Our Present Past (1)

“So what do you want to know?” she enquired.

“Everything,” I replied.

She chuckled. “Okay.  How much information do you have already?”

“Bits and pieces.  There’s a newspaper clipping  …”

“What does it say?”

“According to Rev. Donald Kanagaratnam who wrote an article which was published in the Morning Star, a young man named Kadirgamar Danvers from Tellipalai was baptized into the Christian faith in 1835. The villagers, angered by the conversion, burned the local church down.  Danvers fled to the village of Panditherruppu, where he met and married Anna Saveriyal.”

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A clipping of the article by Rev. Donald Kanagratanam published in 1981 in the Morning Star (courtesy Eric Perinpanayagam).  The Morning Star was the oldest English newspaper in Jaffna, established by the American missionaries in 1841.

“There was a lot of missionary activity in Panditherruppu at the time.  They were more tolerant towards the converts,” she explained.

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The American Mission Church in Tellipalai, Jaffna (prior to civil war damage and reconstruction)

 

“According to Rev. Canagaratnam, Kadirgamar Danvers and Anna had seven children.  One of them was Solomon Danvers,who trained as a medical practitioner under the famous Dr. Green of Manipay.  An old Bible geneology that came into my possession recently, makes mention of only four offspring.”  

 

The children of Kadirgamar and Anna Danvers (as recorded in the Bible of Solomon Samuel, their great grandson) –

  • David Danvers (married Harriet  Theivanei)
  • Solomon Danvers (married Thangam Vethanayagam)
  • Jane Elizabeth Danvers (married Joshua Perinpanayagam)
  • Gabriel Danvers (married Mary Santiago)

 David Danvers (son of Kadirgamar and Anna) married Harriet Theivanei.

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Victoria Harriet (Theivenei) Danvers  (courtesy Vasanthi Narendran)
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1. Gabriel Danvers and wife, Mary (nee Santiago)     2.  Gabriel’s son and wife – Alfred Muttiah Danvers and Archimuttu – with their daughter                         3. Albert Seevaratnam Danvers and his sister, Muttamma, children of Gabriel’s brother, Solomon Danvers (from notes by the late Rev. Donald Kanagaratnam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children of David and Harriet Danvers –

  • Mary Chellammah Danvers (married Vethanayagam Samuel)
  • Elizabeth Annamma Danvers (married Jacob Arumainayagam)
  • Rebecca Ponnamma Danvers (married Samuel Alfred Perinpanayagam)

 “Mary Chellammah married Vethanayagam Samuel, who was your great grandfather,” she said.  “Her sister, Rebecca Ponnamma, married Samuel Alfred Perinpanayagam. Samuel Alfred’s father was Joshua Perinpanayagam, who married Jane Elizabeth Danvers, (the daughter of Kadirgamar and Anna), David Danvers’ sister.”

My head begins to swim in a muddle of recurring last names …

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Mary Chellammah Samuel (nee Danvers) (From the archives of Rev. Donald Kanagaratnam)
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Rebecca Ponnamma Perinpanayagam (nee Danvers) (far left) (1901 Uduvil Female Seminary matriculation class. She obtained a Queen’s Scholarship on the results of the Calcutta Matriculation examination.  Her mother and she were among the earliest batches to graduate from Uduvil Girls School, established by American Missionaries in 1841) ( Courtesy Eric Perinpanayagam)
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Samuel Alfred and Rebecca Ponnamma (nee Danvers) Perinpanayagam (courtesy Eric Perinpanayagam)
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Samuel Alfred Chelladurai Perinpanayagam, at age 25 (born 1872)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ah … so that’s the Perinpanayagam connection.  And Rebecca Ponnamma Danvers and Samuel Alfred Perinpanayagam were first cousins,” I commented.  “There’s a link to the Newtons, too, I noticed …”

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Family tree notes from the files of S.E.R. Perinpanayagam (son of Rebecca Ponnamma and Samuel Alfred Perinpanayagam) (Courtesy Thavo Perinpanayagam)
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Samuel Alfred and Rebecca (Danvers) Perinpanayam with their children and Rebecca’s mother, Harriet (Theivanei) Danvers (from the archives of the late Rev. Donald Kanagaratnam)

“There have been Danvers/Perinpanayagam/ Newton marriages over a few generations,” she replied. “My mother told me the old stories.  Now I can pass them on to you and they won’t die with me. I’m so happy you are doing this.” 

Her eyes grew misty.

I’m visiting the Colombo home of Aunty Paranidhi, Mum’s cousin.  We’ve just met for the first time.  She responds with ease to my barrage of questions  …

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Aunty Paranidhi, a goldmine of ancecstral history.  I managed to snatch two more visits during my brief stay in Colombo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My journey of inquiry commenced shortly after Mum’s funeral in 2015, when I came across a battered copy of a formal family portrait from the 1930’s.

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The photograph that began it all.  Shadrach Samuel, wife Mercy (nee Newton) and their children, taken before the birth of their youngest child, Elizabeth.  Left to right: Ruby, Pearl, Dan (seated), Peter. Beatrice is the toddler held by her father.

Faded photos on relatives’ Facebook pages – fascinating pictures of men and women from generations gone by – fanned curiosity to a compelling flame. 

The search began. 

I embarked on a voyage of e-mails, long distance calls and some stamped, addressed pieces of snail mail. Pictures, obituary notices, genealogies and newspaper clippings poured in from all corners of the globe.  Through Facebook introductions, Whats App texts and hand-written letters, relatives contacted each other on my behalf, and people I’d only heard of by name leapt onto the ancestry bandwagon.

An inundation of images and information descended on me.  Tantalizing clues, fascinating glimpses into a bygone colonial culture and whispers of a skeleton or two in the ancestral cupboards. Riveting.  The stuff bestselling novels are made of.

The first stop on the trail led me to Wellawatte (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Aunty Paranidhi.  Her eyesight is almost non-existent, but her mind is razor-sharp, her recollection flawless. I see pieces of my mother in the facial features.  The family resemblance is evident. 

My pen flies across the pages of the notebook I balance on my lap …

“So Mary Chellammah – David and Harriet Danvers’ daughter – was given in marriage to Vethanayagam Subramaniam Samuel.  He was a farmer who owned land in Urumbrai – 

Vethanayagam Samuel and Mary Chellammah had six children –

  • Rebecca Chinnamah (married David Sinniah Kanagaratnam)
  • Subramaniam Chelliah (married Annam)
  • Shadrach Chinniah Samuel (married Mercy Sugirtharatnam Newton)
  • Elizabeth Thangamma (married Godwin Wesley Sittampalam)
  • Anna Chinnathangam (married Albert Kanthapoo)
  • Solomon Chinnatamby Samuel (married Mercy Atputhanayagam Gnanaratnam)
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Subramaniam V. Chelliah
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Rebecca Ponnamma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elizabeth Thangamma
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Shadrach Chinniah
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Anna Chinnathangam
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Solomon Chinnathamby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Aunty Renee found handwritten notes in her father’s Bible  – that’s the Bible I mentioned.  She sent me scanned copies of the geneologies recorded on the fly leaf.  My heart almost stopped when I saw how the entries confirm the details set out in Uncle Donald’s article.  Just imagine, how information from a source in Australia confirms the data acquired from another source in Western Canada! Within weeks of each other.  It has to be providence!”

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Handwritten family records from great uncle Solomon Samuel’s Bible

“Your interest is inspiring,” she commented. “No one seems to care about these things these days. Renee is Solomon Chinnathamby’s daughter. He had ten children.  She is my first cousin.”

 “Yes, I know. I remember great uncle Solomon Samuel and the annual Christmas visits to his home in Mutwal. 

“Anna and Solomon were twins,” she continued.  “Shadrach Chinniah was your grandfather.  Anna Chinnathangam was my mother.  And Rebecca Chinnammah was the mother of Rev. Donald Kanagaratnam who wrote the article you told me about.  He was my cousin and your mother’s.”

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Rev. Donald Kanagaratnam (standing) with his sisters and mother, Rebecca Ponnamma

“According to the genealogy in the Bible, Anna Saveriyal – Kadirgamar Danvers’ wife – was a Bible Woman,” I noted.

“Bible women worked among the women in the village.  They visited the homes, shared the gospel of their faith and cared for them,” she explained.

“I remember your mother,” I said. “We called her Asai Granny. She came to stay with us once when I was about seven years old.  I remember the glasses and the white hair knotted at the back of her head.  She taught me how to make a rag rug with strips of leftover material and a hairpin.  I never forgot that.”

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Anna Chinnathangam (Asai Granny) as I remember her

 

 

 

Aunty picks up the threads of her narrative …

“Vethanayagam Samuel, a successful farmer, wanted more land.  After the birth of his two oldest children, he relocated his family to Vavuniya in the undeveloped Vanni region of the northern province of Jaffna.  In those days, people of the Vanni were considered wild and uncouth, even the British avoided the area, so land was dirt cheap. Samuel disposed of his property in Urumbirai, and with the proceeds from the sale, invested in several acres in Vavuniya. He built a house for his growing family and began to cultivate the land.

