On Sunday morning, I set off on a journey of reunion. To Vancouver International Airport. Seeking out international flights, of the arrivals variety. I got a coffee, sat down and watched folks travel up the ribboned tunnel of carpet … from Japan, Singapore, and finally England. A very special passenger would soon be smiling at me … my former wife Rita. We were married in Barons, Alberta in 1988 and were divorced seven years later. Two people going in different directions. One of our lawyers said that it was the most amicable divorce she had ever seen.
I’m sitting on Beryl’s couch in Yakima, Washington. She’s Rita’s sister. Sadie, her little fluffy white dog, has just leapt up onto the couch to be with me. She pokes her head my way. I lift my fingers from the keyboard and place one hand on each side of her face. I do believe I saw a smile.
I’m blabbing away to a couple when a woman stops past the ribbon, smiles and says “Bruce”. I don’t recognize her. I even forget where I am. Seconds later … “Rita” and I’m hurrying to intercept her. We hug.
Rita took me out to a lovely fish and chip restaurant that hangs over the water at the Steveston Marina. It’s a little neighbourhood within Greater Vancouver, the perfect size for human beings. A window table. We laugh. And the smile across the table was the same one that I saw in a young woman 40 years before as we snuggled on a single bed in the residence of the University of Lethbridge. Rita has made her mark in art education, has travelled to 64 countries and has often been treated as a queen during her speaking engagements. And that’s all wonderful. But as I gleefully consumed my salmon fish and chips, we were “just folks”, talking about life past and present and enjoying each other’s company. The Superman suit she sewed for me way back when. Two months ago, at a bike ride for Heart and Stroke, I wore the shirt with the stylized “S” and the brilliant red cape. (The red shorts gave out years ago.) I introduced her to Vancouver, a place where she’s now lived for 25 years or so. Marrying Dave four years ago. Jody being ill and dying last November. Topics past and present. All infused with smiles.
Life is such a mystery. Love doesn’t die. We make mistakes. We carry on. We do our best. We remember fun times. We smile.