So, we've arrived at that gate once again for another year. This will be the last issue - and column - for a few weeks as we here at The Outlook are taking our annual summer vacation. It's well-timed and I think it's something that's very much desired here at the office. Hey, who doesn't look forward to a break once in a while?
I'm happy that my summer break for this year will coincide with time off that my brother decided to book, meaning we'll be together and we can plan some fun outings. We've got some ideas of how we plan to spend our time and I'm anticipating some enjoyable days and nights. Though I must say, I'm also just looking forward to the smallest of things when it comes to summer vacation, like staying up late and sleeping in. Sometimes even the simplest joys of being a working adult are something to look forward to. Don't overlook them.
Although the time off will be great, I have to say that it all comes with a barrage of feelings, including those of sadness and deep mourning. This is the first summer without my mom, and it pains me to know that there will be trips and amenities enjoyed without her there, or at the very least, without her there at home ready to be filled in on all the things we saw or did that day. Instead, we'll just be returning to an empty house at the end of every outing, needing to unlock the door and turn the lights on because someone is back under the roof.
I swear, friends, I'm still getting used to things like the loudness that comes with a silent house and having to lock and unlock the doors with each exit and entrance. It's crazy-sounding, I know, but it's so very true.
I'll tell ya, the emotion of it all is sometimes too much to take, but I'm almost happy that it overtakes me, if that makes any sense. For example, I was driving home after a work assignment last week, maybe around 8:30 in the evening. The sun was setting in the west, much more visible and not as harsh due to the wildfire smoke that had permeated the area. I was thinking out loud about the things I intended to do during our two weeks off, the places I intend to go.
Moose Jaw - sounds great. Should be a fun day and evening.
Dalmeny for supper at the Cajun place, Southern Roots. Looking forward to trying out their grub. Good thing I made a reservation weeks ago!
Prince Albert National Park - happy to get another chance to see it in the summer and show Brendon around. I'll be lucky if I get him to go up in the tower with me, though!
But then, of course, my mind circled back to my most favorite of summertime destinations. You guessed it - Candle Lake. However, as my brain settled in on past thoughts and memories of the area, my heart wanted to come along for the emotional ride and BAM, here came the waterworks. I mean, I pulled over on the shoulder of the grid road and had myself a good hearty cry for a moment.
It wasn't surprising to me at all. Rather, it was something that I'd expected to happen, particularly as the summer break got closer and closer. So, after a few hefty chest lifts worth of blubbering tears and a good outcry of angst, I eventually sniffled and dabbed my wet eyes as the prairie sun started to recede in the northwest. To tell you the truth, it was almost picturesque judging by the location and the scenery. Then I watched the sunset for a moment or two before looking at myself in the mirror. I smiled.
Why exactly did I smile? Because I was remembering all the family summer vacations I took when I was a kid growing up. I was remembering that they all happened and now exist in my heart as fond memories thanks to the efforts of one amazing woman. Mom was the reason I had such great times as a kid in the summer, and why our family was able to have such fun and memorable vacations in the summer.
Candle Lake, that'll be a difficult day for sure; heartfelt memories of summers gone by mixed in with the harsh reality of knowing Mom will never be back up there with us. But when I think about it, two things about the place make me smile when I think about her.
One, the fact that us boys were able to make a 'Christmas up North' happen for her three years ago. I genuinely believe that nothing will ever top that particular Christmas. The snowfall, the brisk northern air, the wildlife, the scenic surroundings...ah, man. It was all just so damn perfect. Her smile spoke volumes during those few days. Her three boys were happy for her. She deserved this so, so much.
Two, the fact that Brendon and I were able to take her back up to Candle nine months later over the Labor Day weekend in 2019. Mom hadn't been up there in the summertime in almost 20 years, and I could hear it in her voice that she was looking forward to being up there as she began telling me story after story of being up there long before any of us kids existed. I watched Mom as she looked over the lake as we got to the beach. I think she was reliving certain memories she had of the place. She smiled. I was happy for her to relive those memories, none of us aware this would be the final time she would grace Candle Lake with her presence.
So, as summer vacay approaches, I anticipate it with a heavy heart and a mixture of emotions. My brother and I will live it up and enjoy this and that, taking picture after picture and smiling in the moment, with a tinge of sadness thrown in that can't be discarded or avoided. Hey, that's life.
But we'll enjoy what we have with whomever we're with, and we'll do it all for her. Then, on August 14, we'll say our goodbyes to Mom with her celebration of life service in Conquest.
Man oh man, what a life it was.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.