Early fall was perfect for a return to Vancouver Island with my good friends Mickey and Gordon. I always enjoy the ferry ride over and the fresh sea air after this particular smoky Okanagan summer felt nothing short of heavenly! I breathe deeply, letting the freshness wash through me. We visit Mickey and Gordon’s grandchildren Tiernan and Georgia and their partners Jay-Lynn and Connor in Victoria and Mill Bay and move on to the amazing ‘Bridge House’ at ‘Point No Point” a short drive from Sooke. The small seaside cabin we had booked earlier, was undergoing renovations so they put us up at no additional cost into their largest ‘cabin’ … stunning views surrounded us … A wonderful soul soothing West Coast week in every respect! Mickey, Gordon and I have been friends for almost five decades … in four short years, we will indeed hit that milestone and I hope we can celebrate in some fine fashion exploring some remote corner of our world. Travelling has always been a passion for us! Over many years, we have explored countries together around the globe … some research would be in order for something fitting for the 50th milestone of our friendship! At times I feel my friends know the ‘real me’ better than anyone in my life. They accept me, warts and all … oh yes, no rose tints here … they DO call me every now and again on various things but kindly so, well ok, not always kindly 🙃 … Mickey remains as candidly outspoken as I am 😙 but the acceptance is never questioned. Fall, my favourite season, finds me usually in quiet contemplation …. no exception on this rainy fall Kelowna evening! I feel such gratitude for the gift of friendship❤️.
My sister Raija Tyyne Maarit Leppanen passed away in the late evening of July 30th, a few short months after her 63rd birthday, cancer having taken hold in her throat area, compounded further by early onset dementia. My sisters Margaret, Maija and I had been sitting with her since early morning into the late afternoon, sometimes singing songs from our youth, or I, chanting my favourite Sanskrit Gayatri Mantra, sometimes reminiscing, sometimes just sitting in silence. The air was certainly tinged in sadness … so much potential now slowly fading into a quiet death. I cradled Raija, lying beside her as she passed. It was my first time holding someone as they took their last breath. Three months later, I remain in awe of the moment and am slowly moving into yet another new awareness of the preciousness of our lives. How important to love and accept rather than judge and critique. Negatives and positives live within us all! Death is such a teacher … Accept, breathe deeply … let the good prevail! I was very touched by the memories both my children and husband shared for the memorial service … humorous memories. How fitting for my sister, who in her finer moments, her early years, always had a great sense of humour! The memories everyone shared including a wonderful letter written by an old friend were heartwarming. It was a memorial tribute at its finest, to pay homage to the good in all of us. I was happy to see Raija’s sense of humour return in her last year of life. Today, three months later, I picture Raija’s soul flying … saying “well that lifetime was a bit of a weird ride but cool to be back here flying free again, waiting for the next lifetime of lessons” 😂!
My son Tim and his partner Liseanne made it to the memorial service in the nick of time, which warmed my heart no end. They stayed to visit for a few days, treating my sister Margaret and I to a wine tour of various small vineyards in the area. A most enjoyable afternoon sampling tasty local wines, including mead wines 😊! Tim and Liseanne’s visit ended far too soon. However, the positive side of that left me much needed quiet time for reflection, contemplation … life, death and all our various incarnations.
No Summer feels complete, without a visit to Linda and Court’s piece of heaven on Kootenay Lake. Linda was recovering from a knee replacement operation and was not totally mobile yet but we still managed a side trip to the Yasodhara Ashram, always a great outing where we sit in quiet meditation and chant. Our friendship has always had that something extra special … it sometimes seems we have known each other forever … living our whole adult lives as friends, sharing, always sharing … through decades of dinners and theatre nights, from drumming circles to the infamous Mackid New Year’s Eve parties, or ‘girls’ trips to The Kingfisher Spa … those Vancouver Island spa weeks were some of my favourite times with Linda … a memory from such a spa week still warms me … we had been laying down reading for a long time after a spa treatment and realized we had not spoken a word for hours!! … the comfort of true friendship!… knowing we do not always have to fill the silence with words, that our presence is all that is required ❤️
Sarah, Aliana, Oliver and Sarah’s sister in law Lisa and her daughter Brooklyn came for a ten day visit in July … the moms were enrolled at a university course for a week, while the kids and I enjoyed a lot of beach and park time in addition to the various Kelowna entertainment offerings of mini golf, Enerplex, bowling, kangaroo farm etc. It was certainly a whirlwind week of swirling youthful energy to spare 😊
Watching morning cartoons 😊
A Webb, Overmann, White, Gauss, Cuddie (the Exner arm and a few Webbs from Calgary were missing this year) picnic was held at Tim and Angela’s. Steve and Jenn were housesitting at Tim and Angela’s who generously allowed our troop to invade their gorgeous yard! Goofy Uncle Otto kept the little folk amused in and out of the pool … he remains a big kid at heart and of course the little folk love that 🤪!! Maija on the other hand, loves her photo bombs 🙃!!
Newest addition to the family is cute little ‘Nila, a sister for Meelo … Margaret and Brad’s grand-doggies! A great second annual get together!
Lisa and Brooklyn head for home and Sarah, the children and I head for Vancouver Island where we found a great little gem of an Airbnb home on Glen Lake! Managed to fit in a beautiful afternoon at Butchart Gardens, complete with high tea. The week was a most perfect finish to a BC summer holiday.
Thankfully the wedding week for my niece Jennifer and Steve was blessed with clear blue skies and sunny warm weather … the relentless summer fires had yet to take hold of Kelowna, where for most of July and August, the air quality rivalled that of Beijing and Delhi.
A gathering of generations of family came from all directions to Steve’s Dad Tim and his wife Angela’s beautiful home for a meet and greet barbecue extraordinaire the night before the wedding. It was an absolute delight in every respect … the adults enjoyed getting acquainted and the little people enjoyed mingling in the pool, hot tub and play center! Tim and Angela sure know how to throw a party … wonderful generous, warm hearted hosts!
Onward to June 2, 2018 Wedding Day! Held at Sunset Ranch, a historically significant spot for the White Family. Margaret and Brad lived and raised their children on that golf course where they were regular golfers for many years. It was certainly an appropriate and beautiful spot for Jennifer and Steve to seal their wedding vows. More than a few tears of joy were shed that day! I love weddings ❤️
A It was great to have Mickey and Gordon at the wedding and have them stay with me a few days for a well overdue visit!
A delicious luncheon at Mission Hills Winery with Mickey, Gordon, Jordan, Sarah, Rob, Aliana, Oliver, Aunt Marg and our Los Angeles arm of family, Johanna and Devendra ❤️
The White and Webb arm of family, together with our newlyweds, gather for a dinner at Cactus Club before everyone disperses for home. A most wonderful wedding week indeed!