When We Were Very Young

“My dear Beatrice …” Mum read aloud from the letter in her hand.

Postman has just delivered the mail …

Sister and I dared not meet each other’s eye. Bit our lips to keep from giggling.

“I don’t think you will recall me.  I was a friend of your cousins, Daisy and Rosie, and have met you in their company on a few occasions in our young days.”

Mum’s voice rose to a squeak.  “I write to you now regarding my son …”

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Some mother’s boy …

Sister and I held our breath.  Our lips trembled with mirth.

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Hmm …

“He is a good boy.  Very sober and steady (no vices whatsoever).  He graduated as a doctor …..”

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Mum’s eye popping out of her head …
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So his mother says …

Sister swallowed hard.  Her shoulders shook.  I covered my mouth with my hand.

“We have heard about the goodness of your daughters.  People all say they are good and smart, clever girls …”

No vices whatsoever/ the goodness of your daughters … good grief … who even writes like that?

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And so the letter went (in sister’s heavily disguised handwriting ) …
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From one mother to another …
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Sis and I barely contain ourselves …

 

Mum eyes continued to scan the handwritten lines. “I would be so happy to hear from you regarding this matter if your elder girl is still unattached.  My friend, Mrs. M. tells me she is 22 years of age.  In fact, your sister, Ruby …”                    

I’m the ‘elder girl’ …

“You may remember the times we shared as children.”  Mum began to look puzzled.

Her jaw finally dropped when she came to the end of the letter.  “PS:  We prefer a spacious house in Colombo with garden and attached baths.”

Dowry details!  Eek …

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Who better than a boy’s fond mama to take the bull by the horns …

We could almost read Mum’s thoughts –

What cheek!

 “I don’t remember this lady,” Mum mumbled almost to herself, and ran to the phone to dial Aunty Ruby’s number.

Hello, how are you dear? I just received a strange letter … sounds a little eccentric … who are these people?”

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Definitely not!

Sister and I held our sides and roared.  We laughed ourselves into stitches.

It all began some months before, when a close school friend of Mum’s asked if she would contact a certain family (who had an eligible son) regarding a formal proposal of marriage for their youngest daughter.

Girl in question was pretty, a recent university graduate, now on the Marriage Market. Parents were anxious to have her fixed up and settled.

True story, honest (down to the phraseology)! Absolutely no embellishment …  

Older sister of said Young Lady got entangled with Completely Unacceptable Young Man and eloped when well-to-do Daddy refused to give his consent.  Daddy disowned her.  A year later, when First Grandchild was born, Starving Couple were ushered back into the family fold.

Get the picture? God forbid that history should repeat itself, right? Okay, so stage is set …

Mum obliged and our home served as venue for introduction between Sweet Young Thing and Very Acceptable Beau.

Cousin Ranji was staying over that weekend.  She, Sister and I eavesdropped from behind the drawing room drapes.      

No TV in Sri Lanka then.  This was far better, delicious entertainment, served up on a platter …                         

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Me (left) and Sister (centre) with Cousin Ranji, possibly that same weekend. 
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We had too much fun to miss TV when we were kids.  (Pic. of Daughters celebrating 12th birthday at Disney World)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young Pair sat at one end of the room to get acquainted.  Mothers made small talk close by.

Recipes and stuff …

Two dads at farthest corner.

Mum and Dad sat in on the powwow – being it was their home and all.  Awkward …

Things suddenly grew ugly.  Raised daddy-voices.

Dirty dowry matters …

Young Man’s father haggled for more. 

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What Girl’s Dad said …
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What Boy’s Father hoped to hear …

Sweet Young Thing’s father finally agreed to throw in a lorry along with the house and land.  

Or something like that  …

Cousin Ranji, Sis and I are horrified. 

 We’ve travelled back into antiquity …

 Deadlock.  Evening concludes in chilly huff.

But no one counted on Young Pair falling madly in love.    

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Definitely! Head over heels for each other …

Completely unexpected turn of events …

Now unacceptable, Young Man contacted and romanced Sweet Young Thing on the sly.

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Was it ever! Boy, oh boy …

 

 

 

 

 

Mum politely declined when asked to intervene.

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He won’t!

Sweet Young Thing phones to weep on Mum’s shoulder …

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Persistent suitor 

Romeo and Juliet elope to overseas destination.  Daddy disowns Little Girl, then throws arms wide open when she returns from honeymoon with baby on the way.

