Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 07.11.08
Stanstead, Quebec


New digs, old folks, and stitches

STANSTEAD, QC | When my eldest daughter signed her apartment lease this past spring, the idea of her actually moving out was still an abstract concept. After all, she wasn't yet 17, and 16 years old just seemed too young to hold a lease. You shouldn't be allowed to sign a legal document if you have angst.

But now there are half-filled boxes on the floor of Emily's room, and this week we took our first load down the highway where Em will be attending CEGEP. There's no getting around it; our first-born is leaving.

I'm not the only one coming to this realization. Last weekend, Abby clued in that her big sister would soon be living somewhere else. "Emily's moving?" she said. "Will we remember her?"

Her concern was short-lived; when she learned that she'd be getting her sister's room, her next question was whether Emily might possibly be moving out the following morning.

What's your rush? we want to say.

Because it is, after all, quite a rush. It's crept up on us pretty fast. I blame Quebec. This whole CEGEP system is just a state conspiracy to get dependents out of their parents' houses and into their own homes so they can start paying taxes, smoking, singing des chansons de Gilles Vigneault, and making babies. For parents, it's the disquieting revolution.

To make matters worse, as my child was packing, my parents were visiting from Nova Scotia. And I have to say I found myself a bit annoyed at them, not because their habits are particularly irksome but because they have a lot of nerve getting old.

For instance, why can't they just hop into the van like I do? It is, after all, a "family van." They're family. What's the problem? Why does it have to be such a production, all that creaking and easing in and out? And whatever happened to walking briskly? Can't they pick up the pace? I'm positive they're aging just to bug me.

This business of time is terribly conflicting. On the one hand, when it comes to my parents, I don't like seeing where this is all inevitably leading. On the other hand, I'm excited to see my daughter become an independent, confident, beautiful young woman. On the one hand, my parents will probably increasingly rely on their children. (I realized this when I saw them off at the departure gate and wondered to myself, "Geez, I hope they'll be okay.") On the other hand, will our children still rely on us?

Answer: Possibly. Especially if they injure a foot. This happened to Emily on the same weekend my parents were visiting and Abby was planning where to store her Barbies in her sister's room. She gashed her foot on a property marker playing a game with the neighbours. (You also shouldn't be able to sign a legal document if you still play hide-and-seek with the neighbours.)

Em and I spent the next five hours in the Out-patients in Magog. Quality time? I can't say it was, even though we got to watch "Independence Day" in French on the big-screen waiting-room TV. (An advancement in waiting-room technology but a vapid movie in any language.)

As we were called in to the examination room for stitches, I asked Em if she remembered coming here when she was eight years old to deal with complications after her appendix operation. She didn't. I did. It also brought back memories of my mother standing by my side when I was 10 and had to get stitches in my chin.

As I squeezed my daughter's hand while they froze the wound and laced her up, I knew no matter what happened I'd still be a father, always be a son.

But that doesn't make it any easier.