Salt water cures all: tears, sweat and the sea

Last Friday was such a great day. The weather for the weekend was shaping up for perfect sailing weather, and we had finally be able to make plans to take Paula out (after having to abort the trip last time due to the big storm).

Saturday morning we got woken up at 7:00 AM by the phone – call display told me that it was my mom’s cell phone. The timing could have been an accident (there is a three hour time difference), but the fact that she was calling on her cell (which she NEVER uses) told me something wasn’t right. I answered, not sure that I wanted to know what she was going to say. The thing is, at the beginning of the year my dad was having some pretty serious health issues. He had been doing a lot better even before we left, but he still had a ways to go.

My mom explained the situation briefly: my dad was having some serious heart issues, and there were waiting to be transferred from the local hospital to the closest ICU. As much as my instinct was to get on the next flight home, my mom told me not to. She said I should wait and see what the doctors and test results say, since he might be home in a day or so. As much he was seriously ill, we knew that we were lucky that they had had time to call the ambulance and get to the hospital where he could receive care. The alternative was just too scary to imagine.

After getting off the phone, I had a decision to make: stay home and worry, or make the most of the weekend and still head out. I’m not going to lie, my first thought was to stay curled in bed and worry, but I quickly reasoned with myself and decided that we should still go out. Before dragging ourselves out of bed though, I needed some Lenny-time to get my mood up:



After some puppy snuggles, we got up and started getting everything ready. We always try to do a once over of the cabin to make sure that everything is secure before setting out. It only took one time of things getting knocked around to learn that the hard way!

Once that was done, and Paula had arrived, we set out for the Indian Arm. As we were getting closer to the bridge (the point where we can raise the sails), we could see heaps of sailboats up ahead. It was such perfect weather that it seemed like everyone had the same idea – make the most of a beautiful September afternoon.

After sailing for a bit, we decided to anchor early enough to have time for a swim and to catch dinner. As usual, Lenny was in total guard-dog mode whenever anyone was in the water. Alex had swam him over to the idea for a bathroom break, but he was distracted the whole time because Paula was exploring and climbing up the cliff. When he got back to the boat and realized she wasn’t there, he kept looking until he could see her starting to climb back down – and then stood on watch until she hit the water (at which point he jumped in to ‘save’ her):

Guard dog Lenny!

Guard dog Lenny (note Paula on the far left just above the water)

Throughout the day, I had been in contact with my mom to keep getting updates. Unfortunately, none of them were good news: my dad was in congestive heart failure. They still didn’t know why or what that meant, but it definitely wasn’t good. He was scheduled for another test on the Monday, at which point we would find out if he was going to need surgery (which we agreed would be the determining factor if I would fly home or not). As much as it was upsetting to hear the updates, I still knew that I was in the right place, and had made the right choice for the day.

That evening we sat outside and watched the stars. It was completely clear, and there were more stars than we had seen all summer. It drove home that sense of being fortunate. We all felt so lucky to live here, and to be able to have days and evenings like this.

After an early night, we woke up the next morning to another beautiful day. The sky was blue and there was hardly any clouds:

The morning sun over the mountains

The morning sun over the mountains

We had a late breakfast, which Lenny thought he should have been included in:

Lenny hoping he'll get a bite

Lenny hoping he’ll get a bite

We knew that we wanted to be home by noon based on the tides, so after breakfast we set off. It was a beautiful day:

Leaving Indian Arm

Leaving Indian Arm

The wind was strong enough to do some decent sailing (without being scary), so we decided to get the sails up as soon as possible:

Paula learning to hoist the sails

Paula learning to hoist the sails

After an hour or so of sailing, we got closer to the bridge (and the point where we needed to bring the sails down). There are always some weird currents around the bridge, but that day they were stronger than usual. Most of the time, it clears once we pass the bridge, but not this time. As we got into the narrows, the currents grew stronger (a product of a strong wind going over the current in opposing directions) and the water got extremely rough. It was one of the more stressful conditions we had been in thus far. It ended up taking us much longer than the usual 30-40 minutes to get home from the bridge, but we made it back safely.

One theme that kept coming up all weekend was the idea of how lucky we are, and it’s something that I’ve tried to keep in mind all week. News from back home has been up and down: the tests results were good; my dad didn’t require surgery and was released from the ICU on Tuesday. Unfortunately, he relapsed that night and had to go back to the hospital, but was able to stay in our home town rather than being transferred again. He’s had some ups and downs, and ultimately I’ve decided that I should go home. Not because I’m worried that something drastic will happen, but because at times like these, family should be together. I’m fortunate enough that I work for a company that is supportive, and taking the time off at short notice wasn’t an issue. I’m also lucky enough to be with someone who has been there for me every day, even as my moods went up and down, and who completely supports my decision to go home for the week.

I’m lucky to have the support network that I have. I have family to stay with when I get to Toronto, as well as multiple offers to stay with friends if I need it. I also have some amazing people that I’ll get to see briefly while I’m passing through on the way to the bus station or the airport – friends who are there to let me lean on them when things are rough. Plus, one of the most thoughtful (and necessary) distractions of all – the friend who will wait four days to watch the Grey’s season premiere when I crash on her couch next Sunday. If that’s not a true friend, I don’t know what is!

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