 Yay!  Forgive and forget …                                                                         

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They defiantly tied the knot

Found out later that Rejected Romeo and one of the cousins were co-workers at the time of Nebulous Nuptial Goings On.  They were  quite good friends and  I’d met him at one of her birthday parties.

Only in Sri Lanka …

…………………………………………………………………

Found an old scrapbook of letters and cards written by Sister, cousins and me when we were children.  Carefully dated and captioned by Mum.     

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Mum was sentimental about everything.  She would have kept every birthday and Christmas card she ever received if Dad hadn’t protested.

Sis and I wrote little notes and longer letters all the time.

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Me (left) with Sister.  Probably born with a pen in my hand!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About everything.

Hilarious notes from Sister …

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Thank you for being so kind.  Please buy peppermints! (No idea why she asked for prayer …)
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Forgive me for being so rude.  I am very hungry … (Looks like she went  to bed without dinner.  Don’t recall the incident.)
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I fell ill today.  Feel very much down in the dumps.  (Sis was a precocious little thing)
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From me. My dearest Mummy … Written while spending some days with Cousin Dili at Aunty Ruby’s home.  The younger cousins all went to Sunday School together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mostly to Mum.

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Sister’s handwriting

 So when it came time to play a prank on a long-suffering mother, inspired by              recent events, one would automatically resort  to letter-writing.

“My dear Beatrice …”

Poor Mum.  We teased her unmercifully and she was always such a good sport about it.  Don’t think Sister or I ever ‘fessed up or divulged the source of the written proposal of marriage that once came my way.        

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We kept out lips sealed!

Dirty deeds!

And now I’ve two daughters of my own.

Full circle.  What goes around surely comes around!

The memories flooded in when eyes wandered over the yellowed sheet of notepaper taped to the fraying page of Mum’s scrapbook.

With sister’s heavily disguised handwriting on it.  She must have figured it out …

Thankful for Mum’s sentimentality that induced her save all this stuff.

Pure gold …

Like these home-made cards from her nieces –

A definite artistic bent in the family …

 — and the self portrait I drew.

A fairly good likeness of my gawky pre-teen self …

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The unflattering self portrait!
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The real bespectacled me with Sis (and Dad inside car)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister needs to work on her spelling in this one –

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S ..EPRISE!!!

Golden memories.  A sweet, mellow time.              

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Strolling down the quiet corridors of memory lane ..

When we were very young …

Until next time,

sincerely

 

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Birthday Cakes and Secrets

On the first family trip to England, Mum had us pose in front of Buckingham Palace while she attempted to take a picture of Dad, Sister and me against the backdrop of the Changing of the Guards.  

The guards had changed and gone their way by the time the picture focused to satisfaction. Sister and I  teased her about it for years to come.

Smile please …                        

Everyone was using pocket cameras.  Sis and I were embarrassed by the ghastly contraption Mum still wielded with pride!

We flew on to Singapore where Dad bought us girls a Kodak Instamatic with disposable flash bulbs.  

Colour pictures … yay, finally!

Shudder to think of the environmental impact from all the used  flash bulbs we gleefully dumped in the trash can.

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“Smile please,” for the Yashica, at the Trevi Fountain, Rome.  Me with Dad and Sister (centre).  Have to check if Sis has the Palace picture (without the guards!)
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Dad, Mum, me (in rising order) on moving escalator in Zurich, Switzerland.  Instant focus with the new Instamatic captured moving subjects.  A new era in family photography.

Mum discovered the joys of photography around age 12 when she got a gift of a Brownie camera

She still had it when Sis and I were kids …       

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Kodak Brownie.  A later version of Mum’s camera. (Courtesy Google images)

Mum’s crisp black-and-white photos display an instinct for capturing the ‘moment’ and an unerring eye for placing and composition.

When sister and I were little, Mum acquired the Yashica, also sort of box-camera-ish

Sleeker, less ‘primitive’,  more sophisticated  …

It took ages to focus with Mum staring into the open Yashica ‘box’ in her hands, at an upside down image. 

She’d  murmur, “Smile, smile” through fixed grin and puckered brow, our features remaining in frozen limbo until we heard the click and a cheerful ‘thank you’!

Felt like forever!                                                                   

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Mum’s Yashica (courtesy Google images)
Latest in modern technology! Kodak Instamatic with disposable flash, wrist strap and film

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum often said she wanted to get an ‘unawares’ shot.

