Aug 14 2012

Polar Bear Warnings?!?

A baby bird will leave the nest when it is able to fly and fend for itself.

Sometimes, they get nudged out of their nest prematurely by a competitive or too rambunctious sibling. Sometimes they are coaxed by an eager parent bird that puts their webbed foot down and decides they have had more than enough time lounging on the bird chair being fed by mouth.  This did not happen in our house. Two of my children were ready to spread their wings; my daughter was the most recent to go. I watched her fly up and away on a plane, too high for me to grab her arm or hang onto her feet to weigh her down.

I left the airport in tears. My husband told me, “Don’t worry, she’s fine”. Having no ability to reason on my own at the moment, I clung to his outlook and headed back home to the empty house.

I walked in the door and immediately spotted another bobby pin on the floor; just one of a hundred breadcrumbs she had left behind. I wasn’t sure if I should leave them there so that she could find her way back to us.

Then I cried some more and felt a sudden urge to renovate.

My daughter was prepared, i told myself. Her cargo, all 32 boxes of clothing, warm footwear, food, microwave, pots and pans, cutlery, linens, television, books, etc had been shipped three weeks before. Her suitcases were well stocked with things to get her through the first hours or day until she could unpack the boxes. She had a few clothing items, some cleaning supplies, a pot and some simple food items to cook should she be too tired to unpack her cargo.

My daughter called that evening well past the time that was scheduled on her itinerary for arrival. She had experienced 4 hours of delays and was wandering around in the airport looking for her luggage. The airline had lost both red and black polka-dotted pieces.

She called again after she arrived at her hotel and was still waiting for the lost luggage that would be delivered.

She called at 6am the following morning on the way to her next flight. They had found her luggage and delivered it at 3am.  She had 1 ½ hours sleep; she was exhausted and hungry.

I wanted to take the next flight out. My husband said,” don’t worry, she’s fine”.

So I waited and waited and waited.

I wrote the longest blog of my 4 month blogging life; the blog on the benefits of life after 40. I write when I am anxious. I was really stressed. I probably should have written it when I was in better spirits.

Then I stared at the ceiling and wondered out how long it would take to tear all the ceiling tiles down and to drywall.

My daughter finally called at 11am. She had arrived. This was it.

She’s teaching in a fly in only community, on a reservation in northern Canada.  They are a very laid back people.

She was dropped off at her housing and was in a mess.  The place had been rented out to hunters in the summer.  They were not tidy hunters. There were lots of bugs and stench from food items left behind.

She was glad to have her luggage back and would start cleaning immediately with the Lysol that we had packed. She was hungry too. Her cargo should be delivered any moment. She would call back later.

She called back an hour later. The ramen noodles had exploded in her luggage. The little swirly noodles were clinging to every item in the case. Having been invited to dinner by a very kind couple of teachers, she would continue to clean until dinner hour and cook a proper meal the following day after she unpacked her cargo…when it arrived.

She called in the evening again, after dinner, to let me know all was well and to tell me of the safety measures that were in place for them during a “polar bear warning”


Apparently three hungry polar bears had come into town last winter; one had broken down the door of a family while they were eating dinner.  The community had to hunt them down.

She told me that they would definitely shut school down should there be another “polar bear or wolf warning”.

The last warnings we had around here were for high humidity and a thunderstorm. The thunderstorm wasn’t even a warning, it was a watch.

They don’t get those where she is at.

They also have all of their houses built on block to avoid the perma frost.


She had to let me go; she was tired and needed to go to bed. She would start her first day on the job in the morning,

I lay awake wondering where I could get a sledgehammer.  For some reason, I really felt like I needed to extend the bathroom and perhaps the bedroom and quite possibly knock down the wall between the kitchen and living room.  I don’t know what look I was going for; I just needed more room to breathe.

The following day she called to say that her cargo had been lost; all 32 boxes. She had walked to the airport to find out the information. After hearing the news, she let them know that she was going to lose it. She said, “I’m going to cry now”. Without a word, a man opened a truck door and then said she could cry in there if she would like.

Regaining her composure she trekked back home and called me to ask for the number of the cargo company.  It took her all day to hunt her cargo down. It had been in storage far into the mainland for over a week.


Hours later, she called to chat while she was about to prepare a pizza from the Chef Boyardee box that had made it through the flight in pretty good shape.

How’s the weather, I asked. “Are your freezing?’

“Actually”, Mom she replied;’ it’s in the 80’s right now and somebody unpacked the Capri’s and tank tops that I packed.”

“Oops!  Sorry!” I answered. “I was trying to help you condense. I thought it would be too cold down there to wear summer wear.”

“I’ve been walking around town all day like a crazy woman, wearing long pants and warm rubber boots. I’m sweating buckets”, she answered a little annoyed.

