said I would know what to do for his funeral service.  I have been getting lots of advice from people about how the service is to be done, which day, what time - and all of it conflicting.  I know what I am about to say is not going to be popular but right now it's not about being popular, it's about doing the right thing.

I mentioned that Karran went to see the pandit yesterday to make arrangements for the service today as well as the one next Thursday.  He told us to get a number of things for the last rites but when we got to the funeral home, his list was not complete so we had to do a few last minute things.  Fortunately we managed to do it quickly and the service started a few minutes past the time it was supposed to start. 

We were supposed to complete the service at the funeral home, then they would transport Dad back to their other location to be placed in a burnable casket which is really a cardboard box because they don't like to burn the casket for environmental reasons.  I chose that place versus the more popular other funeral home that most Hindu Winnipegers choose for exactly that reason. The other business is very corporate and "promotes" their business - even at other funerals.  I don't like that, but it's not for me to like or dislike what anyone else is doing.  I personally have to do what is right for me and my family so I went with a small family owned business. When they said that they do not burn the caskets, I was quite happy about that.  I have to tell you, I made this decision over three years ago because I am just that kind.  I have to make sure that I have all the information I need before making an important decision.  So I did my homework including extensive research on funeral rites.   

SO to make a very long and difficult story a bit shorter, the pandit was instructing Karran on how to make the 5 pindas - dough balls that are to be used as part of the service.  His instructions were not very clear so I started to help Karran mix the dough.  The pandit chastised me - telling me that if the girl children did this it would be a sin against the father.  My response?  "Okay pandit, I don't understand all the Hindu rituals but nothing I have ever done for my father was a sin.  Nothing!"  Then he started to explain about India but by that time, I was not in the mood to listen. He proceeded with the service and at the end, he said since this is the final rites, only the son and the daughter-in-law and mom were allowed to touch him.  Like I said, I don't pretend to understand the religion but I was not expecting this and neither was the rest of the family that attended - about 15 of us in total.. 

After fretting about it for a few minutes, we went off to the crematorium and by the time we arrived, I had decided that with all due respect to the pandit and the religion, if Dad's family wanted to touch, kiss or pat him, they had a right to do that.  I do not remember reading a single item that tells me that my sister-in-law can give flowers to my dad while in the casket but I am not allowed to.  So I called all the family together who by this time were all disheartened and I told them that if they wanted to say goodbye to Dad in what ever way they wanted to, they could do so.  My sister-in-law Kelsey was put in a very awkward situation but I  were not upset at her.  I was more upset that for 57 years I have been at my father's side and someone is going to tell me that religion dictates that I cannot touch him when the funeral pooja is done and that if I do, it would be a sin.  

We talked to Dad and wished him a speedy journey to his new destination and we came home.  I was hurt that the pandit should tell me that in the absence of a son, the daughters can perform the funeral rites, but if a son is there, the daughters have no place.  That is absolute ..... (well I was going to say something really stupid but I am only refraining because it's about religion and I don't want to be disrespectful).  I came home and told the rest of the family that I was going to call the pandit and meet with him on Saturday to talk about today and next Thursday.  I went upstairs to change my clothes, came downstairs and paced around for several minutes not feeling settled and went back upstairs to change my clothes to go see the pandit tonight.  Robin said that I was upset and should wait till tomorrow but I didn't feel I could wait till Saturday. 

So I called the pandit and asked to see him tonight.  He said he was going out so I said I could come tomorrow if he gave me a time.  He said I should call tomorrow and he would tell me when I could come.  By this time, the tone of his voice told me that he was the authority and I was to acquiesce to him without argument.  By now you have probably discerned that I am not going to accept that without explanation so I asked why he couldn't commit tonight to an appropriate time tomorrow..  He said I should call at 11am and he would tell me when I could come.  I insisted on confirming a time and he finally said that tomorrow is his holy day and he couldn't meet me.  Why couldn't he say that the first time?  So I said how about Saturday at which he asked what it was I wanted to meet him about.  I asked him to confirm a time and he agreed to 11am.  I then told him what I will be discussing with him on Saturday.  I said that I was disappointed at how cavalier and disrespectful he seemed at the service today and telling me that I cannot touch the funeral things because it would be a sin is not right.  I also said that he didn't seem to be paying attention to how he was conducting the service and when he had to ask what Dad's name was at the beginning of the service, that was beyond disrespectful.  I told him that everything I have ever done for my father was done out of love and if he cannot commit to doing the service with respect, I will find someone else to do the service but I WILL NOT have my father;s memory dishonoured by carelessness. He then started telling how Savitree-ji is such a sacred name at which point I said that this is not about me.  This is about my father.  Right now I am not so concerned about the sacredness of my name.  My concern is for my father.   

