It was so nice of Sharique to have Jase over for one last guys get together where they spent some great quality time. Jase also brought Sharique his gift. I think they had a fantastic time! I really hated picking up Jase and taking him home that night because I knew there wouldn’t be much more time for them to spend together.
The night that we have been waiting for and one of the reasons we came to St. Eustatius finally came. Todd’s Graduations from his first two years of Medical School – where they then send you off for the 3rd and 4th years for clinicals in the United States &/or Canada. It would be the last graduation celebrated on the island of St. Eustatius by The University as it moved to the island of St. Maarten at the end of August 2013.
Todd’s Graduating Class
It was bitter sweet in the fact that it was sweet he was finally done!!!! But on the bitter – we had to leave the island in only 3 more sleeps/two more days.
The evening was lovely with the fancy white coats, catered dinner, special guests, awards and pictures. It was held at the Lions club where we have had the opportunity to attend many different events through out our time on the island.
This was the first time the Canadian Anthem was sung at a graduation! As some may know Todd and I have been lucky enough to attend 4 graduations on the island, including this one, and at one of the Graduations I had asked a representative from NY why they don’t sing the Canadian Anthem because there are quite a few Canadians that attend the school. And so this time around, a year or so after the request, it was sung– maybe just for Todd who knows? But it was finally sung by the well-known singing artist and teacher on the island Cecilia Gittens-Roosberg. She sang beautifully and I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes hearing my Anthem sang so far from home.
Our Mistress of ceremony Marianna Musengo who has always been so kind and thoughtful toward all the students and had help to organize different school activities including SOS and the school newsletter. She gave a wonderful and heartfelt speech, which and was so kind to personally include Todd in her message.
Maritza Hassell, one of the ladies in the offices, was invited as a special speaker at the ceremony. Her speech was full of humour, fun, seriousness, and very touching. She too had mentioned Todd in her speech naming some of his earned nicknames – Statia Man and Statia Boy. Being on the island for 3 years you can’t help but get to know so many amazing people, and get to know the ladies in the school office really well. Many of them have become dear to our hearts – including Maritza.
Dr. Gardner addressed the student with a nice speech and then was the handing out of the certificates. As Dr. Odongo was reading out each name and handing out the certificates he missed Todd’s name on the list. There were some murmurs of confusion and I admit even I was a little confused as to what was happening. When Dr. Odongo was finished the last name on the list he said, “I didn’t forget Todd’s name but I wanted to save the best for last. Todd Erickson.” Let me tell you that as a wife and someone going through this with him I was so proud. We know he didn’t get the best marks in the class but I’m not at all hesitant to say that I know he’s the best and Dr. Odongo knew that to! - There is no way Todd would tell you that though. Both Dr. Odongo and Dr. Gardner are wonderful men to be associated with, helped Todd when they could and didn’t hesitate to give him the support he needed. To them we are so grateful.
To top off the evening Todd was awarded the citizenship award. No student has ever known and loved the island, its citizens, and has had as many people living on the island to know a student - like Todd has.
After the ceremony we were treated to a catered meal, – the company owned by our friends, Jacintha Brice & Koert Kerkhoff – the former Papaya Restaurant, by their fantastic chef! The food was amazing. Golly we miss good Caribbean food.
Some final pictures of Todd with some very special people.
Maritza Hassell, Irva Jones, Ria van Roest, and Marike Tearr. These are the ladies in the admin office on the Island. They are a wonderful, fantastic group of women whom we have loved getting to know. They made our school experience on the island that much more amazing and we couldn’t thank them enough for all of their help, kindness, patients and friendships.
Maria - She works at the school as a care taker.
D.J. - He and Todd studied a little big together during the last semester or two.
That very night – Thursday August 8th – although I was really hoping we would have at least one more time in the heat of the day to go to the beach - we knew it would be our last opportunity to go down to the beach and we promised the kids that we would do a night time swim before we left. So we changed out of our fancy graduation clothes into swim suits and drove down to the Dive Statia beach, where Scubaqua currently is, got in the water and watched the plankton glow in the dark while we moved our arms around really fast. We have never shown the kids that before! They thought it was the best thing ever to be swimming with glowing little creatures! We weren’t down there very long because some of us got cold, it was late, and we had a lot to do in the next two days. It was a wonderful night.
The next day was full of getting thing organized, given away, sold, ect. ect. ect…. a very long and tiring day. We did however have a few of wonderful moments. Our first was in the morning with Tony and Leontine. They came by in the morning to say goodbye as they were leaving off island to see their family that afternoon. We had been so blessed the last 2 years and 8 months on the island living in one of their family homes. We could not have hand picked a more giving, humble, and loving people to know and have in our lives at such a time. Without you and your selflessness we would not be as successful as we are now at this point in our lives. You gave us support, love and the feeling of family as ours were so far away. You will always be loved, thought of, and remembered by our kids as Uncle Tony and Auntie Leontine and as true friends by Todd and I. We love you.
