The Days Before Tomorrow. 30 Years Later and a Call to Action

It’s now 11 years and a week or so since she passed, and now 30 years since that fateful summer when we first met. That special relationship put myself and her children on a path that I never could have foreseen.

Though lovers be lost

Though lovers be lost. I never forgot this poem as it always reminded me of her.

I haven’t written much about the kids this year, especially as I’ve only seen them twice. As I’ve explained, they’re not mine through blood or law, but they are of my heart nevertheless. In every way that truly matters to me and to them, we are family, and they’ve taught me so much about how it is to be a proud father.

Terry completed his stage in Las Vegas, and then extended it, and then extended it once again. He’s on leave of absence from culinary school now, simply because he was encouraged to travel and learn under some of the best in the culinary world. He’s in England, doing a stage on a culinary level that simply stuns me. There are no words I can express to describe the heights he will achieve.

Georgia is in year 2 studying law, the very degree her own mother couldn’t complete due to the events long ago. In a moment of face palm humor and frustration, she continues to show the stubbornness, passion and brilliance that her mom possessed. You see, she introduced to me her new boyfriend, another Chinese kid who I swear resembles me a little. But this time, he seems to genuinely love her, and they met through the same law program. Of course, I warned him as a father to take good care of her or else, but he already knew better than to upset her. She’s going to be brilliant, but I admittedly look forward to see her walk the aisle in a white dress.

Every Dad's Dream

Every Dad’s Dream

But that’s not the purpose of this blog, and why I returned to the Days. The real story is why that chance meeting 30 years ago continues to guide my life even now.

As you’ve probably read, I’m running for office now. I wasn’t planning to, but I discovered that I had to. There’s the classic saying, “All it takes for Evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” But while I subscribe to such dramatic thoughts, I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it far better:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve always tried to be a defender for others. I see that the highest aspiration of a person is to serve his or her fellow citizen and found that the problems we see in life is very often rooted in silence. I simply want to serve my city, my home and make it just a little better each day, and to speak out to hopefully inspire others to act and do the same.

Now, I have a chance to serve and make a real difference on a great scale. There are so many causes that matter to me. Education. Equality rights. The future of Calgary. Small business. My friends and family. So many and more… and to make a difference, I choose to stop being someone who spoke from the audience into someone who wants to speak truth to power. This truly unique opportunity has come up, an invitation to run for office and have a voice where it matters.

Why am I standing up for what I believe in, when others could have been content from the sidelines? It was Terry who inspired me. He took the chance and had the bravery to come out to me, telling me a truth where so many other children found themselves ostracized, beaten, abused or even banished as my friend, photographer Kelly Hofer. With this decision, he showed me what true bravery was, and why I fight now.

One summer long ago, my first love and I kissed. It was a cheeky french kiss at a time where I was helpless while pretending to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. It was a kiss full of mischief, joy and bold acts of young love and sweet moments. It put me on a path, through her legacy, that guided me to this moment of perfect clarity and the bravery to act.

The First Kiss

The First Kiss

To my wife, my friends, my city, the people of Calgary-Glenmore, and the bravery of a young man who I love as my own son, I dedicate myself to serve, to inspire others, and most importantly, I choose to lead. I am Terry Lo, a dreamer fighting to make a great Calgary into reality, and I want to be your MLA.  And this is a call to action to all, and I beg of you to stop being neutral or silent. Help me, be brave and stand up and act.

——————————–
The Story of the Days Before Tomorrow and the Children

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow, The 10th Anniversary of Her Passing

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The State of Terry 2014 – A Unique Year

(This is more of a personal musing on a life overly lived this past year. It may be of interest, it may not. But in the end, it’s an insight into the life of a quirky lover of Calgary.) Wow. As of Oct 15, I’ve spent 44 yrs. on this dusty ol’ planet of ours. 44 years where I got to see my waistline go from 0 to an astounding 48 and settle on 34. 44 yrs where I had to live with the knowledge of the lives I’ve saved, failed to, and outright lost through tragedy and simple fate. And 44 yrs to see my life evolve once more from someone who served a few to one who found a new path to help. Oh, and 44 yrs where I learned to write in overly sentimentalist terms. Ok, enough with the maudlin style of writing. Overly poetic and melodramatic, though the practice would help me get a job scripting the next Thor movie.

