My dad was an interesting character who had a great gift of play. My uncle told me that dad was the undisciplined one in the family and was always getting into mischief as a kid. One of my favourite stories about dad was when he’d take us onto the river when it was frozen solid in the wintertime-that’s when the river froze every year-and tie a rope around the bumper of his car, and play Crack the Whip with us. We’d scream across the ice on our skates at “Mach One” speed all the while shouting out gaels of laughter. If Mom had ever found out I’m sure she’d have given him a darn good tongue wagging. Dad loved “goosing” the car near the crest of a hill and watching us howl in glee; he had the biggest belly laugh anyone could image. He also had a soft spot in his heart and I remember not getting my winter moccasins at Christmas (that’s not to say we kids weren’t loaded down with gifts). I spoke to dad privately knowing mom would not be pleased for not showing my gratitude. You guessed it, dad came home from work one day with my moccasins. Thanks dad but you really shouldn’t have! Dad also had another side of him that was much more serious and if you knew he was upset with you, you best not cross him.
Dad was the General Manager of Sales for Kerr-Ellams, now Kerr Norton which at the time was Canada’s largest office supply company. Dad was a downtown Toronto boy and wasn’t bilingual but his entire sales team were. Back in those days Montreal was the “Big” city in Canada and business in the board room was conducted in english. Thank goodness things today have changed!
Dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force overseas in Italy and honoured his comrades on Remembrance Day like all the men and women who survived the war. Remembrance Day was a very important day in the year for my father, and like a lot of veterans he never talked about the war.
Dad was a Mason, a member of the Lions Club, and a school board trustee for many years. I appreciate his sacrifice to community service but it meant mom had the added burden of keeping the household together. As a kid I remember stapling posters to the telephone poles when he was running for reelection in the school board. Finally, Dad had the “gift of the gab”, and could walk into any room and work it.
Mom on the other hand was the glue in our family, she was bedrock. We always sat down as a family for dinner and meals were always prepared with love. Mom was an exceptional pastry and bread baker. I loved the smell of bread baking in the oven and watching the butter melt on a hot slice of bread. Mom was always baking or so it seemed. All our friends knew that you could get cookies, muffins, and fresh bread just about anytime you visited our home. Christmas was a special time at our home because mom baked everything you could imagine: Sugar Cookies, Rum Balls, Gingerbread Cookies, Shortbread Cookies, Tortiere Pie, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Christmas Pudding, Christmas Fruitcake, Christmas Yule Log, Pumpkin Pie, all kinds of tarts, pastries and we’d make a Gingerbread House. Wow, THANKYOU!
I’d come home from university at Christmas and scour the house looking for these treats. Mom always knew I’d find them and was constantly flicking the wooden spoon at my fingers. I think she secretly loved that her children enjoyed her baking so much. Mom also knitted all of us sweaters as kids and as adults (I have two that when I put them on I always think of her), and hand sewn quilts. One of mom’s quilts one year graced the front cover of the Canadian Quilting Conference program, she was so proud. My children have quilts from their grandmother that I hope they will treasure as much as I do.
Mom went back to work when most of us were now older in the Payroll Department (originally trained to be a nurse) and got me my first real job at United Aircraft Ltd. in Longueuil, Quebec right out of grade 11-that by the way convinced me I’d best get a university education. How she worked all day and still managed to cook, and do all the other things a housewife and a mother does I’ll never know. Mom, you were in our eyes simply quite amazing!
God bless you mom and dad, I love you and miss you!