Reaching Back in Time

The third blizzard of the week has started both here in Halifax and in Moncton, so the only thing to do is to stay indoors and keep warm. That’s a bit difficult for me, mind you — the “keeping warm” part, that is. It’s quite chilly in my apartment even though all the heaters are cranked up to the max. Two of four are pumping out some heat, while the other two aren’t and I can feel the cold coming through the windows and balcony door. I don’t have a thermometre inside, but outside right now it’s -11C, windchill of -22C, wind N41 km/h gusting to 52 km/h. Most of my apartment faces east, though, so I don’t know why it’s so cold in here. I tried calling the super, but to no avail. So I’m dressed heavily and keeping myself wrapped in comforter.

However, I didn’t start this entry with the intention of talking about how I’m freezing my nuts off in here. Rather, I started because of an e-mail message I just received from my mother. Equally homebound due to the blizzard, she’s spending her day on the phone. That’s not so usual in itself; my mom can get on the phone and talk a hole through a steel plate. But it’s who she’s calling that’s unusual.

First, she tracked down someone now living in Quebec City, whom she took in as a boarder around 1955-1956, and called him and his wife yesterday. Today she’s planning to call a former neighbour from the street where she grew up in Rivière-du-Loup (between 1940 and 1951), as well as “a school-days friend who still lives in the home of her late parents.” She then wrote about how much she enjoys talking to these long-lost friends, adding that they clearly seem to enjoy receiving the call, too, judging from their reaction.

I think it’s wonderful that my mom is moved to reach so far back into the past and find these people. However, she was never one to do that — at least not to this extent — before my father died. When my father would track back some of his cousins, which he did quite a bit in the last years of his life, my mom was a bit dismissive of his quests. She wasn’t dismissive of how my father seemed so intent on touching base with everyone he ever knew before dying; her dismissiveness was voiced in how she noted that these people never called back to ask after my father.

My mom has always been more about living in the present and not dwelling much on the past. So upon reading her message today, I couldn’t help but think that she’s probably feeling lonelier than she’s been letting us on. Either that, or now that she’s settling into her routine of not being a full-time caregiver, she can afford to reach into the past because the present is more manageable and under control. She still keeps a busy social agenda, and this month she bought herself a new computer — her third since ’98 — because her previous one was acting up and would cost almost as much to repair than buying a new one. When she bought her second computer, she had said, “Well, let’s face it! It’ll probably be my last one…” When she told me about her third computer, she started to say the same thing but then stopped in mid-sentence and said, “Then again, I could fool you all and live to be 100!” She very well may, and I wouldn’t feel “fooled” to have my mother until I’m 65 — assuming I reach that age!

I think I’ll be calling Mom later today rather than respond to her message…