I woke up to the boys tickling my feet. They crawled under the covers and their bare feet were up by the head of the bed. I tickled Billy's feet first until he wiggled out of the covers. Then I tickled Davey's feet. The boys and I hugged and went downstairs for breakfast.
Davey asked if he could build a campfire area somewhere out back. I thought that was a good idea. I suggested we clear an area to set up tents too. We picked a spot about one hundred feet behind the cabin. I used the tractor to clear a circular area about twenty-five feet in diameter. We placed half cut logs around the campfire pit for benches. I placed four forty-five gallon drums around the site for water barrels.
It was 1:00 pm when we finish the campfire area. We went into the cabin for lunch. John stopped by and asked if the boys would like to help him out up at the resort. I decided to stay up at the cabin and let the boys go off with John for the afternoon.
After lunch, the boys took off with John on the riding lawn mower and trailer. I cleaned up the lunch dishes. I walked around the cabin and admired all the work we put into the cabin. I went into the study. I pulled Ted's third book out of the desk and sat in the big chair next to the bookshelves.
Ted's third book started at the turn of 1900. He describes a very festive time as people celebrated the start of a new century.
During that same year, Ted and his son discovered the abandoned mine. They explored it and figured there might still be potential. They bought the old mine and surrounding property.
They decided to build the cabin in front of the mine entrance to hide it. They still lived in the logging camp and worked on the cabin on their days off.
He describes how they found a hot spring bubbling out of the flat rock. His son came up with the idea of building a stone tub around it.
It took two years to complete the main structure of the cabin. They had all the rooms laid out and the roof on. They had finished the balconies, decks and verandas.
After the main structure was finished, Ted worked on the inside. Ted built the kitchen cabinets. He built the bookcases and shelves in the study.
While Ted continued on finishing the cabin, his son decided to try his luck at mining. He got lucky and struck a rich vein of gold after six months of hard digging on their days off. It was not a big gold find, but it was enough to allow the family to quit the logging camp and work the mine. His wife stayed in the cabin while Ted and his son mined the vein of gold for about a year until it went dry.
Ted decided to ease off on exploring for new veins of gold. They had collected enough gold to live comfortably for a few years. His son had the gold fever and kept pushing on deeper into the mine.
Another year went by without any new gold strikes. Ted could see his son getting frustrated and discouraged. Ted tried to talk his son into slowing down and maybe taking a break from mining. His son said he would work through the rest of the winter and take a break in the spring if no more gold turned up.
One early spring morning, his son got up early and went into the mine as usual. While Ted and his wife were having lunch, the cabin shook like a mild earthquake. Ted went into the basement to the entrance of the mind. When he opened the door, dust poured into the basement. Ted knew something went terribly wrong in the mine. He told his wife to go back into the cabin. Ted went into the mine to look for his son. He yelled continually but no answer. He found the new tunnel that his son had been working in. It had completely collapsed and buried his son. Ted knew immediately that his son was dead. He sat down and cried continuously. He lost track of time. It must have been a few hours because the dust had cleared by the time he walked out of the mine.
His wife fell completely apart. For two months, she barely ate and never said another word to Ted. He wrote about how much he missed his son. He said he would sometimes go into the mine and sit at the entrance to where his son died. He would sit for hours and just talk to his son. Even though he knew his son was dead, he wrote that he felt close to his son as he sat and talked.
One day, Ted came back from getting the monthly supplies from town. He could not find her in the cabin. He noticed the water bucket was gone. He went down to the river and found her body. He never knew if she drowned by accident or if it was suicide. He buried her alongside the riverbank.
Ted wrote about the loneliness and depression he felt during the next month. The life he knew was gone. The family he loved was gone.
His last entry in the book was about how he could not bring himself to stay in the cabin after the supplies ran out. He said goodbye to his wife at her gravesite. He talked to his son one last time in the mine. He packed up some clothes, the rest of the gold and headed down the trail. It was dated July 10th, 1905.
Davey and Billy came bouncing into the cabin hollering 'Daddy.' They asked what is for supper. I looked at the clock and it was already six. I decided that the quickest thing to whip up was to bring up some hot dogs out to the new campfire area we built this morning.
