I was away last week on a 4 day trip to Edmonton to see my Mom! She spent a few unpleasant weeks in hospital in March but has rallied medically enough to be back at my sister’s place in St. Albert. Sadly, that’s not the long term answer for her living arrangements. At 91, she quite simply is aging and experiencing all the physical depletions and realities of getting old. She’s waiting for a spot to open up now at a long term care facility and in the meantime, my sister Rose and her husband Dave continue to take care of her with some help from daily assisted living personnel. It’s really tough. All of the siblings are supportive of course but we don’t have the 24/7 commitment that Rose and Dave have. It’s a real sacrifice on their part but they are fantastic people. Aging is hard on everyone. Some, more than others!
It was really wonderful to see my Mom but my mind raced a great deal during the trip. What’s happening now? What’s next? Will she get better? Is her quality of life good enough? I had lovely visits with her and we looked through some old photos and newspaper clippings and letters but it wasn’t all about memory lane for me. The here and now was important too. Her grand kids, great grand kids, and the rest of the family were all topics of discussion. My Mom’s body might be letting her down but her mind is intact and memory is impressively sound.
While the main purpose of the trip was to see my Mom, there are always generous benefits of travelling back to my hometown. Most specifically was being able to see some family.
My adventure began on Friday afternoon in Ottawa on my way to a 3 hour layover in Winnipeg. I was lucky to have had dinner with my Father and Mother in-law Don and Marie and my brother and sister in-law Kevin and Dana at a restaurant 3 minutes from the airport. It was a short visit but it was so nice to see them all and catch up. Simply wonderful people.
The second leg of the trip was to Edmonton where I arrived at 10:30 MST. It was already pretty late for me but I was a long way from my head hitting a pillow that night. My cousin Kim from Toronto heard I was making the trip and decided to join me in Edmonton. We met at the airport and I rented a car to make the drive to St. Albert from Nisku at 11:30 at night. It’s a haul!!! It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The Anthony Hendey by-pass is pretty impressive. It wasn’t around when I lived there. We arrived at my sister’s at 12:30am and as much as I could have gone straight to bed, that’s never an option in my family. It was near 2a when I finally packed it in. 4a in Ontario. Past my bedtime? Uh, yup!!
The next few days were spent visiting Mom and hanging and chilling and seeing other family members. My sister MaryAnn and her husband Jim were already there from Calgary and my niece and her two babies and chihuahua came up Saturday. Later in the afternoon my nephew Andrew and his companion Morgan arrived with their dog. It was becoming a gathering.
Time seemed to fly and before we knew it, evening was there. We played a computer version of Family Feud. No doubt it was old school version and that made it even more fun. The graphics. Hilarious.
I wasn’t going to repeat my schedule from Friday so in fact I tucked in early and had a decent, well needed, sleep. Early to rise on Sunday, we said goodbye to the Calgary group, which brought the tone down a smidge. Once again, a short visit with them but so nice. Only to have my other nephew Daniel and his wife Victoria stop by. They are both 911 operators and were working their normal 12 hour shifts the day before. They brought their dog on Sunday too.
Whether my perception is correct or not, I’d always thought Edmonton had good pizza restaurants. Local legends like Franklins in the 80’s. I was looking forward to trying a new one but there was zero chance of consensus in the house, and we settled on Boston Pizza. (When in Rome) It was fine, but I can get that anywhere, I wanted local pizza. It was pretty funny all around as Danny and Vickie ordered a Great White North. Oh that sounds interesting I said. What’s on it? Well it’s a ham and pineapple without the pineapple!!!!!! So it’s a ham pizza then. Yeesh!!!! The house guests cleared again and it was off to bed. My brother in law Dave drives early morning school bus and is awake at 5:30a.
Monday I had lunch with one of my oldest friends Lonnie Wilcox. We met when I was working at Smith and Bacchus restaurant in 1975!!!! Nearly 50 years ago. I wasn’t even in radio until 1978. He’s a prince. I just love the guy and as most men can do, we just picked up from where we last saw each other (which was a long time) and had a really heart warming catch up conversation. We had many many adventures in our teens. He’s a retired teacher and has been doing some scouting for a AHL team. He is not on any social media at all. But his son Tommy is so he knew what I was up to through him. Funny.
