Prince Albert Voice
I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to write this particular column. When I first approached Josh and asked if he’d let me write about him, he was surprised and a bit taken aback. Sincerely humbled he tactfully asked me what there was about him that I thought people would want to know. And then I began listing things about him off the top of my head... and he quickly interrupted, embarrassed but pleased, and said I could but to give him some time to wrap his head around the idea. I teased him about being a celebrity already and that he may have to hire security when people read the article. He laughed and responded with a sarcastic zinger ... his humour usually had a bit of spice to it but always was laced with humour. And his sense of fun was right up my alley - either you got his jokes or you didn’t. I’ve found people react the same way to my humour and there has been more than one occasion where the only person amused by my wit is me. Josh understood that and his response was to turn up the one liners and puns a notch. His sarcastic, intelligent wit was intended to make people laugh and feel good - and it did.
The forest was vibrantly alive with song birds, insects and plants of every size and species native to our region. I quietly made my way through the brush and undergrowth, grabbing the low lying branches of trees, rose bushes and wild raspberry bushes to find my balance and gain my footing before taking another step on the uneven terrain. As I moved deeper into the boreal forest, I appreciated the way Spruce trees naturally grew among the Poplar, Maple and White Birch trees to form a canopy which protected the plants and animals underneath them while still allowing light to reach even the deepest parts of the forest. The lake nearby provided the perfect accompaniment to the songs of the animals and insects, as waves gently lapped against the shore, and created a calm ambiance, priceless to someone used to living in the city. I stopped for a moment to survey my surroundings and enjoy the moment. Content, it felt wonderful to have this time where it felt like I was the only person for miles, even though my family was nearby, quietly absorbed in satisfying their own curiosities. I had been feeling restless and needed this time away from the urban centre. Prince Albert isn’t large but it can still be stifling. Especially for someone who grew up with wide open space where there were no office buildings, emergency vehicles responding to calls or traffic running through the streets at any given time, day or night. So, being out in nature on this beautiful day, with the sun shining down warming my skin and a comfortable breeze carrying the smell of fresh water and sweet grass just made me feel grounded. Complete. Content. This was one of those days where it felt incredible to be alive. And then my day got even better.
In early March of 2020 Leah Dorion taught a group of about ten people at the Mann Art Gallery. The pandemic hadn’t become the focus of our attention but we were cautiously aware that if we weren’t feeling well, we should stay home and all of us were washing our hands more than usual. The weekend was what we needed to take our minds off of the daily grind of life and we didn’t even understand yet how much our lives would change over the next few months. Instead, a group of women sat in a circle talking about the history of moss bags and how historically important they were to Métis women who used them. On the floor lay a ‘baby’ in a moss bag, surrounded by circles of paper. By the time our learning discussion was over, we had absorbed the different teachings surrounding the moss bag and how they not only gave security to the new born, but even the way the moss bag was laced drew a more profound relationship between the new born and their mother/care giver.
As I go through my medicine cabinet, the drawer in the refrigerator and my vitamins, tossing out the things that have expired and rearranging items that need to be used up over those that have a longer shelf life, I am reminded of a time when the end of a year and the beginning of a new one usually had me resolving to make change. A few years back I remember writing on social media that 2017 was “my year” and that changes were coming that would only bring positive results. Little did I know how my life WOULD change as just six short months later my health challenges had begun. By the end of the year I had news I refused to accept with a defeatist attitude and by the time we were a few months into 2018, life as I knew it had been irrevocably changed and I barely recognized myself anymore. Now I see myself coming through it and out the other side, forever changed, bearing some battle scars that will remind me of the fight I had but also cautiously optimistic that the worst of the challenges are behind me. And as my confidence in my own strength and my health improves, I believe I will be able to look back with wonder and awe at all that I’ve gone through and have been able to accomplish. Although I am tired right now, and I’m feeling beaten up by the daily fight that comes with chronic pain and other challenges that have flared up, I am grateful to be alive. And from this sense of gratitude those claims I made at the beginning of 2017 have been the last resolutions I’ve made. Now I’m okay with living each day as it comes and the only resolve I have, if I would even call it a ‘resolve’, is to live without regret. Every day I ask my children if they are happy, I make sure we spend time together as a family but also just the two of us for some ‘one-on-one’ time. I make sure they know I like them, I ask them if they know I love them and I tell them they are the centre of my universe, unconditionally. And I know this would be important to me even if I hadn’t had to face my own mortality. I think each of us has a way of dealing with challenges that are unique to us and our personality.
My family and I had a long day of medical appointments in Saskatoon so we decided we would go to a local nursery and check out the plants. Instead, we ended up at a little strip mall and decided we’d enjoy an early lunch. Both children were “starving!” and I wondered if we should try something new. The children were open to it and I thought we should take advantage of their adventurous palettes while we could. I should add this isn’t an advertisement for this restaurant – I really liked how my family and I were treated and I wanted to share our experience with you.