Struggling to keep the pants away... (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Struggling to keep the pants away… (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Now let’s see, I turned 44 last week. I’ve helped raise over $40K directly for charity in the last 18 months, and highlighted the Calgary food scene. I’ve left the Investigation business to become a Social Media Manager, and apparently a pretty decent food event creator as well. I’m well regarded in several social media circles, both locally and internationally, and even had a chance to highlight old media skills once more. More importantly, I did this all while wearing pants most of the time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PTLKPx4kHA

In this time, I’ve come to enjoy my new position as a surrogate father to a gay son (go Terry… so proud of you) and a daughter that reminds me an awful lot of her late mom. Dragon boat paddling is still my passion in sports, though as the years go by I’ve started to see that my final years of competition are upon me as my back isn’t what it used to be. I’ve seen some great restaurants come up, and met far more interesting people.

What I have found though… – I’ve definitely become an outspoken atheist. As per my prior posts, I’ve found that the ongoing hypocrisy of organized religion is a far bigger problem than a support. I’m basically burning my political future with this statement, but I would rather be known as being true to my lack of belief than to mollify the sensitivities of theists; – I have so much to learn about being a dad of a LGBT kid. I’m trying though. I’m trying. It’s amazing what that sort of insight has done to my worldview, and I refuse to ever be quiet about their rights ever again as I was during my theist days. If anyone else wants to give me some advice, I’d love to know. – For that matter, I have so much to learn about being a dad of a 19 yr old daughter. In the almost 2 years we’ve gotten back together, she’s had 1 fiance, then a husband, was pregnant, then not, and still managed to succeed in law school. And that’s before I even get to all of the little lessons I’ve been discovering about the mindset of a girl. I always wanted a daughter of my own. Now that I do, I love and cherish her indeed, but I have to admit that it’s been a heck of a roller coaster ride.

The year to come will be a critical year in terms of special plans and personal growth. If you thought YYC Burger Week and YYC Pizza Week was impressive, keep an eye out. This is LITERALLY the start. – A year since the YYC Floods, I love my home city ever more. So where is this post going? I’m really not quite sure myself right now, as when I normally write I do have a tale in mind. Did I learn anything? Probably. Was it anything useful? Probably not. But what I can say… I’m surprised by the numbers of people who I’m proud to call my friends, my family and most importantly, the travellers who follow my path and dreams along the way. For that, I thank you all. And I’ll hopefully see you all soon. Cheers.

Cheers.

Cheers.

The New Frontiers: Repeats, Reunions and Restorations…

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive. It’s pretty dense kids who haven’t figured that out by the time they’re ten…. Most kids can’t afford to go to Harvard and be misinformed.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

Before I go on, I’m still not going to post any pics for the foreseeable future.  Outside of their first names, I want the kids to still have a measure of privacy.  I am writing this with their full knowledge and permission, but I am now trying to be a little more restrained due to circumstances.

Well, it’s happened.  I’ve met my “kids”, and in all honesty, I still don’t know what to think.  The first meeting I had in mind kinda went awry, as WestJet inexplicably flew well over 90+ minutes late.  Add processing and the rest, and my late but still ok 9-something pm landing suddenly became one that happened a little before midnight.  Needless to say, by the time I I got out of the gates, the kids were absolutely exhausted.  Given that Terry had to get back for lunch and dinner service in Whistler the next day, the meeting I wanted to have with them both together pretty much was blown out of the water.  Georgia just went home, and we would find a time to later meet.

Terry

Terry stayed over in Vancouver that night, and met me for a pretty early 6:30am breakfast in a Chinese café-bakery.  (By the way, highly recommend New Town Bakery on E Hastings, it was simple, inexpensive, hot and simply rocked.)  In the brief hour or so that we talked, he was simply a joy.  Obviously a child of the 00’s, his Star Wars was Anakin Skywalker and the Clone Wars.  Linkin Park was his Sting and the Police and he never even heard of The Doctors 1 thru 8.  He’s bright, analytical and determined to be a chef no matter what.  He’ll make it, I have no doubt.  But he’s also a little awkward socially.  His focus on his craft has made him appear to be a little cold, even aloof to an extent.  Still, once you do get to know him, you can’t help but respect him.

