Diabetes Is Slowly Taking The Life Of Someone Who Saved Mine

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A lot of stuff has happened over the past few weeks and for the past four days I’ve been trying to write about all of it in one post… which, it turns out, is impossible. So I’m breaking the last two weeks down into separate posts. This is the first one…


My friend Buck recently lost a fight with diabetes… both one of his feet were was amputated. I haven’t spoken to Buck since moving back to my home town to start my recovery four years ago. But he was, along with three other people, directly responsible for keeping me alive during my last untreated year.

Buck and I were roommates in a dry-house near Toronto for a year. He was on his own path to recovery from years of alcohol and drug abuse. I was trying to connect for the first time with two of my sisters, while at the same time I was living in the city where most of the clinical depressions I have started in… I was also interviewing the people associated with those clinical depressions for a book I’m writing about that time period.

So it was a fairly messed up time in my life.

At one point I had no money, no job, no prospects and I was crashing hard. So one night Buck took me to the house of someone he knew… I know I walked there but the image in my head has him carrying me the four blocks on his back. That night Buck talked his friend, Angelo, into hiring the two of us for a job landscaping.

The three of us spent the rest of the spring and that summer becoming close friends. Buck and I tore out lawns and put back large installations… like three tiered gardens, we worked side by side weeding gardens, digging in the soil and travelling around Southern Ontario.

In his previous life he was a cook so after work he’d teach me how to cook things like steak in bacon grease… he actually taught me how to cook bacon. He made sure I had food of my own by taking me to the food bank once a month, then walking home with me carrying boxes of tin cans and vegetables.

One of the jobs we hated was tearing out gardens… all of those healthy plants going to the community compost, it never made sense. People paid huge amounts of money for plants like those, while other people were tossing them out. So we started taking our pick for our own garden.

The house Buck and I lived in — with a dude named Ken who used to hijack pharmacy delivery trucks — was set back from the road by roughly fifty-feet of lawn. There were also a couple of really nice maple trees next to the sidewalk.

So Buck and I borrowed some of Angelo’s tools and started tearing up the lawn and replacing it with chunks of plants we had torn out from other people’s gardens.

By August we had roughly twenty different species of plant and two or three pine trees in our front yard. Buck was talking about tearing up the old concrete walkway (3feet wide, forty feet long), then burying the chunks in a shallow ditch we’d dig along the our side of the sidewalk, creating a berm so no one could see us sitting on the porch… and, I think more importantly, we couldn’t see Them.

I’m pretty sure he would have done it if I wasn’t there… I wasn’t against the idea, it just seemed like a whole lotta work to be doing after working all day.

By the end of the summer we had been picking up small construction jobs, like roofing and installing dormers and balcony’s. Buck had spent the first few years of his own recovery trying to find a direction… and now he was using the money he had saved to start collecting tools.

His idea was to move back to the Ojibwa reserve he had grown up on… the place where he had been abused and neglected as a child, and work on restoring some of the homes.

I always thought that our paths ran pretty close together, maybe only separated by time and distance. All of that sunlight, all of those hours and days of talking and engaging and taking care of each other, all of those nights talking and listening while sitting in front of a blank TV…

…Buck’s child was born that summer and he asked me to take the first photos of him and his child together. I was one of the first people he introduced his son to… that kind of thing meant something to him and to me. That summer Buck really started to develop his spiritual side. He started making art and crafts and even started selling them in a downtown storefront.

I don’t want to eulogize Buck. I want to see him and shake his hand. There’s so much that I have to do and so much that I have to say to so many people.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Diabetes, Food Banks, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Memories. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Diabetes Is Slowly Taking The Life Of Someone Who Saved Mine

  1. aikaterine says:

    I had a favorite Uncle who lost both feet, and ultimately his life, to diabetes. Sorry, that might not have been the best thing to write.

    Are you planning to visit Buck?

  2. giannakali says:

    I’m so sorry Gabriel…I wish the best for your friend and that you may have the strength to help brighten his spirits…love to you.

  3. thordora says:

    Man….why can’t we help spare the people we love, even if just once?

    If you need anything, I’m around. And working on that jar today hopefully.

  4. exactscience says:

    Take care dude, you know where I am.

  5. Gabriel... says:

    I am going to try to see him… the only person who seems to know for sure where to find him appears to be my bio-father, but I’ve asked some people to look into it so I won’t have to deal with big daddy E.

    Thanks to all four of you… I had a really hard time writing this, mostly because I can’t adequately describe what Buck meant to me during that year. I’m not exaggerating, for example, when I write that he kept me alive. There have been a few men in my life who basically became “father substitutes”, and he was one of them… but when I start thinking about that I start to break apart. We also share a sense of humour a little too dark for most people…

    Speaking of humour… I should write something about Ken, my other roommate that year. He was in his sixties and a recovering alcoholic and ex-gangster. I’m not sure if he’s still alive but back in the day he would hijack the trucks that refilled the pharmacies around Toronto.

    When we were living together he studied for and received a drug counsellor diploma so for a little while anyway he was able to teach the younger dudes how to recover.

    Great guy… always telling jokes like he was giving you the password to a vault somewhere and he didn’t want anyone else to hear the numbers.

  6. Sorry to hear about your friend. Hope you get to see him soon, really do. Take care x

  7. colouredmind says:

    Sorry about your friend, I am wishing the best for him. Hannah X

  8. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks very much for that Emma, and to you as well Hannah. The support is much appreciated… and thanks to you both for commenting here.

  9. Kenn Chaplin says:

    Sorry to hear about Buck. I can’t imagine how rough that will be.

  10. Gabriel…For some reason, I started thinking about you and your blog this evening. So, I came by to check on you and read this post. He was your friend and YOU were his friend. You contributed to his life as he did yours. No words that I can write will ease the pain of losing some one that you very obviously cared a great deal about.
    All I can say is that I’m sorry that you lost touch with your friend.
    Take care of yourself, my friend. I hope that you get to see him soon.

    [fixed it for you TPB]

  11. I know it probably sound like a cheesy thing to say, but do people ever really die. I mean, truthfuly, aren’t we all just made up of hopes and dreams and energy. The physical body that confines us really only serves to limit and contain us. But, even we out it we, our true essence, are still here.

    Just some thoughts

    Beth Anderson

  12. I’m sorry honey. It’s hard when people who we have loved and have helped us so much (and loved us in return) have to go through things like this. It really hurts.

    I’m here too, lovey.


  13. nursemyra says:

    what a lovely tribute to your friend. wishing both of you love and happiness. i hope you get to meet up soon

  14. beeper says:

    Sometimes all we need is someone by our side, on our side. I hope your friend recovers quickly from this bad experience, your support will definately add to this, be it a card a call or a visit.

    Hope you’re well too?


  15. much appreciated, as always.
    re: the small caps, this will be a tricky one. at least i refrain from using smiley faces and msn short slang.
    t.alk t.o y.ou l.ater

  16. Gabriel... says:

    Just a quick update: I found Buck’s address without having to deal with my father so I’ll be sending him a letter later this week. It turns out he only lost one foot, not both. I believe he gets fitted for his prosthetic next month. Thanks again to all of you for your comments. They always make a difference.

  17. Pingback: Two Feet Underwater With Diabetes Fatigue « …salted lithium.

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