12 November 2010
Today my cousin from Saskatchewan phoned. At least the caller ID said "Saskatchewan," but as it turned out she was calling from her mom's (my mom's sister) place in Summerland, a 15 minute drive from here. She had phoned me yesterday, and we were planning to get together here in Penticton for a visit, but now she was asking if I'd be willing to go for lunch with her in Summerland.
There was a time when I loved going to Summerland. I was born in Summerland during my parents' summer vacation (a few years back, of course, lol). My grandparents lived in Summerland in a wonderful big old Victorian style house (you can read stories about it here)(http://www.penandpapermama2.com/cwrite/v.html) across the street from the old hospital where I was born. An uncle, aunt and cousins our age lived in Summerland too. When I was a teen there was an excellent coffee house at a Summerland church. The best swimming beach in the entire beautiful Okanagan Valley was at Summerland. There were towering clay cliffs with narrow trails criss-crossing them, which provided great adventures for daring young folks. A five-cents-to-a-dollar-store that people came hundreds of miles to shop at. And endless orchards with peaches, apricots, cherries, apples, pears. You get the picture. Summer-land! Beautiful!
So I grew up and moved farther afield, and didn't get to Summerland very often. My cousins grew up and moved, too. My grandparents went to meet Jesus face-to-face. But a few years ago, my parents moved to a seniors complex in Summerland. And we moved to Penticton, and so our family started going to Summerland to visit mom and dad. And I really enjoyed it, not just seeing my parents, but all the good old memories remembered.
Then my mom developed dementia. And ended up in a higher-care-level facility. And then my dad got cancer, and passed away. My mom was moved to a facility in Penticton, and eventually she too passed away. If you've been following this blog, you'll know that these losses were not easy for me.
And unfortunately, they cast a sad, even fearful, shadow over my feelings about Summerland. Even passing by on the highway was difficult for me. I still sometimes drove through "Lower Summerland" - the beaches, the old Victorian house, the clay cliffs, and enjoyed the old time childhood memories.
But driving into "Upper Summerland" (aka "West Summerland") or just passing by, made my tummy hurt. I have gone there when I needed to. To family dinners, visiting aunts and uncles and cousins (they've been gradually moving back; Summerland has that kind of draw). To occasional events or meetings. For a long time, the shadow seemed to just grow deeper and longer.
When my cousin phoned to ask if I could come up to Summerland instead of meet her in Penticton, my tummy churned. But I said, "Yes." And off I drove in some trepidation.
It's getting to be winter these days, and the weather recently has been mostly gray and damp and windy-chill. But today the weather was lovely. Chilly, but the sun was shining, the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds, the lake beautiful. Almost looked like summer. Living up to our region's reputation as "the sunny Okanagan."
And surprisingly, my tummy didn't turn when I drove off the highway and headed into Summerland. Seeing my mom's older sister and brother-in-law didn't bring back sad memories of my mom and dad. Going with my cousin to poke around in my mom's favorite thrift store (everyone's favorite thrift store - people come from far and wide) was fun. I hadn't stepped foot in it since we packed up my mom's clothes and dropped them off there. Summerland is a retirement town. I saw clothes in the thrift store that totally reminded me of my mom. And I didn't feel sad. They actually made me smile.
Thank You, Father, for bringing me through these past couple months of rest. Thank You for the depression that has forced me to sleep and sleep ... and then slowly start re-awakening. Listening to Your voice in the long hours I have been alone with few others to talk with, and too tired to do the kind of "busy work" that keeps us from facing our fears and guilt.
Thank You for bringing the "summer" back into "Summerland" for me.
Thank You for driving out the dark hidden places in my heart with Your sunlight. With You, The Light.
"Blessed be Your name... when the darkness closes in."
(And now when the sun's starting to shine down on me again)