His tone during the initial part of the conversation was dismissive - as if to say. I am a pandit and you are not to question me.  Why did I say it was a dismissive tone?  Every time I tried to say something he would interrupt me and proceed to tell me that he was not being disrespectful.  I told him he was today and that's not okay with me so unless he is going to brush up on what he is supposed to do and do it with respect, I am not going to accept anything less for my father.  He then tried to tell me that in India... but that was as far as he got.  I said "With all due respect to what is done in India, I was born in Guyana, I do not speak Hindi or Sanskrit and I don't know all the aspects of the Hindu religion but what I know for certain is that I love my father very much and I want to do the right thing.  I said that I won't know if the service will be done right or wrong but I want it done respectfully and I intend to trust him to do that so if he cannot tell me that he is going to do that, then he needs to tell me this on Saturday. I also said that I had done extensive research and expect that should he do something or ask us to perform some ritual without benefit of an explanation, then I am going to ask for one.  I understand about faith.  What I don't understand is tradition that doesn't make the least bit of sense so I am just the kind of person who will ask the difficult "why?" questions and if I can't get an answer that appears to make sense or worse - no answer at all or something like "I don't know.  That how we've always done it", I am not about to follow blindly. 

So that was my little rant today.  I can be forgiven for that.  It's been a difficult two days but I am not expecting anything less than the best for my father.  Speaking of fathers - The Dood looked like a veritable prince today.  He wanted to go out in his best so that's what we did.  This is what he wanted - white pants, red silk shirt, sports jacket with a little red pouffe in the pocket and his sunglasses.  And by golly, he looked like he was getting ready to go out to dinner on the cruise ship.  The last time he wore that outfit was on his Panama Canal cruise.  His face looked perfectly peaceful.  The colour was beautiful without make-up and all the swelling from his lips had disappeared and his mouth was closed as if he was in a peaceful slumber.  It was hard not to think that he would get up and say something to us - it was so real. Mom splashed on some of his Old Spice on him and I put on his sunglasses to shade his eye from the brilliance of heaven.  We considered putting a few rubber bands and some twist ties in his pocket with a strip of duct tape, masking tape and string because he was a vociferous collector of all things rubber band and twist tie.  Karran found half a big grocery bag of rubber bands in his house and I have some pictures of the wall of the hospice where he had quite a collection going in the last 2 months.  We didn't put the rubber bands and twist ties but every time I look at one, I'll think of Dad although I don't need any reminders. 

Back to my subject line.  I started out by saying that I now know what Dad meant when he said that I would know what to do.  When I was asking him what he wanted us to do about preparations for his service, he said that I would know what to do.  I said that I didn't know enough about the Hindu religion to know what to do and I was not confident that I would not do the wrong thing.  He said that I had never dissapointed him and I nver will so I'd know what to do when the time came.  That's why I spent endless hours researching and documenting Hindu funeral rites so that when the time came, I would do the right thing.  I even remember my friend Prak telling that he would feel sorry for which ever pandit was doing the rites because I would make sure they didn't slip up.  I now realize that I was taking Dad's statement too literally.  It's true that I don't know enough about the religion to know what things have to be done, but I think Dad meant that I would know what to do in the situations I am now faced with - dealing with all the conflicting information, laying out my expectations for the pandit in simple and clear language so there is no misunderstanding and making a decision that family comes first - always. 

