Saying Goodbye
Saying Goodbye


Saudades – Time to say goodbye

Canada Family Retirement

Upon first arriving in Canada, we were hit with culture shock, having spent the last 5 years living in Rio de Janeiro. The climate there was hot and humid, with temperatures regularly in the 90s. The culture and lifestyle were totally different too. When we left Brazil, we experienced saudades for the wonderful new friends and unique memories we had left behind, just as we had when leaving South Africa and, before that, Rhodesia. Thirty-two years later, we were moving again. Saudades. We felt strong saudades as we looked back at life at Rouge River Circle. It was a special place no one could mistake for any other.

The first owner had built the house himself in 1967. It had a staircase built using historic timber from the old St. Lawrence Market. Views from numerous windows overlooked more than an acre of Moira’s magical garden. She expertly cultivated our garden over many years of tireless, loving, and back-breaking work, with great attention to detail.

The house overlooks the Rouge River, where the music of the rapids would coax us to sleep on the most restless of nights. Sometimes, the river was lazy and slow moving. At other times, it quickly became a raging torrent. On the other side of the river, our property overlooked a vast area of untamed wetlands right here in our suburban neighbourhood. Fox, coyote, raccoons, and deer appeared periodically on our front lawn. Besides these four-legged animals, we had a wonderful array of bird life. Blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, and many other smaller birds came in abundance to feed in our garden. Every spring we would watch for the return of two beautiful hummingbirds, after their remarkable return journey from South America. The river is also home to several magnificent blue herons. One morning, after we had sold the house, one of them took off from the river, right before my eyes, flying a slow circle through the trees in a farewell salute. On another occasion, just before moving day, we had a visit from an oriole who was attracted to an orange. Emma had correctly assured us that the orange would be a magnet for orioles.

At the bottom of our garden, there used to be two holes that were part of the Parkview Golf Course. These holes and the surrounding land were abandoned with the redesign of the course. The vacant land left behind provided a huge extension to our property. I had immense pleasure using my neighbour’s tractor to cut interlocking paths in the grass there. That was where we walked our dogs, and where I practised my chipping in early spring, getting ready for the golf season. Walking just a little farther around the corner, you could look up to see the Parkview Golf Course 11th par three hole. It was here that I made my second hole-in-one. The perfect fluke repeated—not bad for a golfing hack!

While everyone who has spent any length of time somewhere will undoubtedly have saudades for that place when they leave, you can understand why our home by the river had cast such a powerful spell on us.

We had an especially memorable Rouge River moment shortly after arriving in Canada. It was a bitterly cold winter’s day. Moira and I had still to purchase proper winter clothing. Undeterred, using black plastic garbage bags over our clothes for warmth, we made our way down to the frozen river. I attempted to show our new neighbourhood friends my non-existent skating skills in a pair of borrowed skates. Armed with a few beers, I seemed for a moment to be quite confident. Speed wobbles set in, and I came crashing onto the ice. Blood poured down my face from cuts I had sustained during my fall. My moment of high drama was captured for posterity on video by one of our neighbours. By way of commentary, he can be heard saying, “And now ladies and gentlemen, we have the tragedy of the day!” From then on, whenever Emma and Megan had their friends over at the house, that video became the “go-to video,” providing hours of mirth and numerous requests to “Play it again!”

A cascade of rich memories and an abundance of emotion saw us off on our last day at Rouge River Circle—saudades.

The memoir I am working on tends to focus on the career side of success. This time in my life reminds me that real success comes from our close circle of family and friends and the things we share with them.


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