Our summer visit now half done, we flew direct out of London to Calgary, and were met by our darling daughter Liz and her irrepressible children Russ and Layla, who chatted happily all the way home. Layla seemed all grown up, and no longer the baby that we knew. Russ was his sweet chatty self, so full of projects and adventures. It was so sweet to see them both again. However, I must confess that I was overwhelmed when I saw the size of the project facing me at their home. Two years of the kind of sedentary life I have been required to live to get up to speed on planning IB Diploma English had not prepared me physically for what lay quite visibly in their front yard.

I knew some facing stone had fallen. I did not reckon on the width, thickness, or weight of each stone, nor on the depth of the mortar still clinging to each. It took two days to clean the stone from the wall, and sort the stone from the mortar. It took Pam another half day to move the stone into the garage while I worked on the gate on the other side of the house necessary to keep their new dog in the back yard. The gate required repurposing the existing metal posts by cladding them in wood and tying the gate into the new wooden fence that Greg and his crew had built earlier that summer. It took me two days, far longer than I would have figured, but then these things usually do.

We did get time to go to Liz’s new retirement home to see where she now works. She had arranged for some of Russ’ friend from nursery school to visit at the home, and I played and sang a few songs that were geared to both kids and seniors. The kids danced and the seniors clapped and smiled and a good time was had by all. It was great to see Pam interact with her grandchildren. She has such natural way with young children, who seem to know not only that she loves them unconditionally, but will not tolerate nonsense. They feel safe in her company, and relax.

 

My son Dave and I got in a few visits together. He is now working for McEllhanney, who were recently awarded the contract for completing the ring road around Calgary. It is an important company in Canada, with good salary, benefits, and opportunities for promotion and professional development. We caught a movie, grilled some steaks, and chatted about phones and trucks. He is an easy guy to talk to, and I always enjoy our times together. Greg and Liz got an evening alone while we babysat the kids, but no trips to the Rockies this summer, despite the free entrance to all federal parks in recognition of Canada’s 150 th birthday.

With our typical crowded schedule, once again we had to leave the day before Russ’s birthday but we did have a little party and got to see him open the pulleys and levers he had requested for his birthday.

The flight home was uneventful, and for once traveling through the States was blessedly smooth. We arrived home to our new apartment on the second floor, which we had made sure was properly sorted and cleaned before we left. We will miss our old digs next door, and certainly there is no doubt that this place is considerably darker and less inviting. But it was a welcome respite all the same, after another three weeks of living on the road, and I fell into bed with great relief and gratitude. Another year in Cayman awaits, and though Pam faces an uphill climb of preparation and adjustment to her new responsibilities, the bulk of my angst and preparation is behind me, and I face a new year with great expectation and satisfaction for where the last two years has brought me.

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