Yesterday I heard two presenters say that Remembrance Day is not to be confused with Veteran’s Day. Armistice Day is on 11 November and is also known as Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. A two-minute silence is held at 11am to remember the people who have died in wars.
Like everyone else, I am disappointed that the Don Cherry fiasco stole so much from the highlights of a beautiful day remembering those soldiers in our families and in our Nation who offered the ultimate sacrifice in past wars, Afghanistan and because of selfless service.
I was really pleased about attending the commemoration at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium this year and taking in the various rituals, but indoors, while cozy warm. Last year, we headed to the cenotaph downtown and it got a bit cold at times, although it was also an amazing experience. Next year, the field of crosses.
The seats were assigned, as we arrived. This created a sense of calm and order. Beautiful music was provided by the HMCS Tecumseh Band along with Jeanette Embree, Detachment Commander, CF Recruiting Center, Director of Music, Royal Canadian Navy Reserve. What a lovely repertoire.
I thought about my Dad while singing this hymn. I used to sit next to Mom in the Protestant Chapel pews while Dad directed or sang in the choir. I felt them beside me yesterday…and I felt surrounded by my family, many who have served. My Great Uncle Joseph Gallant gave the ultimate sacrifice, as did my Great Grandfather John Moors. This hymn was a perfect one to bring everyone home to me.
While we were prompted to save our applause until the very end of the laying of the wreaths, two of our Veterans from the Colonel Belcher caused our hearts to stir and we broke into wild applause. I cried my face off at these points in the service, as well as during the Last Post. Our friend, Helena, laid a wreath on behalf of the Alberta Retired Teachers. We were very proud of her for representing us.
After the commemorative service, and as we were leaving, I noticed that Ralph MacLean, the 97 year old Veteran who had served with Canadians in Hong Kong in 1941. Please follow the link and listen to his story on the Memory Project. Through various circumstances and very quickly, I connected with Ralph’s son, daughter and grandson, author of Forgiveness, author Mark Sakamoto.
I won’t soon forget the kind hearts of Ralph’s family.
I had the opportunity to exchange quite a number of stories with Ralph and I feel that it was a huge blessing to meet him. I will be visiting him at the Colonel Belcher.
As I took my evening walk, slow around the circle because Max is ailing badly, I took in the beauty of the day, my friendships with Janet and Pat, my children, the freedoms I enjoy. I thought about my family and their huge military connections. I contemplated including their photographs here…but, I’m leaving the images of their faces and my research in my heart. I’ll leave it all up to peace…the sky…the river. I will always Remember.
The snow has been coming down steadily since last evening and this morning there was a thick blanket. It’s beautiful, but it is also a bit overwhelming as one anticipates the many months of darkness and cold.
The weekend, however, held many blessings. I spent the past months contacting people, media and organizations about the importance of recognizing that on September 28th each year, we are to remember and recognize over 100,000 children who were brought to Canada to serve as indentured servants across the nation. My great grandfather was one. This year marks 150 years since the arrival of the first of these children.
I really enjoy my friendships in this group, including Bruce, Hazel, Connie, Donna and Anna and really appreciate all of their hard work and their dedication. I am also grateful to my daughter, Erin, who attended but who also dragged chairs around, assisting where she could and Kelly, Hazel’s daughter, for her wonderful support in loading, displaying and just generally being helpful and included.
Five descendants shared their family narrative with the large group of people who came out on a dreary bad-weather day. Every generation was represented and questions were thoughtful and engaged the panel. There was lots of time for socializing and connecting with one another. A very special artifact for the group in Western Canada, of course, is the Memory Quilt that was lovingly constructed by Hazel.
As I drove home late in the afternoon, I felt grateful for the presentations and grateful for the people I worked with.
In the evening, I turned on my porch light, but unlike other nights, I took a moment to pause and think about the injustice that was perpetrated on so many innocents. I hope to, over time, help in educating the public about this part of Canada’s history.
