Last night just before bed, as I tucked Quinn into bed, he was crying. He always seems to let his walls down at bedtime. When I asked what was the matter, he replied “ Today was the Terry Fox run at the school… and … Well, Terry Fox ran and Daddy ran and… Terry Fox died!” I tried to sooth him by explaining that Terry’s cancer was very different from Daddy’s stroke. He seemed a little comforted by that but I’m not sure he really believed me.
I thought I might sleep-in this morning, but I guess, my brain has evolved to be a morning person. It’s rather odd – you are the morning person and I don’t like getting up too early, now you sleep about 22 hours a day and I’m the morning person.
I get up at 6AM. I start the day with lice laundry so we can get to Halifax in good time. I get a few other household things done and pack for the weekend in Halifax. We load into the car and twice within 15 minutes Quinn peeks over my shoulder and comments on the speed limit. “Is this 50 km/hr?” – Opps No, I was going 60. I grind the gears in response to he query. “Is this 80 km/hr?” – It’s like you are right here – you, and now the children, seem to bring out my worst driving habits.
We drive Annie to Kaila’s horse farm, where she can play with Indy (Kaila’s duck toller) and Juno (a homeless dog from the practice). She should have a great time … sort of a doggy camp - sounds like a vacation to me.
Tara was concerned about Annie’s hair in your car. The hygiene standard you have for your car dictates that you clean it out once every two to three years whether it needs it or not. I said “I don’t think Daddy would mind that much.“ Pressing more Tara reminds me how important it is that I drive the van once in a while to keep it going. “Mummy, Daddy is not here, someone has to keep the rules and remind you about things.” (I have been hearing this quite a bit lately). You are always in their minds. Not all the back seat comments are negative – I did have one good one. As I turn onto the Stewiacke on ramp, Quinn pipes up “Good turn Mum!”
As we drive to Halifax, Tara and Quinn take turns playing a little toy piano … it’s quite loud in a small car … the trip seemed a little longer then usual, but their piano passion continues.
We are off to Halifax to visit you. You are awake when we come in the room. You seem fairly alert but it’s really hard to tell. Just because your eyes are open doesn’t mean anything. Tara and Quinn talk to you – you are doing lots of gesturing with your right hand. You point to Tara and then rest your hand on your heart – Tara got the message … “I love you too” she says. I explain to Quinn, that for now, you use your hand to talk.
You reach out and rub Quinn’s head, then touch his heart. Meanwhile Quinn lays his hand on your heart. Later, Quinn was holding your hand and you started to do a little light finger wrestle. I said “Hey, I wonder if Daddy can arm wrestle!” Quinn got his hand in position to wrestle and you did too! The match went back and forth a bit – but you won! Quinn says “Daddy won and I was really trying – I didn’t let him win.” You beat Tara as well.
By this time Tara has got the white board, that I brought to the hospital, off the wall. She wrote her name. ‘Tara Shilo Cashen’. She handed you the marker and you wrote ‘Chris Cashen’. Quinn was impressed, sounding like a proud parent, he says, “I can’t even write like that!” Then you and Tara played half a game of X’s and O’s – but that wore you out – you fell asleep.
You have been saving all your new tricks for today. The children are thrilled. I think Quinn feels a lot better. You are not Terry Fox … you’re Daddy.
While this was going on I picked up your left hand to exercise. The physio staff suggested that I exercise your fingers regularly so the joints don’t get stiff. When I picked up your hand – I was surprised to see that your fingers had some tone… some strength. Until now, there was no strength to your hand at all. Just limp. Now, there is tone – I could even lift your hand into the air with your finger curled around my index finger.
I am thrilled with this new trick.
After all that activity – you are sleeping again. Juanita, Wayne, Maddie and Farley came to visit. But you were worn out. Tara and Quinn excited told Juanita and Wayne of today’s progress.
Tara drew a picture for you on the white board. We put it by your bed so as soon as you opened your eyes you would see it. The white board is quite large and the picture almost looks like a view from the window. She drew a large green hill with a king wearing a very ornate crown at the top of the hill. Beside the king is a throne. The sky is blue and in one corner of the ‘window’ Tara wrote ‘The Hills of Tara’.
When Chris and I went to Ireland, we visited the Hills of Tara. We were struck by the ancient history it had for the Irish people. The place where all ancient Irish kings were crowned. It seemed like a magical place. It must have made an impression on both of us, because when we were looking for names for our first child, we shopped looking when Chris reminded me of that visit.
A friend from Truro who now works in Halifax during the week has an apartment near the hospital. She goes home to Truro on weekends so she offered us a place to stay over-night. We met Lenore at the 29th Annual Film Festival at the Oxford Theatre. Lenore was a guest speaker at the event and got us free tickets to a children’s film from Ireland. ‘The Secret of Kells’.
The number 29 surfaces again, and not only that but Chris and I saw the Book of Kells in Trinity College, when we traveled in Ireland. Ireland and 29 – two of Chris’ favorite things - the coincidence did not escape the children.
That’s two separate references to Ireland in one afternoon. For you there really is no other place to visit then Ireland. In the past few years, you have expressed interest in other areas, but I think your first love is Ireland. This may be because your family roots are from Ireland.
When we went there the first time, it was November. There is a river in Ireland called the Cashen River. Chris stripped down to he swimming shorts and took a swim in the Cashen River. Later that day, after he thawed, we stopped at small local museum and asked the origin of the river’s name. “Oh, Cashen? Why, that’s Gaelic for ‘pathway’.” Chris, I think, felt a little dejected. It wasn’t a famous nobleman’s name or after some prodigal son in the area. It was just simply ‘pathway’. I, on the other hand, loved the meaning. Metaphorically, pathway is a powerful word.
I have faith that this past month’s events, is part of a Pathway, part of the marathon.
We all enjoyed the film. When you are better, we will have to see if we can track it down.
After the film, we went to Lenore’s apartment and the children went swimming with Lenore’s nephews (Aidan and Lachlan) and niece (Maia). While their parents (Tamara and Tim) supervise the children, I came back to visit you.
I doubt that there are any lice left. We have all been treated even though only Tara had any signs. But just in case we settle in with our sleeping bags and pillows from home for a good night’s sleep.
Today was a good day. I think we ran through some beautiful scenery on the pathway of your marathon.