Snow has arrived in Leavenworth. I decided to escape to the warmth of California tonight and tuned in to YouTube to watch Season 1 Episode 3 of one of my favorite TV shows. Family aired in the 70s and 80s and featured Kristy McNichol as Buddy.
When my son Kyle was three years old, he enjoyed watching this series with me. In those days we had a VCR and the episode I watched tonight was Kyle’s favorite. He called it “the swimming Buddy.” He admired Buddy because she learned to dive by herself. His favorite expression back then was “self did it”, so he really identified with Buddy. He was always eager to do things on his own without any adult help.
That episode struck a chord with me because Willie was such an awesome older brother to Buddy. That’s an experience I never had growing up although I do now have a couple of close male friends who are like the brothers I never had before.
I also treasure a number of close female friends whom I consider to be more like sisters. Two of them even date back to middle school years. And have we ever changed since then!
My friends tell me I collect family. I don’t like the word “collect.” It’s true that my extended family continues to grow over the years with all the traveling I do. But these amazing people are much more than a collection. We’ve been there for each other through thick and thin. We’ve shared laughter and tears and it doesn’t matter where we live now. We are more than friends for life. We are family.
No we’re not. There are still four more months left before the year from hell is over.
Topping the list of disasters is COVID-19. It’s closely followed by race riots, typhoons, cyclones hurricanes and wildfires.
Politics? I usually shy away but today feel the need to rant. The United States will soon have to change its name to The Divided States as both parties are intent on ridiculing and condemning the tactics of each other. And as if Canada has not attempted to control our lives enough they are now issuing directives about how to conduct our sex lives. And I’m still here in Mexico where conflicting reports as to the status of the virus have become the norm.
All three countries have totally lost sight of the true concept of democracy and keeping the best interests of the people in mind. Instead they have succeeded in creating a world filled with panic and anxiety.
The effects of this trauma on children will be huge in the future. While the younger ones think internet classes and masks are part of an interesting game, older children are fearful of all the uncertainty in their lives today.
Children today are already too addicted to technology. Interpersonal communication is a skill that is seriously in jeopardy more today than ever before.
Can Zoom or FaceTime ever replace in person contact?
Can a virtual hug replace a physical hug in terms of nourishing feelings of love and security?
I highly doubt it.
On Saturdays I read the obituaries section in The Winnipeg Free Press, my hometown newspaper in Canada. I often recognize familiar names of people in my past, many of whom I’ve lost touch with over the years.
Decades ago I took a Creative Writing class in college. One of our assignments was to write our own obituary. At the time my children were young and I recall struggling with this concept.
Eight years ago I actually did write my own obituary. It was just before I had my first knee replacement. My mother had died from complications after having that surgery, and I was terrified that the same fate awaited me.
Well, I survived that first surgery and the following year I had my other knee replaced. That obituary was tossed long ago.
My children and I live thousands of miles apart in different countries. They know very little about my life, other than that I divide my time between somewhere in Mexico and Leavenworth, Washington. They have never visited me in either place and have not met many of my closest friends, nor have they seen the places where I’ve lived. I don’t think either of them can quite understand why I chose to stay in Mexico rather than return to Canada during a pandemic. And they have voiced the idea that I must have a death wish if I want to go back to Leavenworth rather than return to Canada.
Recently the topic of obituaries has arisen when I talked with friends who also live far away from their families and have similar circumstances. Perhaps a bit on the morbid side, but we wonder what our children would say about us if they had to write our obituaries today.
In all honesty, I have trouble just keeping up with holographic wills because I move around so much. Writing an obituary is the last thing on my mind right now.
Another Father’s Day without you today. We haven’t celebrated this day together in 44 years. You were taken from me way too soon.
When you died I lost my hero, my best friend and my sense of security. You were always there for me. I could talk to you about anything and everything. And there has never been anyone else in my life who could fill that void.
I treasure the memories I have in my heart. I can still see you assembling the swing set in the backyard on Brock Street. You were so patient in teaching me how to ride a bike and then later on teaching me how to drive a car.
I remember the day we were at Ashdowns buying tools and I fell in love with a pink pyjama dog. I cuddled with Pinky every night for years.
I absolutely adore this photo of us at Van Kirk Gardens. You always sculpted a beautiful garden around our house. You knew my favorite flowers were marigolds and there was always a special place set aside for them.
Sometimes you’d go back to the office to work in the evenings. I’d take along my homework and go with you.
At Christmas we’d go for rides to see the lights and always check out the Carlings display. It was such a magical place with a nursery rhyme theme.
We had intense conversations when we went for rides or walks. Two of your favored phrases have stuck with me through the years. Honesty is the best policy. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
You instilled a set of values in me that have made me the person I am today. And I have tried to pass these on to my children, the grandchildren you sadly never had the chance to meet. They have missed out on having an amazing grandfather in their lives.
There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you.
Sending you lots of love today and every day.
Happy Father’s Day!
When my children were young, a phrase often splashed across the TV screen. “Parents where are your children?” It’s now decades later and this phrase is still in my head.
A couple of weeks ago I actually emailed my current address to my children in Canada. Until now they’ve had only my email and phone number, as well as Facebook.
I move around a lot but I’ll be at my current address indefinitely. I’ve been self-isolating for more than a month now and Mexico has just entered phase three.
There were a number of factors that influenced my decision to stay in Mexico. First and foremost has to deal with my children. They may be in their thirties now but that protective instinct still kicks in. They are both asthmatic and have other inhalant allergies. I did not want to take the chance of my being a carrier and infecting them.
That leaves me with nowhere to quarantine and nowhere to live. I haven’t had a home in Canada in ten years.
The closest place for me to call home is Leavenworth, Washington. I spend six months of the year there when I’m not in Mexico. There I do have a place to quarantine and somewhere to live. But I am not American so the border is closed to me now.
Then there are the dangers of contracting COVID-19 or any other infectious disease by traveling through four airports to get to Canada from Aguascalientes.
Here in Mexico I am quite comfortable. I have a place to live. Food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance of where I live. My landlord Raul is the greatest and has provided me with a safety net should circumstances change.
My biggest challenge is in making my children understand the importance of more frequent contact. It’s not just that I need to know that they care about me. Hearing their voices is reassuring as I always worry about them. With COVID-19 I am even more concerned. I need to know that they’re okay.
It’s tough living thousands of miles away from your children in a different country during a pandemic.
The more time I spend here, the more amazed I am at the various events here that are family-oriented. This time the event was Kinderfest and it was held on the fourth of July. Temperatures soaring into the 90s were no deterrent to the hundreds of adults and children who filled the streets in the downtown area. Front Street was transformed into a major carnival with a variety of games and activities.
The fun began with a bike parade at 11 am. Afterwards long line-ups prevailed throughout the day as eager children excitedly awaited their turns at a bouncy house and a water slide, not to mention all the other crafts and games that were set up. An incredible amount of volunteer manpower was evident and I am impressed with the giving spirit in this community.
A popular area had fire engines, ambulances, tow trucks and tractors that were all kid-friendly. The children were delighted to clamber aboard and honk horns or blow sirens.
One of the tables touched my heart. A friend of mine from Cashmere spearheaded this one. Children were encouraged to write a note and enclose a tiny flag that would be sent to soldiers serving overseas.
There was a table where hats could be constructed.
Games included fishing with magnets, basketball, balloons and more.
The bouncy house was a favored attraction, as was the water slide for cooling off.
The Rotary Club volunteers were hard at work building birdhouses.
Here are a few miscellaneous shots.
And that was Kinderfest 2017.