In the end, that's all you have left and that's what matters (that goes for friends too!) and everyone of you have been with us on this incredible journey. Without your love and support, we may not have been able to make it this far.  Tomorrow we are going ahead with our plans for an Easter Brunch that I organized last week to do at the hospice with Dad. Only he won't be with us in physical body and instead of all his favourite foods, we are cooking vegetarian.  Karran has to eat vegetarian for 13 days after Dad's passing because he has to be a number of religious functions in those 13 days.  In a show of solidarity we are all eating vegetarian along with him.  It's suprising how much good food there is that isn't meat or fish.  We have a great menu planned for tomorrow but Shaun, Stefan, Sharm, Trent, Sahana, Sabreena, Bena and Mom all said that all they want is dhall and roti.  Oh my gosh, is this a family thing or what?  Comfort food - totally inherited from the Dood.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of my meeting with the pandit...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arrangements made

Last night when I came home at 10:30, I thought I was going to go to bed immediately but instead I blogged and looked at pictures of dad.  I was smiling when I looked at them. I finally went to bed at 1am and thought that after being up for almost 42 hours with no sleep, I would not be able to. I put my head on the pillow and snuggled in and the next thing I knew, the phone was ringing at 7am but I knew it wouldn't be the hospice this time.  The phone has been ringing non-stop since early this morning and the calls are coming in from everywhere - England, Guyana, Florida, New York, Toronto, Ottawa and I am sure I am missing some places.  We are a small family in Winnipeg but our extended family is literally all over the world and everyone that called has called my parents in the last few months and my dad talked to everyone of them.

Please don't feel bad if you cannot make it to Winnipeg.  Your phone calls to Dad over the last months was more important than coming now even though you would be coming for us.  But you can continue to keep in touch with mom.  I am certain that she will need and appreciate it.

We were all busy today with our various duties. Bena and Mom went to Mom's house to finish the cleaning.  Karran went to talk to the pandit to make arrangements for the service tomorrow.  I went to the funeral home to finalize the arrangements for the service.

So these are the arrangements for you blog readers:  Tomorrow - Thursday, there will be a private cremation for immediate family.  We want to do the last rites with Dad, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.  Next week Thursday, we'll have a memorial service to celebrate Dad's life.  It will be held at the Manitoba Hindu Dharmic Sabha on 260 Manitoba Avenue at 4:pm.  I will be putting an obit in the newspaper but people are calling and asking so for those reading the blog, these are the arrangements. 

I asked Dad more than a year ago what he wanted us to do and his response was "you'll take care of things." When I said that I wouldn't know what to do he said "You'll know."  I asked about a eulogy and he said "of course you'll do it."  I protested vigorously, saying that I could not eulogize my father but he said "I wouldn't want anyone else.  You'll know what to say."  How about that for no pressure? 

Thank you everyone for your generous support and love throughout this 5 year journey.  Dad was an incredibly strong man in spirit and I think he would want us to carry on as though he is still here with us. We talked last night about how he must be glad to go home.  He hasn't seen his father since he was 2 years old and he hasn't seen his mom since he was about 17 years old.  That's an awfully short time to have your parents.  I was blessed that I had 57 years. 

Following domino protocol, he's probably found his domino friends and is wrapping at their table to be let in to the game.  He was such a domino shark.  He could read a game like the back of his hand!  I remember him talking to my friend Prak a few months ago and Prak was reminding him about the games of dominoes he played at Prak's restaurant when he went to Toronto. He told Prak what he wouldn't do to play one last game. Prak would always refer to him as "The Dood" but I think he meant "the Dude" but he never called him that to his face.  It was always respectfully Mr Bayney to Dad's face.  All my friends he met while playing dominoes at Prak's restaurant loved him and always referred to him "the Dood" too and if there was one more thing that he would have loved, it would be one last game.

We'll have to play a few games with the family in the next few days but we are pretty feeble so it wouldn't be any fun matching cards rather than planning strategy.  I'm smiling.  I bet you're thinking of some memory of you and him and you're doing the same.... 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

11:55pm: Arrangements to be finalized

As of right now, no arrangements have been finalized.  As soon as I have that confirmed, I will post it on the blog.  In the meantime, I've been thinking of doing the CancerCare Challenge for Life 20 kilometre walk on June 11, 2011. Well I came home tonight and registered for it. No more thinking about it.  The walk this year will be to honour my father's life and to remind myself to keep walking for a healthy life.  I hope you'll join me even if it's in your city. 

My goal this year is to raise $2,000. If you would like to sponsor me, in leiu of flowers, donations can be made to the Challenge for Life Walk at my web page:

I promise to do an extra 1.1 kilometre which is a 1/2 marathon in total and I will make a point of posting my training walks daily or every second day.  You can follow along or better yet, you can walk with me - in your city.

