Pilgrimage/Road Trip – Day 3

Date: Sunday, September 12, 2021 (Number of Steps according to Apple Health – 7,010)

Note: Only marginal proof reading so likely lots of errors. Janet has taken of the role of proof reader so I’ll have them fixed eventually.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a pilgrimage is:

  1. a journey of a pilgrim especially to a shrine or a sacred place or
  2. the course of life on earth.

I can’t describe myself as a pilgrim so that definition is out but I think this road trip represents a part of the course of my life on earth so it is okay to continue to call my road trip a Pilgrimage of sorts.

Sunday started like most days at around 5:30 am in the dark. There was a strong call from nature and then I prepared my morning dose of poached eggs. With the boys sleeping the just around the corner from the galley kitchen, I take great care to work as quietly as I can so they can enjoy the comfort of a warm bed for a while longer. Don’t they look cute?

Every morning I have a small collection of drugs to consume; Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Calcium and a blood thinner Fragmin I inject through a needle into my belly. Originally my blood thinner was a pill but my Hematologist switched me to daily injections. Apparently most of our drugs are absorbed in the stomach. Since I no longer enjoy the luxury of having one, my Doc has no way to know I’m getting the dosage I need for my a man of my size. The reliable alternative is an injection.

For the same reason I take my B12 under my tongue which is called sublingual. I just let the tablets lie there and they melt away. I’m looking for version of D3 that works the same way. They do exist but I haven’t found them yet.

Chris and I plan to go to 8:00 am Mass at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral located at 1085 Cathedral Street. It is a scale model of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It has a burial chapel which holds the remains of the Bishops of Montreal in crypts on the walls and the tomb of Mgr. Ignace Bourget. He was the second Bishop of Montreal and commissioned the construction of the cathedral to replace the former Saint-Jacques Cathedral which burned in 1852. Work began in 1875 and the new church was consecrated in 1894 as Saint James Cathedral. It was made a minor basilica in 1919 by Pope Benedict XV. It was rededicated in 1955 to Mary, Queen of the World. On March 28, 2000, the cathedral was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. (From Wikipedia)

The architecture is breath taking. The attention to detail in every corner and crevice is unbelievable. The task of cleaning and dusting must be monumental. The alter is magnificent.

When the organ plays, my entire body resonated with each note and in a building of this size, I believe that physical experience is the presence of God. Whether you are Catholic or follow a different faith, I encourage you to consider attending a Mass at the cathedral. It will stimulate your soul at its deepest core.

While I have your attention, please allow me a preach-able moment.

Until April of 2020, I was not committed to any church. Prior to learning about my cancer, I decided to be baptized as a Catholic. I was raised in a house hold which attended First Baptist Church in Halifax. The norm is to be baptized in Grade 9. That is a full on dunking in a tank at the front of the church. We went to church every Sunday and I attended Sunday school along with many friends. I was involved in active youth groups and occasionally the groups went away for weekend retreats.

When it came time to be baptized in Grade 9, I was unwilling to make the verbal declarations about a belief in God. I felt it was hypocritical to declare that I believed in things when it was not true.

My position was controversial with my cohort and the religious leaders in our church. It wasn’t a popular decision with my parents but they respected and supported my choice. For me, that was the right decision. As I have aged, my belief has changed and in 2019 I decided I wished to be baptized as a Catholic.

I agreed to raise all our children as Catholics and was present at all the important religious milestones. My wife Janet is a devote Catholica and even when we travel we make time to attend Mass. As an aside, if you are in Las Vegas on a Sunday, go to Mass as the music is as good as you’ll find in any casino show on the strip.

I have not lived a life connected as a parishioner to a church. However, I always believed the principles of how to live a Christine life. I truly believe it provides an ethical foundation on which to guide my behavior and make life decisions. I don’t think Christian values are particularly different that those found in every religious faith. However, I am not an expert.

For a long time I have held the opinion that our younger generations are not developing principle-based morality to serve as guideposts for how they interact with their peers. For example, bullying is an example of behavior without guilt or remorse and initiated by individuals where life-choices are made for self-gratification to fulfill as sense of entitlement and the need to prove they are better than members of their cohort.

