Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I had a discussion with my sister about our experiences as young adults. Our parents were proud of us but not excessively so. None of our graduations were celebrated, as if they were just routine. My niece Lorna called her family in France and there too the event is not as marked an occasion as it is here in North America. Perhaps this is the way it should be. My father looked so proud to see his grand-daughter graduate from Queen's University. Perhaps it is a different time of his life, when everything that happens with the family is more precious and memorable. My sister and her husband made the occasion momentous. I found myself simply pleased to see the three sisters and the three generations together. Maya was ecstatic to have so much family around her. She asked me tonight if I would let her stay with her grandparents for longer and I wish I could put her on a plane for a few extra days with them. My mother kept asking if this was the last time that I would see them, and certainly it will be the last time in many months, and it does not feel good to say good-bye to them. It may well be the last time ever, that feels so final and makes me so very sad.

Ecuador is so much further away than anywhere I have lived. I cannot jump in a car or a train or a plane and be with them in a short time. My parents are older and less mobile and are missing me more and more. It seems impossible for them to visit us while we are there. So this is good-bye and it is final. We talked about meeting in Cuba for my father's 90th birthday. I imagine there lots of affordable flights to Cuba from Quito, and it is a major destination for Canadians. My parents speak often of breaking up the winter with a trip to the Dominican Republic or Cuba, both very popular destinations for frozen Edmontonians in the dead of winter. Celebrating my father's 90th birthday in Cuba sounds perfect, but looking at the frailty of my father and my mother's challenges suggests that Cuba is unrealistic for them. We will try to come home for Christmas, but that may not happen.

My parents will fly home tomorrow with Edouard, Thierry will fly to San Francisco for work, Monica and Lorna will drive to Boston where Lorna will interview for jobs, and Eric, Maya, Karen and I will visit Montreal for a few days. Montreal was home for me for a few years after medical school. I did my internship and practiced on an emergency psychiatry unit. I decided after a couple of years to do a residency in psychiatry and returned to Edmonton to do that. I have visited Montreal a dozen times since I left in 1995. There is a wonderful Jazz festival in early July each year which we will miss this visit. It began when I lived in Montreal and has grown huge over the years. I brought Tara and Maya to McGill for a college visit three years ago and was unable to convince Tara to consider the university at all, but Maya assured me she would attend McGill when she was ready to go to college! We do not have an agenda for Montreal this time. Wandering around Old Montreal and the port is a start. Eric will visit colleagues at McGill, while the girls explore.

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