“It has to be better than last year's”
My mom, Lynn Kindrachuk, said this yesterday on the eve of her 70th birthday. November 12th, 2020 wasn't the best. She was turning 69 while quarantining in my great aunt Joanne's basement after crossing the Canadian border to see her sister.
Joanne will be with her today. Her sister will not. She passed on.
There is a mountain near my parents house in California. There is a monument at the top of it. My aunt Marj, who often visited, called it the plus sign.
But I like calling it what it is. A cross. Because it is holy and sacred. And every night, before bed, my mom likes to look at it and say a silent prayer.
Last year my mom had to do two of the hardest things any of us ever have to do. Say goodbye to her sister.
And then say goodbye to her sister in front of a large group of people, all grieving, but coming together because Marj liked parties.
My mom spoke. She told a story. It was based on true events. I wrote it, but it's hers. It's theirs. Here it is.
MARJ AND LYNN AND THE HALF TON NATIVE
Up, Up, Up, way past where the rest of the world figure people go, there is a forest
It's home to foxes, raccoons, moose, elk, and for a few months out of the year, Saskatchewan humans
Two sisters, people, went for a walk in these woods one afternoon.
Not a walk, a hike, because while it was a walk, it was a walk in the woods and that's different. So, a hike.
Suddenly, out of nowhere (even though it happened all the time in these woods) a bear showed up.
The bear appeared threatening. Bears are! They trick us as cubs and we think they're adorable but then they grow up and are all claws and teeth and reportedly amazing tree climbing abilities.
The sisters grasped hands. Stoic, proud, ready for a battle.
Then they thought about it for a moment and sensibly fled to the nearest body of water and were rescued.
The bear had chased, but they had escaped!
But, as someone who did not witness this but heard the story, I know there is an alternate version.
I know this.
Had they not fled,
Had that not been the best option.
Had the only option been to fight.
They would have grappled with that goddam bear and beat him into early hibernation.
That's what I know.
Individually, they couldn't do that.
Individually, there's a lot of things people can't do.
But some people, when they're lucky and deserve luck and just....
They get a best friend, a sister, a fellow bear hunter
To stand alongside with
And tell a 500 pound animal
"You'll have to fight both of us"
While this podcast is essentially a tribute to my dad,
This episode is for mom.
I'm your host Zak Kindrachuk.
My dad used to play hockey.