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Jaffna province in northern Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

Once established and beginning to prosper, Samuel encouraged his brother and family move to Vavuniya and make a new life for themselves. The brother sold his land in Urumbrai and purchased the stretch of property adjoining Samuel’s fields. The families became neighbours.

Vethanayagam Samuel distinguished himself as a prominent citizen and earned the respect of his peers.  He was appointed chairman of the village council, which was a position of authority and responsibility.

The were no proper roads in the region.  Daily journeys on foot could involve traversing stretches of jungle inhabited by snakes and wild animals.  Legend has it that Samuel was skilled in the art of herbal medicine and would venture into the jungle in search of plants for his potions.

The farming life called for disciplined manual labour.  The older children, still all under ten, had to wake up at dawn each day to perform assigned chores.

Rebecca Chinnammah had the unenviable job of cleaning out the cattle shed.  One morning she pretended to be asleep and refused to be roused.  Her father, whose task it was to wake her up, finally declared, “If my child is really asleep, her feet will move.”

Rebecca reacted as expected and wiggled her toes.  She received a spanking for her naughtiness and was shooed out of bed to complete her daily task.

The twins – Anna and Solomon – were born in Vavuniya.  During the pregnancy, an astrologer made a grim proclamation.  He declared that the birth would not be a good omen and would bring about the untimely demise of both parents (Samuel and Mary).

Solomon showed no signs of life when he was born.  The midwife placed the tiny body on a banana leaf outside on the open verandah of the home and rushed back inside to attend to the mother who had gone into labour with a second baby – a twin – whose appearance was an unexpected surprise.  Rebecca, the oldest child, sat beside the lifeless form of her new little brother, shedding tears over the loss.  Providence intervened when a fly settled on the infant, who shuddered in response and began to bawl loudly as if nothing had been the matter. 

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Solomon Samuel in his twilight years.  He lived to a ripe old age and was known for his vigour and boundless energy.

Custom dictated that on the thirty-first day after the delivery of a chid, a traditional ceremony of cleansing (thudakku kaliththal in Tamil) must be carried out.  The woman who had given birth would take a ritual herbal bath and the house had to be washed and cleaned from top to bottom.

Vethanayagam Samuel and his wife were about to begin the task of house-cleansing when a message came from the village counsel.  Samuel was needed to arbitrate on a matter involving a dispute.  Samuel sent word asking to be excused. He requested that the vice chairman to act on his behalf.

A second summons came.  The matter was urgent, they said.  His presence was mandatory.

Samuel left home on the mission of mediation, assuring his wife he would return in an hour.  He conferred with both parties and reached a verdict.  The disgruntled man who hadn’t been favoured by the decision, reached for a weapon concealed in his clothing and struck a heavy blow.  Samuel’s head split open.  Never pausing to retaliate, Samuel re-tied his turban and headed home. Blood gushed down from the wound in his head.

He passed a pond (kulam) as he walked, and saw the family dhoby (washerman) scrubbing his way through a pile of villgers’ clothing.  Samuel stepped in to cool off and dipped his head in the water.  The dhoby, concerned to see how the water turned crimson from the blood, reached for some fresh-washed clothing spread out on the ground to dry.  Samuel shed his blood-stained linen, donning the clean sarong (veshti) and turban offered by the dhoby. He walked into the house to his waiting wife, stepped over the threshold and announced that he was ready to start cleaning. Then, barely pausing for breath, Vethanayagam Samuel collapsed at her feet and died.

In an instant Mary Chellammah Samuel found herself a widow with six young children on her hands.  Rebecca – the oldest – was 10, the twins – Solomon and Anna – were barely a month old.

Rebecca Chinnammah, a child herself, had to take charge of a brood of fatherless siblings while her mother attempted to salvage the pieces of their shattered lives.

(To be continued)

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Good Morning JOY!

Dear Judy,      

The sun glowed orange during rush hour this morning.  My heart sagged under a weight of joy and I slowed down to take pictures –  

I almost sent them off to you.                                         

Then I remembered …

I recalled a recent dialogue we had.

Me: Could I use these pictures of you, please?  There’s such a beauty about you that’s riveting.

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… and this one. (Judy wrote:that is Eamon reading a letter that I wrote to him. I love my bedhead look.”)
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I asked her for this picture  … (Judy with a mixing bowl and the rubber chicken she used as a ‘bell’ too summon assistance)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

You:  You can use every picture you want.  You don’t have to ask.  Surprise me!

So I’m surprising you today …

You: How long was your fight with cancer?

Me: The cancer battle was over a year and a half.  My oncologist calls me a success case (I prefer miracle patient).  I don’t look like myself in the picture, do I?  Within two weeks of your first chemo, the hair starts falling out and you mutate into someone else. I began to practice intentional thankfulness.  When gratitude seeps in, joy is not too far behind.  Those were beautiful, dark, lovely, intense and precious times.  God sends angels, as you know, in many shapes and forms.

You: I don’t look like myself anymore, either.  I was always on the go.  Now it is my mind that is on fast.

Enjoying the evening
What a girl! My friend, Judy, as she used to be.
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Judy (right) standing tall at 6′ 1″, with her mum and sister, Linda (left)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The aircraft commenced its descent into Halifax last Thursday afternoon and my thoughts overflowed with vignettes from your heart –                                                           

  • My mum sent the pink rose to me today … just because.  The Ford Escape is on the lawn because Cam wanted me to see it.  He just bought it yesterday as a second vehicle.  My wheelchair van rides low so it’s not practical for snowy days ahead.  I always loved a Ford Escape and Cam would drive a van.
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Her mum’s rose in a vase on the window sill and Judy’s view of the Ford Escape, parked by the hen-house.
  • We have a cottage on the Bay of Fundy and watch the tides go in and the tides go out.  Nature at its best.  September is a special time.  Most cottagers are only there on weekends, so the solitude and beauty is magnified.  My paradise …
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Her paradise – the cottage on the Bay of Fundy
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A serene spot to sit stare in a sky-blue chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your beloved Cameron –

  • Cam and our brother-in-law are re-shingling the back of the cottage.  It has been a  busy day.  For me, the moments when I can look out the window and see the eagle fly, sandpipers having their last meals before heading to South America and the magnificent clouds being reflected in both water and wet mud are highlights of my soul.
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Judy and  Cameron
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Judy and her beloved Cam on their wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Today it was 29 degrees and sunny,  so I went out in my wheelchair to enjoy.  On impulse I drove on my lawn around to my gardens to see the tulips and bleeding heart.  I felt free until my wheelchair got stuck in soggy lawn.  Resourceful Cam got blocks of wood and we managed to get out.  BUT my tires were full of mud.   Cam cleaned as much as he could off and them I wheeled myself in.  A flashback hit me.  How many times had I told the boys NOT to wear their dirty boots in the house?  Cam, patient Cam, has been working at getting the wheels clean ever since!!!

JOY was your three-letter codeword –

  • Went to the Festival of Lights today in Wolfville, where Cam and I met while going to Acadia University.  At the farmer’s market, it was all about Indian food and entertainment.  I got a dragonfly and the word JOY done with henna and several Indian silk scarves for Christmas gifts.
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Waking up to JOY on her arm each morning …
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 Henna tattos: dragonfly-and-JOY  (the dragonfly is the ALS symbol)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I am waking up immediately to JOY in the morning for the next couple of weeks.

 

  • What made my day?  My careworker this morning for 4 hours was Holly. Someone that previously had only been there for my half hour tuck-ins at night.  We were sitting at my kitchen table in the sun, when I asked her about her heart-shaped ring  … and that was my further joy for the day.              

You infused JOY into every moment, Judy, distilled, savoured, sipped on it, then infected the air you breathed and intoxicated those around you.

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… in Judy’s home
This says it all
JOY glowing on her front lawn and …

You: There is no such thing as coincidence. 

Absolutely. I agree …

You:  Maybe I came into your life to show you the other side of ALS.  The joyful side.

You did just that.  And you did it so well …

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Always smiling.  Judy (left) chose joy during her four-year journey with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)

Your boys: your pride and JOY – 

Our sons or Charlie's angels
Judy’s/Charlies’ Angels! The three Starrit brothers all grown up. 
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Judy’s JOYS: Cam and her sons
  • Tim is home. Happy heart.
  • Just got back from taking Tim to the airport.  What a lovely visit and a wonderful son.  He left such wonderful memories behind.
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Tim with his newest nephew, Henry
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Andrew and his boys  
  • Andrew came home on Friday and stays till this Friday.  Check him out on You Tube in the Hot Fireman ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  (Click here to watch  Judy standing at Andrew’s side as he takes up the challenge.)

 

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    Matthew visits at Christmas

    Matthew was home from Wednesday to Saturday.  Shared the big news that Laura is pregnant!  Be still my heart.  We are so blessed.

