Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Day of the Dead

This is my blog and I can write what I want to! There are those who think that one should stick with a topic such as knitting or beadwork, but as with most things in life, this Damselfly is all over the place. Today I’m remembering family and friends who have passed away. They get to live on in our memories, right? Actually I’m kind of lucky in that the list isn’t really all that long. And most of them were at least in their 80’s so, although it’s sad that they’re gone, it’s not all that unexpected. We move on to the next stage eventually.

First of course there’s mom (aka Mary Mary Quite Contrary!) who left us almost 2 weeks ago now. She was stubborn and funny and full of love and kisses right to the end of her 93 years. And best of all, she picked me to be her first baby. Though maybe dad had some input on the adoption choice. LOL! He was an infantryman during WWII and a letter sorter for Canada Post. He called himself Johnny, but mom called him by his second name, Warren. He called her Mommy, Mimi, or Mayme but I don’t recall him ever calling her Mary. (Must be a family trait not to call people by their given name, eh? I’ve no idea why, though come to think of it I don’t know why they called me Janie either. My second name is Jane but I went back to my first name in my late teens.) Dad died in 1988 at the age of 79 after a long decline from the complications of not-well-managed diabetes. My other “parent” was my aunt, mom’s sister Bow (my version of Isabella) who lived with us from the time I was a baby and worked as an executive secretary. I was never sure whether letting her into the household was a good idea or not. She was more stubborn than mom and somewhat selfish and judgmental. However, she watched over mom after dad died and when mom started losing her marbles. Kept me from worrying about them as much as I might have. Bow died from cancer in 2001 at 85.

My Mom & Dad on their wedding day.

On the in-law side of the family, there’s Thom’s dad, Frank. He was short, handsome, and very funny. He had a whole collection of goofy props for his silliness: clown nose, Aussie hat with cork bobbles, a wind-up talking parrot etc. He was only 72 when succumbed to lung cancer. He had smoked from the time he was very young until Thom’s mom finally convinced him to quit for good. But it got him anyway. Evil stuff, tobacco. Gives me a 3-day migraine myself. I’ve never smoked though there were 3 smokers in my house growing up. See above!

My Father-in-Law

In my birth family, I lost my grandmother a few years ago at 97. She never really got to know me well because I didn’t meet my birth family until I was 40 and she already had Alzheimer’s by then. But I know now where I got my “craftiness” from. I have some of the lace she crocheted and a pillow with her yo-yos on it. I never even got to meet my half-sister Betty, who died in a car accident before Mother located me. She was only in her late 20’s which was very sad.

My Grandma Stella

There were other more distant family members too, including my great-aunt Betty who was my grandmother-substitute (although she lived in Wisconsin) until I met my “real” grandma. Auntie Betty was soooo Scots — I was the only one in the family who would eat kippered herring and oatcakes with her for breakfast! And there was my Uncle Ed, dad’s brother, who sent us money to start a bank account for each of my kids when they were born, and his wife, Auntie Emily, who had dementia but managed to hide money all over their house. They didn’t find it until after she went into the care home and the house was sold. The US$10,ooo was enough to keep her there until she passed away with enough left to pay for her funeral! Or how about Thom’s uncle George who managed to (almost) take it with him by spending all his money at the local casino in his last few years. I figure that’s just about equivalent to Bow’s giving all her money to the Catholic Church. Some of the money goes to “charity” either way, I guess. It would have been nice to inherit a little something to help the kids buy a house instead though.

We’ve also lost a few friends: Max the Mohair Man and weavers/spinners Amy, Gertrude, and Doris. I still have some items that Amy wove and things she gave me and I remember her whenever I use them. I have booklets that Gertrude wrote and a couple of boxes of samples and notes. Collected handwoven Christmas cards from Doris remind me how she was so encouraging when I first joined the weavers’ guild. As for Max, I have a blue glass star hanging in my window for his angora goat ranch which was called Blue Star. Thom and he made a winning Spinathon team at the Sheep Fair with Max spinning and Thom carding. They were fast! Thom doesn’t have many friends apart from colleagues and family, so it was hard when Max died too young from nasty old cancer, probably acquired from the toxic copper mine he worked in to afford the ranch. Another friend was our long-time neighbour, Wayne, who passed away in his late 50’s several years ago. We have a tree on our boulevard for him. It used to be on his side of the street but the city conveniently moved it to our side. He was a great guy, nicknamed Marty Stewart for his cooking, cleaning, decorating, and party-hosting abilities. (And he wasn’t even gay!)

I’m sure if I thought hard enough there are more people for the list of those close to us who have died. But this post is getting pretty long! Hopefully there will be a lull now. I think I’ve had it with funerals for awhile.

No comments: