A Promise Made….

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Community, Family
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Max

It’s amazing the difference a year can make. In August of 2012, I went to Canada’s Wonderland with my two sons and my brother Bob. We met up with Bob’s son Adam and his family. So we had a mini family reunion, and an absolutely splendid day (although I am not partial to rides and such, the day itself was a blessing, and the kids had so much fun that it was a great memory). My youngest son Mackie, in particular, loved it. When we were done, we left there vowing to meet in August of 2013, at the very least with the same people, and make it as much of an annual thing as possible.

Well, it turns out this is would not be so easy. My brother flew home to Winnipeg, and one month later passed away. I got to see him one last time before he went, and it was a very bittersweet moment. But when I spoke to his son, Adam, the thought was to still meet in August 2013 and enjoy a day in his memory. We would use this time to truly heal ourselves….Bob was such an integral part of our lives, and it would be a shame not to do this.

As it turns out, we weren’t done yet. My wife’s only brother, Luc, only 47, had a massive stroke in March, which put us on a path of 5 months of driving to hospitals, therapy, putting jobs on hold, and caring for a man who truly needed help. Throw in one parent with Alzheimer’s, three other elderly parents with various medical problems…..life just leaped and bounded quickly to the point where it was August 2013.

Somewhere between December and now, I had made my son Mackie a promise: that we would not close out summer of 2013 without another visit to Wonderland. He turns 15 on the 29th of August, and this felt like a pretty safe promise. Of course, I had no idea what all was about to happen. And as we neared August, it seemed that more and more barriers were put in our paths. My wife’s knee gave out. So many other things as well. And so Mackie, mature beyond his years, told me that we could just abandon our plans to go to Wonderland, that he understood the stress we were under, and that it was important to maintain family unity during all of this. And I accepted this, finding it a convenient way of dealing with everything, and to be frank, I really didn’t want to go anyways.

It’s such a small thing, a promise. They’re so easy to make, so very easy to break. And it’s such a trivial thing, making a promise to a young man. A young man who, in his first summer off in high school, worked with me faithfully at my business, never complaining, keeping me cheerful, being a wonderful person to my clients. A young man who is so helpful at home as well, as is his brother Alex. So after breaking my promise to him, I noted that he was a little somber for a couple of days. When I finally coaxed him to tell me what was wrong, he told me he was a little bummed at the whole Wonderland thing.

Well, of course he was. A little promise to us is often a huge promise to others. And he wasn’t just thinking of himself. He was thinking of the great day we had had, and how we had vowed to return to honour my brother. He took this very seriously. No amount of gifts could ever replace a trip to the very place that Mackie last saw his uncle alive, the place where he will always remember Bob’s face while holding Adam’s little daughters, his smile a mile wide. The guilt was killing me.

And so….today we embark on a surprise trip to Wonderland, carefully planned and executed by my wife, my son Alex, and Mackie’s best friend, all in cahoots together. We moved mountains to do this. We changed schedules, put aside funds, and kept the secret to keep Mackie in the dark. Before we leave, we will tell him the truth, that we aren’t going for an overnight stay at a hotel to give his mom a break. We are going back to where we started one year ago, to honour a promise and to honour a man who I will always remember and cherish in my heart.

I’d like to say that this trip is for Bob….but I think that this trip is for you, Mackie, and all the things you do for us to keep us sane, laughing, and whole. Love you, buddy!

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