In my last blog (click here to read it) I shared some of the ups and downs of our journey through northern Ontario.
The many, many delays due to traffic and construction we experienced en route from Sudbury to Ottawa compounded our slow start to the day. Although we tried to keep our sense of humour, everyone’s temper was a little short as our travel time stretched out beyond our capacity to “keep it together.”
What didn’t help was arriving in Ottawa at rush hour. We had planned to drive around to a few stores to pick up household necessities for our son that we weren’t able to pack in the car, but time was short, and our energy was limited. We still had to drive a distance to get outside of the city to visit my mother, get groceries for supper, and get settled in our bed and breakfast. I reluctantly told my son:
“I’m so sorry, but Dad and I can’t stay to help you set up. Can you manage okay on your own?”
I knew my son was anxious, after living with us for months during the first wave of COVID, to move on with his own life. He assured us he would be fine.
We hugged goodbye. After almost six months of enjoying his presence, it was not easy to let him go once again.
“I feel like I'm a terrible mother,” I moaned to my husband as we pulled away from the curb.
“He’ll be fine,” my husband assured me. “He’ll figure everything out on his own.” I knew my husband spoke truth, but I still felt I should have done more.
We had a 45-minute drive ahead of us to my mother’s retirement home. By the time we arrived, night had fallen, and it was chilly. I didn’t feel comfortable going inside the residence, to protect both the residents and me—after all, we had just been travelling during a pandemic—so we met my mum outside.
Our meeting was sadly awkward and disappointing. I ached to hug my mum, but we had to remain two metres apart. We all wore masks (of course), and my glasses were fogged up the entire time as my warm breath rose to meet the frosty air. It felt surreal trying to have an important conversation when I could barely see. In the end, we only stayed about a half hour because I was concerned that my mum might get a chill. Further, I was so hungry I could barely think straight.
Although I didn’t want my mind to go there, I couldn’t help thinking that this might be the last time I saw my mum. I wanted to say something profound and encouraging to her, but my addled brain didn’t cooperate. For the second time that day, I left a loved one feeling like I had let them—and myself—down.
“I feel like I'm a terrible daughter,” I moaned to my husband.
He patted my hand. “At least we got to see her. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.”
Our attention turned to buying supper and getting to the bed and breakfast as quickly as possible. It was nine in the evening by the time we sat down to eat. I couldn’t wait to hit the sack and get a good night’s sleep. It had been a physically and emotionally exhausting day.
As it turned out, I would need a clear mind: the trip through the province of Quebec the following day included a series of unpleasant surprises I didn’t see coming.
Click here to read what happens next.