Those grandbabies –

  • Got a wonderful card in the mail today, with an ultrasound picture on the front and the announcement inside saying “It’s a boy!”  Our third grandson is due the end of October.  The Starrit genes were working again.  OverJOYed!!!!
  • He was born yesterday and all is right with the world.  8lb 11 0z of pure JOY! Yesterday was such an emotional day.  Waiting, wondering, wishing, praying.  And then the phone call came.  Rejoicing, heart exploding, celebrating our new JOY!  And then by 10.00 at night, emotional breakdown.  Thinking about what I will be missing in his future, but being so overjoyed he is here.  A part of me.
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Celebrating Henry, the newest JOY …
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Judy with sister, Linda, and tiny Henry
  • He’s Henry now.  Named after Cam’s dad.  We are still on our baby high.  Will be for quite a while.
  • Cam just stenciled a picture of him onto a pillowcase.
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Cam’s handiwork: Baby Henry-on-a-pillow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Tomorrow Andrew, Findlay and Eamon are coming for Thanksgiving weekend. I am beyond excited!!!

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    They’re here!  Watching for Findlay and Eamon through her bedroom window.
  • I have arranged for the pilot, Debbie, of the only plane that travels to Sable Island, to come and speak about her experiences.
  • I took pictures, but my hands were unsteady with excitement.
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“Starfish or a shell?” (Pilot Debbie engages the kids in discussion)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandad, Grandma, Findlay and Eamon
“Smile guys!” (Gramps and Grammy with Findlay and Eamon)

 

 

 

  • Eamon just messaged me.  Andrew is taking them to a movie.  He likes to keep me informed.

Your sister —

  • Tonight Linda comes.  Any minute now.
  • Linda is here and we are going to listen to the sixth CD of the Book Of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu.  This is our sixth Monday night doing it …
The Rhuda girls
Sister Linda (right) with Mum and Judy

… and the whacky, wonderful friends –

  • My friend, Mary, and sister are coming out to play a card game called Quiddler.  A weekly event.  I am on a winning streak.
  • Mary brings muffins for Cam
  • My tree is trimmed and …
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The tree is trimmed … (in Judy’s living room)

 

 

 

 

 

… the Wild and Woolies are coming at 4.00.  Laughter will abound.

  • The Wild and Woolies have been getting together for over thirty years
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“Wild’s the word: wool’s the game!”  (The Wild and Woolies, Judy’s crazy rug-hooking gang at her Celebration of Joy)

 

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Laughter abounds. Judy with Wild and Woolly Pal, Jean
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The Wild and Woolies hooked a pun-ny Christmas gift for Judy:  JOY TO THE WOOLED

Don’t forget the goats

  • Andrew and Cam have just taken the goats up the hill for a walk.    If we let them loose too close to the house, they would eat all the flowers coming up …
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Playing the giddy goat … Cam at her bedroom window
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Goats-on-a-quilt. Judy’s handiwork …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I always have flowers in my view.  I even got flowers for Father’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Gotta be kid-ding – goats at a wedding?(The “kids” are included in Andrew and Shantel’s backyard nuptials) …

… and the chickens (of course) —

  • Just had the chickens playing the xylophone at my window.
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Chicken serenade.  Pecking a little tune.   (JOY on the windowsill)
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Cereal inducement.  Cam scattering cheerios on the keyboard of a toy xylaphone! 

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  • Homecare just arrived, but chickens come first!

 

On living with ALS –

  • I have a whole new view on listening.  My boogie board is my voice now.  People don’t wait until I finish writing and assume what I’m going to say and rush off to do their own thing.  Also, they read it wrong, and I have to get their attention and underline a word or words.
  • It cost less than $30 at Costco.
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Judy’s “boogie board”.  She used a tablet-type device to communicate.
  • I WAS a talker!
  • I do most of my writing on my phone now.
  • I am using my BiPAP for about 20 hours a day.  It gives me the freedom of not having to think every time I take a breath.  The strength in my hands has diminished as well.  I will NOT let that keep me from living a full life but it has put limitations on what I can do.  ALS sucks sometimes.

Sucks? The beast stinks …

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Judy: Bipap to breathe, crimson manicure and loads of laughter.
  • Thank you, my dearest friend, for caring so much

You have no idea how much, Judy …

About the annual ALS Walkstrong fundraising campaign

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Judy (right), active spokesperson and ALS Awareness campaigner with Kimberly Carter (left) of the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  • Success.  Beyond resounding!  My mind is still going.  Still walking.  Still enjoying yesterday.  There were 59 people, including care-workers, friends and family on Judy’s Joys.  I am blessed  Truly blessed.
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Judy’s Joyful Angels – one of the  teams representing Judy in the ALS fundraising walk – and …

 

 

 

 

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… Judy’s Joyful Jewels

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Took 5-6 days to get over the walk.  SO worth it!

 

 

We shared our rainbows, you and I —

In your home …

… in mine –

You: We are definitely sisters from another mother.

There’s no doubt about that!

You: The physical meeting somehow eludes us, but we are so much beyond that.  We are so much closer than that.  What we have done for each other is beyond friendship.     

Me: Can’t wait to meet you, Judy.  It will be odd, though.  Kind of like having a first date after being married for a year!

You: I, too, want to meet you!  If I could, I would be on a plane now.  But the other side of reality is that I know I won’t be travelling by plane anymore.  Too many uncertainties. 

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Just a text away.  Judy used pictures, video clips and GIFs to express herself.  They were dead on and often hilarious.  (Bottom left, her Facebook profile picture.)

You:  Wish, wish you lived nearby.  Always thinking about you.

Me: Me too.  I love how Cam cares for you, love the chickens, love the red bike.  I even love your ghastly puns!

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Flowering bicycle planter (painted red by Cameron)
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Hilarious hens partying at the window

 

 

 

 

 

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The lady loved her puns. One of the many groaners on Judy’s Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

You: Our friendship goes much deeper.  I needed you as much as you needed me.  You took me outside of myself.

  • By the way, Cam is going to mail a parcel to you tomorrow.  No parcel from you yet.  Tomorrow.

Your parcel arrived by express post on December 23rd.  Icicles dripped off the eaves as the mailman hopped from one foot to the other and blew on his hands, while I hastily inscribed a signature on the electronic board he held out to me.

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DREAMS made from Scrabble pieces  Hangs by my desk to inspire me as I write.   

Such a treasure trove of thoughtful things inside …   

         

Me:  Did you make the Scrabble ornament?  Love it!

You:  Bought it at the ALS sale.

Me:  It was meant for me.

You: I found your DREAMS, didn’t I?

You sure did!

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We called on Christmas Eve, before heading out to church.  Husband, Daughters and I sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas on speakerphone.  Cam said you raised your arms in delight and crossed your hands over your heart.

On Christmas day we shared cameo moments.

You sent me –

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Joy on the Christmas tree
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Mum sipping a cup of yuletide tea

and I sent these –

  • Isn’t this fun?

Absolutely!

  • Our house was always the ‘go to’ house at Christmas.  I used to make rolls and shape them in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.  Decorate them, of course, and wrap them in clear, cellophane with fancy ribbons.  That is a thing of the past now, but Christmas still comes and goes!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I sent you a song on Saturday night.  It came with my heart.  Your response set my heart ablaze.

Click here to listen

I picked up Cameron’s message on Sunday afternoon.  You crossed over an hour after we last messaged each other.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Cousin Preman met me at the airport and drove me to the afternoon and evening visitations. 

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Joyful Judy moments up on the  screens at Knox United Church

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Judy’s JOY all over the church foyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Cam and Linda, Mum and your boys.  And the Wild and Woolies, of course.

Linda told me she’d packed my Christmas box of  goodies for Cam to mail.  She recognized the necklace I wore.  

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Wore it to the funeral.  The breast cancer ribbon necklace from my Christmas box – celebrating survival
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Judy’s sister, Linda, at the evening visitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I laughed with the Wild and Woolies.  Such stories they had to tell …

It felt like I’d known your friends and family forever.

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Your final farewell on Friday was one immense celebration of joy.  The church was packed.

An unusual, uplifting occasion.  You planned it all yourself, Linda said in her tribute. 

Your beloved Bhangra Boys danced their hearts out.  

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Judy’s Maritime Bhangra Boys performed 

(Click here to dance with Judy and her Bhangra Boys, on her birthday last year.)         

I picked up my tea bag and one of your dainty, embroidered white hankies on my way out.

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There was a tea bag ‘party favour’ for everyone, with Judy’s instructions to have a cup of joy with a friend and an invitation to take one of her lovely old fashioned handkerchiefs to be used to wipe away tears of joy and sadness.

 

 

 

 

(Click here for photos and video clips of Judy’s funeral Celebration of Joy)          

 

 

 

 

It felt strange to visit your home on Saturday.  To walk up the ramp and knock at your kitchen door. 

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Cam and Mum on the volunteer-built wheelchair ramp 
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Judy’s hospital bed (from which she took many pictures), all neatly made up, will be donated to the ALS society.

 

 

 

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Google Earth view of her home posted on Judy’s Facecbook Page

 

 

 

 

 

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Cameron with Andrew (left) and Matthew.  Tim had left for the airport

Joy all over the house, pouring from every corner.

