I’d been seeing Michael for a couple of months and enjoyed his company. We liked the same things – going for walks, nice meals, dancing.
It wasn’t love at first sight but I’m 67 so not surprising really. The thing is, I’m not your average 67 year old and I wanted a bit of excitement in my life. When my best friend met Michael she described him as:
Adorable, like a pair of comfy slippers!
I think that’s why I decided not to tell Michael about my past. Back in 2009, I received a prison sentence for money laundering. I’d never been in trouble before and I have no defence other than even at the age I was, I was gullible and got taken in by a real charmer.
Then, right out of the blue, Michael asked me whether I’d ever been to Canada. I knew that his two sisters lived there but apparently Michael had been asked to speak at a conference in Toronto and thought he could tie it in with a visit to his family. He wanted me to go with him and also meet his family.
Oh my god! What to do. I knew I wouldn’t be able to visit Canada with my criminal record but did I want to open up and tell Michael that. So I bottled it and told him that I’d love to go but couldn’t afford it.
Michael offered to pay for my ticket. I told him that I couldn’t possibly accept – far too proud blah, blah, blah. He told me he would be needing some admin/secretarial support whilst he was away (I’d been a PA up until my prison sentence) and to think of the ticket as my ‘salary’.
It didn’t look as though Michael was going to take no for an answer so I either had to tell him the truth or walk away from the relationship. The sad thing was, I’d started to become quite fond of Michael and I really didn’t want to call a halt to this new relationship. I was pretty sure that ultimately that’s what was going to happen when I came clean.
My ‘disclosure’ was awful – garbled and rambling but Michael just listened. ‘So you see that’s why I can’t come to Canada with you – not that you’d want me to now’ I stuttered.
My story didn’t phase Michael at all; he was just keen that we find out for sure whether I’d be able to travel to Canada or not. We hunted the internet and it became pretty clear from Unlock’s Information Hub that I was ‘criminally inadmissible’ and would not be ‘deemed rehabilitated’ as I didn’t fit the criteria – ten years hadn’t passed since my conviction – and that I’d have to apply for a temporary resident permit.
Eventually Michael rang the Canadian Embassy and explained the situation to them. He told them that I wanted to go for the purposes of business and that the terms of my sentence had been completed for two years. The Embassy confirmed that in their opinion I should apply for a temporary resident permit. On the application I had to give a lot of detail about the work I would be doing, the type of conference I would be attending and why Michael could not take somebody else with him.
I submitted my application. The Embassy took the view that my need to enter Canada for the purpose of business was greater than any potential risk I posed to Canadian society and my permit was granted.
So me and my comfy slippers are on our way to Toronto.
By Diana (name changed to protect identity)
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