Georgia

On Saturday, I had went out to meet an old friend I had never met face to face in 15 years.  It was fun, exciting and a grand old trot down memory lane.  But as all good things, it had to end a little early as I had promised a friend to pick up some Dragon’s Beard Candy from the Richmond Night Market.  On my way there, I noticed a text from Georgia, who was already there and we agreed to meet.

Remember, until this weekend, all of my communications with the kids have been entirely on the phone or via the net.  Everyone has a persona they assume online, whether it be one that’s daring, brave, meek or silent.  But in person… ah, there’s the rub.  The cute little 8 yr old girl I remember is a very different 18 year old girl, and one that I bet her mom would have tore her hair out over.

It’s not that Georgia is a bad girl, or some wild child who drives parents to drink.  It’s that she’s so very much her mother’s daughter.  I see so much of my old love in her, and so many of the special qualities that made me so charmed and enamoured even now over 3 decades.

Georgia is smart and clever, quick witted and open.  She is a caring, loving blossoming woman who you can’t help but fall in love with from the start.  She keeps the same insane schedule that her mom did at this age, with most of her days already prescheduled weeks to months in advance.  It’s that drive that made her mom such a star to UBC, and when properly focused, will make Georgia a contender in the days to come.  The problem is that just like her mom, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and is incredibly pig headed.  Terry told me that once she’s made a decision, it takes a small miracle to make her reconsider.  Like me, she has a flair for the dramatic, and makes life changing decisions at a whim as she will follow her heart.  And more importantly, she has a sense of justice based on her own beliefs and is quite willing to defends those decisions to the death.

Unfortunately, this has led her to three decisions that I wonder how much came from me (somehow) and how much came from my old love.

– After reading “The Days” and finding out so many things about her bio dad, and my deep unusual relationship with her mom, she’s stopped talking to him now altogether.  She assures me that she came to this decision herself, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve traumatized her with the truth.  Problem is that, what choice did I really have as well?  I wasn’t about to lie to protect the false reasons why I was abandoned the kids after the death of their mom, or my complicated feelings for her even after all of these years.  Nevertheless, it’s been months since she has had more than a 3 word conversation with her dad, and I feel so horribly personally responsible for this.

– She’s about to get married in a few months, about the same age when my old love and I had once considered the future together.  Worse, it looks like her taste in men is about the same.  Her fiance was working at the Richmond Night Market (hense the timing), and he’s CHINESE.

– She’s asked ME to be the one to give her away.  She sees it as things going full circle, and that I was supposed to be her dad.  I am honored that she asked me, but it feels quite honestly wrong in a lot of ways.  I don’t deserve this pedestal.  I was with her mom in a quasi lost love relationship for over 7 years. Her real dad raised her for most of her 18 years.  He has cared for her, loved her, and sacrificed so much for her that I can never ever repay.  This is his spot, and his honour not mine.

Now let’s get back to where this mess is about to lead.  I’m not going to comment much on her fiance for now, since I really don’t know the guy at all.  All I know is that he’s from Shanghai, studied in western schools and is 24 years old. I have no idea if he’s getting his citizenship, or if he’s even a landed immigrant.  He speaks english with a bit of an british / chinese accent, and apparently works at that market on the weekends.  He seems to genuinely care for Georgia, but I can’t get over the fact that they started seeing one another only months ago…. and now marriage???

I haven’t had time to really think this all through, but this feels so wrong.  I’m trying to respect her decision, but now I think I have to be her father to try to talk sense as she’s presently lacking one right now.  She won’t talk to me at all abotu how her dad is, and what are his thoughts.  I’m actually a bit surprised that he even let Georgia move out at this age for that matter, assuming he even had a choice.

