Visit to Lynchburg, Virginia (and events recorded until late 2006)

In September 30th 2000, flew out of Winnipeg to visit Michael. After a two week visit it was arranged that I would go on to Gordon in Yankee Hill, California. It was a long flight but I was met at the Lynchburg Regional Airport by Michael who drove us back to the house an hour away.

After a nice hot meal for which I was particularly grateful, since very little food was provided on the various planes. Michael's house, which was allotted him, was delightfully comfortable and fully furnished. This building, of which I have taken a photograph, is apparently reserved for visiting professors reminded me of the B & B in Toronto. The entire area is very scenic with an art museum nearby.

We were invited by Bill and Margaret Quilliare to an opera called The Elixir of Love The following day we did some shopping and I was able to bake some bread for us. On Friday 6th the Maier Museum of Art just across the road put on a show featuring "Rene Marie" a Grammy Award winning Jazz vocalist. Several hundred people were there.

The next day Jewel and Toni Eic took us on a 7-hour trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the fringe of Virginia. We enjoyed a very scenic drive finishing up with a meal at a restaurant in the woods I enjoyed a dish of Lasagna Alfredo.
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On Sunday 8th October 2000, we were invited to Ray Luck's home and enjoyed a very pleasant evening there. The next day we visited Karim and Robin Spencer to meet a group of friends from Senegal, Africa. Karim is the official computer webmaster for the institution here. Robin is a Guyanese from Buxton.

Angela and her son Sacha are expected on a weekend visit from Bermuda. My departure date for California is Saturday 14th. I was taken to the airport by a French teacher from Martinique. I arrived at Sacramento and instead of spending the night at the Host hotel as pre-arranged, Gordon and Arna met me and drove me home to Yankee Hill.

Life at Yankee Hill had not changed much. The fruit frees in the orchard have practically all stopped bearing except for the persimmons. And so life goes on at the usual pace.

The three of us left Yankee Hill on Sunday for Blythe where Gordon would be working. It was a twelve-hour drive and quite an experience for a ninety-four year old.
Arna's mother, Chris, was 94 on October 27th and they held a special church service at the Adventist church, entirely organized and delivered by the children. Later on there was a dinner and singing at their home.

Soon after, I considered returning to Canada in spite of adverse weather there. Arna had to return to Yankee Hill, so I returned with her. Once back, I contacted the airline and found it was possible to book a return flight for November 8th, which I did.

That Saturday, there was a four-hour church meeting, another record attained for my age. Sunday was a good day which we spent at Cobblestone Farms owned and operated by Linda and Duane McConnell. They have a beautiful home with lots of brickwork, stone pathways and turreted sections in a garden arrangement, and a fast running stream along the back portion. With a snow-covered mountain in the background, it was truly a sight to behold!

When we arrived, we were met by a horse-drawn carriage with liveried driver. We were taken over the entire farm which included a splendid meal consisting of the farm's produce.

On Monday 6th November 2000, Marsha called to say that there was a terrific snowstorm which made travel impossible. Reluctantly, I cancelled my flight. The airline agreed to let me use my ticket within a year, so I would be going back to Blythe and spending the winter there. Gordon returned to Yankee Hill and we drove back together. It would be Spring before I can consider returning to Canada.

Lucia arrived in time to attend a family wedding which Gordon and I did not attend, but from all reports, was quite an elaborate affair. I was later introduced to the English SDA church which was a lot easier to follow. After church, we went to Dr Linds home for an enjoyable lunch. He is a colleague of Gordon's at the prison hospital. Lucia left for Michigan the next day.

At this time, I made a decision to distribute my savings between my four children, and see them enjoy this while I am still capable of seeing them do so. At age 94 plus there was hardly a lot of time remaining to enjoy their company, hence the urge to do this at this time. While the usual thing was to leave a Will, I considered this more practical.

