Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grandparents at a Distance

Grandfather and Grandmother spending time with Faith
 Guest Post by David Bousfield

Cari, our daughter-in-law, has asked me to write up an article for her blog. Not being a blog-writer myself, this has been something of a new experience for me. I do trust that your reading of this will be worth your while.

How our son Robert found himself living and working in Watford City, North Dakota, is a complex story. Robert had lived and worked for a time in Regina, Saskatchewan, thus we had some preparation for his wanting to move back to the west, although we thought that his move would be a move back to Regina.
That Robert met up with Cari in Watford City did not entirely surprise Jean and me. With other family members plus friends from Green Bay, Wisconsin, we were able to get to the wedding and meet up with Cari’s family and friends. We have lived in a number of smaller Ontario towns, but for the most part we are big-city people, the greater part of our lives being spent in Toronto.  Actually, we now live in a suburban-city just west of Toronto, a city called Mississauga.

Christmas 2003 in the NICU
The birth of our one and only grandchild, Faith, was one of joy and delight, but it was also one that was fraught with anxiety and concern. We were able to drive to Bismarck at Christmas to see tiny Faith, beginning to see at first-hand just what Robert and Cari were beginning to cope with. We were immediately impressed with the great care and wonderful support that everyone the clinic in Bismarck was providing for Faith and for her parents.
Because Bismarck, North Dakota and Mississauga, Ontario are so many miles apart, and our resources are somewhat limited, we do not get together all that often. We wish that circumstances were different, but we have to do what we are able to do. Thus Jean and I find ourselves to be “grandparents at a distance.”

Cari’s blog is the most important means of communication for us. We are grateful that Cari enjoys her writing so much. We in turn enjoy her weekly blogs which make us feel included in what Faith is doing and what the family gets up to week by week. Robert misses his family and friends here in Ontario, and we are always delighted when we learn of how he has become more and more involved with life in Bismarck.

I want you to know that I have become a great promoter of the State of North Dakota. I could live in North Dakota quite easily, although I would have to learn how to ride a horse. And if I were to actually own a horse, I would want to own a “paint” horse just like the one Tonto would ride in the Lone Ranger comic-books of my childhood.

David's Dream Horse
As a boy growing up in a large North American city, I enjoyed cowboy comic books and going to the cowboy movies at the local movie-theatre on a Saturday morning: fifteen cents to get in, five cents for popcorn, and five cents for an orange-crush or a coke. Of course, that was big money for a kid in those days.  And I was so excited when I saw the full-length feature-film “Tomahawk” that I talked about it for weeks.

About ten years ago, when Robert and I were on a motoring trip which took us through Custer State Park in South Dakota, I was overwhelmed with emotion as we read the signpost indicating the actual site where “Tomahawk” had been filmed.  Once again, I could see the mighty Chief Red Cloud and his thousand warriors riding over the brow of the hill and into sight!  But I digress.  

Of course, there are the many telephone calls. Jean has us with a telephone plan which enables her to speak with anyone in North America for as long as she wants to: I get the impression that the telephone company is paying Jean to make telephone calls to Robert and Cari, and also to our daughter Johanna. Johanna lives a hundred miles or so from Mississauga, in Peterborough, Ontario.  And Johanna is very much a part of all this. Johanna lives with her two cats: Lucy, a lovely old tabby; and Ruby, a younger tortoise-shell cat who is always expressing her “tortitude.”  I would also like to write some things about our little dog Sheba, Sheba the “Wonder-Dog,” but she died two years ago, and my words would have us all in tears.

Faith with her aunty Joh and kitty cat Lucy

Robert and Cari now have a Dodge Caravan outfitted with a side-ramp for Faith and her powered wheel-chair.  All of this has made travel so much easier for them.Thus they were able to visit with us last October when we had a marvellous time together, Johanna coming in from Peterborough. However, because our apartment is on the small side, Jean and I moved out to a local motel for a few nights. If the truth be told, when Robert and Johanna get together, even for a few hours, Jean and I have a serious need to escape! 

From our first meeting up with tiny Faith, the Christmas of 2003, we have realized that as grandparents we do not have the skills nor the confidence to be looking after Faith on our own. This also adds to the sense of distance with Faith: Cari or Robert must be with us, just as a qualified care-person must be with Faith when Robert and Cari need to have some time just for the two of them. Jean and I are very proud of Cari and Robert in the total dedication of their lives to Faith and her special needs.

Again, let me express how grateful we are to the staff at the clinic in Bismarck; to the staff in the Bismarck school system; and to the wonderful care-givers; all of whom have done everything in their various powers to make Faith’s life so rich and fulfilling. I cannot write these lines, nor even re-read these lines, without my eyes filling up.

Taking a break while shopping at the mall in Toronto

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