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.

.facebook_1507624146079
… and this one. (Judy wrote:that is Eamon reading a letter that I wrote to him. I love my bedhead look.”)
facebook_1512657689514
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.
11-at-the-quarterdeck.jpg
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.
received_807340769427979
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 …
.facebook_1493652741936
Her paradise – the cottage on the Bay of Fundy
received_774939672668089
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.
20140831_180629
Judy and  Cameron
.facebook_1515557440542
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.
received_807340739427982
Waking up to JOY on her arm each morning …
received_798764990285557
 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.

IMG_6533
… 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 …

.facebook_1510338556250
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. 
.facebook_1516918074907
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.
received_813211132174276
Tim with his newest nephew, Henry
received_793195314175858
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.)

 

  • .facebook_1515373974030
    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.
received_830924487069607
Celebrating Henry, the newest JOY …
received_830924383736284
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.
received_801185646710158
Cam’s handiwork: Baby Henry-on-a-pillow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

    received_793190580842998
    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.
22292207_793195067509216_126083908_o
“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 …
IMG_6528
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
IMG_6497 (1)
“Wild’s the word: wool’s the game!”  (The Wild and Woolies, Judy’s crazy rug-hooking gang at her Celebration of Joy)

 

image1 (1)
Laughter abounds. Judy with Wild and Woolly Pal, Jean
image1
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 …
facebook_1516918315589 (1)
Playing the giddy goat … Cam at her bedroom window
IMG_6523
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.
FB_IMG_1493652549791
Chicken serenade.  Pecking a little tune.   (JOY on the windowsill)
FB_IMG_1494337703037
Cereal inducement.  Cam scattering cheerios on the keyboard of a toy xylaphone! 

.facebook_1516918254011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 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.
received_830924303736292
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 …

.facebook_1514787004748
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

#9 PALS Award (1)
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.
.facebook_1516918013838
Judy’s Joyful Angels – one of the  teams representing Judy in the ALS fundraising walk – and …

 

 

 

 

.facebook_1512506811185
… 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. 

IMG_6471
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!

facebook_1516309226912 (1)
Flowering bicycle planter (painted red by Cameron)
.facebook_1516918193787
Hilarious hens partying at the window

 

 

 

 

 

FB_IMG_1494337676646
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.

20180103_084134_HDR.jpg
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!

20171209_153235

 

 

 

 

 

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 –

25188182_821034691391920_1521955600_n
Joy on the Christmas tree
received_827633390732050
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. 

20180111_195402
Joyful Judy moments up on the  screens at Knox United Church

 20180112_131626.jpg

 

 

 

 

20180111_141524
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.  

received_778893972319382
Wore it to the funeral.  The breast cancer ribbon necklace from my Christmas box – celebrating survival
20180111_193126
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.

20180111_141309.jpg

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.  

IMG_6493
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.

20180113_095829
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. 

facebook_1516918282502
Cam and Mum on the volunteer-built wheelchair ramp 
IMG_6519
Judy’s hospital bed (from which she took many pictures), all neatly made up, will be donated to the ALS society.

 

 

 

facebook_1516918366190
Google Earth view of her home posted on Judy’s Facecbook Page

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6536
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.

IMG_6527.JPG
Cam with the rubber chickens. Judy used them like a bell, to summon assistance
IMG_6538
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.               

20180108_153326
From my Christmas box.  Life sure surprised me with you, Judy.
20180110_083443_HDR
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.

.facebook_1515373943396
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. 

20180127_152600

20171201_192012
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

20180129_115440_2

           13724128_10154214751441285_3664275386834145870_o

              THUMBS UP ! Like this Facebook Author page: Click here

Advertisements

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.

IMG_0180
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

IMG_9753
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 –

 

 

20170713_202004

 

 

 

 

 

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 –

20170705_203029
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.

20170701_220403
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 –

20170720_145200
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.

20170726_152815

20170719_201628_HDR
Click here to check out Selina’s You Tube Channel

all thirty eight chapters of it.

IMG_5269
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.

20170713_205327
… so I won’t.

Until next time,

sincerely

20170705_201042
Always reaching …
img_20160717_115821724_hdr
I got many more than I asked for! (On the arm of young  bakery assistant)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9754
Everywhere!  Blame it on the summer

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

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.”

