In A Pickle  

Finding religion after 'haunted' childhood

Haunted childhood home

Sometimes I gave myself the creeps.

The disgusting odour of an ice-breathing entity chased me up the basement stairs. I gasped for air while my heart tried to jump out of my chest. What was that evil presence that terrorized my younger self?

If I stayed, the crescendo of fear escalated into a feverish pitch until I bolted up the staircase and out the door. The backyard provided a refuge with scraggly bushes to hide in.

Hoping to evade the thing that pursued me, I held my breath and knelt perfectly still in the dirt, waiting for the presence to pass me by. Other times I’d hide in the bedroom closet, pulling clothes on top of me to take cover.

The monster suspiciously resembled a sibling, almost as sinister as the stinky thing. Maybe it only appeared as a farting older brother bully. This little girl got no peace either way.

At an early age, my sister and I watched TV shows such as The Twilight Zone. By today’s standards, that program seems pretty cheesy, but not to an adolescent’s impressionable mind.

By viewing those programs, I opened doors that couldn’t be closed again. Television lowers the brain waves into a semi-hypnotic state, wherein they bypass the frontal lobe of reasoning. Children only get alpha brain waves and absorb everything.

You are changed by what you behold (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV.)

Even in my sleep, trouble awaited me. Once we had finished watching a horror movie that had babbling zombies, my sister and I sat up in the dark and chattered nonsensically to each other from our twin beds. My mother freaked out when she came to investigate the noise. She turned on the light and told us to be quiet and go back to sleep. When my mom quizzed us the next day, we didn’t remember the incident.

Occasionally, we made a blanket fort and, with a lit candle in the middle, we held a séance with our cousins and summoned the spirit of our grandfather. If Gramps could’ve, he would’ve kicked our butts.

Lucky for us, the dead know nothing and cannot harm the living. (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 NKJV.)

My friends and I also played with an Ouija board, asking the names of our future husbands, and the wooden planchette spun around from letter to letter. I believe the name was “Steve” for me. I dated no one by that name and hoped the entity wasn’t referring to (author) Stephen King. Although unnerved, that didn’t stop us from playing with fire.

Did our shenanigans unleash the entity in the basement, or was it already there? Those same buddies and I became blood sisters by pricking our fingers and mixing our blood together. We vowed to always stay close and committed. So much for the blood vow, we didn’t associate after the 10th grade.

We girls also wore mood rings and had rabbit’s foot key chains to accessorize. What a macabre practice, and who came up with the idea to sell the dried out amputated paws of those beautiful little animals? It's no wonder we were messed up.

Recently, I watched a re-run of an original Batman cartoon and couldn’t believe how sinister it was. The cartoon used to scare me as a kid, but now it appalls me.

Along with Batman, there were also the shows such as I Dream of Genie and Bewitched. Decades later, Harry Potter appeared on the scene. This glamorization of witchcraft isn’t without horrific consequences for those who dabble(d) in it, including me. But it was called natural religion to appear harmless. The boob tube is blatantly inundating us with sorcery today, making things far worse, especially for the youth.

I had no idea the enemy was infiltrating my life at every turn. I’d opened a portal that reached hellish proportions. My life became more terrifying than any horror movie. Years later, I finally cried out to the Lord, pleading for forgiveness and help. Human assistance was useless.

I’ve been a Christian ever since—nearly 20 years ago—set free by the power in His word.

(Romans 8:37-39 NKJV) 37. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

39. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Lack of information adds to pain for those who lost loved ones to homicide

The pain of not knowing

How horrifying it must be to receive a visit from the police, where they break the awful news of your child’s suspicious death.

Your life, as you know it, would spin out of control, becoming an endless nightmare. You would endure agony as you waited for the autopsy to be finished, so they could send your loved one's remains back home. The parent has to find a way to pay for that as, sadly, the government won't foot the bill.

Weeks later, you would go to the morgue to hold your child one last time and make funeral arrangements.

That was Michelle Godfrey’s reality two years ago, and the pain hasn’t lessened one bit, nor has her quest for justice. She urges those involved, or those with information about the death of her daughter Austyn to come forward and do the right thing. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Michelle lives in Ontario and feels left in the dark. The authorities have not yet resolved or brought justice for Austyn Godfrey's family. They have mourned her loss for two years, since a passerby discovered her body at the Glenmore Dog Park.

Michelle feels broken and has no closure. Her anguish at the sudden and unnatural death of her girl has left her devastated and despondent. She remains hopeful, however, that something will break the case wide open.

