Monday, July 22, 2013

Three Months

What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, 
for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us. 
Helen Keller

Monday April 22, 2013 
Monday July 22, 2013

Exactly three months ago I sat at the bedside of my mother as she slipped from this life just before dawn. Life goes on as usual in many ways but I still miss our nightly conversations on Skype and her rounds on Facebook. Social media was important as her physical world became smaller and smaller. I see her in the faces of my patients, in books I read and in movies I watch. A friend recommended the classic movie Tokyo Story and I viewed it on a hot evening last week. The  family’s story transcended time and culture and left me in tears at the end in shared loss. Grief does not leave us suddenly. 

I brought home a little devotional book Mom used every morning. She marked a couple of  special pages with bits of tissue in the painful months before she died. One was entitled, “Anticipating a Glorious Future” and the scripture was from Romans 8:18.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing 
with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

There has been a slate of deaths amongst our friends since my mother’s passing, three of them very prematurely and tragically. It is impossible to feel the depth of another’s pain but the acknowledgement of loss by others is comforting. Friends gave us the Hibiscus plant pictured above that is now blooming heavily and beautifully. My co-workers gave me a gift certificate from a local nursery and I am planning a butterfly garden in Mom’s memory. As soon as it is a little cooler I will put in perennials that will bloom next year. 

Like a seed or root in the ground, death gives way to life and hope eternal. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Caught With My Mouth Full

We spend a week at a cottage or cabin most summers. Planning and shopping ahead for all our meals takes time and effort as we never stay close to a grocery store. When our three children were young, food was the biggest consideration when packing. Lately I keep lists of what we take and what we bring home unused but the task still seems daunting. Although my husband is a good fisherman we never count on fish meals just in case he is skunked. The last couple of years we stopped at a discount grocery store in Espanola ON, just an hour from our destination, in order to buy fruit, vegetables and perishable items. That gives me a final chance to go over lists and menus while we are driving. No one wants to be hungry while on vacation.

Last week most of the birds I observed were very busy feeding their young families from dawn to dusk. The insects were plentiful this year due to the wet weather and mosquitoes were a nuisance which is unusual on the shores of the big lake. It was a good year to be a flycatcher or warbler,

or a Bobolink taking food to her nest in the tall meadow grass,

or a Robin looking for grubs in the wet ground,

or a Sandhill Crane foraging in the freshly mown hay field,

or a bumblebee with overfull pollen sacks visiting the many wildflowers along the roadside.

A pair of Eastern Phoebes lived under the little bridge over the creek where the boats were docked. I think this one was just waiting for a mosquito to fly in its mouth.

We all ate well this year but the birds and bees worked longer and harder at getting meals than I did!

Monday, July 08, 2013


The old couple loved the camp on the shores of the big lake. The winterized home where they lived for decades was clean and inviting. She tended the rose bushes at the entrance and hung planters with brightly coloured begonias beside the bridge that crossed the small creek beside the house. Friends dropped by during the long afternoons and sat outside and visited.

The small housekeeping cabins on the other side of the creek sagged with age, tilting toward the lake more after each spring thaw. Every year he inspected them for winter damage and turned on the water and electricity. The rooms were spotlessly cleaned and readied for the succession of guests who came through the summer months. Summer was a busy season, cutting lawns, removing garbage, fixing boat motors, tending to the guests' needs, sharing fishing tips, and being available day and night.

She died suddenly one winter and he went through the motions of running the camp for another season and then another. His broken heart started failing but he pressed on making frequent visits to doctors in the distant city along with his usual chores. His stiffened joints ached but he kept going for the customers. Each year he was reluctant to book for next season but names were recorded on the calendar and the guests returned.

He finally put the camp up for sale and moved to town. The young couple bought it with money they made from their high paying professional careers in another province. They set up a website and wrote about their plans for the future. They bought two big boats and a fancy tractor. They were nice people but they didn't love the camp. It was an investment, a piece of real estate, not a part of their personal history. He flew in now and then to check things out. They came for a month in the summer and stayed in the big cottage down the road. The house by the creek was empty and neglected. Weeds choked out the roses and the flower pots were dried and cracked. Nature gained an upper hand quickly without diligent daily care. The camp had internet now and he was available by cell phone but the grounds needed a caretaker, an overseer, a real person in charge.

It is the peak of the summer season. All the cabins are empty save one and the grounds are silent but for birdsong and the lapping waves on the empty beach. The bridge is crumbling, the new big boats sit unused at the dock. The swings on the lawn are unused and creek is choked with weeds. It is more like a ghost town than a peaceful paradise.

The old couple loved the camp on the shores of the big lake. I am glad they cannot see it now.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

My daughter and I were talking about the French version of our National Anthem. We learned it phonetically at school but I never remember going through a translation of the words from French to English. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find these words quickly and I like them a lot.

I am proud to be Canadian by birth. I saw many people today in Ottawa who come from nations around the world and now call Canada home. It is easy to find things to complain about but we should always be grateful for our freedom, peace, prosperity, safety, and future.

O Canada!
Terre de nos aieux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits

translates as:

O Canada!
Land of our forefathers,
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.
Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.