Cam and I sat in your room.  We chatted like we’d known each other forever. 

My Christmas package finally made it out to you after New Year’s, he told me. Two days before your final departure.  Cam said you smiled when he showed it to you

He showed me your rubber chickens.  I peeped into the henhouse on my way out.

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Cam with the rubber chickens. Judy used them like a bell, to summon assistance
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Had to check out  the henhouse.  An infrared light keeps the cluckies warm in the winter

You wrote three months ago: PS:  Oct 11 – went to my regular 3 month appointment with all the specialists today.  They are all pleased with how I’m doing …

 The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability, isn’t it?

 ……………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’m sipping, as I remember and write, from the mug I found nestled in my surprise Christmas box.               

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From my Christmas box.  Life sure surprised me with you, Judy.
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From my Christmas box.  The dragonfly is the ALS symbol

                            

 

 

 

 

The dragonfly brightens my kitchen window.  I love how it begins to burn when the sun seeps through.           

We never said ‘hello’ in person, Judy.  I never got to write about what I discovered in the bombed out jungle graveyard in Tellipallai, Jaffna.  This was not how our Dear Judy travel series was supposed to end.

I’m thankful you found this blog and reached out in joyful friendship.

(Click here to read how we met)

Thank you, my courageous friend.  You are proof that a purpose-driven life does not necessarily embrace a bed of roses. You were a true and unique gift.

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RIP Judy Starrit, my amazing, inspirational friend. 
  • Loving you from afar. Love, xx Judy

I love you too, Judy …

We’ll meet face-to-face.  On the other shore some day, when my own journey’s done. 

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He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nopain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 RSV)

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the JOY of your master.” (Matthew 25:23 RSV)

Until then,
sincerely

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Acid Words Or Rainwater?

“I suck at this,” she wailed. ” I’ll never get it.  I’m going to fail.  Why even bother to try?”                

Some people take to certain things like ducks to water.  Others not so much.                      

All five fingers are not the same, Mum used to say…                                                                      

I watched as she struggled to accomplish her task, heaping negativity on her hapless head.  Her words settled like corrosive dead-weights in my spirit.

“Don’t say such things,” I uttered.  “Words are powerful.  They stick and become self-fulfilling.”

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it, Mum would say …

“That’s what you always say.” She sounded irritated.   “So what? It’s just  words.”

No.  Not just words …

Proverbs 18:21 Life and death are in the power of the tongue …

I began to see a vivid picture in my mind.  Two seedlings in glass containers, one full of acid and the other rainwater.

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How it unfolded in my mind

“If you were a plant,” I said, “And words were the medium you were growing in, if kind, positive words were rain water and negative, condemning words were acid – which one would you thrive in?”

She grew silent.

“If you wake up every morning and hear someone tell you how ugly, rotten and dumb you are, that you’ll never go far or succeed, can you imagine the toxicity you’ll imbibe?  At some point you’ll come to believe                                                                                                  what you hear. Your spirit                                                                                                                 receives what your ear hears until it                                                                                             becomes a part of who you are.                                                                                                                                                

No comment.

I plodded on. “On the other hand, if someone tells you daily that you are beautiful, smart, talented and capable of achieving anything you set your mind to … imagine the pure rainwater seeping in nourish your spirit.”

Point made.  Her exasperation remained, but the dark words ceased.  

For the moment.Oh, to always be able to see the gorgeous pink sunset behind and that dark, dark cloud

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Sunset behind a rain cloud (Niagara Falls, summer 2017)

Some weeks back,  I stepped into the mall and understood — all over again — the power of words.  I’d recently begun to experience occasional darts of doubt . Amazingly, that mellow evening, it seemed like my steps led me from store to store and brought pause at unexpected spots where wonderful words leapt out to cheer me on –

 

 

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I couldn’t have contrived the inspiration, if I’d tried.  My spirits rose and began to soar.

But that wasn’t all …

On my way home, there was an impelling to stop at a supermarket I don’t often visit.  I paid for two bags of soil I didn’t urgently require and headed out.  A man hurried up from behind and bent over my cart.

“Those look heavy,” he said pleasantly.

I smiled, “They are.”

“I need some for my garden,”  the stranger added, “but that’s why I didn’t get any today!”

He straightened up and I became instantly aware of the words on the back of his T-shirt –

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I had to get a picture so I would remember that moment always

I gotta believe …

Caught my breath on a gasp.

Gotta get a picture!

Hurried into the parking lot and chased the gentleman down.

Me (to man)I know this sounds silly, but do you believe in signs?

Man (looking startled)I do.

Me: Would you mind if I took a picture of the words on the back of your T-shirt?  I needed to see them. They were my sign today.

Man turned around and obligingly posed.

Click!

Man:  So what are your plans for the summer?

Me:  I don’t know.  I have so many dreams and they were beginning to die.  That’s why I needed those words.  Thank you!

Man: I really need to get some of that soil, you know.

Me:  So go get some.  Maybe I am your sign for today!

My heart sang all the twilit way back home.

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Love how rosy watercolour-ish twilight cloaks the street – well after 9.00 at night (Canada Day, July 2017)

The final clincher came a week later, at the dentist’s office.  

I became acutely aware – the moment I stepped in – of the single word tattooed on the neck of the girl manning the phones.  She had her back to me –

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Her co-worker held her hair out of the way while she posed for the picture

Believe!

Point taken — signed, sealed and delivered!

I’d have to be really dense not to get it by now …

So it’s done.  The audio version of Next Week, On Thursday is up on You Tube.

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Click here to check out Selina’s You Tube Channel

all thirty eight chapters of it.

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Sneak peak.  Click here to listen to Next Week, On Thursday: Chapter One – The Scent Of Jasmine. Feedback is hugely appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To stop dreaming is to die a little every day.

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… so I won’t.

Until next time,

sincerely

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Always reaching …
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I got many more than I asked for! (On the arm of young  bakery assistant)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everywhere!  Blame it on the summer

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Suddenly Sometimes

Ever noticed how suddenly-sometimes serendipity seems to occur most when the sun is shining and summer seeps into one’s heart, bubbles over and spills out in splashes all over the garden?  It almost feels as if this sweet summer state of mind creates a catalyst that activates a sublime sequence of inexplicable events.                

Like the time Bernadette called.  “The Town is giving away compost.  Want to go?  I’ll pick you up.”

I went.

The sight of eager townsfolk feverishly shoveling free compost, piled up in the parking lot, into bags and bins didn’t inspire me.  The stream of comings and goings to and from the main building however, was intriguing.                                                                                                        

Woo hoo! Community garage sale …     

 Bernadette laughed when I mumbled, “I’m going to look for treasures for my garden.”

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That’s me!

I heard “Junk Lady” as I hopped out of the vehicle.

My friends know me too well!

 

 

 

I picked up a bunch of beauties for mere coins.  Like these –

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A wall mirror to create the illusion of an open doorway on the fence in the backyard
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A toy scooter to use on the deck as a stand for a flowering potted plant.

 

 

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Three of five forlorn, unclaimed items remaining on the book table.  1917 publications. A century old.

 

 

 

And then I stopped in my tracks as some old books caught my eye.  

Me:  “How much?”

Bored vendor:  “How about a dollar fifty?  Fifty cents each.”

I set the coins down and scooped the volumes up, unable to believe my luck.  There were two others still  languishing on the table. 

“I have a quarter left and a TTC token,” I dared to venture.  “Would that be payment enought for those?”

Bored Vendor:  “Sure.  Someone could make use of the token.  This stuff is junk anyway!”

He was in a hurry to pack up and leave.

I handed over my last coin and the transit system token, picked up my booty and scurried away in case someone should have a sudden change of heart.

James 4:2 You do not have, because you do not ask …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

This rollicking suddenly-sometimes ride commenced a week before, when Evelyn and I sat down to enjoy a Japanese bento box lunch, and the conversation turned to gardens.  

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That’s me!  The only gardener in the family, actually.

Evelyn:  “How’s your garden doing? Done planting yet?     

Me: “No.  Haven’t even started.  I haven’t had time to buy the annuals.”

Evelyn: “Have you tried Costco?”

Me:  “No.  We’re not members.”

Evelyn:  “I am. I’ll take you.”

So off we went.

Nothing caught my eye in the garden centre.

But …

On our way out, we passed the  mobile phone sales centre, and I remembered my phone.  It had been gasping at death’s door for a while. 

I paused.

Me: My phone is a bit of a dinosaur. I need a new one with a good camera, but I’m not willing to go above my present monthly payment.

Pleasant Salesguy:  No problem. How much do you pay now?

I told him.  I had an exceptionally good deal, he said.  I knew that.

Pleasant Salesguy: Are you willing to go ten dollars more a month?

Me:  No!  I don’t use my phone enough to justify a higher monthly payment.

Pleasant Salesguy:  So you want a free new phone with a great camera for the same amount that you pay now – or less – right?

Me:  I know, it sounds like awful cheek, doesn’t it?

