A Road Trip with My Dad

This is not a blog about Garage Doors or Garage Door openers or how to repair a garage door or how to choose a new garage door opener. No, it’s not about that, even though as the owner of a garage door company that’s what I am told I need to write about. But I’m not going to.

This year my parents turned 85. They live in Northern Ontario in a little town called New Liskeard, in the home I grew up in. My mom has advanced dementia and my dad is her primary care giver, or he was… Unfortunately, she has become too much for him and the CCAC, and she has had to leave home and move into an old age facility. Watching mom go through this sucks…but that’s not really the story here.

I never believed in karma, I just thought it was my superior intelligence that lead to whatever outcome I experienced. (sarcasm completely intended) In May my daughter and wife made plans to visit each other in Victoria, but I dragged my heels booking my flight to join them despite my wife’s strong encouragement. I don’t know why, but I just wouldn’t commit to going.

Then, on a trip to my parents, when mom was at her worst and it was obvious she wasn’t going home, the seed of an idea
sprouted…maybe I can take dad on a road trip across Canada. He had never seen the Rockies nor the Prairies or even Vancouver! This was Sunday. I mentioned it to my sisters and my dad and they slept on it and on Monday all agreed it was a great idea. I talked to my management team at work (I have a great team, wow I’m lucky!) and they collectively encouraged me to go. So, on Thursday after work I packed up the RV and our dog, Chewie, and headed to New Liskeard.

Dad and I took most of Friday morning to get him packed up and the RV loaded with groceries and fuel and then we hit the road, taking highway 11 north through Hearst and Longlac to Thunder Bay. We didn’t travel more than a few kilometers before I had my first experience having to care for dad. I wasn’t expecting it. Dad was always strong, independent and healthy, but then he wasn’t. I didn’t know what to do. It was a minor thing, but I started to second guess whether I could travel with dad and do all the chores such as meal planning, driving and cleaning. It actually got a bit worse before it got better (Foreshadowing: It got a lot better!) because dad fell while we were staying in the “Walmart-Astoria” parking lot in Kenora. He didn’t do any major damage, but he did give himself two Charlie horses... Now he was in tremendous pain and had trouble walking. This lead to other issues, and I’ll just leave it that I am grateful the RV has a washer and dryer. This was day three and we weren’t even out of Ontario. I was tired, frustrated, sad, all kinds of emotions. That night, I really doubted that I could continue... 

But we continued west and it seemed the further we got the better things became. We spent a lovely evening in a park in a little town called Whitewood Saskatchewan. A wonderful three days in Banff, even got Dad to talk on the phone at the Grizzly House restaurant. (If you haven’t gone, you must!). We overnighted in Kelowna before boarding the Ferry for Vancouver Island.

We took in Victoria, met up with my Wife and Daughter and took in Tofino. The most memorable moment of the trip happened here. Dad and I walked (he started using a walker after the fall) hand in hand across the beach and stood in the pacific in our bare feet. I shed a tear, I can’t lie about it. We made our way back to Victoria for a few days, then Kamloops, a fantastic visit in Jasper, overnighted with friends in Edmonton and then took a b-line back to New Liskeard.

In the end, we covered 10,000km and saw this amazing country we live in. But that wasn’t the best part, the best part was having a dad to take care of. What scared me in the beginning ultimately became what made me happiest. I’m grateful. Oh…and I now believe in karma!