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Preoccupied with underwear. What Sis and I thought we heard Mum say.  We’d go into hysterics! 

Sister and I heard … underwears! 

We hadn’t the foggiest notion what she meant.

 

 

 

 

 

She caught us unawares all right.  The delightful album-memories bear testimony to the fact.

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Puzzled.  “Okay, so what IS it?”  Little sister and me with oldest cousin, Sri. 
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“Did you hear that?”  Sister (right) and me
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Sheer joy, unawares.  Sister (left) and me with Dad.

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Mum’s was the era of stay-at-home mothers. Those who were in the professions were nevertheless the proud masters of the housewifely arts.  They cooked, sewed, hung for hours on the telephone with other women, shared recipes, discussed the current price of important commodities like sugar, rice and eggs, wrote lengthy, polite letters and never forgot birthdays and anniversaries.

At family concerts we kids ‘did’ Mum and aunties talking on the phone …

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Me pretending to be Mum on the phone with one of her sisters 

When Sister and I got married, we each received a special gift from Mum.    An album of photographs – mostly black and white photos and some washed out Kodak and Polariod colour pictures – each one tailored to document our lives from birth to early adulthood.

All meticulously labelled …

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A gallery of our early lives, with love from Mum.

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 With Mum’s unexpected passing two years ago, I lost my best friend and discovered a treasure trove of old pictures while cleaning out cupboards and putting things in order for Dad. 

Eyes popped out of my head as a pictorial record of family history unfolded …

Who ARE these folks? (Dad has no idea. Dying to know!)

Entered a new realm.  Memories of bygone days surfaced from boxes, dusty files and disintegrating albums.

Mum’s voice recounting fragments of family legends echoing in the recesses of my mind …

The past came alive in a way that didn’t seem possible.  Moments in time frozen on faded bits of glossy paper,  pictures worth  thousands of words.

Family.  Grandpas, grannies, aunties, uncles, cousins …                                                      

Cousins might not necessarily be immediate ‘first’ cousins.  Sometimes you might not be quite sure how you’re related!
Me (left) and Sister on a play date with Mali (centre), our THIRD cousin.  Her grandpa and ours were first cousins.
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Birthday parties – just the cousins were crowd enough. (Me, a baby in cousin Chris’ arms, far left)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weddings were a huge deal, grand affairs.  Guest lists could run into the hundreds.  Your parents’ friends and business associates and in-laws’ in-laws might be invited. And the neighbours, of course.

No fib. Honest!

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The workers from Mum’s family’s firm at her wedding.  They arrive bearing a gift-wrapped china dinner set  (I own it now and use it on special occasions)
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Dad and Mum’s wedding

Little girls were dressed to the nines in scratchy, organdy dresses often ‘smocked’ by hand,  with stiff  ‘can can’ skirts underneath.  A nightmare to sit down in.  

Detested those cancans …

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Cancans and bows for Aunty Elizabeth’s engagement party.  Sister (left) and me outside Westholme, Kinross Avenue, Mum’s family home.

Engagements were solemn, formal family affairs, with a priest/ minister to officiate.

Pretty much as  binding as the marriage ceremony itself …

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All the cousins, uncles and aunts on Mum’s side at Aunty Elizabeth and Uncle Selva’s engagement.  Toddler Sister seated between the couple.  Cousin Shiro the only one still to be born.

You were as important to the aunties and uncles as their own offspring –

The aunties even cared enough to tell  you off as if you were their own!      

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She does!

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Sister (left) and me with Babby (Mum’s younger sister, Elizabeth), my godmother.  I lived with her family for two years while Dad worked in West Africa.  She sewed some of my clothes and treated me as her own. 
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Uncle Prince, my godfather, recently celebrated his 95th birthday.  (Mum’s sister Ruby’s husband).  He’d always visit, very late in the evening after work at his clinic,for as long as we were laid up in bed with sundry ailments.  He never billed patients who were financially in a bad way.  Treatment was free for clergy of all religions.

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Sister and me with Uncle Peter (Mum’s older brother) who lived with us for some of his bachelor years after Westholme, the old family home, was sold.  Sis and I hung around in his room whenever we got into trouble, until the situation cooled, knowing he would intervene if Mum hunted us down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chances are your best friend was a cousin, the one closest in age to you  –

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Me (lying on mat) and cousin Dileeni.  Besties since we were babes.
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Gotta have a sun hat!  Rarely apart.  Dileen (left) and me.