The Beacons of Light, in recognition of 150 years included the lighting of the Calgary Tower and last night’s lighting of Reconciliation Bridge. Thanks to Bruce Skilling for his photograph of the bridge.
Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling
Photo Credit: Anna Webber
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Connie Falk
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Session Attendee
Photo Credit: Session Attendee
Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling
Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling
If you would like to be included in our contacts, have any questions at all or would like to suggest venues and activities, we’d love to hear from you. You may contact me through this blog or through the e mail connected to this blog. We also invite you to peruse our Facebook page, although our group is primarily made up of descendants living in the west. We are most agreeable to helping you with your research questions.
Finally, I will try to post Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s remarks.
Grand-mère is the formal French term for grandmother. It can be spelled with or without the hyphen. Grand-maman is slightly less formal, and there are several informal terms, including gra-mere, mémère, mémé and mamé. Mamie is also used by modern French families. Mamie is the endearment we gave to my great grandmother, Mathilde (Sugar) Arsenault.
Grand-père is the formal French term for grandfather. Grand-papa is slightly less formal, and there are several other informal terms, including pépère and papy or papi. Arrière-grand-père is the French term for great-grandfather. We knew my great grandfather, Gabriel Gallant, as Papie.
It’s Sunday. And finally, the temperatures are warming. I attended Mass this morning and participated in the Rite of Sending, as I have decided to sponsor a beautiful young woman in her decision to be confirmed in the Catholic faith and to partake in the most Holy Eucharist, this year at Easter Vigil. Later, we will gather at the Cathedral where Bishop William will receive the elect. It is a beautiful and important rite.
Honestly, life has been tremendously difficult these past days, weeks, months and even years, but through all of everything, I continue to be a person of hope. There have been some exceptional moments that have risen out of the struggle and for those moments and experiences, I am forever-grateful. Blessings come in the shape of love, through friends, family and kind strangers…this love expressed through food, visits and messages. It’s surprising how simple love is.
In your journey, you may find it a very difficult thing to reconcile….to reconcile with anything…memories, people, events. I think it’s almost more natural to slip toward bitterness, abandonment and rage…a downward slope is always easier, right? It takes some resilience, determination, strength and will to climb.
Every morning, I climb. I don’t think this was always the case. I have no cause to be stuck in the mire. My life, like your own, is a sparkle… it begins and it ends in a blink. There isn’t time or ability to shoulder the weight of bitterness and resentment. Nor is there time or ability to hang out with those who want to be angry, unloving or surly. Move toward love. Surround yourself with love.
One of the blessings of these recent days has been a re-connection with a maternal auntie and uncle. Through this re-connection, we have together, been able to work at building a common narrative and to put to rest parts of our common past. I feel that my mother’s loving heart has provided the way for this to happen.
My uncle went through an album of his and this morning, I was sent a photograph of my Mamie and Papie… my great grandparents. I had never seen this image before. I’m not embarrassed to say that I sat in front of my monitor and wept. I was so taken by the connection I felt to Prince Edward Island and my mother’s family. I hope that if you are family and reading this, that you will save this image to your own archives and treasure it.
I have such specific memories about these two. They are very sensory memories and those of my child self. Smell of wood fire. Potato pancakes. Crispy pork fried. Tobacco. Sound of kitchen voices. Clinking milk bottles. Do I remember Papie patting beats on his legs? Place… upstairs attic bedroom. Floor vents. Light. Mamie returning home from bingo. Collecting up metal placeholder chips in morning. Earl. Great Aunties. Stories. Laughter. Salt water. Ocean. Seaweed. Family. Furnishings. Wood stove. Mamie. Knees. Hugs. Being held. Feeling loved. Mom’s happiness. People calling this magical place, ‘the island’.
I’m grateful that this afternoon finds me so grounded in the memory of my mother. I love you, Mom.
