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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Today marks the first Mother’s Day in many years where location prevents me from expressing my love, admiration and thankfulness in person to my Mum. She won’t be getting flowers from me either. So, I’m hoping that these words, expressed publicly, and the images accompanying them, will be of some consolation, a remittance of sorts, representative of a closeness I feel for her, not reflective of the distance between us.

The past year was trying for Mum. The hardships, her trials and sufferings eclipsed any she may have endured in previous years. Early last year her Dad died. Although a burden was somewhat lifted from those closest to him, all were saddened by the ending of a life, the passing away of a figure prominent in lives since their first thoughts. But celebrating a life of one-hundred and three years is a great solace.

Mum also spent the past calendar-year awaiting replacement hip surgery. Although our healthcare system is fantastic, waiting lists can be long, prolonging suffering and discomfort, resulting in a diminished quality of life. Mum was to endure further waiting when the worst tragedy of all occurred. 

Dad, Mum’s companion for over fifty years, fell ill in late August of last year. Dad was diagnosed with Legionnaire's Disease. The week of his diagnosis Mum was scheduled for her surgery. It was recommended that it be postponed. 

Over the past few decades, Dad had suffered a number of heart attacks, undergone numerous surgeries including a quadruple by-pass. While Dad lay in a near comatose state I had commented to Mum that Dad had suffered worse. Mum responded by saying this was the worst she’d ever seen him. 

Soon after, during mid-September, Dad passed away.

Mum had much support at this time. Friends and family, near and far, sent their condolences and shared their happy remembrances of Dad. His memorial service was well attended, many gathering to express their love and share in Mum’s sorrow. 

Many people, at the event of such a loss, are supported in like manner. Mum’s ability to cope and carry on during this emotional crisis though was mostly due to her great inner strength and personal faith. Mum still suffers great pain from her loss, but her long-suffering spirit, her positive and strong personality, make each of her days more endurable than the last.

Before the end of the year though, Mum would have her surgery. A number of months later and Mum’s getting around better than she has in years! If only she had been this mobile four years ago when we travelled to the UK for a two-week jaunt about the countryside!

On this   Mother’s Day, with me being unable to give her flowers, my gift to her is really a gift to those that read this. 

My mum has given me quite a bit of good advice over the years. For this I thank her. I’m going to share some of it.

“Never put down on paper something you don’t want anyone else to read, anyone.”

“Always err on the side of compassion. Yes, compassion, NOT caution.”


“There is always someone worse off than you.” 

“God never allows trials to become part of our lives that He hasn’t given us the strength or resources to deal with.”

I love my Mum. After all, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her!                                                         

But I also love her because she has a positive attitude, a strong personality, and a wisdom that eclipses most, if not all, I know! She is, simply put, a great person!    

Monday, May 6, 2013

Life's An Adventure... Or At Least It Should Be!

Life's An Adventure... Or at Least It Should Be!

Sometimes our travels are planned, other times you just get up in the morning and decide you need to be somewhere else; even if just for the day. Maybe that’s the difference between adventure and leisure?

When it comes to business travel, one week they tell you you’re needed in Waskaganish and a week and a half later you’re on a plane to Kashechewan. A month later, Sandy Lake. 

International travel can be different. Sometimes not. 

My past two trips to the UK involved months of planning. B&B’s to book, youth hostels and sites to visit researched. Yet on both those occasions I found myself booking into a four-star hotel on-the-spur-of-the-moment! 

Our travels to Crete were well planned; rooms booked, meals planned, well in advance. Yet we still found ourselves far off the beaten track.

The Bahamas were quite the same. A condo reserved for a few weeks, but transportation, whether boat or car, and cultural events, simply by happenstance! 
One of our last ventures through customs was planned in a mere fifteen minutes. A call at seven in the morning meant a trip south of the boarder by noon.

This latest adventure we have embarked upon has maybe been a combination of “spur-of-the-moment,” and “intense, long-term planning.” 
After first living for a short while in Nakina we decided that we really wanted to be there. We would work five or so years, buy a small place and maybe spend our summers there; fishing, hiking with the dogs and picking blueberries. But one phone call can really change your plans.
Within three days of that phone call, both Aimee and I were offered jobs in Nakina. It was an opportunity not to be passed up! Within ten days, Aimee and Alfi were headed north to Nakina. I planned a travel-date six weeks later, accompanied by Lyndy and George.

Aimee started work less than two days after her arrival; spur-of-the-moment. I stayed behind in Whitby; packing... And planning.

For me, the adventure started early one Thursday morning last month. For almost seven-hundred kilometers I drove through showers and absolute downpours. By the time I arrived in Cochrane the rain was freezing upon whatever it fell! 
Having been turned away from a few motels because of the dog and cat, I drove another twenty clicks to the next town. Waking the next morning found the Jeep covered in a quarter-inch of ice. Blowing snow and white-out conditions greeted me as I drove out of town.

Continuing towards Hearst, the adventure intensified! But I only had five-hundred kilometers to go. According to plan I would see Aimee that afternoon for the first time in six weeks! 

Weather-conditions worsened, correspondingly, so did the roads! I have never driven in such conditions and never wish to again! 
For many long stretches of road I followed plows. With the wind and snow, visibility was virtually nil as the ploughs pushed snow from the road and into the northerly wind. But still semis with their trailer loads insisted on passing! 
At times I was forced to travel long winding stretches with my windshield coated in ice before I could find a safe spot to stop and clear the wiper blades.

Conditions only worsened! Fifty-K east of Longlac there was a snow-plow in the ditch, on its side! Twenty kilometers later a westbound eighteen-wheeler in the eastbound lane with its entire right side sheared off!     

Finally, after seven hours of driving I arrived in Longlac; one-hundred kilometers from my destination and the first coffee shop since Hearst! But traveling any further was impossible. The police had shut the entire town down. All roads, in all directions were closed.

Meeting Aimee that evening wasn’t going to happen. 

Burns and Steinbeck were coming to mind:
“The beast laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

A couple of glasses of red, a roast-beef sandwich and a warm hotel room; but still no compensation for dashed hopes and my “best laid plans.” But tomorrow would be another day!

Saturday, my third day traveling, found me under bright blue skies, surrounded by three and four-foot drifts of snow, but traveling on plowed roads! An hour and a half later I had returned to Nakina, and a long awaited reunion with Aimee! 

Making plans is quite often the prudent thing to do. Often times though plans change. But if plans didn’t change, life wouldn't be nearly as adventurous!