It’s been five years since you departed this life. I can hardly believe it. In a way, it seems like yesterday.
About that letter you left for me—I should’ve replied to it sooner, but I’d put it away somewhere. When grieving, it’s easy to misplace things. I love you too, Mom. And yes, we’ve always been friends.
You’re no stranger to our recent venture, but I wanted to mention it anyway, to create some sort of record.
Last month, on June 7th, Lesley and I set out on a road trip. We left Vancouver in her car, and Lochlin and Deborah joined us in Alberta. As soon as we headed for the highway, we felt your presence—as if you’d settled next to us on the front seat, giddy with pleasure—thrilled to be off travelling again.
We meant to do the trip sooner. You know that, but even so, it needs to be mentioned. Right after you died, Lesley had a serious health scare and had to undergo radiation treatments on her brain. It was scary, but she’s okay now. Then came COVID, and the whole world went into a tailspin for the next three years. It’s good that you missed that. You would have hated it.
We planned this trip because of the instructions you left in your letter—the request for no funeral service of any kind. You only wanted us to arrange a meet-up with your pals to share a drink and remember all the fun times. I apologise, Mom. We could not do that for you, because your friends all passed before you did. But I truly can’t be sorry about that fact, because we got to keep you longer.
We felt compelled to honour your life, though. So we put our heads together and decided on the next best thing—a Lois Memorial Road Trip. The idea was to visit the many places you lived and loved, and their Legions. You’ll be tickled to know that I’ve kept up my Legion membership. Our journey took us first to Kelowna, B.C. and then through all your towns in between, until we arrived at our birthplace in Saskatchewan.
Anyway, maybe it was for the best that we had to delay the memorial. Emotions were high right after you passed. The dementia that you suffered during those last few years overwhelmed our memories for a while. But time eases pain. We were able to laugh on this trip, and more than once, I swear I heard you giggle, too. And wasn’t this year of 2023 wonderfully significant too? On June 11th, we visited the Redcliff cemetery—the day that would have been Dad’s 100th birthday. We brought along that aged bottle of Crown Royal you had squirrelled away at the back of your liquor cabinet. We each had a swig, and we poured one for Dad too. He did appreciate a fine whiskey.
But I don’t need to recap the entire trip. You were there. We sensed your presence right until the last stop at Manitou Lake. Along the way, I’m sure you drifted back into bygone days. As we stood outside Danceland, did you hear the slipstream of Big Band music? Did you reminisce about waltzing with Dad on Saturday nights?
PS: To all readers—if you’d enjoy more details of our trip with pictures, please click on the following link.