On December 10th 2000, Gordon and Arna took me to visit a friend of theirs, Dr Loraine Day, an orthopedic trauma surgeon, and a Seventh Day Adventist. Her home was truly delightful and the surrounds were elegant, with water spraying the well-groomed grounds all around the house.
Life in Blythe continued to be one of solitude, with Gordon going off to work early in the morning and returning at the close of day. Arna was mostly at her mother's house taking care of her, sometimes spending the night there as well. Her mother had had several strokes and needed constant care. With this situation it might have been advisable to make other arrangements for this winter period.

It was decided to spend the Christmas holidays with Mark and Barbara and Aidan in Santa Barbara, so we left Blythe for La Crescents where friends of Gordon and Arna, whom they knew in Peru, lived. It was a welcome break. We spent a few days there and then continued the journey arriving on Christmas Eve in Santa Barbara. The weather was gorgeous and Mark was able to accommodate all of us.

The following day was Christmas Day and we celebrated all the birthdays, Gordon's, Mark's, and Jesus'. We had a good time but Gordon had to return to Blythe to resume work at Ironwood Prison.

On Monday 28th December, 2000 Mark took us all on a long drive to the top of a mountain range overlooking the Pacific, with the islands of Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Pedro and San Miguel, just visible in the distance. The scene at the top of the mountain was rugged, steep but picturesque.

Aidan enjoyed climbing along the rocks where we had a picnic lunch. On our return in the late afternoon we stopped at the Mandarin Restaurant and had a Chinese supper.

Friday 29th, we went to the Santa Barbara Zoo which was located quite near to the ocean front, with lots of the usual animals including flamingos, lab bas, lemurs, monkeys etc. Barbara, Joan and I went to the Santa Barbara Symphony Concert which featured a sixty-five piece orchestra. They played classical music as well as opera and tap dancing. We were well entertained in a packed building, I estimated that there were well over a thousand people in the audience. It was a splendid end to a long leap year.

January 1st 2001, Michael and family went to the top of the mountain to view the spectacular sights from there. The weather was very good. Joan and Michael returned to Lynchburg on 4th January and I went back to Blythe on 7th. Mark took me to meet Gordon in Loma Linda, so the journey was split by having two drivers. Once there, we all had lunch at the cafeteria, then visited the new additions to the campus since I had last worked there - about 30 years ago. After another 3 hours we returned to Dr Stiles' house in Blythe.

Although there was a difference in temperatures between Blythe and Brandon, 70F in Blythe and - 15C in Brandon, I still miss Canada where so many of my friends and family live. Back in Blythe it rained for several days, but nothing like the five inches of rain which fell in Santa Barbara.

On Sunday 14th January my return flight was confirmed for 22nd February. The next day was Martin Luther King Day, so Gordon took us to the Living Desert, a wildlife and botanical park located in Palm Desert, California. This region, often thought of as lifeless wasteland, is actually an intricate and fragile ecosystem, containing a variety of animal and plant life. Many of which are extremely rare and seldom seen. It attracts 275,000 visitors annually, and so is one of the top tourist attractions. Thursday, 18th January I made a really good batch of bread and later took some exercise in the form of a walk along the sandy soil, using Gordon's exerstrider. Over the weekend I was taken to the Spanish Adventist church then to Lisa's for lunch. During the evening we looked at slides of Costa Rica where Efren has a plot of land.

On Sunday, three of us went for a two-day visit to San Diego. First day was spent at Mario's home. He is a retired preacher. We slept there and the next day we went to see Yvonne Harris, Arna's cousin who lived on an attractive hilltop.

The next Sunday we had an outdoor lunch on the patio, with metagee, buffet style. On Monday 12th we visited Quartzsite in Arizona, reputed to be the world's largest car park. In reality, it is a giant open-air market where one can buy just about anything.  On Saturday 17th, my last attendance at the SDA church there was an Ecuadorian pastor and afterwards, lunch at Lisa's.

