My Father's Home

I hear the seagulls calling me back
Never again shall I roam
Sea Swallows singing songs of my youth
Take me back to my Newfoundland home

This was one of my many requested songs as a young girl, sitting cross legged at my fathers feet while he strummed his guitar. Every second summer we would make the journey by car from Ontario to Newfoundland to visit a number of relatives across the island. It began with my four brothers in the back seat and me on my mothers lap. This was before seatbelts became the law (now I'm giving away my age). Speaking for all of us, the enormous ferry ride across the ocean was by far the best part of the whole experience, often spotting whales along the way. The number of us taking the journey each year dwindled as my brothers reached their teens and then later on in my own teenage years, after the death of two of the youngest of my brothers, it was just Dad and me. My last trip was at the age of 17; a last minute voyage to attend my uncles funeral. That was 16 years ago.

I was home to see my parents a few weeks ago and found that my father spent most of his time mucking around in the shed, sawing things apart and then putting them back together. With caring for my son and my nephew, who was also visiting, and playing cards with my mother, I hardly had any quality time with my father at all. Now that I am back in the city, I regret not making more of an effort than just playing one game of crib and watching a late night documentary on Newfoundland with him. It focused on the early 1900s whaling and sealing ships.
My father misses his home land and is waiting for a call from his neice who is currently living on the West Coast. She asked that he meet her there and drive her vehicle across the country to Newfoundland where she is having a house built for her family; returning to her roots. The sale on her current home is not going well, however, and things have been delayed.

It has crossed my mind that I would like to join him on the journey when and if it does happen. My mother's hips are too sore to travel long distances and I'd rather he not go alone and, besides that, I have never myself seen the west coast of this great land. The trip would require two weeks of my time away from work and away from my family. However I feel that it would be monumental in my life and in my relationship with my father who has taught me nothing over the years if not that family is the most important gift we are given by God and should be cherished. I understand his need to go home as it is just like mine. The difference is that I only moved five hours south from my parents and my father moved three days West of his. If the stars align I may be crossing the Golf of St. Lawrence smelling the salty ocean air by my father's side in the next few months.

JB 2009

Ttitle image:
The Artwork of Thérèse Frère
from Fogo Island and Change Islands and other parts of Newfoundland
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