They also gave us an amazing assortment of Dutch snacks and candies to eat on the flights home. They also gave us some very special souvenirs to remind us of the island and our life there.
While Todd and I were out later that day making delivery’s and whatnot, the kids were playing in the yard and in the gazebo. They were playing some game and Katie decided to climb up the railing of sorts and didn’t see the huge Jackie nest right there. She was high enough up that as they started to sting her she could just run away she actually had to carefully climb down, as to not fall and hurt herself, and then get away as fast as she could. We counted at least 10 stings on her little neck, arms and hands. She was so sad and sore – these stings REALLY hurt. So for the rest of the afternoon she had icepacks, painkillers, and antihistamine! Her sweet friend Sarah called and found out about her stings and came by to give her some love and flowers to get better. It was so cute. What a wonderful friend and another wonderful moment.
Another wonderful moment, or shall I say wonderful couple of hours was having our amazing friend Debbie invite us over for a delicious homemade meal. It was so greatly appreciated, and we were so thankful for her for making that lovely meal for us. She is another one of those people who we feel so blessed to know and that she was there for us for a reason. She has the ability, no matter who you are or who else is in the room, to make you feel like the most important person in the room, and that is special. She is so gentle and fantastic to our kids, and they just love Miss Debbie – and so do I. We have loved getting to know her, and her family and will always cherish our friendship.
While we were there that night Katie also gave Sarah her gift before we left.
Food and games. Poor Katie was still not feeling very well but she desperately wanted to be there with Sarah so she toughed it out as long as she could.
The minute we woke up on Saturday morning it was go, go, go. The first thing we did was take apart our beds, take our mattress to Rachael and Teem, and the others to the Queen Family who had so generously lent them to us for the past 2 years and 8 months. Finish the last of the organizing and clean, clean , clean til we dropped. WE had some people drop by here and there during our last few days of trying to get things done. Today we had Teceoh (Pronounced T-C-OH) come by with the most amazing coconut pie. I so miss the coconut pies from dear friends on the island. Made with fresh coconut from the tree. This pie happened to be made using coconuts from the trees at our house – we gave Teceoh’s mom a bunch when they came by one day. Teceoh is the brother of a Nadio, teacher Joanna’s husband. Todd met Teceoh through Nadio. Small world on the island! Nadio is also the one who found Todd’s scooter Keys on the bottom of the ocean! – That story is somewhere else in the blog. But Teceoh is a very kind and gentle hearted person, very strong and conscience of his faith. It was such a pleasure to get to know him.
Adolphus also came by that Saturday to say goodbye to all of us, especially the kids. The kids really liked hanging out with him and Courtney would tease him a a lot! He is such a nice young man with many challenges in life right now. But I firmly believe that he has the ability to overcome his challenges if he remains in the right frame of mind and determination. Thank you for being such a kind friend Adolphus.
Here we are with all of our Squbaqua Apparel on! We each bought a shirt/top from Squbaqua as a keepsake, and I have to get this picture to Marieke and the dive shop!
After finally finishing everything we could possibly do at the house it was time to leave it for good. We spent the night sleeping at Andy and Katie’s place – she had already gone to Canada- and Andy slept in Josh’s place in the connecting apartment. It was so nice of them to do that for us. We got to Andy’s, had showers and had promised the kids we would take them out to Ocean View, their favorite restaurant, and each of them could bring a special friend for their last night.
Courtney & Mae-Rubya
Katie & Sarah
Jase & Sharique
It was a fun night of food – spicy fish! Oh so good! – fun, laughter and a few tears. Courtney’s schoolteacher was there having dinner too! Teacher Anna! Courtney gave her a picture of our family.
Todd and I had some friends join us as well! Leon and Marta were planning on going out to dinner to Ocean View that night as well and we thought it would be fun to eat together – one last meal.
The kids all together and also a picture of our family with the very first landlord and landlady we had on the island – not including the first week and a half at Vilma Rivers while we waited for our apartment with Rene and Lauris. They are a wonderful couple, she is a fantastic cook and he has always been so kind and thoughtful. That night we had come full circle to our time spent on the island.
That night was a hard night to sleep. Neither Todd nor I could sleep very well. I don’t know if it’s because we were in a different place or because we knew this was it. I’m pretty sure it was both. I don’t think the kids slept very well that night either. To many emotions circulating the last while. We made it to the airport with Josh and Andy graciously helping us with our 6 suitcases and kids. We came to the island with 10 suitcases and 5 boxes that we shipped. So we definitely cut back. If you think about the three years of accumulation plus all the stuff we brought to the island – it was quite liberating to get rid of it all, but I do miss a couple of the things we left behind. We were on the 8:30 flight so the morning went very fast. We were sent off by so many wonderful people we had met on the island - it was overwhelming.
