Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Away . . . and Back



Back home after a week away -- the most "summery" week of the year (so far), so I'm relieved the weather didn't storm off in a huff (it threatened).  Slayage (the Joss Whedon-focused conference I attended at UBC) was fun and stimulating, and my paper seemed to be well received, but I'll avoid mid-summer conferences in future.

Besides the weather, my reservations probably stem from being in my (part-time) home city for the conference rather than travelling to it. While other participants stayed at UBC, enjoying a more communal experience -- a bit like summer camp, with evening sing-alongs and video screenings -- I  commuted from our apartment. As well, I cut short the last day in deference to family commitments that couldn't be ignored.

Having pushed toward completing my paper over the last few weeks, plus juggling a number of other commitments, I had the almost inevitable collapse yesterday. Before I succumbed, though, we took my Mom out for a walk. I hadn't seen her since before we left for Europe, so couldn't postpone a visit. She's a bit of a moving target: her aging memory/cognitive abilities make advance scheduling useless, and she heads out for a walk about 8:30-ish each day. Sometimes, after checking with my sister that there are no conflicting appointments, I call Mom that I'm driving over for a visit, but if someone else gets there first, I may waste the driving time. Last Wednesday, I thought I had her, but before I'd left the apartment, my sister called to relay the call she'd just got from Mom, in a panic because her old friend had shown up at the door, having driven over an hour, and she suspected she'd committed to me as well. . . which she had, but no harm done and no point raising her anxiety levels.

So Monday's walk couldn't be put off, despite my wobbliness and fatigue. And it was lovely, well worth the effort. We'd walked Burnaby Lake with her a few months ago, and loved it, then Paul and I ran it several weeks ago. I realized on our run what good memories I had of Mom's enjoyment there, her spirit buoyant, her cognitive weaknesses rendered so much less important by her physical confidence in a strong stride. In fact, although it took me weeks to get round to it, I'm determined to layer such memories while I can. I'll admit to many past frustrations, lingering resentments, even, regarding my mother, but I've laid those aside in the past few years. I'm grateful that I have enough time now to appreciate a rather sweet, very shy, somewhat awkward woman for her gentle enthusiasms.

Plus what a treat, to have a vista like this one open up in the middle of a city.  These photos were taken on my cameraphone, so they're not great (although I'm surprised to see how decently they enlarge, if clicked), but you get the idea -- can't you almost smell that green? At one end of the park, you can hear trucks thundering by on the 401, and in this photo, if you peer carefully, you'll see highrises in the distance, but we were scolded by squirrels, regaled by woodpeckers, and entertained by ducks and their wee ones.

And water lilies flashed their gleaming whiteness at us . . . a benificence to reward my decision to ignore impending illness and get outdoors. . .
But I barely got back in our apartment when I collapsed in bed, and it was pretty clear we'd have to delay our trip back to the island. Achey, exhausted, nauseous, all the usual suspects. . . .nothing that some concentrated devotion to sleep couldn't repair though, and we're back home today.

And now that I've got the major to-do's ticked off the list, I'm taking some lazy days. If you need me, I'm out in the hammock. . . .

12 comments:

  1. Congratulations on giving your paper. I had to look up Slayage and was delighted by the topic. The lake seems like the perfect pre-restorative. Now that the sunshine has decided to stay a while I am imagining you swaying in your lovely hammock with a glass of something cold with an umbrella in it, maybe a good book, and a sketch pad? And a popsicle? Wonderful. The noise of the city can be as grinding and relentless at times as it can be energizing and thrilling. I need to find my own hammock substitute here. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Isn't that a fantastic focus for a conference? Are you a Whedon fan at all? And do you ever get out to the wilds of Burnaby -- that walking trail is brilliant, nestled in the urban as it is.
    Curious to know what your hammock will look like, the urban version -- perhaps a blogpost there?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had to look up Josh Whedon and Slayage. Sounds fascinating.

    I'm so glad there are unspoiled places in the midst of great cities where birds sing and flowers grow. Aren't we lucky to live in this corner of the world?

    I hope you find the gentle comfort of your hammock and this beautiful weather utterly restorative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The conference (indeed, all the scholarship around Whedon -- and, of course, his works themselves) was fascinating fun. As is so much of popular culture!
      And yes, so lucky! And restoration is happening, thanks.

      Delete
  4. Sleep well, Mater, sleep well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How interesting that your mother has this almost kinesthetic 'memory'. My own mother's challenges are quite the opposite--she's sharper than her own children, but simply can't get around. Take good care of yourself. Can I bring you a gin and tonic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is interesting, in a sad/poignant way, and I must admit I wonder sometimes if I'd make the trade.
      And yes, a gin and tonic sounds absolutely perfect, thanks.

      Delete
  6. Your strategy of layering memories is commendable, and I can testify that you will be glad of it. In my experience, such a practice continues to make it possible for me to know my mother better, even ten years after her death.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this perspective, Marsha. I'm so relieved that I've got to this point before it's too late. She just seems like a tiny precious person now, ridiculous to hold grudges against, and that allows me to see what I couldn't, previously. Lovely to think this sight might get sharper yet in years to come.

      Delete
  7. Glad you paper was well received - and I hope you feel better soon. That physical collapse thingy always happens at the end of term, doesn't it? I've had a horrible virus for two weeks now, and all I want to do is enjoy my holiday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It so often does for me, at the end of term, although more often that happens in December. I'm so sorry you're battling a nasty bug right now -- hope you recover while you're still on holiday.

      Delete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...