Special people are often taken for granted. That’s what makes them special— we can take them for granted. All it takes is one silly incident to make us realise how special they are. My silly incident happened on what appeared to be an unpleasant winter day: starting the morning with a visit to my dentist, followed by a long and hard day at work. After an exhausting hour for both my dentist and me, he saves my tooth then extracts me from the chair. He hands me my chart and instructs me to give it to his receptionist to arrange the next session. As I walk down the hall, I glance at my chart. On the top is clearly written “Cheryl’s dad.”
Cheryl used to work for Dr. Kawaguchi. He was a special employer who encouraged her to advance herself. She was a special employee. Because Cheryl is so special, this means “Cheryl’s dad” is special. I realised this comment on my chart meant we all understood our special relationship. He knows the important details to put on the chart. I am proud to be “Cheryl’s dad.” It also means I am proud to be “Carrie’s dad,” “Peter’s dad,” and “Jerry’s dad.” Suddenly, I felt good and my day became bright and alive. I no longer take for granted the special relationship of love we all have for each other. This was my best trip to the dentist. Thanks, Dr. Kawaguchi, for making me realise how special our relationships are.
Looks like I have to brush up on doing the truly important things in life again: pushing a swing in the park, catching a ball, and building castles in the sand. Cheryl and Jameel made me a grandfather on July 10, when Nolan James Khan was born. Cheryl signed me up for a course for grandparents who are to be involved with child care, without even asking me. No complaint about that. I’ll need it. Carrie announced she and Brian are expecting a baby in February 2003. There’s a “Grandpa Low” in the family again.
On Yukon Time
Retiring on June 1, I left Toronto for the north in my car June 3. A northerner asked “what took you so long to leave Toronto?” Well, I needed a day to pack the car with tent, sleeping bag, and other camping equipment. Most of my time was spent exploring the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska. I ran into a few snowstorms in June and July, which was preferable to being in Toronto, with heat and garbage strike, where it was “stinking hot.” For some time, it was never dark, for I was north of the Arctic Circle where the sun never sets in early summer. The people of the north really enjoy their fresh vegetables. Inuvik has a community greenhouse the size of an arena and there is a waiting list for allotment gardens. They discovered that some vegetables, usually leafy ones, wilt when there is 24 hour a day sunlight. Friends Spence and Tom in Whitehorse have a fantastic garden. My freshest vegetables of the trip were found there when I had dinner with them, and they gave me a supply for my camp meals. One “night” at Inuvik, I was doing special effect photography of the midnight sun between midnight and 4:00AM. Got a sunburn. Just after one of my photo exposures, I turned to see a wolf staring at me. We eyed each other with a mutual look that said “I’ll ignore you if you ignore me” and then it continued scavenging for food about the camp-ground. I had such a good time and was a couple of weeks late getting back to Toronto in August. But there was no job to rush back for. The slogan of Yukon Tourism is “On Yukon Time” that means relaxed, doing whatever and whenever you feel like at a leisurely pace. I was on “Yukon Time” for over two months.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No...
When leaving on my journey north, I arranged with Carrie to co-ordinate renovations and redecorating of my home. I gave her a budget and general list of what needed doing, instructing her to hire people to do the work, knowing she had the appropriate contacts. I never expected her to do the work herself. However, she did do most of the work. She wanted to get more done than I expected, and stay within the budget. When I returned home she even gave me a cheque for the “change” from the budget! So, while I was away enjoying myself, Carrie was working her long work days as a lawyer at the Royal Bank, then coming over to my unair-conditioned home during the long, hot, stinking Toronto evenings and weekends to paint, wallpaper, lay carpets, move furniture, and other work. She drafted her husband Brian, Cheryl’s husband Jameel, and brother Peter and his girlfriend Kate into helping. Carrie even had Jameel working in my home six hours before his son (my grandson) was born! A few days before I return home, I get a call on my cell phone as I’m driving through Saskatchewan. It’s Carrie. She wants to let me know the work won’t be quite finished by the time I arrive home but that she will finish it soon after. Oh, and as an aside, she tells me she’s expecting a baby. She was doing all this work during her first three months of pregnancy! As my friend Elaine said: Carrie is some Super Woman. Yes—and a very special daughter.
Jerry reverses a trend
For years, Newfoundlanders have come to Toronto to find jobs. Jerry de-cided it’s time to reverse that trend and move to Newfoundland to look for work. Only Jerry would do something like that! It all started when he visited his birth parents Ken and Betty Barry in Corner Brook. It was a great visit. He fell in love with Newfoundland, so decided to become a Newfoundlander. I can understand that, having visited Newfoundland three times in the past eight years, and fell in love with The Rock. I’m so happy this was such a positive adoption reunion. Jerry is a special bond between our families, and we are celebrating our bond.
Peter knows it’s never too late
After working for several years, Peter decided to start university. Having taken a one year bridging program for those out of school for a while, he started the honours Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Toronto. I really wish him luck, for I know the program will be tough. I’m no good at helping with school work, so trust his mother Eleanor will work with him, since she is good at that. Sometimes I kid Peter that he’s the disadvantaged one in our modern version of the extended family. His sisters and brother have more parents and siblings than he has. Not fair! Extended families have such a positive influence. Fortunately he does benefit from involvement with the other members of the extended family.
(turn me upside down)
G’day mates. As if one big camping trip this year wasn’t enough, when you receive this, I’ll be looking like a swagman, singing and waltzing with my matilda, and fighting off dingoes in the Outback. I’m living in a tent four months this year. There’s no report on the trip at this time, for I had to prepare this letter just before leaving Canada on October 20, brought it with me, and mailed it from Australia. I’ll finally see the stars of the southern sky. After the camping trip, I will visit my pen-pal since I was a teenager, Robert Price, then observe the total eclipse of the sun in Australia. Finally I spend a week in New Zealand before returning to Canada on December 20—assuming “Australian Time” isn’t the same as “Yukon Time.”
Group of Seven
Seven very special people. “Group of Seven” is what I call our group that formed out of a series of meetings called “Serendipity” where we discussed our lives as we came out of separation from marriage. These meetings helped us to understand ourselves and each other. We have been seven close friends for ten years. We learned to understand our many differences, and that these differences showed us how much we are alike. We became more understanding towards others. We count on each other for support.
It was sad when Simon died earlier this year. He remains with the Group of Seven in spirit. His unique personality will always be remembered and under-stood by our group.
If this is “retirement” I don’t know where I found time to work for a living! There are so many projects to work on. Eventually I must supplement my retirement income, and one of my dreams is to make money by writing. Just before retiring, I slapped off an article in 15 minutes, emailed it to a Canadian magazine called “50Plus,” they published in the June issue and paid me for it. My first try at professional writing was a success and haven’t received my first rejection slip yet.
My first project is “shovelling out the house” that will take some time. Carrie prepared two rooms for me to rent out so I can supplement my retirement income, just in case my writing career doesn’t take off as fast as I hope. My plans include getting more involved in astronomy, genealogy, photography and other interests over the next few years. I’ll be spending more time with family and friends—all of you I have taken for granted far too long and who are so special.