This morning, at 11:00 on the 11th day of the 11th month…I will remember. I am forever-grateful for the service of my family members…some of them acknowledged here. I especially remember the 100th anniversary of the armistice and those who represented Canada in World War I, the Great War. Click on the individual images in order to enlarge.
Donning my orange shirt, I got Max out for a quick walk on city sidewalks, dropped him home to a delicious breakfast (yeah, right?) and hopped in the car for a road trip to Claresholm, Alberta. My friend-descendants of British Home Children were gathering for a display opportunity in the Claresholm Exhibition Hall and I really wanted to join them. Yesterday was the first National British Home Child Day and I felt very pleased for the recognition and the remembrances that were shared yesterday by descendants who had grown up with mystery, secrets and shame around their ancestry. I think that the disconnect from any roots at all is likely the most upsetting aspect of growing up in home child culture…very few children ever found solace in a relationship with siblings or Mom or Dad. There was a helplessness there, a disconnect and a sense of true abandonment, often in powerlessness against abuse of all sorts.
In Canada, so many years later, families are hard at work, trying to unearth unspoken histories and share narratives that have been revealed via contact with the people who continue to house the files and reports on our ancestral family. At a price and with great patience, piece by piece, we are all discovering who our people were, though most will discover that, at a point, the information will drop off. Never did our ancestors show up on a Canadian census unless they were working as domestics in very wealthy homes. I know that I have not found my great grandfather on any binding document between ages 13 and 21. Those eight years are gone, although the families under which he was employed are well-documented in the foot prints of time.
On a lighter note, I was so pleased to find Bruce and Connie, Hazel and John gathered before a beautiful display. Hazel worked very hard to establish our representation at the open house and I have much gratitude for her efforts and her lovely display. I appreciate that Bruce collected both Connie and John for the afternoon drive on such a cold and blustery day. And I thank Bruce for the lovely addition to our Western Canadian collection, the poster featuring our new logo. Excellent.
Although I have other photographs of my four friends, I enjoy the fact that John Vallance’s true personality is showing through here and that Connie is taking it all in. If any of you would like a more formal photograph for your files, just contact me.
At a point, Bruce, Connie and I went for a cup of tea in a neighbouring restaurant and we enjoyed a very yummy lunch. It was nice to catch up with Bruce and Connie. They are great people and I am so happy that they are in my life, with a common interest of family research and history. I also had the opportunity to wander both the exhibition hall and the museum. There is nothing like a focused wander through a museum, especially one with an RCAF display! I enjoyed conversations with two ‘hookers’ who produce amazing works in the tradition of East Coast hooking and a lady who descends from family in Norway. Very interesting stories and generous contributions!
When I pulled out of my parking spot to head home at 4:30, I could still hear the ringing of beautiful music coming out of the concert tent. Today was a perfect day and I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy another Alberta Culture Day.
Off the top…a great book recommendation made by Bill MacDonnell, Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama.
From the section of Streams of Consciousness Chapter 5…this preface by Gaston Bachelard.
“I was born in a country of brooks and rivers, in a corner of Champagne, called Le Vallage for the great number of its valleys. The most beautiful of its places for me was the hollow of a valley by the side of fresh water, in the shade of willows…My pleasure still is to follow the stream, to walk along its banks in the right direction, in the direction of the flowing water, the water that leads life towards the next village…Dreaming beside the river, I gave my imagination to the water, the green, clear water, the water that makes the meadows green. …The stream doesn’t have to be ours; the water doesn’t have to be ours. The anonymous water knows all my secrets. And the same memory issues from every spring.”
― Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter
These summarize my general sense of landscape and more specifically, place.
Just as I think that our narratives inhabit objects, and without materialism, contain our affections and memory, I believe that particular places do the same.
On Labour Day, my son and I headed to Magrath, Alberta to say good-bye to a house…my Auntie Ruth’s home…because on September 15, it will be possessed by a new family after all of these years. James and I listened to CBC radio programming all the way south to Lethbridge. It seems to me that a story on whistle blowers in places of employment kept us engaged for most of the journey. The miles, as is usual, went by quickly. Once traveling the 23 across from Claresholm, Barons was just around the corner and then, with coulees in sight, I felt as though I was home.