I do not think this serves the future direction of society. We are meant to be social creatures where our love of one another drives the direction we point our moral compass. In my humble opinion, today’s youth do not know how to be genuinely loving and that is proving to be a character flaw. I find this to be sad and disturbing and it is getting worse than better.

I am not preaching that young people need to become church-going zealots. My point is really about encouraging youth to explore faith options with a focus on the human principles in order to learn there are alternatives. The spread between the haves and have-nots combined with the emergence protecting ones’ heritage instead of embracing diversity will only lead to more societal dissention with no chance of a positive outcome. Racism, reconciliation, etc. are all part in parcel of the same problem. I can always say more of this topic but I think that’s enough for now.

In our household, I think we did a good joy of instilling Christian principles in the souls of all are children. Meredith and Chris continue to embrace their Catholicism, Adam and Chris do not, and Melanie would if the Catholic church was more tolerant of the Gay community. Regardless, they all are principled with a strong sense of right and wrong and I’m proud of how they care about other human beings. My wife and I are truly blessed to have such special offspring.

My faith and commitment to Catholicism is a source of great comfort and brings me extreme inner peace. I can feel the hand of God on my back infusing me with huge doses of courage as I wrestle with cancer.

And now back to Day 3…

The Mass was traditional and in English. I had my Missal so it was easy to follow. There weren’t that many people in attendance but it was 8:00 am and I suspect COVID is keeping people home. The alter-servers were also the readers and many parts of the Mass were sung which is not something I’m used to. It has been a long time since collection has been taken but I was ready with some cash. I found the homily to be all over the map but I often find that to true. At least I stayed awake throughout which is not always the case. As per usual, taking the host is most comforting for me.

After Mass Chris and I headed the Notre Dame Basilica. It was not open to the public and the Mass at the time only welcomed parishioners. Chris was a little upset as cannon law dictates that every church should be open to everyone wishing to enter. He got over it.

Not Sure What’s Got Their Attention?

Our next task was to find a place to have some breakfast and advise Adam and Drew of our location. This proved to be more challenging than expected. Most of the places we passed didn’t open until later in the morning. After walking many blocks we did find a place called Allô Mon Coco and got a table. I discovered later this is a franchise chain. We had coffee and reviewed the menu while waiting for Adam and Drew. I had the Wild Berries Waffle which includes raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blueberries coulis, and whipped cream. It was served with two eggs, bacon, potatoes, and toast. I focused on eating all the berries, then the eggs, and bacon. It was scrumptious. Drew had a snack before coming so he didn’t get a meal but helped consume what I left behind.

After breakfast we headed in the direction of Old Montreal. Being so full from breakfast, it was a slow saunter. We came across a park which was the location of the first seat of government. There were numerous plaques to read and as you can see in the picture to the right, we look like a pretty happy crew.

We did pick up some souvenirs at a store near the river. There was an interesting collection of vender kiosks and food trucks which led to an adventure high ropes park and zip line on the river. Directly across was a massive Ferris wheel with gondolas. It seemed to be a great way to get an aerial view of Old Montreal and the river. It provided all of that and more during our three full rotations. That was about the right amount of time as after a while we stopped looking out and were just chatting. It was still a good “come-from-away” event for us as tourists.

By the time we disembarked from the Ferris Wheel, it was time to be thinking about lunch; not because we were hungry but I had Schwartz’s Deli as one of the You Gotta Eat Here destinations. In the picture to the right is the storefront sign above the sun canopy. This iconic deli is famous and we were all primed to have some smoked meat. If you don’t know, I think of Smoked Meat in Montreal as the way we think about a Donair in Halifax. It is the official dish in Halifax as voted on by city council.

There was a short wait in a lineup but after ten minutes we were ushered to our table.

Schwartz’s is a place you visit for smoked meat. There is nothing else you should get there even though there are other options on the menu. The sandwich in the picture, along with a pepper, pickle, and fries is a typical order and the sandwich will be piled high with smoked meat.

