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Monday, April 8, 2013


Today is my son Steve Wild's 45 birthday. He died last year, September 21, 2012, of aggressive esophageal/stomach cancer which went undiagnosed until three months before his death. He was in great pain until a physician at the Misericordia Hospital Emergency Department sent him for long overdue tests and diagnosed him.

He attended the Cross Cancer Institute here in Edmonton and the Misericordia Hospital with no reprieve for the fast growing and invasive cancer, which took over all his body at the end.

Steve died peacefully at home in the presence of his loved ones. I was unable to be there as the end came swiftly when it came.

He took a breath then did not take another one.

He was a very intelligent and private individual who was gifted in electronics and computer language, music, loved robots, his cat Fuzzy Kitty, and science fiction.

He left behind a dear sister, a son, a half brother, his mother, cousins, aunts and uncles who mourn, a significant other, and father and grandparents who went before him. His father died in 1971 in a motorcycle crash.

He had many friends he did not realize he had during his lifetime. He was a private individual who loved to come home from work, change into his boxers and watch Netflix, play computer games, or practice music on his electric guitar. He played very well, at what I would call an inspired and advanced level, but he was a humble man who didn't acknowledge his many talents.

Steve had a hard life because of my schizophrenia and my drinking as he was growing up. He took the brunt of it, and with his younger sister was shunted from one school and one home to another for a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s until coming home to a more stable home life. He grew to be a fine, caring man who forgave and was a wonderful emotional support to me and his sister.

I would say Steve and his sister were best friends.

He graduated from NAIT with a diploma in Telecommunications in the early 1990s, and a diploma in electronics from a distance learning school somewhat later. He worked as an electronics tech for most of the 1990s until joining Saputo as a pasteurizer until his death. He loved his work and his colleagues, and was valued there as a good worker and friend.

A memorial service was held for Steve in early October 2012, attended by many of his co-workers, family, and friends.

We will never forget you, Steve. 

Facebook, for one, will never let us forget you! The little white robot will be there on FB forever, reminding us of our Steve Wild.
Steve's FB avatar robot

You might want to read this.

by Kenna Mary McKinnon
The pain was electric music in his gut, placated by Morphine. He slept until the stranger and friend awoke him to speak with him.
"Your son…the boy you never knew. Your mother's grandson and estranged. Sad."
"I met him at Brewsters and explained I couldn't help it, the absences, the silence, they were imposed on me."
"He knows that?"
"I don't know. My son plays guitar, too. Electric. My mother bought him his first guitar."
"Too cool."
"The black acoustic and the Godin are mine."
"You have three amps and one is real nice, a vintage 1960s Vox you got from Craig's List."
"No, I got it from Kijiji. I live in Alberta, Kijiji's big here. I took the bus to the guy's place, paid him cash on the spot."
"Nice Vox."
"I see the posters, can peek out the window at the street and the sun when the drapes are open like now."
"You're miles from the ocean but I see your favorite ocean videos on Netflix, Van Gogh and the Scream on your old wall."
"Yes, I like the sea and the Scream. I like the stars. My sister lives in Vancouver. We went whale watching a couple of times; took a lot of great photos, and saw the Aquarium. The jellyfish were my favorites, beautiful colors and shapes."
"Did you want to go back some day? Live there?"
"Too much on the fault line and too far from home. I'm a home body."
"Too bad. The sea is our mistress."
"Yes. Music is our mistress, too. The stars and the Scream."
The cream colored Vox amp stood in the corner, unused by his son after he surrounded himself by the ocean; the wild dark sea and the music, dived into the night of the underworld and swam to the other side of the Universe where the stars blazed and the Scream was left behind.
"I have my memories," his son said to the grandmother later, and declined a recent photograph of the handsome young man in his forties, face illuminated and eyes wise and humorous.
We all have our memories, the guitar still sang—his black acoustic instrument in particular sang in the hands of a stranger and friend, who moderated the father's celebration of life when the sea and the Light claimed him again, back to the bosom of Unconsciousness and no more pain.
The philosopher pulled on his ill groomed beard and bent over his quill and paper. The candle smoked on his desk. Pythagoras and, in turn, Plato had proposed what the philosopher was proposing, through centuries of oral tradition, the Music of the Spheres produced by the planets in proportion to their distance from the Earth, and heard by those dying, in exquisite harmony.
The philosopher had never heard the tones of the Cosmic Muse produced by the magic of mathematics or the stretching of interplanetary distances. He relied on the teachings of the Pythagoreans and the Roman statesman and mathematician Boethius, who believed in the harmony of all things. He believed that on the point of death, he would at last hear the rarified and exquisite tones.
Millennia later, in the 21st century, humanity was to rediscover Musica Mundana, or the Music of the Spheres, and begin again to treat dis-ease with music.
Ham radio operators in the 20th century would bounce their signals off meteorite trailers and hear "whistlers" from these trailers to determine the location.
"Researchers from the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS) team at the University of Iowa have released a new recording of an intriguing and well-known phenomenon known as “chorus,” made on Sept. 5, 2012. The Waves tri-axial search coil magnetometer and receiver of EMFISIS captured several notable peak radio wave events in the magnetosphere that surrounds the Earth. The radio waves, which are at frequencies that are audible to the human ear, are emitted by the energetic particles in the Earth’s magnetosphere.
“People have known about chorus for decades,” says EMFISIS principal investigator Craig Kletzing, of the University of Iowa. “Radio receivers are used to pick it up, and it sounds a lot like birds chirping. It was often more easily picked up in the mornings, which along with the chirping sound is why it’s sometimes referred to as ‘dawn chorus.’”
Highly Allocthonous wrote, "The Sounds of Earth’s Magnetosphere, at frequencies directly audible to humans!  Credit: University of Iowa.
The Earth rolled on and hummed and chirped, and the seven other planets chirped on their own lengths of harmonic sound.
The dying man heard it, and entered the Light.
The philosopher smiled in his grave as the universal concert sang.