We left Monday 19th at Yankee Hill at It was a 12 hour car ride. The last 4 hours was in heavy rain, so Arna did the driving. When we arrived, we found we had left the door key back in Blythe. Not finding a locksmith locally, we forced the side-door of the garage and got in that way.

During the months I spent in California, I visited the Loma Linda University where I had worked for 6-7 years and was able to visit some former colleagues, Bill Robinson and Alf Dennis, pharmacists with whom I worked. Another old friend I visited was Dr. Sven Neilsen. He and I had lunch at the cafeteria. Within two days, I was on my way back to Canada, leaving in the afternoon of 21" February and arriving in Winnipeg the next night. Aubrey and Marsha met me there and took me home around 10 pm.

I was surprised and pleased to see that renovations had been done to the 9th Street house during my absence. I called Gordon to let him know I had arrived safely. The weather was good, but there was a lot of snow in heaps on the roadsides.

Michael called to say that he was going to Barbados and that Joan would be returning to the U.K. They are also making a great effort to re-establish a home in St. Lucia. March 9th 2001, it was good to resume the afternoon dances held at the Community Centre and I am looking forward to attending the spring supper dance at the Canadian Legion. Unfortunately, I developed a touch of bronchitis and decided not to go. The snows are melting now and spring is on the way.

My 95th birthday in June 8th 2001 is soon here, so we try to get the scattered members of my widespread family together here for a little celebration. Maureen and Paul come over from the U.K;

Michael pops in from the Caribbean area, and Gordon and Arna drop in from Yankee Hill, California. So we put on a little party, and many of our Canadian friends join in. At this point I seem to remember that the worst thing about getting old is being denied the privilege of attaining it.

I keep trying to remain healthy by continuing my usual garden work. This year I cultivate the patch in front of and around the side of the house with gladioli plants, and by a surround of colour like petunias etc. In the back garden, I put in beets, carrots and tomatoes, from which I got a really bumper crop. What with a good bit of grass mowing, tree-trimming and general outdoor activities, I developed a rather painful hip-joint, and I was examined by my favourite Doctor, Colin McFarlane.

By virtue of a little Tachycardia I was kept in hospital for a while and given all sorts of tests - bone scan, ultrasound, etc, but nothing seemed to be too wrong with the old boy. I returned to normal life and started to think about the approaching winter.

It is now the 9th December 2001, and we are now considering the approach of the Christmas holidays. Maureen and Paul are seriously thinking of emigrating to Canada, and so we are now in the process of looking at the prices and accommodations available in the area of Brandon. With the sale of their London house, there would be enough money to buy one in Canada. After looking at a few houses for sale, we chose one that we hoped would be suitable. As Maureen and Paul have decided to spend two weeks with us this winter, it would be a good opportunity to see what it was like and make definite decisions about living here. So the house was purchased with Gordon's help.

Since the September 11th terrorist attack in the USA, immigration has really tightened up and we are making every effort to get Maureen and Paul into Canada, but it seems to be taking some time for Paul's processing to be finalized. Paul and Maureen arrive here and stay in the new house for the two weeks so that it would be occupied. With the Christmas and New Year holidays already with us, the matter has to stay put for a while.

It was finally decided that since immigration was taking longer than expected, Marsha and Aubrey decided to sell their place on 9th street and move into the new house in Cornwallis Crescent, themselves. In a short while, the 9th Street house was sold in March 2002. We are now fully installed in the other. This is the first time I am going to experience a full size Canadian winter, and it certainly was a cold one.

There are now signs of spring approaching. Gordon should be here soon to complete his investment with the new property. We do look forward to seeing him as he became ill and could not travel for Christmas. He arrived on 4th April and will return to California on the 9th April 2002.

Spring is now here and we are considering putting in a small garden, but it is still too cold to begin. Richie completed his two-year course at the Assiniboine College and is now qualified to do computer repairs. Gordon has decided to come to Canada in September and it is arranged for me to go back with him. I will probably spend the winter in Yankee Hill, since the cold seems to affect me a lot more than before. I guess the ageing body just rebels...