Kim and I wanted to make dinner on Monday night so we were off to Safeway to shop. She’s funny, we’re like an old married couple and we’re always bickering about small stuff. Go get gas now before shopping!!! No!!! We can get it after or in the morning at the airport!! We’re not waiting until the morning!!!! Ok you win. I put $4.17 of gas in the rented Hyundai. Happy???!! We couldn’t find bacon bits in Safeway even after asking for help. He said aisle 13, No, he said aisle 15. There isn’t even an aisle 15!!!! We never did find them. I love her. We ended up cooking a nice dinner and watching Boston and Florida hockey at 5pm!!!!!! How nice is that time zone???? The Oilers game was 8:20. Nice!!!!
On Tuesday morning, we determined that we needed to leave the house at 4am latest to get to the airport, return the rental and go through security. We woke up at 3:15am. Too early for me. But early birds got the worm and it was smooth sailing (even with hundreds of travellers at security at 5am!!!) with enough time for breakfast at the airport. Kim’s plane left for Toronto before mine so we hugged and said goodbye until next time. Can’t wait. And the guy did say aisle 13!!!!!
I had to fly to Calgary first to catch the Ottawa flight and even though it was a beautiful morning, I’m always aware of delays. I had a half hour in Calgary to transfer. Pretty tight. As soon as we left the gate, the captain tells us we’re going to de-ice the frost on the wings. Good plan but c’mon, I’m on a schedule here. Turned out ok getting there as the flight is only 35 minutes wheels up to down. But my gate in Calgary was a walkathon. Holy cow!!! I arrived at level e and my flight was level b. It had to be kilometre or longer. It took almost 15 minutes and I was dragging a woman (figuratively) with me who was also a Ottawa passenger. I made it but basically walked up to the gate and walked right in the plane. One of the last to board.
I had an aisle seat but this older couple arrived and they had the middle beside me and the middle in the opposite row. It was a 3 hour and 40 minute flight so I offered my aisle so they could sit together and I’d use his middle seat. I know I know, what a guy huh? It just felt like the right thing to do and my companions were young ladies who both slept the whole trip. It was fine. I was sniffling and coughing a bit though (was coming down with something as it turned out) so I put a mask on as to not be that guy……even that was ok. And the older couple enjoyed each other’s company.
Home again and it was so nice to back. Dawn was alone for 4 nights and it was good to be with her again. And I admit, I love our bed so was looking forward to that!!!
Travelling isn’t easy. I used to do it a lot. But it’s not my favourite thing anymore. My main purpose was to see my Mom and I’m so glad I did that. But it was also great to catch up with so many other loved ones.
While I can.
As one of my favourite country song lyrics say,
So take that phone call from your momma and just talk away
‘Cause you’ll never know how bad you wanna ’til you can’t someday
Don’t wait on tomorrow ’cause tomorrow may not show
Say your sorries, your I-love-yous, ’cause man you never know
If you got a chance, take it, take it while you got a chance
If you got a dream, chase it, ’cause a dream won’t chase you back
If you’re gonna love somebody
Hold ’em as long and as strong and as close as you can
‘Til you can’t
Thanks for reading.
3 responses to “Think I’ll go out to Alberta”
Great piece Pal. And a big Hi to Joyce. Love that beautiful soul. Quick take-always; that beautiful dog, the shepherd…one of your best photos ever. Meeting up with Kim, she sounds like someone I would like, and Lonnie. You are an absolute Sweetheart Lonnie. I think the last time I saw you, we were both wearing maroon tuxes. All the best Pal. Cheers.
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So glad you got the chance to visit mom. She is definitely slowing down, and each hospital visit seems to take a toll on her and make it worse. I know she was so happy to see all the visitors that weekend. The pics are all great (as always). Hugs to you and Dawn.
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Great story Danny. Glad we had time for a short visit. Love Don & Marie
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