I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied
– John Masefield 1902
When I was just a kid – just nineteen years old, my parents helped me pack their car with a very big red suitcase, a stack of books and a few containers of my mom’s homemade baking, and drove me (and my boyfriend – who was just along for the ride) over a mountain range, through one and a half provinces, to board a ferry across the Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island, and the city of Victoria B.C, so that I could start my university years. My folks and boyfriend stayed long enough to help me search the newspaper’s ‘Apartment For Rent’ ads and to get me set up in a small furnished suite in what I so happily called a character house.
Wow. Life happened. Let me tick off the details for you – turned out moving away from my family of seven people, and boyfriend of two years, made me unbearably homesick. Rather than moving into university residence (my mom’s smart idea, which I ignored) I moved across the country with said boyfriend and tried an eastern Canadian university the next year. For lots of reasons – probably the strongest being that we were two young to work out our difficulties cohabiting – we left the east, zig-zagged a little bit, and found ourselves ocean side again – back at The University of Victoria. With one and a half degrees between us (I had a head start), we got married, he finished his degree, we moved home to Calgary and had a baby girl. Galloping along, we packed up a beat-up truck this time, which only broke down once when we crossed over the mountains again so that boyfriend – now husband – could get a law degree, and while he did so we had two baby boys in Victoria. A few more beat up cars and one law degree later, we returned to Calgary with – the now three-year-old daughter, two-year-old boy and new baby boy. The forth baby (girl) was born back in Calgary shortly before her daddy was called to the bar. It wasn’t religious – we just liked having all those babies. Time passed. Babies grew and grew and grew.
Now this little tale is about the good parents who drove me to Victoria to begin those cross province journeys to the ocean, back before the time of my crazy childbearing days. My parents were both raised as true Albertans, people who love a Sunday drive through the foothills and admire fields of golden grain shimmering in a Chinook wind. Yet, when they retired they chose to treat themselves to a month or two in Victoria as a late winter destination, while they waited for the season to lose its grip on Calgary. Yesterday my mom calculated this is the seventeenth year that they have spent a part of spring in this ocean side city, whose ambiance has been part of our lives’ journeys. They’ve come to take pleasure in the daffodils, tulips and frothy fruit tree blossoms, long weeks before they’ll decorate the streets of home. They trade the blue skies of Alberta for quiet treks along the shores of the deep blue ocean.
For the last several years my siblings and I have joined them at different times during their coastal reprieves. When the drive itself became too much of a chore, I’ve driven their car out, packed up with all the trappings of home to make their stay comfortable – including those tins of mom’s homemade baking. My brothers and sisters, and grand-kids and nieces have come out too, all pleased to spend time fueling their desire to see green foliage, and basking in sunny strolls (or foggy ones) along Victoria’s long breezy breakwater.
My four kids (the subjects of Text Me, Love Mom) text to see how we’re all making out, the girls from where they currently reside in Calgary, the boys from their homes in coastal Vancouver. (Is it silly to wonder if their ocean side birthplace influenced the makeup of their wee baby bones so they now choose to reside on the coast?) I text my kids back from a tea house, or a long leisurely stroll, “Grampa and Grandma say hello. We just ate the best lemon blueberry scones ever. You doing okay?” Every year my dear mom says they won’t make the trip again, too tiring getting ready, too much has changed health wise. But always we convince them to make the journey one more time – their walks are shorter, the breaks for tea time longer. For the last several years I’ve joined my parents here for the better part of a week of their month long stay. Today I’ll head home from this place where I began my truly growing up years of raising kids. Mom and Dad will stay behind for a few more weeks to revel sunny days watching the ocean roll over the rocks, and the pilot boats head out to guide ships to shore. Ah, the journeys we take for ‘the call of the running tide.’
Please click on the following links to order Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest – about the ‘next stage of parenting’, when the kids leave home, come of age, and the family gets its bearings again.