Such secrets you’d share!

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And she whispers in mine …
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I whisper in her ear …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You both could be flower girls together, several times over –

Two for the price of one!

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Little flower girls.  Dileeni (to bride’s right) and me at Babby and Uncle Selva’s wedding.
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Flowers girls again!  Me (left) and cousin Dileeni at Aunty Betty’s (Mum’s cousin’s) wedding
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… and again!  Dileeni (left) and me, experienced flower girls at our oldest cousin Sri’s wedding.

No need to wonder why Getting Married and Having A Baby used to be our favourite dress up games!

We created our own entertainment, inspired by the Enid Blyton books we devoured. An active imagination and a bunch of henchmen was all a handful of cousins required. 

We all loved to read.

No one called you a nerd or geek.  It’s what kids did …

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This little girl reminded me of myself as a kid. 
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Puppy posing with some favourites from my childhood
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Sister and me with my doll, Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endless doll’s tea parties – 

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Dileeni (right) and me
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Sis and me With Baby Cousin Shiro and my dolls Cynthia, Diana and Minerva (Mum named them, probably)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never seemed to outgrow the toys and board games.  Played with them for years.

Those were the days …

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Me with cousins’ toys.  We all shared.

Don’t recall ever being bored as a child.

Two cousins, Sister and I once crawled into our pretend kitchen, a curtained alcove under a desk space, to melt squares of chocolate over a burning candle.

Melted  chocolate is delicious spread over Marie biscuits …

We could have set the house on fire.

When best friend/ cousin set up a lab at home, you  followed suit. 

My lab sat on a rickety table in a corner of the kitchen …

Best friend/ cousin obtained test tubes from her dad’s clinic.  Litmus paper too.  And needle-less syringes.  She always shared.

We performed acid/base watch-the-colour-change litmus experiments with vinegar and lime juice …

There were those school-holiday cousin sleepovers, Monopoly games that went on for days, birthday parties and breathtaking birthday cakes –

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Sister and Me with my 7th birthday Humpty Dumpty cake made by Mum.  She handcrafted Humpty Dumpty out of parchment icing and painted him in with food colouring.

Rocking horses and fluffy pets –

Piano lessons and picnics, seaside frolics, Sunday School.  And cousins, cousins, cousins –

A kinder, gentler time, a different world.  No TV.  

Innocent and enchanted …

Though a late bloomer, I think I’ve inherited Mum’s love of photography and her desire to record the precious, never-to-be-replicated moments. 

And like Mum, I’m in less than a handful of photographs in my immense digital library!

So thankful for this gift of photo-memories from the past. 

Much to remember, much to write about.   That’s what next times are for.

So until next time,

sincerely

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Cousin Dileeni (left) and me.  Still close friends though we live at opposite ends of the world.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

img_3470

img_3207

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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 …

img_20170222_103358
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.

_20150708_003525
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.

img_20150805_174558

 

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 …

img_20150719_1247162532
Worked for Grandpa.  Worked for Mum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Just dialed long distance to talk to Babby – godmother, 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 –

img_20170222_115511997
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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img_20161226_174705

 _20150710_142036

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

_20150630_173220

_20150630_172053

_20150708_010343

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until then,

sincerely

PS:  If you happen to be a branch/ twig/clipping of the Samuel/ Newton/ Perinpanayagam family trees and have old pictures/information, I’d love to hear from you. 

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… grandchildren AND great grand children!

_20150708_014756

_20150704_170751

     

   

 

 

 

 

And I’d be delighted to share what I’ve gathered, with you.  

Thank you!

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All pictures in this post are clicks on Ipad and phone.

Meet Maria

 House is undergoing renovations. 

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Puppy, a nervous wreck. (“Help! Where’s my spot?”)
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Sleep tight, Claire! Overnight guest beds down with paint pots by front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clouds of dust, pails of paint –

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Inside the coat closet

I gasp, run for IPad.  Just remembered something …

Tap. Click.  Got it!

img_7476
Take a look at this …

… something Daughter said eight years ago.

Flashback to …

Several dark months when light in home is dimmed while Mother (me) undergoes treatment for late-detected breast cancer. Pretty much confined to bed.  A simple journey to the bathroom and back is long, exhausting.  Endless pilgrimages to hospital and clinics.  Can’t do much else besides.   Completely sapped of strength.

