|One of the floral sculptures in Jacques Cartier Park this summer|
It's been a busy summer. We've enjoyed visits with out-of-town family and friends here in Ottawa, we've taken in some of the Canada 150 events and we have mooched a few cottage weekends with friends. This spring and summer we've been to two family weddings and hosted the "after party" for one of them. Time with our grandchildren is always more enjoyable in summer without cumbersome snowsuits. What fun to just sit and play outside in pjs or shorts!
However, it has not all been delightful. Our sandwich generation status has resulted in a fair number of visits to doctor's offices and hospital clinics with grandchildren, elderly parents and myself. I'm happy to report that my banged up right hand does not have any broken bones - just had it x-rayed yesterday. Thanks to my great physiotherapist, my left shoulder/neck/back pain has mostly subsided. It's not terribly effective to swim with a sore shoulder on one side and a sore hand on the other. I'm well aware that my minor complaints are a drop in the bucket, compared to the folks I know who are living with cancer and chronic pain.
Lately I've been thinking about how very grateful I am, to live in this country with such terrific medical care. Whether it is something major, like a friend's stem cell transplant procedure, or my simple hand x-rays - it is all covered. I hear people complain about the high cost of hospital parking but that is often the only cost involved. We are so lucky! Last week I was in a hospital clinic, watching a plastic surgeon work on my granddaughter's burnt fingers, while a child life worker kept her amused and entertained. The child life worker and the plastic surgeon worked like a well choreographed dance couple as they switched from hand to hand, never letting our little one see the scissors that were used in the procedure. Paying my bill at the parking lot was the least I could do.
You might guess that it's the medical concerns that have affected my mood but it's not only that. It's just hard to have that carefree summer feeling when you pay any attention at all to the news. Just when you think you've heard the very worst, the scariest, the stupidest, the most shameful utterances of any elected official ever, in the history of the human race - it only gets worse. If I feel this worried and concerned now, in the middle of summer, how am I going to feel in the midst of a cold, miserable winter?
All we can do is make the most of any positive opportunities. This week we went to Britania Beach and enjoyed sitting there, reading and watching so many folks taking advantage of such a lovely setting. Out on the water there were plenty of sailboats and throughout the park there were folks of all ages - from new Canadan families to seniors with walkers. I watched an immigrant father walk his two sons into the water. They wore underwear, not bathing suits. The dad was in rolled up pants and a long sleeved shirt. What fun those two boys had, just splashing around in the water. Again, it makes you think: Where have they come from? What have they endured to get here? How will they make out? It made me feel good, just to see them having so much fun. Yesterday we treated ourselves again - to a picnic lunch in a lovely garden, followed by a swim at our favourite swimming hole.
In the midst of the gloom there are so many joyful moments and so many good people. Throughout our medical encounters this summer, we have met so many cheerful doctors, nurses and caregivers. Right now I'm thinking of my mother-in-law's day nurse, Erin. It doesn't matter whether we contact her in person or by phone, at the beginning or end of her shift, she always has time for us. She, and all the other fine people around us, make life so much easier.