What a day.
The drive out was a whole experience - they are building a new bridge across the river that divides the lower mainland of Vancouver from the Fraser Valley. The roads have been redirected on both sides and it was like I was driving in a foreign land! I made it to my turn off and everything was the same and yet so different.
I had left myself extra time so I went to my old house, where my parents lived for 26 years (starting in 1967). We were the first owners so it was "my house". The front looked very nice with a new paint job, shutters and window boxes. It is a large corner lot and it was when I turned the corner that my heart sunk. The house went into foreclosure with the people who bought it from my parents and the next owners turned it into a duplex with the front/top being one house and the back/basement (it is on a huge slope) being the other. They separated the fence with another one adding a separate gate. Dad's fence was disintegrated, the fruit trees gone, junky vehicles all over, the deck was damaged. This was NOT my home.
I traveled back toward town to meet my friend and came to some familiar sites, though there was also a lot of new construction. Many of my friend's houses were gone in favour of townhouses and businesses changed hands. The KFC was now an A&W and my Dad's busy Pharmacy is a second hand store. But I still felt like I was home.
The service was incredible. Mrs. Fox was a wonderful woman and she was protrayed as a wife, mother, grandmother first and foremost, with only a small reference to what she meant to the world. One email called her "Canada's Mother" which in many ways is true. This unassuming lady who's life revolved around her husband and four children, was also the woman who has pictures with Rod Stewart, letters from Bobby Orr, has carried in the Olympic Flag with Donald Sutherland and spoken to 400,000 plus students over the years. But her granddaughter said it best "when we got together to share our memories of Grandma, not one of us said "she raised a hero". To them she was the hero, for just being their grandmother. That is how I remember her too - the wonderful mother of my friend, Terry.
On the way out, I ended up being interviewed for the local news radio station on why I was there and what Mrs. Fox meant to me. We saw the TV crew coming though and went off in the other direction
Then it was to see my friend's Mom. They have five daughters and I was around so much I became number 4 1/2. She is my "Mom" but I haven't seen her in 20 years. I was a like a little kid walking through the halls of her assisted living complex. I was giddy with glee. When we walked in I shot across the room and said "Mom, I'm home"! and she hugged back. This lady knows more about the town we grew up in than anyone I know. They are working towards the Centennial celebrations for 2013 and she asked if we had any pictures of the old Drug Store. I said I had that and more and when I told Dad that they wanted his store in the pictorial it made his day (and when I got there he wasn't having a good one at all). Yes, another project for me, but one of love.
But that led me to the question of the time capsule I helped build for my junior high when they were making an addition to it. I was on a committee of a school trustee, the principal, 2 teachers and 4 students in 1972 who built the capsule to be opened in 100 years. I gathered letters from students and taped interviews from people around town (to the tune of Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle") to be put in with many other items collected. Apparently the "new" section of the school will be torn down to put in a more sound earthquake proof building and then can't find the capsule. So, I will be making another trip out with the pictures and am going to go on my own scavenger hunt because I know where it is supposed to be.
I then traveled back in time to have dinner with my Dad and share the day. I am very glad I went - both to pay my respects and more to reacquaint myself with a past that I thought was lost. I guess, Rock, I found out I can go home again, but it is nice to be back on my new side of the river as well.
Thanks for those who have shared and I hope others will as well.