This is a blog of a different nature as the last two weeks were not spent In Jamaica but in Toronto.
The two weeks were full of both joy and sorrow. It was wonderful to spend time with Haley and Tasha and hard to believe it is a year since doing so in Toronto! I made my first foray into working with NIRN and enjoyed a very stimulating day as a new project was being established. I spent a wonderful evening in Jamaican style thanks to the hospitality of Lloyd and Kharma. I also enjoyed the support of a very dear friend who ensured I did not get completely overwhelmed by the goodbyes that seemed to come fast and furiously!
Serendipitously the trip seemed to become the time to say goodbye to the past 35 years and move forward. Our family home of 22 years is no longer available to Haley, Tasha and me. We camped out there for the last couple of weeks, moving out the final shipment of memories and feeling sad that it will not be the place the girls will bring their children when that day comes. The house has such different meanings to each of us but whatever our feelings it was a home in which we grew together, provided a hang-out for scores of friends and was the place of gathering for many Christmases. Although the bricks and mortar are not the critical element there is no doubt that a family home has a special place in the life of growing children and a family's journey, and this journey has concluded. It has been amazing to see the girls grow and to be part of their friends' lives and I hope wherever I next settle that will continue.
I also collected my personal effects from the office at Kinark, thus concluding the 35 years of work there. It was very difficult as I still have great affection and respect for the organisation and will miss being part of the next era for Kinark. However, it was not to be, so I look forward to new challenges and opportunities, whatever presents itself.
The final goodbye was to Auntie Carm. Auntie Carm has been the surrogate grandma for my children for the last 20 years, providing the link to an older generation and family history that is so important. Her health finally failed her, though in almost exactly the way in which she wanted, allowing her to live independently for all but the last few weeks of her life. Her final three weeks were spent in Toronto first at her nephew's home and then lastly at an incredible hospice, Perram House. Perram House is a wonderful old mansion that provides final care for eight residents at a time. The nurses, caregivers and volunteers were so caring and respectful as they ensured Carm was comfortable. I was able to spend many hours with Auntie Carm during the time I was in Toronto, and saying goodbye was a privilege I was not sure would be afforded to me. This was a goodbye of sadness at the loss but joy in the knowledge that she had comfort as she had wanted and could leave this world with ease and her family around her.
The events of the two weeks left me with regret that I could not see friends whom I had anticipated seeing, though phone calls from the same land mass seem to make one feel closer! It was very good to talk to people, and perhaps the next visit will afford dinners and longer conversations.
So... on to the next era. Returning to Jamaica and getting back to work on Monday morning was wonderful. My little apartment is now filled with good music thanks to a birthday present from a dear friend (speakers that I could carry back in my suitcase!) The next nine months will be exciting both in the continuing work at Dispute Resolution Foundation as well as in exploring what other opportunities may be available to me at the conclusion of my work here.