We do try to establish a little flower garden both in the front and back of the new home in Cornwallis Crescent, but it is really uphill work. Thanks to Mary Hotel, I was able to secure a good rose plant - "Adelaide Hoodless", which we place in the centre of the front lawn.

Gordon and I went back to Yankee Hill in September 2002, since with occasional attacks of`tachycardia" it was considered better for me to be away in a warmer climate. During the five odd months I spent in America, I stayed at many different places such as Yankee Hill, Blythe, at both Lisa's and Efren's home, as well as a couple of motels on the journey there. The longest stay was at Lisa's house, for three months. The weather in Blythe was just the opposite to that in Brandon.  Gordon took on a temporary job there for a short period then returned to Yankee Hill in February 2003.

My return trip to Canada was booked for March 5th and once more Gordon will accompany me back to Brandon.

At this stage Michael and Joan were hoping to resettle in Guyana. Due to adverse conditions in that country, this was quite impossible so it was decided to set up home in Barbados. I telephoned Mark today, 19th February 2003 to get some information about Michael and Joan, not having heard from them for quite some time. I was delighted to learn that they are now settled in Barbados in a pleasant area, selected and purchased with the help of Kai who is involved in the real estate and brokerage business now. I have been invited to go over and spend some time with them in Barbados to which I look forward.

Maureen is making some progress with the sale of her home in the U.K. Paul has received his immigration papers and is ready to take up residence in Canada. Hopefully they can both leave at the same time.

On returning to Canada, March 2003, I was surprised to find that winter was still very evident. There was still lots of snow on the ground, with more to come. My exercise program had to be performed under cover, in the Mall.

This very month, Aubrey retired from MacArthur's and he is asked to fill in whenever the owner is away.

2nd May 2003, Paul and Maureen have just arrived and are staying with us in Cornwallis Crescent. Maureen's house was sold and with the proceeds, plans to buy one here, nearby. Paul will be sponsoring her after he has worked here for a year, which are the requirements for permanent residency for her.

With the arrival of summer, Maureen and I joined the Shuffleboard club nearby. We can walk there in a few minutes. A bungalow in the area was purchased and they will be moving in August. In the meantime their household effects which were shipped from England arrived after a couple of months of their landing. This was a great relief when they finally arrived.

My tachycardia symptoms returned which required hospitalization on a couple of occasions. Towards the end of October we all made a trip to Winnipeg to get my Permanent Resident's card which is now required for travellers. Since the September 11th bombings in the U.S.A. security has been stepped up considerably, hence the need for extra identification.

At the end of October 2003, Maureen and I went to visit Michael and Joan in Barbados, for three weeks. Unfortunately, I developed a persistent cough. Other than this, the heat and the humidity, not to mention the mosquitoes, it was so good to see the family.

Michael met us at the airport and drove us to their home which is in a protected and gated area. There are 30 - 40 houses in this complex. Their house was bi-level with well kept surrounds and lots of fruit trees. There was a swimming pool just a short distance from the house. The roads on the island however, were narrow and winding making driving quite a task. In general, the trip was quite a break from normal activities, with several stopovers on the flights there and back, the Miami Hotel being the best one.

Towards the end of 2003, it was quite a busy time, what with birthdays and anniversaries and Christmas and with the usual activities. The family in Canada has grown quite a bit now and number 13 in all, Leighton, the most recent addition, Richie's third child, now one year old. During the month of January 2004, I tried out my ability to dance by taking Aubrey, Marsha and
Maureen to the Canadian Legion's Club, where we did a few one-steps, waltzes etc. for about a couple of hours. A very enjoyable evening!

Winter this year is proving to be quite severe but on the better days we still manage to go for walks.  As long as we dress quite warmly, it is quite possible to do this. The temperature is around 30-40 degrees C.

