Showing posts from 2018

Head Walker to Heart Warrior Part 2

One recent Saturday, I drove to St. Mary's to celebrate the Heritage Day festivities with my daughter. By then I was well into another journey, the search for a peaceful heart. I had started the two and a half hour drive, early, choosing a route that avoided highways and had just driven through Beeton when the crossing lights up ahead signalled that a train was coming. I slowed to a stop and watched the hypnotic stream of boxcars, a seemingly endless graffiti gallery, gently swaying by on their way. A random surprise art exhibit. As I drove through the village of Hockley, listening to CBC Radio, the bluesy voice of Canadian jazz artist, Laila Biali kept me company and set me bopping in my seat with her song,  Queen of Hearts .   Along one of the back roads after leaving the town of Orangeville, a big white tent stood in a field with a sign at the gate saying, "Gospel Meeting. All Welcome." The word "gospel," comes from an old English word with two

Head Walker to Heart Warrior Part 1

My father called me Twinkle Toes as a child, but I was not the light-footed fairy that nick-name might conjure up. I dropped, broke, or tripped over, whatever was in my path. As I grew up, I resisted this part of my identity, not wanting it to define me. I thought I had succeeded but didn't realise that if an inner state doesn't change, its symptoms can present differently, but they don't go away--they are red flags, waiting for someone to pay attention. When they were younger, two of our granddaughters lived with their parents in our basement apartment. Tori told me one day that she always knew who was walking around upstairs by our footsteps, "Your steps are fast, Omie. Grandad's steps are slow and loud." I laughed and agreed with her. I walked everywhere fast and even broke into a run for no good reason besides getting to my destination more quickly. Walking with someone who walked at a stroll was hard for me. I had to will myself to slow down and curb


As dusk fell gently over the green and gold patchwork of fields ripening for harvest, I counted down the kilometres to my destination, the farm in Norfolk County, where the mother of a friend lived. I had seen Lois once or twice from a distance at functions and talked to her over the phone a few times. Although she lives quite distant from me, our relationship is one of a shared affection for her daughter.  On this July Saturday, I had been visiting my daughter who lives just an hour from her farm and realised that being so relatively close to Lois's home was an opportunity too excellent to miss. I drove with a sense of adventure, following the disembodied voice of a GPS app to a place I'd never been before. I called the day before to make plans with Lois, saying that I would get there in the evening, on my way home from the town of St. Mary's and she graciously consented to my dropping by with the latest news of the person that connected us. My secret motivation was

The Most I've Ever Paid for Something I Didn't Want

We were young, that’s my excuse. I was 23 and Paul 26, but already we had done a lot of living in our time together--more than most youngsters of today would have done by then. We had been married for almost four years, had immigrated to a new country, over 6,000 km away from home and were parents to a 3 and 1-year-old. We owned our own house--or at least two mortgages on the house and had settled down, or so  I thought. Paul and I were barely scraping by, but we were making it on one salary, while I stayed home to care for our children. It is at such times; I have come to understand, now that I am much older, that we should prepare for an adventure, for one is surely coming.  Paul had a long drive to work, down a highway known for danger in the winter. He felt that we should explore moving closer to his place of work. I was happy in our home--had overcome two years of homesickness and loved our little village in the country. I was not in favour of the proposed move, but I

Within the walls of Windsor

Windsor Castle --the Royal Collection Trust states that it is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Today it was on show in all of its beauty and glory, its walls witness to a love story that makes us believe in happy endings. Today Prince Harry and his beautiful beloved Meghan got married amid pomp and pageantry that felt like an elegant party rather than formal ceremony. It was worth every hour of lost sleep to watch with a breathless world as the first guests arrived, perfectly coifed and dressed, and imagine the feeling of really being there when even from afar we felt such anticipation and excitement.  As I watched the wedding from Canada, my brother, Rob, was doing the same in England and both of us were thinking of another time in the history of the castle, 70 years ago.  In 1947 my father, Chris Cater, was in the Grenadier Guards and stationed at  Caterham Barracks . One day when off duty, he met a 21-year-old Dutch girl, who would one day be my mother, at Sp

Just Listen

"Mom," said Brenda a couple of months ago, "I want to place an order for 50 strawberry tarts."  I have a small pie business, and the tarts were for a special lunch at the school where she works. "No, problem," I said--she didn't need the tarts for several weeks. Brenda is well-organised and always plans ahead. I am not entirely as organised as she. However, as the delivery date (a.k.a. the "nick of time") approached, I found the perfect recipe. The process involved was a little more complicated than I'd anticipated, and I was surprised at the weight of strawberries needed for the recipe, which was for only 6 tarts and would have to be multiplied many times. And I would need to buy tartlet tins. Getting tartlet tins on short notice proved to be impossible. I checked first on Amazon. Although I found the perfect tins there, they would not arrive in time. A local store that promised to carry the tins had them-- but only two! I was gr

Boundaries and Bonds

Almost three years ago, on the first Sunday of my "retired life," I left the church after morning service giddy with newfound freedom. Instead of turning left, from the church driveway, to go straight home, as usual, I decided to turn right, drive to the nearby village and visit my mother-in-law, whom I love. I found her in her backyard, sitting on a garden swing, beneath a canopy that shaded her from the August sun. She loves to be out in the fresh air and loves to garden. Undeterred by the fact that her knees hurt and her leg may "give way" at any moment, she will strategize as though planning a complex military operation, and somehow accomplish the goal she has in mind. In between these manoeuvres, she will stop until she regains energy for the next onslaught. That afternoon, we sat for a couple of pleasant hours in the sun. Around us, insects buzzed, birds sang, the breeze played with our hair as the canvas canopy over our heads flapped--and we talked--and t

The Quest for Balance

Mid-April, snowbound, churches closed, flights cancelled--spring in Canada! Weather alerts said this would be a historic storm and warned against unnecessary travel--f reezing rain already had wreaked havoc with hydro wires and highways. It had been an unusually busy week and a Sunday at home felt like a gift. I poured a steaming cup of black coffee, found my favourite chair, and by the  flickering   light of a candle, embraced the time to reflect. Prompted by recent conversations with a few friends, I found myself thinking about balance, i.e. the fine line that so many of us struggle with--between being "useful" and "used up"-- between success and being a victim of one's success. Paul and I are retired so you would think that this struggle is behind us--but not so much! It was Aristotle who said, "Nature abhors a vacuum," and this does indeed seem true if we leave the filling of available time to chance. By default, our time will be take

Identity Reclaimed

For today's sunshine--so gorgeous, life-bringing and joyous! This was the morning entry in my gratitude journal: April 23, 2018 I had no idea that the day would bring horror and devastation. The very sunshine I had rejoiced in, brought others to a Toronto street on which they met death or injury  through a deliberate act. Countless others would be deeply affected by what they witnessed. Early the morning after, I stepped from a Go-Train into Toronto's Union Station.  From there I got on a subway train going north to Sheppard East, where I had a meeting to attend. An announcement that would repeat throughout the day, reminded travellers that there would be no stop that day at  NorthYork Centre due to a police investigation. There was no need for further explanation. Heaviness hung in the air, but in sharp contrast, smiling and helpful employees stood ready to help direct the public. I sat to the right of two men who stood talking, one middle-aged, the other young. Just b