Onward To The Island

I’m looking forward to visiting my brother. As much as I try to balance my time between my two siblings he somehow manages to get more time. The important thing is bonding with my little nephew. He is quickly growing and over the past year has even called me a few times through his moms phone specifically requesting me. There were things to do in the morning however. Dad and I had to move some things from the old house into the new flat and take things out from there. 


We had discussed all of this the day before. There had to be some plan of action. We were taking boxes of Polish books that my mom wanted to keep. We were going to take a huge collection on National Geographic Magazines out. A friend of theirs was going to take it for their library. It’s a shame that I don’t have the facility to take it anywhere or do anything with. On our way to the new flat with everything loaded we stopped off and reserved a lorrie to move some larger pieces on Friday when my dad my brother and myself are all together. This way we can efficiently move all the stuff that we could. Next we drove to the flat and unpacked and then packed again. After that we drove to get some gas for the van on our way back to the house. This whole affair took less time than expected. 


Once we got back home I got ready and waited for my sis to pick me up for the ride to the ferry. I was feeling a bit anxious as I have this issue with traffic. I didn’t want to miss the ferry as it would throw the schedule into unwanted territory. We drove along fairy clear roads. The traffic was light but the distance is quite long. Driving seems to be the time when me and my sister bond. It’s the time that we have set out for each other although we should probably schedule a time just for us. I’ve purchased yet another ticket across the waterway. I’m excited to be seeing my little nephew as well as his parents. 


It’s bloody cold still outside but as we got into the straight the moderating effects of the water made it feel considerably warmer. It is supposed to snow later on in the day and the schedule tried to account for that. It is a bit warmer on the island so it will probably mean a lower snowfall out there. It’s a two hour ferry ride and I tried to make good use of this time. I’m still feeling the effects of changing time zones and because of that my energy legels are still not consistent but they are getting better. I was carrying cheesecake that my mom made especially for my sis in law as it was her birthday two days earlier. I have my little present for her as well as my sisters for her. I was loaded with things making my usual walks around the ferry cumbersome. I was going to get some food but the caff wasn’t operating after the initial rush. I mostly sat and wrote. It’s a good way to pass the time. 


I disembarked the vessel and walked straight out to the parking lot. I noticed my brothers distinct truck sitting there. He wasn’t in it. He wasn’t anywhere that I could see. I wasn’t going to walk around in search of him. He will notice me eventually and he did. He asked if I saw him sitting there but obviously I didn’t. We embraced like two people that haven’t seen each other in a while and got in for the long drive back to his house. It was a good chat and a quick ride considering the distance. Once at his place his son was waiting at the door standing on a chair looking out the bottom of the window. It was a cute sight to see. He listens and he climbed down from the chair and moved it out of the way to let us in. He recognized me from all the Skype conversations we’ve had throughout his life. This development allowed me to see him when he was two days old. It was a joy to be a part of that moment maybe not in person but virtually through the magic of modern technology. 


After dinner my brother and I went to his new house that he is still renovating. He told me about all of the things that he had to do to it. It was poorly maintained and some parts of it were damaged due to shoddy construction. There was asbestos that had to be removed and other things that came up as he peeled layers and exposed what’s underneath. 

“It’s better to do what I can now while it’s opened than to deal with it later. I might as well.” Is the mantra that has guided him and lead him to expand the renovation from a simple cosmetic upgrade to a full on renovation. I must say his work is great. As he has his walls exposed for the electrical and plumbing he added better insulation considerably improving the coziness of the home. He opened up the kitchen by knocking down a wall and changed the layout of the basement to create a seperate suite. There will certainly be space to house all of us next Christmas. He was supposed to be moved in by now but due to the problems he encountered this wasn’t feasable this year. We are going to have this Christmas at my parent’s house. It will be the last year that we will be at that location. 


The little one has grown quite a bit since I saw him last. He is talking too with a cute little voice that hasn’t developed enough to be able to produce all the sounds correctly. Listening carefully allows me to understand him and what he wants. He has a child’s understanding of all the things around him everything is fascinating. He is careful to examine all the new things as well as those familiar to him. He eats a lot and is very playful. A cute little man. 