One day Daughter says –

“I guess God allows the pit to get so deep, so we can see how high his ladder can go …”

Bingo!

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How high can it go?
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Not high enough.  

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_20150606_221832
Grammatically incorrect t-shirt!

Words to heal or kill- power of tongue to build up or destroy …

 

 

Perspective alters instantly.  Pit is deep, very deep – yes – but ladder goes high, so high.  Begin to count blessings.  Endless list.  

People who love and care –  

  • Husband, Daughters, Family, Friends, Church (Kitchen lies idle. Meals come in unsolicited for seven months straight.
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Puppy, constant companion.  If eyes could heal ..
  • Maureen, who accompanies me to chemo sessions, sees me safely into house, remains awhile in driveway crying for me before driving away. 
  • Brother-In-Law, Jonathan, who spends 4 hours a day for a week, driving me to radiation through freezing rain and snow storms, so exhausted husband can have a break..
  • Puppy’s unwavering eyes on me. Doesn’t move from my bedside. (Never wanted a dog.  Can’t do without him now)   
  • Top notch medical care. Stellar surgeon and oncologist.
  • Knowing that everything happens for a reason.
  • Prayer.  Someone IS listening.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

img_20150927_010612

Husband wakes up each morning and says, “Good morning gorgeous!”

I cry the first time I hear him.  I’m grey,   bloated,  bald as an egg.  

He isn’t joking.

img_20161019_144857356
He’s my man

_20150621_121156                                       

   

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Maria –

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I see Maria one morning at the chemo ward.   A pretty woman.  She begins to cry when the needle is inserted into her vein.  My heart aches.  In two weeks she’ll be as bald and as I am, with black nails and all the awful trimmings.  I don’t want her to suffer as I have. 

I place a hand on Maria’s and murmur, “You’ll be all right.”

She says, “How do you do it?”    img_20150801_202032

“You wake up each morning and ask for strength for the day.  At night say ‘thank you’ for the grace that took you through. Live one day at a time.  Don’t think about tomorrow.  It’s too frightening.”

We meet every three weeks at the hospital, talk on the phone.  Dark moments.  Shared strength.

Maria makes it.  So do I.  Sisters. There’s something about shared suffering.  Eight cancer-free years for us both this year.  Oncologist tells me I’m one of her success stories.

How high the ladder goes …

img_20161016_210119

img_4066
Celebration time.  Hyrrah for Maria!         

_20150706_220140

_20150710_103346                                                   Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness

 Detest the wig.  Makes me itch, gets into eyes –

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Unloved.  Hardly used the wig.

Husband wears it to sixties hippy-themed costume birthday party some weeks back!

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Happy Hippy Husband.  Despised wig finally comes in useful!

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That’s my man!

 

 

 

 

Won’t ever forget that moment when head feels scratchy. Realize hair’s growing back.

What a feeling …

………………………………………………………………………………

Gorgeous full moon last week.  

Playing hide-and-seek over neighbour’s roof …

Roses still blooming in Garden –

_20150702_204253

img_20161013_194628

img_20161015_200545

img_20161013_182402536_hdr
                                                                                              Standing tall.  Me in a puddle of sunshine.

img_20150801_211446

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope is a precious thing.  Joy is priceless.  

Until next time,

sincerely

PS: The pictures in this post are all clicks from my IPad and phone.  Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.  Thank you for dropping in. 

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A dog’s life. Puppy sleeps in. 

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Love Language

IMG_20151217_093016

_20150701_155151

_20150701_155207

Family and out-of-town cousins eager to open presents. Four grown up offspring eyeing plump stockings dangling from the mantelpiece.  IMG_4793

The Beloved (aka  _20150623_101400

) wields a mop with vigour.

Sis-in-law is puzzled. “Why is he sweeping the floor?”

“He’s mopping,” I tell her.

Sis-in-law looks around. “But the place is clean.”

“I’ll be

_20150623_142052

 

,” The Beloved announces.

Sis-in-law laughs. “  _20150617_155007

my brother-in-law sweeps while the stockings and presents are waiting.”

“He vacuumed. He’s mopping now,” I interject. “And one man’s oddness is someone else’s love language, you know!”

I’m on a roll. “  IMG_20151125_212546

.  A spotless house and  washroom is his gift of love.”