As we sat around the campfire, the boys told me that they helped John dig three new horseshoe pits. I told the boys about some of the things that I read from Ted's second book. I told them about how he and his son camped out on their days off.
We cleaned up the campfire area. We finished off the night by changing and soaking in the hot tub again. The boys took of their shorts when they got to the tub. After a few minutes in the tub, Davey started poking me with his toes under the water. I grabbed both his ankles and locked them on my lap with one hand. I began lightly tickling his feet with my free hand. Billy enjoyed watching his big brother laugh and squirm around in the tub. I raised Davey's feet out of the water and asked Billy if he wanted to tickle them. Billy moved beside me and began tickling Davey's feet while I held them. After few minutes, I let go of Davey's feet. I grabbed Billy around the waist and started tickling him. I tickled his ribs and he gave up once I started tickling his armpits.
The boys streaked back into the cabin. They ran up and put their underwear on while I made the evening snacks. Billy went into the study to make my evening drink. We sat in the living room and watched TV until the boys fell asleep. I carried each boy up to their bed and tucked them in. I went directly to bed after I finished tucking Davey in.
After the boys woke me up in their playful way, we headed downstairs for breakfast.
"So, boys this is the last week of August. Next week school will be starting. Any ideas on what we will do about getting you boys in school?"
"Nope. We don't think there are schools in the area." The boys giggled.
"Well, there are schools over in Hinton, 23 miles east of here. I think we should check them out."
"Awww," the boys moaned then giggled.
"Nice try. You boys have to get your education," I winked.
"Daddy, what about homeschooling?" Davey asked
"You mean having me as your teacher and you doing courses here."
"Ya, you would be a great teacher." I saw the mischievous look in Davey's eyes.
"Mmmm, is it that I would be a great teacher or that you don't want to go to school?"
"Both." Davey leaned back on his chair and laughed.
"What about you, Billy? You seem to be doing a lot of giggling there."
"I think you would be a great teacher too." He giggled.
"I can see I'm going to have to talk to Mommy about your schooling."
"Awww," the boys moaned then giggled again.
Just then, John came knocking at the kitchen door. Billy jumped up to open it. He hugged John. I poured John a cup of coffee as he sat down.
"So, what are you boys talking about this morning?" John asked.
"Billy and I were telling Daddy what a good school teacher he would be for us." Davey giggled.
"Oh? I was meaning to ask you about that Doug. What do you plan to do about the boys schooling?"
"Well…I found out there are schools over in Hinton but that's 23 miles east. It is closer than Jasper."
"They have some good schools over there. The rocky mountain winters might prove hard for the boys to get there and I am not sure if school buses come out this far. When our boys were growing up in Jasper, Betty and I homeschooled our boys."
"See Daddy!" Davey said with a gloating look.
"Are you volunteering to be a teacher, John?" I chuckled.
"Now I didn't say that but it is not really that hard. The homeschooling my boys did was recognized with all the government requirements and the boys got their public and high school diplomas."
"I want Diane's opinion before we make any decisions but homeschooling 'might' be an option."
Davey was about to put his arms up in victory before I put up my finger and said the word, 'might.' Then he crossed his arms and pretended to pout. He could not get the pouting right because he kept giggling as I stared at him. I told the boys to hit the shower while John and I talked in the study.
John did point out all the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling. He said that the educational system is not what it used to be and neither are the kids. The schools are being overcrowded and the youth violence getting rougher. The advantage is the social skills the boys would get from interacting with other children. That can be positive and negative.
I did like the idea of the freedom homeschooling offered. We can set the boys' study time and family vacations can be taken whenever we wanted. The boys could still be working on lessons in the camper if we took them on the vacation. With the internet, homeschooling can be done online. I was not looking forward to driving them to school if there were not any school buses in the area, especially in the winter months.
The biggest advantage of homeschooling is that the boys and I will be here for Diane when the inevitable finally happens and she is taken from us.
The boys came bouncing into the study, in just their towels, for their 'tickle inspection.' I showed John how the inspection went on Davey. After Davey's inspection finished, John called Davey over to do his own inspection. The boys received a double tickle inspection.