I’ve gotten advice from a few friends here and there, but I still have to think for now. I can tell already that my wife is going to have some problems with Georgia, which is another consideration I’m will have to factor in. So many lives, so intertwined in the decisions I soon will have to make, and all from a single desperate moment based on an ill-conceived haphazard plan. Wow. If there is some sort of afterlife, I can just imagine my old love just looking on in total puzzlement and disappointment.

But there is one thing for certain… I promised someone special and dear to me that I would always be there to strive to be their father, mentor and friend.  I promised her that I would always be there to try to guide them on a path that would find them their own happiness, and to avoid the mistakes that my old love and I made that will always haunt me.

“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” – Margo Channing, All About Eve

The New Frontiers: Courage, Children, Comical Circumstances and Catastrophes

It’s been weeks since I touched on the aftermath events since writing the Days Before Tomorrow.  Where I left off, the kids and I had made arrangements to meet at the airport on Friday the 21st where they can finally have a chance to see their would be father, or at least what they once called cool Uncle Terry.  Weeks since I gave the kids the total story of the events that led to their mother falling in love with me, and the catastrophic reactions that has led to the very unusual circumstances we all find ourselves today.

Since then, the countdown has only become smaller.  Time has creeped up on all of us, and there’s only scant days left before I see my kids again.  And yes, I still see and believe them in so many ways to be at least partly mine.  As I learn more about them, I see so much of their mother in them, and how she must have tried to inject a bit of me into them despite genetics and distance.

T is 20 (almost 21 soon), and he’s studying to be a chef.  To put it bluntly, their mom was never a particularly good cook admittedly.  She was skilled in so many ways, such as a keen analytical mind, great dexterity on the volleyball court and a musicality on the piano and cello that had to be seen to be believed.  One of my fondest memories in fact, is when we just quietly played a musical duet with her cello and my flute in a Montreal park one night.

Their dad has a great mind for organization, but he’s not much of a cook himself.  But I’ve been a foodie and home cook every since my teens, and I’m betting that T’s own skills and goals must have been in some way influenced by their mom and me.

G is studying to go to law school.  She possesses an empathy that goes well beyond her young years, and an equally keen mind that can bring truth from shadows with laser like precision.  I’m getting close to her in many ways, as I’ve always wanted a daughter of my own, and I’ve inspired her to follow and complete the footsteps her mother started all those years ago.  My first love never did finish that law degree, and I hope that G can finish that path, or if not that one, then any path that finds her happiness and love.

But my wife was right in one thing… I should have said a bit less when I wrote the Days.  I was so concerned to give the kids the full story, that I didn’t give a proper analysis of the consequences.

Damn.   I really am rusty as an economist.  A good economist can find trends and patterns in the present and the past, and recommend a course of action.  A great economist can take that same data, recommend a course, but also predict the unknown results to the best of anyone’s ability and be ready for the consequences.  I once thought I might’ve had the basics to be a great one, but not having used those mental muscles for so long, I guess I’m just a 1/2 decent one.  Where the heck does all this past paragraph fit in?  Well….

The kids have stopped talking to their dad and their grandmother.  Those two found out that 2 of the pillars of their family life was partially built on lies, and have taken it out on their dad.  They didn’t know about the no contest over custody when their mom and dad divorced.  They didn’t know about the restraining order about me.  That and the whole story on how she and I loved and lost… and they’ve had a LOT to think about over the months.

It probably also didn’t help much that I told the both of them to take their time and try to focus on school and so on.  Both of them had this burden of truth placed upon them just before school finals and so on, which was bad timing on my part.  But now that’s all done, and we’re about to enter a new adventure.

Where am I?  Terrified really.  I’ve loved these two ever since their mom made me their godfather (despite my relatively near total lack in faith strangely enough).  What if I’m not what they envisioned me to be?  Despite the blog and calls, at the end, they still fundamentally have the mind’s image of me from the viewpoint of a 11 yr old boy and a 8 yr old girl.   Do I have a place in their lives?  Do I even have a right to even BE in their lives?  So many doubts, and so many fears and worries.  But I broke my promise to their mom once to be a part of their lives and to be like a father to them.  This is my second chance… and whether they want it or not is entirely up to them.

