The joy of family

It is “Family Day” as I write this column. It is much like Christmas; we are together but separated. Our children are both 1700 km away from us. In many ways, “Family Day” is not as it was supposed to be. Planned by politicians, the “Family Day” February holiday was supposed to bring families together doing activities over a long weekend.

Often the February long weekend gave families an opportunity to travel, go skating, or tobogganing, or snowmobiling with a group. If the weather was warm, groups got together and went ice fishing or travelled for skiing. It was to be a relaxing fun filled weekend.

Not so this year. Outdoor groups are limited. Indoor dining is forbidden. Travel to the US is prohibited.

And the cold temperatures make for a real outdoor adventure.

For almost five months we couldn’t visit my mother at Rainycrest. Then again after Christmas we were not allowed to visit, but the restriction was lifted in late January.

I try to visit my mother at Rainycrest every other afternoon. She is amazed when I remind her that she is now 94, and wonders how old I am. I doubt that she believes she is as old as the calendar says. She knows her birthdate. Knows who her children and grandchildren are. The hard part is remembering her grandchildren’s spouses names or where great grandchildren live. We spend a lot of time going over her family as she works hard to remember where they live and what they do.

My mother is a good conversationalist and asks good questions. She knows that one of her grandchildren is a scientist but could not tell you who that grandson is. She wants to know where everyone lives and over the course of the visit, you will revisit those questions several times. She will pause occasionally, and apologize for asking the question again, realizing that she probably had already asked it earlier. Yet she works so hard at trying to remember that I cannot be angry with her.

One would think a person who suffers from macular degeneration would have difficulty navigating the hallway while avoiding crashing into other residents. She amazes me with her deftness as she travels around other residents, like a race car driver with her walker.

She knows about the virus and every visit asks if the virus in the community is lessening. She remembers and understands that stores have been closed to foot traffic, as has the newspaper and asks how Betty’s, McTaggart’s, Greens and the grocery stores are coping with the virus. She worries about them. She asks me if we all wear masks when we go shopping or go downtown. Somehow in her memory, these are important issues to be considered.

We are fortunate to still have her with us, even with her failing memory. The visits are a blessing and a delight never knowing what topic she will bring up.

Jim Cumming
Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times

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