I advised our waiter that we were first time visitors and rather than place an order, we’d prefer he tell us what to order. I went a step further to let him know we wished to be educated by a pro so there was no need to leave any decision in our hands. We would joyfully consume anything he suggested in order to depart as genuine Schwartz’s patrons.

Instead of preparing sandwiches, he prepared a smorgasbord of plates so we could build our own. As you look at the table in the picture, here is what was was on the table:

  • A plate loaded with sliced bread up front and a second in back.
  • Two plates piled with smoked meat.
  • There are medium and hot peppers.
  • There are medium and hot pickles.
  • There is a plate with a large pile of coleslaw.
  • We also had a plate of fries we didn’t need.
  • And there was mustard, ketchup, salt, and pepper.

Building our own sandwiches is a perfect solution for me as it put portion control in my hands.

My deli and smoked meat experience is limited but I what I can say is I’d return to this location in a heartbeat. Every mouthful was an explosion of joyful flavors. And our server educated us well on how to order and eat in a deli. It was an eventful culinary experience.

I did a quick lookup on the deli later in the day and found the following which I thought was interesting, “On 5 March 2012, Paul Nakis and the Angelil-Dion family purchased Schwartz’s, reportedly for $10 million.?” The Nakis are well know restaurateurs and Angelil-Dion is Celine Dion.

After leaving Schwartz’s we headed back to the AirBnB. Adam and Chris needed to get to the airport for their 6:10 pm flight. We had time for a short rest break before heading out. Drew decided to look for a barber and get a hair cut. He’d meet us back at the ranch.

Time passes so quickly sometimes. I did a little reading and writing, nodded off for a quick nap, and woke up to find it was 4:00 pm. Adam and Chris should be at the airport for 5:00 pm and we needed to find a gas station and fill up as the car was pretty much running on fumes. Drew decided to rent a Bixi bike as a way to get back and didn’t make it in time to join us for the drive to the airport.

We had a little hiccup finding the correct key to get the garage door to open but otherwise the drive for gas and to the airport was uneventful and we arrived in plenty of time for Adam and Chris to clear security and board their flight for home. I headed back with the GPS as my guide. I driven enough in Montreal now to be comfortable.

Drew, Phil, Katherine, Tanner

Drew arranged to meet a friend from school who just relocated from Berlin to Montreal. My friend Tanner Shantz and his girlfriend Katherine Abbass are dropping over around 8:00 pm for a visit and a catchup chat.

I’m looking forward to meeting Katherine for the first time. She has a cover photo in Facebook which displays a blank page in a book with the line “Now I am awake.” What a brilliant message to share with the world.

I met Tanner at the Steam Whistle Brewery where he had just started as a Tour Guide. He is articulate, witty, charismatic, brilliant, and a natural leader. He has a passion for being alive and I think extremely comfortable in his own skin. He is one cool dude. He and Drew are acquainted and fellow alumni at Ryerson. I haven’t seen Tanner for a couple of years but we keep in touch with an occasional online message.

His work at Steam Whistle allowed him many opportunities with the Marketing Team which ultimately resulted in a job with the company in Edmonton. He and Katherine met in a dog walking park and their relationship blossomed from their mutual interest in caring for the critters.

Katherine just moved to Montreal for Grad studies in English Literature at Concordia University. Like all smitten young men, Tanner decided to follow her and I think the writing is on the wall that they will be together for many years into the future.

It was another truly wonderful day on the Road Trip.

Once again I send my gratitude for you electing to stand as a support pillar. I hope my ramblings here convey how much I am a place of deep inner peace. I count my blessings over and over to have such a loving wife, supportive offspring, caring friends, and a global collection of kindred spirits motivating me to keep up a good fight. An above all, I thank God for keeping me in his wheelhouse. I feel his hand on me every waking moment providing the courage I need to live large.

Peace, Love, and Laughter

Phil XOXO

PS – My cousin Don Cameron’s daughter Joanna Goodine and her husband Jordon just readmitted their four month old daughter to the IWK Childrens Hospital in Halifax yesterday after a three week stay trying to find why this little baby is so ill. It seems to be a GI infection of some sort but still a mystery. Please add Millie to your prayers for a speedy recovery.

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