Hillary grew up on a farm. The family farm. Her neighbours immediately to the west were Helen and Don Morrow, also known as Granny and Grandad. Her Grandma, Wynne Donald, lived a few houses to the east. Hillary was very close to all of them.
By 2014, Grandad's health hadn't been great for a few years. 2014 was going to be a farm Christmas so we knew all along that we were going to see him that winter, now with Paige in tow. But then a couple of things happened. We were informed that if we were thinking of coming, sooner might be better. I also ended up having a lot of time I could spend elsewhere.
As with much of these things, I don't recall too much of the decision making process, but I don't think it was a long debate. What I can tell you is that we booked the flight and three days later were in Toronto. We had not yet booked a flight home.
We ended up staying for six weeks almost on the nose. A lot happened. Most of those things I'll talk about in more detail at some point. Isaac decided he was done with diapers and with a lot of encouragement and patience from two parents and two grandparents, he largely was done with them at this point. Hillary got kidney stones and for the second consecutive farm Christmas, we ended up in the emergency room on the 25th. We saw Grandad, at home and in the hospital before he died. It snowed once, then didn't for the entire rest of the time we were there. Isaac emptied a box of kleenex. Hillary finished icing Isaac's birthday cake at the second latest time she would finish a cake, around 11pm. Paige met the rest of the family.
It was the longest stretch of time I would ever spend at the farm. It was the longest uninterrupted stretch of time Hillary would spend there after moving to Ottawa in 2003.
This wasn't a formative trip. This was ten years into our relationship. We knew who we were and how we worked. But it was one of our more important ones. Milestones happened, both good and bad. There were stresses on multiple different fronts and we worked through all of them. 'Worked'. I'm not even sure we worked through them, we just rolled through them. There were enough objectively bad and hard things that this trip could have been far worse than it was.
That wasn't how it turned out though. In later years the only way we would ever reflect on those six weeks was along the lines of, "I am so glad we did that trip."