Archive for December 2009

End of a Decade

December 20, 2009

I can’t imagine how many articles, blogs, and stories begin with that title ┬áduring the last month of any given decade. I’m sure there’s been millions. And so, while I usually strive for individuality, this time, I’ll go with the flow and write yet another mish mash of ideas with the same old title.

I’m quite excited about 2009 drawing to a close. It’s been a rough year. Globally, of course, there’s been the recession, and that is one thing that has not been hard on myself and my family. In fact, while many in the last city where we lived lost jobs, and others went out on strike, my husband was offered a promotion. Lucky us, yes… but… nearly a year ago, we were faced with one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever had to make as a couple. One that has, thankfully, turned out okay (so far).

Even before our Big Decision, the year got off to a rocky start. Last Christmas was such a wash it was comical. We were driving to my parents’ place on Christmas Eve, and I was feeling so rotten I wanted to curl up in a snowbank and wait out the illness. My throat was on fire, my body ached, and my head pounded. There was an accident on the highway (oh, it’s the Trans Canada, said my husband, they’ll have it moved in a flash…hmmmmm), and we sat there an extra three hours before it was cleared away. Then, once we finally got going again, the dog – our black lab that has been with us as long as we’ve known each other; the dog that just won’t quit – decided that although she can usually last all day without a pit stop, this was the moment she just had to go. We ended up having to pull over at the side of the road – so close to our destination! – and she went out into the darkness to do her business, and it was another half hour before she returned. By that point, I just wanted to die.

Once we arrived, safe with my family, we discovered my brother and his family had had just as rough a time on their normally seven-hour drive from Montreal (it had turned into 12 hours due to snow storms). By that point I had no voice left, and I quickly scrambled to make sure Santa would know what he had to do for the kids to be happy and excited in the morning, then went to bed.

During the ’09 Christmas holidays, we had a power outage, and a wave of illness – different from what I had suffered – that swept through the family. We had a pile of writhing lobsters for New Year’s Eve, and only four of us – of the six adults there – were able to (sort of) enjoy them. First, my nephews ended up with their faces in buckets, but thankfully, it seemed to be a 12 or 24-hour flu that passed through them rather quickly. Then my mom, who had been helping to clean up after the boys, suddenly passed out in the kitchen. She’s not one to throw up (I’ve always wondered if she could actually control that, and where the sickness goes instead if it doesn’t come up and out?), so I suppose for her it remained in her body and took over. My daughter, “Nanna’s girl” must have seen Nanna go down. My daughter disappeared, and I found her fifteen minutes later, curled up in the fetal position on her bed, saying, “Nanna’s dead!” She was only four (oh, and not walking, by the way; she’d suffered an injury before the holidays, and, although x-rays found no fracture, she was afraid to walk for more than six weeks)! I assured her Nanna was not dead, and took her to Nanna’s room, where my mom was somewhat recovered, if bewildered. Next to go down, was my brother (thankfully he got over it soon, and enjoyed his lobster the next day).

So myself, my dad, my husband and my sister-in-law took self-portraits doing the wave on the couch at midnight, and called it a year. My sister-in-law was sick the first day of ’09.

In February, we embarked on the four-hour journey to visit my husband’s family, to attend our other nephew’s birthday party. It would seem that the ailments from Christmas had followed us…. We arrived at the birthday party and, in a room full of three to seven-year-olds, our two-year-old suddenly lost his lunch. That was it for the the birthday party (for us, at least!). After cleaning up the mess he also made in his car seat, and arriving at my in-laws to begin laundry, my hubby and I decided we’d better go out that night, because we’d for sure be sick by the next day. So we did (and we were)! We made the best of things…got the kids to bed (I can’t even remember if my daughter caught that one… Oh yes, she did, but it was mild, and done by bedtime), then headed out to a martini bar. We drank, danced, caught a free shuttle bus back to my in-laws’ home….and I was awakened in the night with terrible cramps. The next day, driving back home, I was weak but on the recovery. Everyone else we’d been in contact with – including my husband – had it by the next day.

