Well, where were we? I was just about to announce our big news when we heard from Mike and Deanna and that took precedence over everything. We raced down as soon as we could get a flight and tried to offer our support wherever we could. It’s times like these you realize just how important certain people are to you. They had so many people there to help out that we stayed just for a few days and returned before they were overwhelmed with all the people who had arrived. Also, I’m still not quite comfortable around Anthony; he used to give off really strange vibes and I began to wonder if he had a crush on me even when he was married to Thérèse. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but it was just something about the way he behaved that creeped me out. I agreed to go along with John and Elly Patterson when they wanted our help to push him and Liz together if only because I didn’t want that attention turned on me. I think Gord talked to him a bit about his new job out west, but I just spent my time with Merrie and Robin, who have grown so much since we last saw them.
So, back to our news: it was great to have all the family together so we could announce that we’ve bought a summer place at Restoule Lake! Ardith knew we were looking for a place, so as soon as something matching our requirements came onto her books, she was on the phone immediately. It’s about a three-hour drive from Milborough, but we thought that it would make a fantastic summer getaway for everyone and we could all take turns using it from the time the park opens around Victoria Day until Thanksgiving weekend. Ardith and Jack were a bit less than thrilled with this proposal, as I guess they thought that we’d be the only ones using it. She still has a lot of issues with her parents because of all the trouble their drinking caused when she was growing up, but maybe some weekend next summer we could reach a détente and just get all of Gord’s family together around the table at one time. It just might happen if there are lots of mosquitoes and no one wants to venture outside.
Meanwhile, on the semi-political front, Rebecca Kramer, our new MP, actually made good on her promise to help the Survivors by taking the issue to Ottawa and to the media. There was an unexpected backlash almost immediately after her first CBC Radio interview – unexpected because of the origin: Anthony’s father and then, in opposition to Gavin Caine, Thérèse’s father. Neither have any direct connection, but my view, with which Gord agrees, is that Anthony and his father have fallen out so Mr Caine is using the sudden media interest in Milborough’s history to try to hurt his son by trying to paint me as an hysterical tree-hugger and Rebecca as a political lightweight who gets on TV only because of her looks. Mr Arsenault’s motive is only slightly less disgusting, hoping that the investigation reveals contaminated land which will make the house prices drop so he can snap them up, flatten them, then resell the land for new development once decontamination has finished. Our own campaign to see some kind of compensation and long-term care arrangements for those people most affected by this is getting swamped by all of these distractions and it took John Patterson of all people to try to bring the focus back where it ought to be. Elly’s condition is hardly secret anymore after she got out of CMH and there has been a lot of public sympathy for Dr P, leading ultimately to his being interviewed on W5, although they added some editorial commentary at the end suggesting that Elly’s condition might have been caused by living all those years in Milborough, when that’s a separate issue entirely. Isn’t it?
The good news is that there will be a public inquiry starting after Easter. We need to keep the issue in people’s minds until then, but this has to be done very carefully to avoid seeing people grow tired of hearing about it before the inquiry even begins.
After what he said on TV about the need for the government to admit what happened and to help people now and ensure that their future medical and housing needs are met, I spoke to Dr P for the first time in months and thanked him for his support. He seemed so much more…mellow, I guess, and apologetic for having been so out-of-touch for years and I spontaneously invited him to spend Christmas with us. Gord was a bit taken aback, as we’ve been saying for months now how nice it has been to finally be out from under the Pattersons’ financial thumb, so to speak, and now I’ve gone and done this, but it will be on our terms as his equals and not as his investment. His – and Elly’s – behaviour in recent years has done a lot to sour our previously good relationship, but I still can’t forget how much help they once gave us, how Gord once saw them as the parents he wished he had, how I turned to Elly for advice on motherhood, even how Elly used to run and play with Paul and Rosie. People often use Christmas as a time of forgiveness and maybe we can find a way to remember the closeness we once had. Also, I feel that no one should be alone at Christmas. Whatever your plans, may you have a happy holidays!