One of my dearest friends has retired and is moving to Canada. It is amazing to me how much this short sentence means to me. Kathy has been my friend for over 30 years and she knows me better than most. We have shared so much and gone through a lot. Our friendship is not sentimental or mushy, no sugary stuff and definitely no-nonsense. She is British and came to Curaçao in the 1980s with her parents. Her father was the last Anglican priest to serve on the island. When they retired back to Britain, she stayed behind and made a life for herself. Not easy, trust me, since she was in her thirties and single, didn’t know how to drive and has never lived alone.
I read once that the best example of an expat is a single British woman who moves abroad on her own terms and makes a success of it. I completely believe that!!! Kathy has done this beautifully. She started as a preschool teacher helper, arts and craft teacher, moved on to librarian, English as a second language teacher…you name it, she has done it in the field. All the while without really loving the interaction with small children!!! An achievement indeed…..
Now is time to start a new life and to leave behind the island she has called home for over 30 years. It hasn’t been easy to make this decision. She has many good friends and a support system there. Unfortunately, Curaçao is not older people friendly. You have to think what would happen once you are not able to really take care of everyday chores, especially if you have no family on the island.
I completely understand where she is coming from, but the move to Canada totally surprised me. She is not fond of the weather in Britain. Cold is a bad word for her, yet she has decided to move to a small town outside Ottawa!!! It is not what I would have expected of her, but she is determined to make a go of it. Good for her!! It will be fine because she is a survivor, she will make it work.
When I go to Curaçao from now on, she will not be there. This is a sobering thought. Since I moved to Miami, every time I visit we spend a lot of time together. We catch up with things, we reminisce, we go out to dinner, for drinks. Do not get me wrong, we Skype regularly and email….but still just seating and talking over tea and coffee or drinks or dinner is wonderful. As I always said, human contact is paramount in any relationship and friendship is one of the most important relationships we can have.
This is indeed the end of an era. It started with my move to Miami more than 10 years ago. I have kept my ties with the island and visit as often as I can, it is home to me in many ways. I have come to accept the fact that you cannot go back, life goes on and things change. Still, if your friends are there when you visit, somehow things do not seem so final.
I will miss her when I go back for a visit, but I know this is for the best. We are at a crossroad in our lives and we need to move on. Friendship like ours is forever, memories and experiences shared will not fade. Besides, there is still Skype and emails and most importantly visits to Canada!!!