Escorting My (soon to be 89 year old) Dad to the Aquarium

….when your elderly father tells you he’d like to see the aquarium you go

My father has never been one to make a bucket list but as of late he’s been interested in doing things that were never on his or our radar before. When our daughter announced that she was pregnant my father was delighted and decided on the spot that he had to stick around for at least six more years so that he could enjoy his first great grandchild. When we had the shower for G, he decided that he would attend as well and we made sure that a few other male members of the family were there for moral support.

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A few months ago my father expressed an interest in going to the Ripley’s Aquarium here in Toronto. I offered to accompany him and even suggested that I could take a day off from work so that we could avoid the weekend crowds. May and June passed and then in July and August we didn’t make plans because we weren’t sure when my husband was having his surgery. Last week we finally made plans to meet downtown and go to the Aquarium.

In the fall of 2014 my father was reintroduced to the Go Train and he decided that he really liked travelling to Toronto from Oshawa on the train. He’s done it a couple of times since and so we agreed to meet at the Royal York Hotel across the street from Union Station. I also took the train from the west end of the city where I live. For $5.60 (half of that if you’re a senior) you can jump on the train and be downtown in 15 minutes.

Now my father had another motive for meeting at the Royal York Hotel. Sixty years ago when my parents and I first arrived in Canada my father’s first job was at the Royal York Hotel, working as a waiter. He has fond memories of his seven years there and he was really looking forward to having lunch there. Seeing that last week was my birthday he treated me to lunch and he paid our way into the Aquarium. Thanks Dad!

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about walking over to the Aquarium with my father. He has definitely slowed down in the past five years. He tends to walk 20 to 50 paces and then stops to talk. He seems to need frequent breaks but he assured me that the walk would be just fine. As we got closer I could tell he was getting tired but he motored on. He really wanted to see the fish. IMG_6040

As we were standing in line he asked me if I could pass for a senior. Adult fares are $29.99 and seniors are only $19.99. Seeing that I was only a couple of years away from actually qualifying for the senior’s rate he decided to take a chance and he ordered two senior’s tickets. Well if it wasn’t our lucky day! Tuesday’s happens to be seniors day and we received an extra $5.00 discount for each of us off the ticket price and we were handed vouchers for a free coffee or tea and two granola bars. After he purchased a $2.00 program his total came to just over $35.00 for the two of us.

The crowds weren’t too bad today. Being it was the end of the summer, I knew that there wouldn’t be any school trips and the CNE was on so a lot of families would be heading down to the exhibition grounds. For the first part of the self guided tour we saw fish from Canada and we headed down the ramp passing huge aquariums with fresh water fish and then fish from the tree oceans that surround this huge country of ours. The octopus and the blue lobster were especially interesting.

I knew that there was a moving sidewalk when you got to the ‘dangerous lagoon’ area where you were literally in a glass tunnel surrounded by water and I think that Dad was glad to take a break from walking when we finally got there. The only thing that would have made it better might have been chairs to sit on. For me the sidewalk moved a little too slowly but you could step off if you wanted to. This was my favourite part of the aquarium. I loved seeing the sharks move towards you and then swim over your heads and then out of nowhere the stingrays would appear and glide by. I was amazed that the other fish weren’t bothered by the sharks and the sharks weren’t interested in them. I guess they must be fed in separate pools so that they don’t freak out the little ones or deplete the collection of tropical fish.

About two thirds of the way into the tour my father thought we had come to the end because we ended up in an area where you could rest, have coffee, a bite to eat and there were numerous hands on activities for the kids. He was pretty much done but there was no short cut that I could see to exit the building. He was a trooper and soldiered on as we made our way through the jelly fish exhibit and other exotic creatures. This is where we saw the lion fish, piranhas, sea horses and sea dragons. I would have liked to spend more time here but Dad really was getting very tired.

Of course the end of the tour takes you through the gift shop but we didn’t buy anything. We made our way back to the train station but not before I had my picture taken inside this sea turtle body. I guess I should have tried sticking my head out farther than I did.

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All in all we had a great day. My dad made it home safely and all my worrying was for nothing. I wonder what he wants to do next?

Cheers!

The Bees are Back!

….maybe I’m being overly optimistic

I can imagine that if you’re allergic to bee stings you may not be delighted with this statement. Bees, however, are critical to the survival of this planet. Without them our food production could disappear. They pollinate 70 out of 100 species of plants that feed 90% of the world’s population.

Unfortunately the honeybee population is decreasing at an alarming rate, mostly due to the use of pesticides and habitat loss. Longer and colder winters, in some areas, hasn’t help either. So what can we do about it?

At a local level you can advocate for the ban of dangerous pesticides in our parks and our own gardens, encourage city councillors to commit to returning some park lands back to natural states so that wild flowers can thrive and provide a food source for bees and plant flowers in your own garden or flower boxes that attract bees.

On my recent walks and in my own backyard I’ve been seeing an abundance of bees pollinating the wildflowers and my climbing hydrangea. I hope you’re seeing the return of bees in your neighbourhood. We can’t take them for granted.

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