I told Davey that, if he really wanted homeschooling, I wanted him to do some research on the internet to find out all the information he could. He went up to his bedroom to get his laptop. As he ran upstairs, I told him to get dressed while he was in his room. I asked Billy to get my laptop from the loft so he could help Davey do the research. I told him to get dressed also.
Davey came bouncing downstairs with his laptop. He purposely stayed over an arm's reach away from me because he came down in just a pair of shorts: no shirt or socks. He tried not to make eye contact with me because he started to giggle every time he looked at me. He knew that, when I said 'get dressed,' I meant with a shirt and socks on. Since I did not say it, he figured he could get away with just shorts. He sat at the flat top desk and tried to concentrate on looking things up on the internet. I stood up and walked behind his chair. He started giggling. I put my hands on his shoulders and pulled in back in his chair. I pulled his forehead back so he was looking upside down at me. I asked him if he was finished getting dressed. He said 'yes' and started laughing. He tried to curl up in a ball on the chair. I began to lightly tickle poke him. With each poke, I asked him if he was sure, he finished getting dressed. Eventually, I picked him up, sat on the chair and sat him on my lap. I pinned his arms above his head. My free hand started slowly wiggling from his belly too his armpits. He was really laughing and giggling. When I got to his ribs, he laughed and sat that the cabin was not a public place. After he said that, I went straight for his armpits. He gave up and admitted he knew what I meant when I told him to get dressed. I stopped tickling and hugged him. I thanked him for playfully teasing me. He thanked me for tickling him until he admitted the truth.
Billy was sitting next to John with my laptop. He came down with just a pair of shorts on. I asked him if he was finished getting dressed. He giggled and said, 'yes.' As I got up from the chair, Davey yelled, 'RUN BILLY!' He tried to hold me in the chair to give Billy a head start. Billy ran for the stairs. He ran up the stairs into his bedroom. By the time I opened his door, he was already hiding on me. I saw his bare feet under his bed. I decided to pretend I did not notice at first. I looked in the closet and out on his balcony. I sat on the bed and heard a faint muffled giggle escape from him. I leaned down and ran a single finger alone each of his soles. He squealed more from surprise than from the tickling. He scrambled out the other side of his bed. I grabbed him before he was able to get up. I picked him up and bounced him on his bed. I pinned his arms above his head. I started wiggling my fingers as I did on Davey. My free hand started slowly wiggling from his belly too his armpits. He was really laughing and giggling. When I got to his ribs, he laughed and sat that the cabin was not a public place. He was copying his big brother more and more. After he said that, I went straight for his armpits. He gave up and admitted he knew what I meant when I told him to get dressed. I stopped tickling and hugged him. I thanked him for playfully teasing me. He thanked me for tickling him until he admitted the truth.
I gave him a piggyback ride back downstairs. I sat on the couch and pinned him between my back and the couch. I started playing with his toes. I let him up after a few wiggles on each toe.
The boys went to work on researching homeschooling while John and I sat and enjoyed another coffee.
I went to the roll-top desk and pulled out Ted's journals to show John. I told him I found them amongst the books in the basement. I said I finished the first three journals and would get to the fourth one maybe tonight. I offered them to John to read, if he wanted too and then pass them on to Hank.
John took the three journal books and headed back to the lodge. I helped the boys do research on homeschooling. As we got deeper into the research, it looked like homeschooling was the best option for our family.
As I was making a late lunch for me and the boys, Diane and Betty walked in. We hugged and then she went into the study to see what the boys were doing. They told her all about homeschooling and she liked the idea.
Her doctors said that chemo was not slowing the cancer anymore. It has spread to all of her major organs. They gave her another four to six weeks before she passes away. She told me but not the boys right away. She thought it would be easier to tell them with Carol here. We told the boys on Sunday. They had been preparing but it still was hard on them to hear that they only had another month left with their mother.
During our Sunday meeting with Carol, a few weeks ago, Diane decided to stop chemo and spend the remaining time at the resort with her family. She continued to help Betty in the lodge kitchen and spend as much time with the boys as possible. The boys started their homeschooling, and it was going well. I would help the boys with their lessons and Diane would test them before they took their exams. We still went for our family campouts on the weekends.
