Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 1998, and a play

Middle-aged Yohan, in Ottawa
Not only is this month the fiftieth anniversary of les événements de Mai  it is also the twentieth anniversary of a personal sort. In 1998 I went on a four-month road trip across Canada, managing to visit every territory and province except Nunavut. I travelled in my 1991 Chevy S10 truck with my 16 year old dog Yohan. He died a few months after we returned from that trip. He was a good companion for road tripping and I knew he probably wouldn't survive the year, being so old. It was my fiftieth year and I felt I needed to do something to mark it. I managed to convince my employer to give me a four month sabbatical and took off toward the end of May. I kept a journal, I wrote emails and I took a lot of photos. When I got home again I packed it all away and focussed on my dog's last days. Then I moved on in my life.

I always intended to do something with all that material but it seemed like a daunting task so nothing happened. Yesterday I revisited that idea and hauled out the photo album and journal. I went through my saved emails and transcribed them to Word documents. At the time I was using a now-defunct email program, Eudora, so transcribing was a bit finicky. But it's done now. Then I went through the photos. At the time I thought labels were not necessary, my memory would suffice. Hah! In the journal I at first noted whenever I took photos so that looked promising, but apparently I soon dropped the practice due no doubt to unwarranted trust in my memory. Some of them are obvious but a lot are not.

Youthful Yohan, in Wolfville
Anyway, what I hope to do is post some of this material on the days that correspond to the journal entries. I don't know how far I will get, it's a lot of transcribing and scanning of photos. I may end up doing some of it retroactively. The most memorable part of the trip was from Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Inuvik near the Arctic Ocean and back to Whitehorse in the Yukon. During that time I came close to losing Yohan which was traumatic. I would have cancelled the whole trip and headed back to New Westminster where I lived if that had happened. One veterinarian I took him to recommended that I let him go and I simply couldn't do it. But he survived and in some ways the rest of the trip was a postscript to that moment.

Old Yohan, in Toronto
What got to me yesterday was looking at photos of Yohan. For some reason I had consigned all the photos of Yohan to this album so for years I wondered why I didn't have any pictures of him, I forgot that they were in the 1998 Road Trip album. But there they were, especially a favourite taken when he was still a mature but healthy beauty. After he died I missed him a lot, I used to dream of his return for years after. In fact those dreams did not stop until I got Hapi, my current doggy companion.  When I looked at these old photos of Yohan I felt very sad. Not because I missed him but because I didn't. I had forgotten him. I looked at those photos and felt nothing, and that made me sad; that it was so easy to forget someone.

The feeling of sadness stuck with me for the day. In the evening I was ushering for a Stage Prophets musical, The Children of Eden. It was a joyful musical but I had a hard time feeling joyful. A friend of mine was responsible for costume design and the costumes were truly imaginative and amazing. the first act was about Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, the second act about Noah and the Flood. In both acts a host of animals participated, from mice to elephants, alligators to ostriches. The giraffes in particular were applauded. I do have to say though that the musical did not portray God ("Father") in a particularly positive light. he seemed a tad vindictive, who justified his actions as the exigencies of fatherhood. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it was definitely an enjoyable performance. Not exactly a cast of hundreds, but pretty darn close.

FYI, the photos of Yohan here are clips from other photos which I did because I had apparently "lost" all my photos of him. I'll try to scan some of the better photos of him from that old 1998 road trip photo album.

1 comment:

Wisewebwoman said...

I look forward to hearing about your odyssey in more detail and what a handsome boy was Yohan. If I could have gotten another dog I would have. Ansa helped erase the memory of Chelsea, her predecessor. I think it a normal process.

But that's life, our last dog comes and we don't know it at the time so the grieving stays with us.