I ended up thinking about this place today. I sat with my children, as we do on Sundays, ate a meal and shared stories and as they left and I find myself alone at the table, I feel a certain sadness for the passage of time. Sundays with Gramma meant a blade roast, cooked slowly, all day long. Sundays meant cartoons with Grampa on the sofa. I’m grateful for my family and the memory of places that remain in my heart. If you are in my family and have a photo of yourself on this front step, please forward it to me, so that I may include it here.
They lived off of the front of a woolen mill, the only one in all of Western Canada. The evening we arrived at the Magrath Wool, Card and Spinning Mill, was the first time I had ever met my grandparents. It was a one bedroom apartment with a curtain strung for a bedroom door. To the right of the front door was a small office with papers and invoices heaped high on a huge oak desk. Some old black and white photographs were pinned to the bulletin board.
To the left, a living room opened up, with a sofa set before a half wall that was easily called the Wiley Coyote-Couch because every evening after work, Grampa would sit for the cartoons with as many grandchildren as possible nestled around and about him. The half-wall revealed on the other side, the kitchen where most of the visiting would happen. My Gramma was the nucleus of this portion of the home. I still remember her, without dentures, eating a slice of white bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with white sugar. The sound of her laughter and the appearance of her crinkled face stay with me.
Deep into the living room was a second sofa, this one was a pull-out bed. My parents would sleep there. Beside the sheers on the living room window, grew a huge Christmas cactus, dust woven in and out of its myriad of branches. There was a small electric organ in front of the same large picture window and Gramma would play Aura Lee and Going Home and make my father weep.
The evening we arrived, Gramma met us all at the front door, squealing. It seemed my father held onto her forever. She had one of those cover-up aprons on, more like a duster…it was covered in golden flowers and was as soft as can be. Grampa was called in from the mill…Gramma called him, lovingly, Jack. Whenever he made his way into the kitchen from the mill, his first gesture was to lift his suspenders up and over his big shoulders. When he smiled his eyes always filled with tears, it was just the way it was. He smelled of this wonderful scent of raw wool and wore little pieces of grey and white fluff in his hair and on his clothing. I loved these two with my whole heart.
The sight of my grandparents for the first time, was indeed, a little taste of heaven. Having lived on the move so much, it was those memories that I would grow to hold onto and keep in the treasure box of my soul.