Day 289. Mixed Feelings

“Life at best is bittersweet” Jack Kirby

Normally I probably wouldn’t have used yesterday’s WordPress Daily Post as inspiration for a story. “Bittersweet Memories”. “You receive a gift that is bittersweet photosand makes you nostalgic. What is it?”

It is a bit too melancholy for me. But I was at the hospital volunteering when I read it; and it instantly conjured a memory for me.

When my mother moved to Toronto she knew no one, other than me and my closest friend. When I was growing up she was a hospital volunteer. It was always something she enjoyed doing, so she told me she planned to do it here, as well. It would not only give her something to do, she figured it would also be a good way to meet people. So she signed up for two days a week, Mondays and Tuesdays.

She moved here when she was seventy-five. By the time she turned eighty, she’d made quite a few good friends. I wanted to make her a party. Eighty is, after all, a milestone. She didn’t want a party. She said she’d prefer to

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Day 228. What’s Next?

I ‘celebrated’ my birthday this week.  On Wednesday.  I waited until it was safely over to mention it.  Hate making a big deal of it.  And not being such a lover of either attention or sweets, birthday cakemy preference has always been to avoid the cake and candles bit.  Especially now.

With the number of candles I’d need, once they were lit, it would look like a minor forest fire.  And I don’t honestly know if I still have the lung capacity to blow them out.  At least all at once.  Call in the fire fighters!

Never mind.  It was grand.  And it turned out to be a two-day affair.  Some work in the morning, some pampering in the afternoon and dinner with a friend on Wednesday.  Work during the day on Thursday.  Dinner, drinks, jazz and blues on Thursday night.

Several blog posts ago, I wrote about Errol Fisher, a local singer, I’ve enjoyed for years and years.  Well, lo and Continue reading

Day 207. Counter-Intuitive

A Post on Sow, Sew, So yesterday reminded me I have a birthday coming up this month.  It also reminded me I have to renew my driver’s license.  This year I also have to have a new jailphoto taken.  Oh noooooooooooo!

Oh yes.  And I’ve got to do it, pronto.  The notice has been sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple of months.

Yes, I’m well aware I’ve been putting it off.

Don’t put your hands on your hips and tell me to stop procrastinating.  Don’t shake your finger under my nose.  Don’t warn me of the pitfalls of letting my license lapse.  Before you chastise me, go look at the photo on your Continue reading

Day 124. Enjoy It!

Even as a child, I wasn’t crazy about my birthday. Unlike most kids, I was never wild with anticipation as THE day got closer and closer. Not even the prospect of gifts particularly Six Lit Birthday Candlesexcited me. Or parties. Or cake and ice cream. I have no clue why. Ridiculous, I know.

Maybe even at three years old I wasn’t crazy about the idea of time marching on. Who knows. Bet a therapist would have a field day with this one. All I know is, nothing’s changed.

Unlike my mother, who celebrated each and every birthday she had. Yes, she celebrated each and every year she was blessed with ‘living’. Not that she liked getting old. Staring her mortality square in the eye. She just didn’t dwell on it. What I’m about to say may sound like a fragrance commercial or a Hallmark card, but I’m saying it anyway. Because, in my mother’s case, it’s absolutely true (as anyone who knew her can confirm). It defined her and all she stood for:

She defied it. When she looked in the mirror she saw a woman much younger than she really was. She saw a woman with the spirit of a forty year old. And the energy. And the enthusiasm. A woman filled with the joyful anticipation of what each new day could bring. Would bring. Because she willed it so. She’d tell you how old she was, before you asked. To her it was an accomplishment to be proud of.

Vain as she was (and I don’t mean this in a bad way), she NEVER shied away from saying “I’m 75”. Or 80, or 84. I think she

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Day 70. Remembering Dad

Today is my father’s birthday. He’d be 100. It’s hard to imagine. He’d died relatively young, by today’s standards. Two weeks shy of his seventy-fifth birthday. My mother was 65. Young to be a widow.

He was a libra, and definitely had the characteristics of his sign. He was urbane, sociable, elegant, kind, easygoing and extremely generous. He loved beautiful things, and had exquisite taste. And although he wasn’t demonstrably affectionate in public, he did have a romantic streak. He was the least judgmental person I’ve ever known, he had tons of integrity and was honourable to a fault. His word was more binding than any contract.

This is his engagement photo. He was thirty-one years old. People tell me I look like him. I think I do, although I have my mother’s colouring.

I had an incredibly close relationships with both of my parents, but my dad and I had a very special bond. From the first day I moved out on my own, to the day he died, I spoke to him everyday. Without fail. Even when I moved to Toronto, from Montreal. He and my mother would visit me in Toronto very often, but he used to come quite frequently on business; and we always saw each other when he was in town. We’d have dinner, or lunch, whatever he had time for.

And, because he was also so generous, he’d always tell me to invite friends or even colleagues to join

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Day 14. Feeling Sentimental

August 20.  Today’s my mother’s birthday.  She’d be 90.  She was 82 when this photo was taken.  Her hairdresser took it; and no, she hadn’t had her make-up done by a professional for the shot.  She did it herself.  She put her make up on like that every morning, without fail.

My mother was an identical twin and they were born slightly premature.  Her disposition was 100% Leo:  She always had a smile on her face.  Always.  She was very outgoing, gregarious even.  She talked to everyone, including strangers in elevators, on the subway, in stores, wherever.  And no one ever seemed to mind.  They never tried to distance themselves from her, afraid she was a bit of a nut.  They carried on conversations with her.

When my parents sold their house after I’d moved out, they moved downtown, into an apartment.  It was a lovely, elegant building with a lot of old-world charm.  The original owner, a Greek tycoon, sold it to a Quebec-born millionaire, J. Louis Levesque. A businessman, racehorse owner/breeder and a philanthropist, he sat on the Boards of blue chip companies like Air Canada, Canadian National Railways, Hilton Hotels of Canada, Provincial Bank of Canada and many more.  Among the many honours he received during his lifetime, he was in the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award in 1972 and, in 1976, he was named to the Order of Canada.

When he bought the building my parents lived in, one of the conditions of the sale was that the wealthy Greek would move out of the penthouse, so J. Louis and his wife could move in.

Well my mother struck up a conversation with him, in the elevator one day.  She instantly became his new best friend — to the point that, whenever he went fishing Continue reading