Worlds Apart

Posted on 29 May 2010

One day I’m in Port Hope, the next Toronto, the next Toulouse – from my parent’s heritage town to the urban to a small village in the south of France. I am exhausted. The time with my mum and dad was precious. I did everything I could to help around the house and beyond, like putting geraniums and pansies into planters, to taking a drive in my father’s pickup to the dump, to sorting and scanning old photographs, to helping my mother on her computer.

Time escaped me. Although my Dad made breakfast in the morning, I made most dinners in the evening – unenthusiastically, I admit. I didn’t have time for my own work, for visits with friends or for emailing friends (forgive me, those I ignored) but there was always something to do and time was short.

And then Gill emailed and said that she and John were flying in Sunday for our belated Mother’s Day feast. I didn’t tell my mother and so it was a big surprise for her when Gill and John appeared, joining my brother and his wife, my sister Gael and Larry (who picked them up from the airport).

When I saw her, my baby, walking toward the house, I was on the phone with a friend and had to excuse myself, I was so excited. I ran out the front door and wrapped my arms around her. I wanted to be the first to embrace her.

And then my beautiful daughter took over the kitchen – John was her sous-chef – and our meals changed from the mundane to the exotic, including a lemon tarte made from fresh lemons. Gill and I grabbed moments alone when we could. I miss her.

Although I miss Michael and Mackenzie too and wished they had been able to fly to Toronto, I took the time to visit Mackenzie’s grandmother in a neighbouring village in their honour. Lois is lovely, a vibrant 80 year old, around my height who adores her granddaughter and Michael (and all her 19 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren, if I remember the numbers correctly.) We had coffee and appetizers in the kitchen and then descended to the back garden – an extraordinary setting with pond and pathways, rocks and waterfalls.
Lois charms me with a bit of her life story. She is a country girl from the region, who first married an Ojibway with whom she had six children. Mackenzie’s father Ed was one of her babies and from whom “Kenzie” inherited her exotic beauty. (Her father is at the far right, second row.)

When her husband died – an easy-going man, she tells me, who was never interested in money – she lived alone for a number of years and then married an Englishman with whom she has traveled around Europe. I met Dennis, a charming man, who with a smile, takes a number of pictures of Lois and me with a small disposable camera. (He refuses to use a digital and prefers paper and pen to computers.) I suggest to Lois that she visit France when Michael and Mackenzie are visiting. She likes the idea.

Gill, John, and I left my parents (I tearfully) the next morning and caught a train to Toronto. (I reassured my mother that I would return soon.) When we arrived, John left us and so most of my last day, I spent with my daughter before catching an evening flight. We shopped. She bought me lunch in a trendy restaurant. We talked and walked… and I only scratched the surface of what I wanted to say to her. There is never enough time these days with my daughter but as Gill said, I know we will be together soon and when we are, we will take off together for a few days.

I am happy that I took this short trip though I hate flying. I only regret that time disappeared and I did not see Mary, Wanda, and Malcolm, and that I wasn’t able to attend Ursula’s birthday celebration.

Now, back in Castelnau, I must get to work.

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