Friday, February 10, 2012

Time To Reflect

Though the weather has been stunning and my camellias are in full dress array an air of sadness hangs over Cathy Lane. My next door neighbor, Joey, only 40, needs a stem cell transplant to survive Leukemia (AML). The registry for members of his gene pool must be Guamanian or Pacific Islander, ages 18-60. My genes are not eligible, sadly. So if you know anyone who qualities urge them to get info at 1-899-59-Donor. The test is quick and painless.

Speaking of genes, I want to boast a bit about my cousin Doll. I just got word that she may be visiting again soon from Canada. What’s stirring my joy buds is that every minute spent with her is a delight. Though legally blind and hearing impaired, she infuses every discussion with positive joy. While I grouse and lament about the economy and various body aches, she never complains of a single thing.

Besides that cousin Dolly‘s memory at 95 surpasses most of ours when we were half her age. She was only six when her family arrived by train to Moosejaw. The trip with her parents and older sister Flossie from England was arduous, first by ship and then by train via Halifax. My Mother, a little older, remembered meeting her little cousins at the train station on the day of their long awaited arrival. My grandmother, who ran a boarding house on Fairfax Street, was slowly enticing her family to immigrate to Canada. Doll’s dad, my uncle Alf, soon found work at the flour mill, for of course the vast Saskatchewan prairie was the heart of wheat country. Except for the extremes of weather Moosejaw was welcoming to immigrants. Most Saturday nights the extended family would gather at my grandparents for poker, and singing into the night for her Dad’s voice, once lubricated with a little brandy, enchanted all. My Mother, whose reputation for exaggeration was significant, always said Moosejaw was 120 in the summer and 40 below in the winter. I think it was a rugged life. “Anyways” as Dolly says in her enchanting musical voice, “it was sure different than green and rainy England. “ Life settled down for about five years until like others in the family they elected to move west. Once more the great Canadian Pacific Railway carried them across the continent. After a bit Dolly’s Dad, a small man more fitted to lighter work found employment at a lumber mill but quickly dropped a log on his foot, breaking it. There was no workman’s comp then, of course. Eventually he was employed by the City of Vancouver in various capacities.

Of the two girls, Dolly was the quiet steady one, often lost in the shadow of her outgoing stagestruck big sister. She remained in Vancouver, married and raised four children, meanwhile working most of her life at Eaton’s Department store in downtown Vancouver.
She lives in an apartment there now which she shares with her faithful son Ed. Sadly two of her adult children died of lung cancer. Of course she grieves their loss, but one never hears a whimper from her. The highlight of her life is weekly bingo games at the casino. She can neither see the numbers on the cards nor hear when they are called out, but that seems to make no difference. Her presence alone is enough to keep the staff enthralled. When she fell two years ago at bingo and broke her hip we all thought “oh, no” this is the end. She prevailed and recovered with her usual gusto.
From a photo I took of her on her last visit I painted the rendering on the left. Its painted on tyvek paper. Yes, the kind of paper used in building construction. I call it “Time to Reflect”.

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