IMG_20170504_182515
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 –

IMG_9651
A wall mirror to create the illusion of an open doorway on the fence in the backyard
IMG_9648
A toy scooter to use on the deck as a stand for a flowering potted plant.

 

 

IMG_9546
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.  

IMG_20170508_185927
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.

20170510_151455
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.

IMG_9659

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. 

20170531_164621
Never miss a moment. (Taken at Walmart.  Most folks are proud pose and flash their captions.)
20170518_121850
On a friend’s coffee table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20170508_183308

 

There’s more.  Lots and lots! 

Next time!

Until then,  

sincerely

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

20170515_142719
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!

FB_IMG_1494345124077
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.

FB_IMG_1493652680807
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                             

FB_IMG_1494338035175
I didn’t, actually! A Math pun from Judy’s Facebook page.

(b)  Some mother’s beloved daughter

.facebook_1495038514645
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 …”  
.facebook_1495038061829
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
20140831_180349
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 …”

.facebook_1495038029728
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.’”

.facebook_1495038303049
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?

.facebook_1495038413022
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.”

FB_IMG_1493652523742
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

14344254_10157375472105543_4424233400221179271_n
Judy: an infection of joy

I am optimistic

I will find JOY every day.

FB_IMG_1493652664855
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!!”

FB_IMG_1493652549791
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

FB_IMG_1493652579614
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

.facebook_1493652824269

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

.facebook_1493652741936
The Starritt summer cottage.  Idyllic.  Pastoral.

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

FB_IMG_1494336925725
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.

.facebook_1495038142810
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.

IMG_3920
The Promised Land.  That’s what I named our home.

A believing heart, a humbly yielded spirit …

IMG_3923
BELIEVE in mirror letters 
IMG_3922
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.

FB_IMG_1494345156043
These Sauve sahibs jump for joy
15940869_1378265405525064_2463268761752486903_n
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 – 

FB_IMG_1494337676646

FB_IMG_1494336855371

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

.facebook_1493653114933
Groan!

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 …”

IMG_20160724_224052
Some mother’s boy …

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

IMG_20160502_215010
Hmm …

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

IMG_20161228_184208
Mum’s eye popping out of her head …
_20150708_005652
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?

IMG_9324
And so the letter went (in sister’s heavily disguised handwriting ) …
IMG_20160502_214927
From one mother to another …
IMG_20161228_191127
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 …

_20150710_130520
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?”

IMG_20151028_183123
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 …                         

IMG_9330
Me (left) and Sister (centre) with Cousin Ranji, possibly that same weekend. 
IMG_9310
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. 

IMG_8493
What Girl’s Dad said …
IMG_20160629_204228
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.    

IMG_20160212_104813
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.

IMG_20160604_180715510
Was it ever! Boy, oh boy …

 

 

 

 

 

Mum politely declined when asked to intervene.

IMG_20160416_181853100
He won’t!

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

IMG_20160617_183146
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 …                                                                         

IMG_20160530_183045
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.     

IMG_20160502_205454
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.

IMG_9079
Me (left) with Sister.  Probably born with a pen in my hand!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About everything.

Hilarious notes from Sister …

IMG_9173
Thank you for being so kind.  Please buy peppermints! (No idea why she asked for prayer …)
IMG_9169
Forgive me for being so rude.  I am very hungry … (Looks like she went  to bed without dinner.  Don’t recall the incident.)
IMG_9266
I fell ill today.  Feel very much down in the dumps.  (Sis was a precocious little thing)
IMG_9165
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.

IMG_9184
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.        

IMG_20161011_133129
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 …

IMG_9166
The unflattering self portrait!
IMG_9328
The real bespectacled me with Sis (and Dad inside car)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister needs to work on her spelling in this one –

IMG_9154
S ..EPRISE!!!

Golden memories.  A sweet, mellow time.              

IMG_3002
Strolling down the quiet corridors of memory lane ..

When we were very young …

Until next time,

sincerely

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.

IMG_9237
“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!)
IMG_9238
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 …       

Kodak_Brownie_Flash_III
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!                                                                   

Yashica_Mat_124G_5033 (1)
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.