Jase & Matteï
Josh, Al Brown, Todd & Andy.
Family & Kermit
Dusty in the Dog carrier!
Tino, Todd & Erlyn
Tiffany, Katie and the Harker Family. (Lincoln, Kayla, Lacey, & Josh)
Gary Brown & Todd
Matteï, Jullian, Jaasiel & Jase
Miss Mia! - She wasn't feeling well but still came to see us off!
Sala Family - Monty, Claire, Kristen, Ely, & Koert Kerkhoff - in the back, and Wanda van Mourik.
Miss Joanna & Katie.
It’s hard not to cry thinking about all the people we miss and love, all the people who showed us so much love and friendship. As we were waiting in the departure room people still kept coming in and I needed, maybe because of my photo obsession at the time or more likely because I wanted to remember, I took what pictures I could through the glass. Sharique finally made it to the airport – it was a very sad good-bye for him and Jase – however Jase was already through security. But bless the hearts of those working in the airport, they let Jase come back through to give his best friend one last hug.
Ria, Tr. Anna, Tr. Chris and her husband... there are people I can't make out in the pictures - there was a lot going on.
They let Dr. Odongo through to say goodbye. :)
Marike Tearr, Jacintha Brice, Tidmarsh Family (Brant, Camille, Liam & Kaleb) Tr. Chris's Girls (Chereese, and her little sister.), Tr. Cleo & Machir - Sorry if I forgot anyone that was there!
Before we went to St. Eustatius I had the desire to get out there with the people of the island, to try and know them, to try and live among them and that was my goal. I didn’t want to move to the Caribbean to try and fit my Southern Alberta Canadian life down there I wanted to fit their life into mine. So that is what we tried our best to do… and I think we did it. It was the hardest goodbye I have ever had in my life. I think its safe to say it was the hardest for our family. We have grown to absolutely love the island of Sint Eustatius, but mostly grown to love so many amazing people who have touched and changed our lives forever. We love you all, we miss you, we thank you, and we will never forget you. We hope to meet again someday.
Goodbye Part II – On the way to Canada
We wanted to leave our home in the Caribbean on a happier note and enjoy the last of our time here so we booked ourselves for two nights at the all-inclusive Maho Resort with all the food you can eat and all the relaxation you could desire. It was wonderful. After the last week on Statia and a sad farewell it was nice to not have to worry about anything – at least for a few days.
While booking our mini vacation on St. Maarten we ran into some trouble with the booking and Todd got a little bit of a runaround. It was a little frustrating but our room was booked and we were excited it worked out. When we arrived at the hotel we were informed that they were sorry about the mistakes and the runaround so they upgraded our suite – a lot! We were given one of the pent houses! We were pretty shocked but pretty excited! The room wasn’t ready yet because the guests staying in it hadn’t booked out yet at the proper time. So we just had to wait a few hours – which was fine with us! How could we complain about the deal they just gave us! So we brought some of our stuff that we needed down to the beach for those few hours, stored our big luggage at the hotel and just relaxed. One sad part about our time at the Maho. - I was sitting with Courtney on the beach chairs and she said to me, "Mom, I want to go home." I said, Sweetie we are, our plane leaves Tuesday night back to Canada." Courtney said, "No Mom, I want to go home to Statia." It was really sad actually. At first being back in Canada was hard for the kids and us every once and a while. - The kids wanted to go back. There have been nights when I have tucked Courtney in bed and she would start crying to go back, or she would tell me her dreams of going back to Statia but no one is on the island and she can't find her friends. So sad. Driving in the van at night they would look across the plains and see the house lights dotted on the prairie and imagine that they are the boats in the ocean.
We got some massages, we read, played with Dusty, enjoyed the ocean for as long as we could and chased after planes on the famous Maho Beach.
Just hanging out.
The girls and the last coconut tree Katie climbed in the Caribbean.
The tiniest little crab we have ever seen.
The view from our room and the pretty awesome Pent House Suite we stayed in!
After those few relaxing days at the Maho Beach Resort It was time to go. We really wanted to take one last swim before we went. The kids wanted to go to the pool and the ocean so we split the time we had left between the two; about 15 minutes at each place. My favorite was the chilly but glorious last dip in the ocean. Yes it felt chilly. But we loved it.
A couple plane rides later and after dashing through the Canada Toronto Airport with just minutes to spare to the next flight we arrived to our destination at midnight – 12:00am August 13th- tired and travel weary. My Dad and my brother Mike came to pick us up and drive us 2 hours South to where we would make our home for the time being.