Friends moving, a moving memory and being moved, the week 27 Carr blog is just moving along!
I was moved earlier this week by being witness to a tearful goodbye. Then last night, we had to have our own and say goodbye to our friends Thelma and John. Our neighbors for the last 3 months and the ones we called “some of the nicest people we have ever met” have sold their house on the street they have anchored for the last 15 years, loaded up the truck, pointed it east and have left for the home they are building in Quebec. We had the chance to get to know them over the last couple of months and finally had them over for dinner last Sunday for what Thelma called “the last supper”. The one thing that was clear is, we are going to miss them! We wish them well and look forward to staying in touch online, and will look forward to seeing them when they come back to visit in December. When they do come and visit, perhaps we will have taken up the torch and started to become as great of neighbours to those who remain, as they had been for all those years.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
The opening stanza of “In Flanders Fields” means different things to different people and is widely heard and much talked about each year on Remembrance Day. The poem and the feelings it stirs are almost always about remembering those who have fought and died for the rights and freedoms we enjoy today, the same rights and freedoms we sometimes take for granted. However, since 1986 the poem has always meant something different to me.
It was a cold Tuesday morning and I awoke to the sound of a knocking at the door. Two uniformed officers of the Toronto Police service, delivering a message about an accident involving a car and a pedestrian. In our house for the past couple of days, energy and focus had shifted from my grandmother to the health of my Mom’s older sister and her battle with Cancer, so we thought for sure that it had something to do with my Aunt Mary, but it was not. My Grandmother, the one we called Baba, was struck by a car and had died almost instantly earlier that morning while crossing the busy Victoria Park Ave a couple of blocks from our house.
My twin sister and I were 2 years old when, along with my Mom and our older sister moved in with my Baba. We grew up in the house she owned and ran like a fine oiled machine, in the beginning anyway. For years, she supervised the laundry department at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto and Baba treated the house, as it was an extension of her old job. She retired before I was old enough to know she even had a job, so we just thought her work was keeping us kids in line. She would tell us often of her life growing up in Manitoba and how like most homesteads of the time with a large family, that there was no shortage of hard work to do on the farm. Of all the stories she would tell, the one that I remember the most, perhaps because of the image, was the night she spent in the fields with the cows because they did not hear the bell to return to the barn. I can’t remember how old she said she was, but it must have been young and my sister and I would sit in awe and hang on every word when she talked to us.
In my teen years, my memories of Baba were more of frailty then strength. She walked with a cane and was not as active as she once was, giving up or at least slowing down on her favourite pass-time, riding the bus. All the drivers knew her well and often traded the cost of the fair for the company to the end of the line and back. They called her “Mrs. Yardley” and even sent flowers to her funeral. When we were young she would take us on her trips too, and I remember going from our house in East York as far East, West or North as the bus would travel. High Park or the Zoo could easily be reached if you know the transfer points and the routes and she DID and loved to tell you about it.
They say that the people that cross your path and touch your life are the ingredients that make you who you are, and having grown up with Baba, I know she played a key role in making me who I am today. I know she would have loved and spoiled the girls and I know she would have thought the world of Nathalie and would have admired her passion for her family and life. She has been gone now longer then she was alive in my lifetime and I do think of her often but I only wish I could have been smart enough to write down some of the stories she told. I regret terribly, that as a teen I sometimes did not appreciate the relationship I had with her, the life lessons I could have learned and perhaps the extra time I might have spent with my Baba when she was alive.
I miss the treats and trinkets she would find and bring home for me, thinking I could use them for something. I miss the Kool-aid with equal parts sugar and powder, the cheesies and the pleasure she took in watching Lawrence Welk on TV or simply going on a bus ride, but most of all I miss just not having her here to talk to. Baba, thank you for all you gave me and I miss you!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
A couple times of year, we like to cash in on some travel points and a great hotel rewards program and take a little trip and this weekend is number 2 for the year! Last time we made the trek to Niagara Falls, it was the summer and we had the girls but this time, we go it alone sort of-speak (we do have each other after all!). Not sure what is on the must do radar, but I think it will involve a nice dinner, some shopping, a drink or two and great time spent with a loved one. Next week a full recap of all that is printable of course.
Having girls, we have a pretty strict insect removal policy in the house “by any means necessary”, but the one exception is the lovely ladybug. Those can stay! For the last couple of days, we have a visitor flying around in our house and I like that it reminds me of the summer and I love discovering it, minding its own business just fluttering about in the strangest places. I tell the girls it’s cool having it around and that I don’t think it eats too much, so we can keep it. However, that was before doing the research for this story. You see, I thought the lifespan of a ladybug was a couple of months but it turns out it can be up to a couple of years. We might have to start thinking about names.
Please feel free to submit your suggestions!
Thanks for reading and have a safe week!