I turned to go.

Pleasant Salesguy:  Wait, wait …

He continued to scroll down, squinting at the screen in front of him.

Evelyn assured me she wasn’t in a hurry.  I rolled my eyes and sighed.

Then –

Pleasant Salesguy: Found it! There’s a loyalty deal and you qualify …

Music to my ears …

So I get a  free phone worth $700, and my monthly payment is four dollars less than previously.   My current phone, I’m told, is worth no more than $150, brand new.

Me:  I’ve been to every mobile provider I could think of.  When I tell them what I’m looking for, they look down their nose at me like I’m cheap. Or they talk down to me like I’m someone’s grandma, shrug and turn away.  So how come you found this one for me?

Pleasant Salesguy:  Because the mall guys work on commission.  It’s not in their interest to spend time looking for deals in the customer’s favour.  I’m a paid employee of Costco.  I’m not on commission.

Me:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how would this phone rate against my old one?

Pleasant Salesguy:  It’s an 8!  What’s more, check out the camera.

Evelyn and I pose.  I click.  We look ten years younger, the lines all automatically air-brushed away.

 Me: Wow!  Wow!! What a selfie!  …

 Pleasant  Salesguy’s name is Michael Blumenfeld.

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Michael Blumenfeld, Sales Manager, Wirelessetc.  Superlative, swept-me-off-my-feet customer service

And that’s not all.

I asked for an upgraded phone cover and screen protector and he gave me $125 in Costco gift cards to pay for them.

Me:  How come?

Michael:  Because this is Costco!

And there’s more …

The screen protector I chose was not in stock, so Michael made a call and arranged for me to pick it up from the mall closest to my home.

I’m elated.  Quite weak at the knees, to be honest.  Evelyn’s jaw’s dropping.  We’re both bewildered by the spectacular customer service …

Daughter squeaked when I showed her my phone at the end of the day.  “Where did you get that?  I’ve wanted an LG forever!  They say it takes the best pictures.”

She almost passed out when I told her how little I was paying for it.

I couldn’t stop talking at dinner that night.  About the amazing deal.  About Michael and the unbelievable customer service.

So we all four of us marched into Costco the next weekend with Grandpa and Grandma (and their Costco card) in tow – Husband, daughters and I – waving my contract with Michael’s business card attached to it.

The service was disappointing. Lack-lustre. The two young fellows at the counter seemed to barely tolerate us.  Kind of felt like we were a nuisance.

Daughters exchanged glances and threw me a funny look. 

“So where’s the customer service you kept on about?”

We got the loyalty deal for two more phones.  Husband pays two dollars and fifty cents less than I do, because he’s the second line on my account.  Husband and Daughter also got $125 each in Costco gift cards.  ONLY because I already had my contract through Michael and requested the same deal for the rest of the family.

There was enough left over, after paying for the extras, to buy trays of flowering annuals for the garden, a set of LED walkway lights, and a rose bush for Grandma.  Compliments of Costco. All because Michael Blumenfeld never made me feel stupid, and took the time to dig out a deal that finally embraced my family as well.

Young Fellows were indifferent, when we were done, and looked relieved to see us go.

I assumed, because of my initial experience, that exceptional customer service was the norm at Costco Wirelessetc.  I understood otherwise on my second visit. It was Michael who went out of his way to make this customer’s day sparkle.

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Husband and Daughter had to return to the location the next day, to pick up their not-in-stock screen protectors.  

“Pick them up from your local mall?  Sorry. No way!”

“But Michael arranged for me to pick it up from …”

 “Michael is the manager, he can do these things …”

Evelyn mentioned that if she’d chosen to take me to the other Costco location she shops at, the mobile phone sales section would not have been visible from the vicinity of the garden centre. So I’d never have seen it to remember the worn out dud I had in my possession.

Such a smooth-as-silk sequence of events that led me to three valuable vintage books and a brand new top-notch cell phone.

Sweet, surreal, sublime, suddenly-sometimes serendipity …

It was not about Bernadette and free compost, or about Evelyn and the garden centre at Costco after all.  

So thankful.  For Evelyn and her Costco membership.  For Bernadette.  For Michael Blumenfeld at Wirelessetc.  And for my fabulous new phone, of course, and the old, old books …

Love how life works when one leans in and listens. 

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Never miss a moment. (Taken at Walmart.  Most folks are proud pose and flash their captions.)
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On a friend’s coffee table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s more.  Lots and lots! 

Next time!

Until then,  

sincerely

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Parked outside the doctor’s office

Love Those Bhangra Boys!

 Life is full of appointments – to be kept or missed as one chooses – delicate deviations from the daily script.  Sometimes showing up in the form of inner impelling, an inaudible whisper, they urge one to reach for the moment and grab it by the horns, before it dissolves and vanishes un-met, unrecognized.

Gotta grab that camera  before the light moves on …

Rainbows on the ceiling won’t linger long , nor shadows on the carpet …

So one halts to act. Because such moments will not be put on hold. Because the tide of micro-events ebbs and swells, leaving behind the joy of happy happen-stance embraced or the tragedy of serendipity unrealized.

The timing of such things is fragile, precise and never a coincidence.

NEVER a coincidence …              

                                      ……………………………………………………………………………..                                 

I had a nagging urge one busy afternoon, to check my Facebook page. 

I’m not one of those Feverish Frenzied Facebook Fiends … honest!

 The screen on my phone opened up at a video clip on Cousin Preman’s page.

Click …

Jaunty young men with beards and bright turbans leap and prance, holding hands with a delighted woman.

A birthday Bhangra serenade!

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Maritime Bhangra Group

The woman in the motorized wheelchair beside herself with glee, claps her hands and beams.   

Her eager, electrifying enthusiasm smacked me in the face.

 Check out  the birthday Bhangra dance.   Click here …

I hit like, stabbed the comments section with a forefinger and tap-tapped:

An amazing lady, God bless her.  This resonates with my heartbeat.  I’ve lost two close friends to ALS .

Later that evening my phone went ping.

Email alert …

 A message via this blog’s address from Next Week on Thursday (Sneak Peak) (on the header menu) 

You have made such a difference in my life this afternoon (I read). Your reply to Preman started it all. I SO want to connect with you. I SO want to find out about the next Thursday. Having gone through cancer yourself, you know the deep JOY of living .

Curious, I leapt into her Facebook page.

The intro read –

I am a joyous person LIVING with ALS with my loving husband, Cameron, always at my side.

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Something about the way she smiles … (The Facebook profile picture ‘with Cameron at my side’)

I got punched in the guts.  I’ve lost two good friends to this brute, a cruel, merciless, relentless ogre that steals and destroys –

ALS.  Lou Gherig’s disease … 

 – and I’m passionate about raising awareness.

Who IS this woman?

Surprise!
Who’s that girl?

The name is Judy Starritt

Enjoying the evening
“Who me?”

                     

#3 I choose my joy!
Sky’s the limit, baby!

Codeword:  JOY!  

This says it all
Christmas lights in her yard

 A person like you and me who’s –

       (a) A once-upon-a-time high school math teacher                             

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I didn’t, actually! A Math pun from Judy’s Facebook page.

(b)  Some mother’s beloved daughter

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Two peas in a pod and tea for two. Judy (right) and her mama

  (c)  Her boys’ mom

Left over right
Mama, me and brother makes three … (Judy and two of her three boys)
Our sons or Charlie's angels
Brothers united, Judy’s gems. The three Starritt boys
Timothy's diapers
Comely young mother.  Judy hanging diapers out to dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d) Doting Grandmama and

Grandad, Grandma, Findlay and Eamon
A sampling of Starritt munchkins

(e) Adored wife of –

Drum roll … Ladeez a..a..nd  gentlemen, presenting the one, the only   …

      – Cameron Amos Starritt 

Ya …ay!

#16 My, he looks like Cam
Ta da !  Cam: “I’ll be your leprechaun and sit upon an old toadstool …”  
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Cameron Starritt.  That’s her man.

                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many hats Judy wears.  She sparkles, she shines.  She’s extraordinary.

 A wheelchair won’t vanquish her spirit –

New transportation
Off on a summer sortie on the motor scooter
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Steppin’ out of the shadows (Judy, centre)

                                                                                Disease daren’t define her.

Judy:  “I have discovered I haven’t changed, just my body has changed.  I am more intensely aware of both the changes in my body and the JOY that surrounds me …”

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Joy for Judy: Posted on her Facebook page

Shortly after her diagnosis  in 2014, ALS awareness (literally) deluged public awareness in the form of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Judy:  “It was as if ALS suddenly came out of the closet!”

Her firefighter son took on the challenge with gusto –

Click here to watch Judy at Andrew’s side in the Hot Firefighter Ice Bucket Challenge … 

  –  as his mother prepared herself to face the inevitable new normal.

Judy: “I made up a motto for myself and shared it with others … ‘I have faith and hope, I am optimistic and I will find joy every day.’”