Today was the start of the first week of October. Diane woke up, at 6:00 am, before the rest of us. She woke me up and told me it was time she needed to go to the hospital. We woke the boys, picked up John and Betty at the lodge and headed to the hospital in the camper. John phoned Hank from his cell phone. Hank said he would meet us at the hospital. Diane lay in the back bed of the camper with the boys and Betty. I pulled up to the Emergency Room doors. Davey went in to get a wheelchair. John wheeled her inside. Davey went with me to park the camper.
After checking Diane in the Emergency, they moved her to a private room in the intensive care unit. She was not in any pain or discomfort. She talked with each of us individually and then we spent the afternoon talking as a family. There were times of tears but also times of laughter when we remembered all the fun we had this summer. At 7:00pm, the boys were on each side of her, holding her hands as she slipped into a deep sleep. An hour later, she passed away. We stayed in the room for a while. Each of us said our 'good-byes' and walked out of the room. I was the last one to leave the room.
I am glad that John and Betty came with us. I sat on the couch, with the boys on each side of me, in the camper and John drove us back to the cabin. No one said a word on the three-hour drive back to the resort. Everyone just thought about Diane in his or her own way.
Diane had told me she wrote out three special journals, one for each of us. Billy's was started from the time she found out she had cancer. Davey's and mine was stated the week our wedding. She wrote a few lines some days and whole pages other days. They are written on loose-leaf pages and put into binders. Most of the times, when she wrote in the journals, are when she was helping Betty in the kitchen or on the three-hour drive to and from the Edmonton hospital. I was to given them to the boys after her death. I decided to given them to the boys as soon as we came back to the cabin.
I took the boys straight into the study when we went into the cabin. I went to the bookcase and took out Diane's three journal books. I told them that they were from Diane. She wanted them each to have something to remember her by. They were written from her heart and with all the love that she had for each of us. I told the boys that they were personal and could be kept private or shared. The boys were not to ask to see anyone's journal book but could offer to share a few things with the rest of us if he chose to do so.
I went to the kitchen to get the milk and cookies for the boys. I set them on the desk in the study. I told the boys they could stay up as late as they wanted too or they could go to bed after their milk and cookies. I hugged each one and told them that I loved them. I went up to the loft to sleep.
It was already 1:30 am. After I undressed and climbed into bed, Davey and Billy came upstairs. Davey made me a drink. Billy asked if it was all right for both of them to sleep with me tonight. I told them it was more than ok. I said I did not want to sleep alone tonight either. They climbed into bed. I finished my drink and then cuddled both of my sons close to me. We fell asleep within a few minutes.
I woke up first. Both my sons were using my chest as their pillow. My arms were under them. Since I could not get up without waking them, I just laid there and gently rubbed their backs. Billy woke up first. I kissed him 'Good Morning' on the forehead and told him that I loved him. I continued to rub his back. Occasionally, I would do 'spider crawls' on his back. He would twitch and let out light giggles. Billy got out of bed to use the bathroom.
I continued to rub Davey's back and watch him sleep. Eventually, he stirred and looked up at me with sleepy eyes. I kissed him 'Good Morning' on the forehead and told him that I loved him. Billy came back and gave Davey a hug.
We did not bother getting dressed after we got out of bed. We just put on our bathrobes and headed downstairs. Davey noticed a note on the counter. It was from Betty. She said there was breakfast on the table for us. All we had to do was reheat it in the microwave.
Diane had pre-planned her funeral in Edmonton with Betty. She will be cremated and have a simple service on the resort property. She wanted her ashes spread from the third-floor loft balcony all around the cabin. She told the boys that her spirit would always be with them around the cabin. All they had to do was spend some quiet time on their bedroom balconies to hear her voice and her guidance. Betty and John would look after everything on the day of the funeral. The funeral was set for tomorrow evening after dinner.
After breakfast, I suggested to the boys that they take a walk together down to the highway and back. It was two-and-a-half mile walk to the highway and back. I felt that the boys need time together to share their feelings. Billy opened up to Davey the first day we met him. I hoped he would do it again and tell Davey how he is feeling about Mommy going to Heaven. It's one thing to talk about it during Carol's counselling but, now that it's finally happened, those deep feelings can come to the surface. I told Davey to take a walkie-talkie just for safety precautions. The boys headed out the door and I cleaned up the breakfast dishes. I took a long hot shower and then sat in the study.
