It’s been a rollercoaster for the last fortnight here in Saskatoon. Starting with the weather (as usual), we’ve had beautiful Spring days, bright early mornings and glorious evenings, studded with more snowfalls, high winds, ice-storms and overcast days. The grass keeps appearing and then being obliterated again; it has been steadfastly green for the last three days, and I am cautiously optimistic that this will be the case from now on. No more snow, please. The number of days of continuous snow cover in Saskatoon is now in the 170’s, and it’s officially the second-worst winter on record. I suppose if we survived it (physically and mentally), there’s hope for the next one (which, horrifyingly, is only about six months away).
Michael’s beloved aunt Betty died last Thursday, and it was very hard to hear the news and be unable to return to Ireland for her funeral. She was a warm, funny, loving lady, who celebrates her 60th wedding anniversary this year, and our thoughts are with her husband Tommy, and all of her children. We knew when we left their house in August that we probably wouldn’t see them again, but the news of her death was very sad to hear.
There’s been homesick days for both of us over the last couple of weeks, and times when I felt like throwing in the towel and heading for home again. I spent hours one evening on the phone to June, wailing about missing family and friends and the fact that it was due to snow again the next day. The prospect sent me into an irrational tailspin, and was the start of one of those crying jags that left me looking like I’d been smacked in the face by a baseball bat. It was June’s turn to comfort, console and gently point out from time to time that maybe I was over-reacting to the weather forecast. I am so lucky to have herself and Kelly living nearby and sharing this experience with me. We rotate our bad days so that everyone get equal amounts of sympathy, understanding and the occasional kick in the arse.
On the bold front, our spell of not hearing from the school ended rudely last Tuesday with a phone call from a sobbing child. I couldn’t even make out which child it was, until eventually I managed to establish that it was Benjamin. “I’m in TROUBLE!”, he wailed, “and my Consequence is to RING YOU AND TELL YOU WHAT I DID!”. I braced myself. “What did you do, pet?” I said calmly, thinking it would probably be best to start off as Good Mammy. The wailing intensified, interspersed with hiccups, snuffles and a lot of slurred and indecipherable words. He got the end of the saga and I was no wiser. He tried again, and this time, I managed to establish the bare facts of the case, which involved himself and another boy holding cartons of juice to their chests and squirting out the juice. I wasn’t sure what the problem was at this stage – was it for the intent behind the action, or the fact that they had drenched either the floor or another child in juice? “Were you pretending to squirt milk from your boobs?” I asked tentatively. “YESSSSSS!” he howled. “Well”, I said briskly, transforming into No-Nonsense-Mammy, “wasn’t that a very silly and inappropriate thing to do?” “YESSSSS!” came the strangled wail down the line. “Off back to the classroom with you, apologise to everyone, and I’ll deal with you when you get home.” Sniff, snuffle, muted sob. “I love you”, I offered as a parting shot. He handed the phone to the principal and shuffled off in a soggy mess. I had a brief conversation with Wanda and went back to eating my lunch.
Five minutes later, the phone rang again. I sighed, assuming that the problem was an inconsolable Benjamin. It was Isabel’s teacher. She had fallen in the playground and walloped her knee. “Is she ok?” I asked, wondering whether it was her I could hear crying in the background, or whether Benjamin was still in full flow and disturbing the entire school. “Well, not really”, he said awkwardly, “she banged her knee, and then fell onto a bar below and hurt her..em…privates….” “OH!”, I said, wincing and crossing my legs. “Will I get Christopher to bring her home?” he asked, and so over she came, wailing and weeping, to be tucked up on the couch with popcorn and sympathy.
Saving the best until last, we received Confirmation of Permanent Residency this morning by registered post, and once we meet with an Immigration Official in three weeks’ time, it will all be official. It’s just over a year since Michael was offered the job, and we travelled here under the Provincial Nominee Program, so the whole process has been incredibly fast. The last eight months have been a mixed bag of fortunes and feelings, and this will hopefully help us to feel more settled. We have been very blessed in the area that we are living in, the children’s school, and the people that we have met. Eight months on we are still fairly cocooned in the support group of Irish people around us, and I think it will take more time and effort to make Canadian friends, but we meet more people all of the time, and everyone is very friendly and approachable. I haven’t got to the “come over for a cup of tea” stage with other mammies yet, and I miss that so much about living in Bree, but it will happen eventually.