Still picking up the pieces

Grief, 22 months later.  I had a dream last night. I haven’t seen another person in four days.  I’ve been sick.  Flu, then weak and exhausted, not eating much and dragging myself around the house.  Missing my husband terribly. I’m still pushing through the grief; I realize it’s been a constant effort, propping myself up with busyness – good busyness but busyness nonetheless.  Alone these … Continue reading Still picking up the pieces

Christmas Past

win badgeChristmas without a tree, without the lights and the tinsel; no shopping even or presents to wrap – it was wonderful.  The children were 18, 17, 16, 15 and 14 – yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking but we were a newly blended family – I didn’t produce all those kids myself.  If I had I probably wouldn’t be here to remember that Christmas.\


triangleWe were a rather strange blended family in that we didn’t have to blend all that much.  One son and daughter lived in western Ontario; their father, my husband, lived in eastern Ontario; the other three children and I lived in northern Ontario – three points of a triangle, with a thousand miles between each point. This was our new age family.

The hectic holiday season approached – as you might imagine, ours could be either quite hectic, or very quiet and a bit lonely.  But that year my husband Continue reading “Christmas Past”

My first gift

win badgeI carefully counted pennies from my piggy bank and proudly left with my father to go shopping.  We went to a small gift shop in Valois where I searched the aisles for what must have been at least an hour, up and down and back again – my young eyes lighting on every single item, my little hands reaching out to touch and handle everything that appealed to my eye, only to be carefully placed back on the shelf.  Dad was extremely patient and he stood by, uncomplaining about the length of my mission. Continue reading “My first gift”

A Woman is a Dog’s Best Friend

win badgePets galore.   First I remember Smokey and Dusty, the cats that would cling to the screen on my parents’ bedroom window to announce their desire to come in, until one morning they just never came home.  There was the budgie that had a heart attack and fell over dead one morning when the cover was removed from his cage.  The turtles … they passed of indigestion we figure, and burped themselves to death from all the moths we fed them one night.  And then there was Happy the Basset Hound. But Happy was killed outside the house one evening when one of us inadvertently left a door open.

It wasn’t that we didn’t take care of our feathered and furry friends – we just seemed to have a rather long string of unfortunate luck, until we got Betsy the Basset Hound.  She was my mother’s dog; so attached was she to my mother that she wouldn’t leave the house without her, which relieved my sister and me of dog walking duty.  Tug and pull, cajole and plead as we might, we could not get her out through the door.

Betsy gained a reputation – if there was food, anywhere, she would find it. Continue reading “A Woman is a Dog’s Best Friend”

Passing through the Portal

win badge Anxious, excited, apprehensive, I kept close to my mother’s side, within reach of her hand should I need an extra measure of comfort as I watched the other fidgeting five and six-year olds grouped in clusters about the cavernous room, some holding fast to their mother’s hand. It is September, 1955. Continue reading “Passing through the Portal”

Leave well enough alone

win badgeWe were playing in the sandbox … we have a large yard, a half-acre lot, and at this time in the early 1950s it is without trees or landscaping.  At the back of the property, beyond the barbed wire fence, are farmer’s fields that are destined to be a housing tract but right now, the cows are grazing freely.   Daddy built a sandbox for us. It’s probably about three or four feet square, with triangular seats on the corners, painted the same maroon as the clapboards of our house, and it is placed so that Mummy can watch us playing from the kitchen window. Continue reading “Leave well enough alone”

These Four Walls

win badgeI keep my eyes closed as I approach the house. It’s set back from the road with a large front lawn but my steps are sure and I don’t falter. In the corner of the property I admire the magnificent, stately maple tree – a mere stick when my sister stuck it in the ground over 60 years ago.

Continuing up the driveway, I pause to watch the Continue reading “These Four Walls”

Veteran’s Land

win badgeAfter my two-week stay at the hospital where I had been safely delivered, my parents bundled me up against the December chill and brought me home in time for Christmas.  Home was to be in Pointe Claire in an area called Lakeside Heights.  Much of the West Island was still undeveloped farmland, and except for summer homes and cottages along the lakeshore, it was pretty much out in the boonies.