So with that all now mentioned, I’m going to be a bit self-indulgent and write the following directly to T&G:

Kids. I’m not your dad. I wanted to be your dad, but it just wasn’t to be.  You HAVE a dad.  He was there when you first spoke, your first steps, and your first McD Happy Meal.  Despite a lapse in judgement, he loves you both deeply and has been there and raised you where I couldn’t.  So cut the guy a break, please?  Forgive him?  Because in the end, no matter what, he’s your true family who has looked over you and protected you over your entire lives.  And I will always thank him for that.  Today of all days, FATHER’S DAY, it’s a good day to mend these fences and be a family again.  This is your cool Uncle Terry ordering you and I’ll bribe ya with sushi if it helps the process (kidding… the sushi’s mine… you can have a Japadog though). 

Remember, your mom did love him, as much as she did me.  And you two wonderful kids are the results of that love.  I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of even a moment of your growth, but it’s in large part due to him.  I love you both, and see you soon, but give him a call now or I’ll kick your asses in the airport.  Love, Terry

Ok, as for those of you following this saga… more to follow very very soon.

Fortes Fortuna Juvat.  Fortune Favours the Bold. Wish me luck.

Just Some Thoughts … Unintended Consequences of The Days

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump

“The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.” – Rob Norton on Unintended Consequences in Economics

I know I haven’t posted anything in a week, but after writing “The Days” and the subsequent events that followed as a direct result, I was a bit emotionally drained.  As you can tell, I tend to put a lot of myself in my writing, so I had to take a little break to recharge.

There’s definately going to be more to come with an upcoming reunion in just over 2 months, and so on.  The kids, as you read in the next expansion of this ongoing tale, The New Frontiers, have read the blog and just saw literally a huge chunk of their lives completely redefined at the core.  They’re… well… definately in shock, and I’m giving them some time to process it all.  I don’t foresee a new post on the Frontiers until after the reunion, but there’s been quite a bit of little things here and there in the background, so here’s to answer the questions I’ve gotten the most in the past month since I started the Days.

Why did you really write this?

I tried to explain why in the Epilogue, and the main reason was to give the kids the full background on their mom and me and how the whole mess came to be.  More importantly, this really was a tale that just had to be told.  I’m seeing them soon, and if you know me, I’m a decent storyteller, but I know my writing has always been better than my spoken word. 

But more importantly, it was the anniversary of her passing, and these were things that very few of even my closest friends knew about. Because of the strange irregular nature of our relationship, and the different schools, distance and more, everyone I know had a piece of the story, but no one had it all.

Are Terry & Georgia going to be in your life from here on?

I really don’t know. It’s still new to me to have them back, but not as the small children I remember.  They’re coming into adulthood now, but they know so little of their mom except of what their dad and grandparents have told them and of course childhood memories.  After the reunion to come, this whole relationship could expand and grow, or come to a crashing halt. 

As for my own feelings on the matter, I really do care for them and I’d love for them to be in my life, and that of my new friends and family here in Calgary.  But (and yes, there’s always the but) I’m getting the impression that I might have to consider keeping my distance or even leaving again if it’s for the better good.

Leave again?

This is where the quote I put above, the Law of Unintended Consequences, comes into play.  I can’t believe how I, a trained economist, completely disregarded this.  It’s a canon practically for us, as a good economist is supposed to be able to foresee the possible consequences for any action.  I really didn’t see this coming, though in hindsight it’s so obvious.

I started a war.  Yes, I knew going into this that I considered the possibility of their father and I might get into some sort of conflict.  What I DIDN’T see was that I might have possibly split their family apart into armed camps.  Terry isn’t even talking to his father now.  Georgia, thank heavens, is trying to work out a truce, but it’s not easy as she’s angry herself.  There has been so many stories told about me over the years, as it looks like my old friend and the grandparents still blame me for HER accidental death.  Now the truth is out, and the kids are … I’m not sure. 

All I do know is, I don’t want to be the one that could split a family as well, or more importantly, her family. 

How did the Kids find you?

