We were due to go on holiday.
All the arrangements had been made: a ride with a friend to the Vancouver airport, the flight to Heathrow, hotel in London, train to the west country, B&B in Penzance, ride to the heliport, helicopter to the Isles of Scilly, bus to the B and B on St. Mary's, the largest of the islands, where we would be staying for twelve days and nights.
All arranged. The attraction for many visitors to Scilly is the walking.
Each of the five islands is rimmed by an ancient footpath, a narrow way sunk deeply into the earth within sight of the sea and the other islands.
Much of the time, hikers must walk in single file along trails that lead far from the small towns, past 4,000-year-old burial grounds, through the remains of long uninhabited villages where the old field walls disappear into the sea.
We were going in two weeks, when I had a heart attack in the doctor's office.
I have written before about the doctor's speedy reaction and how I was delivered to the Royal Columbian Hospital - where a stent was quickly installed in one of my heart's four blocked arteries.
This to be followed by a triple bypass and a new lease on life.
I am reminded that, had the heart attack waited until we were away walking on one of the islands, I wouldn't be here today writing my 389th column for the TIMES. Such is the way of the world.
That was in early spring two years ago, and since then, I have awoken into 850 mornings I would never have seen. I have written, and read, and listened to music. I have spent precious time with the family, lunched and dined with the woman I love at favourite local restaurants, enjoyed a pint with a view at the Billy Miner, and been entertained at The ACT.
We have walked daily by the river and weekly at the farmers market in the Memorial Peace Park, where we purchased Swiss chard and leeks, kale and carrots that were pulled from the earth that morning, and new-laid eggs and fresh-baked bread - all the while being entertained by music played as it is best played, outdoors, by musicians we can see and speak to.
And as we moved from one stall to another, we met and talked with old friends who were there for very much the same reason we were; or we sat for a while among the tide of shoppers arriving with expectations and empty bags to put them in, and watched as they flowed through and out again loaded down with all that the market provides.
We were glad to be in the centre of Haney, not far from where we have stood quietly for 55 years on November the 11th, remembering the past and rejoicing in the present the past has given us.
We know that many of you reading the TIMES today have felt lucky as we do. You have shared your stories with us. We know you too have been given extra days to wake and hug and laugh and enjoy simply being alive here in the Fraser Valley.
That is why I'm writing this as our shared day of Thanksgiving approaches: to acknowledge the value of doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers, paramedics, and all those who work in clinics and hospitals, who daily make it possible for people like you and me to get up and go out and live - and to say thank you.
@ Copyright 2013