Thursday, August 25, 2011

Checking In On Grandma

I fondly remember my Grandma as being one of the coolest women I knew when I was younger.  She was an avid traveler and she used to bring me back the best goodies from her trips.  I particularly remember a pair of castanettes that she brought me from Spain.  Probably not the best thing to give an 8 year old girl who loved to "play music" (that's what I called it but I'm sure to my parents it was pure noise).

My Grandma's house was a place of wonder.   It was a tiny old 2 storey home on a large piece of land up at Yonge & York Mills.   The basement still had dirt floors in some areas and the kitchen was straight out of the 50's.  I have many fond memories of sitting in that kitchen with Grandma, eating Cheerios with brown sugar and listening to the gurgle of the coffee percolator.   The back yard was another wonderland.   It was a very wide lot and fairly deep too.  The neighbours behind my grandma didn't bother putting up a fence.  Instead there was a small footpath that joined the yards.  They had a pear tree that used to be laden with juicy pears every fall.  I remember wandering around the back yard, picking up pears and putting the good ones in a basket.  My Grandma also had a fantastic vegetable garden.  It would not be usual to find me out sitting amongst the plants with the garden hose, pulling carrots out of the ground, rinsing them off with the hose, and then popping them into my mouth.  I could also be found in the big mass of raspberry and currant bushes, happily pulling berries off the branches and stuffing them in my face.

The amount of amazing memories I have of my Grandma belies the relatively short time I had her in my life.  She passed away from breast cancer when I was 13 years old.   My Grandpa (her husband) passed away when I was 6 so I don't have many memories of him at all.  But from the bits and pieces of pictures and letters that I was lucky enough to have passed on to me, I have a very good sense of the man.   He was a talented photographer.  I remember all of this darkroom equipment had a permanent home in that dark basement.    Funny how 15 years later that same hobby became the focus in my post secondary education!

I think of my Grandparents often, especially my Grandma.  The first race I ever did was CIBC's Run for the Cure and I did it in honor of my Grandma (both of my Grandma's actually, my dad's mom passed away from breast cancer at the young age of 39).    I think I still have my "Who Are You Running For" race bib.   I know that she would be incredibly proud of the woman that I've become.   Years after she passed, I remember asking my Mom where Grandma was buried and she told me Mount Pleasant Cemetery.   When I first lived in the Davisville and Yonge area I would walk through the cemetery on a regular basis, trying to find my Grandma's grave.  That was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Old habits die hard because on my first run back in the same hood, I went through the cemetery, hoping that perhaps I'd luck out and miraculously stumble upon her grave.  No such luck.

I have tried searching online for a "map" of the plots but I think a visit to the cemetery headquarters is in order.   It's been over 25 years since my Grandma has passed.  I can imagine that she's probably pretty pissed that I haven't stopped by to say "hi".  I figure it's high time I rectify that.  So the next time I lace up my shoes to go for a run through the cemetery, I hope to be able to stop and check in on Grandma.
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, early morning.
copyright:  Phaedra Kennedy 2011

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