Touched by a stranger… who is now an angel.

I so often write about people whose comments irritate and annoy me in some way. Today, I’m going to do the opposite.

I frequent a forum called Toytown Germany (TT). It’s a place for English speakers in Germany (or even just people with an interest in Germany) to hang out. I joined that forum in 2008, when we were living in Germany the first time, but before I was on Facebook. I’ve always found it a useful place to find information about living in Germany that isn’t military-centric. I also find a lot of the people there interesting, since they come from all over the world and walks of life. It’s not unlike the Recovery from Mormonism board, which I also sometimes frequent, only there’s a lot less talk of religion, which suits me fine.

A few years ago, someone on Toytown Germany started a thread entitled “What Made You Cry Today?” At this writing, the thread had swelled to 135 replies. I just added one myself this morning. Last night, I happened to glance at the thread, having not read it from the beginning. I noticed someone calling themselves manly386 responding to a call out from another poster. This was what he wrote:

  On 4/9/2020, 3:02:19,  Acton said: 

Wow! What a sad thread.

For Manly386, who says he has only 5 months to live, this must be truly awful. Could you tell us something about yourself? I see you live in Vancouver. How did you latch on to this TT site? I’m sure we could all chip in to try and give some positive support.

Hi Acton:  I’ve nothing to complain about.  Lived a charmed life, blessed with loving parents, a loving girlfriend (to become my wife later), good health and a body that seemed to accept all the abuse I could heap upon it and come back in fighting form. A Policeman for 32 years, both in the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department.  on the side I dabbled in real estate and the stock market.  during those times 70″s 80’s and 90’s,  everything seemed to go up, couldn’t help but make money. By the 2000s I retired and got out of the market that’s when everything tanked. but I was okay.  We had a son, Warren,  who had pulmonary atresia, and died at 7.  8 was his favourite number, he could speak it in several languages.  He died nov. 28, at 8:00pm in 1988.  He was seven and a bit.  I counted up the months he lived,… it was 88 months.  go figure.

I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. Probly because I was too chicken to have an annual colnonoscopy. Have Your Colonoscopy ! !

The cancer spread and now its in my bones, lungs, liver lymph, and I’ve developed colono-rectal cancer.

My Dr. whom I trust absolutely told me  “Dave there’s nothing more we can do, if all goes well you have about 5 months to live,  you have absolutely no immunity to anything, the chemo took care of that.”  No visitors, no going out for walks etc etc. Fortunately I have a very caring wife, she does everything she used to do and all the stuff I used to do, frustrates the hell out of me ’cause I loved helping out.  ah well, such is life.  I have no complaints, I don’t feel cheated, I’m 75 and enjoyed my life.

I found TT by snooping around on my computer.  That encouraged me to travel, I never had before, too busy.  I chose to backpack through Austria, Switzerland and Germany.   Bavaria was my favourite, The people were very warm and helpful.  went to my first curry night in Munich.  Didn’t know anyone but had a good time.  Ive been to Germany three times since 2000 and three curry nights.  Slept in train stations, rode the trains and busses, slept in hostels and absolutely enjoyed myself. It took me out of my Policeman’s Hard Shell and turned me back into a human.

I loved hunting, fishing camping and hiking.  Playing with my son and being a family man.  I truly was a fortunate man. 

Dave the Barbarian

ps  I’d love to make it to 100 “greenies” before the end !


“Greenies”– I think he was referring to the system of “likes” on the TT forum. At this writing, he has 39 on that post.

I decided to read his initial post, which prompted the call out:

What made me cry today?  My oncologist, a man I love and trust advised me that the chemo treatments were not working and there were no further meds available.  He’s given me 5 months at best.  I cry for my wife, the good woman that has stood by my side for 54 years.  Apparently I must leave her soon,  We lost our only son, and now she is losing me.  She is so trusting and good she is easily taken advantage of.  I fear for her.   These are chaotic times and so much is happening at once.  Despite my pretense of being a Barbarian living in a tent, that was me only in hunting season.  We are more than extremely well off financially and I’m trying to teach her there are sharks that will eat her alive.  A police officer for 32 years,  I was trained to protect,  now I won’t even be able to protect the one I love most. Christ, the world is both so beautiful and cruel at the same time. 

To all of you younger people in TT.  Shakespeare had it right,  “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”,  don’t go crazy,  but enjoy the world while you are able to,  It’s a beautiful place. 

Dave the Barbarian.  

Since the post was from about a year ago, and Dave said he had about five months, at best, I went looking to see if he had been around TT recently. I saw that his last visit was on July 19, 2020. This morning, I Googled his name and city to see if there was an obituary. Sure enough, I found one, complete with photos. His last visit to the TT forum was a week before he died.

I can see that Dave had many loved ones, family members, colleagues, and friends who are missing him. I never knew the man or even heard of him until last night, and yet I regret that I never had the chance to interact with him, even if it was just on a Toytown Germany forum. He must have been a special person, indeed. He was definitely wise. Reminds me a little of my Bill, who is downstairs making breakfast as I write this.

I hope his wife, Lucy, is doing okay.