The giggles cease.

Love language, huh?  Hmm …  IMG_20151225_001929

A light bulb comes on.  I hear daughters’ voices , then mine, in my head –

“Why do you spend so much time folding napkins and arranging cutlery?  It’s just a table, Mom. Who cares?”

Who cares?  Who cares??

“I care. It’s  how I show my guests they are honoured and appreciated. It’s my gift –  IMG_20151228_095649

that only I can give  

IMG_20151228_095333

, and I

IMG_20151228_095731

giving it.

I begin to wonder.  Is love why I spend hours

– Decorating the Christmas tree

IMG_4889
– Creating a one-of-a-kind gift  IMG_20151214_183645308

 

IMG_4718

– Setting a table for my guests

IMG_4858

– Making my garden a

IMG_20151228_095946

to relax and rest in

IMG_20150721_163615176

– Preparing for a surprise birthday party  IMG_2280

Is love why hubby vaccums and mops like crazy when

_20150618_161515

?  Daughters and nieces squeal over sundry items in their stockings.  A   IMG_20151227_162535529

washes over me.  I

IMG_20151217_095423

My eyes  smile into hubby’s.

We’re the

IMG_20151225_002000

, darling!  I

_20150621_143824
Some folks won’t

IMG_20151217_095851

.  Crazy compulsions in others’ eyes – his love language and mine.

What is your love language, Reader?  IMG_20151228_101931

, right?  So  

IMG_20151217_094425

Well, here’s to what’s left of

IMG_20150619_133144248

and to dreams come true in 2016.

IMG_20151217_092205

and happy New Year!

PS –

IMG_20151223_120445484

and  _20150701_153025

sincerely

 

 

Good Morning Gorgeous!

IMG_20150903_184245

Selina.  This is my blog.

_20150710_131328

_20150710_144413

_20150711_171135 you might find

IMG_20150822_211411

                


                                                              

 

_20150709_080216

.  I am 

_20150701_163504

committed to being

IMG_20150801_202457

 and

IMG_20150801_122557

to my

IMG_20150815_001039

 and two

IMG_20150821_221746

IMG_20150810_184831

though, the

_20150617_152708

_20150617_160114

  makes me  feel sort of like

IMG_20150829_095905during

IMG_20150827_173702

IMG_20150902_112932

  I mean?  (Of course, you do!)  I’d love to take an occasional

_20150701_135202

to be

_20150621_120557

 Words –

IMG_20150827_180657

_20150621_121035

IMG_20150827_173732 –  seem to

_20150618_150805

 in my head the moment I try to 

IMG_20150814_172118

 to

IMG_20150821_222811

 or think of 

_20150701_162507

 to indulge in whatever.

_20150706_232241

…    

_20150702_202712,” my mother would say. 

IMG_20150827_173608

, I do.  And yet,                                                                        _20150601_152024

 you know, still the

_20150618_160559 inside,

IMG_20150801_205048

, or

IMG_20150801_205517

to the poetry of the universe.

_20150716_134601

!   Once in a

IMG_20150827_174556

in the midst of

IMG_20150906_145601

 of crazy

IMG_20150906_145445

IMG_20150814_224759

 (when I’m absolutely certain

IMG_20150903_194401

),

IMG_20150805_224343

If these are the best

IMG_20150903_174930

, where am I headed? The daunting questions crowd in till there’s

IMG_20150827_172103

, and I have to take a deep breath, chide myself  and

IMG_20150720_180309

_20150702_200543

                                                                


 

   

IMG_20150821_211210

 couple of weeks.   

IMG_20150727_191151

– I’m going to tell you one of mine, so

_20150621_144619

 to a  minute or two,

IMG_20150801_200530

 

      …   xx   …   xx   …

Here goes – an entry from the

IMG_20150724_211323812_HDR~3

 a wishful thinker,

IMG_20150724_211446520~2

IMG_20150903_173350

                                                                            

      …   xx   …   xx   … 

 Picture it.  It’s

_20150716_174551

This writer (that’s me!) is pushing a cart through supermarket aisles. She’s reviewing her grocery list –

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… ”  “

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  tonight,” she (me again!) mumbles. “Get what you need. Just

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!”

Then, suddenly …

_20150621_121156
IMG_20150815_013313

The words

IMG_20150818_171133 me hard.

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Me?

