I have not been home in March since my final year of high school. With Mom’s deteriorating health, I knew I didn’t want to wait until our summertime visit to Calgary. Though she isn’t in the same critical condition that has landed her in the hospital most of the last two months (she had her eighth ER visit while I was here), her pain is unrelenting.

I caught a hint of the frustrations of socialized medicine (REALLY? The MS Clinic can’t see her until May?! We can’t find any meds that even touch the pain?!) and am so grateful for what champions my dad and brother’s family are for helping her. It’s a heartbreaking situation that is only going to get worse.

There were however, some silver linings, like being entertained for hours by her colorful childhood stories, which I typed up for her personal history. And being well enough to get her hair done by my niece Ashton.And the food. She has lost 30 pounds since December so I was on a mission to fatten her up and spent a lot of time in the kitchen making apple pies, apple crisp, macaroons, roast, Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and so much more.

I’m not sure if she gained a pound but Dad and I are now in a food coma.

But he and I stayed active with our favorite wintertime activities: cross-country skiing and skating. On my first day in Calgary, he showed up in his skiing garb.

“Are we going skiing?” I excitedly asked.
“Not exactly. Your skis got burned up in the garage fire.”

Balloon…deflated. I later took his cross-country gear out on the golf course and it’s a good thing we weren’t able to go together because I was dragging. Though the snow conditions were perfect, it was my first exercise since getting sick and all I had eaten that day was rice pudding and jelly bellies.I told you I ate (too) well on this trip.

Another case in point: My sister-in-law Jane’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G fondue, tempura and raclette cheese smorgasbord. We also skated at my favorite place on earth: 52-acre Lake Bonavista. It has been several years since I’ve been able to go because, despite the fact we’ve been home for Christmases, the lake hasn’t been frozen. The last time I went, Dad and I figured we’d initiate Jamie in The Canadian Way with an authentic skating experience.

But here’s the problem with Lake Bonavista: It’s private and you need to live in the community to use it. Fortunately, Dad found a way around it when, at a church activity eons ago, some friends from our ward told him he could cut through the yard of their lakefront house to go skating whenever he wanted.

Little did they know 25 years later, he’d still be doing it.

When we took Jamie, we snuck through the yard. Dad first, me next, Jamie last. Dad and I were almost down to the lake when someone came out of the house and accusingly shouted at Jamie,

“Just what do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m with the Borowskis,” he said, pointing to us.
“Who are the BOROWSKIS?” he retorted.

Turned out, Dad had accidentally cut through the neighbor’s property.

Fortunately, that was the only time he made that mistake and I have never had a better skating experience than I did lat week–the Zambonied trail cut around the perimeter of the lake was as smooth as glass and we floated on it for miles and miles. I thought my heart would burst from sheer joy.

Skating AND skiing on the lake.

Bonus: Dad and I whizzed past some hockey-playing 20-something whipper snappers.

At this point, we’ll take anything we can get.

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