I planned on holding a third vigil on Jan. 16 to mark the second anniversary of Austyn’s death but cancelled because of the cold weather. Therefore, I have set a new date for a vigil—March 6 at 2:30 pm. We will gather at the Kelowna courthouse courtyard once again.

While holding vigils seems insufficient, it's my way of giving a voice to the voiceless and honouring Austyn's memory. Join us in the vigil for Austyn and bring a photo of your lost loved one, as strength lies in our unity.

It was such a senseless tragedy and Michelle is not alone with her loss. Sadly, there are too many people who have gone through similar experiences, losing a family member at someone else’s hands. They too complain about receiving little information regarding ongoing investigations.

Minimal information is also a problem for Tim Craig, father of the late Kenneth Craig. On March 21, 2021, someone fatally shot the 35-year-old un-housed man. While walking alongside Highway 97 in West Kelowna, young men harassed Ken and his girlfriend, and fatally shot him.

Tim Craig, from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, expressed frustration with the lack of progress on his son’s case. He hadn’t heard from police in more than a year, according to Castanet article by Nicholas Johansen published March 21, 2023.

For the loved ones left behind to grieve there is a group called MOVA (Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance). According to its website, it provides homicide grief services.

“When a loved one is murdered, the grief is complicated and emotions such as anger and profound sadness are more intense and longer lasting than in other kinds of loss. The shock, horror and intentional cruelty of homicide throw us into acute turmoil for which there is no preparation,” says the MOVA website.

The organization has a unique approach, where victims help victims. MOVA’s mandate is to support co-victims of homicide, increase public awareness of co-victim rights and work with the government to make changes to the legal system. Along with that, it also helps co-victims navigate the court procedures, access grief counselling and provides long-term support.

Closer to home, in Surrey, there is a homicide support group called BCVOH (British Columbia Victims of Homicide) which offers similar supports. There is online traumatic loss facilitator training done on Zoom, along with a myriad of other types of help.

I hope to open a chapter of BCVOH in Kelowna with the help of others.

The entire community is affected when a murder happens. These homicides include victims of a tainted drug supply and any other traumatic, unnatural death caused by someone else.

Enhancing transparency and collaboration between co-victims and the police is vital in solving these killings and bringing the perpetrators to justice, acknowledging the importance of every human life.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Jesus talks to believers in many languages

Christians' language of love

The words of a mere boy amazed the Jewish teachers.

Although these weren’t just any words and the child was anything but ordinary. At 12, Jesus conversed with them, asking questions and sharing his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. He was attentive as the doctors of the law read the verses aloud, which were written and orated in ancient Hebrew. While he spoke and understood Hebrew, his first language was Aramaic. His accent, distinctively Galilean, differed from those originating from Jerusalem. (Luke 2:4. English Standard Version)

Jesus was later known for his charisma, healing skills and blue-collar occupation. He drew people from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The “son of man” communicated in simple terms even young children could understand and astounded the deep thinkers. In addition, he was fluent in Koine Greek. In his adult ministry, he had many conversations with non-Jewish individuals, speaking to these people only in Greek.

Each language served a function. Aramaic was for everyday dialogue. Hebrew was specifically designated for religious purposes in writing and study. Business, legal matters and international trade were mostly conducted in Greek. In Palestine, they spoke Greek before the time of Christ. Hebrew was the language spoken by the Israelites in Old Testament times. However, in 586 B.C. everything changed when they went into Babylonian captivity, and started speaking Aramaic afterward. Learning it was relatively easy because it is a sister language to Hebrew.

The Babylonian influence surfaced in many terms and phrases found in the New Testament. Seven hundred years after Jesus' crucifixion, Aramaic was still being spoken.

Through trade and takeovers, Aramaic spread far and wide by the seventh century B.C. and it was the dominant language in most of the Middle East. According to archaeologist Yigael Yadin, who studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, Aramaic remained as the status quo until Simon Kokhba’s revolt in the 2nd century CE. Kokhba fought to restore Hebrew as the mother tongue.

Most historians, scientists and social anthropologists widely accepted the official language as Aramaic. The Dead Sea scroll manuscripts were initially written in Aramaic and later in Hebrew. That further bolsters the claim Jesus spoke Aramaic.

Through these three languages, Jesus’ communication had a profound impact on the world. There is power in his name and in his words.

According to Wikipedia, as of September 2023, the Bible had been translated into 736 languages. The New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,658 languages, while other parts or stories of the Bible were converted into another 1,264 languages.

The Bible remains the bestselling book of all time. Forty-five authors, including lawyers, kings, fishermen and tax collectors, had a hand in writing it. They composed the stories over 1,500 years. In essence it took 60 generations of people to write the Bible.