Heh.  This is an interesting thing.  They didn’t find me a few months ago.  They found me almost 2 YEARS ago on Facebook and other social media sites.

They’ve been watching me all of this time to gauge if the stories they’ve been told are true.  What they’ve found is a guy who loves his friends, his family and great food…. lots and lots of food.  I’ve been told that the story of their decision to contact me is something epic as well, and I can’t wait to hear.

What now?

I’m talking to them.  That’s all that can be done.  I’m here to give them advice and my love.  

I’ve been asked by a local filmmaker to consider making a draft screenplay.  Yes?  No? I’m not ready right now in my mind, and I don’t have the time to commit anyways.  But if anything I’ve learned from this whole mess, never say never.

Anything to note?

My wife has gone way beyond the call of duty on this one.  I can’t imagine it was fun watching your husband write about another woman.  She’s also the one who’s been advising me to take it a little more carefully with the kids.  She’s going to stay at arms’ length for now and see where it goes before she gets directly involved. I can’t thank her enough for her advice, and most importantly, her patience and understanding.

Heh, and also, when I told my mom about the upcoming reunion, her first words to me weren’t “That’s great” or “How wonderful”.  They were, “Are you being sued (by her family)?”  Such a Mom thing to say.  Thanks Mom for the giggle, and love you.

So that’s enough for now.  I’ve got a few interesting tales from London, England (as a 14 yr old), a few Spy cases to tell from recent years, and how my horrific mandarin in Taiwan made a situation really, really weird.

And more importantly, take a look at www.YYCBurgerweek.com.  I’m one of the founders, and it’s burgers for a great cause.

See you in the funny papers.

The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt 3

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” – William Congreve

“Hatred ever kills, love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.” – Gandhi

“I was born when you kissed me, I died when you left me, I lived a few weeks while you loved me.” – Humphrey Bogart

In all of my wildest dreams, I never saw that coming. We were close in so many ways, even though we weren’t a typical couple over the years. But, it was because we weren’t a normal couple that I had made my mistake in thinking that this was something that could be solved in a sudden dramatic fashion. To put it mildly, I was stunned, and remained so for the 2 or so hours where they both told me how they fell in love, how they both felt guilty about me, how they wanted me in their lives no matter the distance and more. To them, I was now family, like the happy go-lucky brother. In all honesty, I felt a bit like I had created a bizarre version of Frankenstein’s Monster, one that was now coming for my blood for the sin of brutal creation.

So I played the game a little further and served as their Best Man, and I think I played my part well. Should I mention about the bachelor party I hosted? The actual event at the altar where I smiled and cooed, all the while wanting to leap out of a window? How about the wedding banquet, quite modest thankfully, but still filled with those little games that everyone loves to watch. No one said if I looked upset or angry, though her parents did take me aside and told me that it was my fault that this happened and I should have been there on that altar instead. But realistically, my only thoughts were on how much I wanted this to end, and to wash my hands of everything and disappear from sight.  Little did I know that even long after the night ended and I returned to Montreal, she had other plans in motion to keep me close.

A few short months later before Xmas, I was told there was a surprise coming.  While admittedly not particularly thrilled, I had to admit I was a bit curious to see what she had in mind.  I was pretty much expecting maybe copies of the wedding photos?  A thank you gift?  Maybe a visit?  Who knew what it could be really?  I was still feeling the sting of the wedding, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this mess was entirely my fault.  I mean, I knew she would be upset with losing me, but I never in a million years thought she would rebound in such a strange and unexpected way.  Little did I know, that was just the beginning.

On Xmas Eve, they came around to my door bearing gifts.  I wasn’t surprised, as I expected something along these lines. The meeting was brief, as they had other doors to knock and people to see, but they did tell me to keep my New Years’ Eve free. I should have lied and said I had plans or something, but that would have been futile. All of those years of written notes and secret whispers had made her a human Terry lie detector for the most part (with of course the exception of when I shoved her). So I went about my daily holiday business of too much turkey, tons of family and friends and so on, but my mind remained a bit at unease knowing THE day approaching.

