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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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my aunt :-(

Apologies for the lack of Blatherings...I've been in a sort of limbo lately, dealing with life.

I had to fly to Seattle for a business meeting on Thursday afternoon. Shortly before boarding my flight, Jeff called my cellphone to tell me that my Aunt Agnes had died. :-( I've mentioned my aunt before...she's been battling cancer for years, and we all thought she had beaten it. Jeff said he had agonized about whether to tell me or not until after I got back, but I'm glad he told me when he did. After a few hasty phonecalls to my dad and sister, I realized there was nothing I could do until after the weekend. Started bawling in the airport lobby, but I had a magazine carefully positioned so that hopefully people couldn't tell.

I had visited my aunt a few days before. She was at home, hooked up to an IV and a morphine pump, drifting in and out of consciousness. My dad held her hand and talked to her, about their childhood, about their visits to Algonquin Park. Ruth and I talked to her a bit, too, and I played a Japanese flute. A few times, my aunt seemed to come up out of the haze and recognized us, exchanged a few words, smiled at our jokes. Whenever she smiled, we felt wonderful...each was like gold to us; we would have done or said anything to make her smile. When it was time to go, we kissed her and told her we loved her, and said good-bye. She smiled at us, clear-eyed at that moment, and said good-bye.

I decided to go to FilKONtario on Saturday more out of a need for a comfort than a need for distraction. Didn't feel much like making music myself, but got tremendous comfort from just sitting and listening, being with close friends, having the occasional good shoulder-cry (thanks, Beckett!). I kept in constant touch with my father and sister via frequent phonecalls on the weekend.

Got quite the surprise on Saturday morning. :-) I took a cab straight from the airport to the hotel (took a red-eye from Seattle and only got about 1/2 hr sleep on the flight). Gabbed with Allison and Jodi in the hotel room, then we all went to Dave Clement's room to meet Dave, Liz, Dave's grand-kids and Tom for breakfast.

The first person I glimpsed inside the room was Lissa Allcock (her first name is pronounced "Lisa", by the way), except my befuddled brain couldn't absorb this. I clearly remember going through something like the following:

    That's Lissa.

    No, of course that's not Lissa, she's in England. But wow, that woman looks a lot like Lissa.



Then I saw Phil, Tim, and Annie. For those of you who don't know, these four talented musicians (members of the group Phoenix) are from across the pond, and we had much fun hanging out with them during our Didgeri-Douze trip in early February. I was missing them terribly, and didn't expect to see any of them for ages. Apparently they had arrived on Thursday! Dave and Tom had managed to correspond with all of us e-mail about plans for FilKONtario without letting on (and Annie never let on in her Witterings either, the sneak! :-)). Allison and Jodi got their surprise on Thursday night (I was in Seattle until Saturday).

I was stunned, delighted, incoherent, and went through the next six hours spontaneously hugging the Brits while saying intelligent things like, "I can't believe you're actually HERE!" :-) They had a surprise mini birthday party for me on Saturday morning in Dave's room...I got lots of tea and chocolate and a personalized mug and other cool stuff.

More on FilKONtario in future Blatherings, plus Allison will be writing a report. I left the con earlier than usual so I could spend time with my family on Sunday. I look forward to reading other FKO reports so I can find out what I missed...please let me know so I can mention them here.

A FKO Highlight

We were honoured to be asked to perform " Home To FilKONtario" as the last song in the closing ceremonies. I remember looking up during the last chorus and seeing the entire room singing along ("Bring me home to FilKONtario / Stay...sing with me / We'll be all right, sing all night / with our friends at FilKONtario."). It was a mistake to look up, of course; I immediately got choked up and could barely finish the song. :-)

But I was again reminded of the uniqueness of the filking community, and how glad I am to be a part of it.

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