When people ask us if it has been hard to leave all our friends and family behind, we say “yes, of course.” But we also say that the move to Edmonton was probably a bigger move. All of our family was, and still is, in southern Ontario. When we lived in London, it was easy to drive up for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, etc. We could go up and back in a day. We could be there for any special occasion, though Christmas was a challenge because of the horrible Ontario weather.
When we moved to Edmonton, we saw family less frequently. We were no longer 2 1/2 hours (Canadians measure distance in hours & minutes, not miles or kilometres) away; depending on layovers it was more like 8 or 9 hours.We usually went together once each year – often for Canadian Thanksgiving – and sometimes Lisa got back alone. But our visits seemed to be better. Rather than just driving up for a couple of hours for a large gathering, we would be there for a week or more; we could have the large meals, the afternoon get-togethers, but also spend some quality time with our parents and/or siblings. And events like weddings, funerals, milestone birthdays could easily be worked into our plans. And because there were a variety of flights, we could easily leave Edmonton early in the morning and be in Pike Bay for dinner with Dan’s family. On the way home, we could have brunch with Lisa’s family in Owen Sound and be to Calico Hills to pick up the kitties before closing time.
Now though, it is hard to even measure in hours. Getting from Wagga to Ontario is a matter of days…flights, time zones, etc. At this distance, it is hard to measure it in time. But the distance is also unfathomable too – it is 10000 miles.
This means that we have missed, and will miss, some significant events. We’ve missed two weddings for example (the first one was friends in Edmonton, the second was family in Ontario). We aren’t around to meet new babies (again, friends in Edmonton and family in Ontario – not the same couples though). We aren’t able to celebrate birthdays together.
And, more importantly, earlier this week, Dan’s father passed away. We knew it was coming, as he has been sick for a while, but no matter how much you expect it, you can never really be ready for it. And though it would have been great to get back to Canada for all these other events, this one is the big challenge. Should Dan go home? Can Dan get home quickly? Probably the answer to both of those is ‘yes’. But in reality, it won’t happen. Sure, his boss would understand, and our credit cards could take the hit. But…it is 10000 miles. Dan was home in February when his father was really sick, and we both were there again in May, before we left Canada. That time together was really important for everyone in the family.
OK, so we’ve always tried to keep this blog fun. Sorry, but blogs are about life… So this one may be a bit of a tear-jerker. One day, a few weeks ago, Dan was driving to Bathurst for work, on a scenic two-lane highway lined with gum trees filled with kookaburras and parrots, some kangaroos and the occasional emu in the fields. All he could think about was that his father wasn’t doing well, and that the rest of the family was taking care of Dad while he was living a dream in paradise. It was a rough trip.
And then, this week, Dan’s sister called him to say that Dad was gone. She reached him just as got to work – he had ridden his bike. It is a beautiful ride along the Murrumbidgee River…the banksia and jacaranda trees are flowering, and there are tons of cockatiels, mynahs, and gallahs, and the occasional egret. And only later, as we were having dinner – pork chops, corn on the cob, and potatoes…Dad would have loved it! – did Dan realize that probably about the time Dad passed away, Dan was trying to figure out what kind of parrot that was in the tree…
RIP Dad. You had a great life. We loved you and we’ll miss you, more than we can say (you inspired a feminist like Lisa to change her name when she got married!). And thanks to all the family and friends that have been able to be there to visit him in the last few weeks. It has meant a lot to us knowing that people care so much…