Sunday, May 13, 2012

happy families

Well, this is a Mother's Day like no other, as my 88-year old maman regains health and vigour in hospital in Ottawa, her voice and mind stronger than they've been in weeks - and my 31-year old daughter impatiently awaits the arrival of her son. The 61-year old in the middle, the ham in the sandwich, celebrates both these fierce, fabulous females. We don't usually take Hallmark days too seriously, but the timing this year is pretty great.

I went yesterday to a baby shower; the older daughter of my neighbours and dear friends, Mary and Malcolm, had a son 8 months ago, and now their younger is due in June. We've been friends since our children were together in grade school; Mary and I spent 9 Christmas eves producing the Riverdale Farm Xmas pageant, starring all our kids in various roles and backstage jobs, most particularly my Anna. "I'm the star," she'd tell people, and she was, walking ahead of the crowd carrying the twinkling star we were all following to the barn.

Anna couldn't be at the shower yesterday because she was working, kind of - she was at the 6th birthday party of the little boy she's been caring for on weekends since he was a baby. He's like family. My actual family is small - only two cousins - but through 27 years in Cabbagetown and my friendly kids, our family feels enormous.

While we're on about family, a student who can't be in class next week has just sent me her essay. She's from Pakistan, and her piece is about her adoring grandfather, whose patience and kindness filled her life with joy. Very young, she slept in his bed, holding his hand, and would wake him up when the night filled her with fear. Finally, he brought home a nightlight through which the name of their god shone, and from then on, she was never afraid. Even now, she writes, he's with me.

A toast, not just to mothers, but to the infinite love of grandparents.

More good news: only 3 more sleeps until this house is @#$# mine again. The tenants are out weekdays, and so, late afternoon, I sit on the kitchen sofa as always with glass of wine, computer, books, looking at my garden in blissful tranquillity. But then there's noise, and inexplicably, the kitchen behind me is flooded with Belgians speaking Flemish. Okay, there are only 3 of them, but it feels like a hoard, chopping and frying and chattering in their tongue. Surreal. So I flee back downstairs. Yesterday they sat on my deck, entertaining Flemish friends who'd come from the States for a look at Toronto and the lovely house and garden these 3 were lucky enough to rent. "Go away!" I mutter, in my less charitable moments. "Now!" I've forgotten the pleasure of depositing their cheques in my bank account.

If I could give them their money back and ask them to leave this instant, I would. Only 3 more sleeps.

Tonight, Anna and I are invited to a Mother's Day dinner at my son's restaurant. I say that as if he owns it, when in fact he has been a waiter there for 2 years. But he is in such command of the place that it feels like he does.

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