March 22, 2015 - Craig

March 22, 2015 - Craig (2nd person I approached)
It’s been a while since I’ve wondered around the mall looking for someone to chat with. I spotted Craig in the food court. He had finished eating and was looking at his phone. I told him about my project, and he didn’t utter a word while I built up to asking him if he’d chat with me.

He smiled, telling me “Sure, I suppose so.” He had been looking at Facebook on his phone so I suggested he look for my page so he could see what I was talking about. 

 

“I was born near Bow Lake, in western Alberta,” Craig told me. He is the oldest of four children, with two sisters, and one brother.

“I was a little different than my siblings growing up. They went to church and it wasn’t really my thing. We were raised in an evangelical household. We all got along, I just wasn’t into church,” he said. The family lived on a three-hundred acre grain farm.

“My father would take other work to supplement his income. He’d drive trucks, so my mother and I ran the farm when he was gone. We had some cattle, and sheep. We had dogs. I had a horse for a while too. I stopped going to church when I was sixteen. By that age the parents can’t really tell you what to do as much,” he said. 

 

School was a four-mile bus ride away. Three months before graduating, Craig left high-school.

“I had already left and gone back twice. I just didn’t see any value in it. I didn’t think it would be so important once I had left,” he said. On the farm, Craig would ride around on dirt bikes.

“I got my motorcycle license when I was fourteen. Back then, you could ride on the road, on any motor bike as long as you had your license. You had to be at least fourteen,” he told me. We talked about how people either liked motorbikes or they did not. I’m in the latter category.

“No, it’s in your blood or it isn’t,” Craig said, smiling.

 

“I worked with my father for a while once I left school. He was driving oil trucks and I’d go along with him. I worked for a couple of farmers and on a ranch as well,” he told me. When Craig was eighteen, the family moved to Fort St John, in British Columbia (BC).

“I worked with my Dad for a while, filling in as driver for him when he wanted some time off. Then I started driving oil trucks, full-time. I’ve been doing that pretty much all of my working life,” said Craig.

“I have my own oil tanker truck now. Bought my first one off of my Dad. It’s a good life. I’m home every night. But there can be long days. The money is good, but you’ve got to put in twelve and fourteen hour days. I’d like to have more time off to travel,” Craig said.

“I’ve got a Harley now. Just had it repainted,” he said proudly.

“I like to go out for rides. If there’s friends to join me, that’s great. But I don’t mind going out riding by myself.” Craig has been married.

“Once, for about a year, but that didn’t work out,” he told me.

 

“My mother passed away last April,” he said.

“I was always close with her, on account of my father going out for work. He and I weren’t as close. We’re both stubborn,” he said. His mother had breast cancer.

“It was about a year-and-a-half that she was sick,” Craig said.

“There were a lot of complications. She and my father, well they trusted the Doctors and never questioned anything. She was halfway through radiation treatment when they realized she was supposed to have had chemotherapy first, then radiation. Her oncologist was in Victoria. She’d go to Prince George for treatment and her doctor was in Fort St John. There was a lot of miscommunication. They operated and didn’t put in a shunt and she got an infection. We’d go to the hospital in Ft St John for teleconferences with her doctors and nothing would be set-up. No one knew anything about it. Then they just told us there was nothing more they could do for her,” he said. Craig held his composure well.

“They were two months short of being married fifty-four years,” he told me.

 

“Last November we found out Dad has cancer. Triple-hit lymphoma. It's a very aggressive type of cancer. But apparently it responds well to treatment. There is a high-survival rate. Dad was referred to the BC Cancer Agency here in Vancouver, within five weeks. It’s world-class. We’ve had nothing bad to say about any of it. The staff and doctor’s have been incredible,” said Craig. 

 

“It’s been a huge contrast from the experience we had with Mom. It makes me think that she might have survived if she’d come down here. But that was my parent’s first experience with cancer and they didn’t know any different,” he said. His father is in his fourth and final treatment cycle at this stage.

“He get’s chemotherapy intravenously, twenty-four hours a day, for five days,” said Craig.

“There’s a place that family can stay, right across from the hospital, and it’s cheaper than a hotel,” said Craig. There’s been a family member with his father throughout each of the treatment sessions.

 

Craig’s father is responding well to the treatments.

“Dad and I have become a lot closer,” he said.

“We’ve never talked about the past or anything. It just seemed to happen, and I’m glad of that,” said Craig.

"It's what I’ve wanted all my life.” #notastranger

 

Today’s story is sponsored by Moii Cafe, 2259 Cambie Street, Vancouver