William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

16. Story of Leaving

This is the story of my last days in Sherbrooke this summer.

Monday

Today I did a ton of puttering around - cleaning, checking for and getting stuff, making bird food, doing my laundry... Tonight we're having hamburgers and hot dogs in a sort of echo celebration: Today is my grandfather's birthday, though we observed it a few nights ago. My grandmother will be coming downstairs, so this is a Big Deal. j/k

Darn: we just realized that we have no onions. I guess I would have liked to have onions too, but I've been to the store enough times today. Though when I went down just now to get tomatoes and potato chips, I saw Meg and her dog Finnigan. That was nice.

Alex and Matt were just down at the falls and now they're going to tackle the cooking. His Aunt J. says she saw a bear on the side of the road near Liscomb Lodge. I haven't seen any bears yet, but they and the wolves and coyotes have been on my mind while I've been walking home from Andy's late at night. Attacks on humans are vanishingly rare, but I still feel vulnerable, especially when I start to climb Old Road Hill.

My grandmother's sister is an excellent housekeeper, and I might also say exacting. Faced with an absence of napkins, she unrolled a bunch of paper towels and instructed me to fold each of them into napkin form. "Almost as good as napkins," she said as she picked them up. She also said that we'd only need to cook eight hamburgers. I was incredulous - I knew I could have at least two, and who in the impromptu family gathering was going to have none? So when Mom came we pan-fried two burgers for ourselves (in addition to the eight and only eight sent up to Alex and Matt to grill at the cottage). But guess how many burgers were left over? Exactly two. I got to eat two, plus a hot dog, and I ended up stuffed.

I helped clean up and then I went down to Andy's. Two ladies from Quebec were there (as bed and breakfast guests; they decided to hang out with us) - one a social worker, the other a special needs teacher. Danny played guitar and sang - I tried to sing a little here and there, but he and I don't have very many songs in common. But I sang enough that the social worker complimented me on my voice after I left. :-) Yeah, I had to be the first to leave - sometime after 2. They didn't want me to leave, but I needed to get some sleep for the next day, as I'd be taking my grandfather to New Glasgow for a hearing appointment.

Tuesday

We went to New Glasgow, following a brief stand-off about who was driving. We were both standing on the driver's side of the car.

"You're going to drive?" he asked.
"I think so," I cooly replied.

Mom and Aunt P. enjoyed watching the exchange from the kitchen window and said later "it was worth the price of admission".

We went over Blue Mountain - some parts were like gliding, others were more like riding a tube over rocky rapids.

We still had the better part of two hours to kill when we reached New Glasgow, so I did half of the grocery shopping there - I went into Sobeys and took my time, but when I came out again the car was closer to the store and my grandfather was standing beside it. He didn't look happy.

"We've still got tons of time," I said.
"We've got five minutes!"
"No, the appointment is at 1:30. We've been over this a few times."
"I thought it was at 12:30." He looked in his wallet for a paper where he'd written the information. Yep, 1:30. We had been over it several times, but he still didn't remember. I'd later read a news headline at the hearing place linking hearing loss with memory problems. It makes sense to me; if you're not exercising the parts of your brain responsible for hearing (by so many subtleties just passing you by all day), I'd expect there to eventually be detrimental effects.

We then had lunch at Subway (he later claimed that he didn't have anything for lunch, but he had a deli-size BLT sandwich; for my part, I ordered a footlong Spicy Italian and ended up eating the whole thing). We got to Beltone about ten minutes early, and they took him in for testing a mere five minutes after that. But the thorough two-ear testing took the better part of 90 minutes. It makes sense; the hearing aids can be programmed to respond differently to different frequencies and will accommodate uneven hearing. The doctor was gorgeous, brilliant, tall, of Polish background, female. All I can really say is holy crap.

I whiled away the time reading Hiking the Dream, a great little book about a family's 2000 journey across Canada, walking portions of the Trans Canada Trail. (They updated a website along the way. What a quaint notion.) I also drank an Iced Coffee from the McDonald's next door. I seem to remember at the beginning of this summer that "dollar drinks" was relegated to meaning only any size soft drink (it used to include iced coffees), but now it does include small and medium iced coffees. That's good news for me, anyway.

We then drove over to Antigonish, where I'd need to go to exchange a strap for my grandmother's rollator. The 104 between New Glasgow and Antigonish is a beautiful road, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. But sometimes there are people passing when and where they shouldn't, and it makes me wonder why they don't put up a barrier between the lanes. I'd make it a Japanese-style 2-lane freeway, maintaining / extending the passing lanes where possible. What they sometimes do in Japan with new "expressways" is they build a two-laner first, which will be half of the highway if it is ever expanded to four. They work just fine, from my experience anyway.

In Antigonish we got gas and I backed into a space to put the passenger door in the shade of a cart corral so my grandfather wouldn't have to wait in the sun. I lost my gas-derived grocery-discount slip in the grocery store: A whopping 68 cents down the tubes j/k but frustrating all the same.

We then got the strap at Lawtons; luckily the person we were dealing with before was still there and she hadn't sent the other, correct strap away yet. She'd brought in two and I picked the wrong one the last time I was in there.

We got back to Sherbrooke and I started typing in some notes. I eyed the 1951 Webster's ("... of the English Language"), and thought upon how someday, English will be a dead language. If any intelligent beings visit this place after that happens, only the properly* educated will read our books and understand our lyrics. Someone will translate George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" and say, "Well, there was a keen observer indeed."

* - I mean, properly educated to read English. I'm not saying that "proper" education means being educated to be able to read English, even today.

My maternal-side parent figure was easy to live with; she was reasonably happy. It's not all the doom and gloom that I sometimes paint it to be. She also said that my grandfather had come home in a really good mood, so perhaps I did something right. :-)

I hung out at Andy's again - just as I was saying I missed getting Mary, there she was again. Mike came over too, and he did some freeverse while playing guitar:

Will is gonna go
Home
But he'll be back again
Someday
We pray


It was sublime.

Wednesday

I tried to sleep in, but there was too much racket and commotion going on upstairs to do so. Gathering up my things is a dreary labour, but I managed to do it even though I was tired and burned-out.

I said my farewells and got out around lunchtime. I got gas and topped up the tires, and I said goodbye to Andy's father and goodbye to the Grocery Girl. I was too chicken shit to really talk to her but I tried.

Now I'm in PEI and while stuff is happening, it's also kind of the same-old-same-old, and I'm going to take a break from writing about it. I am reasonably sure that the great part of the great learning from this summer is behind me, and to go on is merely beating a dead metaphor.

So I'll see you around the bend.

Okay, okay, one more tidbit: I got to the boat just in time for the crossing and got a spot on the Main Deck (the lower one, where the big trucks go). The boat took off while I was still thinking about what to take above deck with me. I happened to be next to the elevator, so I figured I'd take it just to see where it goes. A sign on board said "Company policy prohibits use of elevator after departure and prior to arrival." Anytime the boat is moving, in other words. Well, I figured it wouldn't hurt anything, so I went up anyway.

I came out of the elevator in a highly conspicuous place - by the tourist information desks, in full view of everyone on the cafeteria half of the deck. I went to the nearest desk to try to make it look like I was already there - elevator, wazzat? I took a highway map and the clerk asked me too loudly if I wanted the tourist book too. No thanks.

And that's the end of the Nova Scotia chapter of my summer.
Tags: family life, sherbrooke, summer 2012
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