IMG_20170404_154859
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.

IMG_9107
Puzzled.  “Okay, so what IS it?”  Little sister and me with oldest cousin, Sri. 
IMG_9106
“Did you hear that?”  Sister (right) and me
IMG_9144
Sheer joy, unawares.  Sister (left) and me with Dad.

IMG_20170330_132039

IMG_20170404_155030

 

 

 

 

 

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 …

IMG_9091
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 …

IMG_9223
A gallery of our early lives, with love from Mum.

IMG_9222

 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.
IMG_9085
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!

IMG_9265
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)
IMG_9149
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 …

IMG_9099
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 …

IMG_9100
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!      

IMG_20170330_133046
She does!

IMG_20170320_185343

IMG_9143
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. 
IMG_9122
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.

IMG_20170404_153829

IMG_9132
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  –

IMG_9102
Me (lying on mat) and cousin Dileeni.  Besties since we were babes.
IMG_9084
Gotta have a sun hat!  Rarely apart.  Dileen (left) and me.

Such secrets you’d share!

IMG_9087
And she whispers in mine …
IMG_9121
I whisper in her ear …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Two for the price of one!

IMG_9147
Little flower girls.  Dileeni (to bride’s right) and me at Babby and Uncle Selva’s wedding.
IMG_9141
Flowers girls again!  Me (left) and cousin Dileeni at Aunty Betty’s (Mum’s cousin’s) wedding
IMG_9120
… 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 …

IMG_20170320_191134
This little girl reminded me of myself as a kid. 
IMG_9225
Puppy posing with some favourites from my childhood
IMG_9090
Sister and me with my doll, Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endless doll’s tea parties – 

IMG_9078
Dileeni (right) and me
IMG_20170318_132406
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 …

IMG_9083
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 –

IMG_9125
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

IMG_9098
Cousin Dileeni (left) and me.  Still close friends though we live at opposite ends of the world.

IMG_20170320_190828.jpg

That Corner Chair

Ever paused to check out what folks are doing at bus stops, or observed  parents with kids in restaurants, in the park?

IMG_20161228_193837
Eyes on phone.  Caregiver of disabled children. In local mall.
IMG_20161228_193621
In the mall at Christmastime.  Not interested in atmosphere, decorations,  festive music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forty-something-and-under phenomenon.  Hunched over phones …

Shook my head head in disbelief as I took this one –

IMG_20161228_194007
Youngster manning Salvation Army Christmas Kettle – crouched over phone and halfheartedly ringing bell with free hand.  Guess why kettle’s almost empty.
IMG_20161223_152111873
As it should be.  Smiling Kettle Person happy to pose at WalMart.  Couldn’t help emptying  my purse of all its spare change.

Times have changed. Sad.

Life’s blazing flicker moments come and go.  In plain sight.

So easy to miss …

IMG_20170315_184516

IMG_20160929_170224

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

Happened to look out of window as sun rose last week.    Picked up phone and clicked.   

IMG_20170315_194042
Sunrise over neighbour’s home

Minutes later –                                                     

IMG_20170315_194029
Brighter, more gold

Stark contrast in brightness of light and sharpness of shadow.  Parable for the day –

Only a matter of time before things get brighter …      

Might have missed the golden moments in morning haste, if I hadn’t happened to look.  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….     Objects have such power to transport me back to associated moments.

 When I look at these – 

IMG_8958
The moment I stand at this bay window, I’m back in assorted paradise climes where I found the shells and starfish
IMG_20160730_145527374
Enormous bathroom collage of shells from  shores around the world.  Daily I re-live the joy of beach-combing.  The sense of remembered joy never fades.

                                                                                                        

IMG_8961
Ah, to be a dewdrop in lush, humid rain forest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then there’s Chair-In-The-Corner .

IMG_8708
Husband’s maternal grandpa’s chair.  Over a century old, from Kopay, Jaffna.  

Hansi putuwa in the vernacular.  Translated: resting chair

IMG_9001
Infant Husband with grandfather on said Corner Chair .

Miracle child, my husband.  Survived despite all odds.

IMG_9006
Cutie Pie- now mine!