We went to sleep or I did anyways. It was a long day for me and the next day would be spent in much the same way. We woke up in the morning with me getting up first before the crack of dawn. I made coffee in the contraption that I got the night before. It isn’t the greatest thing I’ve used. Soon silence was broken by the little one’s waking. The house all of a sudden became lit and alive with his motion. Running, questioning, resisting, listening, laughing, crying (but not much) and playing. That was just the first hour. I watched in fascination. Kids are designed for such wonder. I’m sure each of us at some point elicited that kind of wonder fostering that love that carries forward giving parents strength to carry on in the face of obstacles. 


We got ready for church and I accompanied them. It is a different denomination from what we were brought up with. It was calm and peaceful with singing and a sermon. The little one danced and played with his car. I’ve been away for so long that I haven’t had the chance to fully appreciate how things have changed. How they have evolved over time through the various developments in everyone’s lives. Coming back it sometimes feels like I abandoned everything and left. How much contact have I had with everyone? People actually are busy. I haven’t been sitting idly by either. 

Some of the older members of the congregation said hi and introduced themselves. It’s a part of being welcoming to visitors. It takes away the anxiety of being new. They know my brothers family. They are one of the few young families that come and worship with them regularly. The Pastor freestyled a soothing prayer as the candles were lit. The church wasn’t that far from my brothers place so I walked back. I needed to stretch my legs after sitting for so long. 


The little one went for a nap and we had a few hours before having to be at Time To Heal for their Christmas Party. It is more like a get together but it is still considered a party. My brother made some dip and we chatted about stuff. It was a relaxing time and I almost dozed off. Just as I was about to nod off it was time to wake the little one up. My brother changed him while I loaded up the car. My sis in law was already at the spot welcoming people as they showed up. It is her work that is hosting the event. She was picked up earlier by Amanda a close colleague of hers. When we got there an hour late it was in full swing already. There was a guitarist strumming a tune and people talking. We came in and dropped off and set up our contribution to the pot luck. 


I’ve met some people here already from all the years that I’ve been around. It is with people that have a longstanding relationship with the place. People that have been around and continue to be involved with the place. It is a bit fuzzy, my recolaction of all the relationships that people have with each other. It is a tight knit community. I had some conversations but I also played with the little one as he requested that I be around him while he did that. He indicated as much by grabbing me by the hand and leading me to the play area. There he removed almost all the toys from the toy box placing some on my lap. I’ve been told that this is a sign that he likes someone. He likes to smile and giggle. He is quite intelligent and quite fastidious with respect to having clean hands. As an uncle I’m trying to learn my role. Being an uncle to my cousins’ kids was a bit different than being an uncle to my brother’s kid. I think.


After getting back we played some more but as the hours quickly passed it was time to sleep. The next day was going to be easygoing. In the morning waking up early again I enjoyed the quiet of the house. It is probably the only time of the day that it is that quiet. Soon though the little one stirred stirring in turn his parents. Slowly laughter drifted downstairs as well as lights turning on, water flowing, and little feet stomping on the ground. All things revolve around the little one. There is a schedule that must be maintained in order to train his cycles and to give him every opportunity to spend time with both his parents. My brother has to go to work so he is up early anyways. He longs for a time that he could sleep as long as he wants. Being a parent has severely sleep deprived the both of them. The joy that the little one gives is worth it as I observe both of them doting on the little one. 


The little one had a slight short period of coughing. We were going to go and have a steam. Time To Heal has one at the premises. The place is closed on Mondays so we will have the place all to ourselves. The tree of us sat there me and my sis in law had a wide ranging conversation about many things. The little one screemed with joy on occasion when he got us to go under the cold shower. It is a great luxury to have access to this at almost any time. 


When we got back to the house it was time for lunch and then for the little one to have his afternoon nap. I decided to go for a walk. The temperature had risen to a balmy six degrees. The snow was melting and the sun was shining. I’ve been cooped up inside for too long. I can feel my muscles atrophy from all the inactivity that has been plaguing me lately. It’s been a while since I’ve done any exercise and to top it all off my kettle bells are at my brothers place. They will have to be greyhounded over to me in Saskatoon. I told him as much too. It’ll be seventy-five bucks to do that. 


This was the first time that I had a chance to walk through this town. All the other times I’ve been here we always drive. My brothers place lies just outside Duncan proper. Duncan is an old town by west coast standards. It was involved in the timber industry as were many of the towns that sprung up in the area. Today it is quite a prosperous town with a spiritual ethos due to a thriving alternative sustainable mentality that has taken hold here. It is also “The City of Totems” as there are hundreds here in the city. Totem poles are traditionally carved from cedar which is resistant to decomposition. These totems have many meanings based on what the carver wanted to convey. 


