Friday, July 24, 2015



THE MASSIVE ROCK CUTS…jutted out to greet us. Home was near as we point Bubbly due north. It took us the better part of 3 hours to finally get the cruise control to work. I’ve never used it before now and it was an absolute bugger. I still don’t know why it all of a sudden worked. We had been through the manual and tried every combination. So in desperation and in lieu of my finding a good size rock and stick to create my own cruise control, we called Bob the fixer

We went over all the same combinations we had tried and then like magic, the damn cruise control finally locked in. By that time we were at Huntsville. My leg was in spasms after holding my foot to the gas pedal that long. I even switched feet which made me sort of a contortionist for a bit.
As we rolled through the “Gateway to the North” we stopped for lunch at the Marina on Trout Lake. It was an absolutely perfect day with lots of sunshine and wonderful dry heat, unlike the humidity we often get at home.

After lunch I took Kirsten to my old childhood haunts. I would take her on a journey of discovery from those passages in my book she had read about. 

So sad to see empty lots where the stables of ponies, saddle horses and race horses once lived. Hard to imagine the tiny apartment attached to the stables where old Mr. Pigeau kept house was no longer. The drive in theatre/training track is now a Hundi  dealership. Even the swamp has been drained and transformed from the wilderness wonder it once. Here is where lynx, marten and foxes were common place. Now it is a populous subdivision of homes instead of the vibrant wetlands it once was. My old homestead still looks grand in its elder years even though some of its majesty of the beautiful bungalow in the forest is lost to concrete, brick and blacktop. The old oak tree and maple still stand proudly as centurions of the past. 

I drove the route we walked to school in all types of weather. No school buses for us. I think Kirtsen was amazed at the long 3 mile walk we did every day.

After dwelling in the memories of my past for a while, we checked into our B&B on the sandy warm beaches of Lake Nipissing (pronounced Nip pi sing.) As a side note: I just had to tell the proprietor that I had a chuckle when I viewed their video trailer advertising their B&B. Whoever narrated the short video couldn't pronounce Nipissing correctly. Instead it came out as "Ni pissing." I would have changed that it it were me.)

Again Kirsten was awestruck by how far you walked in this shallow lake with its deep sand base free of rock before the water flowed over your shoulders. It was so warm and refreshing just to walk the knee high water. We did a very unscientific measurement counting footsteps as we returned to shore. After 211 feet, we still had not reached our shoulders in water. This is the Lake Nipissing I remember. A non-swimmer’s delight but still with the big open water concept that you can stand up in at all times!

The sand was blistering hot as we quickly ran to the shade area. I haven’t walked on an oozing sand beach in years, nor have I wore that black bathing suit I bought 10 years ago and have never worn. It was time to break it in. Even if I didn’t swim in it, at least it got wet.

After a short nap we dressed for dinner and headed out to meet my old family friend. Time ticked by as we waited for our party to arrive. Karen came in and wrapped me in a big hug and kiss.  After some time had passed, Karen’s husband Peter came by and joined us. I haven’t met him before and we became fast friends. As Karen would later reveal, he was ‘the little nice French boy’ her dad once gave a lift to. Years later Karen would marry him. Our instant bond was apparent when he talked about his good friends who happened to by my childhood playmates – 99% of them boys. Girls were in short supply so if you wanted to play you had to be with the boys.  It was so good to hear how their lives had turned out after more than half a century has passed. We are all seniors now but those days of playing in the tree house and going to the beach returned to flood the memory banks; still as fresh as yesterday.

I can only imagine how bored Kirsten must have been as we chatted away about the old days. She did have a meager plain baked potato for dinner.  Poor kid. Her food allergies suck. No wonder she is so tiny.

We arrived back at our beach resort to catch the dying rays of sunlight as the waves crashed on the beach and a rosy glow in the west settled into night. It is like being on an ocean front cottage. A warm breeze fans the hot air and kisses your skin with the softness of a summer’s night. I know I will sleep well tonight. 

