I spent most of April on a flurry of trains, boats, planes and taxis. In fact, my grandchildren think my home is at the airport. We’ve adopted Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” as our theme song. At any rate, taking our cue from the geese at the end of March we flew back to Canada from our winter-getaway in Austin, Texas. Our next act was that of distance grand parenting and all it involves when you live hundreds of miles apart from your dear ones.
We unpacked the big suitcase and re-packed the carry-ons before we flew to Regina, Saskatchewan on April 6 for a visit with our grandchildren (and their parents too). It’s always joyous (and exhausting) to be with our grand girl, Magdalena, four-going-on-forty-four with boundless energy and an ultra-imaginative brain that’s always creating. At four and a half she can write her name and read a bit. She directs plays, dresses me up in tulle and feathers and gives me my lines to perform for the after-dinner audience in the living room. Her two-year old brother, forever jumping and wriggling, doesn’t seem to mind being bossed around by big sister. Parting is such sweet sorrow after a week of playing fairy godmother and Mary Poppins rolled in one in Magdalena’s Kingdom. Distance grand parenting is yet another component of my transient life. But when we’re together, we have a ball.
After seven days, it was up, up and away back to Ontario, unpacking and re-packing the carry-ons and this time taking the taxi (that cut it very close) for the GO bus to take us to the GO-train bound for downtown Toronto where we stayed overnight at the Fairmont Hotel (formerly The Royal York). And a very pleasant stay it was too. Next morning we caught the shuttle to Billy Bishop Airport from Toronto Island – a real pain to get to; and when you get there you have two more hurdles to negotiate. First the five-minute ferry ride and then the check-in. (They are in the process of building a passenger tunnel to dispense with this silly ferry nuisance.)
The one-hour flight from Toronto to Newark, New Jersey was uneventful and Easter Sunday was filled with hope of spring and renewal. The customs officer waved me through when I explained that the food items on my declaration form were chocolate Easter bunnies for my grandchildren. In Brooklyn, our world was once again transformed into one of princesses and princes and castles – this time in the company of Anna, Elsa, Hans, Olaf and the gang of Frozen, a la Disney.
Our three granddaughters aged five, three and one kept us hopping – there were visits to parks, playgrounds, zoos, carousels and the cinema to see Rio 2. Phoebe, my three-and- a-half-year-old tiddlywink knew how to tug my heartstrings when she said, “I wish you didn’t have to leave, Oumi.” Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Our traverse home on Sunday morning began with a taxi ride to the airport, up the escalator, shuffling and semi-disrobing through airport security, then waiting for 45 minutes to get through the Canadian immigration line at Billy Bishop airport on account of two officers to process three plane loads of passengers. Then there was the silly ferry again, this time backed up because of the long lines.
We finally exited the building to find out the shuttle buses and taxis weren’t running at all because there was an enormous, excessively rowdy Sikh parade that snarled the entire downtown. We trundled our carry-ons through the street, dodging sabre-waving parade participants, toward Union Station where many equally frustrated passengers were heading to catch GO trains and buses. Our train came to its final destination at Whitby station where we waited for the taxi.
On our very expensive, long taxi ride I asked the driver to turn off the babbling emanating from the back speaker. Oh for the tranquility of our house in the countryside.
All this to say, whew, where was there any time for blog and newsletter writing amidst all these goings-on?