2005 Get Together - Calgary

 

MEMORIES OF CALGARY by Pat Porter - also see Laraine's reflections on Calgary and the newsletter article.

What a great place- and what wonderful people.  We arrived 23 July in Calgary after a 9 hour flight- the boys did really well- and checked into the Hampton Inn and Suites where Laraine, Dave and CarriAnn had organised the MDSUK get together.  I think we were the first to arrive, and to be honest after such a long journey all we wanted to do was eat a decent meal and get some sleep-so that's just what we
did.  


We were up quite early the next morning (internal time clocks) and had breakfast, - as it was raining we took the transit into town to find an indoor activity for the boys. We had no change for the
transit and I asked a friendly looking lady on the platform what we should do - she said she didn't know either. Little did I know that we had inadvertently bumped into Kyla's mum!- More of that later.

So we got on, bumped into a transport cop, who said never mind this time about paying- he was in the middle of escorting a gentleman off the train - we went up the tower, not that we could see much as by this time it was pouring down. Matt liked standing (and jumping- which was a bit worrying) on the glass floor, but Chris wouldn't go on it - he posed for our first holiday snap by sitting next to it.

After that we went to the Glen Bow museum, and enjoyed seeing the exhibits showing Canada's diverse history. Then we went back to the hotel- on the walk back from the transit a gentleman with a little girl was following us down the road. As my boys tend to dawdle (a lot) we moved over to let them pass. Then they slowed down to let us pass-which my mum thought a bit strange -(can you guess who they were?) -but anyway we got back, went to lunch and then we took the boys to the pool, where we bumped into Danny and CarriAnn (who wasn't exactly sure it was me and being English I didn't push it, but did smile and say hello), then we had a short siesta so that we wouldn't be too tired for the evenings activities. It was here that we met up with some old friends and new faces- guess what? The little girl with the gentleman was Kyla and her Dad! He'd already approached one family to see if they were part of the MDS group (they weren't) and hadn't wanted to risk it again when he saw us walking past- they'd had the same idea as me- find an indoor activity because of the weather-but they'd gone to the Science
Centre.

I was struggling with the jet lag, but there was an excellent speaker from Vancouver-who told us a bit about our genetic make-up and how mosaicism occurs- and most comforting that we all have some degree of mosaicism in us among our billions of chromosomes! Pizza arrived- hot and delicious, but by this time my boys had fallen asleep at the table and my mum carted them off to bed so that I could stay with the group- meet chat and discuss. Just like Blackpool, it was as if we had known each other all our lives-we all hit it off immediately.

Day 2 in Calgary, and with a bit of car swapping, the whole group were transported from the hotel to the Heritage park just outside Calgary. This is a living museum, with houses (some original that
have been moved to the site) from the pioneer days. It was very interesting to see how people managed to live in those days. Many buildings had guides in them, and gave historical talks about how the houses were used and about the furnishings and tools. I particularly liked the talk in the fort, where it seems there was a party every night during the fur trading season. The boys enjoyed going in and out of the various buildings but loved watching the train going round the site. Even better when they had a ride later on in the day.

We all had lunch in the 'barn'- delicious home-made soup, sandwiches and salad- what a spread. Then we had a talk, by another excellent speaker, who, I believe, is a Special Needs nurse in Calgary hospital. (Sorry but I didn't write down names)it was very informative, advising about things we might want to look out for in our children- sleep apnea and feet trouble amongst others. It was interesting to see how difficulties seem to be faced very positively in Canada, rather than the good old English response of 'well he might need physio but there's a waiting list' attitude! Another great day out with our MDSUK friends. Then to cap it off we all went for a barbeque by a lake, with the use of a club house and facilities- many thanks to the organisation that lent us their property. Here was another opportunty for getting to know each other a little better.

The kids played together- Kyla showed off her soccer skills- well she never stopped running-good control too, I think all us parents had a turn kicking the ball with her (Laura in her bare feet!) and
she wore us all out. Even my anti-social boys had a go (they were more than content to dig in the dirt- typical boys!). CarriAnn and Aubrey turned into twins and Danny told me all about his job and his
new apartment that he is hoping to move into very soon. Dave and Laraine did the catering-delicious, thanks for organising the food too. I couldn't think of a better way to end the day- you Canadians
really know how to cook up a barbeque, and after all that fresh air I know I wasn't awake for very long once we got back to our room.

Day 3 in Calgary and we were all whisked away by bus into the Rockies, again kindly arranged by Laraine and Dave. They took us to Kananaskis (hope the spelling is right), the most beautiful setting,
to a facility for disabled persons from Alberta. There was a huge main lodge, with dining tables and very comfy settees, a big kitchen, a library and spotless loos (very important to my mum!). Outside there was a massive decking area with spectacular views over the countryside- fir trees and mountains. It had further tables and chairs and a barbeque, where Dave and the bus driver (whose name I can't recall-old age I guess) cooked up a lovely lunch of burgers hotdogs and various salads.

After lunch the kids went off to explore and we parents stayed behind for a great talk from Carol Johnson, a behaviour expert from Calgary and (I think) Wendy from the CDSA. Both were very informative witty and keen to hear OUR suggestions about how to help other parents in our position-especially those with a newer diagnosis. After the talk Ryan (Wendy's son-if that isn't her name-sorry- I'm so bad at names)gave out loads of leaflets about the CDSA and their work. Carol gave each of us a copy of her book- Captain Chaos lives here- very witty and gives lots of good advice about addressing different behaviour. And then we all picked a number between 1 and 8 and Ryan (who has Downs Syndrome) chose his favourite number and the winner was Bob (Danny's dad)- he won a hand made quilt- made by Carol- it was exquisite and we losers were all very envious, but Bob wanted it for Danny, so that he can hang it in his new apartment when he moves in- so we were all very happy with the result.

After the talk we all went for a walk by the lake-which was very beautiful if a bit windy, the kids wanted to swim but it was too cold for that, so we hiked through the forest for a while ending up at the children's play area (after an unscheduled detour because my boys were leading the way) good job we were called back or we could still be there now!

The afternoon ended with another super barbeque, then we all helped clear up and the bus was ready to take us back to the hotel. I must say it was very quiet on the way back and I think I was the only one who was watching Black Beauty on the overhead video system. I still don't know what happened at the end of the film, as we reached the hotel before it finished. Laura and Aubrey made a present of the film to Chris, THANK-YOU, and we were hoping that another hotel on our travels would have a VCR so we could finish it (Canadian tapes don't play here-different system) but we never did find one- so at the end of our trip I gave it to my Canadian friend who has a young son- so it went to a good home in the end.

At the hotel, it was time for us to say goodbye to all our friends.  We were leaving early the next morning for our road trip. It was sad to say goodbye-but I knew that we'd all stay in touch through the
group- and soon it will be time to start talking about where next in 2 years time?

I can't thank enough Laraine, Dave and CarriAnn for all their efforts in organising this get together- it was just BRILLIANT! A big thank you too for all the speakers who gave their time and who both educated and entertained us with their talks. I am so sorry if I got the names wrong/mixed up- but I know I'm not alone in saying it was great to hear all you had to say and know that such a positive attitude towards our children is so active in Canada.

Pat

OOOHHH forgot to mention the muffins and tarts we had for dessert-
Jude you really missed out there-they were scrummy!