In memory of my son Steve
Who liked hard science fiction and William Gibson's novels

The transformer heater fit into the freeze plug and that meant draining the engine of its nuclear fuel, popping off the reactor cover, hoisting the device on a mount and inserting the heater. Curtis, the captain on the botched mission to the Vega star system, was no mechanic, and he was in charge of the metallic object that had brought the Earth station to this icy planet.
Robert Gibson parachuted down to the tip of the glacier where the device rested. The tags on his dilanium suit folded over his ample frame and the gloves snapped well up on the elbow hinges. His titanium boots weighed almost nothing in the surprisingly low gravity of BlueStar II. The super had told him it wasn't necessary to wear his helmet but Robert was careful. He had seen what happened to careless men on a mission such as this.
"Horny little Vegans been swarming over us like Venusian roaches on a marsh stew," the captain said. "Glad you're here, Major. I need a replacement worse than Carl Sagan needed a telescope and camera."
"What happened? Terminal engine froze solid on its re-entry, did it?"
"Ya. We were lucky. No casualties, just a touch of frostbite when Vega dropped over the horizon for the short night. This hunk of frozen rock is about the size of Jupiter but synchronized with its star to pull gravity so it's like bouncing through marshmallows. You don't need that helmet, ya know. O2 dust from around Vega penetrates the atmosphere here on BlueStar II so it's like breathing rarefied air."
Robert motioned toward the toolbox and computer chips embedded in his suit. "I'll run a scan."
"You don't need to run a scan. It's obvious what's wrong. The thing is frozen solid and even the plutonium inside isn't enough to keep the mechanical parts moving."
"Yeah, the flanges are seized."
"Where's the ship you came planet-side on?"
"It's hovering straight above." Robert pointed to a blue dot in the atmosphere. "Just a robocraft from the Mothership."
"An escape pod? How do I get back? I been here longer than Albert let his hair grow."
"They'll pick you up. I'm in charge now, Captain. Where are the others?"
Curtis gestured. "Under the mountain. We found caves heated with thermal currents from deep underground. The women are arming themselves against the Vegans. It isn't safe out here for them, sir."
"I think I understand. Where do they come from and what happens when I get the engine going again?"
"We'll use it for power, of course."
"I know that. But we're sharing this planet with a bunch of…?"
"Horny Vegans. They're all wraiths, like ghosts, but solid enough if you get my drift. We don't know where they come from. There was nothing here when we crash landed two months ago and now they're everywhere. Ugly violet creatures with seven sexes."
"Seven sexes?"
"We're the eighth and ninth."
"Oh, I think I see. What do you do to fight them off? Do they know we're…er…"
"Not interested? Oh, yes."
'Interesting." Robert bent over the engine and took a long slim object out of the toolkit on his chest, popped the cover off the reactor port and peered inside.
"Going to be a cup of soup," he said. A winch unrolled from the pack on the chute and hoisted the engine off the ice. He wriggled under the engine and fitted a cap over the plutonium basket, removed the fuel containers and pulled out the freezer plug.
"Give me that." He reversed the procedure, inserted the heater cartridge, threw away the freezer plug, transferred the plutonium back to its case, screwed on the port cover and tamped it down with the shaft of a special tool.
"The head of ice is going to melt soon," Robert said. The winch purred and the engine settled again into place on the tip of the glacier.
Curtis shook his head. "Get me out of here."
A woman, laser gun smoking and spitting light, appeared in an opening in the mountain behind them. "There they are. Son of a brown sugar patty. There's more of them every day, I swear."
Ka-boom! She was thin and danced over the ice fields. Robert squinted. He could see no one else.
"Where are they?" he asked.
"Why, Bob, they're all around us." Curtis began to swat at the viscous air. "There, you see. They're everywhere."
