Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lucky Me

Ottawa is a beautiful city for five months of the year. Otherwise it is brutally cold. Of course, the natives are into winter sports and enjoy the canal and skating and cross country skiing and snowshoeing. For now, it is sunny and the sky is blue and the location of the city on the river/canal is stunning. The old parliament buildings are well preserved and very imposing. My parents and sisters are staying at the local Fairmont hotel, which looks like a castle near the government buildings. It is a lovely hotel from the times of the railroad barons, with a history of visits from royalty and celebrities; photos of past glory line every wall. The swimming pool in the basement is stately and in art deco style. Otherwise the style is late 1800's and early 1900's, updated but retaining the glory of the past.

We stayed at a perfectly acceptable Crowne Plaza ( and much less expensive) and walked to the Fairmont for breakfast and exploring. We passed the parliament buildings and scores of runners and walkers in pink who were participating in a fund drive/celebration for breast cancer. What Maya wanted all day was to go swimming in a pool. It did not matter if it was the pool at our hotel or at the Fairmont; swimming is what she wanted, and she waited all day to finally swim just before bed.

I had no idea what the agenda was. We had breakfast with my parents and then off we were to a lovely restaurant called 'Les Fougeres' across the river in Gatineau. Lorna's boyfriend is Colin, and his mother, her sister and grandmother all live off the Gatineau river in a wooded area; and the sister and brother in law have an excellent restaurant. We ate foie gras and confit de canard and strawberry shortcake and I sat next to the owner of the restaurant and we talked about our struggles with our young adult/teenage children. Afterward, we visited the homes of Colin's mother and her sister and took a walk along the river and the railroad tracks. A steam train takes tourists on a lazy ride along the tracks which have been there over a hundred years. The men of the party went golfing. Eric has not golfed in over twenty years and apparently played in his socks and did not embarrass himself too much. Maya had a trampoline to play on and basset hounds and a young lab and a cat to endear herself to, but was only waiting for her chance to go swimming all day.

We were celebrating Lorna's graduation. She finished her political science degree and is looking for work for a law firm to prepare for her application to law school. Her parents are planning to provide her with an apartment and help her get started, so I felt guilty about telling my daughter that she would have to provide for herself. I had this painful conversation before she left for Europe. Since she is not attending school, I insisted that she work and take care of herself and that I had no intention of supporting her. Now I am wondering if I was too harsh. I remember being so independent as a teenager and eager to work and pay my bills and be an adult. Are children today less capable of being independent financially? Am I pushing Tara too much to be on her own and manage her own apartment and her own finances? I certainly found myself questioning my words and wondering if Tara really needed more support for longer.

I had fun explaining our plans for Ecuador. The reaction continues to be surprise but also encouragement and excitement. There is no doubt that Eric and I are doing something amazing. We are jumping off a cliff and landing in an entirely different world. And although I am struggling with the loss of my familiar life, I feel less anxious about the unknowns next year. There is a part of me that is going on simple blind faith, that we will land on our feet, that we will face all our challenges and that this year will be a turning point in our lives together. There will be our lives before and our lives after Ecuador, and there will be no turning back to our lives before. We will be forever altered by the experience.

I expect to have more time for Eric and Maya and more time for myself. The forty plus hours I devote to my patients are now mine, to do with what I choose. The possibilities are many and I am feeling very lucky right now.

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