Today is the last day in June. And I’m still in the USA and haven’t made it back to Canada yet. July 5th is on the horizon. Perhaps Canada’s stance on the border will be more clearly stated. Or not. It’s been pretty ambiguous up until now.
The way I see it Americans are being discriminated against. Fully vaccinated with Pfizer, as a Canadian I will finally be able to return without the ridiculous cash grab quarantine. However my friends here in the USA who have had the same vaccine are not extended that privilege.
While Covid had the potential to cause a world war, Trudeau’s stubbornness is inciting rebellions among Canadians as well as Americans. Never in history has Canada been so divided. Patriotism is all but dead.
When I finally do return to Canada I know that I will be sacrificing a lot. I will not have the freedom I have here in the USA. I will not enjoy the same quality of life I have here. And I will be counting the days until I can return to Aguascalientes for the winter.
But I want to hug my kids. I want my granddaughter to know that I am a real person and don’t just live in a phone where we see each other on video calls.
I’m sipping a last cappuccino at Old Soul as I write this post. This quaint coffee shop not only has amazing coffee, but the food I’ve had here has been delicious as well. The air conditioning and WiFi are added bonuses.
This is my last day in Sacramento and I’m reflecting on my life. I am thoroughly enjoying my travels on Amtrak. The view out the window more than makes up for the lack of WiFi. I’ve seen towering trees, humongous mountains, tranquil lakes and charming small towns.
When this is posted, I will be on amazing train ride along the coast to LA. Can’t wait for those ocean views! I read about this particular train ride a couple of years ago when I was in Mexico. I need to pinch myself that I am actually taking this trip now. When Covid reared its ugly head I doubted I’d ever be able to do this. But here I am, on a train headed down the coast.
This has been an amazing and much-needed trip. I’m just not used to spending 11 months in one place in Mexico without traveling and then eight months in Leavenworth without traveling either. Covid has really slowed this nomad down.
I am determined to seek more adventures for as long as I can. I’m not getting any younger but I must admit that the knee replacements and the cataract surgery have definitely enabled me to do what I do. Life is just too damned short and the days fly by even faster as we age.
June 19th marked 25 years since my mom passed away. I wonder what she’d think about my lifestyle. She lived within 10 minutes of her kids and grandkids, and hated going away for the winter without seeing us for a few months, although we did visit her in Palm Springs or in Port Charlotte. I’ve been living in different countries from my kids for the last 11 years and only see my kids if I travel to them.
I think my kids want me to settle down somewhere. Maybe someday I will. I’m just not ready yet.
My earliest memories of Mother’s Day date back to my childhood in the form of handcrafted cards created in the classroom. Friday afternoon after recess out came brightly colored craft paper and crayons. Of course there was the obligatory verse to copy from the blackboard.
I also recall getting together throughout the years with grandparents and other extended family members to celebrate this special day. But then things got complicated. I got married and now there were two sides to the family. Naturally I wound up hosting these holiday dinners to keep the peace in the family.
I never really felt special on Mother’s Day until my son Kyle was born. He was just over five months old and I was now actually a mother. Here is a four generation photo taken with Kyle, my mother and my grandmother.
In 2021 I had hoped to be with one of my kids on Mother’s Day. But somehow plans just never seem to work out, which is why I despise making long range plans.
I’ve spent Mother’s Day in several different places in the last decade……Culiacan, Tlaquepaque, Tototlan, Mazatlan, Puerta Vallarta, Aguascalientes, Winnipeg, Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee. This year I’ll add Dryden to the list.
Four years ago I was still in Mexico and had this really deep gut feeling that I should go back to Winnipeg and be with my son on Mother’s Day. And I’m glad I did. I haven’t seen him since then and I am long overdue for a visit. My alternating visits to my kids were thrown out of sync when my daughter had a baby. But even now with Covid it’s been almost two years since I’ve seen them either.
My laptop packed it in last spring in Mexico and I still haven’t replaced it, but thankfully I do have access to some of my photos on my phone. Here is one of my daughter and I on her wedding day.
Here is my favorite photo of my mom and I on my wedding day.
The featured photo on this post is my kids on Mother’s Day in 2016. They were at a Blue Jays game in Toronto and texted it to me in Mexico. It was a beautiful gift knowing that they were together that day. My son lives in Winnipeg and my daughter lives in Kelowna so it’s quite difficult to get us all together. But I can always hope that maybe next year we may have a family reunion. Maybe it won’t be on Mother’s Day……but it will certainly make thismother’s day.
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.
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.
Three little letters but oh the conversations they initiate.
I was at the park yesterday coloring when a delightful child stopped by to talk to me. Oscar is in fifth grade primaria and had a day off school. He rode his bike to the park and it took him 20 minutes. He was quite envious when I told him I live a block away.
