That image which our realtor sent us meant that we could focus on house hunting with one less stress point back home. It also meant we really were moving. We looked at a number of properties for lease in an area north of Richmond Hill. We want to be partway between my new congregation and the town where my dad is living. After all it is in large part to offer him additional care and support that we chose to leave Alberta at this time.
The day we were to look at properties we got a good taste of what is on the horizon. We decided to visit my dad pre-house-hunting. He'd been calling my brother a lot in the lead up to our visit, letting him know he'd looked on Kijiji at properties, offering advice as to possible neighbourhoods, wondering if he could come along with us in our search. Clearly he wanted to help and a visit would help him feel involved. It was also an opportunity to help him catch his cat which had to go to the vet. It was in the vet visit that things started to go off the rails. Without going into details suffice it to say he annoyed the staff, had an emotional outburst, complained about being sidelined had trouble remembering important information. I thought to myself how out of character all this was with the dad I knew growing up, but how it was increasingly the man he was becoming. It underscored why we were moving, but I also felt a huge wave of "buyer's remorse" - could I handle what was coming.
That became clearer still a couple of days later. We had found a house to lease, signed the appropriate documents and dropped off a cheque with the first and last month's rent. We were on our way.
But I woke up at my niece's in a wave of concern about housing costs and utility rates in Ontario, wondering if we should have looked at more properties, worried we were biting off more than we could chew. It wasn't until later that day that I realized what was really going on. With the housing issue dealt with we could relax a bit and go visit my nephew who was doing some training in Prince Edward County. We decided to visit a cidery, do some tasting and go to some artisanal cheese shops.
But it was standing in an artist cooperative gallery that I realized what was going on. I had been enjoying the scenery on the road up, reflecting on how it was so familiar to what I grew up with compared to the last 25 years in Manitoba and Alberta.
But then I as I looked at a photograph of a farmer's field with a big sky (similar to the one above), I realized how much the landscape of Canada's west have seeped into my soul. I'm going to miss the big skies. I'm going to miss the rolling fields of wheat and canola. I'm going to miss up north as well with its lakes and forests and rock. What I was feeling was the beginning of grief.
As much as I embrace the future of this journey, it comes with the realization that moving along a path also means walking away from somewhere.
That part is bittersweet.