“Hi, Mom. Why haven’t you called me?”
Mom was usually good about calling when she and Dad were away on vacation, but they had been gone almost two weeks and I had not yet heard from them.
“I was just getting my calling card out to call you. Wasn’t I, Chuck?” I heard Dad’s familiar laugh in the background.
“Is this your last night in Whistler?”
“Yes, it is. We said good-bye to Ken and Marcia and everyone earlier. I wasn’t feeling well—I have some kind of itchy rash—so your dad and I ordered a sandwich for dinner from a place called Portobello’s.”
“Oh, we loved Portobello’s. Did you have their Yorkshire pudding?” My husband and I had been to the resort/ski town of Whistler in British Columbia a couple of times, and it was fun hearing about it again from Mom.
“No, we never had the Yorkshire pudding, but I think we’ve had every kind of sandwich they make.”
“Have you been to Cow’s? They have the best ice cream, and it’s such a cute shop.” I was getting excited talking about my favorite places in Whistler.
“Of course…every day. And, we’ve had a piece of Nanaimo bar every night.”
“What’s a Nanaimo bar?”
“You don’t know what a Nanaimo bar is? I can’t believe you wouldn’t have had one when you were here.” Mom sounded incredulous that I didn’t know what this Nanaimo bar thing was.
“I don’t think so.”
“I’ll have to make them when we get home. I got the recipe years ago when we were on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo is the second largest city on the island. The story is that, back in the 50’s, a woman from Nanaimo first made these bars for a recipe contest. The bottom layer is a chocolate graham cracker/coconut layer, topped with a vanilla custard-type layer, and then melted chocolate bar on top. You’d love it.”
My mouth started watering just thinking about the dessert described by my mom.
“Sounds yummy—can’t wait ‘til you get home to make them. So did you like Whistler? Did Dad get to golf on any of the beautiful courses? Did you go up the gondola?”
“Yes, Dad’s all golfed out. And today Shawna and I rode the gondola.”
“Wasn’t it beautiful up there? I didn’t like the ride, though, so I closed my eyes most of the way up...and down.”
“You missed the best part. Chuck, how did we raise a daughter afraid of heights?” I heard Dad laughing in the background again. I could picture him lying on the bed, head propped up on a folded pillow, remote control pointed at the television.
“And tomorrow you’re heading where?”
“We’re supposed to be going to Kamloops, to see Mrs. De Beeson. You remember your piano teacher?”
“Of course I do. She lives in Canada now?”
“Yes. I told you all this earlier—you apparently weren’t listening.” Mom was right. I couldn’t remember ever hearing that they were going to visit my old piano teacher.
“What do you mean you’re supposed to go? Why wouldn’t you?”
“This rash is really bothering me. I went to a medical clinic today and they’re running some blood tests.”
“I’m sorry. Do they have any idea what’s wrong?”
“No. And Kamloops is about a five hour drive. I’m not sure I want to be in the car for that long. We’ll see what the doctor says tomorrow.” Mom loved to travel, and driving through new territory was one of her favorite activities. I knew she must really not be feeling well if she was concerned about being in a car for five hours.
“You have the phone number of where we’re going to be on the itinerary I emailed you. If you call and we’re not there, it’s because we decided to just come home instead.”
“Okay. I hope everything’s alright so you can continue your trip. I’ll talk to you later. Tell Dad bye.”
“It all makes sense now—I can see how it happened.” I heard my sister’s shaky voice on the other end of the line. “We’re about ten minutes outside of Kamloops—at the site of their accident. I put two hearts and a cross by the side of the road.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat and wiped tears from my eyes with the back of my hand.
“Kamloops is a cute town,” she choked out. “Mom and Dad would have liked it.”
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