Well a Happy New Year to all my blog friends. It's been a bit of an eventful week, other than a bit of a hiatus from blogging that I haven't had in a long while (yes, for Ian anyway, a bit of blog free time is an event)
Ian's uncle in Ottawa passed away suddenly on Boxing Day. We just found out on that day that he'd been sick since just before Christmas, but I suppose it didn't seem that serious until the day that we were called by our cousin's wife, as her husband (the uncle's son, who is Ian's closest cousin, best friend, and G's godfather) was enroute to Ottawa. But then we were called a couple hours later and Uncle D was gone. Just like that. It happened so fast.
It's still hard to believe. Since Ian lost both parents (his Dad while Ian was still in university, his Mom when L was about 9 months old), Uncle D and Ian's Aunt J have been the closest thing to Grandparents for L and G on his side. Uncle D was a great guy, a wonderful man who had the gift of gab, was active in his community, loved to travel, and was so proud of his kids and his lovely grandchildren. He had given a lovely speech at our wedding, and although I would only see him a few times a year, I felt through our little chats each of those times that he really shared a piece of himself each and everytime we spoke.
So in a flurry, Ian had to get winter tires on my van (my 4-seasons are apparently threadbare as we discovered in cottage country a few weeks back), we had to make arrangements for a hotel stay in Ottawa, and get packing. And since Ottawa is fairly close to Mont Tremblant, Ian thought we should take the opportunity since we were there to make the drive to Tremblant for some family time afterwards. At first I thought it was a bit strange to tag this little impromptu vacation on. We had been planning to take the kids somewhere this week, as school doesn't start until Monday. But we had been thinking further south, or maybe New York City again. I suppose it did make sense because it was only a little over an hour away, Ian loves to ski and L seemed to love it after his first exposure last winter. We somehow managed to book the last one bedroom suite at the Minto hotel in Ottawa, and the last one bedroom condo at Tremblant at Les Plateau in the Domain de la Foret. Ran around getting things organized on Thursday and headed out just before noon on the Friday.
The Minto hotel in Ottawa is a place that I've been wanting to try for a while, because it markets itself to families and is an all suite hotel. So there was a kitchenette and a pool. Perfect. Who knew that there was an international bantam hockey tournament going on in the city that weekend? Minto's marketing is paying off. Maybe that explained why we got the last room, right next to the electrical room and across from the linen chute. Each wait for the elevator was about 10 minutes long; but thankfully we were on the 3rd floor so we could walk up or down fairly easily.
The kids were just thrilled to be in a hotel (don't all kids love hotels?). G was especially excited, although she did have a freak out episode getting on the elevator when L let go of her hand by accident... she didn't know what to make of the big crack between the floor and the elevator once the doors opened. Smart cookie... I mean, we just take for granted that everything will be all right, don't we?
Once we got settled into the hotel, I had to run out right away. Because in my rush to get things ready back at home, I noticed that L had absolutely NO dress shirts that were appropriate for a service. And I grabbed a pair of dressier pants that I figured might still fit him. Which turned out to be not the case, of course. Therefore while the family stayed snug in the hotel room, I made the 20 minute trek to the Rideau centre in record time, managing to admire via peripheral vision, the beautifully lit up parliament buildings on my left, as I negotiated past strolling hockey families who were sighing over the pretty views at a much more leisurely pace. One Dad even stepped aside while I rushed past, thanking him as I walked by him. He said to me cheerily, "No problem, you seem in a hurry." He didn't know how much of one! Besides, it was FREEZING and I was only wearing my lulu's, which are great for bodyjam or bodyflow, but not so much in the Nation's Capital in the heart of winter.
When I finally got to the mall, I made a beeline for Gap Kids and found oxford shirts and dark khakis sitting on sale, just waiting to be purchased. Phew!!! Mission accomplished! So after that relief, I noticed Gymboree right across the hall. And it's Gymbucks time... yes, spend $50 and get a $25 off coupon for your next $50 purchase during Gymbuck week in January. Sucker me got pulled in and I picked up some oh-so cute outfits for the girlie for this coming year.
Now, with TWO bags of stuff, I headed to pick up a carton of milk and some cough medicine for myself. I made record time getting back to the hotel, despite THREE bags full of stuff. Hey, at least I'm making up for some of my lack of exercise the last 3 weeks.
Stumbling into the room, thinking that my spouse will be very irate, I find a laidback Ian, not at all perturbed by my purchases. We've been together 20 years, so he knew I'd come back with more than what I'd gone for. We decided to head out for dinner, so Ian went to the van in the carpark to pick up Liam's coat so we could walk to a nearby restaurant. I waited with the kids in the reception. It was taking Ian a while, so as I was looking at L, something seemed to dawn on him as I opened my mouth to say something, he blurted out, "Hey Mom, maybe Dad's taking a while because I may have FORGOTTEN my ski jacket."
Yes, L chose to forget, at the coldest time of the year, and just before our ski vacation... his ski jacket. The one thing that I figured he couldn't forget. Usually you put a coat on when you leave the house in winter. I suppose when his Dad told him not to wear his jacket in the van for a long drive, he took him at his word!
So the next day, the morning of the service, we had to head BACK to the mall to find him a ski coat. After grabbing lunch at the world's slowest food court, we only had about 45 minutes to find something for him. Thank goodness for SEARS; (I know this from my friend Bec, who always seems to luck out at Sears whenever she forgets stuff in Ottawa!). We managed to find him a coat that was warm, functional and apparently quite cool to boot! And we got validated parking which was a bonus.
We got to the service for Uncle D with time to spare. It was a smaller affair for him in Ottawa. Because of the timing, not all of his grandkids could make it in time, but there will also be a larger memorial for him in the Toronto area in a couple of weeks, as this is where he spent most of his adult life, raising his family and establishing roots. Our kids were the youngest and they were so well behaved. G's actually been to a couple of funerals already, and she's been good at both of them. I find it often helps to alleviate some of the sadness at those times; we saw some cousins and aunts that hadn't seen the kids in ages (or hadn't even met G), so although it wasn't the best of circumstances, it wasn't all gloom. Ian and I didn't even hesitate to bring them however. We prepared them to expect to see some sad things, and to potentially see their parents cry.
And cry we did. Not only because it was a sad time. But the music that was played. It was lovely (opening with Memories); but heartwrenching at the same time. The closing notes were Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You"; Ian and I both lost it. Thank goodness for the Kleenex boxes that were readily available.
It was a truly a lovely service. Ian's older cousin gave a beautifully written speech about her Dad, a very moving, funny, touching, loving saga likening her father's journey through life to that of a courier du bois.
A true celebration of a wonderful man's life. I'm so glad that we made the trip, especially to see Ian's aunt. I think it will be the toughest for her. They had been married for 54 years. That's a lifetime.
More on Tremblant tomorrow.