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Catching Up

By Belinda
Note: My apologies for the fact that this is long and a bit scattered. I wanted to catch you up--more is yet to come...

The day flew by on Thursday. I was at the hospital in Newmarket by 8.30 in the morning for a consultation with the anaesthesiologist in preparation for eye surgery next week. The instructions said to be prepared to be there for 3-4 hours, so I took along a good book.

I felt a little like a parcel at the post office being stamped and labelled and sent off on a long journey through various places in the hospital as my blood pressure was taken and forms were filled out. But eventually I was passed as healthy and fit for surgery.

Since I was at the same hospital that Paul's mum had just been moved to, I decided to pop up to the 6th floor, even though it wasn't visiting hours yet, hoping to see her. The nurses welcomed me and said to go right in. I stayed until her lunch arrived, marvelling at the spunk of this woman. Even if her red hair had long ago turned to ash grey, the flame of her determined spirit burned as bright as ever. She was longing to go home and anxious to do whatever it would take to get there.

Back home in early afternoon I packed for the writers conference starting the next day in Guelph. I would be leaving early the next morning to help before the conference began.

Then it was time to get ready for The Word Guild Awards Gala, the climax of this day. My faithful friends: Frances, Susan and Jamie were to arrive at 4.15 and we were meeting Irene in Mississauga at 5.30, so I had no time to waste.

I washed my face and redid my make up, feeling naked without eye liner and mascara, which carries a risk of eye infection and is not supposed to be worn prior to the operation. I took out my contacts and wore my black rimmed glasses to give my eyes a break. My hair flopped into my eyes like a blond mop but it was clean and shiny.

I put on my new dress. Short,dark grey and sleeveless--the fabric a polyester, cotton spandex mix, it was simple and I loved it.

I wore black patent pumps with low heels and consulted Paul for advice on whether to wear a short black tailored jacket or a loose grey wrap. He thought the jacket looked better. Tippy and Tori arrived home from school at that moment and agreed with his choice! The final touch was my "blog princess" bracelet, given to me by my friend Dave. It matched the shiny stones on the shoulder of my dress, perfectly.

At that moment the front door opened and in came Frances, Susan and Jamie. Frances was every bit the "butter-cream icing" that she had promised, the day before, that she would be ! She looked beautiful in her long, Grecian style dress, with white shrug, low heeled sandals, silver polished toe nails and her long, dark blond hair, tumbling down in a loose pony tail.

Susan also looked lovely in a fuchsia pink, flowing top, her blond hair shining around her dear face. And Jamie, usually a t shirt kind of guy, wore a shirt and pants! :)

Last year Tori, who loves books and writing, came with us to the gala because the writer receiving the Leslie K. Tarr award was Jean Little, the beloved children's author, but I hadn't mentioned it to her this year, the winner being the equally beloved theologian, J.I. Packer.

I saw a faint glimmer of sadness pass across her face as she realized where we were going, that made me wish I had thought to invite her this year.  But it was not too late to rectify that.

"Tori, I'm so sorry I didn't think to invite you, would you want to come with us? I can get another ticket at the door."

She hesitated momentarily. "But I'm not dressed."

"We'll wait if you want to come. Ten minutes?"

"Um....yes! I'll come!" and she was gone in a flash to change.

She emerged moments later, eyes bright, her hair pulled back, looking bright and beautiful in nice jeans and a turquoise top. At twelve years old she didn't bat an eyelid at going out with a group of adults whose ages ranged from early forties to early sixties. I love that. Had it been an art or dinosaur exhibition, Tippy would have joined us in a flash--but writing--that is Tori's special thing.

We all piled into Susan's Hyundai and set off to find the restaurant in Mississauga: Nirvana. There we were joined Irene, dressed in a lovely loose flowing lime green and brown top and pants.

Seated around a round table, the six of us laughed and talked as we carefully considered our selection of dishes for dinner, which turned out to be delicious. The meal was the perfect precursor to the special evening that lay ahead; an evening to honour the best writing by writers who are Christian from all across Canada.

From the moment we stepped through the doors of World Vision headquarters, where the gala was to be held, familiar faces of writing friends from the east and west greeted us, all dressed up and ready to celebrate.
Amid the sparkling crowd, there was one writer of an award winning book, Dancing with Dynamite, who was not dressed up to the nines: Tim Huff. Tim, who works with the homeless, wore jeans, t shirt, a chequered shirt and a baseball cap. He belonged though; we were proud to say that he was one of us.

Just before the final speech of the evening in honour of J.I. Packer, the speech my faithful friends had come to hear, the Grace Irwin Award winner was announced. This award has a 5,000 dollar prize for the winning author to invest in furthering their writing. Before the name of the winner isJean Vanier announced, a passage is read from the winning book. The winner was Tim Huff. He looked dazed as he mounted the steps for the second time that evening, to receive this prestigious award.

At the reception afterwards, I shook his hand and congratulated him. He shook his head, smiling, and said, "I was listening to the words being read, and I suddenly realized, 'I think that's my book they are reading from.' I couldn't believe it."

Afterwards he sent an email to family and friends with the subject line, "Shocked." His mother sent an email back, saying, "I'm shocked too." And his mother told him that Grace Irwin, who died in 2008, at 101 years old, had been a friend of their family.

The prize could not have gone to a more deserving recipient. I have a copy of his book, which Jean Vanier wrote the foreword for. I cannot wait to read it.

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