I started to read the journal Diane wrote for me. It started the night I asked her to marry me. She was so happy that night. She described it as a fairytale. As I read, I could feel her love around me. These were her deep feelings that she wanted to say but never found the words to say aloud. I skipped to the last entry page. She wrote it on the morning we took her to the hospital. She had gotten out of bed a couple of hours before she woke me up. She knew it would be her last entry. She wrote about how much she loved me. She has peace in her heart now that she knows Billy will be safe and happy. She said that she has no regrets about the times we spent together.
The boys came back from their walk a couple hours later. They said they had a great time walking and talking. As I made lunch, Davey put his new fall colour pictures on his laptop and Billy read from the journal his Mommy made for him.
Diane's friends from Prince Rupert stopped by on the way to the resort. Davey was the grand host of the cabin. He welcomed everyone in and gave them the tour of the cabin. I made sure there was coffee and tea available for every guest.
After supper, the boys and I soaked in the hot tub. We talked about mommy. I filled them in on how the funeral was going to take place. They were more questions about Heaven and death. I told them that Mommy was still here and alive in each of our hearts. After the funeral, we were going to go upstairs and sprinkle her ashes around the cabin. We would start in Billy's balcony, then Davey's and finally the third-floor loft to spread the remaining ashes all around the cabin.
We went into the cabin and cuddled in the living room until each boy fell asleep. I asked the boys if they wanted to sleep in their bed, as I carried them upstairs. They wanted to sleep with me tonight so I carried each boy up to the loft.
The boys woke up first and snuck downstairs to make me breakfast. When I came down, the boys had the food cooked and everything set out on the table.
"Daddy, would it be ok for Billy and I to write something for Grandpa John to read at the service tonight?"
"If you boys want to write something for the service, I think it would be more than ok."
After I cleaned up the breakfast plates while the boys started writing out their tributes, I took a long hot shower. I sat on the loft's balcony and thought about Diane. I read some more from the journal she wrote out for me.
Diane had made her final wishes known before she died. John led the sunset memorial service. There were all of Diane's favourite flowers arranged by her urn and pictures of her around them. Her favourite soft music was playing in the background. She wrote out messages for each of us and for John to read today. John read what the boys wrote as a tribute to their mother. I spoke a few words from my heart. John concluded the service when the sunset over the mountain.
After the guests had left the service, John handed me Diane's urn. The boys and I spread her ashes around the cabin just as she wanted. The boys spent a few quiet moments in their bedroom balconies remembering Diane. They joined me on the loft balcony a short time later.
The boys asked if we could take a midnight soak in the hot tub. We undressed, grabbed our bath towels and went outside to the hot tub. The evening air was cool and there was steam coming from the tub. The boys became sleepy after about an hour in the tub. We wrapped our towels around ourselves and went inside. I set out their nighttime treats and milk for the boys. Davey and Billy each made me an evening drink. We sat in the living room and watched TV until the boys fell asleep on the couch beside me. I carried the boys to the loft and laid them on the bed.
I put on my robe and sat on the balcony to finish my second drink. I thought about how different my life was from just seven months ago. When I first started out in my camper, I had planned to travel down the west coast and on into Mexico. I was wondering if the boys wanted to travel down the west coast and into Mexico for a family holiday. It would be nice to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve in the cabin. We could fly back from Mexico for the holidays. My trip down the west coast would be so much better now with my two sons with me.
I must have lost track of time because the boys came out on the balcony to find me. I finished my drink and went inside with the boys to bed.
The next morning, the boys tickling my feet under the covers waked me up. I returned the favour by tickling their feet until they popped up from under the covers. As the boys lay on the bed recovering from the tickling I gave their feet, I asked them if they wanted to plan a family holiday down the west coast in the camper to Mexico. They perked up and became excited until I told them that they still had to do their homeschooling on the trip. The rule was that they had to work on their lessons as we drove from place to place in the camper. I told the boys we had to get their passports before we left.