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Draped in Joy with Joey Shipley
Loved watching the ocean
And she does …

I so identify with Judy’s resolve.  When late-diagnosis breast cancer crashed-landed on me  in the summer of 2008, I determined to live each day with joy.   However many – or few – of them remained. 

Me to self:  “I won’t waste a single moment of my cancer!”  

Judy won’t waste her ALS.

Kindred spirits or what?

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Come on out of that shell! (Judy pounding a maritime lobster treat)

Judy: “I looked for joy – unexpected happiness – and began to find it in the most unexpected places.”

Judy: “At first I would recite this over and over in my head.  Now I just accept it because I HAVE found JOY and mentioned it is nearer than you think.”

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Joy at the window, xylophone rhapsody by Cam.
Our official onboard photo
Say, “Cheeeeez!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some snippets from e-mail newsletters to family and friends –

“If you are wondering, I did find JOY every day!  I don’t want to sound superhuman … I DO have dark moments about the future at times, but by keeping myself busy and surrounding myself with positive people that love me and knowing I have so many people out there, caring and praying for me, this journey is SO much easier.”

“Every day became a special one.  I have so many reasons to smile.”

Like them wild chicken stockin’s and a brand new volunteer-constructed ramp …

“As I started out my journey with ALS, I made up a motto that I wanted to represent what I have, what I am and what I want.  As many of you know, I composed the following –

I have hope and faith

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Judy: an infection of joy

I am optimistic

I will find JOY every day.

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And oh, she does …

 

“Just had to look out the back windows to find my joy.  I told you once that JOY is nearer than you think!!”

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Joy out the back window: Cameron and the chickens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I will participate in the ALS walkathon.”

Since she made that last statement above, Judy has inspired three ALS Walk Strong teams to join Halifax and Virtual Walks!

Judy Starritt is probably the unofficial poster girl of the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (www.alsnbns.ca).

Her story is on their blog. 

Click here to read about Judy’s journey: ALS In The Words Of Judy Starrit …

I contacted Kimberly Carter at the the ALS Society  for permission to use information from their website

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With JOY in the background. Judy (left) and Kimberly Carter of the ALS Society New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (seated right)

Me to Kimberly:  Any friend of Judy is a friend of mine.

Kim’s reply:   I’m the same way, any friend of Judy’s is a friend of mine. I just love her half to pieces.

Yes, there’s certainly something about Judy …

 

 

…………………………………………………

It’s ALS Walkathon time of year again on June 10, 2017.

You’d find posted on Judy’s Facebook Page:

MAY the 4TH be with you and me and the ALS Walkathons across Canada. Today is my official starting date to promote my own team. It is called “Judy’s Joys” and Cameron and I and many more family and friends are going to walk beside me.
It is on June 10th at DeWolfe Park in Bedford. Registration is at 11 o’clock and the walk is at 12 o’clock.
To join my team, go to
www.alswalkstrong.ca

I made a donation (of course) and wrote on my page

Wish I could walk alongside you, Judy Starritt. Brave, beautiful, joyful, you inspire me … Rooting for you in memory of two close friends I’ve lost. Keep sparkling, keep being you. You go, girl … GO!

Join me in supporting ALS WalkStrong 2017.  Click here to donate/ support Judy’s team.  She calls them Judy’s Joys …

………………………………………………………..

Mum often said when I was a girl, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Weep and you weep alone.”

Phrased more simply:  “Who wants to be around a miserable grouch?”

Or in Judy’s words (quoting from a newletter update to her circle) –

Find YOUR joy!

You’ll find this picture in her Facebook photo gallery

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So her home is her haven, not a jail.  She made that choice.

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The Starritt summer cottage.  Idyllic.  Pastoral.

Life is her adventure.  It’s not unfair.  She made that choice too.     

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Let you love shine.  Follow your dream.  (Close up of the fabric of her caregiver’s outfit)

It helps immensely, of course, to have a wonderful man at your side.

Judy:  Thank God for big men!

The man behind my joy
The big man standing behind the JOY Christmas illumination.  The man behind her joy – literally!

 

                                             

                                                                   

                       

                                       

                                                                   ……………………………………..

Judy:  Eggs come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re all the same inside.  Just like people.

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From her chickens, with love

Some eggs, like some people,  have stronger shells strengthened not because of, but despite  the circumstances …

Judy wrote on her Facebook page some months back

Since my video went viral, many new and exciting things have happened to me. I tried to read every comment and some just stood out. Selina’s was one of of the them. I replied and a special friendship has developed. Is it serendipity??? Who knows? Who cares?? I delight in her words and she has opened my mind and heart to newer things.

As she has opened my heart  …

Words are powerful. Weapons of destruction or tools of hope.  It all depends on how one chooses to wield them. 

To bless or to curse …

 Judy:  “I will pray that in my lifetime, ALS will become treatable, not terminal …”

Oh, me too!  Me too …

Believers in dreams, you and I, Judy.  With faith, we’ll make them all come true.

1 Corinthians 13:12    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I         know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood …

Through the looking glass in my garden nooks …

Judy Starrit has found her Promised Land — that place within the heart, nestled deep inside the human spirit.

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The Promised Land.  That’s what I named our home.

A believing heart, a humbly yielded spirit …

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BELIEVE in mirror letters 
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Sunlight reflected off mirror BELIEVE, creating an inverted splash of word on the bathroom floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Codeword:  JOY …

Always!

So thankful for Judy’s joy.  Infectious, unforgettable lady.

To help increase ALS awareness and support Judy’s Joys at the Walkathon, please share this post.  (Scroll down and click on one of the share buttons below). Let’s see how far Judy and her cause can travel. Thank you.

Until next time,

sincerely

PS:  Three cheers for Judy’s beloved Maritime Bhangra Group.

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These Sauve sahibs jump for joy
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Hurrah, we made it! On the front cover.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy: “Love those boys!”

Click here  and give her Bhangra Boys a thumbs up on their Facebook page. 

Oh, and if you enjoy gorgeously groan-worthy puns like these – 

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— you must take a leisurely stroll through Judy’s Facebook page !

THUMBS UP ! To like my Facebook author page: Click here

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Groan!

Her Old Piano

We’ve just driven into town, there’s a piano on the kerb outside our hotel.  A note scrawled on yellow paper, propped against the open lid –

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Unusual sight.  Unprotected piano outside Europa Inn, St. Andrews-by-the-sea, New Brunswick
Signed: Simone Ritter .  Work in progress, she says,  stay tuned …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piano  won’t stay tuned for long, squatting outside in the elements 

Intrigued, curious.

Who’s the lady?  What’s her plan?

We check into Europa Inn, Husband and I.  Two nights.  Delightful auberge in sleepy, small town seaside setting, old fashioned European charm.

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Serenity by the sea.  Yep. That’s what I’d call it.
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Europa Inn: flights of backstairs and balconies full of pink petunias

       

 

 

 

 

Old-world nostalgia and a plethora of      prewar/war-time memorabilia …

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Old iron safe (from town’s namesake church) in quiet backroom of Inn
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Europa Inn.  Famous for signature  eight-course dinner banquet by Chef Markus Ritter. Must-do tourist experience in New Brunswick,  as per travel guide 

 

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Did the road trip instead!

On summer road trip with husband.

Spectacular paintings jostle for elbow room on walls.  Struck by joie de vivre, bright light and vibrant energy in them.

Signed:  Simone Ritter.

Breakfast- a mouthwatering masterpiece.  Friendly host, proud hubby, Chef Markus Ritter, gives glowing account of talented wife’s hobby-turned-profession.  

Simone Ritter Art …   

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Simone Ritter’s  artwork (on display for sale) lines the walls of Europa’s dining room

Leave two days later.  Weather’s changed, sporadic showers.  Piano clothed in plastic protection.

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A raincoat for poor piano on the morning of our departure .

 

 

 

 

 

Never encountered Simone in person. Forgot to ask about the piano. Wish I had.  Kept wondering …

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

My mind is an interesting place I’ve been told.  

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This is my mind, where nothing is impossible!

“It’s about perspective,” I reply,

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She’s too small or the chair’s too big? (Moncton, New Brunswick, 2015)
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It’s how one views things …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– “being able to see where there’s nothing to see.”

When waters swirl sixty feet deep, who’d imagine the possibility of a stroll on the ocean floor?

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Chocolate waters around Flower Pot rocks. (High tide, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick)
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Hard to believe … a walk on the ocean floor?
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Husand (left) standing where waters stood sixty feet high
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Walking the ocean floor. Sixty-foot high waters have receded. 
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Husband standing under centre of arch.  (Check first photo.  This archway was completely submerged)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A parable?  Sort of.

Waters did recede, in spite of what we saw when we first arrived …

Which is the definition of faith.  Sort of.

Hebrews 11: 11  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see … 

………………………………………………………………….

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Seeing beyond the physical reality –

Which brings me back to when eye sees what doesn’t yet exist –

Like knowing when garbage is more than garbage …

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For example –

(1) Old washbasin – just  an unusual lily pond-in-waiting –

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Didn’t throw out the sink. (After fall bathroom renovations)  Hurry up, summer!
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Won’t look like this one, tho’!