Parents who dared to believe.  Mother with dogged faith –

He’s going to be okay …

IMG_20170321_084110
Husband with parents after christening at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Borella.  (Left) Maternal grandparents, (right) Paternal grandparents
IMG_9002
“Hi there!”.  Dad, Mom and precious first born (two brothers to follow)

– and Maternal Granny who pretty much slept with head in his crib at night that first year.

Just in case …            

Grew to be strong as an ox, that babe, healthy as a horse.                     

IMG_20170321_083859
A deep, strong bond to the very end of her life. Husband and Ammamma (His mom’s mom). 

And married me …  

Testimony to power of prayer, faith,  love, positive thinking.

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………….

Visually struck by the obvious.  See how reflection in mirror changes.

Depending on where I stand,  angle I look from …

Another parable?  Sort of.

How do I perceive situations that arise?

IMG_20170127_111612
It will, but can it hold you?
IMG_20161228_185903
Need more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider, ponder on definition of joy.  An inner grace, un-dependent on circumstances.  Ability to be thankful.  To see the glass  half full, not half empty.  To look back with gratitude.    

And embrace even the unbearable uglies …

To be able to evoke music from within –     

IMG_20170116_183038
Music from within??

IMG_20161228_195908

Determined to believe the best is yet to come.      

IMG_8971
“The best is yet to come”.  Caption on van zipping past on Saturday morning.

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

Thankful husband’s life was spared to marry me.  Thankful for our daughters.

IMG_9008
He and Me.  Post-cancer treatment cruise.  Sketched Antigua, West Indies. (Bears passing resemblance to Husband, None at all to me.)
IMG_9010
New York City artist.  Striking reproduction of the twins’ ‘inner essence’ 

    

 

 

 

Thankful for nine cancer-free years.       

IMG_9011
Pink ribbons for breast cancer.  Holy Spirit Dove.  Mother-in-law’s handiwork.  A gift to celebrate the end of chemo.  Always grateful for in-laws’ loving care and support.

 

 

 

 

Wordless gratitude …  

Wishing you thankful joy today.   May it sidle sweetly in and entice you to come out and play –

In spite of yourself …

IMG_20170107_150629524_HDR

IMG_20161228_183809

Until next time,   

sincerely

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 –

_20150710_142150
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.

_20150708_215824
Serenity by the sea.  Yep. That’s what I’d call it.
17097711_646203905588390_453118351749517277_o
Europa Inn: flights of backstairs and balconies full of pink petunias

       

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_3569
Old iron safe (from town’s namesake church) in quiet backroom of Inn
_20150710_144515
Europa Inn.  Famous for signature  eight-course dinner banquet by Chef Markus Ritter. Must-do tourist experience in New Brunswick,  as per travel guide 

 

IMG_20161024_223613
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 …   

15626117_10154852403553829_8386371590878579137_o
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.

_20150710_142528
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.  

_20150702_200326
This is my mind, where nothing is impossible!

“It’s about perspective,” I reply,

IMG_3549
She’s too small or the chair’s too big? (Moncton, New Brunswick, 2015)
_20150707_230003
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?

IMG_3324
Chocolate waters around Flower Pot rocks. (High tide, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick)
_20150706_220112
Hard to believe … a walk on the ocean floor?
IMG_3389
Husand (left) standing where waters stood sixty feet high
IMG_3335
Walking the ocean floor. Sixty-foot high waters have receded. 
IMG_3358
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 … 

………………………………………………………………….

_20150707_230003
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 …

IMG_20170116_183830

 

 

 

 

 

For example –

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

IMG_20161114_123524995_HDR
Didn’t throw out the sink. (After fall bathroom renovations)  Hurry up, summer!
IMG_6769
Won’t look like this one, tho’!

 

_20150702_201650
For sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_7205
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 

IMG_3770
After kitchen renovations (In my summer garden)

IMG_20170116_183744

 

 

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

IMG_8641
Rope to hang  it with and hurrah for blooming beauty-to-be!

_20150702_205228

IMG_3499
Mr. Pot Man (Clay pots are not just for planting in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5)  Ancient pots and pans make whimsical garden ornaments

IMG_7178
Kitchen Corner (In my summer garden)
IMG_20160929_171535
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.  

