To say that 2015 was a year of changes would be an understatement. On Friday, February 13. my beloved Elizabeth (Libby), my wife and companion for more than 60 years, died at Grace Hospital in Scarborough after a short illness (See http://In Memoriam) She was buried with full United Empire Loyalist honors in the family plot at Glenwood Cemetery, Picton, Ontario, on 24 August, on what would have been her 88th birthday. At the same time, we honored her U.E. ancestor William Johnson who fought at the battle of Queenston Heights under General Brock to help make this country what it is today. He was one of those veterans of that decisive war that never received his battle honors, nor the pension the government of the day reluctantly granted–after most of the veterans were dead. We placed a footstone in his memory, and he is now officially honored on Veterans Day each fall. Then, in November, came the news of the death of Libby’s brother, William Ormand Johnson. Two family stalwarts gone within months of each other! It was not turning out to be a good year.
Learning to live alone–not
Needless to say, I was left alone in a large five-bedroom house after Libby’s death, so I decided to invite my son-in-law Arastou, my daughter Shannon and their two daughters Roya and Emma to move in with me. Originally I just thought to provide them housing, and myself some company. But it has become much more than that. My son Casey, his wife Kim and daughter Coral already live with me. Now the family expoanded again. At that point I decided it was important to share everything, so we paid off the old mortgage and took a much larger neew one, at the same time making Casey. Kim, Shannon and Arastou co-owners. It has resulted in a family dynamic I could never have anticipated.
and so the renovation began . . .
Casey and Arastou, working as a well oiled team, began renovations on the house both inside and out (which I frankly had not realized was a half-century old). They laid new hardwood floors, contracted for a new lifetime metal roof, added new insulation, and installed new fully insulated windows and doors. At this writing we have also installed a new on-demand hot water system, a new in-ground heating system to replace the old baseboard heaters in Casey’s side of the house, and installed solar panels on the whole west face of the roof. Now finished, we have the most energy efficient house in Scarborough. (Note from 2016: our Hydro bill for November 2016 was $0.00). We are planning a new kitchen and major exterior landscaping in 2016.
The improvements are great, but more than anything they have brought the family together in a way I could not have anticipated when we set out on this journey. At the same time, we have renewed contacts with Seaghan’s children by his first marriage, especially with Cristiona and Bill McKay, whose two children Mikayla and Brydon, my great grandchildren, have not been well known to us before.
All in all, instead of wallowing in grief, I seem to have been reborn–with a new family, a new set of goals, and a forward-looking future. The year has been a watershed for me, and I have never felt more confident than I have at present. To say that at the age of 84 is, I feel, something of a miracle.
At the same time, I need to say I feel the same way about the country. Now that Canada has shed the Wet Blanket of Doom known as Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, I feel confident the country itself is moving forward into what Churchill once called the “broad sunlit uplands.”