IMG_20150903_173056IMG_20150903_173032

_20150624_195050

blushing …

I almost heard

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before I saw the letters stitched into a satin cushion .  It was like someone waved a

_20150716_175659

and something inside went

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 AIMG_20150829_095242

  and  sense of

IMG_20150801_125802

 washed over me.  I leaned

IMG_20150902_113959

to have a better look.  My day went

IMG_20150825_190247

from average to

IMG_20150902_112527

 , to

IMG_20150902_112440

.  Such a  

_20150716_174157

in my mouth.  (

IMG_20150903_193130

For a nano-second I was

IMG_20150902_121412921

, totally

IMG_20150901_162848856

 “I

IMG_20150801_123421

IMG_20150801_125744

 .”  I paused.   “

IMG_20150827_223619

,” I said to myself.

_20150624_192205

 , this is sort of the science behind subliminal messaging, I guess   It certainly had

IMG_20150901_191000

on me.  I fell for it,

IMG_20150821_224550

_20150624_190736

_20150610_172411

IMG_20150902_113014 embroidered on fabric – so

IMG_20150801_130400.   Such power  to

IMG_20150827_175304

 and  

_20150615_173131

_20150706_220357

I

IMG_20150901_191150

the

IMG_20150901_162544651

.  I can still

IMG_20150827_222340

. Absolutely

IMG_20150827_171747

IMG_20150826_190430

…  Who would have thought?

   My surroundings suddenly came alive with words. They were

_20150624_105849

to me.

IMG_20150814_173544 what I mean.

IMG_20150827_172704

(below) and my

_20150623_102122

 to each item on it.


 

(1) IMG_20150903_180928 What cheek!

_20150701_143551

IMG_20150815_012650

(2)  IMG_20150903_180741 … I’m no

IMG_20150801_195809

, but thanks!

(3)_20150621_121219

IMG_20150815_005857– sure,

IMG_20150801_205221

(4) _20150621_121234

.. (giggles) That’s quite enough –_20150701_153223

(5)  IMG_20150813_174658 …  Me? No!  I don’t think so.

(6) IMG_20150814_173214– Okay, you can

_20150610_175445simpered for this one!


 

IMG_20150724_212322251~2

understood the power of words, as I did in these few

_20150702_203343

.  Power to affirm or destroy.  

IMG_20150727_190542

 ,” I said to myself.  “

IMG_20150812_183747

_20150621_121053

 .   This is how you

IMG_20150821_193106

IMG_20150902_112544 .”


 

_20150716_202155

IMG_20150821_195820

IMG_20150613_120522142  in the middle of an ordinary day.

 I think I entered 

IMG_20150724_210224215_HDR~2

 .   ” I want to

IMG_20150826_184723

in a perpetual place of positive words,” I told myself. 

My heart beamed.  My spirits soared.

_20150710_103549IMG_20150821_214924

, I think.

IMG_20150816_162915It’s

_20150701_145101

_20150710_104040

.                                                                    

_20150614_122353

IMG_20150727_191624

IMG_20150827_171208

_20150526_235842(1)

IMG_20150827_171049IMG_20150825_185233

                


 

_20150610_182908

 for you today, Reader.

_20150716_175258

 with beautiful words.  May good words  be your

IMG_20150826_184319

. May they  flow all over you, heal and make you come alive.

The

IMG_20150724_211342370

but could include giddy joy , which is

_20150625_181624

Just

IMG_20150821_201015

               


 

Here are

IMG_20150801_205550               IMG_20150719_124756325_HDR~2

 –

IMG_20150906_145754

_20150716_134911

IMG_20150724_210552773~2

_20150710_103525 yourself.  And

IMG_20150826_193338

 

 

IMG_20150827_170831

    


 

IMG_20150827_165050

_20150526_135146

  


 

I believe this is

IMG_20150903_192652

_20150710_103838

.  Oh,

_20150624_113132

 , I feel it in my bones !  Three hearty

 

! Three hea_20150710_141916IMG_20150815_010411


 

_20150614_143030

now.

IMG_20150805_121049

. Here’s to

IMG_20150801_195257

IMG_20150724_211715214_HDR~2

                                                                          


 

P.S. 

IMG_20150902_113812

                                                                      _20150612_140218

IMG_20150821_205557

sincerely          


 

IMG_20150520_105645615

(All the pictures in this post are digital moments captured on the camera phone.)