Once upon a time, a girl grew up in the lakes of Ontario, hating the heat and dreaming of the west. When she finished high school, she went to university in Manitoba. That still wasn’t quite far enough west, so when she finished her degree, she continued to Alberta. There, she fell in love with the mountains and a man, and settled down to raise a family.
That girl was my mom. A couple weeks ago, she sent me an email. My great-aunt is in the hospital with a broken hip. I cried as I read that. Aunt A is 89 and has osteoarthritis, and is so fragile that her hip broke not from a fall or an accident, but just from turning to reach for something. When my husband got home, I told him about the email, and that I wanted to fly to Ontario to visit her. He got on the computer and started looking up cheap flights on Westjet.
I called my mom to see if she would go with me, and after a few conversations with her and her sister in Ontario, who’s been visiting Aunt A, we decided to postpone the trip a couple weeks. That would let Mom get the time off work and Aunt A regain some strength. Mom was able to rearrange her schedule, and today we’re flying east, but it doesn’t seem that Aunt A is doing much better. I’m glad she’ll be able to meet Sunshine, but sorry that my husband couldn’t come too. Teaching doesn’t give you many holidays except during the summer.
As I think about this trip, I’ve been thinking back to the last times I was in Ontario. When I was about ten, we went back for a family holiday. I remember finding a perfect blue robin’s egg in my grandma’s backyard, and then accidentally squishing it while getting out of our rental van. We toured the Welland Canal, and Koala Bear watched the boats go through it with me. He also peered over the railing at Niagara Falls, trying not to fall in. Aunt A was there too; I remember posing in a picture with her, smiling into the Ontario sun, with the mist of the Falls around us.
In my second week of university, I flew there with Mom for Reading Week. We visited with her sister and brother and their families, stayed with my grandma, saw Aunt A. We also toured Niagara Falls again and quite a few of the major sites of the War of 1812. In the Winnipeg airport on the way home, I bought a book about the war and enjoyed reading about all the places I’d seen. Later that semester in my history class, we covered the War of 1812. Being there and then reading about it showed me how history can come alive. I’m not sure we’ll be doing any sightseeing this trip.
I keep thinking it will be a long week without my husband. Wondering how Sunshine will do on the plane. Happy my mom is coming along to help. Hoping Aunt A will be strong enough when we’re there. Trying not to think that this visit is probably goodbye.