I roamed around Lethbridge yesterday in Scarlet. Many of my musings were about my first wife Rita. We were married for seven years and divorced in 1985. And on August 9, I’ll be visiting her and her husband Dave near Vancouver. I’m so glad that we’re still friends.
I think it was for two years (1975-1977) that Rita and I slept on a single bed in a residence room at the University of Lethbridge. Now that’s true love! We worked hard, training to be teachers, and laughed a lot. We had great friends in the residence and out. I remember setting up a table and having meals on a stairwell landing. I remember shooting the breeze in the cafeteria, and sometimes having profs sit down to chat.
I roamed University Hall yesterday and reminisced. The U of L is a long, dramatic building set into the coulees – hills that slope down from the prairie to the Old Man River 300 feet below. In the winter, with a dusting of snow, the coulees past the far shore looked like people sleeping under blankets. Cool. I remember Rita and I sometimes not leaving the university for a month or more when it was super cold outside.
I descended from the main level 6 down a stairwell that held the ghosts of dinners, and pulled on the door to section D4, our old sleeping place. Locked. Protected from intruders and my memories. I went into a lecture hall … yes, I remember. And sat in what’s left of the cafeteria. Hi, Rita.
Where to next, Bruce? How about the home that Rita and I bought in 1978 (for $48,000!) It was a lovely two bedroom sanctuary with white metal siding and a great shade tree in the backyard. 1324 7th Ave. South. I held my breath as I rounded the corner a block away. And there was my old friend, now adorned with a bright red front door, which looked great. I parked on the street by the side of my no-longer-home, just like I did every night 35 years ago.
Another pleasant interlude. Ray just came in from the yard and we got talking. For some reason, he referred to himself as “nonchalant”. Being the shy type, I thought of not sharing the following, but the imp in me couldn’t resist. “Have you ever thought, Ray, about what a chalant person is like? I’ve roamed the world and never come across one yet.” (Smile from Jody’s uncle) Okay, enough said, which will definitely be my stance on September 12 when I begin that long silent meditation retreat. But I regress …
I walked up the front sidewalk and knocked on that red door. Dad and I had installed it long ago. I had attached the big wooden 1 3 2 4 numbers that adorned the siding to the left of the door. Oh, what a handy fellow I was!
A young man opened the door. I smiled and told him my story. He smiled back and invited me in. I met his wife and went on about Mom and Dad visiting Rita and me from Ontario, and Dad and I building the cedar fence to enclose the backyard. Dad was the brains and I was the brawn. Hmm … or maybe Dad was both the brains and brawn, and I hammered a few nails. I recollected Rita and I sitting in the cozy living room. I told the young folks that I had planted the Russian olive trees that graced the side yard … trees which now showed personal growth from 3 feet to 20. I loved the few minutes in my old home.
I walked outside and strolled towards our fence. I put my hand on a board and remembered my father. “You did a good job, Dad. Thank you for being here with me.” Some tears. I was a pretty good son to Mom and Dad but I could have been a lot better. “So forgive yourself, Bruce.” Yes.
Quite the journey …these lives of ours. I’m glad I’m along for the ride.