More than 300 predictions about Jesus existed 500 to 1,000 years before his birth, including his birthplace in Bethlehem.

2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2. New International Version.)

The fact his birthplace was foretold that far in advance was astronomical—one in 12 quadrillion, five hundred trillionth, 12 thousand trillion, five hundred thousand billionth. Or 1.25e+16. To have even eight of these prophesies to come true is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000. The evidence supporting Jesus Christ's existence is truly mind-boggling.

"The Word was made flesh and resided with us, (and we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14. King James Version)

Jesus communicated in multiple languages during his time on earth and continues to speak to us today in our own language, in our hearts and through reading the Bible, which has the unique ability to read us as we read it.

During this Christmas season, I hope you will consider the language of love expressed in Galatians 3:28 (New International Version) as you read this column.

"28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. He is no respecter of persons, in that He does not exclude anyone based on race, class, culture, social background or position."

By simply asking in prayer, you can become one with him too.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Care aides wear many hats while helping those with Alzheimer's disease

Dealing with dementia

“Get away from me or I’ll scream”, she bellowed.

I felt like a lowlife. The problem started minutes earlier when Rose announced she was going for a walk alone. I convinced her to wear a jacket and then followed her from a distance. Rose had home care 24/7 because of her advanced dementia.

Her community’s gated entrance was under repair, and so she wandered towards the busy road. She stopped a few times, glaring at me. At one point, Rose yelled, asking if I was following her.

A young couple stopped and stared. Embarrassed, I said Bill was coming over for lunch, to which she replied, “After my walk, I’ll eat, but you go home and if you keep following me, I will scream. Is that what you want?” I said no and stood there phoning my employer while she marched ahead.

The plan was to send someone to redirect Rose with a car ride. While waiting for my supervisor, I followed Rose down the sidewalk. She hid behind a power pole, so I ducked into the bushes. Rose booked it through an alley. Once again, she hid behind another power pole, so I concealed myself with the power pole she just finished using. It was a bizarre game of cat and mouse.

In her eyes, I was a stalker, but I played multiple roles as a bodyguard, care aide and sleuth. Secretly, I hoped someone watching would call the police, but that didn’t happen.

I maintained communication with the office, ensuring they were aware of our location. Rose darted down another alley and I ran to keep up and found her peeking around a tree. I asked her if she saw my dog run past and she said, “No, and are you looking for something besides a dog?”

I replied I was looking for her, too. With that, Rose went on a rant, accusing us of watching her every move and suggesting they might’ve bugged her clothes to track her.

She inquired about a loud conversation nearby. I told her it was a radio station.

"Aha!" exclaimed Rose. "I knew it. You're with the CIA and are tailing me!”

I clarified I was a care aide, not CSIS or CIA, and I was there to assist her. She protested she didn’t need help. I further explained the voices she heard were not from walkie talkies, but it was of a disc jockey. Nevertheless, she didn't trust me and said, "They're planning to murder me and steal my money, but I've already left my wealth to (in her mind only), my lover, Bill."

In reality, her love interest was only allowed to talk to her on the phone. I comforted her, assuring everything was alright.

We walked side by side as I called the secretary to say where we were. Rose became irate, saying we were all part of a conspiracy.

Not a moment too soon, my supervisor pulled up and hopped out of her car, offering Rose a ride home. Rose grinned at Cheryl and told me to buzz off.

A few weeks later, Rose kicked me out of her house late at night. After requesting something from the kitchen, I swiftly grabbed a house key and my coat before leaving. I spent the next half hour flattening myself up against the exterior walls to avoid setting off the motion detector lights.

Rose heard the door unlatch and locked it again. Finally, she stopped making the rounds. So I unlocked the door and, with a knock, asked if we could have coffee together as I hadn’t seen her in ages. Delighted, Rose invited me in, but started arguing with someone only she could see.

Her behaviour worsened with time because of the progression of the disease. I couldn’t cope with Rose’s conduct any longer and so I got a new client. Three years later, I felt sad when I read her obituary.

People with dementia behave differently because of changes in their brains. It is essential to stay calm and patient, while avoiding arguing about their reality, such as when they have visual hallucinations and saying “I didn’t see that” and move on.

It is important to acknowledge their feelings and offer comfort with a gentle touch, if it’s safe to do so, all the while stating you’re there to protect them.

Check the environment for noises, shadows or objects that could trigger fearful reactions and remove them if possible. It will make both your lives more peaceful, at least until the next episode.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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