Friends, I'm sorry about the long silence. My grandmother--the one whose fruit pies I grew up on--passed away two weeks ago. So for the past little while, I've been in Toronto with family, mostly trying just to be there, especially for my father. It's been hard on all of us but especially on him.
I spoke at the funeral service. It wasn't the eulogy, just a few words. I thought that it was important that one of the grandchildren say something. My grandmother had been there for all of us when we were young. We'd all run amuck in her garden, worn the sweaters she knit, sat at the kitchen table listening to her stories, pie crumb still stuck to our little faces. I thought that it was important to honour all that and to say something about just how much she'd still mattered to us, though we'd all grown up and gone away.
Writing it was difficult. I wanted to be honest. Being away at school, I hadn't seen my grandmother much in recent years, and when I had, I wasn't always sure of what to say. I'd felt the distance of generations, of different opportunities given and won, of diverging paths lived out, between us. I'd thought that we were more different than similar. But walking through her vegetable garden, still thriving, still humming, it struck me that the differences were not so great, that her earnestness, her kindness, her willingness to get her hands dirty, to do it all herself--these were all qualities of hers that had made an impression on me, qualities that I had aspired towards all along. I only wish that I could have told her this, that there had been more time to talk about making pies and growing tomatoes and all of those other things we'd both come to love. So that's what I told the crowd that day.
My parents had me scan some photos from old family albums that had been at my grandmother's house. It's an amazing collection--black-and-white photos from the 1940s and on of my grandparents and my father and his siblings like I've never seen them before. The one above is my favourite. I'm not sure where it was taken or who the photographer was, but my grandmother looks so happy, so beautiful there. My guess is that it was probably 1949 or 1950 at the time. She wouldn't have been much older than me. I couldn't resist sharing this one photo with you.