As a sit down to write this editorial, I am approximately 15 hours away from being on vacation for two full weeks, but I haven’t checked out yet. That will come Tuesday afternoon at about 3:30 p.m., when I hit that final “send” button to the printers.
While my holidays are usually filled with trips out east to my partner’s family cottage – or a trip out west to the Saskatchewan prairies or my old stomping grounds in Calgary – this year will be a bit different because, for the first time in years, family is coming to me.
My dad, who I have not seen in six years, just left after a quick two-day visit. It was his first time visiting Quebec and his first time seeing my home and the life our family has built. He got to watch me play hockey in the Chelsea Adult Hockey League — the first time my dad has seen me on the ice in about 20 years. I scored a goal. He cheered. We both cried.
He’s gone now, but in the next couple of weeks, I will get to see my oldest sister of seven — another family member I haven’t seen in about six years. There will be more tears. A few days later, her daughter – my niece – will show up in the Hills, just in time to see her big, cool uncle DJ at Bluesfest. Full disclosure, my niece, Cassandra, is in her 20s and way cooler than me, but she still thinks I’m cool.
When I moved to Wakefield 15 years ago, part of the reason was to make a new life of my own — a start-from-scratch kinda thing to challenge myself and grow. Another reason was to get away from a life I left behind and with it friends, family and drama. I got away from it all, was able to focus on myself and build a rich life with two amazing daughters, an understanding partner and the best dog in the Gatineau Hills.
But as I turn 40 this year, I am realizing just how important family is and how much I’ve missed by being so far away. My seven sisters are all spread out across Saskatchewan, Alberta, Colorado and Oregon, and I haven’t seen them in close to a decade. The last time we were all in a room together must have been more than 20 years ago. My youngest sister, Megan, had a baby over a year ago, and I still haven’t been able to meet my niece, Carson. My other sister, Ashley, also had her first child — a gorgeous baby girl named Brooklyn, and I have no idea when I will have the chance to meet her. C’est la vie.
We all have family drama — and sometimes it’s too toxic to maintain relationships. But if your family is close, a few hours' drive or even a day trip away — take the time to see them this summer. If they’re important to you, it will be worth it.
My niece and sister are travelling over 4,000 kilometres to see me — I’m going to cherish every moment.