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Fam-damly in Ottawa

This morning, I went down to Britannia Park for my daily walk, thankful, as I am every time, that my mother and aunt chose to live near this heavenly park on the Ottawa River. It has saved me countless times, when the going got rough, when Mum’s apartment was just too intense, too overheated, too full of stacks of paper, and now Auntie Do’s the same … a walk by the river, in any season, brings me back to sanity and life. So I walked and breathed, and then went back to the condo high-rise for a final few hours with Do. But my key would not fit in the front door. I punched my aunt’s name into the keypad – “not recognized”. I was standing there bewildered when I realized – I had gone to Mum’s condo building, not to Do’s, which is adjacent. I’d gone there without thinking. But my mother does not live there any more.

One of many moments of loss. My brother came over to Do’s today with my mother’s ashes, and I scooped some out to bring to Toronto, because I have some of my father’s and want to do a scattering ceremony at the nearby Necropolis, with my kids. That way, my parents will always be in the neighbourhood if I need a chat. Mike will scatter the rest in the Gatineau Hills.

It was a working weekend. Do had had a fall, was not hurt but decided it’s time for a retirement residence. Retirement – at 93! We had a tour of one of the best, the Duke of Devonshire, near her home. It’s a terrific place with lots of activities including, most importantly, a Scrabble club. Since my mother’s death, she’s very isolated, losing memory, perhaps because she talks and walks so little now. So the move is needed. But still, it means vacating her two bedroom apartment, which, like my mum’s, is absolutely packed with stuff. We are going to go through this all over again. But hopefully, after all that, she will be safe, well-fed and newly friended in her new home, small though it may be.

There was no wifi in the miserable little guest room I rented at the condo. NO wifi for a whole weekend! I did get my email on my miraculous little iPhone, otherwise I would have gone crazy, except for once when I managed to pick up a signal from somewhere. But I was glad to be a help to someone who has been in my life almost from the very first day. It was good to listen to her talk about our family’s past. If it happened over 60 years ago, she remembers it perfectly.

“You’re all we have left,” said my brother to Do, as we left this afternoon.

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4 Responses to “Fam-damly in Ottawa”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That was very touching. Would you consider maybe keeping some of your parent's ashes in your own back garden somewhere (under a lovely tree) so they would be close to you? Those photos of the park in Ottawa with the magnificent autumn colours are gorgeous. It's during autumn that I miss Canada the most. You just don't get those dazzling colours here in France.

    Juliet in Paris

  2. beth says:

    Juliet, it's a great idea re the ashes, except if I sell the house one day, I sell my parents too. I think I will scatter a little bit here, yes, and the rest at the Necropolis,a beautiful Victorian cemetery next to the farm, which I and my kids can visit anytime. And yes, I love the fall here. In winter and early spring, however – better to be in Paris.

  3. Anonymous says:

    me again. Your recounting of going to your mother's apartment building instead of your aunt's was sad because it's true. Sometimes, for a brief instant, we forget that our loved ones are gone. My mother loved marrons glaces (candied chestnuts) that you buy in Paris. Once I was in a store and spotted a box. I reached for it thinking that I'd buy it for my mother because she loved them. And then – in mid-reach – I remembered that she had passed away.

  4. beth says:

    That's the sadness but also the gift after the death of loved ones – because we too will live in the memory of those who loved us.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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