We had a comfortable night in the hotel – after finally finding one! Who would have thought we’d have trouble finding a room in Belleville, in the middle of the week!
We had a leisurely breakfast before we loaded into the car. A stop at a country craft and bake shop for goodies and baked goods and we were on our way to see Aunty Kath.
This time we took the major highway. Time for gawking about was over. It was time to just get there. It had been a year since our last visit.
Aunty Kath’s face lit up when she saw us. “What a nice surprise. What are you doing here?”
She sat in her wheelchair, one side immobile. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. It had been a few years since her stroke, but the reality punched me in the face each time I saw her.
“Aunty Kath. How are you doing? You look good.”
And she did. She was a sight for sore eyes. Even with one arm she gave good hugs. Her clothes may not be as ironed and and neat as they used to be. But, her eyes still twinkled.
We all sat and chatted for a little while.
Mum had eaten the last part of her sandwich in the car, telling us “of course it’s all right”, when we voiced our concerns over it sitting in the car all night. Mum wasn’t hungry, but Karen and I were, so we decided to go out for some lunch promising to bring back cups of tea to have with our dessert. We thought that the two friends might want to have some time for themselves.
Joining them after lunch we laughed until we almost cried—tears of joy and sadness blending—as we reminisced, drank our lukewarm tea from take-out cardboard cups and ate chocolate éclairs, freshly baked, full of cream, topped with chocolate, messy to eat. Absolutely scrumptious! We saved the butter tarts for later.
We were taken back to… Cheeky mosquitoes in the church. Baking pies in the cottage wood stove in above 80F degree heat. The parsonage full of smoke and firemen at Christmas. And so much more.
The stark, sad realities of today faded as the past interrupted the present.
Memories of a time past, when Mum and Aunty Kath got up early in the mornings to start the laundry, make breakfast, usher their children off to school. A time when they walked to… wherever, whenever they felt like it. They made their own cups of tea with boiling water in china teapots and put the milk in the cup first. We children feasted on the results of their hard work and love—roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy, apple dumplings, skinny pancakes, ginger snaps and chocolate cake. A time when age was just a word.
Mum told Aunty Kath about her new walker.
“That’s what I’ll need next,” Aunty Kath informed us. “Today I stood up—first time since my stroke. I can hardly wait to get in my own apartment with my own furniture again.”
We agreed that would, indeed, be wonderful. And, yes, Mum could come to visit, stay a week, or more!
A helper came to wheel Aunty Kath to the dining room for supper. It was time for us to go…
“We’ll come again. Shall we bring chocolate éclairs, or would you like something different next time.”
“Not sure when we’ll get back…”
“Yes, it’s been really lovely visiting with you…”
Amidst kisses and hugs we “walked” with her to the dining room.
“Enjoy your supper!”
“See you soon!”
I looked over at Karen. We both swallowed harder. I put my sunglasses on, as tears blurred my vision. It was difficult to come, to psych ourselves up for the reality of “now”, but it was more difficult to say goodbye.
Mum broke the silence as we walked slowly to the car. “It was lovely to see her again. Thank you, girls, for bringing me. I really appreciate it.”
This time tears threatened to overflow. I swallowed hard, again. After all, how big a deal was it—really? Two days to do something for two people who had loved me well. Who had helped shape me into the person I am. Two people who would, and had, sacrificed for us and yet expected nothing in return.
“Everybody have their seatbelts on?” I asked. “Mum, are you comfortable back there? Sure you don’t want to sit in the front?”
“I’m fine. Did you say you had another book for me to read?”
“Two more, I think. Right in that red bag beside you there. Yep, that’s it. Whew! It sure is hot in here! Mum, I’m going to have to turn the air conditioning on.”
“Sure, that’s fine.”
“Mum, there’s a blanket there if you need it—and a pillow.”
Let’s journey together…