IMG_7014
Threw the old one out!  (There’s a limit to creative art …  even I have my standards!)
IMG_3140
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 …

_20150708_010149
…  her handiwork
IMG_8614
Ta da!

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely breathtaking …

15493231_10154423958107758_6151992002115614159_o
Gorgeous explosion of creativity.  Well done, Simone!

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

It’s  all about  knowing how to look –

IMG_8617
… in the most unexpected places
IMG_2961
Husband with tour map 

 

Living in the possibility of the moment –

IMG_6388
Picture of a woman taking a picture of her shadow.  (Happened to look out of high-rise window and captured the moment)

IMG_8613

And honing the inner vision –                                       

IMG_8425
Me reflected in neighbour’s glass door, seen through glass pane of laundry room door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you see what you see?

IMG_20161102_133049716
A hug or a serpent? (Neighbour’s front yard)
IMG_3560
Dead wood or sculpture?
IMG_8433
Just a car or dawn-in-the-windows? (On the driveway)
IMG_8507
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 …

IMG_20161229_201825142
More than content to be one of the Fools Who Dream 

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

IMG_8577

Life’s glorious gifts, hidden in plain sight –

IMG_8459

IMG_8628

IMG_20170226_213742
… just waiting to be unwrapped

IMG_8612

IMG_20160921_181352
Of course I do !

Unimagined sweetness –

IMG_20170202_130423642
… and eaten up in a single go!  (Guilty. When Rosalyn brought dessert)
IMG_20161226_185256
… just begging to be tasted

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

Finally a thaw in the air.  Milder days ahead. 

IMG_8603

So thankful.        IMG_20170226_214313

Until next time,

sincerely

 

PS:  Meet the Ritters of Europa Inn –

10551623_10152615988189029_7904193744781217446_o
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 …  

img_8670
“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.”

img_20170129_172818

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?

_20150710_140211
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.

img_20150806_160207
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.     

img_20150801_125036
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.

img_8674
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.

img_20170116_184146
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.         

img_8680
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.  

img_8681
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 …                                                       

img_8666
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.

img_3722
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.”

img_20150804_223804
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.

img_8660
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.

_20150716_173652
Dixie Daddy!
img_20150729_134030
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.

img_20170220_183655

All six of us …

img_20170220_183536
Picture of Dixie Daddy on Mum’s autograph album
img_20170220_191230
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.

img_20170222_103606
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)
img_5159
Dad at St. Paul’s after morning service on his 80th birthday (2016)

  _20150702_203343

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And faith.

img_20170220_185452
Malar Aunty wrote in Mum’s album in 1955: “Behind life’s darkest clouds, God’s love is always shining …”

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

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.            

img_8682
Sisters:  (Standing left to right) Pearl, Ruby, Elizabeth.  (Seated)  Beatrice

Time marched on. 

img_3470

img_3207

img_20170222_075437
Pearl and Sub (Dr & Mrs J.T. Subramaniam)
img_20170222_075328
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.

img_20170220_184805
Dashing sportsman, artist, dreamer.  Uncle Peter (left) engineering student in  England. (1950s)
img_20170220_185103
A brilliant mind.  Uncle Dan (front left),  also engineering student, England (1950s)

   

             

img_20170220_184911
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.        

img_20170222_104859
Newspaper clipping.  Obituary notice.

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

img_5175
Together forever, Shadrach and Mercy (Anglican Section, Kanatte Cemetry, Colombo)

Mum and Babby clung to each other –

img_8663
Beatrice and Elizabeth outside Westholme, Kinross Avenue, the sprawling family home by the sea
img_8673
Babby wrote in Mum’s autograph album:  “There’s no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather …” (Signed: Beth)
img_20170220_183112069
Babby, an artist like her mother, probably painted this page for Mum
img_20170220_183513
Mum’s signature on her autograph album.  Her maiden name.
img_8671
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 …

img_20150805_223544
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.

img_8683
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 – 

img_8676
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. 

img_8684
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.

img_20161017_231704
So which came first, the chicken or the egg?
img_20170220_182937
The pictures fascinate me

 

 

 

 

 

 

These roots go deep.