As we look back

For me, the blog is a means of keeping in touch with friends and family through words and photos. Usually, it is mainly description, although sometimes there is a little bit of analysis and comment about politics or cultural aspects of life here. Sometimes it is an attempt to remember things I have done, although I do try now not to think that I have to justify my existence by ‘doing’ things!  But this post is slightly different in that writing it, meant that I felt I needed to reflect more seriously on the last month and, in particular, the effect of losing a dear member of our family. For me, this post has a therapeutic aspect to it which is very valuable.

As John said in his last post, his sister Bridget, died very suddenly on the last day of July. Suddenly, things felt very different. How could this happen? I feel weepy even writing this a month later.  She lived in Ontario, Canada and spent retirement winters in Madeira, so we didn’t see her often but when we did, it was always special because of her genuine interest in our lives, her domestic and organisational abilities and because she was so completely modest and unassuming.  She and her husband, Herb, have a cottage on an island in Georgian Bay and with our children and on our own, we loved going there on holiday.  And with email, we kept in touch and found out about her life,  how the grandchildren were doing, whether Andy Murray was going to make a grand slam this year etc. So when she died, it felt like a huge loss. John always laughs at me as I frequently announce in amazement how the sea here is so blue, but suddenly it didn’t seem so blue anymore.

And there were regrets too. Bridget and Herb were going to visit us in January but couldn’t because of bad health. They were planning to come in the autumn and we had decided anyway, that it was far too long since we had seen them, so we would visit Canada next summer anyway. There is a clear message to be learned here.  Don’t put off seeing people, just because they live far away.

In the middle of August, we went to Bridget’s memorial service in Parry Sound, Ontario. We wanted belatedly to celebrate her life, tell people how much she meant to us and to provide as much support as we could to her family.We flew by Air Transat from Athens to Toronto. From living in a quiet village in a Greek island, we suddenly found ourself on an airplane for many hours. We treated ourselves to a drink and I was somewhat bemused to find out I could only pay by card. In our world here in Crete, we only use cash so this was a bit of a cultural shock. We stayed the night in a hotel near the airport and woke up to a view of rain, greyness, a never ending line of traffic and noisy planes!

But it had its own beauty, just a bit different from sunny Kavousi.

3 hours later, we were at the island in Georgian Bay, which we love so dearly.

We stayed there for a weekend with John’s brother-in-law Herb, his niece Heidi, his nephew John and wife Caroline, the grandchildren, Jonathon, Sarah and Nicholas and Bridget’s friend, Pat

and the dogs!

And we had a fine time, enjoying being part of ordinary family activities swimming,

looking over to the smaller island where I love to swim to,

boating,

tubing,

making lego models

and chat.

It was the best way to remember Bridget. We just wished she was there!

Bridget would have loved all of this and it was a very special weekend for us. It was also good to read all the messages

that people had sent about her.

And the memorial service was a fitting tribute to her life. We sang her favourite songs including ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing’, Caroline played the flute beautifully, playing tribute to Bridget’s love of birds, a fine summary of all Bridget’s talents by her son and two poems, one of which was by Bridget’s son in law, Ezio. He had never written a poem before and it was so beautiful. John spoke of Bridget’s early life and read a poem ‘As We Look Back’. It starts:

“As we look back over time, We find ourselves wondering….. Did we remember to thank you enough, For all you have done for us?”

And it finishes: “If we have forgotten to show our Gratitude enough for all the thongs you did, We’re thanking you now. And we are hoping you knew all along, How much you meant to us.”

We became tourists in Toronto for 3 days on the way home. We used an on and off bus tour to do this.

The highlights – the CN tower,

with rather scary, fantastic views of the city,

a boat trip providing magnificent views of Toronto’s skyline,

paintings of northern Ontarian landscapes that we know well from our holiday visits,

sculptures by Henry Moore at the Art Gallery

and complete escapism, enjoying the musical ‘Kinky Boots’.

We returned safely back to Kavousi and continued the summer here, with a visit from Rosie, our daughter. To have both of our children for a while over the summer was a great treat but it was good also for us to share with them our feelings about Bridget. We sampled a number of beaches,

used the lilo that Graham bought,

swam in the wonderfully warm sea,

and swam long distances,

John and Rosie collected many pretty stones, some of which are now in Newquay, Rosie’s home,

we saw the full moon rise abpve our terrace

and we ate wonderful food.

The usual package!

So now we are on our own and back to some of the more everyday activities. When we got back from Toronto, the TV wouldn’t work and a new cable from the satellite to the TV was required. This involves putting a new cable under the paving stones

and John has taken this on as a DIY project, just completed successfully! We have a number of small banana trees which are being nurtured by John

and I am feeding a cat and kitten, belonging to a neighbour who is in London for a couple of weeks.

I played in a tennis competition, winning and losing one game and the study of Greek has recommenced. Life is simple and good.  The final message to myself is to appreciate every day of it.

Sheila

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “As we look back

  1. christel osmann

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your family member and thank you for sharing your memories.Indeed it was a wake up call for me to enjoy everyday and spend time with loved one’s.I intend to do just that and come to Crete in a few days time to relax and unwind.Once again thank you…x

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  2. gillie hagger

    good morning to you both 🙂 I really enjoyed reading about Bridget and your time over in Canada.  How are they all coping over there? I have decided that enough is enough and I’m retiring at the end of this academic year.  Can’t quite believe it yet.  We don’t know what we’re going to do.  We don’t have a huge amount of money so we will have to live somewhere cheap that leaves us enough money to go off and have more adventures from time to time.  I  have a colleague here in Shanghai who owns a gites business in Brittany and I have looked at it but we’re not sure we want to stop there… too cold for us we think.  Your photos and stories of your life there are tempting….. but so too is Italy still and we have a wonderful holiday in France this summer – especially visiting old friends down in the Ardeche…   We probably wont’ do anything serious about things – keep the flat in Glasgow let out and sample different places I think – I know alan would love a whole season in the mountains, skiing, so that may be our first priority… but it’s early days yet! 

    I am excited about having sam to stay soon – I think October/November… and Mhairi is coming in January – so you may we meet her!  We have a friend from Durris coming for Christmas and New Year after we’ve had a week at th ebeach  in Thailand…. her husband died suddenly last January – 18 months ago – and this will be a first Xmas at home for us for a while, so Alan’s happy planning food! 😉 Our new flat is finally looking quite home like. New sofas etc… and we’re settled in.  Spacious and comfortable although it’s still very hot.  I am a little fed up with hot humid weather – yesterday was 95%! 😦  It’s very tiring – or perhaps it’s me – tired anyway.  Still, not for much longer! That’s it for now – we hope that having a deadline ahead of 9months, we’ll buck up and do some touristy things… 🙂 Much love Gillie xxxxxx

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  3. pondbug

    Good blog Sheila, interesting to get your motivation for the blog – similar but not identical to my own blogging motivation, but mostly it’s good fun. Keep it up.

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  4. sheilahwood Post author

    I agree, the blog is essentially good fun and it is also so nice getting comments. Thank you.

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  5. moira60

    excellent blog Sheila, very moving…. Stewart particularly liked your comment about not having to justify your existence by ‘doing things” ( cos he lives with me who does have to…) and he also chortled imagining what John would have said when he found out the tele wasn’t working…
    also good to hear what Gillie is up to through her comments as I’ve only ever had the briefest of emails from her, though she did say that you are going to visit them…should be interesting.
    and I love that Henry Moore sculpture and sea swimming photos xx

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