Robert scratched his head through the open faceplate in the helmet.
"If you say it's time you went Earth-side, I'd agree, Captain," he said. "I'll call the pod."
"Don't you see?" Curtis clutched his arm. "I can't leave the women like this."
"I'll take care of it."
"You're my replacement?"
"Yes. We've been worried. The transmissions from BlueStar II since you landed have become increasingly erratic, Captain. I was told to advise you of that. You're relieved of your command right now."
"Yes, Captain. Nothing to worry about. I'm here to take over in your place."
"All by yourself?"
"How many men are here altogether?"
"We have five men and three females at the station. It's the females I'm worried about, sir."
Ka-boom. The thin woman danced back over the ice, gun flaming and face afire with purpose.
"What's she doing?"
"Why, she's destroying the Vegans. Don't you see? They're after her."
Robert pulled on his lip through the open faceplate. He punched a few buttons in the palm of his glove and the robocraft responded, hovered several hundred feet above the three humans.
"Get in," he said.
"The port is open. We'll winch you up."
"Yes. It's a multipurpose machine. Let me strap you in."
"Goodbye, Major Gibson."
"Goodbye, Captain. Better luck on your next mission."
"Oh, shoot."
"Now they're all over me." Curtis swatted the fetid air.
The woman hoisted her laser gun to her shoulder and fired several rounds. Blue sparks snapped across the winch as it swung the Captain up to the descending pod. Robert watched as the dilanium suited officer was transported through the opening in the small craft and the port slid shut.
"Good," he said, and spoke again into the number pad on his glove. "Now hear this, Mothership. Seal off the area and don't let anyone down. I'm going to investigate. Possible alien involvement. Repeat. Possible alien involvement."
The woman stared into the dark sky as Vega rapidly circled its massive planet.
"Too late," she said.
"Too late?"
"They're with him."
"With the Captain?"
"They're all around him, yes, sir. Can't you see it?"
She ground the freezer plug under her boot and aimed the gun at the booster engine. The ice was melting. The engine was probably serviceable and would support the station for a hundred years without replacement.
"What are you doing? Don't, that's an order, soldier, miss."
"We can't let them get away."
More shapes were striding toward them from the cave in the side of the mountain. Human beings, bent and shuffling from the weight of huge laser guns.
"Is that all you brought with you to the surface?" Robert was curious.
"There they are. Holy cornflakes," one man said. He aimed his gun at Robert's groin.
"You're all crazy," Robert said. "I'm your Captain's replacement. Stand to attention and that's an order, soldiers. Head Office on Earth wants to know what happening here. I have a report to complete. You're going to help me."
Later, the violet wraiths surrounded Robert and nibbled at his chest. When they got to his throat it was too late.
He was a little bit of common sense in a world without reason. Head Office from Earth found him in the dust of the oxygenated air. The humans hadn't shot him at the end.
They didn't need to.


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  2. This must have been heart wrenching to write, Kenna; thank you for sharing Steve's birthday with us. He is much missed and much loved.

  3. Thank you, Judi. Yes, he was a good and kind man.

  4. That is the most lovely tribute to you as a mum for bringing up such a lovely man, and to Steve as the lovely man you taught him to be.He sounds such an intelligent and beautiful person. Another dear one who has departed this earth too soon, but hopefully you will re unite one day in Paradise....and what a great reunion that will be. Love to you Kenna....Heather

  5. Thank you, Heather. I look forward to a happy reunion but in the meantime, he is all around me, in all the lovely and thoughtful gifts and things he did for us, including my computer programs and teaching me how to think "computer language," the cell phone he bought me for emergency use because he was worried about me walking alone at night, the antique radio he restored, the book about "Mothers and Sons" and much else. I love you, Steve.