New Year’s Eve actually started to be fun. Being the geek I am, they surprised me with a private room and a few matches of Laser Quest of all things. It seemed to be a genuinely pleasant approach to that night that I never expected. There was of course a blind eye to the case of sparkling wine brought into the room, several pizzas and laughter between the 3 of us and their friends all around. We talked and reminisced, went over the elementary to college years, the disastrous first date ever, odd arguments about horror movies and so on, and I was honestly starting to relax and enjoy the company. Famous last thoughts I suppose.

Throughout the night, I noticed that while we were all enjoying the bubbly, she had stuck to apple juice and so on. She was never much of a drinker, but then, it was New Year’s Eve. And as the final few minutes of the year arrived, she stood up and poured a very small amount of wine into her glass and made a toast. First was a toast to her new husband, then her friends and family and then as she put it (and I so have those words burned into my brain in 24 point Helvetica type), “To Terry, the dearest friend, sweetheart and soon to be UNCLE and GODFATHER TO MY SON.” I so dearly wished right there and then for those laser pistols to be fully functional and lethal so I could shoot myself.

There was a lot of cheering and toasting that night. I felt sick and left the building, trying not to faint or throw up on the ground. It was a particularly cold night then, but I honestly didn’t even notice as both shock and a bit of fury had gripped me. I thought I was done and over with her, but now I saw that she meant every word about keeping me close. And as with stupid me and my code of chivalry, I felt obliged to say yes when I wanted to just scream. I looked back at the door to Laser Quest, composed myself, went back inside and apologized for my sudden reaction and accepted the honor. Months later, I got to meet my first godchild ever, and could you believe the coincidence? He was named Terry too.

By the way, did I happen to mention how unusual it would have been for me to be the Godfather? I was born and raised catholic, and lived across the country to boot. She was protestant, though He was catholic as well. Moreso, my belief in the Christian faith had already begun to wane back then (I’ve since become Atheist) which didn’t exactly make me a very good candidate. She didn’t care, and if He did, He didn’t tell me then. So annually, I would send gifts and notes to my godson to read when he was older, and every so often I would see them in Montreal or I would go there. A few short years later, Terry was followed by a second child, a sweet little girl named Georgia. I should have guessed, as my middle name is George. But if things were getting weird, she didn’t let me know.  (I’m a bit thankful there weren’t more kids. My full name is Terrence George Bing Nung Lo, which incorporates my chinese name as well.  Somehow I imagine in a parallel universe a kid named Bing being teased mercilessly in a playground.)

This game went on and on, and I would make my regular phone calls to the family and talk to my godkids. He had become a successful restaurant manager while the wedding and children derailed her studies in law, but still managed to get a degree in accounting somehow. I stayed in Montreal, finding new loves time and again, but somehow always watching them go up in flames in one way or another (Those tales are for another soap opera tale in the future). Still, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, as we all found our lives going their own separate paths as they should.

It was a Saturday in July that I called to wish lil’ Terry a happy birthday. But instead of the formalities of saying hi and so on, Terry passed me on to his grandma. She was expecting my call, and wanted a chance to tell me her mind. She had told me that HE had left, and moved away with another woman with kids of her own. She, my 1st, was now a single parent to the 2 kids, and that custody was entirely hers and that HE didn’t even contest it. Her mom then told me the rest of the story, of the fights and the counselling that went on in the background. The regrets she had by acting so rashly by marrying him, and the hurt and pain behind it all. How She had insisted on naming both kids after me, and that I had to be their godfather. Her mom confirmed all of my suspicions and more, and then lectured me about how it should have been me and her daughter from the start. Many more words were passed on, but the final word was from the Court of BC. I was faxed copies of the divorce papers, and besides “Irreconcilable Differences”, there it was written in HIS handwriting just under HIS signature:

“She’s still in love with that f***** and did this to hurt him.”