It was an interesting conversation. I spoke in Spanish and he spoke in English. We were both impressed that we could each speak and understand each other’s languages.
What had attracted him to come over and talk to me was that I was coloring. He told me that I was the only adult he had ever seen doing this. He called his sister over and she was in awe of my gel pens and markers.
And then came the why questions. Why do I color? Why did I come to Aguascalientes when my family is in Canada? Why do I only have two children? Why did I get a divorce? Why don’t I marry a Mexican and have more children?
The innocence of childhood. I smiled recalling myself at their age. I too was curious but probably not quite so bold in asking questions.
Oscar and his sister are only two of the people who constantly ask me these questions. Often it is adults who find it a novelty that I come to the park to color.
Just the other day a man asked me where I sell my art. When I told him I color to relax, he shook his head and told me it was a good career. He said I should give up teaching English and sell my art instead.
I must admit I spend considerably more time coloring than teaching English. And I enjoy them both.
I’ve been back in Mexico for over a month now and I finally made it to Culiacán. This city was the first place I called “home” when I came to Mexico nine years ago.
Juan Carlos was a baby. He’s now 10 and almost as tall as I am. The family has grown and I am now abuelita to 4 boys. Jose Agustín is 7, Angel is 5 and Christien is 8 months old. I come to Culiacán regularly to spend time with my family.
Culiacán has been in the news recently when the prominent drug cartel literally took over the city for a few days. It has always been a dangerous city because of the cartel.
But danger is all relative.
Just last week a fire truck was hijacked in my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Yet my friends in Winnipeg are not happy that I still visit Culiacán. Back in Aguascalientes my friends there have the same concerns. And everyone in Canada and in Mexico wonder why I want to spend several months of the year in the gun-toting state of Washington.
I look at it this way. Life is short. Living in fear of what may or may not happen detracts from our enjoyment of life. In order to appreciate every single precious moment, we need to really focus on the present. For once that moment has passed, it is gone forever.
Sunday night was filled with moments. We went to mass at a church nearby. My grandsons were excited because a movie was being shown outside in the parking lot after the mass. Chairs were hastily set up. Thanks to modern technology involving a computer and a screen, we were treated to Disney’s Christmas Carol, in Spanish naturally. What a beautiful way to begin the festive Christmas season!
Last night we went to Juan’s father’s home. Candles were lit and prayers were said to begin the Advent season.
Other special moments this visit include playing Scrabble with my grandsons and watching Juan play basketball last night.
Juan Carlos read me a beautiful story he had written in English entitled “A Friend Is Better Than A Videogame.” It rivaled any 10 year old native speaker’s story.
I’m sure we will share more special moments when the boys return from school later today. Sadly I must leave for Aguascalientes tonight, but I look forward to my next visit to Culiacán.
There is an age old controversy about defining family as blood relatives only. But it has been my experience that family are the people you feel closest to, the people who are there for us and who give special meaning to our lives, even though these people are not blood relatives.
When I first came to Culiacán almost nine years ago, I did not know a soul in Mexico. I met Juan and Lucila and they became much more than just friends. They became my family. At the time they had only one child. Juan Carlos was just over one year old.
The family has grown over the years and their four sons are my nietos, my grandsons. They call me abuelita, grandma. And I cannot imagine life without them. We haven’t lived in the same city for the past eight years, and Mexico is a large country geographically. But in the six months I spend in Mexico each year, I do try to see them as often as possible.
I’m delighted that my grandsons are learning English at school. I bring them back English books and activity books when I return from my time up north. But my Spanish definitely gets a workout when I am with them.
The photo in this post was taken when the baby was less than two months old when I was last in Culiacan in April. I wish I could visit more often. It’s tough being a long distance grandma.
I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime but one of the most difficult things ever is being a long distance grandma.
My grandparents all lived close by when I was growing up. Although my dad had already passed away by the time my kids came along, my mom lived only minutes away when they were young.
I spent a few magical days with my granddaughter Madeline this summer. At 17 months, she had changed a lot since I had last seen her when she was only six weeks old.
Memorable times included a visit to a kangaroo farm, a splash pad, a children’s play center as well as her first haircut.
I miss building towers with her and playing in the “thunderdome” with her. I miss pushing her in her stroller or wheeling her around in a shopping cart.
What I miss the most was our cuddling time when I would read to her and give her a bottle before she went to sleep at night.
Although she came to the airport when I left, I don’t think she quite realized what was happening. I wonder if she looked for me that evening at bedtime, or looked for me the next morning when it was time for breakfast.
I know that I have this empty feeling and that part of my heart was left behind with Madeline in Kelowna.