the return   11 comments

Posted at 7:45 am in being alone,loss,ontario

As most of you will know, events and places I have been, are described at least a few weeks later. Often, I haven’t had a net connection, or am so busy trying to “carry on”, that I can’t post until I find the time or a good connection. This morning, I don’t really have time, but am making a little for this post before continuing on my way.

This may surprise a few of you, but I’m now back in Ontario. Yesterday, I drove the northern route around Lake Superior between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. It was a very long day. This morning, as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be continuing eastwards. With luck, I may be “home” tonight. I left Utah about a week ago, traveled west and north, up into B.C., then east along the trans-canada highway, pretty much following the route that took me west last October. It’s been a difficult trip — colder than I had hoped for. Yesterday, as I stopped at a few spots along Superior, the lake was still frozen in many places, especially at the western end near Thunder Bay. The ice looked unbroken out to Sleeping Giant and beyond.

I have more to write about the time spent in Arizona and Utah, but today, I wanted to write about “real time” events — things that have happened over the past couple of days.

Two days ago (April 5) was Don’s birthday. Had he not died on September 6, 2008, he would have been 57 years old. A life cut short. Seven months later, I am still learning to deal with that reality. The journey, to this point, has been difficult. I’ve found that many of the things that once meant something to me, are now meaningless: time, distance, the future, the past, home, among others. The map by which I navigated over the past 52 years, doesn’t exist anymore. In the space of a few months, it was destroyed and replaced with a new one that looks more like a map of a galaxy that is being drawn as I go. Many changes in direction are and will be happening soon. More about this in the coming weeks.

Yesterday, while traveling the north shore of Lake Superior, I stopped at Old Woman Bay to take a few photos. A week ago, my friend, Paul, met me in Utah to bring me this box made by a mutual friend, Ken Altman, a maker of bows for musical instruments. Last autumn, after Don’s death, the idea of making a special container for his ashes began to form as I drove westwards. I wanted to make a box that would be somewhat similar to a west coast bentwood box in shape but not construction — a box which could be carved and then painted or inlaid with abalone shell in a design which I have been contemplating over the winter. Initially, I had intended to make the box myself, but Paul suggested that we talk to Ken as he is a master craftsman and had the skills to make a box that would suit the intended purpose. We met with Ken and I described the box which I envisioned while he made careful notes and suggested ideas for possible construction. I left to continue on my way to Arizona.

Over the winter, Ken worked on the box between other projects. The box which you see in the photos above and below is the result. It is a thing of great beauty. I’m sorry that my photographs from yesterday can’t begin to illustrate just how wonderful this creation is “in person”. Further, there are things about it that a photograph can’t express. The scent of the wood which is Yellow Cedar from Alaska. Ken made the box from a slab which had been under his work bench for more than 20 years. It was brought to him by a friend named Don, who died several years ago. Ken so generously contributed this precious piece of wood for this project. I wish to take this moment to thank him for all that he has done to make this project possible. Thank you, Ken. The box is all that I hoped it would be, and more. Its smooth, fine grain is a pleasure to touch and hold.

The lid of the box is constructed in such a way that it lifts to reveal a small compartment in the top of the container — a place to store a few photos and other keepsakes. When I have time, I’ll work on the outside of the box and hopefully do justice to a blank canvas that is, in fact, so perfect that I wonder whether it should even be altered. Perhaps that is something I will know in time. This isn’t the gift I would have ever have imagined, or wished to give, to Don for his fifty-seventh birthday. However, it is such a wonderful piece and I know just how much he would have loved and appreciated this final gift to him.

Well, it is morning and I must be on my way. Another long day of driving — hopefully to that place which is “home” to us for a short while longer. I believe I can speak for Sabrina when saying that we’re both tired from many days on the road. It will be nice to rest awhile before continuing on the new path which forms before us.

Written by bev on April 7th, 2009

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11 Responses to 'the return'

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  1. It is indeed a beautiful box, Bev. A stunning piece of art and craftsmanship, with a deeply moving and heartfelt purpose. It doesn’t seem that a year has already passed since Roger and I sang Happy Birthday to Don on that video. I would have sworn or perhaps wished it was only yesterday. I know it’s been a very long journey for you. I wish you well, comfort, ease, and rest upon your arrival home. Perhaps it’s too early for the monarchs, but they too will be there soon, and many things to remind you of all the good there is still.

    robin andrea

    7 Apr 09 at 3:47 pm

  2. Spring will come.


    8 Apr 09 at 11:00 am

  3. robin – Yes, you’re right — it doesn’t seem at all long sing your happy birthday video for Don. So much has happened since then. I was just thinking of the monarch yesterday while driving the final few hundred miles back to my farm. We must have been on the same wavelength.

    Mark – Indeed, spring will come. It actually looks more like spring this afternoon.


    8 Apr 09 at 6:15 pm

  4. Bev–I only stop by your blog occasionally. I did back in September when Don died, and I have from time to time as you journey on.
    This post is so filled with sweetness, with love, with honoring a life that it makes me ache.
    The box is beautiful–I am sure the photo doesn’t do it justice, but its beauty is quite evident nevertheless.
    There is nothing more to say–except, thank you for your grace and courage in sharing these pieces of your journey with us.


    10 Apr 09 at 7:55 am

  5. Thinking of you and Sabrina. The bentwood box is beautiful, bev.

    Such a startling contrast between Arizona and Ontario.


    14 Apr 09 at 9:20 am

  6. Hi Bev
    It was great bumping into you yesterday, great to see you are doing ok. Thanks very much for getting back to me. The box you had constructed is every thing you discribed. Good luck in your journey and may peace be with you.


    17 Apr 09 at 8:13 am

  7. KGMom – Thank you.

    am – It was very odd to be driving back into winter — sort of confusing as though winter must just be beginning. I had to keep reminding myself that it is spring and not autumn.

    Gerry – Thank you – for the well wishes and for visiting my blog and leaving a message. Yes, the box is beautiful, isn’t it?


    19 Apr 09 at 8:39 am

  8. Oh, Bev.

    I’ve thought of you so much.

    I should have started with your most recent post – I’m headed there right now.

    Be well, rest, breathe.

    Spring will come in time.

    Time. Time. I wish you time for healing.


    19 Apr 09 at 8:53 pm

  9. Don’s box is beautiful, Bev, and you have chosen to photograph it at one of my favorite places ever – I have spent so many happy hours rock hounding at Old Woman Bay and just sitting on the beach in all kinds of weather. As special as the place has always been to me, it will be even more special now.


    27 Apr 09 at 6:28 pm

  10. There’s a belief among many Native Americans that after the death of a friend — or loved one — that a new voice can be heard in the wind. A dear — familiar one — that the connection never really breaks.

    Happy Trails. -Gary

    Gary Robertson

    2 May 09 at 9:44 pm

  11. Cathy – Thanks. Spring seems to arrived here at last. I’m going forward with plans to move east. Stay tuned!

    Cate – I thought of you while at Old Woman Bay as I remembered you mentioning it in the past — perhaps in comments last autumn when I wrote about the trip west over Superior. It’s such a peaceful place.

    Gary – Thanks. I do believe that the connection never truly breaks — but changes.


    5 May 09 at 6:30 am

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