Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dennis Hunt - a friend


Above is a picture of Dennis Hunt on the right of this picture. Dennis is wearing glasses.

Dennis Hunt was a good friend of mine. He used to live with another friend of mine, Dustin Munro.
They were room mates. Dennis and Dustin used to live on Kirkwood Ave in Ottawa in a two bedroom

Dennis spent most of his adolescent years at the Ottawa Regional Center in Smith Falls, Ontario. The center had residents with people with severe handicaps. He left the Ottawa Regional Center and then moved to Cornwall and had a room mate Renee. Then he became a client of the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD). Dennis was a quiet person. He had a soft voice and he was a gentle person.

In January of 1991 a friend of mine named Valerie Gold called Dustin and asked him if I could come over to visit him. Dustin lived on Kirkwood and it was a very cold night and I had on these thin leather boots not made for the winter weather. I took two buses and finally reached Carling and Kirkwood Ave near the Westgate shopping center. I had to go in and out of the building lobbies in order to warm up. My feet were almost frozen solid. I couldn't afford a good pair of winter boots at that time.

I met Valerie when she called my group "The Ottawa Advocates for Psychiatric Patients" (OAPP)
Valerie and I became fast friends. Her father was a doctor in Montreal. Valerie was a nice woman.
She was Jewish. I told her my first boyfriend was Jewish and that his name was Marvin Hersh and he was from Toronto. Valerie was a nice person. She liked men and had lots of boyfriend on the go.
She was in her 30s, she was beautiful and men liked her too. She had a pretty face and a nice body.
She had a nice personality too. She was a bubbly type of person. We had fun when we got together.
We laughed alot. A man from Sweden was using her and I told her. Igmar kept her hanging on.

One day I went to visit Valerie at her apartment on Somerset Street near Bank Street. She had a small bachelor apartment. On her kitchen table she had a box opened that had condoms. I asked her if she made all her men put on the condoms and she said sometimes she asked them to, others times she did not ask them to. I told her she knews AIDS and STDs were around and she should practice safe sex. I told her to tell her men "No glove, no love". I didn't want anything to happen to Valerie. I was like a big sister to her. She was not offended and she said I gave her good advice. I never judged Valerie about all her men. It was her life style, not mine.

Valerie respected me. Valerie had a child like quality about her. She was very refreshing and bright. She could converse about any subject. She was a joy to be around. She was kind and sweet. She had this tremedous laughter that was contagious. When Valerie laughed, everyone around her started to laugh. She looked at the world as if everything was new to her and she was seeing everything around her for the first time. Valerie loved life and she lived to the fullest extent of it. I admired
Valerie at her zest for life. Valerie was always on the go, out and about you could say.

Valerie told her father that she wanted to go to Paris and get a man. Her father went to the court house in Ottawa and had his daughter incarcerated in the local looney bin for 72 hours. Nothing was wrong with Valerie and they let her go after her 72 hours were up. Her father must have been very controlling.

Valerie just wanted to travel and be romanced by the beautiful city of love, Paris. I have had the same dream from time to time. I am sitting at a small cafe late at night and a handsome man comes over to me and speaks in a Parisian accent and ask if he can sit down and I say yes. He buys me a glass of wine and that is the start of a very romantic evening. Valerie's idea about a trip to Paris was harmless and so were her dreams of getting a man in Paris.... who wouldn't want to visit this great city and fall in love....everyone has dreams and I believe this keeps up their spirit...

Valerie left Ottawa and then moved back to Montreal. I miss Valerie. I miss her laughter, her honesty, and her carefree spirit.... Valerie was one of a kind...a special person....

I finally came to an apartment building with three floors. I buzzed Dustin and he saw me from the third floor and thought I was an old lady because the lights made my blond hair look white. He came down
the stairs and said hello. Dustin was a tall handsome young man with dark brown eyes and a nice smile. He invited me up to his apartment. Dustin sat on the big chair and I sat on the sofa.
Dustin and I started to talk right away as if we knew each other for years. Dustin told me he had
a room mate named Dennis. Dennis came into the apartment and I introduced myself to him.
Dennis was in his early forties and he was also tall and wore glasses. Dennis was shy. He did not
speak to me much at first, he was sizing me up you could say. Dennis was no one's fool. He listened to everything I said to Dustin. We talked for hours and then I told the men I had to go home.

