© Daily Herald staff
Last week I was home.
By home I don’t mean the house I live in here in Prince Albert. I don’t even mean Brandon, the city I have lived in for more than half of my life after moving away from where I grew up.
I mean the home that my parents live in; it’s the one place that feels like a sanctuary no matter where I’m at in my life.
It’s no longer the home that I grew up in -- that’s a long story that is their’s to tell -- but because they are there, it’s home.
Portage la Prairie may be a gas stop and potty break for most drivers as they navigate their way between Brandon and Winnipeg, but for me it’s the birthplace of my oldest memories.
My parents and in-laws still live there so it’s invariably where the Prince Albert Bergsons head when I get a few days away.
So early on April 16 we made our way east for what’s usually a 740-km drive. Since we were in no real rush, we headed south at Yorkton to take in the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley about 10 kilometres north of Whitewood.
It adds about 50 kilometres to the drive but also puts you on a big, wide divided highway for the last 310 kilometres, which counts for something.
With some snack pails in tow, carefully filled with about eight different kinds of salty snacks that we like, we only had to stop for gas.
My wife cracked me up with a line about my mom.
“I just know she’s going to give you back to me smelling like bacon,” she said during the car ride home to Manitoba.
It’s always an exciting moment when you take the off-ramp into Portage from the Trans-Canada Highway. We’re good travellers but it’s still a long day on the road.
I had predicted an arrival between 7:30 and 8 p.m., Manitoba time, and we pulled into the driveway at 7:44.
Supper was waiting.
My wife headed over to her parents’ house a while later, with both of us laughing and claiming that we were getting the better holiday bargain by bunking apart for a few days.
On the second day, the headache that I’ve been nursing for most of 2014 disappeared.
It might have been as I watched curling with them. It might have been as we shared a meal. It might have been during the walk with my mom at Island Park or the trip to the gym with my dad.
It might have been while my niece cheated at Crazy 8s to beat me over and over. (I have no proof that she cheated at cards but that thought helps me to sleep better.)
My youngest niece has finally overcome her disabling fear of me, something she likes to display with nonstop beatings of her old uncle.
She also taught me a game she likes called Red Light Green Light.
One person turns their back to the players, and, from a distance, says “green light” and the players run towards them. But when they call “red light,” everyone has to freeze in their spot. If the person yelling instructions sees any movement, the player has to start back at the beginning.
The winner is the first player to get to the caller.
I soon discovered that this young lady couldn’t resist having faces made at her; the corners of her mouth would soon begin to curl into a smile, and with an exasperated sigh she would walk back to the start.
I have the bruises to show how sweet she is on me now.
I went for coffee one day with one of my oldest friends; we spent nearly three hours chatting. He remains one of my favourite people because you could drive from Vancouver to Halifax with him and nor hear the same story twice.
He’s a gifted storyteller with smart opinions on sports, news and pop culture. He also knows what happened to many of the people who I went to school with in Portage 30 years ago, which is gold.
One week ago today, my mom fulfilled my wife’s prophecy when she made French toast and bacon for our final meal together before we headed home.
We drove along the Trans-Canada Highway to Indian Head, where we turned north and we had our first look at the lovely resorts built along the Katepwa and Mission lakes.
We drove all the way north to Tisdale, ignoring some of the shortcuts for a chance to see more new country.
We were home that night by 6:30 p.m. After a pair of quick phone calls back to Portage to reassure everyone that we had arrived safely, we snuggled up on the couch and watched some TV.
On Wednesday morning I was back at work, and the headache had returned.
When I look in the mirror lately I’m starting to see the age more than I once did. The lines in my face are deeper and the skin is gradually getting a little looser.
Time is winning, as it always does.
I see it my parents and I see it in my in-laws and I even see it in my beautiful wife. (Don’t mention this if you see her. This is going to cost me a lot of brownie points.)
It’s a dumb thought but it feels like time slows down a little bit when I’m home.
Even though my parents record the curling games now so that they can fast-forward through the delays and commercials, it’s a world I don’t live in when I’m away from home. It’s not something that I would even consider watching without even them, even if I had the time.
That’s why I go home to Portage to watch curling with my parents.
No matter what’s coming down the ice, it’s always safe in the house.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org