It was a beautiful morning, May 13, 1982, to be exact, when the call came through. Baby boy Angualik was born at the nursing station in Cambridge Bay NWT (now Nunavit).!” Come as soon as you can”, they said.
Why are they calling us ? Because, arrangements had been made for him to be adopted by us. Alberta social services had done their home study, my bag was packed and ready to go.
So, early the next morning, armed with the proper documents, some baby clothes and blankets, Alex took me to the Edmonton Airport. It was very exciting and a little daunting, to fly that great distance into the northern wilderness to pick up a baby boy. In the Yellowknife airport I kept my eyes open to see if I could recognize anyone.
It was time to board the plane to Cambridge Bay and I saw our flight attendant in her northern parka, and the pilot in coveralls loading supplies into the D-C 3, yes, a world War Two plane which is now 80 years old, and many are still flying. It shuddered and shook for take off and the northern landscape of muskeg, scrub trees sank beneath us. Now to cover the 852 Km . to Cambridge,
Next stop was Cambridge Bay, a place I had never been, but these little hamlets look similar, just shocking to see civilization after the vastness of the Arctic.Our friend, Janet McGrath was at the airstrip to meet me. She spent her childhood in the Arctic communities . Her father had been working for the government and Janet learned the Inuktitut language We had previously agreed that she would take me to the home of baby Timothy’s grandmother. I was so grateful for this, otherwise I would have felt like I was snatching him away.
We walked to her house. I am sure there was still snow on the ground, in mid May, however, it was mild and sunny. With the advent of home heating oil, in those communities, their houses were very, very warm. They hadn’t perfected the “room temperature”concept. To make it more complex, women traditionally kept their babies on their backs in their parkas, so I saw ladies sweating inside their homes with the heat so high, adorable babies peeking over their shoulder.
Janet introduced me to Grandmother, whom she said is the one who is in charge of children’s welfare. Her house was very neat and clean, and her grandson is also very tidy. I asked her how she felt about me taking this baby away from the community, which I knew was unusual. Many babies were raised by grandmas and aunties, but in the same hamlet.
She began to apologize because she had raised, I think she said 10 children, plus some grandchildren too, and felt she couldn’t take on another, . She said maybe this was a baby with a special mission. I couldn’t disagree with her. Every child we raise has a special mission, and that usually is to change us a little or a lot. After this very positive visit, we made our way to the nursing station. There we met baby’s Mom, who for whatever complicated reasons, felt unable to raise this precious boy, handed him to me, with a tear in her eye. I am sure it was a difficult moment for her.
Now to get back to the airport to catch that old warhorse of an airplane back to Yellowknife. The thing about these planes, Alex had also experienced them often, they were either very cold or very hot. Probably, to do with what part of the plane you sat in. Back in the eighties, smoking was still allowed in planes, I have to confess, that might have been the longest plane ride I ever had (mentally anyway). In the heat and smoke, there I sat with a tiny boy that was less than two days old. But of course he slept and I just stared into his sweet face, trying to prepare myself for what was ahead. There wasn’t a thing I could do about the heat or smoke or how looooong it was taking. Head winds were extreme, and the flight that was relatively on schedule that morning was now seemingly going on forever.
Eventually, after dark, we made it to the Yellowknife airport and I took a taxi, to the Explorer Hotel. I settled in for the night, making a little “bed” for baby boy on my bed. I came prepared with baby formula in a can, but failed to bring along a opener. So at 2 am, I called the front desk to see if they had a opener. The young man said
“the kitchen is locked, I could bring my knife up”. That sounded a little “off”, but I agreed. .Up he came and delivered a very “sterile” jab into the can.
Next morning back to the airport and the 1000 miles back to Edmonton, where big brother and two sisters and Dad awaited with bated breath.
What a joy he was to look after, with so much help, always someone to hold and entertain Timothy Ian Morrison.
This is a very short version of how Timmy became part of our lives.
There could be much more written, about how much pleasure YOU HAVE BROUGHT INTO OUR LIVES, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TIM, WE LOVE YOU.!