Dustin offered to walk me home to my apartment building at 1485 Caldwell Ave, an Ottawa Housing
complex housing the poor. Dennis came along. It was a 10 minute walk and it was real cold.
I lived on the 14th floor and I invited the men in. We sat down and then talked for a long time.
It must have been about midnight when I said goodbye to Dustin and Dennis. They were so nice to me. Dustin gave me his phone number.

I called Dustin the next night as asked to come over to watch TV. Dennis answered the phone and I got mixed up and used to call Dennis "Dustin" and I used to call Dustin "Dennis". It took me a while to get their names straight. You could say I had an crush on Dustin. Dennis would often answer the phone and say Dustin was not home from work yet. I would go over and wait for Dustin.

Dennis finally opened up to me. He trusted me. Dennis was a good man and very smart. He worked as dishwasher. He had his own Visa Card and did most things on his own. Both Dustin and Dennis had a counsellor come in monthly to help them from the OCAPDD. Her name Marlena program. Dusiin and Dennis were part of the SIL program which stands for Semi Independent Living. Dustin is not
developmentally delayed. He was just part of this program to help him integrate into society after living so long in group homes since he was 9 years old. Dennis and Dustin got along well.

Dustin worked at the Saxe building at 75 Sparks Street on the manual elevator. He worked there for
7 years from 1990 to 1997. He now works for Loblaws in Ottawa.

Dustin started to rent cars. Dennis and I would tag along. I had a driver's licence and would pay
1/3 of the car rental and we would drive all around Ottawa and the surrounding towns and villages.
Once we went to Consecon, Ontario to see a group home called "Bayfield" run by ?????

We used to like to go into old abandoned houses. One evening on a Sunday, it was August 4, 1991
Dustin was driving me and Dennis and we were on highway 44 near Almonte, Ontario. Dustin and Dennis had gone into this abandoned house and I had stayed in the passenger seat of the car while the men saw the old house. Dennis came back and sat in the back seat behind my seat. Dustin came back and got into the driver's seat.

In front of us a black sports car pulled up in front of us a few meters away and a red pick up truck was
across the highway from us and another car pulled up in front of the black sports car. A tall thin
man got out of the passenger side of the sports car with long thin hair and walked towards our car.
I opened my door for a minute and said hello to the man and he said nothing. He had a hard cold stare
as I looked at him, not a good sign at all I thought to myself and I was right. I turned around
to the back seats and told Dennis to lock his door and roll us his window. I did not notice the tall
man with his hand on the handle of my car door as I was talking to Dennis and my back was towards my car door.

I turned around and looked at Dustin and told to take off quickly and he did. Our car's tires squealed as we left the side of the highway. The man in the black sports car and the other two cars that we near him followed us closely behind. Dustin was going about 120 km and he sped up the highway for
5 minutes. We came into Almonte and sped and then we saw a pizza parlour and then I yelled, "go into there" and Dustin did. He thought it was a driveway but it actually was a lawn and a sidewalk he went over, but he did manage to drive into the laneway of the pizza parlour. We saw a young man coming out of the place with a pizza box in his arms. Dustin told him some cars had been chasing us and asked where the OPP was. The young man gave Dustin the instructions to the OPP office.

The three cars had sped off into the highway nowhere to be seen. I was relieved. It was an awful
experience to say the least. We went to the OPP office and pushed a buzzer on the front entrance
of the building. Someone answered. We told them the story and they said they could not do much if we did not have a licence number.

I believe the men wanted our car as it was a brand new car rental. This type of thing has happened before on our highways. I can only speculate what they would have done to us if they had done this.
I believe my angels were watching over us that day for sure.

We would got to Swiss Chalet and have dinner somtimes. Sometimes we would go to other placees like the Stittsville Flea Market past Bells Corners near Ottawa. I would drive sometimes. I prefer driving on the highway rather than city driving. I get too impatient sitting in city traffic.

Dennis and I would talk when Dustin was out of the house. Dennis told me he wanted to visit his sister Betty in San Francisco and he did in April 1992. He hadn't seen her in many years. Betty and her
husband were very nice to Dennis. Dennis took some pictures of his visit and he showed them to
Dustin and I. San Francisco is a beautiful city with a great big beautiful bridge called "The Golden
Gate" bridge.

Dennis would never quit a job right away. He would get a new job and tell the boss he would work one week free and if they liked him they could hire him and then he would quit his old job. Dennis was smart. I had never thought of doing anything like that.

Dennis and I would laugh our heads off sometimes. He had a wonderful sense of humour. He was
like a brother to me.