 

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For sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)  An ordinary bottle  … a prospective tree ornament, of course!

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Colourful chopstick, shiny marbles and sea shells and … voila! (In my summer garden)

(3)  The old kitchen sink – a perfect container for growing swamp plants 

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After kitchen renovations (In my summer garden)

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(4)  That tired saucepan – an eccentric hanging container for a flowering summer plant

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Rope to hang  it with and hurrah for blooming beauty-to-be!

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Mr. Pot Man (Clay pots are not just for planting in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5)  Ancient pots and pans make whimsical garden ornaments

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Kitchen Corner (In my summer garden)
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Not just a bundle of old twigs (neighbour’s garden)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daughters issue dire edict when ensuite toilet is replaced: “No planting flowers in it, Mom. Not going in our garden.”

I give my word!

See a bath tub tossed out on sidewalk recently, imagination bubbles over.  So tempted. Wish I could carry it home.  

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Threw the old one out!  (There’s a limit to creative art …  even I have my standards!)
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Kerb-side tub.  It looked like this .. would have made a gorgeous garden planter – sigh! (Bed and Breakfast, Annapolis Royale, Nova Scotia)

Which brings me all the way back to Simone’s piano.

A year and a half’s gone by.  Often wondered about it.  Have to know …

Find Simone Ritter on Facebook and shoot off private message. She sends picture of finished work with a note –

Simone writes: It was popular with the passers by during the summer months, even in the unfinished stages.  Unfortunately a storm came through and ripped the plastic off the piano.  The heavy rains made the wood swell and then it could not be played anymore …

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…  her handiwork
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Ta da!

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely breathtaking …

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Gorgeous explosion of creativity.  Well done, Simone!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It’s  all about  knowing how to look –

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… in the most unexpected places
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Husband with tour map 

 

Living in the possibility of the moment –

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Picture of a woman taking a picture of her shadow.  (Happened to look out of high-rise window and captured the moment)

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And honing the inner vision –                                       

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Me reflected in neighbour’s glass door, seen through glass pane of laundry room door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you see what you see?

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A hug or a serpent? (Neighbour’s front yard)
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Dead wood or sculpture?
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Just a car or dawn-in-the-windows? (On the driveway)
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Stars in my eyes. (Reflection in family room mirror)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……………………………………………………………………………….

And that’s Life According To Me, a deliriously expectant resident of  La La Land!

Love living there …

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More than content to be one of the Fools Who Dream 

Because, ultimately, it’s about the final, impossibly possible picture –

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Life’s glorious gifts, hidden in plain sight –

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… just waiting to be unwrapped

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Of course I do !

Unimagined sweetness –

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… and eaten up in a single go!  (Guilty. When Rosalyn brought dessert)
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… just begging to be tasted

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Finally a thaw in the air.  Milder days ahead. 

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So thankful.        IMG_20170226_214313

Until next time,

sincerely

 

PS:  Meet the Ritters of Europa Inn –

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Ritter family. Chef Markus, artist Simone and kids, Saint Andrews-by-the-sea, New Brunswick

And Puppy has the last word –

I do!

Faith We Follow

“There was a crash.  The knife came down, barely missed my eye. Blood everywhere…”

I can almost hear Mum’s voice.  Wish I’d paid more attention to details.

Her tales often commenced with all six of us.  img_8482

Pearl, Ruby, Peter, Dan, Beatrice, Elizabeth …  

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“All six of us” (1976).  Seated (left to right): Beatrice, Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  Standing (extreme left): Peter, (extreme right): Dan, the brothers-in-law behind their wives -(Left to right: Prins, Sub, Prince, Selva)

Mum:  So all six of us climbed into Babby’s cot with the cake Alice baked.  We found it on the kitchen table.  Just as Petes lifted the bread knife and said, ‘Let’s have a piece’, the cot collapsed.  The knife came down on my forehead.  It narrowly missed my eye.”

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Alice, the family retainer who helped cook and keep house, the hapless victim of boyish pranks.

Peter and Dan – Petes and Danma to us nieces and nephews – youthful villains.

Baby Elizabeth was Baba.  Babby to the next generation.

Me: (doing mental calculation) But Mum, if Babby was say … five, and you … eight, the others would have ranged in age from eighteen and under.  How could all six of you have squeezed into a baby’s bed – with a cake and knife?

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Gifted teller of jokes and stories,  writer, mimic par excellence.  Mum loved to laugh.    

 Mum’s a storyteller, not a mathematician.  It’s how she remembers …

Mum:  On Sunday evenings we had family prayers.  On our knees.  They went on forever.

Her eyes are brimming with memories …

Mum:  We quietly slipped away into the kitchen to have a feast.

Me:  All six of you …

Mum: Poor Alice.  No one listened to her protests.  The patties were for the visitors.  She made lovely patties.  We ate everything we could find and crept back to the living room, knelt down and folded our hands.

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They did!

Me: And No one noticed?

Mum:  No.  And E.T.S Aunty was so impressed by our piety,   we all got  toffees.  She said we were good children!

E.T.S Granny (always known by her initials), Grandpa’s widowed sister, frequent visitor, devout, determined lady, given to eloquent, lengthy prayers.     

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Lo-o-ong prayers

Mum:  One Sunday evening, Geo Uncle came to visit.

Me: At prayer time?

She’s chuckling …

Mum:  Petes used a coat hanger to start Uncle’s car.  We all climbed in.

Me:  All six of you …

Mum:  He drove to Geo Uncle and Malar Aunty’s house.  We ate all the goodies Malar Aunty fed us and drove back home again.

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George  (Geo Uncle, poet, man of letters) and Malar Perinpanayagam on holiday in hill country with Beatrice (Mum)  She spent a lot of time with them in their early married life.

Me:  And their eyes were closed, they were still praying?

I’m laughing with her …

 Mum:  He never knew!

Me:  And Malar Aunty?

Mum:  I don’t think she ever told him.

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Lest we forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Shadrach Samuel Esquire, aspiring businessman aged 32, won the hand of Miss. Mercy Newton of Chundikuli, Jaffna.  As legend has it, the friends of the sixteen-year-old bride called out over the fence as she walked past the schoolyard of the local girls’ school, on her way to church to be married.         

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Miss Mercy Newton, second daughter of Charles and Rose Newton of Chundikuli, Jaffna

Shadrach and Mercy set up home in Colombo, sleepy metropolis of colonial Ceylon.  

He founded the iconic engineering firm, Samuel Sons.  

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Samuel Sons, founded 1922.  70th anniversary commemorative mug.  Uncle Peter, an artist, designed the logo.

                                 

 

 

 

 

The union produced six children.

  A seventh, Mum remembers as Bertie, succumbs to an untimely demise as an infant …                                                       

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Shadrach & Mercy Samuel and offspring.  Left to right:  Ruby, Pearl (seated), Dan (seated) and Peter.  Baby Beatrice held by Dad.  (Elizabeth was born a year or two later)

Grandma Mercy died in her sleep at age 33.  Cause of death unknown.

Mum recalls asthma and a family history of heart disease  …

Rajes Aunty, seventeen-year-old bride, moved in with new husband, Thurai Perinpanayagam (Grandma Mercy’s cousin) to help take care of a brood of children, some of them almost her age. 

To this day, Rajes Aunty occupies a special place in all our hearts.

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Looking good!  Aunty Rajes Perinpanayagam celebrates 90 years (2015)  Husband and I made a detour on a summer road trip, to attend the surprise party at her son’s home in Connecticut

The siblings grew closer to one another.                         img_20150805_222918

All six of us …  

Grandpa Shadrack never recovered from his loss.  Well meaning aunties and clucking grannies suggested umpteen prospective brides to grace his hearth and mother the children.

Mum:  He always said, “There was only one woman for me.  God who took her away from me will take care of my children.”

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Grandpa’s was. (Photo of picture hanging in friend Evelyn’s home.  Painted by her niece.)

Me:  Do you remember her, Mum?

Mum:  Of course!  She was slim and pretty, darling, gentle, soft-spoken, a lady through and though. Always simply and tastefully attired. She was an artist, she painted beautifully.  I remember whenever she baked a cake, she let me stir the batter and lick the spoon.  I got a new dress every year, for my birthday.  She cut it out herself and made me turn the wheel of the sewing machine for her.  She used to call me Pambaram.

Me:  Pambaram?

Mum:  Because I was a tomboy.  I could never sit still.  It means spinning top in Tamil.  She played the piano.  On Sundays, all six of us would stand ‘round and sing hymns.

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Tomboy Beatrice.  How she was allowed to pose for a formal picture dressed like this is a mystery.

Me:  It must have been awful after she died.

Mum:   We had Daddy.  We loved him. He was strict, of course, but such a kind, generous man. He helped everyone.  Babby and I secretly called him Dixie Daddy from a song on the radio hit parade.  We giggled every time we said it.

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Dixie Daddy!
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Super Daddy Samuel …

 

 

 

Me:  Did you miss having a mother, Mum?

