A New Path

Roya Jafari (+Video)


September 4, 2019: the fourth day in my new home in Canada. Every morning when I wake up, I wish I were waking up in Tehran, the city where I had lived all my life.

One day, a decade before I came to Canada from Iran, my mother told me she thought something was wrong with her. Six months later, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 54 years old. After a year, she could hardly do anything on her own. But she could walk, so she and I walked for hours and hours through the streets and parks of Tehran. 

When my father died of grief over my mother’s illness, my mother did not remember any of us and did not notice his death. I brought her to live with my husband and me. After a few months, she forgot how to walk. In order to spend more time with her, I changed my job teaching high school math from full-time to part-time. Just as a mother feeds her child, bathes her, combs her hair, and sleeps close to her at night, I did the same for my mother. My family said, “You are no longer your mother’s daughter. Now you are your mother’s mother.” 

After living in my house for three years, my mother died. It was as if I had lost my child. Living in my house became difficult for me. Since I had been sleeping beside her every night during her illness, I could no longer sleep once she passed away. I worried that I would develop Alzheimer’s. Some studies I read said that learning a new language and culture,  communicating with new people, and doing new activities would help to prevent Alzheimer’s. So, my husband and I decided to change our world. We decided to move to Canada. 

Back to Sept 4, 2019. I live on the 11th floor of an apartment building. My bed is near a big window. I notice Calgary’s Nose Hill Park in the distance. This morning, it is covered in snow. I am amazed and delighted because it is just the beginning of autumn. I momentarily forget my wish to be in Tehran. I happily get out of bed and decide to go out for a walk.

My blue boots are on the shoe rack near the door. I remember buying them before I came to Canada, in the first year after my mother’s death. My four siblings and I did not want to be at home during Nowruz, the Iranian New Year that occurs on the first day of spring. Instead, we chose to go to a new place that did not hold memories of our parents.

We went to the city of Marmaris in Turkey. We did not have the right shoes for the rainy weather, so we went to LC-Waikiki, a chain store in Turkey, and bought waterproof boots. Mine were short, dark blue lace-ups. From that day on, these boots have been with me in rainy and snowy weather. 

On Sept 4, 2019, I am glad I brought my boots to Calgary and have them for this first snowy day. I pull them on and go outside. This walk is the beginning of my new path. I am sleeping well at night again. Over the next few years, I take English classes, tutor my friends’ children, and work towards teaching math in a Canadian school on day. Today I wear my blue boots and feel as though my mother is here, walking with me in the snow.

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