When my son, Leo was two, I became pregnant for the third time. We had had an early miscarriage before Leo came along in 1999. It was during the early weeks of this pregnancy that we decided to move to the East coast.
My husband, Dean found us a furnished two bedroom sublet with a garden and a patio and which accepted pets — we had two big dogs, at the time. Our new digs had a gas fireplace, two floors, two sunflower-upholstered love-seats, laundry just down the hall and an underground parking space. The apartment was just around the corner from the Public Gardens in Halifax and we thought we had died and gone to heaven.
While Dean would be at work down at Purdy’s Wharf (the two tallest, newest buildings on the Halifax harbour), Leo and I would be hanging out in the Public Gardens which are truly a beautiful place: green lawns; winding pebbly pathways; ducks, geese and swans in the ponds; a band-stand; a canteen with ice-cream stand — paradise!
If we weren’t in Public Gardens though, we might be out with our Realtor who was trying to find us a house. It was a hell of a market. A sellers market where everything was selling out from under us, even as we were walking through a house.
Dad and my step-mom, Wendy, came to visit for a week. They took the train from Ontario, getting into Union Station where we easily picked them up. The best memory of that trip was our day in Peggy’s Cove. The five of us, with jackets, water-bottles, sunhats and wallets piled into our wagon, along with our two big dogs, Delta and Grizzly, and away we went to the second best known landmark in Nova Scotia (the first being the Fortress at Louisburg Historical Site).
When we rolled into Peggy’s Cove, after the twisty-turny roads, we all felt a wee bit squeamish. We all wanted to just exit the car and get some fresh air and stretch the legs. I look over to the left, see a brightly painted old school house with a sign that reads: ‘FREE JAZZ CONCERT TODAY’. I say the words aloud to Dad and Wendy, it was like, well, music to their ears. Golden, simply golden. We clambered out of the wagon and made our way over the beaten-earth pathway to the Old School House. Walking in, Dad began to smile and to take Wendy’s hand. It was the music of their age. From their day. They began to dance. When the song ended, Dad said, ‘If I just had a black coffee now, I would be all set’.
‘Back in a flash,’ I said and out I flew, down the path and over to the cafe, which wasn’t far away. Peggy’s Cove is a tiny village and harbour with colourful wooden houses, flapping clotheslines, hat-wearing locals, tour buses and fishing shacks, and let’s not forget that lighthouse. Upon my return, the musicians were conversing with Dad and Wendy who both had large, wide smiles and the glassy eyes of reminiscence. They took a coffee each, thanking me, and sat back, the picture of relaxation and contentment. We hadn’t even seen the lighthouse yet. Imagine.
The next day we went to one of the best beaches on the south shore: Bayswater Beach. For once we were not fogged in but enjoyed the perfect weather. The added pleasure of this part of the visit was that my step-sister, Paulie and her family were staying in a cabin on a large beautiful lake and we arranged to meet them at the Bayswater Beach, it being the hometown area of her husband, Seth. Seth set up lawn chairs for everyone and then Dad said, ‘If I only had an ice-cream now, I would be all set’.
‘Back in a flash’. I carried back a couple of trays of soft-serve ice-cream for all of us bought from the lady in the truck selling all manner of take-out food. I marveled watching Dad and Leo who were obviously enjoying their cones the most. We had a very sweet time on the beach, Leo playing with his two big cousins in the warm stream of water that runs to the sea. The ocean, being the North Atlantic, was beyond freezing cold. Of course.
For the next couple of nights we stayed in a cabin, close to the one that Paulie and family were staying in and enjoyed hours of swimming, canoeing, story-telling and eating. It was ideal. I’ll never forget the interactions between Leo and Paulie. Especially when it came to saying I love you and goodbye. At that time Leo wasn’t speaking very much, but he was signing. And he would sign ‘I love you’ — dimpled hand held up with chubby ring finger and middle finger bent to his palm. This one day, while saying our goodbyes, he signed ‘I love you’ and then with his index finger pointing at Paulie, he signed ‘I shoot you’. When I saw this I was horrified. But Paulie, in her sweet gentle way, saw the fun in it and chuckled loudly making Leo want to do it again and again.
Then it was back to just the three of us, with now a jumbo-sized peanut in my belly, slowly, slowly getting bigger and stronger. Hearing our baby’s heartbeat and being told we were to have another boy, we were over the moon. His name would be ‘Dane’, after the great soccer player, Zidane.
Then one day, out of the blue, on the Friday morning of a long weekend, I was having tea and toast at Tina’s house, watching Leo and Jude playing and I began to get a strange sensation in my lower belly. It was the same type of feeling that would come at the beginning of a menstrual period.
‘Ah oh’, I thought. ‘Can’t be.”
Crane photo courtesy of an old high school friend with the initials G.B.