My, my, my. So many things to talk about! It's been a crazy week full of thoughtful thoughtfulness and traveling travelness. I'm not sure where to start!
We left Sunday and drove 12 hours to Canada. We drove 12 hours back yesterday. It was a very quick trip, but always worth it. But for two days, I simply mourned the loss of my childhood.
How do you explain to in-laws who have only been to Canada three times how the tradition of going to Canada 1-2 times a year for 30 years is invaluable? How do you mourn the fact that as your grandparents age and move out of their homes you have to look elsewhere for lodging, but worse --anticipate their eventual passing? How do you explain to your children that hiking the mountains in Waterton, scouring the alleyways in Lethbridge, exploring the fields in Raymond, and swimming in the small public pool across the street from where their great-grandmother was born in Stirling are memories you hold desperately like precious grains of sand in a sieve?
My parents were born in Canada. As were their parents. My great-grandparents came to Canada (all four lines) as young married couples, eager for new possibilities. Ranchers and farmers, butchers and musicians --they all carved their identities into the plains of Alberta. Going to Canada is not simply a fun vacation. It's not just a chance to "see the grandparents." Going to southern Alberta is renewing my identity. Going to Canada is going home.
We spent two days. One was in Raymond celebrating Canada Day (the 1st of July) with a small town parade and a barbecue. One was spent hanging out with family and celebrating my maternal grandmother's 90th birthday.
It was far too short.
I need my kids to see Calgary. Banff. Edmonton. They need to see Stirling, Writing on Stone and the hoo-doos near Milk River, and Glenwood (where their great-great-grandfather was a rancher). They need to experience Cardston, Waterton, Head-Smashed-In. They need to see the fort at Ft. McCleod and drive through Crow's Nest Pass on the way to Fairmont, British Columbia. I want them to swat mosquitoes near the river at Indian Battle Park and explore the inner workings of the Calgary Zoo.
That was my childhood. And it's gone. Simply, and slowly, as most childhoods go --two days in Canada with extended family is not the same. It's not the same. It probably will never be the same. It's not supposed to, eh?
Other people may never understand it, but as my sister and I discussed it today, I realized that it doesn't matter if things change. Even if my grandparents pass on, we will still have reasons to visit. We will go and see cousins and friends. I will take my kids to the memories of my childhood. I will share with them their family's heritage, the struggle they faced in a harsh land. They will know of icy winters and muddy summers, beautiful mountains and waving plains.
Canada is in their blood.
In other news, we're going to experience another amazing family tradition next week. Camping in Lopez! 5 days of tent camping, lake swimming, beach going, campfire singing, talent show watching, and family awesomeness. This time, it's my husband's family --a 40+ year tradition spanning four generations. We can't wait!
I need to be doing laundry and cleaning up, but alas, I am not. We are tired and worn out from our quick trip. We are loving the rain (as it puts out fires) and I made a batch of chocolate pancakes. The baby is sleeping in my arms, #1's BFF is over, and the kiddos are watching Thundercats. Brandon is working, the cat is lounging, and I'm feeling content. Life is good.