A Pretty Life

            Jeannie’s dangerous dream came true! She got out on the water on the weekend with John in his new craft. A kayak. Built from a kit of plywood parts. SONIC by name. Very fast.

            The hour-long drive to The Pond was hard on Jeannie. Her head just can’t take the jostling, her brain gets shaken, and she arrived exhausted. Luckily she fell asleep quickly.

            When John arrived he wanted to paddle. “Come on Grandma, let’s go paddling,” he said none too quietly while jumping on her. Down jacket. Down pants. Down sleeping bag. Hat and scarf. Staying warm at all costs.

            “I’ll shed some layers in case I fall in,” Jeannie said. As a paddler with decades of experience the chances of a dip were slim. Gum boots – John was wearing his – made getting in and out of the flooded pond easier.

            And they’re off! “What a pretty boat you have John. I like how it matches your paddle blades,” Jeannie said. One of her many endearing ways of supporting John is to narrate his life. Reflect back to him what he’s doing. Engaging him in ideas. Telling him of her love.

            “So Grandma, where do you want to go?” John asked. “I’ll follow you,” her reply. So they paddled to the far side, got out of their boats and stomped around in the outflow where the waters flow off into the Red Deer River.

            John may be a professional guide one day. But first he needs to learn not to forget his client. While re-launching, Jeannie’s little cedar strip canoe got caught broadside to the current at the outlet. Makes for a tippy boat. Oops. A little water over the gunwale soon turns into a lot of water.

            Grandpa waved John back to rescue Grandma, who was by now standing up in knee-deep water and muck, trying to extricate her boots. “I thought she was right behind me,” John replied as he scurried back to help dump the little canoe.

            A large canoe helped get everyone back to the cabin. Dry clothes, a cup of soup, tales of the rescue. “I’m not cold,” Jeannie insisted. But after the appetizers she was back in her down, nestled into her bed, eating hot food served on demand.

            It was hard, really difficult, to say “Goodbye” to The Pond. It’s been a friend, a sanctuary, and special place of retreat to us for nearly 40 years. Gracious friend Richard Harding allows us access. And we return the favour by doing chores.

            We could have stayed home last weekend.

            And yet, we counted the costs of the energy required to live out this dangerous dream. We knew we’d get exhausted. Hoped we would not fight too much. Chose a precious experience in the middle of the process of dying.

            “Come on Grandma,” grandson John says over and over. Calling. Again and again. “What a pretty life we have,” Jeannie replies in so many ways. Gifts all.

With so many hugs, David and Jeannie

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