Friday, February 13, 2015


My Mother on her 86th Birthday


The day my mother passed away peacefully in my arms just a month after her 86th birthday, was one of the most anguishing days that crushed my heart. I had been her caregiver in the last years of her long and meaningful life. I had become very close to my mother in my mature years and learned to appreciate all that she was.

The day of her funeral was a blur with so many people attending. In her 87th year, that is a remarkable thing when so many come to say goodbye. She had left an indelible mark on all those she had touched. She loved and was loved as the gentle kind woman who gave so unselfishly of her being.

It was a cloudy day. The grey skies matched the somber mood during the funeral mass. Afterwards, people returned to the house for the reception, As my brother and I joined others in the garden and on the balcony we looked up. A strong beam of sunshine smiled on our faces directly over the house. In all directions, those impenetrable clouds surrounded the one spotlight from the sun that shone down on the little home that my mother loved. It was a surreal moment that took everyone by surprise. That was the first sign. I took it as mother's way of thanking everyone for their kind words and thoughts on this the celebration of her life.

Mom Rests on Bench at Front Door
For anyone who has lost a loved one knows the pain after the mourners leave and move on with their lives as it should be. It is such a desperately lonely moment left with our grief. Whether or not you believe in spirits or are Doubting Thomas's, this next unexplained occurrence might sway your beliefs in the hereafter.

It was roughly two weeks after the funeral when I cried myself to sleep hugging my mother's robe. At exactly 3 am in the blackness of night, I was awoken to a voice coming from within the bedroom closet. I recognized the voice as I raised my head from the pillow, confused but strangely not fearful. No, it wasn't a voice from the grave entirely. And no, I wasn't dreaming it. It was my aunt's voice and she is very much alive. Strange indeed but I will explain.

Years ago it was popular to give greeting cards with a recorded message inside. When you opened the card up, it played the message. My mother always held onto special cards she squirreled away as keepsakes. She only kept this one particular voice card with a cheery Merry Christmas message from my dear Aunt Nancy. They were very close and not just as sisters-in-law but more like siblings. The message recorded was: "Hello Barbara, (my mother's name) I'm wishing you a Merry Christmas." Then the tune would start..."We Wish You a Merry Christmas....."

At 3 am that morning the card began to play the recorded message. I noted the time by looking at my alarm clock. I rolled out of bed and went to the large walk in closet in search of the voice. After lifting several boxes of clothes, personal papers and the like, I came to the closed lid box that contained my mother's greeting cards. Digging through the pile of cards I finally laid my hands on the card repeating the message from years ago. I was curious but had a suspicion that it was my late mother's doing.

I returned the card back into the plastic box in which it was contained and piled the other cards on top of it. All the other boxes were stacked over it in their original order.

Then on the same day, at exactly 3 am a week later, that same card woke me from my light sad sleep. "Hello Barbara" it began again.... This time I dashed out of bed and ran to the closet. I threw all the boxes off and rummaged through the one containing that particular card. It was still playing even though it was closed shut and not triggered to play by physically opening it up. I spread the covers of the card open to allow full volume of the voice message that was drawing me closer. It was the first time I had smiled since the funeral. There was no mistaking it. I was convinced my mother was trying to send me a message that she was very happy in her new eternal life and wanted to make certain I got it. I looked up at the ceiling and said "OK mom, I know you are with me. Thank you for letting me know."

Several months later as I told this story to a few close friends they thought it was somewhat creepy. Many asked if I was at all frightened. I emphatically told them I wasn't. I was at peace and not in the least afraid. I decided to collect the box that contained the voice card and show them. As I opened up the card, no sound came forth, then, or ever again. Coincident. I think not.

I believe that sometimes we receive subtle messages to ease our sorrow. These moments can give us inner strength knowing that good souls watch over us.

Sherri, myself, Barbara Hosken, Connie
our Friday luncheons