Penticton author chronicles challenges of caring for a paralyzed loved one

Review of Penticton author Cabrini Babakaiff’s new book, Curve Balls: Rolling with the Punches.

When searching for solace after tragedy, people often turn to art.

Whether it’s painting or sculpture or writing, something about the process itself can be healing. The resulting art can be deeply personal.

But at its best, art derived from loss, can also be shared. And that’s the case with Cabrini Babakaiff’s new book, Curve Balls: Rolling with the Punches. The book chronicles much of Cabrini’s life, but is ultimately about how she and her family coped with an accident that left her husband, Frank Babakaiff, a quadriplegic.

Frank was a well-known personality in Penticton. His friends and family grieved once when they learned that he had crushed vertebrae while body surfing in Hawaii, and again several years later when he died of lung cancer.

Even for those who knew Frank well, Cabrini’s book will be a revelation. Frank and Cabrini were a very close couple — choosing to spend time together above all else. But, in this book Cabrini is astonishingly open and honest about the staggering number of difficulties that came into her life when faced with caring for a paralyzed loved one.

She writes about the big obstacles: the surgeries, a prolonged stay in Vancouver, the disappointments with rehab, the emotional toll of returning home to Penticton as a quadriplegic, and the heartbreaking realization, after carrying out exhausting renovations, that Frank wouldn’t be able to live at home.

Cabrini also shares smaller day-to-day difficulties — the agonizing burning sensation anytime fabric rubbed Frank’s skin, the fact that he had to wake Cabrini anytime he needed his pillow shifted or his covers pulled up.

She also talks about small triumphs and happy moments. And above all, makes sure to mention the many Pentictonites — such as Martyn Stephenson and Dennis Stolen — who reached out to help.

In Curve Balls, readers will find mixed metaphors, extraneous details and memories such as camping and sporting trips that are really only meant for family and close friends to cherish. But in her own compelling way, Cabrini shows us that Frank was Penticton’s version of Superman. Not just because he also became a quadriplegic during a sporting accident, but because his charismatic smile was always a symbol of hope and optimism.

With Curve Balls, Cabrini has made sure we won’t forget Frank anytime soon.

Heather Allen is a book reviewer and avid reader living in Penticton.

Just Posted

Team Canada loses 5-2 over the Czech Republic at World Junior A Challenge

Vees’ Tychonick drops in one of Team Canada West’s pair of goals

AlleyCats ally with Penticton artist

Artist Terry Isaac gave up some space in his shop at Cherry Lane to help out the AlleyCats Alliance

Accent Christmas holidays with delicious chocolates

By SCOTT TRUDEAU Special to the Western News If you’ve been to… Continue reading

Vipers snap Vees’ unbeaten run at 13

Vernon hands Penticton first shutout loss of the season, 4-0 at home Saturday

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

AlleyCats ally with Penticton artist

Artist Terry Isaac gave up some space in his shop at Cherry Lane to help out the AlleyCats Alliance

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

California couple name daughter after Revelstoke

Revy Elle Atashroo was born on Nov. 27. Her name honours the town her parents loved exploring.

VIDEO: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire star striker Kei Kamara

Kamara has 103 goals and 39 assists in 298 appearances over 11 Major League Soccer seasons

Smartphone pedometers underestimate steps, but valuable health tool: study

UBC researchers found the iPhone underestimated steps by 21.5 per cent

VIDEO: ‘Last Jedi’ premiere kicks off with droids, Daisy Ridley

Latests Star Wars film premiered in style ahead of Dec. 15 theatre debut

UPDATE: Poor ventilation likely cause of carbon monoxide incident at B.C. farm

All 42 patients have been released from hospital, according to Delta Fire

BC Lions part ways with three coaches

These are the first personnel moves made by new general manager Ed Hervey

Most Read