“You wake from dreams of doom and–for a moment–you know: beyond all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing, love’s calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn.” ~ Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings
On August 31st my husband Colin and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage. In celebration, I have been dedicating all 4 posts in the month of August to our journey together which has been intertwined with our training and work in medicine. Last week, our story ended with the completion of residency and most importantly, the births of our two children – the two greatest joys in our life. This week offers a snapshot of another phase of our married life, the last 13 years during which our son leaps from a 3 year old to a now 16 year old and our daughter morphs from a 9 month old to a now almost 14 year old. “Time flies” is an understatement for any parent who reflects upon their children growing up.
For the last 2 years of Colin’s residency, we had been preparing for a move across the country from Calgary to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI). We saw this move as a true lifestyle choice – leaving the fast-paced, traffic-filled city for a slower-paced life in a place we both knew well. Colin spent most of his childhood growing up in PEI, not having left until after completing his undergraduate degree and heading to medical school.
For me, growing up in New Brunswick, PEI was a common summer vacation destination with its beautiful red sand beaches and a variety of appealing activities for families. I had wonderful memories of the “Gentle Island” and we both knew it would be a logical place to raise a family. By this time, most of our family were now back on the east coast making it even more sensible to make the move.
Anecdote – our true inspiration to move to PEI came in the form of a young man wearing a UPEI (University of Prince Edward Island) Dept. of Athletics T-shirt when we were working out at the local gym in Calgary in 2001. I thought the universe was talking to me and I listened.
Prince Edward Island
The next few years proved to be quite a professional adjustment for both Colin and I. Although we were freed from the confines of medical training work, practice brought with it a different level of intensity and offered a whole new set of challenges. For me, the most difficult aspect was having less control over how I wanted to practice – one of the immediate downsides for me practicing in a smaller community. The other reality I faced was one that many of us struggle with, especially after having pre-determined goals for so long – the “is this it?” feeling. For Colin, he had to acclimatize to working in a small partnership that was underserviced and a system that had efficiency challenges. But as Colin always says, “we all make choices” and this is one we had consciously made.
In the five years we lived and worked in PEI, I explored a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings including sharing a Family Practice with another physician, working at a psychiatric hospital, working at the university health clinic and working for a government agency. Yes, I was restless with work, but on the personal side of life I felt very fulfilled – we had developed rich friendships that would be vital to our family. Colin’s work started to make headlines in the local newspaper due to a backlog of reported films, again in a system that made it difficult to get ahead. Fortunately, fast forward to 2016 and it sounds like the Radiology part of healthcare in PEI is working relatively smoothly.
Our kids integrated well over those years and became very comfortable with life as they knew it. In fact, in early 2008, even the work side of the equation had balanced a bit, so just when the fulcrum seemed to be coming to rest, we had a huge decision to make. By chance, a wife of one of Colin’s colleagues from Calgary was visiting her father in PEI and forgot a stroller. Colin was contacted and as part of the ensuing discussion, his colleague mentioned that his group in Red Deer, Alberta was looking to hire another Radiologist.
It was a prospect that we couldn’t ignore from an income, call and holiday standpoint. We were still trying pay off our $200,000.00 medical school and residency debt, but more importantly, the time off was worth more than any amount of money – Colin has always thrived on being an integral part of our kid’s day-to-day lives. After a quick visit to Red Deer, an offer was made to Colin, and within less than a 2 month turnaround, our family was heading west once again.
I would never have picked Red Deer as a destination to live but it picked us. A moving truck packed us up and was set to meet us in Red Deer in 12 days. Now within that 12 days, we couldn’t find our cat Zoe. We thought she might have snuck out when the movers were loading our stuff into the truck. Convinced it was an omen, I remember having a sick feeling that we were making a huge mistake. Both friends and the Animal Rescue League, from where she came into our lives, were helping us in the search. With no sign of Zoe, we had to leave PEI and any security that we had created.
When the movers began unloading our furniture into our new home in Red Deer, they discovered cat droppings outside of our son’s armoire. Zoe loved snuggling amongst his clothes in the drawers but we knew it had been closed up prior to moving day. What we didn’t know was that she could get into it from below. Fearing the worst, Colin sent the kids and I off for an errand to avoid what we might find when the armoire was opened. Shockingly, a very thin, frightened Zoe leapt out. If Zoe could survive the journey, I knew we could too.
Just a short time after landing in Red Deer, our son and daughter were set to start grades 4 and 1, respectively. On their first day of school in a new, unfamiliar city, their principal called me to say she had two lovely, very sad children in her office. As it turns out, our daughter, who had been told to never to talk to strangers, had run up to her brother at recess with tears streaming down her face saying that that everyone was a stranger and so she couldn’t talk to them. Her brother, who has always worried so much about his sister, agreed that everyone was a stranger and that someone might try to take her. So, with panic in his voice, he asked his teacher if he could call his mom to come get his sister. The principal said to me, “I think you should come pick them up and then they will know that they will be okay”. She was right.
So much has happened, predominantly good, in Red Deer, but like any part of life, we have had some bumps along the way. Work, school, friends, etc., everything has had its pluses and minuses but the pluses have continued to outweigh the minuses for the past 8 years. What has really evolved during our time in Red Deer is an indescribable bond between the four of us. I don’t say this to boast or exaggerate, but rather to label it for what it is. Twenty years ago I married my then boyfriend/best friend and we have evolved into life partners creating the Team Taylor that we are today.
In 11 days, our son and daughter will be starting grades 12 and 9, respectively. As Colin and I look back on our time spent and adventures in both PEI and Red Deer, neither one of us would change a thing – we believe that everything in life happens for a reason.
I want to end each of these posts with a question and reflection from Colin.
Me: Now that you have been a practicing Radiologist for 13 years, is it what you thought and hoped it would be?
Colin: Haha….no. I expected to start practice and to not look back – I was in the perfect speciality for me. Unfortunately, I underestimated the toll that the lack of control over my day-to-day schedule, constant interruptions and increasingly overwhelming volume of work would have on me. Thankfully, the move to Red Deer has put our family in a position that we can design our future as opposed to having to accept one laid out for us – for that, I am truly grateful.
Until next week when we visit hopes for the future…