Saturday, October 2, 2010

Time Out for Respite

Wow...its been a while since I blogged!  Since my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three weeks ago a number of relatives have arrived from out of province to say one last goodbye before this dreadful disease claims it's next victim.  My mom's two sisters (one from Newfoundland and one from Ontario) are still here.  One, two or three of us are at the hospital's Palliative Care unit every waking hour sitting with my mother...she's become very confused due to the pain medication and we don't want her to be alone wondering where she is and why she is there.  Days seem to roll into one large blob of time, and the weather outside is hardly noticeable when your mind and/or body is stuck in a room with tubes, beeps and bed-pans.

I realized a little while ago that this is the first trip to Alberta for my two aunts, and being in their 60's, it could very possibly be their last.  So I decided today that, despite their protests, I was going to drag them body and bones, need be, to the Rocky Mountains that majestically jut up thousands of feet from the otherwise gently undulating landscape that is Alberta. Just an hour's drive into the mountains is Banff, a world-renowned quaint, charming tourist town that promises an experience that will rejuvenate the soul, and catch your breath if you are able to pull your attention away from the stores and focus them on the backdrop of the town - glacier-capped mountains on all sides.
We decided that we will take only one night to stay over, and a day and a half to explore Banff and Lake Louise  (which is a further hour north of Banff).

We all feel uneasy about taking the time away from Mom, but during her more lucid days she insists that we do take some time to do something we will. We leave on Monday morning and will arrive at Banff around noon.  Once we are settled into our hotel, The Juniper, we will make our way a couple of blocks to downtown and find a nice restaurant for lunch.

I'd then like to take them up the Banff Gondola, an 8 minute ride up a 2300 foot cable that carries you to the top of Sulfur Mountain, and an altitude of almost 7500 feet!

Once at the top of Sulfur Mountain, the view of the town below with the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is unlike any sight-seeing tour you will ever experience.

I'd then like to take them to the Banff Upper Hot Springs, a mineral-fed natural hot spring pool and a 1930's restored heritage bathhouse, which promises to melt away all of our stress (if we can ignore the strong smell of sulfur), and fill our senses, one being the magical view of Mount Rundle. The temperature of the pool sits at a constant 98-104 degrees Fahrenheit.  The main minerals found here are Sulfate, Calcium, Bicarbonate, Magnesium and Sodium.

For supper, I think we'll take advantage of the restaurant at our hotel.  We've even decided to take something a little dressy to wear for the lounge.  Even though it will be a Monday evening and probably void of other patrons, there is something therapeutic about dressing nice and looking one's best.  And with the lounge being right in the hotel, we won't have to worry about who will be designated driver.

We'll indulge in a hearty breakfast on Tuesday morning, then start making our way back to Red Deer, with a couple of stops along the way.  A trip to the Alberta Rocky Mountains would not be complete without a stop at Lake Louise.  This spot is the inspiration of every medium of art.  With it's milky green water and it's duel mountain peeks in the background, you would think that nothing could make that scene more gorgeous...enter man...Erected in 1890, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is simply one of the grandest luxury hotels in the world. We must stop there and tour it's many shops, galleries, and grand foyers.

If we have time we will also stop at Peyto Lake.  I've always loved this lake because of it's shape of a German Shephard...Can you see it?

Even though my mother will not be able to be there with us, we can take some comfort in knowing that she has been to Banff in the past, and experienced all of these things.  I still wish I had more time to have her write a bucket list and check each one off, but she would argue that she has no need...she's lived the life she chose to live and is content.  She has a family who loves her, and whom she loves. Close friends who cherish her. Siblings who would spend every last penny they have to be there in her time of need. And a God in whom she trusts with all of her heart, soul, and might.

So, until we return from the much needed time of respite in the mountains, may God keep Mother safe and comfortable, knowing that we will be gone only long enough to remind ourselves that there is real beauty around us, and that there is no doubt a loving Creator who, in his infinite Wisdom, holds everything and everyone close to His own Heart.

I'll talk to you later,
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KarenG said...

I'm so sorry about your mom. And I loved the final paragraph of this beautiful post. What a blessing that you can take comfort in your faith, in nature and in family during this difficult time.

Debbie said...

Breath-taking pictures, Kelly! Even through times of sadness there is beauty to be found.
Still praying for your mom -- I hope the medication helps with the pain. Take care.

Kelly M. Olsen said...

Thanks, Karen and Debbie, for the words of encouragement. Much appreciated.

Misha said...

That sounds like a beautiful way to spend a day.

Hope you enjoy it!

I'm keeping you in my prayers


Old Kitty said...

Alberta looks lovely and Banff is particularly stunning!! What a pretty beautiful place! I think it's a perfect place for peace, reflection and finding calm. I know your mum will be with you and will be glad that her sisters will experience these amazing vistas as she has.

Oh those hot springs look so fantastic - I can smell the sulphur already but it looks very soothing doesn't it and what a view of Mount Rundle!!!

I'm all for dressing up for dinner whenever on holiday even if it's just going to be a few of you, the effort is worth it! I think Peyto Lake looks like a wolf! How fantastic is that?

I shall pray very dearly for your mother. I wish you and your aunts a tranquil time. Take care

Clarissa Draper said...

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your mum. I see you live in Red Deer. I used to live in Calgary for about 30 years. My favorite place in Banff to hike (although it might be too cold now) is Johnston Canyon. Have you heard of it?

Have you been to Lake Louise when they do the ice sculpting?


Claire Goverts said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mom, I wish the best for you and your family during this time. How wonderful you are able to spend time together with your family.

Those pictures are gorgeous, I'd love to travel to the Rockies someday.

Kelly M. Olsen said...

Charlie should be happy to know that I joined the Livestrong movement. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

Clarissa, I've hiked Johnston Canyon many the falls there. No, I haven't seen the ice sculptures yet, unfortunately...maybe this year.

And thank you, Claire, for your well-wishes. And yes, that is something you should definitely do sometime.

MT said...

This brings back memories. I've visited some of these places when I was a girl. Such beauty, and the perfect places to take your aunts. Prayers for you and yours.

Arlee Bird said...

The photos are beautiful. Years ago I visited Jasper for a couple days. We went camping there. Also took a tour on the Athabasca Glacier which was quite a memorable event. I hope to go back to the Canadian Rockies one day.

I understand what you're going thru with your Mom. My Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in July of 1990 and passed on September 9 of that same year. He went thru such pain and for two months we were all focused on him. His brothers and sisters all came to visit. We hadn't seen most of them in many years, and I haven't seen any of them since--2 out of 8 remain. My prayers are with you and you need to take care of things there. Blogging will still be here later.

Tossing It Out

Maria McKenzie said...

Hi Kelly. So sorry to hear about your mother. I'll keep her and your family in my prayers.

The pictures are truly amazing. Even during times of sadness we can appreciate the beauty around us.

Cheryl said...

How beautiful that you can share this breathtaking place with your aunts. I'm sure your mother is happy that you're taking them to places she's loved. She's blessed to have such a loving family around her at the end.

I'll be thinking of you.

Nick Thomas said...

You're a licensed funeral director? You mean, there are unlicensed funeral directors?

Kelly M. Olsen said...

Hi Nick. Sorry about the late reply. To answer your question, FD licenses expire each year, and if one is not on the ball, then one may be practicing without a valid license. Also, there are many students of mortuary science who are apprenticing while going to school, so in essence, they are funeral directing and embalming without a license. Take care.

Meghan Ward said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mom, too, Kelly. I'v been to Banff a couple of times and love it there! I went once in the winter and once in the summer. So beautiful!