We're back at it here in the offices of this legendary publication after returning from our annual two-week summer break.
It was time off that was very much needed around here, I believe. So often in this line of work, the days seem to line up so close together and you're fighting deadlines and you're working to scrounge up as much interesting news as possible, and after a while it can feel like as if you're just cogs in a machine. It's important to press that STOP button every now and then, take a few steps back, and put work on the back burner while you take some time for yourself.
I was fortunate that my summer break lined up with that of my brother Brendon's time off as well. I honestly don't believe I would've enjoyed the two weeks if it consisted largely of me, by myself, left to my own devices as far as deciding what to do or where to go.
So, with that, we did our best to make the time count and try to enjoy each outing the best that we could.
On Monday evening, July 26, after I was done work, I came home and proceeded to cook up a heck of a supper to mark the start of the break: grilled steaks, garlic shrimp, thick fries, baby carrots, and a salad. Dang, we ate good that night. We paired our cuisine with a John Candy movie, Summer Rental. Just trying to set the mood right, ya know?
The following day, we packed up our towels and beach chairs and hit the road headed north to go up to Candle Lake. We went and saw the beach, which was quite busy on this hot afternoon, then went around the area sight-seeing, stopping at Musker Pond and then enjoying some mini golf. After that was supper over at the corner ice cream/confectionary stand, which was kinda 'meh' if I'm being honest, but it was nourishment, so whatever, right? After that, we returned to the beach, where we set up our chairs and settled in for some sight-seeing, wave-listening, and eventually, some swimming. From this experience, I immediately noticed two things: one, the water level on the lake had gone down quite a bit, much like I noticed on Lake Diefenbaker recently, and two, all of this just didn't have the same feel as it used to have.
It pains me to say that, but it felt so very true to me in the moment. There I was, floating alongside Brendon in the calming waters of Candle Lake, a place that had given me so many memories not only as a kid, but growing up into the man I am today, and yet on this evening I felt almost pessimistic about where I was. That's the only way I can describe it. I know, it's such a strange thing to say about a place that I absolutely love and adore, but all I can do is be honest here. It just felt like, to me, this place had lost something that was there before as something of a tether, a connection to years of family history and memories that will stay with me forever.
I'd been having these feelings all day when we were up there, this nagging voice in the back of my head that was saying, "Hey Derek, it isn't what it used to be, is it?" I did my best to shut that voice up all day and enjoy my time spent up there with Brendon. But wading in the water that evening, that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Mom. It was Mom. She was the tether and the strong, familial connection to Candle Lake because it was her that introduced me to this place and provided my brothers and I a whole bunch of great memories when we were growing up. But now, she is gone, and in my heart, I know that a piece of what made that place so special to me is now gone, too. Don't get me wrong, I still love Candle Lake and I always will because of the emotional significance it holds for me, but it just won't ever feel the same for me. Hey, that's life, I guess.
On a Friday, we then packed our bags and headed a little bit south, going down to Moose Jaw for the day and night. We dropped our bags off in our hotel room at the Ramada before heading downtown to tour the infamous Moose Jaw tunnels. Fun tour that seemed to undergo a bit of a script change during the pandemic shutdown. After that was a great and filling supper at the Deja Vu Cafe, a popular chicken joint. From there, we just chilled back at the hotel for a while, skimming TV and killing time before we walked over to the tourism office to board a trolley and learn of the city's true crime stories. Suffice to say, Moose Jaw certainly has its fair share of dark moments and bloody history. The rest of the night at the hotel was relaxed, watching TV and enjoying the fact that the room was well air-conditioned. We left the next day refreshed, bound for home, and we would eventually come to learn that not only did my cousin Sandy and her husband Todd stay in Moose Jaw the same night we did, they were also in the same hotel and on the same floor! I'm amazed that we missed each other that night.
When we weren't traveling here or there, Brendon and I along with brother Perry were getting things ready for our Mom's Celebration of Life service. Getting an entire shed built in the driveway, cleaning things up, making arrangements, you name it.
Then, on Saturday, August 14, the time finally came to say goodbye to her in an official capacity as a large, sprawling family. It's weird to say, but it felt two-fold to me; the hardest thing I've ever done emotionally, but also something that I'd been wanting for months, to the point of almost physically needing it. I can't begin to say my utmost thanks to everyone who came and helped us celebrate Mom's life. I just hope that we did her proud. She deserved it.
I'm lucky that I have so many great people that I call family, related or not. They've been amazing.
Love the people in your life deeply, my friends.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.