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  • Don Anderson

Canada, Kaslo, and Keith

Change. Another chapter for “Paper and Spit”. A country, city and cousin...three years

to fruition. An area in limbo after confirming Stuart as my father - meeting my first

cousin, Keith, face to face.

British Columbia is a Canadian province with vast visual resources. I had experienced

this part of the world as a child...Vancouver, Victoria, Banff, Lake Louise, Kamloops,

Penticton, Revelstoke. Now it was my turn to visit Kootenay Lake, specifically Kaslo.

As we approached Kaslo, the scenery was spectacular – Kootenay Lake appears as fiord-

like...set at 1,500 feet elevation within the Canadian Rockies, some towering close to

10,000 feet. With the same child-like excitement, I took in majestic scenes at every turn.

As we age, things that seemed bigger than life as a child become smaller with adult eyes.

What I was seeing now with adult eyes seemed even bigger than before.

As we approached our destination, feelings, thoughts, and emotions connected with

meeting my 1st cousin swirled through my brain – both sides for that matter. How would

this play out?

I have been blessed with one of the greatest reunion stories ever. Parents that loved and

wanted me, new relatives extending warm embraces, miraculous discoveries uncovering

ancestral connections, mentors and strangers, now friends, providing needed information

and support along the way with time-like precision – I don’t believe in coincidences.

We had set aside five days for this adventure – two in travel and the other three – hoping

to establish a bond. How would this play out??

Turning on to the street of our destination, the house and front porch came into view.

This was it. Three years of waiting and wishing, coming to an end. The beginning


As my door opened, Keith, who had been sitting, stood up and waved. We exchanged

greetings. As I approached, he extended his arms and we embraced. “It’s really good to

have you here!”

A good omen.

So many questions. Keith had been ‘the son that Stuart and Delores couldn’t have.’ A

Difficult transition for him when he became aware of my existence courtesy of DNA


So many questions...I presented him with one and one half pages of father queries. I was

hoping he would have answers AND be willing to share what he knew. How painful

and/or awkward would this be?

“Let’s do this tomorrow.” Was Keith’s response. For the present, pleasantries with a ‘get

to know you’ theme prevailed. We enjoyed his home, made quiche, accompanied by more


Our location was dramatic and Kaslo is a quaint village with 19th century roots and

history as a port and railroad stop. Each morning the sun would appear over the tops of

the Rockies through cloud remnants. A glorious beginning to the day.

Speaking for myself as an adoptee, reassurance is key in building a relationship . More

than once, Keith mentioned he was glad that we came. Music to my ears.

Although we share few physical traits, DNA gave us similar characteristics regarding

creativity and teaching style, as examples. He has a lengthy background in music and

literature. His mentorship in writing developed skills previously unknown – the proof?

“Paper and Spit”.

Thursday arrived and it was time to hear the answers to my one and one half pages,

Matter of factly, Keith began sharing his recollections, and in the process, filled in

missing father puzzle pieces.

We enjoyed local cuisine a couple of times. The company was always better.

Friday morning, we packed to return home. Three days had allowed us to craft the

beginning of a cousin-bond I had only dreamed about. Were my expectations met?

No... they were exceeded with that first embrace.

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