After the flu season passed us by, it was time for Chicken Pox. That was also the time when we realized my husband’s company was serious about sending him – and us – to remote Northern Manitoba. The thing I keep telling people about this move, is that, when it was first mentioned, my reaction was: “There’s no way in hell I’m moving there!” I was so adamant (in fact, I think I already mentioned that in my first blog post!), I really didn’t think it would transpire. The kids recovered almost unscathed from the pox (our son has one small scar between the eyes; our daughter two on her back. But we were lucky, because they each only had a few spots, not like the terrible all-consuming rash some kids get), and we got on with our trying year.

So we began our research into the place we would eventually move to. My stomach was in knots all year. We couldn’t talk about it with many people (until we were certain), and yet it was a looming possibility that was consuming our lives. I started a new job in January, and I really enjoyed the job and the people I was working with. The kids were doing well at school and daycare. We were more settled than we had been in years. My husband and I have moved around a lot in the 12 years we’ve been together, but this last place we lived, it was the one where, I felt, was home. Only three hours from my family, four from his, so we were able to visit with each regularly. We had made great new friends and neighbours. I kept asking for one more year…just one more year there! But that was not to be.

My husband at first said no. He did that for me. I let one weekend go by in blissful happiness for me, solemn resignation for him, before I realized we had to go. My job was not a career move, just something to keep my resume going while the kids were small. His job, on the other hand, was what was keeping us afloat. But we were at a point where things were getting tight…my job basically covered daycare, and maybe the gas to get there, with nothing left over for even groceries. My husband’s promotion would be good for us financially, but even more importantly, a great step forward for him.

In May, we left our son with my parents for a weekend, and took our daughter to visit the small town in Northern Manitoba. When we left Southern Ontario, the trees were budding, the tulips were out. When we arrived in Thompson, there were patches of snow that had not yet melted, we were hailed on, and garbage piled up by the curbs. The wind stung our faces. The most comical sight was all the extension cords laying around on the roads and in parking lots; a sign of the cold winter just passed.

We met a few people, went to a three-year-old lacrosse practise, and our daughter made a friend. We had dinner at a restaurant that wasn’t half bad, with steak and great wine. We giggled at the overwhelming notion of moving our family here.

My husband signed the contract the next week. I cried every day on my drive to work, after dropping the kids off at daycare. I noticed details I had never seen before… Students piled at bus stops, in all their different styles from Goth to punk to preppie, backpacks and duffle bags slung over shoulders. I breathed the warm air, and shivered to think how cold I would be in our new home. I planned all the shopping I would do, layers and layers of sweaters and fleece pants and the thickest jackets I could find in the months I had to prepare before the move. We put our house up for sale, and our neighbours began asking questions. I talked to them with a lump in my throat.

The flowers in my garden blossomed, more beautiful this year than ever before. I had only started gardening when we’d moved into that house, three years previously, and had fallen in love with that hobby. I took close-up pictures of my black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, coreopsis and rhododendrons. Every song I heard on the radio spoke to me… themes like Saying Goodbye, Moving On, Love Lost made me weak in the knees. I couldn’t imagine how I could find as much peace in our new life, as I’d found in our last home. But I yearned for it, I yearned to find, as I always do, that one special friend, that one special place, in our new home, that would make me happy. Most of all, I worried about the kids, knowing they would be the resilient ones, but I fretted, nonetheless, about their young lives and how this move would affect them.

Every day of the move, from putting the for sale sign up, to keeping the house spotless, to dealing with family issues, was stressful. The family politics drove me to distraction, made me glad we were moving farther away. I couldn’t understand how others could not be completely understanding about everything we were going through. But, I suppose, this was a decision we were making, and we were the ones who had to deal with it.

Once the house sold, my husband and I once again flew to Thompson to buy a house. It was an intense few days, but we finally found The One. I am in love with this house. It is the third we’ve bought, and my favourite. It’s old, it creaks, and it’s simple. I’m sure we have ghosts, and I can’t wait to get to know them better as time goes on.

Jump ahead, through the fall, to now, the Next Christmas. My children and I are back in the home of my parents, back to celebrate another Christmas and another successful, if stressful year gone by. I am dazed, relaxed, grateful for all that has been. Hopeful for all that will be.