“Old paint on a canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman’s dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called pentimento because the painter “repented,” changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again. That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now.”
― Lillian Hellman, Pentimento
The above quote has been one of my favorites for quite some time now. I like the way the word “pentimento” just rolls off my tongue, but even more than that I like the way that Lillian Hellman describes the word. A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent.
I first discovered Lillian Hellman’s quote in the book Words I Wish I Wrote by Robert Fulghum, Copyright © 2004 by Robert Fulghum. After Brenda’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments that she had to endure, this quote took on special meaning as we journeyed through her cancer together. It was this quote that formed the basis for many of our life decisions post treatment. To see what was there for us then, and then to see what is there for us now.
I’m back with my second post a little later than I planned, and there was a lot of time that passed between my most recent post and the one previous to that. My last post on Time Passage allowed me to tell a little bit about my Mom, and some of the feelings and such associated with her passing. I truly miss her now that she is gone, but she remains in our hearts. I know that my brother Jeff misses her terribly as well. Jeff also lives in Edmonton, our home town. Because he was near, he would call and talk to her every day at around 4:30 PM just to touch base and see how her day was. I know that he misses being able to just talk with her. So do I.
My last post was my first post in about 4 years. If you had been originally been following my posts from 4 years ago, you will of course know that Brenda had been fighting breast cancer, and we are happy to report that after completing her chemo and radiation treatments she has now been cancer free for 3 and a half years. So far so good. This post will catch us up to close to present day.
In the fall of 2015, when Brenda was finally able to travel again after completing her chemo and radiation, we cruised the Mediterranean, beginning in Barcelona (great city!) and ending in Venice. We usually travel with our good friends Ross and Maureen, but this time we did this cruise on our own. A celebration of sorts. After her cancer battle, we decided that life is too short, and that after the scare Brenda had, we should travel as much as we can while we can. The highlight of our Mediterranean cruise was at the end of our trip when we got to go to Malta for a few days to see our new granddaughter, Penélope. “P” had been born to Chelsea and her partner Owen in November 2014, while Brenda was recovering from her cancer treatments. It was such a treat to be able to go and visit P and Chelsea and Owen in their country, and Brenda and I managed to get some serious Gramma and Papa time in with P. It was a sad time when we finally had to leave and head home, but thank goodness for FaceTime. I wish I had a dollar for every minute that Brenda and Chelsea and P spent on FaceTime since P was born. I would be a wealthy man!
Brenda and I made some major life decisions after we got back from our Mediterranean and Malta cruise. Now that 2015 was drawing to a close, Brenda was at a crossroads where she had to make the decision to either go back to work in January of 2016, or retire early. After a couple of discussions regarding going back to work after being off on long term disability and fighting her cancer for the past two years, she made the obvious choice to retire from her nursing career. It was the best decision that she could have possibly made, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have been in the position for her to retire.
Then, in the spring and summer of 2016, we began looking at my planned future retirement date of December 31, 2017, and decided that we had better see what that was going to look like for me. We had always thought that when the time came we would like to retire together either in beautiful Penticton in the Okanagan Valley, or Parksville on Vancouver Island. We had our annual golf and wine touring trip that we took every June with Ross and Maureen into the Penticton area, and then planned a trip into Parksville early in the summer of 2016. Long story short, we found a builder whose work we really loved in Parksville, and who had a new subdivision planned with 54 homes around Morningstar Golf Course in the French creek area of Parksville. After meeting with him and discussing our intentions and desires when it came to a new home, he showed us the final phase of a subdivision he had been building about a block away where he had 8 homes he had yet to build. We picked our new lot in this final phase, rather than wait for the new subdivision. So it was August of 2016 that we picked our lot which was in a little cul-de-sac, and we set up the new contract for the home so the builder could begin building. And so it began. We sold our home in South Surrey after only 2 weeks on the market, and our plans for putting my December 31, 2017 retirement into motion were now in place. Our builder planned on having our new home ready for us by June of 2017 to move into.
At the beginning of 2017, we cruised South America with our good friends, Ross and Maureen. New Years Eve in Rio de Janeiro was insane! Copacabana Beach is the place to be in Rio on New Years Eve, and there were an estimated 2 million people on the beach celebrating and to see the fireworks! It was an amazing time. New Years Day, not surprisingly, was pretty quiet the next day. Those 2 million or so people were all sleeping off the party from the night before. After spending the first 4 days in Rio, we managed to make our way to the cruise ship and began our cruise around South America, with stops in Argentina, Uruguay, Cape Horn (the end of the world), and ending in Valparaiso, Chile. Then it was on a plane and we flew to Lima, Peru in preparation for the final segment of our South American adventure, a visit to Machu Picchu. The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in the Cusco region of Peru is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2007, Machu Picchu was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Built in the 1450s during the reign of Inca emperor Pachucuti, Machu Picchu is thought to have been either a country estate for the emperor, or an important place of worship. The exact purpose of the site is still unknown, though. Strategically placed between the saddle of two mountains – Machu Picchu to the south and Huayna Picchu to the north – the city provides unrivalled vistas into the valleys on both its sides, and would have been very difficult to attack due to its remote location and well-guarded access points of Inti Punka (the Sun Gate) and the Inca Drawbridge. Thankfully, it was so well camouflaged that the Spanish Conquistadors never found it. Brenda and I had managed to cross another place to visit off our bucket list!
After returning from our South American adventure, we settled into making a few trips to Parksville to check on the progress of the new house. Our builder, Paul, had made great progress since breaking ground in September of 2016, and as it turns out he had it ready for us to move into a full 2 months earlier than planned, We moved into our new home in April of 2017. We were here! Soon after we moved to Parksville from South Surrey, and settled into life on the island. We then kept ourselves busy with unpacking everything from the move and then getting the landscaping done. Now that we were here and settling into island life, I began having second thoughts about my planned retirement date of December 31st. Once again, Brenda and I talked at length about how that would look for us, and we were fortunate enough to find ourselves in the position of being able to now make the decision of me retiring early. I originally had every intention of staying until the end of the year, but with the stressful changes at my work and with some of the decisions that the company had recently made regarding personnel and staffing, it gave me cause to reconsider. It was early May of 2017 that I then gave my notice of retirement, with a planned exit of June 30th, 2017, about two weeks after my 63rd birthday.
Which brings us now to the subject of my most recent post, and to the beginning of the time when my Mom was diagnosed with her bladder cancer. It was right at the end of June of 2017, and thankfully I had already given notice of my intention to retire. It was all about timing.
So, to paraphrase Hellman’s quote, to see and then see again. I saw what was there for me then, and I saw what was there for me now. Pentimento. It’s obvious to me why I like Hellman’s definition of the word.
Until next time … K.