Twenty-four years ago, when the oldest was 10 and the youngest — the boy — was seven, a Delta Optimist photographer showed up at the door. The visit had been arranged days earlier. He’d arrived to take my picture.
His photo of me — I had a goofy grin, closely cropped hair, glasses the size of coasters — would run with every column, all those many years.
I have changed since then. The hair has plenty of grey. The specs are decidedly smaller.
The kids are no longer kids. They long ago made homes of their own.
I’ve told you plenty about them. They loved building forts. They loved TV specials in the lead-up to Christmas. They loved bringing home other people’s discards when Spring Clean-Up rolled around. Broken CD players. Briefcases without handles. Plastic patio dishes they thought I might like. I’d thank them and put the plates in the dishwasher.
And the husband? You’ve heard of him too.
He’s a pretty swell guy, and not simply because he never complained when I let you in on some of his secrets: his fondness for Tony Bennett, his passion for every golf gadget imaginable, his tendency to share his post-round reports with me — hole by hole by hole — using words I didn’t always know.
I was a trooper, and he’s been one too.
I’ve gently ribbed the family. Just because I could.
For 24 years, I’ve shared my own weekly stories. Computers? Can’t stand them. Heck, I struggle with computers as much as I struggle with my so-called smartphone, my vegetable garden, my linen closet and my ability to ensure that every sock has a mate.
But you probably knew that.
You might also know that I have a soft spot for wood-burning fireplaces in the winter, farmers’ markets in the summer and jars of homemade preserves in the fall. I’m fond of to-do lists, fascinated with Judge Judy and fixated with my favourite sports team. (For the record, it’s the Seattle Seahawks.)
Plenty has changed in these two dozen years, but one thing has not. This place I call home is the best place I know — and not simply because of its beckoning dike trails, its sunny skies and its abundant shoreline.
We rarely pop into the supermarket or the credit union or the local pub (when it’s happened to be open) without bumping into someone we know. A neighbour. A high school teacher. A one-time classmate of the boy’s.
Our home team. Special people, all.
Living Matters has been a joy, but the time is right for me to put down the keyboard and turn my attention elsewhere. I plan to give the veggie patch another try. I’m going to finally establish order in the linen closet. I may make a sourdough starter. I’m going to read a whole lot more.
It’s been an amazing journey, and I thank you for tagging along.
I won’t say goodbye, just so long for now. Hope to see you at the pub.