When I got back the little one was up but just so. I got lost a little bit taking the long way around. I felt better after getting some fresh air. The little one was in a playful mood and he directed me to sit with him to play with the little Thomas Train set. Then he wanted me to chase him. We had to have a snack because we were going to go on a Christmas train ride. The local Forestry Tourist center has a train track that is lit up by “millions” of Christmas lights. 


Getting a child ready to go anywhere seems like a challenging task. He runs, he screams, the clothes don’t fit very well, he wiggles, there are tangles, he gets hot, he cries, he laughs and that is just in fifteen minutes. Quite a cute kid actually and well behaved. Kids like that inspire your own desire to have some of your own. They do that in me. 


Steam poured from the locomotives exhaust followed by a loud whistle signaling its intention. The little one recognized the sound and his surroundings. He held on to his mommies hand as we walked through the parking lot. Inside the log structure Christmas lights were strung up everywhere and kids were running around. Machines from a bygone frontier era were scattered throughout the various rooms. Displays illustrated the history of this area. Men who worked this land with industrial equipment that today seems primitive but for the time was advanced. I marvel at the ingenuity of their inventions. 


We lined up at the station after watching the choo-choo train pull up. It’s whistle was loud and the noise and commotion fascinating to a child’s imagination. So many moving parts and spinning wheels. We found a good spot where the four of us were able to sit together. As we began moving I felt myself become a child wanting to take it all in. Look at those lights there! Look at that over there! It’s the first ride like this for me ever might as well get the most excitement out of it myself. 


We hung out inside after the train ride. The little one got to sit on Santa’s lap but he didn’t look amused. He was much happier dancing by the singing guy. The guy played classic Christmas Hits that everyone knows the words to. The little one jumped on stage startling the slightly older girl onstage. She didn’t know what to do and the little one and her kind of interacted before he ran off and around the benches. 


Once home and asleep us adults had a chance to chat. We delved into deeper topics as there are many changes happening all at once. We have to discuss our strategy regarding how we are going to tackle all of it. We needed to clarify things so that we are on the same page. The next day I’m going back to the mainland on an early ferry. Pick up is at 0715 so that I can get onto the 0830 ferry. It’s sleep time soon for me. 


In the morning Amanda came on time and we drove in her work truck there. This truck had no heating but I was warned about that. Amanda is friends with both Chrl and my sis in law. I’m getting to know everyone slowly. We talked about our experiences traveling. She is excited for the two of us to be beginning a new adventure together in Saskatoon. 


The early morning Tuesday ferry isn’t that exciting. Many people are loaded with extra bags it looks like. They may be on their way to visit family and friends for the holidays. That time is slowly approaching. It was a beautiful morning filling me with positive vibes as I thought about my immediate plans for the day and how I should accomplish them. I’ll stop at the dispensary to refil again and then go to King George to get picked up. Once I got off the ferry I made my way to the bus that will take me downtown. From there a short ride to Commercial and Broadway followed by the long train to Surrey. 


At a coffee shop in Vancouver I called my sis and arranged the pick up. There were time constraints as she had a doctors appointment and physio for her injury. I had to hurry to get all those things sorted but I ended up waiting for twenty minutes periodically mooching wifi from a conglomerate coffee chain outlet by the station. I am impressed with the speeds of their service. Way better than what I was used to in the U.K.  


When my sis did show up we drove to my folks’ house and she left for her appointment. My folks weren’t home. They were doing some work at their new flat. I had the place to myself for a bit. I picked out my clothes for the next few days and packed. When my parents showed up we had a few things to take care of. I was going to spend some time with my sis by spending the night there and she was going to drive me to King George in the morning so that I could get to the airport in time for Chrl’s arrival. 


We managed to load my sisters car with some things that were still at my parents house. The little car was filled to the brim with material. I had to do all the loading due to my sisters injury but it is a big help to her. We had this chance to hang out together. We had fun doing all of these things together. It brought out stories that wouldn’t have been said otherwise. There is such little time on this visit to see everyone. There are so many people to see. 


I was tired at the end of the day. It’s a good thing as I would have been tossing and turning otherwise in anticipation of Chrl’s arrival. What we counted in sleeps has finally reached one and the time can be measured in hours before we embrace again. 

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