What do you say to an 80+ year old woman who says, “I’d like a tattoo?”
After you get over the initial surprise and give it some thought, you say, “Yes, Mame!”
That’s exactly what happened during our visit to Ingersoll, Ontario when my mother-in-law Jean Lonsbary looked over the selection of Canada Day memorabilia offered by her daughter Betty Anne.
Mom could have selected any trinket: the miniature Canadian flag, the socks with a maple leaf applique, patriotic pens, or even a hat; but she spied the red & white tattoo with a maple leaf centered in its heart-shape.
I handed Mom the tattoo in is little cellophane wrapper. Then, she said, “Patty will you put this tattoo on me?”
“Sure, where do you want it?" I asked.
“No, I want it right here.”She pointed to her cheek. I was thinking she’d point to her hand.
“Are you sure you want it on your face?” I quizzed.
“Yes,” she confirmed. “I want it right here where everyone can see it!”
That’s exactly what I did hoping and praying as I applied the tattoo that I wouldn’t lose the directions for its eventual removal. My biggest fear was when I took Mom back to the assisted living facility, the nurses would look at her and look at me, and they would question my sensibilities as a responsible adult never letting me sign Mom out for the afternoon again!
Mom’s tattoo was just one of the joyful things that happened when we were visiting Ed’s family.
One of the other joyful things that occurred was that my sister-in-law Betty Anne had an opportunity to shine. She hosted the family for this early Canada Day celebration and gave Ed and me a chance to see family members all under one roof. The pot-luck visit was very well planned and enjoyed by all, including the four Shih Tzu dogs.
I learned a lot about Betty Anne that day. I learned that she is a fabulous hostess, that she can prepare some really terrific food, and that she is a woman who really loves, appreciates, and enjoys her family bonds. During our visit, she played a continuous loop DVD of pictures that Ed sent her of our family and as well as pictures from a trip she had made to our former home in Whitehouse, Texas. The entire afternoon was a remarkable family experience. Even more remarkable was what happened at the end of the day.
Betty Anne and I were in her kitchen when I ask about her plans for the rest of the week.
She smiled and said, “I’m on holiday. I am taking some time off from work to just enjoy myself.”
“Are you going somewhere?” I asked.
“Oh no, I am just going to spend time at home.”
All of sudden the idea sprang in my head. Spontaneously, I said, “Betty Anne, come with us on the coach. We’ll be pulling out in a couple of days and I’d love to have you join our adventure.”
She paused for a moment and looked a little surprised; then, I could see she realized my offer was sincere.
She said in a very thoughtful way, “I’ll think about that.”
She did think about it. And, Monday morning she came over to our coach to talk to Ed and I about just how this could happen, where we were going, and when she could move aboard the coach to enjoy a holiday with us.
Betty Anne’s trip would come to be memorable experience for all of us. She even extended her holiday because our destination was in the extreme west - Banff National Park. Betty Anne’s son Chris lives just south of Banff in Canmore, the gateway city to Banff and the Canadian Rockies. Betty Anne’s trip would eventually take her to Chris in Canmore. She would get there via stops along the way like Smashed-In- Head Buffalo Jump, Writing-on-Stone-Provincial Park, a win at the Montana casino playing Keno, and a fireworks display in South Bend. She’d pass through Calgary, ride a gondola, and walk through a July snowfall on a mountain top. She’d wander through the Fairmont in Banff. She’d visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. All these things unfolded to her because I asked how she was spending her holiday and we were able to take her on a journey to see her son.
We were so very happy to have Betty Anne on board. She taught her brother to say “please” and “thank you” again. She helped with the coach and learned a bit about hooking up water and electricity at a campsite. Although she still needs practice navigating with a map, we never got lost. She had a fabulous, extended visit with her big brother Ed. And, as a bonus, she and I got to know each other much better. Incredibly, one afternoon of family fun in Ingersoll evolved to be much, much more fun!
June 28, 2008
Recommended campground for traveling through Ingersoll, Ontario:
Lake Whittaker Campground
5840 Whittaker Lane
Harrietsville, ON, Canada
From Hwy. 401 near London, Ontario…On Lake Whittaker Road, off Avon Road/Country Rd. 37
15, 20, 30 amp/water
Playground; Laundromat; 214 Campsites; Day Use Area