The morning I took my tent over to set up in my grandson’s back yard was the last day I saw Mrs. alive at the river. I didn’t know it then, but the female Bald Eagle’s beautiful and peaceful time with me at the Bow River’s edge would be her last and so I will always treasure the archive of photographs my readers might enjoy, here.
I kind of chuckle about that sentence as I leave it behind in my first paragraph, imagining that anyone at all might read the thoughts or passage of time shared by a 64 year old woman. I feel some days as though I am still a young girl who marvels at the beauty and rich loam of the mysterious gully across from my home on Market Street. I don’t feel different and yet so many years and so many places have gone by!
When in doubt about how a camping trip might be arranged between a Gramma and her Grandson, it is best not to let the logistics interfere with the experience, and so, sometimes you just have to go ahead and make things happen.
Little did I know that a tent would simply provide yet another way for trucks and diggers to be celebrated. In the tent we went with the big yellow trucks…and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Thank you, Linda, for our tea and snacks. Steven and I headed out to a very busy construction site. Once returned, Gramma rolled up her sleeping bags and packed up her tent and was on her way. A call for severe thunderstorms that afternoon, made this call, the safe call.
The river is no longer silty and the clarity of the water in the morning, allowed beautiful hues of turquoise and green to shine through. Max is always my trusted companion on these early morning walks.
First things first…the fly sheet goes down. ‘Say fly sheet, Steven.’
There was an orangy-yellow glow to everything that evening at the river. I watched two beaver for almost a half hour before walking north west and finding Mrs. quietly observing her world from above. That night I confirmed that her talons on the left had damage.
Mom’s last weeks and days and hours were spent at H. J. Mcfarland Memorial Home in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario. For me, it was very important that Dad take me on a bit of a journey of the grounds and halls that they shared together during that time. I wanted to see the gardens that Mom saw, before the roses came into full bloom. I wanted to see the crops in the fields that they saw together, growing and changing day by day, as Dad pushed Mom’s wheelchair. He said that in the first days, there was nothing but soil…and then the lovely green of spring sprouts came to be. Gardens and the landscapes of Canada were always so inherent to Mom.
The day that I visited, I saw the courtyard that Mom would have seen from her window. I saw the roses in full bloom and I sat in the shade of the gazebo where together, my parents would take quiet rest. I looked out at the sprawling grounds and saw the mighty trees. I could not help but connect with a sense of life’s cycles and about the continuity of all life: from the dawn of living things until the dusk…and finally, rest…knowing that the darkness is a step into light everlasting, aptly written by Rabindranath Tagore.
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
…and from the Psalms…
You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. (NLT)
The women and men who cared for Mom during her last days and supported Dad as he walked this journey, were people of great blessing. Mom was given the dignity and light that she so deserved. She was given beautiful meals. She was able to touch soil for the last time, potting small plants in the springtime. Mom and Dad were given respect and kindness and for this and more, I will always be grateful.
I am in awe at the strength that my father showed in his walk with his precious wife and my mother and her journey with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of his inspirational ‘walk’, I am far more aware and sensitive to the vast numbers of caregivers who are daily-struggling with some version of his own truth. Society has to re-focus their best efforts where all of these interconnected issues come to intersect.
This being said, and looking again at the purpose for this post, I want to close by saying that I am grateful for the care that Mom received at H. J. Mcfarland Memorial Home. Below, a brief description of the man who generously donated the property and facility that in the end, was my mother’s last home in Prince Edward County.
Harvey McFarland grew up as a poor farm boy in Roblin, Ontario. His childhood experience drove him to seek a better life. After a series of jobs as a logger, and threshing grain and hauling rock with his team of horses, Harvey started a construction company that made him a millionaire.
This weekend was a blessing-weekend. The weather was warm. The leaves were a vibrant yellow. Autumn is my favourite season of the year and in some ways each and every year, autumn surprises me. Max and I spent time together at the parks and down at the river. He likes the redundant fetching of a big stick again and again. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that he is a border collie. He has the heart of a lab. He would not have survived a sheep farm. I saved him.
Apart from having time with Max, I was really proud to put my nose to the grindstone (just where did any of us come up with THAT particular idiom?)…anyway, I DID…and created a website that will be developed over time in order to make connections around my art and a few different services that I hope to explore during my retirement. You can take a peek here. It was an intense and focused activity, but just what I needed for my particular head space.
Saturday evening my sister-cousin-friend suggested that we visit the local ‘burb-Wal-Mart and we picked up the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (spoiler). Back at home, we popped a big bowl of popcorn and poured ourselves some lemon water, then parking our butts on a comfy bed, we settled in for a great movie!
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those movies, jam-packed with life lessons. The colours, atmosphere and sound track, work together to create such a beautiful setting. The actors are superb. The story is a story about every person who faces a big transition, enters into their ‘golden’ years OR watches someone who is special to them experience any, some or all of these. (My father always says, “I would like to find the person who decided to call these the golden years!”)