Mum:  Of course, darling.  On the day she died, I  asked God why he took my mummy away.  I was six.  Babby was only three.  I made up my mind to eat all my vegetables and grow strong, so I would be fit and well and never die and leave my children all alone.  But we had each other, it was a happy home.

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All six of us …

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Picture of Dixie Daddy on Mum’s autograph album
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1954.  Grandpa’s signature in Mum’s album:  S.C. Samuel.  He wrote:  “Let kind thoughts, words, wishes and deeds and the spirits thereof be ours and of those around us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church was an important part of family life.

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St. Paul’s Milagiriya, Colombo, where the Samuel family worshiped and most of the children and grandchildren (myself included) were married.  (Mum and Dad in bridal car, Beatrice’s wedding, 1961)
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Dad at St. Paul’s after morning service on his 80th birthday (2016)

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And faith.

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Malar Aunty wrote in Mum’s album in 1955: “Behind life’s darkest clouds, God’s love is always shining …”

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As cousins, we have childhood memories of our mothers and aunts talking for ages on the phone.  Cousin Dileeni and I often recreated these conversations – to loud applause and gales of laughter – at family-gathering kid-concerts, 

“How are you, dear?” ” Did Alice come today?”  “Can you believe the price of sugar these days?”

They couldn’t do without each other.            

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Sisters:  (Standing left to right) Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  (Seated)  Beatrice

Time marched on. 

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Pearl and Sub (Dr & Mrs J.T. Subramaniam)
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Ruby and Prince (Dr & Mrs R.P. Rajakone)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl and Ruby married their doctors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter and Dan sailed off to the United Kingdom to pursue engineering degrees.

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Dashing sportsman, artist, dreamer.  Uncle Peter (left) engineering student in  England. (1950s)
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A brilliant mind.  Uncle Dan (front left),  also engineering student, England (1950s)

   

             

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Uncle Dan never married.  There were whispers of a mysterious Swedish lady who  broke his heart.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum kept house for Grandpa and played doting aunty to a growing circle of adoring nieces and  nephews.

They called her Bety …

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The tribe of Samuel grandchildren at Mum and Dad’s engagement party.  Waiting to be born: Sister and Me, and Shiro (Babby’s daughter)

Tragedy struck again.  Grandpa Shadrach died unexpectedly, after routine surgery.  He was only 63.  Mum was 19 years old, Babby just 16.        

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Newspaper clipping.  Obituary notice.

Shadrach and Mercy united in death, buried side by side ….

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Together forever, Shadrach and Mercy (Anglican Section, Kanatte Cemetry, Colombo)

Mum and Babby clung to each other –

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Beatrice and Elizabeth outside Westholme, Kinross Avenue, the sprawling family home by the sea
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Babby wrote in Mum’s autograph album:  “There’s no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather …” (Signed: Beth)
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Babby, an artist like her mother, probably painted this page for Mum
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Mum’s signature on her autograph album.  Her maiden name.
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Dr Elizabeth Samuel.  Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter took over the headship of the firm.

Elizabeth attended medical school. 

Mum ran the family home for Uncle Peter, wrote wonderfully imaginative short stories that were published in the newspapers, taught Sunday School and created exquisite cakes for nieces and nephews, an abundance of relatives and friends. 

The artistic, thespian, writing/storytelling genes run strong in this family line …

…………………………………………………………

Grandpa was a man of faith, a praying man.

His example rubbed off.  Mum was a staunch believer in the power of prayer. 

I remember Sunday evenings with Mum at the old piano of her girlhood (now situated in her own home), singing the same beloved hymns she sang as a child.

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Mum taught Sister and Me this hymn

I remember us as little girls – Sister and I – kneeling by our beds as Mum taught us to pray.  I remember Mum reading from a book of devotionals, holding hands with Dad, Sister and Me (in our tiny school uniforms) and sending us off for the day with a prayer.

Sister and I often made fun, called her Saint Beatrice.

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Mum learned from Grandpa Shadrach. 

They prayed, things happened …

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Hanging in our home

               

I learned from Mum.  

Much older now, I’m an ardent            believer in  the mountain-moving      power of prayer.

 Faith we follow …

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Worked for Grandpa.  Worked for Mum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just dialed long distance to talk to Babby – godmother and second mum — in Bethesda, Maryland. 

The pain of missing Mum is less when she and I talk …

Babby is the only one left.  She feels it badly.

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Elizabeth (left) and Beatrice (Babby and Bety).  Mum adored her baby sister.  Babby and Mum were close, right to the end of Mum’s life.

 

Asked about the size of the cot.  Says she slept in it till she was around eight years old. 

All six of us?  

It must have been a humongous piece of baby furniture!

 Called Rajes Aunty some months back, posed questions about the family tree.  She snail-mailed  handwritten details from New York – 

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Appetizer.  Found the Newton/Perinpanayagam connection.  Thank you, Rajes Aunty!

Excited, more curious than ever!

Saw a picture of an ancestor on Facebook recently.

The Perinpanayagam connection, circa 1834  …

 Fascinated.  Impelled to dig deeper into the family tree. 

Mum’s second cousin, Thavo (Geo Uncle’s nephew), e-mailed more puzzle pieces from New Zealand –

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A snippet from a fairly lengthy document put together by Uncle Geo’s brother, Stephen Edgar R. Perinpanayagam.  

Cousin Thavo remembers the Noddy cake Mum made:  ” For my sixth birthday in 1959.  It had Noddy’s car and house and even had 2 milk bottles outside the house” …

Discovered that Grandpa Shadrach and Grandma Mercy were distant relatives.

An exhilarating peep into the past.

It was misty this morning in Toronto. 

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View from front door

Much brighter/warmer in the land of our birth.

Alas for ugly politics, economics:  the clans are scattered worldwide.

Appetite whetted.  Must know more.

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So which came first, the chicken or the egg?
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The pictures fascinate me

 

 

 

 

 

These roots go deep.

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Stay  tuned.  More stories to come as more dots are joined.

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Until then,

sincerely

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… grandchildren AND great grand children!

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Gimme, Gimmee, Gimmeee!

Puppy adores presents.  Assumes every gift-wrapped package is for him –

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“Gimme, gimmee, gimeee ….” (Puppy and Ruwan)
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“Hey … gimme!”  (Puppy and Reshma)


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Nope!  

                 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got  caught red-handed on Christmas Eve, snooping  around tree.

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“To Pup” … gift tag and tissue flung aside.  Hole in the bag.  He found his present.
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Looks like it
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“Finally, all mine.” (Had to hide the bag till Christmas morning).
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“Don’t remember.  Never graduated !”
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 “Oh, hello Santa, it was you all the time!”
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So who killed Santa?
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Didn’t do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilty …

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Not me!
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    Fine, call the cops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy lives in state of constant joyous expectation.

Fabulous way to live …

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“Something yummy, for sure!” (Puppy and Friend Jim)
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Every moment, no matter what comes along

Living life in Puppy Mode …

Sunshine and shadow – embrace it all.

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Me in splash of sunlight
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Christmas decorations on kitchen wall
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Ivy topiary in foyer
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Orchid on kitchen table

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s treasures – darkness, light; good, the bad, lovely and ugly.

Rich fodder for this writer’s pen, if nothing else …

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Driving home at dusk.  Lamplight over court.

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Life often presents real live parables.  Puppy is mine.

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…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I have dreams.

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More than one, actually
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BIG DREAMS
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Just did. 

A secret path leads to dreams.  Winds through dusty roads, up dim stairways and rugged steps, along endless corridors.  

Along the way –

  • Jeers, sceptics, wet blankets –
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Mean comments
  • Dead ends, slammed doors –
  • Grim warnings –
  • Unforseen restrictions –
  • Disappointments, endless waits –

And yet –

Impelling urges on, blazing inferno that won’t be quenched.  Lurks just beneath surface of immediate consciousness, hangs like  mist, a veil through which real world is viewed.

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Endless
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Clinic for  weary dreamers?
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As fast or as slow as it takes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still …    

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Yes! (Tiana’s T-shirt)
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That’s me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see … 

Fueled by burning urge to write –

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Really do  
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At my desk
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Out on the deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, no matter how I feel –

Must keep going –

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You want me to … what?
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Hey, it’s freezin’ out here!

                   Okay, all done, and good luck with shoveling up that poop when the snow thaws …

Never mind what they say.

One piggy, second pig, third pig …

and …

Ha! 

Nope!  Long before that …

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Okay.
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A swine state of affairs!

And now –

Don’t know.  

Won’t find out till I try … 

Finally, one sweet day –

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And it was all worth it after all …
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Light at the end of the tunnel 

                                                            Aren’t you glad you made the climb?

Every day is Christmas for Puppy, any moment might bring gifts.

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Every day is NOT Christmas (back of scooter taxi, Colombo, Sri Lanka)
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                                                        Christmas Eve. Bone-shaped stocking – guess whose?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for Puppy, a parable of joy and daily expectation.

Gimme, gimmee … gimmeee!

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: The pictures in this post are all random clicks on Ipad and phone.