Monday 21 January 2019

Love is Stronger Than Death

What a day! New restructuring at my husband's work, the oven isn't working, the plumbers have been in and said our boiler pipe is rubbish ... and it's just gone noon.

But a moment of quiet in the midst of the storm now to remember my Canadian grandmother Gladys, who was born on this day over a hundred years ago. The love of her descendants for her should outlive her for at least forty more years, I hope--perhaps fifty.

It may seem odd to refer to the Song of Songs when contemplating one's grandmother. However, the Song of Songs is about love, and of all family and friends who have died, the one I loved best was Gladys. Perhaps because I saw her at least once a week until I moved away from Toronto, she was also the family member I knew best.

A not inconsiderable piece in the puzzle of my Christian hope is the chance of seeing my grandmother again. It also is, incidentally, the taproot of my affection for Protestants and the hope that despite error having no rights, etc., all will be well with them.

One should celebrate love with great gusto when one's loved ones are alive because the grief when they aren't doesn't entirely wear off. I burst into tears on Christmas Eve, thinking of my grandmother. I'm sure I'm not alone in that sort of thing.

My grandmother was a quote "unplanned pregnancy" unquote, and my great-grandmother left Scotland to have her quietly in Canada. Given my current publisher, that is important to mention although I'm afraid my grandmother would have hated that fact to be widely known. It was a scandal of unmentionable proportions 80 years ago, let alone 100 years ago, of course. She referred to her mother as "Auntie" until the day she died, and indeed when the rest of us have cause mention my great-grandmother, "Auntie" she remains. In the long roll call of family prayers,  that name was wedged in between her daughter and me.

Anyway, whereas Auntie was a Modern Woman, a single woman who "adopted a child" out west before joining her family in Toronto, and embarking on a Career, Gladys was a cheerful mid-century housewife who sometimes worked behind the counter at the local "smoke shop" for pin money. She was a classic example of an Old Toronto person, the kind of woman who greeted, chatted with and then thanked bus drivers, and when people (including Anthony Bourdain) belittle that sort of mid-century Scottish-Canadian Torontonian, I go out of my mind with rage.

This is because I am rather more like my red-haired grandfather than like my placid grandmother, which is too bad, really. My grandfather had a temper, my mother had a temper, and now I have a temper. Instead my grandmother had Nerves, which I inherited, so I have both a temper AND Nerves--a dangerous combination.  But I do not sit at the kitchen table, lost in my thoughts, smoking, however.  Nor do I stay up all night reading trashy novels. ( Gladys: "They're not trashy. They're family sagas.")

One of my nephews once innocently remarked that when I am away in Scotland, it's as if I didn't exist.  He was only seven or eight when he said that, so no hard feelings, although obviously it froze my soul. I'm sorry I can't be a steady, cheerful, cookie-bringing presence like my grandmother. However, I am very grateful that I had my grandmother so long, and that an enduring childhood memory is rushing to the sidewalk in front of our house on Sunday afternoons, to see if she was coming yet.

And there she would be, beret on head, high-heeled sandals on feet, vinyl shopping bag in hand, very happy to see her grandchildren running to meet her on the last leg of her walk from her house to our house.

Love is stronger than death.

1 comment:

  1. God bless your gran Gladys! (and her mum 'Aunty', who chose life for her daughter at a time when it definitely wasn't fashionable to roll up with a child out of wedlock, and there was no welfare state at all on Earth).

    One of the scariest things are 'Christian' mothers who hurry their daughters into abortion clinics, to prevent the scandal of a pre-marriage child turning up and 'ruining their daughters life' (or more honestly, their parents plans for their daughters life!). Your 'Aunty' had the guts not to go down that path. Bless her.