Jasper is calling me…..

Posted: July 30, 2013 in Community, Family
Tags: , , , , , , ,

the climb1  climb

It’s been just over a year since we last set foot in the town of Jasper, Alberta. It has now become almost an annual pilgrimage for our family. It’s a place unlike any other for us, a place to unwind, be anonymous, breathe in mountain air, enjoy the outdoors, and just get away from our normal every day lives. Not that we don’t like our lives, mind you….but this time is sacred, inviolable, and is in many ways how we cling to our sanity.

Many who have visited this area must feel the same, as we meet people every year who tell us that this is their tenth time, 12th time, any number that at first astounded us, and now just makes sense. We call it the ‘Blue Collar Banff’, meaning that for us it is less pretentious, more earthy, and more affordable. The journey there is as spectacular as the destination, and is cathartic for our family. It’s as though you can see the stress come off us like the skin of a snake, and we all just begin to feel better.

So many things have happened to our family since we last visited. My only brother, Bob, one of my best friends, passed away last September at the age of 53. It was a tremendous shock and a tumultuous time for us, to be sure. In fact, had this not happened, I would likely had gone to Europe with him and my father this summer instead on our own pilgrimage to Lahr, Germany, a place where we lived in our youth. That was the plan. oh how plans can change.

In the ensuing months, we travelled to Jamaica for the first time, and unhooked from life as a way of trying to re-establish a flow of normalcy. For the most part, this worked. But come January, the year loomed in front of us and Jasper began to whisper to us….’come….come where you feel welcome, and invigorate your soul!’ It made sense,,,so we booked it.

And wouldn’t you know it, life threw us another curve ball. My wife Anne’s only brother, Luc, suffered a massive stroke on March 21st at the age of 47. We didn’t think he’s make it those first few nights. But he slowly started to re-awaken, and life took on another stage. My wife had to take time off work, as primary care giver. She also is dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and her father’s own difficulties, and autism, and the many other things life kept throwing at us. At first, our trip to Jasper looked in doubt, but as Luc began to slowly climb the mountain of stroke-dem, our path began to seem more clear. We would make it to jasper, if only to regroup and recharge.

It’s amazing the way perspective can change in a heartbeat. Last year, I climbed Whistler‘s mountain with my youngest son, Mackie, just to say ‘we did it’. We did it for ourselves. It was a great occasion, a wonderful bonding experience, a father-son moment we will always cherish. We vowed that, should we return, we would convince my wife and other son, Alex, to join us and to climb to the top. That extra kilometer or so from where the Tramway leaves you off to where you reach the peak may not look like much, but when you are standing at the top, your perspective completely changes. You see mountains you cannot see from the bottom.

And so, this year, we all climb. To change our perspective. Not only our physical one, but our mental one as well. We will climb for ourselves, and we will climb for those who can’t. For my brother, who I miss so terribly, and for Anne’s brother, who has already climbed a mountain the size of Everest. We climb for our parents, who have grown old and frail, and who would enjoy one more excellent day in the sun on a mountain if just given the chance. We climb to ensure that we appreciate the fact that we can. It’ll be spiritual. It’ll be cathartic. It’ll be majestic. We will weep at times, my wife and I, as the full ramifications of what our lives have become weigh in on us. And we will rejoice in the moment as we realize just how fortunate we really are.

I hope you all get to climb your own mountain. I hope you all get the opportunity to live your lives to their fullest, and that satisfaction becomes something you take with ease. And most of all, I hope that, for those moments, we have the peace of mind we so desperately are seeking.

  1. jennypellett says:

    Phew, lovely words -that was truly heartfelt. I wish you all a happy holiday. 🙂

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