I survived my trip to O Canada last weekend. The weather was great, the family was wonderful to me, and I had a wonderful time. We got to our hotel around 9pm on Friday night after 5 hours on the road. We met up with George's brother and his wife who were staying at the same hotel and spent a little time in their room before calling it a night. I was very happy to jump in the shower and crawl into bed.
Saturday morning we drove over to Uncle Cleo's and Aunt Sylvia's, where I met pretty much the whole family. Cousins came out of the woodwork, aunts and uncles galore. George's mother was one of 18 children and although half of her siblings are now deseased, it still leaves a very large family.
The guest of honor arrived around noontime. He is Uncle Leonid, 90 years young. Uncle Leonid is a missionary in Peru and this was his last visit home. He is really too old to travel but wanted to come home one last time to say goodbye to the family. He plans on remaining in Peru and will eventually die and be buried there. He has been a missionary for over 60 years and considers Peru his home.
The entire afternoon was full of stories and memories, and the event had a bittersweet feeling to it. Everyone was happy to have this last time together because usually the only time people come together like this are at funerals. Uncle Leonid was thrilled to be able to celebrate his life with everyone. But at the end of the day, there were tears both happy and sad. Even I was bawling and I had just met the man. It was very easy to get caught up in the emotion because they all have a very strong sense of family and I could see that even though many live hundreds of miles away, everyone is very close.
George's cousins took pity on me and most of them speak a little English so it was easy communicating with them. George's cousin Diane has a 14 year old son and he asked if he could sit beside me during lunch so he could practice his English. What a remarkable young man. His name is Jean Pierre and he is already training to be a pilot. He is in the Canadian Junior Air Corps and will be able to fly a plane in a couple short years. Part of his training requires him to be bi-lingual and his English is really good. Much better than my French, that's for sure. It was a pleasure to talk with him.
George's cousin Denis also thought it was his duty to teach me the most important words in the French language. Unfortunately for him, I already know all the dirty French words. LOL
Lunch was served in a small restaurant below the apartments in the apartment building where Uncle Cleo lives. We had smoked salmon on a bed of lettuce with onions and capers and fresh fruit to start. Cream of Cauliflower soup followed and then a choice of either chicken with a mustard sauce or salmon in a citrus sauce for our entree. George and I both chose the chicken, which was delicious. That was accompanied by mashed potatoes and a mix of vegetables. For dessert we had a wonderful cake with peaches and mango and a buttery demi glaze. Everything was very yummy.
After lunch we visited and chatted and posed for pictures. The party broke up around 6pm and George and I went back to the hotel to relax but that didn't happen. His brother Ray and his wife Diane wanted to go out for a late supper so we joined them. Once we got back to the hotel we were joined by a couple of Aunts and Uncles who were also staying at the same hotel. It was a very long day and a late night but I had a great time and I crashed out once my head hit the pillow, even though the bed was miserably uncomfortable.
Sunday morning we all met for breakfast and George and I were on the road by 10:30. Another long ride home, but I could tell George was very happy that I had accompanied him. (Apparently his wife was not one to make those trips with him.)
I also took time last weekend to get to know George's sister in law, Diane. She's a wonderful person and very funny. She has been through a lot in her life but she has an awesome attitude and never feels sorry for herself. She has been in a wheelchair for 15 years because the Muscular Dystrophy that she's had since childhood has affected her legs. Several years ago she had surgery which was supposed to help her but is was a temporary solution and consequently left her speech affected so now she has a hard time communicating verbally. She does get a good part of her point across but sometimes gets stuck so she has to resort to writing things down. She and I got along beautifully and we share a sarcastic sense of humor. She is very quick witted and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her. She calls me her new sister so I guess that means I am now part of the family.
The street signs in Quebec are in French but luckily for me, just about everyone there is bi-lingual to some degree. The menu's in the restaurants are also written in both French and English and I was able to find some television channels in English. We didn't get a chance to see much of the city but Quebec City seems to be a very happening place. Our hotel was surrounded by night clubs and there are malls and shops everywhere. We are planning to go up again in the spring so we can actually enjoy Old Quebec, which is rich in history and very beautiful. I wish we had more time because they are celebrating Quebec's 400th anniversary and it would have been fun to take part in that.
I will post pictures as soon as I can. For some reason I am having trouble downloading them onto my laptop and once I figure out how to rectify that, I will get them posted.
It's a cold and rainy day today so I had to turn the furnace on this morning to get the chill out. I may have to turn up the heat, my hands are freezing.
Have a great weekend!