The 1980s Called

Sometimes day-to-day life offers patterns; sometimes day-to-day life can be squished into a pattern; sometimes day-to-day life just is. But there are always connections, even if I have to reach back a few decades to find them.

It’s 1985 and my father is driving a then-teenaged grandson from Banff to Calgary and finds the right moment for a pop quiz.

Which pair of mountains is furthest apart?

The reference point is the three mountains that make up the formation known as the Three Sisters. After carefully gauging the distance between mountains #1 and #2, and between mountains #2 and #3, the grandson pays his money, takes his chances, and makes his guess: Mountains #1 and #2 are furthest apart.

Nope. Mountains #1 and #3.

You might almost think that the old guy had played this game before.

It’s winter in Saskatchewan, vintage 1987. I’m in the first month of the second term of the last year of my university program, and I’m already whipped. End-of-term seems impossibly far away.

The weather is miserable. I’m miserable. Abandoning the car in the driveway, I stomp up the snowy stairs and check the mailbox as I prop open the screen door. (Remember screen doors? Remember mail delivery to the house?) What’s this? An entirely unexpected parcel from my mother.

What the heck?

A silver filigree window ornament in the shape of a dragon emerges from the package into my surprised hands. The dragon’s paw dangles a crystal: a wee prism sets coloured lights dancing across my living-room walls. We’re not a family given to casual gifts. For just a second I think that I’ve fast-forwarded through my school term to my May birthday. Hallelujah!

But no, it’s just something she thought I’d like. A whim, perhaps. An intuition that I needed something, maybe. For that second, the real gift was not just knowing but believing that the end-of-term would come.

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6 Responses to The 1980s Called

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    My parental family was never given (that could be a pun) to spur-of-the-moment gifts. We were, I think, the poorer for it. My daughter, however, is given to those gifts — sometimes inconsequential, sometimes beautiful, sometimes just, well, sometimes. I am so grateful for having her.

    Jim T

  2. barbara carlson says:

    Mothers know. I guess — not being one. 😀

    My mother had that knack, but usually not at unexpected times.
    Sis and I were raised in the 50s — everything thing according to the book,
    “normal”, you know.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – And yet produced two children who are anything but “normal” in the stultifying sense.

  3. barbara carlson says:

    Lovely reflections (or whatever) on the Venetian blinds, but who puts blinds up if there is stained glass? Still. Like photo.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Thanks. The window faces east so maybe the blinds were added to cope with the amount of light? But it is a baffler.

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