In 1992, Dennis went to see Dr. Birnbaum in Ottawa. He had a sore side and his family doctor sent him for a scan. It came back negative and Dennis's side still hurt so his doctor sent him again to the doctor. Dennis had cancer in his liver. It took awhile for the doctors to find out. Dennis was in the hospital from September 7 to Octobert 9th at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

One night I was a Dustin's apartment and Marlena, Dennis's counsellor called and told us the bad news about Dennis. Dennis had about 3 days to live. Dennis knew as he was told he had to make a will .....I asked to speak to Dennis. He had to take off his respirator in order to speak. I told him I loved him. I hope he heard me. Dustin also spoke to Dennis.

Dustin and I were devastated about the news about Dennis. I cried and cried and Dustin tried to console me. We read from Dennis's bible he had at home. On Friday, on October 9th, Dustin and I went to the Ottawa Civic Hospial and wanted to visit Dennis for one last time.

A nurse on Dennis's ward told us to sit down on the bench nearby. We told the nurse we would not be long and wanted just to say hello to him. The nurse told us the family needed to be called. I got confused. The nurse had compassionate eyes and she was telling us with her body language something that I could not figure out yet.

She asked Dustin to go into an office with her behind the nurses' front desk. Dustin went in with the nurse into a room and then the nurse came out quickly. She sat down near me and told me to follow her into the same room that Dustin was in. I followed the nurse.

I walked into the small room and Dustin had his head in his hands and he was bawling his eyes out. I figured out quickly that Dennis had died. I wailed loudly. We stayed for about 10 minutes and we both could not stop crying I took Dustin into my arms and we both cried together. I am sure the staff at the nurses' desk heard us. Dennis was 43 years old when he did.

Dennis died in a private room. His mother and two of his sisters Lois from Russell, Ontario,
and Pat from Dunrobin were there when he died. Dennis had a respirator on his mouth. Dennis was pain free as he was given medication.

Dustin and I left the room and we were still in shock. Someone came off the elevator and they knew
Dustin and started to ask general questions about the hospital. I was in shock and everything
seemed amplied. People voices seemed louder and the lights seemed brighter. I said we had to go as a friend of ours just died.

On the bus on the way home, I don't remember much of that day at all. It was one of the saddest
days of my life. Dennis was close friend of mine, he was like a brother to me. It was as if I lost a family member. To this day it is still difficult to speak about Dennis without choking up and tears swelling up in my eyes.

I went to the Dennis's funeral in downtown Ottawa on October l4th at Hulse, Playfair and McGarry funeral home on Mcleod Stret in downtown Ottawa. It was a a beautiful sunny day. I had left the The Well a drop in for Women on Somerset Street. One of the staff hugged me before I went to Dennis's funeral. I put on a nice skirt and top and wore black patent leather shoes and a nice pearl necklace. I looked very sad and I was. Dustin was there and he sat with me. Dustin's parents sat across from us. I bent my head down and could not contain myself and I cried out loud.
I did not stay to greet the family afterwards as I was in no mental condition to do that. I had to get away and be on my own for awhile. I felt as if I was being suffocated, I needed some air. I was having a panic attack and it lasted for a long time that day.

Dennis was cremated and his ashes were buried at the Beechwood Cemetery on October l7th. Dustin and I and Joanne Harvey and her boyfriend showed up for the ceremony. Joanne Harvey was Dennis's former counsellor and a good friend. Joanne married her boyfriend later on. Joanne and her boyfriend lived in a nice older home near Bank Street in the Glebe area of Ottawa near the
Rideau Canal. Joanne had to be St. Bernard dogs. She had Dennis come over and walk her dogs when she and her boyfriend were away. Joanne fixed her home so nicely. She had an old fashioned bath tub with a shower curtain all around it. Joanne is a friendly, nice and a good person. Joanne has long
blond hair. Her and her boyfriend got married in the big Roman Catholic called "Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, the oldest church in Ottawa. She split up with her husband later on. She still works for the OCAPDD and she helps to organize the wonderful Christmas dinner every year which I go to with Dustin. Joanne is an excellent organizer.

A man rode up in a small car and got out with an a small box in his hands, Dennis's ashes. The man was from the funeral home. They lived together in a nice house near
Bank Street. It was a sunny day and the weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky. Some birds were flying overhead and some birds were chirping in the trees.

It was a horrible thing to witness. After the ceremony I went into flashbacks of memories of riutal abuse I had experienced as a child and which I had suppressed for over 30 years. A can of worms had just been opened for me by Dennis's death. I will discuss the ritual abuse later in my book.