8:30pm – he did it his way

I went home at 5pm intending to stay there till 8 or 9pm but and put some spicy fries to bake while I had a shower so we could have roasted chicken for dinner. By the time I got dressed again, I packed my dinner and some paneer curry and roti for Karran and came back to the hospice to have dinner with him. I felt bad that I would go home and eat and he’d have to wait till he got home at 9pm. Mom and Bena came home just as I got home so they unpacked a few things that they brought over from her home.

Bena and Sophie are going to have dinner at Sophie’s house and they came back to the hospice at 7:30pm. Sharm arrived at the same time. Sophie brought her jewellery kit so the3 of them are making jewellery. Karran said a prayer and lit his dia with his Hanoman and Ganesh murtis. We are all trying to carry on normal conversations but it’s hard with Dad sounding like he is drowning in the background.

I decided that I would leave at 8:00pm and just as I picked up my computer to leave, he opened his eye and looked at me and he started flailing his arms as if to tell me not to go. I called the nurse and she gave him some meds. I think at 8:30pm, the four of us collectively realized that he was not breathing so we all jumped up at the same time and went over to the bed. He stopped breathing. There was no struggle, no flailing, no gasping for breath, no nothing but silence. He did it his way. His son said a last prayer for him. His daughters and granddaughter were all perfumed and surrounding him and he just stopped breathing as quietly as ever. He is gone and the world will be a better place because he lived....

The lyrics of Frankie's song are quite fitting.  Please read the whole thing and tell me if that doesn't sound like Dad and how he lived his life. 

And now the end is here 
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me

I did it my way
For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes it was my way

Update: 2:50pm

It’s now mid afternoon and things are progressing. Bena, Sophie, Kelsey and Mom left about 1:00pm as there is still stuff to be packed at her home. Karran and I are still here. Dad’s skin is starting to change colour – more purple/red. His breathing is more laboured and it sounds very congested. We all spent some time with him saying our goodbyes as a family together. It’s very emotional to listen to my siblings reminding dad about the ways he was a good father. After all is said and done, through good and bad, hardships and joys, his children were all by his side today forgiving and asking for forgiveness for whatever we may have done to disappoint him. If you talk to him though, he’ll tell you how proud he is of his children and grandchildren and how much they mean to him. That love is evident today – returned to him to take to a greater place.

The nurses have been coming in to give him meds and change his dressing. They are really amazing. I know I said that already, but it bears saying again and again. They are now concerned with making him feel comfortable but they also explained that he is not feeling hunger and thirst the way you might if you didn’t eat for a day. I am feeling hunger and thirst though. I picked up breakfast for all of us and Kelsey brought lunch. Karran eats vegetarian on Tuesdays so we all had veggie subs but they were delicious because I didn’t have to worry about that meal.

Nurses Gaye and Linda were trying to suction the congestion from his lungs but it’s too deep so it probably will cause him some distress. It’s a complicated feeling for me right now – hard to watch my father die and hard to go to sleep because I have been up for more than 33 hours. I don’t feel tired but I know that at some point, it will catch up to me.

I have no direct internet access from the hospice so I have to go out on the street where I’ve managed to pick up a wireless network so that I can update my posts periodically. Another update will follow when I can do it.
Dad - taken a downturn

Last night the hospice called at 12:10am and said that Dad has taken a turn for the worse. He had a good day and had his usual evening. He went to bed about 7pm but by 10:30pm, he called Janine to say that he was having difficulty breathing. She gave him some meds that should have helped but an hour later, he was worse so she gave him some more meds. That didn’t seem to help either so she called me to let me know. I woke Bena and told her what was happening and that I was on my way to the hospice. She came with me and we arrived about 12:40am; Janine and Chandal explained what is happening. You may surmise that I am blogging from the hospice.

Dad’s breathing was quite laboured but he was sedated. His lips, and tongue are quite swollen to the point that he can’t close his mouth. The left side of his face is also quite swollen too and it’s kind of purplish red. We sat with him for a while and during that time, his breathing was definitely laboured and it has indeed changed significantly from yesterday.

By 2:15am, Janine came in to give him some more meds because he opened his eye and looked at me as if he was really scared but I was not sure that he could focus on my face. I told him that Bena and I were here and after some more agitation, he settled down. I felt that something else changed again so I decided to call Karran and Sophie to tell them to come to the hospice. They arrived about 3:15am and we filled them with the details. When I left home, I decided not to say anything to Mom because I had no idea how the night would go and I did not want her upset.

