Fifty-one years ago this summer, my family left the home my dad built with his own hands, with a bit of help from his own dad, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan for a different life in British Columbia. Weeks earlier, Dad had hooked up our Scamper trailer to his white Oldsmobile and headed for BC for a new job leaving my mom, sister, and I behind to tend to the work of packing and getting ready to move.
The voice in my head that narrated my life (doesn’t everyone have one?) spoke in third person that summer. As I walked down Caribou Street it said “she would never forget the Palm Dairy.” It spoke the names of shops up and down Main Street and implanted them so deep that I could recite them for years to come.
On our last night in Moose Jaw, after movers had emptied our house, we had dinner at Mom’s friend, Anne Moore’s house and walked the block home to meet a taxi that would take us and a bit of luggage to the Greyhound bus station. While mom and my sister waited by the door, I wandered on hardwood floors from room to empty room. Until the very last minute when my sister called to tell me the taxi had arrived, I soaked in as much of our home as I could to take with me. I took these tangible memories, and deeper sensual ones, with me when we climbed on the bus and began the long journey to BC.
But I left behind a fairly large piece of my heart.
We returned to Saskatchewan just once as a family. I’ve traveled back a few times as an adult. Google Earth has allowed me to “walk” the streets I remember so well, stopping by the house Dad grew up in at 412 Moose Square, our family home at 7th Avenue, the baseball stadium where we spent so many sultry summer evenings, the Natatorium swimming pool, and many other places. In my mind, I’ve been there countless times over the past fifty years.
I have always dreamed of returning to the prairie, conjuring scenario after unlikely scenario that might make it so but as decades passed the chances of it happening became slimmer and slimmer. Earlier this year, while wrestling the black dog of depression and once again longing to be on the prairie, I decided that my desire was becoming an unhealthy obsession and I needed to let go of it once and for all. Without telling anyone, I promised myself that if it didn’t happen this summer, I’d let go of the dream once and for all. There was nothing brewing that would take us in that direction and I resigned myself to the fact that this would be one of life’s desires that was simply going to go unfulfilled. It wasn’t the end of the world. We have a good life here in British Columbia that we were pleased to return to when we ended our seven-year tenure living in Washington state.
When school let out, Gerry and I started talking about taking a short trip together to rest and reconnect after almost a full year of full-time in-house grandparenting. We tossed around a few ideas for short junkets until I finally suggested Saskatchewan. Gerry agreed.
By the time we left for our trip, and I don’t know exactly how the conversation started, we had already started toying with the idea of moving and discussing reasons why it could make good sense. Gerry suggested we connect with a realtor when we got to Moose Jaw to view a couple of properties we saw online. I was hesitant, not believing it was even a possibility, and reluctant to subject my heart to disappointment again. In the end, I agreed, and he made a call when we arrived in Moose Jaw, and appointments were set up for the following day.
We spent a couple of days in Moose Jaw talking, praying, and me basking in the prairie. It was hard to leave on that last morning. “I don’t want to go,” I said, joking—yet not. By this time, Gerry was already talking about when we move, not if, but, believe it or not, I was torn. Our daughter and granddaughter had moved to Kamloops to be closer to us and I loved having them near. I wouldn’t consider leaving after the dream of having them so close had finally come to fruition.
Fast forward a few weeks during which time there has been much discussion, many options weighed, and, finally, a decision reached.
The dream I’ve held close for fifty years is about to come true. Our Kamloops home is going on the market on Tuesday and Gerry and I are moving to Moose Jaw. Even better, Laurinda and Makiya are moving too.
It’s all still a bit surreal, but as we enter the PITB (pain in the butt) stage of sorting, packing, keeping the house pristine at all times for potential buyers, and figuring out the logistics, it gets more real with each passing day.
We’re moving to Saskatchewan! I’m going home and my husband and girls are coming too! I can scarce believe it.