We decided to leave just after the first snowfall at the cabin. That would give us enough time to plan the trip and get the passports. We would fly back to the cabin to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve with John and Betty.
We settled into a daily routine of morning tickle wake-ups, homeschooling, and evening dips in the hot tub. While the boys did their schooling, John, and I planned new events and promotions for the resort. We planned a huge New Year's Eve Bash and Winter Wonderland to promote the resort. We were able to buy all the Christmas lights before we left on the trip. We set up all the lights around the resort and ran them from battery packs that charged by solar panels. All the trees and cabins of the resort were lit up.
Boys received their passports within 3 weeks and were praying for the first snowfall to come. They woke up every morning hoping to see snow. The first snowfall came after the first week of November.
Before we left on our west coast adventure, we re-buried the coins strong boxes in the basement of the cottage. We only brought 30 of each set of coins as an emergency backup. We had rehearsed how we would live in the motor home and the things we would need. The camper was packed since we planned the trip. We only had to move in our daily supplies like the cameras, laptops, toys, stuffed animals and food.
My sons' safety will always be my number priority. I bought three cell phones with GPS tracking, web browsing and walkie-talkie capability.
I bought three SD Memory cards and three small USB memory card readers. The purpose of the cards was to put all the personal information of each boy. We scanned their birth certificates, S.I.N card, adoption papers, bank account numbers, and passports and put it on the cards. All the boys' medical information and insurance was on the cards. Contact information in case of emergency was on the card.
Each boy had a fanny pack. The cell phones, SD Cards and readers, emergency money and whistles were in the packs. They had to wear the packs when we walked around in public.
The day after the first snowfall, we woke up early and headed on our new family adventure. It would take us a full day to reach Prince Rupert. We stopped at Jasper to give Hank some more coins to sell. I gave him my bank account number as well as the boys' bank accounts' numbers. Hank agreed to deposit $250,000 in my account, $5,000 in each of the boys' bank account and $10,000 in their joint account. I wanted to protect my sons in case anything happened to me on our road trip. The rest of the money from the coins was to be deposited in the resort account.
It was great to travel through the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The boys worked on their homeschooling courses on the trip. We stopped at Prince George for lunch. We arranged to park the camper in the driveway of one of Diane's friend. The boys and I wanted to take the ferry through the British Columbia coastline to Port Hardy. It would be a fantastic scenic tour through the coast of British Columbia. Davey planned to take many pictures through the coast on the ferry.
Since it was November and the Canadian winter was coming, we decided to head straight down the west coast as quickly as possible. We did not like the damp cold weather. We would make notes on places we wanted to stop at on the way back in the spring.
I do not like the American attitude or their interference in other countries. I do not have any bias against Americans in general. I just do not like their superior attitude. No one country has the right to dictate or control another country in any way. I knew I could not prevent the boys from asking to stop at major US attractions but I did not want to stop at all the attractions on the way down to Mexico. I also did not want to spend a lot of money in the states. I explained my concerns to the boys, and they understood. We agreed to stop and major attractions but no smaller attractions.
We took the first ferry out of Prince Rupert at 6 am. We booked a private cabin on the ferry. I was an amazing trip through the coastline. The trip was 18 – 20 hours down the coastline. We left at 6 am and saw the sunrise over the mountains. There were buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinners. The boys had to see the captain and the bridge of the ferry. They even had to steer the ferry for a few minutes. We saw orca whales swimming along the coast. It was a great adventure as we came around each cove. We did not know if there would be more whales, a cottage, or a resort.
We saw a great sunset. There was not a lot to see after dark so the boys took a nap in the cabin. I woke them up about an hour before we docked in Port Hardy.
We arrive at Port Hardy just past midnight. We decided to sleep in the camper in the parking lot.
The boys woke me up at 8 am by tickling my feet. We decided to explore the island, camp out near Victoria and take the ferry across to Port Angeles, Washington in the morning. Vancouver Island was beautiful in the fall.
Now that was quite a chapter. Diane left with grace and dignity and left the boys in the best of hands. She also has left the boys with a piece of her love that they will never doubt. Her journals were such a wonderful gift to each of them.
I'm so glad that they are all able to procede on with their lives. I wonder just where their next adventures will lead them.