May 5

Published by Victor Barr on

Cinco de Mayo today. A Mexican day hi-jacked by Americans and Canadians to celebrate Mexican heritage. It isn’t even much of a big deal in Mexico but here it is used primarily as an excuse to drink Margharitas and Cervesa. It is also usually the first nice day to hang out outside with friends drinking and eating Mexican food. This year like many other things the celebration would prove to be rather subdued.

I have been thinking about a dear friend who is like a mother to me lately. I have known Donna since I started cleaning windows in 1989. She was one of my first customers in Calgary. I walked into her office and asked if I could clean the windows. She looked at the skinny young punk and saw something there. I have cleaned windows for her ever since.

It was December 23, 1993 and I had promised Donna clean windows on her building by Christmas. She lived in the top floor with her husband Bill and I didn’t want to disappoint. It was 9:30 in the morning. I will never forget listening to my Walkman and hearing the DJ on the radio tell me it was minus 23 in Calgary at that time. I was wearing winter gear and insulated waterproof gloves. I went to the hot water tank on the roof and emptied scalding hot water into my bucket with the same amount of Methyl Hydrate. I went over the side of the fifteen story hi-rise and questioned my own sanity. I was twenty-three at the time and bullet proof.  Over the side I went. The frost bite on my fingers I suffered that morning would remind me about my foolishness to this day.I gave her clean windows for Christmas. I have always tried to keep my word, sometimes to my detriment. I think this one is a toss up.

Donna is now eighty-seven years young and living alone in West Kelowna. Because of her age I have stayed away, afraid that visiting her I could risk her health. One of the bad things of our situation is we don’t see the weak and elderly as much. They must be feeling very alone. I called Donna to check on her. After a brief conversation I decided to go and see her from a distance. I should have known better.

My dear friend has never been able to see me without giving me a hug and today was no exception. I tried to resist but she is not one to refuse. The stress of giving a hug to someone is a sad side effect of our coronaverse. I feel bad that I could not say no and I will feel much worse if she gets sick. Yet I feel that we still need the human connection from a hug. As a society the hug is something I hope we never lose. I sat down and connected with my beautiful friend and reminisced about simpler days. About their parties on the ranch south of Calgary and about that first day we met so long ago. I left her home on the lake feeling warm inside and grateful that I took a chance and hugged an old friend who truly needed it.

I saw our neighbours that usually have a big party in the back yard for Cinco de Mayo. Tiasa was hanging with her two bundles of joy and I smiled broadly at them. “Social distance Marghaitas in the yard later?” I asked, she joked a bit but then broke the sad news to me. there would be no party this year. Krista and I would need to make our own party.

We organized a picnic basket with leftovers and grabbed six Sol(Mexican beer of course)on our way to the lake for a waterfront dinner. This would be our Cinco De Mayo, we sat at a picnic table next to the beautiful lake and soaked in the last of the suns gorgeous rays. The water reflected the mountains beyond in a picture of brilliance only nature can create. After our meal was done we proceeded on our walk along the waterfront. There were a number of people there with dogs of all shapes and sizes. It is quite entertaining watching people with their dogs. Some are slow and some walk along quickly. One dog ran by us with his human companion cruising along on a bicycle next to him. Our walk continued for a while until we felt the urge to get home.

In Gellately Bay there are plaques on the wall beside the path on the waterfront. I stopped and read one of these stories of our past. One plaque depicted the history of our native’s from the area and from the interior of British Columbia. I looked out on the water and realized that even though the people around the lake may have changed, the lake itself is basically the same. Our natural world is changing in small increments and is always evolving. The life of mankind and the time of this corona chaos is as fleeting as the red sky overhead. Brilliant, amazing and then; just a memory. All we can do is make new memories and enjoy the moments as they pass.

Categories: Daily Journal


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