End of Part Three

—————————–

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 1
The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 2
The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude
The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind
The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers
The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

From Terry’s PI Files – The Digital Love Affair

[Back in January 2014, I left the security and investigations business to pursue new ventures. But, I’ve been recapping my old cases in recent times… here’s one of the funniest I’ve ever been involved in. This was written in 2013]

In Calgary, I wear a number of hats. I’m best known as a foodie and avid twitter fiend (@calgarydreamer), but those who know me also know me as the guy to go to when you need help… in an espionage kind of way.  I used to run and operate Spy City in Calgary from 2007-Jan 2014 years.  Needless to say, I’ve encountered some pretty funny and some pretty tragic events.

Priiiivate eyes...they're waaatching you... they're seeing your every moooove...

Priiiivate eyes…they’re waaatching you… they’re seeing your every moooove…

As cool as my job sounded, a lot of the work deals with some of the nastier stuff of human nature… that is, betrayal, hatred, lust and fear.  Think more Magnum PI than James Bond a lot of the times, and you have some pretty negative situations all around.

But every so often, you get a pretty funny surprise that blindsides you in it’s hilarity and even genuine sense of love and redemption.  There’s the client who had me follow her husband and his “mistress” for a few days, only to find out that the “mistress” was a party planner and my client was about to have a kick-ass surprise birthday party.  There’s the guy who found out he was just too suspicious and discovered that his girlfriend was about to surprise him with the announcement of their first child (they’re a great couple btw). And then there was this case…

My client was technologically inept in pretty much every sense of the word.  A charming lady, she brought meaning and true embodiment to the term, “more jittery than a jitterbug.”  She couldn’t believe it had come to the point that she needed my help.  But at the same time, she didn’t know what to expect as well.

Every night, her husband would leave their bed, and he would go on the net every night to do god knows what, and then return to bed a few hours later.  It went on like clockwork for weeks, and it was an obsessive sort of action.  But the last straw was when she went down to try to see what he was doing online, and he snapped back at her.

Burning the midnight oil or something nefarious?

Burning the midnight oil or something nefarious?

When she came to me, she was at her rope’s end.  Her husband had always been a good person, but now with these late night online events, he would sleep less and less and go to work an utter zombie.  He refused to talk to her about what was going on, and would not let her near him when he was online.  And in a time when online affairs was rampant, you can only imagine what she was going through.

After she explained the whole situation, my own first impression was that he was probably having an online affair.  I didn’t really know the man, but this sort of behavior was common among the cheaters I’ve caught in the past.  So after a few more minutes to gather initial impressions, we were both convinced that some sort of monitoring software was needed.

Later that day, with her permission of course, I installed a useful piece of software that records every single action, keystroke, website and more into a secret database.  It’s been a pretty handy tool for someone in my line of work, since I can honestly say that I’ve assisted in stopping at least a few adult stalkers, cheaters, prevented 3 child abductions (way cool…) and stopped a planned assault that could only go worse.  Once installed, I let it work it’s magic, and waited for him to do his.

About 2 days later, my client was waiting at the front door anxiously for my arrival.  She had to know if she had lost her husband to another woman or online porn or worse, and I was her only hope.  So I sat down before the keyboard, and hitting a secret combo of keys and passwords, I called up the hidden logs.

At first, I noticed that she was right.  In the last 2 nights alone since the installation, someone had been using the computer for hours between 10pm and 2am.  But that was pretty much all that she was right about.  My attention turned to the keystrokes, and I noticed that there were far too many keystrokes for a normal chat.  Over and over, the letters A, W, S, D and SPACE were being hammered on every second of every minute of every hour.  There was very little actual chats being made as well, except terms like “cover me” and “eat my unholy axe”.  It was with the last words, that everything came into view… he wasn’t having an online affair at all.  Heck,. he wasn’t even looking at porn.  He was addicted to WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

Screenshot of World of Warcraft

Screenshot of World of Warcraft

It was a bit difficult to explain to her that her hubby wasn’t cheating on her with another woman, but instead with 2000 orcs and goblins, but eventually I got through.  She was so incredibly relieved, and had me take the software off the computer. Needless to say, it was probably the best few hundred she ever spent.

This was one of the best results I ever had in a case, that led to happy (relatively) results.  I still look back at that and smile.  But as I think about it, one little thing concerns me.. how does a real life mortal wife compete with 2000 digital Orcs and dragons?