The next day, March 23rd, Richie went to Victoria for a long-awaited heart surgery procedure. It took many hours, but was well worth it and he is now able to function normally. On the other hand, Shelley, who accompanied her husband, came back with a badly injured knee which eventually took surgery to fix.

In May 2004, Maureen needed to leave and re-enter Canada once again as her Visitor's Visa was about to expire. I was planning to go to Gordon and Arna's with her, but felt inhibited by my physical condition. So I arranged for Marsha to go with her instead. The trip was for two weeks at the end of which they surprised me by returning accompanied by Gordon and Arna. It was also arranged secretly for Michael to join us here in Brandon as a surprise for my birthday.
There was a celebration at the curling club with many friends there. By virtue of my age (98) this was the biggest birthday party I have ever had, and I certainly enjoyed it! By this time Paul was successful in obtaining a new permanent job and will soon be able to sponsor his mother.
Christmas Day 2004 was spent at Maureen's house where we had Christmas Lunch and watched videos. Boxing day was celebrated at Cornwallis Crescent. Richie and family and Paul and Laura and her two sons joined us for a great meal which was most pleasant.
February 22nd 2005, Maureen's birthday was a double celebration as her new extended Visitor's Visa, allowing her to stay for another full year had arrived. We had a buffet meal with family, friends, and neighbours at her place. A month before, we had celebrated Paul's 40th birthday in a similar manner.
The following month, March, 2005 my appointment with the dermatologist, revealed nothing new - except for different medication. It helped for a while, but didn't cure the itch. So I decided that I would be careful and try to live as sensibly as possible. At this time, I arranged to have my hearing aid upgraded with Dr Stokes, an audiologist here in Brandon. It took some adjusting to the new device which cost around $1,400. With Spring on the way now, I should be able to enjoy all the sounds around me.
May 2005 Michael and Joan's 50th Anniversary. They went to Guyana to celebrate this. He is also involved in a new project which requires that he raises funds for it.

June 8th 2005. My 99th Birthday. Michael and Gordon came for the celebration which was a luncheon at Kam Lung, a Chinese Restaurant and buffet. The weather was wet but a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all, and the food was good. We visited the Hotels, my good friends on the way home. That evening, they came by for some of my birthday cake along with Richie, Shelley, the children and Shelley's mother, Linda.

In July this year, I resumed swimming at the Sportsplex. I used to go regularly years ago and quite enjoy the exercise. However the pool has now closed for renovation.

Paul has now purchased a house in Central Brandon, not too many minutes away. It is an older home, with the kind of charm that appeals to him.

Presently, I have developed a serious, irritating itch on my upper body. My regular doctor suspects an allergy and has referred me to an allergist. Now, having seen the allergist, I was referred to a dermatologist. While waiting for the appointment, I saw a naturopath, a Chinese acupuncturist and a reflexologist. Michael's suggestion to try saunas was also used without any real relief. To date, there has been very temporary relief, at best.

A Telehealth conference with Dr Hirst, a Winnipeg specialist, was arranged and took place at Brandon General Hospital. The examination was performed by cameras as we could see each other and answer questions. There was still no diagnosis made. Sometime after this I experienced hallucinations and some physical weakness and was admitted to the Assiniboine Centre on Christmas night 2005.

I was given medications which were designed to help my condition. I was able to return home after three weeks. It was arranged for Home Care to assist me with bathing and dressing as I had problems with balance as well. I was also provided with a male companion, Danny, who took me swimming at the local swimming pool once a week. I looked forward to these times immensely as swimming was my favourite form of exercise.

I also started attending the Fairview Club which was at the Fairview Personal Care Home. A taxi was provided for transportation there and back. There, games and light meals were also provided suitable for seniors with diminished mobility.

A visit to my favourite optician, Dr. Caswell disclosed that I have developed Macular Degeneration, thus providing me with yet another problem. Of course this gives me something more to worry about…….something more to worry about………………..

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