Tuesday, 11 August 2009


I haven't been here in a month. Exactly.
My last post was July 11.

Since then, I have lost my father, something that although inevitable and expected was still quite painful as anyone could well imagine. I have intended to write several times, and after dad passed away even wrote half a post about him, but I couldn't finish it. Maybe soon I will, but right now it's too painful.

Since I last wrote, the municipal strike ended, meaning our parks are cut and the garbage has been picked up. My daughter has gone to camp and safely returned, my son is off with his grandfather in the truck for two weeks. He's a long-haul trucker and takes him every summer. I had two weeks off work for combined vacation/bereavement, although the vacation week was spent at my father's bedside. I believe he had the last laugh with all the hell I caused him growing up - he had a stroke Monday morning of my vacation and passed away the Friday night it ended. It's kinda funny when you think of it, maybe I'm just trying to make the best of it. We sent dad off the way he wanted - one hell of a party, with good friends and family all celebrating his life. Now our life moves forward. It's strange not hearing him use the microwave downstairs. It's strange having to lock the front door when we go out. I guess it will get easier, eventually.

Dad had no regrets. He had a good long life and lived it to the fullest. We will endeavour to follow his lead. He was 84.

Once the dust settled around here I found I needed some me time, so I booked a campsite, grabbed a canoe and headed off for two days of solitude and solace. My camping trip last weekend was not exactly what I planned. It was weird.

As soon as I parked the car, a voice said "Keith Wilson - you were in cadets!" I turned to see a face from the past - Karen (I forget her last name), was in another Corps in Windsor over 25 years ago and remembered me instantly. Very strange. She was setting up with her 7 year old daughter, while discussing the camp with the next camper over, Peter, camping with his 6 year old son. Both Peter and Karen are single parents, and the kids made them meet. They became inseperable for the rest of the weekend.

We talked into the night around the campfire, about old memories and current situations. I immediately let it be known my purpose at this camp was personal reflection and downtime, and that they should forgive me for not being very social. I went out in the canoe for an hour, and all was good with the world.

Saturday morning brought rain. Lots of rain. It rained for 9 hours, with high winds. I spent the day in my tent, only occasionally walking around the park during brief reprieves. Lunch was sandwiches salvaged from the soaked food bin. I read most of a book and took several naps. Water was being forced into the tent by the wind under the fly, that really annoyed me, I used dirty clothes to sop it up.

Around 6 the rain stopped, and the five of us decided to cook. We needed to salvage the day, and set the table for a full meal. Kim packed me with enough food to make sure I ate (I have a habit of not), and we ate. A lot. The Karen and Peter's kids were amazed we could set a spread like that in a campsite, let alone prepare it on a Coleman stove using a buck knife. There's no reason to go without, ever.

Around 7 I decided that wind be damned, I was going to get some time on the water. I'm pretty good in a canoe, and solo doesn't scare me, but that night it did. The wind was more than I anticipated. I shot across the lake - about a kilometer, very quickly. Peter later commented that he wanted a shot of me but by the time he got his camera from his car I was out of range. When I got to the far side I began to turn around to come back only to realize that the wind was spinning me back again. It was like trying to control a spinning top. No matter what I did, I could not get back around again, the best I managed was 90 degrees, which at least allowed me to get closer to the camp's shoreline instead of the open channel!

Eventually I came to the conclusion that I would have to do it the bonehead way, and I paddled backwards for almost a kilometer, the whole time not being able to rest for fear of the wind undoing my progress. About 45 minutes later I was alongside the camp, still fighting the wind to come ashore. People saw my plight and were eyeballing me to see where I would land, one man eventually coming down to the water's edge to pull in the bow.

Dry land again.

Here's the catch. (and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but....)
The water in this inlet was maybe 2 feet deep, and at any time I could have gotten out and walked! Every stroke hit bottom. But I was NOT going to go that route. I was not going to let the wind beat me. I made it back, in one piece, to enjoy a cold beer around a fire, with four total strangers. Saturday night was bittersweet victory. I beat the wind, but lost the day.

Kim later commented that if I was planning on spending the weekend with people, I could have just stayed home! Maybe she was right, but from the start it wasn't my plan. I'm a solitary person - I relish being alone with my thoughts, especially combined with a quiet campsite with nothing to distract me but the Great Blue Herons that call that cove home.

I had my solitude, just not the way I imagined it. It was in a tent, not on the water.

Sunday I planned on being home around 2, as my son headed off with his grandfather around 4. when I woke up I saw Karen bonding with her daughter, I saw Peter bonding with his son, I was alone. Two hours wasn't enough time to spend with my son before he took off out the Wilsonworld revolving door for two weeks. I decided not to hit the water again. I struck camp, said my goodbyes to my new friends and headed home. I was happy to have gone, but coming home has sweet emotions to it. My daughter ran down the stairs and threw her arms around me, Kim was there with a kiss (even though I stank), and my son was there with a cheerful greeting. All was good. I even knew dad was saying hi, just not from here. Home is good.

We ended up in the neighbour's pool, as the temperature climbed to ridiculous heights, the sun finally made an appearance and for the first time in two days, there was no wind. A BBQ and a couple of beers after swimming. We could almost have been at another camp!

I slept well Sunday night, comfortable in my own bed with my Kim. I slept well knowing that even if I didn't get to nervana, it was waiting for me upon my return home.

Work is back and running, my son is off, my daughter is home, Kim is here being my rock, and the best mother in the world, everything is back to normal again. The house is cleaned up and the sun is shining. Everything is perfect.

Then I realize that dad isn't home anymore.

Almost perfect.

I miss you dad, I always will. Sleep tight.
John William Wilson - May 12, 1925 - July 24, 2009

PS: I was planning on uploading pics from the trip, but blogger is busted. I can't. I will upload the pics on a later post.


  1. I think your camping trip is a good metaphor for what often happens with life.

    It's good to see you back.

  2. Thanks.
    Guess I should have read this earlier :)


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