Cancer claims so many special souls…

I’ve met a lot of people online that I’ve never seen face to face. For years, I wrote on product review site called I met a lot of great people on that site and made about $12,000 reviewing stuff over the course of about eleven years. I was sad when Epinions crashed a few years ago, even though things had been going downhill for a long time and writing there was less fun than it once was. I had great memories of successful reviews, funny exchanges, great parties, and even the odd Internet drama.

In the wake of Epinions’ demise, I gained a bunch of Facebook friends in the form of ex Epinions writers. Several of those people have since died. Quite a few have had cancer, although I can think of one who died of extreme old age, like Granniemose (Virginia Kiraly). I still see her comments on old Facebook posts from years ago. They always make me smile, since she was in her 90s and still sharp as a tack.

The ones who have died of cancer have been quite young. The most recent death was that of Steve Murray, a gay academic who wrote wonderful reviews of books, movies, and music, and once gave me a hard time because I panned Shirley Jones’ sleazy life story. Steve was a fan of Ms. Jones’s and praised her acting and singing abilities. I have no doubt she is a very talented performer, but her book had excerpts about how she and her ex husband, Jack Cassidy, once went swinging with Joan Collins (I got an early copy that still had that bit in it– she was later court ordered to remove it). She also included commentary on the size of her sons’ and David Cassidy’s penises. Apparently, being well-endowed was a “gift” from Jack Cassidy. While I was kind of amused by the revelation, I still thought mentioning it in the book was kind of tacky and said so in my review. Steve thought I was too “hard” (heh heh) on Shirley for that and told me so in an annoying comment. Aside from that, we got along fine.

Steve died at the end of August. He had large B cell lymphoma. I read in his blog that he was going to exit by way of a physician assisted suicide. He’d had a last ditch bone marrow transplant and it failed, so there was nothing more to do than wait for the inevitable. He was gone at the end of August, like our sweet beagle, Zane was. Zane died of lymphoma, too.

Yesterday, I read the news that a much beloved Epinionator, Erin McCarty, is nearing the end of a long, arduous journey with ovarian cancer, which was discovered in November 2016. Erin was known as bilbopooh on Epinions. She’s a gifted writer who has a very sunny, sweet disposition, despite having a really rough time of things, especially in the past few years. A couple of years ago, she lost her friend, Beth (also on Epinions) to a brain tumor. She also lost her mother, Corinne, to ovarian cancer. Her husband, Will, died in July of this year, although I’m not sure what ended his life. I know he had a lot of health problems and spent a lot of time living in nursing homes. Erin had planned to have a memorial for Will, but was unable to make it happen before she was herself in the hospital.

Erin’s father, Ron, has been updating everyone on social media about his daughter’s situation. She’s only in her 30s, but has touched so many people. I’ve read so many heartfelt, loving tributes to her, even though she’s not yet gone. Yesterday, Erin’s dad wrote that they had planned to start chemotherapy, but she’s too ill to receive it now and likely would never again be well enough that chemo would do anything more than make her sicker. Erin’s dad says that she’s in the end stages of cancer, and may not be around for much longer. As difficult as this is for Erin, I can only imagine what her father is going through right now. That man has experienced so much loss in such a short amount of time. I’m offering prayers for Erin, but I’ve also said a few for Ron. He must be overwhelmed.

I remember I had a Facebook friend some time ago who knew Erin McCarty personally. His daughter had worked with me at a Presbyterian church camp in 1993. I hadn’t seen or communicated with his daughter, whose name is also Erin, since we finished working at the camp, but for awhile, her dad was Facebook friends with me, solely because Erin McCarty was a friend, too. He said I must be alright if I was friends with “wonderful” Erin McCarty. Of course, I don’t think Erin ever met an enemy. She seems to be a bright light in many people’s lives, which I know is a very rare quality in a person. I know Erin is a woman of strong Christian faith, which I’m sure is very comforting for her.

The capacity to touch people is so much greater now, since we have the Internet. I know I’ve affected people I don’t know and will never meet, simply due to things I’ve written. While I know not everyone is “blessed” by my writing, I also know some people have found value in it. When I’m feeling low or worthless, I remember those who have had good things to say about what I do. I remember people like Steve, Virginia, and Erin, who have healed, entertained, and educated so many people through writing. I don’t pretend to be nearly as special or talented as they are, or were… this is just my little corner of the Web. I know some people like coming here and return every day, even when I’m in a cranky mood. Of course, some come here because they want to trash me. Such is life. We’re all humans, and most of us aren’t as genuinely lovely, sunny, and awesome as Erin is. But when I find someone who is so genuinely wonderful, yet gets so sick with a horrible disease like cancer, it does tend to make me wonder if maybe there’s truth in the old saying, “only the good die young.”

Well… I don’t know what else I can write about this. Maybe reading the many tributes to Erin as she faces the end of her cancer journey is a valuable reminder to be a better person. And for those who don’t know her, I can help spread the light by writing about her on my blog. I don’t claim to be particularly enlightened or wise, but I do know something special when I see it. And I think Erin is extraordinarily special. I hope the time she has left is peaceful, serene, and as comfortable as possible.

Edited to add: Erin passed away on October 22, 2019 after one last Facebook post in which she encouraged those who wanted to meet her to make the trip “soon”. I am sure her loved ones are heartbroken, but I take some comfort in knowing that her pain and suffering is over… and maybe she is reunited with those who made the journey before her.