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,
making lego models
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.