2017 – A Bittersweet Goodbye

As I review the events in my 2017 calendar, what jumps out at me first is the richness of my existence. Travel alone can


classify me as privileged. From a winter trip to Mexico with my spouse, children, their partners, and our grandchildren, to my first ever visit to Ottawa for Canada’s 150th birthday that expanded into Montreal, Quebec City and a grand tour of Gaspesie. Two weekend wedding trips, one to Kelowna (Congratulations Luke and Christina!) and one to Sechelt (Congratulations Cameron and Carolyn!). And the eagerly anticipated visits to Edmonton for face to face time with my two grandchildren. It will never be a choice of mine to miss a birthday. A third flight to Alberta for another bit of family time and grand-kids’ winter sports iced the year’s travel excursions (Thank you, John, Brenda, Brody and Aubrey). And finally, our Christmas in Victoria.

Despite best efforts by all, it was impossible to coordinate our date of family travel to Mexico with the schedule of our daughter and her husband’s life-changing move to Aberdeen, Scotland (Congratulations, Eowyn and Jonathan – we missed you). You inspire us to embark on a trip to, as my Grandma would call it, the old country in 2018.
Some health issues dogged me this year, but I am not easy to take down. The resurfacing of screaming shoulder pain led me on a new path of recovery. A specialist’s expertise diagnosed a case of bursitis and after her TLC, I am nearing recovery (Thank you, Dr. Ho). The BC cancer agency’s request for a mammogram-do-over resulted in some mind-over-matter exercises, a clear test result and a personal essay of the experience that The Globe And Mail saw fit to publish in October.

The sore on my nose proved more difficult. After two months, the pimple-like lesion refused to heal and I sought medical attention. After a few liquid nitrogen treatments, a biopsy showed basal-cell melanoma. The dermatologist assured me that if I had to have skin cancer, this was the type I wanted, then referred me to a surgeon skilled in MOH’s surgery, a specialized treatment that revealed my small pimple was but the tip of an ice burg of entrenched melanoma. The removal procedure has a high rate of success (well over 90%) and two weeks post surgery, I am nearly healed and optimistic for minimal scarring (Thank you, Drs. Siu, Samycia, and Nasseri).

Writing has been source of satisfaction in my life over the last five years and in that department, 2017 did not disappoint. As the 25th anniversary of my sister Jane’s death, I resolved to fulfill my personal commitment to write about her death’s influence on my ability to leave my unhappy marriage, the same year. Pulling my head from its fiction mindset, I began with a couple of memoir and non-fiction courses (Thank you, Betsy and Mark). I work-shopped piece by piece with my InkTank friends who gave me objective and insightful feedback and helped clarify my skewed vision (Thank you, John, Kristy, Maureen, Deborah, and Rena). Since 1992 I had been hiding behind Jane’s death. I needed to dig deeper into myself and be honest about my realities for my memoir based writing to work. This in mind, I ventured onto a six-week memoir writing workshop (Thank you, Elee, Dhana, Donna, Heather, Maureen, Rena, Sylvia, Sheila, and Carole) that helped me to persevere through the painful process. This weekend I will wrap up the final chapter of this long overdue memoir.

My connection to the Vancouver writing community enriches my world on a regular basis and this year I was honoured to celebrate friends’ book launches (Congratulations Carleigh, Suzanne, Jonina and Carys). Writing consults through SFU and Vancouver public library and Word Vancouver introduced me to some interesting and inspiring writers I would not otherwise have met, and I continue to research my Great Grandmother’s history for a different crack at non-fiction. And I can’t resist stepping onto the stage at Cottage Bistro at least once each calendar year, to share a slice of my writing. May’s audience was warm and receptive.
My writing world feeds my creativity with more than words.With the prevalence of changing climate, I find myself captivated by the plight of bees. Not only do they feature in my fiction, they


populate my back yard. This year, I allocated a slice of inspiration to the hard-working pollinators. Root crops were replaced with a plethora of colourful cosmos, sunflowers, heliotrope, marigolds, and allium. The honey-comb garden that invaded my dreams day and night last winter, came into fruition in May with the help of Grant’s carpentry expertise.

During the August visit from our Edmonton family I planned fun Vancouver adventures for grand-kids via TransLink and fussed over meal planning for picky eaters, encouraged by frequent exclamations of “Another score, Grandma!”.

Regular visits and dinners with Grant’s ageing parents are enjoyable and add perspective to my outlook on life (Thank you, Robert and Margaret) and the scarce moments that my daughter and I find to share fun experiences like a trip to Granville Island or the Circle Craft Christmas Market, treasured (Thank you, Megan). I especially enjoy Grant’s Sunday trips to the golf course with my son-in-law (Thank you, Mac). Their seasonal outdoor recreation offers me a cherished early-morning solitude for grounding myself in gardening or in writing.
I had two constants in my life, this year. The dog was just a dog. Funny, playful, pesky and sweet (Thank you, Flint). But ever since I’ve known him, my husband has been my anchor and 2017 was no different. His unconditional love and encouragement inspire me to have faith in myself. He challenges me, laughs and sings with me, and when I falter, is but a warm shoulder and a word of encouragement away. (I can’t thank you enough, Grant).

Saying good-bye to 2017 is bittersweet. The good outweighed the bad big-time but life is about moving forward and 2018 opens with possibilities of new ventures in life, family, and travel. I am ready.

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