“Well, it can’t be that warm.  What’s everyone else wearing?” I asked.

“Um…. shorts and flip-flops!”

She’d have to wait for nightfall when the temperature dropped drastically to cool off. She was freezing the first night having no blankets. They were in with the cargo.

As we bantered back and forth, I heard her yell.

“Oh great, you’ve got to be kidding me!” and then “of course my oven doesn’t work!”

We started going through her other food options. She had ordered some groceries in but they were also flown in and wouldn’t arrive for a few more days.  She had been to the only “grocery store” in town and had already spent $50 on a loaf of bread, some butter, bananas, yogurt and cereal.  The orange juice was close to $20.

Her father had picked up the other phone line and suggested she make some spaghetti on the stove top burner that did work.  The prep would take some time given that she only had one small sauce pan.  She settled on some sugar crisp cereal and then would visit one of her new friends before heading to bed.

Her father then asked if she could call her brother in his city to help him with some documents for schooling.

I yelled into the phone, “don’t tell her to handle his stuff, she’s got  more than enough of her own fish to fry”

Then my daughter yelled into the phone, “no I don’t, I don’t have any fish to fry, or anything to eat for that matter and besides my fry pan is in cargo!”

We all laughed…kind of.

Still looking on the bright side, she announced that she had a P.O box number. There had been a recent death in the community and she had been given the box number.  She said that it wasn’t unusual for a member of the community to die especially in winter. Sometimes as they head home after a night out, one of them might freeze to death on their travel back home.


She assured me she was still doing fine and would look into the oven problem and her cargo the next morning.

I hung up the phone and started drawing plans for a major home renovation and started looking up how to decide what was a load bearing wall.

She called back, hours later, to say that the satellite receiver that she had ordered and had planned to set up if her cargo carrying her television ever arrived, could not be sent to a P.O Box.  She had done her homework before she left and had arranged everything prior to her move.  The most recent customer service representative told her she had been misinformed on her earlier calls.

Then she broke down.

I walked into the bathroom and started tapping at the old grey ceramic tiles. I felt the need to bust something into small pieces.

Exhausted, she hung up the phone. Exhausted, I went to bed. I planned to call my neighbour the following morning. He has a large digger type machine. I wondered if I could use it to bust out a few more windows in the house.

This morning, my daughter called to say that her cargo was being shipped but no one could confirm when. She vowed to keep calling until it left their airport and landed in hers.  The community was aware the oven didn’t work and suggested she use a microwave.  Her microwave, she explained was with the cargo. They didn’t say much. They are a quiet people.  She went home on her lunch to regroup and eat a banana.

She chatted about this and that, still strong, still standing.  I told her how proud I was of her and offered her a ticket home at the same time. She declined saying that she wanted to see this all through. Then she told me that one of her new friend’s dog was porcupined.  It didn’t sound good.  I was worried for her but she said that the porcupine could only get to her legs and she was still wearing the rubber boots.

I told her that she was a blessed child of the universe. God would not leave her hanging. Expect good things were about to happen and they certainly would.

I hung up the phone, met with a plumber to discuss the bathroom and then applied some puddy to a few small cracks by the tile on the wall.  Then I started painting the hallway and up the stairs.

The painting was interrupted again by another long distance call.  My husband wondered if we had already used our 5oo minutes in the last 3 days.

My daughter had called to say that she located a satellite receiver on the local buy and sell community website.  The man who had one was the same man who offered a place to cry in the truck at the airport.  She noticed another ad where someone was looking for one boot.  Not two; just one boot.  We wondered what the story on that was.

Another long distance call buzzed in and it was my son calling from his city. He was having an emergency of his own.  I went back and forth between the two as I took a look at the kitchen countertop. It shouldn’t be all that hard to remove and replace. Hmm, I wonder how much granite would be.

In the weeks before I had each one of my children, I nested as all “mothers to be” do. I washed and I cleaned and renovated to make room for the new baby.

It occurs to me, the same thing happens when your babies leave home. It’s another kind of nesting. There is an overwhelming desire to clean and purge and organize and renovate for this next new period of your life…or to distract you from it.

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  1. Tim Stewart

    With Stewart blood coursing through her veins you had to know it wouldn’t be easy eh sis?…lol She will be okay because that same blood contains the strength required to get her through the storms. With that and the support system back home she has all the tools she needs to stand strong in the face of these challenges.

    That said I can’t wait to see what your house looks like in 6 months!!

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      You said it! Dad would have loved this, don’t you think?

      1. Tim Stewart

        Dad’s having a good giggle as he watches over Sam as she spreads her wings. Every good flight starts with a bit of a freefall. It just wouldn’t be that exciting otherwise.

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