Janine and Chandal came in every hour to check on Dad. We pulled out the sofa bed and Bena had a couple hours of sleep. Karran and Sophie paced out and in the room and I sat in the recliner trying to see if I could sleep but with one ear on Dad’s breathing. I watched him for two hours and finally decided to shut my eyes but each time he stopped breathing, my eyes popped open and I stared, waiting for him to resume breathing. He did but he is struggling. Finally after 20 minutes of watching him, I decided that it was time to go home and get Mom because things are changing rapidly. He is struggling but cannot talk and his arms are flailing as he becomes agitated.

I brought Mom back to the hospice and she thinks that Dad was waiting for all his family to be here so he can go. I don’t know what to think. I just don’t want him to be going through much more of this. It’s agonizing to watch and disheartening to know that I can’t do anything except swab his lips and tongue with a sponge.

I have had no sleep in 27 hours but somehow I don’t feel tired or sleepy. I’m sure we’ll all crash if this keeps up longer but I can’t sleep even if I felt tired. I’ve told myself that I cannot be at Dad’s side every minute of every day but I am afraid to leave because I saw the frightened look in his eye this morning. Mom has been crying steadily and I don’t think that’s a good thing to sit at his bedside and be crying so I asked her to leave the room and compose herself.

Sharm and Robin came about 8:45am. Sharm talked to Dad and he squeezed her hand very faintly but he must have heard her. Darwin arrived with coffee for everyone and although there is coffee at the hospice, it was thoughtful of Darwin to do that. Gaye the day nurse came in to check on Dad’s meds. The staff is so good to him and the way they talk, I can sense that they really care about his well-being. From what the nurses are saying, he may have a few hours to a couple of days left. We are all here and I think he knows it.

I will provide updates as Dad’s status changes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mixed up weekend

I had my Saturday arranged to pick up Bena at 12:30pm, go to the hospice for a visit and then come home and get some work done at home.  But life doesn't go in a straight line without its complications.  Bena called at 10am to say that she was at the airport but forgot to take a government issued ID so she could not board the flight.  She had to return home where she baked some biscotti to bring and I proceeded with my revised schedule.  She got a later flight so I went to the airport for 10pm instead. I didn't make it to the hospice. 

Mom went over to her house to get some things done. Sophie arranged to have movers take the sofa and love seat over to her home at 1pm but they were 3 hours late so that also messed up her day. If life was predictable, what excitement would we have?  But I have to admit that it irritates me when I make an appointment and people are late. It's as if they think their time is more important than mine.  Hairstylists are notorious for being late but I can say that in the many years that I was a hairstylist, I made sure that I was on time for my clients although I had one client who was consistently late and when I asked her about it, she said that she was an architect and therefore her time was money.  I told her that she can either show up on time or I would charge her for the time I wasted waiting on her or alternately, I would refuse to do her hair.  She was late for her next appointment and I billed her for my lost time.  She stopped coming after that.  I was happy.   

Photographs and photographic memory

Mom and Bena went to the hospice yesterday and then went over to Mom's house to get some packing done.  I stayed home and made some meals for the next few days for us because if I am at work all day and they are packing, no one is going to want to come home after a long day and cook dinner.  In between cooking, I was organizing some family pictures on the computer (because I can't just do one thing at a time).  I was looking at some old pictures. 

I spent considerably more time looking at pictures of dad.  When I went to visit him on Thursday, I had a flashback to a time when I could not have been more than 5 years old.  Dad made some movement and I flashed back to Grandfather Babul or maybe it was Grandfather Ramraj but I saw an old man leaning over towards me and talking to me in a gentle voice and I was paying special attention to his hand.  The person was walking slowly and patted my head and I was walking beside him holding his hand.  The hand was withered and old but gentle and I could feel the love.  That was how I felt when I was walking Dad over to the table in his room to have his dinner.  The man I was walking with looked more like Grandfather Babul or Grandfather Ramraj and very little like my father.  I could hear how weak his voice is getting.  I know when I was looking at his pictures this weekend, I was searching for my father but the man I knew could only be found in old photographs.  

If anyone has pictures of my parents when they were younger or even more recent ones, please do me a favour and send them to my email address.  I have thousands but you can never have too many pictures.  I only wish I had any of my fore parents. I have one of Nani and Nana but that's the only two of my four grandparents.  Photographs are a powerful reminder of our histories and with working on my family tree for over 30 years, I have come to appreciate their importance in our lives. 

Have a great Monday...