The Veterans’ Land Act  designated this property as veterans’ land, available for purchase only to those who had served in the war.  My father’s qualification was service as an infantry soldier. About 1947 they purchased a half-acre lot and contracted to have the house built at a cost of Continue reading “Veteran’s Land”

Mum’s Bundle of Joy

win badgeIt was a winter Friday when I was born.   I stayed in the hospital with Mum for two weeks while she recovered from her birthing experience.  Later, as a grown up and mother of three who only got 48 hours to recover, I thought that was a bit excessive.  My mother stayed in the hospital longer recovering from me than she did recovering from the open heart surgery she had 47 years later.  My own daughter only stayed in the hospital about 5 hours after she gave birth.   Give it another generation and we will have come full circle and parents-to-be will just forego the trek to the hospital and be birthing babies at home again.

On examination after delivery the doctor announced that Continue reading “Mum’s Bundle of Joy”

Lot 22

win badgeFor more about Write It Now – WIN – click here. For other WIN  posts click here

This year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the only war fought on Canadian territory.  This story seemed appropriate.  Stewart and Mary are my 4x great grandparents.

By May of 1812 Stewart Grafton and Mary McCool had made their way from the Carolinas all the way to York, present day Toronto.  Once there Stewart sought and secured an interview with Sir Isaac Brock, military commander and administrator of Upper Canada, telling him of their adventures.  After settling his family Stewart joined the York Militia.

On October 13, 1812 Stewart was on the field at Queenston Heights, the largest battle at that point in the war between United States regulars and New York militia forces and the British Forces, led by Major General Sir Isaac Brock. Before the battle was over Continue reading “Lot 22”

Changing Gears

win badgeChanging gears a bit – I will return to my Wales saga tomorrow …

Seven years ago I began participating in a different kind of writing program – it’s not a creative writing course and there are no critiques.  It’s purpose is to encourage us to write our life’s stories.  We all have stories.  “J’écris ma vie” was started by Olivier Fillion, a Frenchman in Quebec.  The seed for “J’écris ma vie” (literally, “I write my life”) was probably planted during his years in public relations where his work included meeting with retiring staff and writing something about their life.  From that Fillion went on to develop an outline for tapping into one’s memories to produce family stories for the next generation.

He developed it as a two-year program, meeting every two weeks to share stories.  At each session a guide or ‘prompt sheet’ is distributed with questions – it is not intended that we necessarily write on every point; they are merely an aid to help nudge the memories loose.  The program starts with the early years, looking back to our ancestors, values and beliefs, brothers and sisters, and moves through childhood, adolescence, love and romance, parenting and family life to retirement and the golden years. A member of our community took it upon himself to translate Fillion’s program into English and W.I.N. – Write it Now – came into being.

A ‘”two-year” program that has kept both me and my husband engaged with an interesting, fun, humorous and sometimes sad, sympathetic and empathetic community of new friends for seven years.  It re-awakened my joy in writing and gave structure to my jottings.

A simple prompt from the first sheet, The Early Years: “What early memories do you have of your grandparents?” prompted me to write the following: Continue reading “Changing Gears”

What will my grandchildren find?

win badgeFollowing on yesterday’s post, my own teen years were the flower power, flower children, make love not war, hippy, long-haired, draft-dodging, protest-marching, drug-induced 1960s. Fashions were bizarrely similar to today. Today’s flared pants “sitting just below the waist” were my bell bottomed hip huggers; today’s “Capri” pants were the pedal pushers of my youth; and my daughter’s jacket is my “pea” jacket of 40 years ago. I watched TV programs like the Ed Sullivan Show, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which was filled with the thought-of-but-not-yet-possible sci-fi gadgets of today. My music was the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals, and Bob Dylan droning endlessly on. We challenged Continue reading “What will my grandchildren find?”