Year 1, Week 18: Back Home


Walking to the clinic

Walking to the clinic

A travel week. The last few days in Geneva with my Mother-in-law, seeing her on the mend and the bittersweet saying of our goodbyes until next year. The usual per-holiday travel crowds with full planes and airports (my mask provoking one little girl to ask me if I was a doctor!). Arriving back home with all the usual stuff to be taken care of, including the remaining winter tasks (e.g., snow tires).

One surprise: another dead battery despite it being replaced just a month ago that had us ‘announce’ our return with the car alarm honking during the jump-start. Under warranty but a pain nevertheless.

It is good being back home. While we were able to leaven our stay in Geneva with frequent walks and that wonderful short getaway to Paris, and helping my Mother-in-law was (and is) incredibly rewarding, there is no place like home, soon to be filled by our kids.

Caring for my her reminded us of the importance of family and friends in getting through cancer treatment and recovery (or other comparable experience). Fortunately, she and we are blessed in that regard, with a number of family friends helping particularly in the next stages.

As for my health, the adjustment to living without Prednisone (steroids) is going well. Stomach not quite as quiet as I would like but getting there, and energy levels seem unaffected. But my hernia, diagnosed over two years ago and treated with ‘watchful waiting’ has been acting up a bit. To avoid holiday surprises, went to Emerg to ensure that no emergency and it can be treated in the normal ‘queue’; not the most enjoyable way to spend a Friday afternoon but did give us peace of mind for the holidays.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetOver the last week, some enjoyable recreational reading for a change, David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, a historical novel set in early 19th century Japan, a time of decline of the Dutch trading empire and when Japan remained largely off-limits to foreigners. While my knowledge of the period is limited, it reads as very authentic in terms of capturing the times, cultures and relationships. His use of language, as in Cloud Atlas, captures well the different contexts and characters, and the twists and turns of the plot keep one guessing. In the end, a strong message that honesty and integrity do pay, although not with a lot of injustice, hardship and unconsumed love along the way.

This weekend sees us in Toronto to pick up our daughter and catch up with her news. Our son joins us later this week. Good to be back all together for the holidays.

And a last note on the horrors of the Connecticut shooting which as a parent, of course, hits me particularly hard. What is even more shocking, and not understandable to my Canadian mind, is how this is unlikely to lead to changes in gun policies in the USA. Much has been written, much more will be so, and our heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed and traumatized by the event.

Discouragingly, I expect little to change. Nate Silver’s analysis of the changes in language around guns reflects the success of the gun lobby in reducing pressure for sensible gun control:

In Public ‘Conversation’ on Guns, a Rhetorical Shift

And David Frum’s rejoinder to the gun lobby – if not now, then when can the discussion begin:

And I’ll say: I’ll accept no lectures about “sensitivity” on days of tragedy like today from people who work the other 364 days of the year against any attempt to prevent such tragedies.

It’s bad enough to have a gun lobby. It’s the last straw when that lobby also sets up itself as the civility police. It may not be politically possible to do anything about the prevalence of weapons of mass murder. But it damn well ought to be possible to complain about them – and about the people who condone them.

To close with the words of President Obama:

As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.


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