Rolling into Magrath, the first stop was the old house. My cousins have been sorting and downsizing and cleaning…a very difficult experience, as I recall from the days when my parents went through the same process. As I stepped into the house, all of the memories of childhood and adulthood rushed back to the surface. There’s just no stopping that particular experience. I snapped a few photographs…while Auntie Ruth had already moved…she was still absolutely present to my experience of memory and love.
Last week, my cousin wrote that he had found a package of negatives in among Ruth’s things…and much like I do at such discoveries, he set out and had them developed. Here, is a scan of one of those photographs. My parents, in 1954, brother John, a year old and one, a photograph of my Grandfather, John Moors, with his dog at Greg Lake.
“His use of architectural phenomenology lets the mind loose to make its way, always ready for what might emerge in the process. The house is ‘the topography of our intimate being’, both the repository of memory and the lodging of the soul – in many ways simply the space in our own heads. He offered no shortcuts or routes of avoidance, since ‘the phenomenologist has to pursue every image to the very end’.”
If one does not move carefully through a house/home, one might not capture these bits of magic or ephemera that remain silenced by time and circumstance. I’m grateful to my cousin who discovered those negatives, flattened amid the bric-a-brac.
Our footsteps echoed in the house, as James and I traveled room to room. And while memories flooded my walk, my son James had a completely different experience of place and quietly uttered the words, “This is so sad.”
I remember the front door always being open or unlocked. Family came and went.
My father asked me to take a photograph of the front door. Several times repaired or renovated, my father had recollection of an incident from his childhood in this part of the house. I’m publishing that recollection, here, as it was written.
“Well the problem is Kath this new door had the hole above it fixed. Anyway my dad and his buddies came home from hunting birds one day in Magrath Alberta . Of course they were half cut (as dad told me years later”if you are going to drink just drink good scotch and you will never have a hang over”. Well that day Dad left a shell in his single barrel 12 gauge shot gun. I being an inquisitive young lad wanted them all to know ( Mom and the whole family was in that little living room); anyway I lined up the duck flying above the door cocked the gun and pulled the trigger.. BAM you should have heard the screems and the shot about knocked me on my butt but there was a neat round hole firght through trim at the top of the door which appeared just seconds after a big guy way over 6 feet had walked in. Dad was the only one who got supreme heck for having a loaded gun in the house. Now I have bared my soul to all those interested.PS I was about 7 or so when this happened..”
I remember fried eggs and bacon cooking….the smell of toast freshly-popped. I remember my mother’s laughter in this kitchen. I will always remember where my Auntie sat.
The back room…I remember the ceiling being lined with cardboard egg cartons. I remember my cousins and drumming and laughter. I remember the door from this room out to the back, always open. I remember summer.
I remember Linda. I remember sleepovers. I remember lots of quilts and pillows.
I remember food supply.
Objects of the every day.
I remember the gardens…the lilies…the geraniums…the hanging baskets.
More than anything, I remember my Auntie sitting on the front porch.
From the house, James and I went for visits with both his Great Aunties…Ruth and then Eleanor. We are so blessed to have these women in our lives, as well as my Auntie Jackie and Auntie Mary. I lift up prayers for all…for their health and their safety and that we keep memories such as I enjoyed with my son, close to our hearts.
Just this morning, and the reason for this post, I interviewed Auntie Ruth over the telephone, about her home.
Back in early 1940s, my Gramma and Grampa moved to Magrath, mostly in an effort to help their young daughter, Ruth, fight the symptoms of asthma. The humid air in Ontario seemed to really irritate her breathing and my grandparents were willing to try anything.
The first home they lived in was rented from a Ukrainian family. I am in the process of researching their name. Water was manually pumped from a well on the property. There was an outhouse and bathing happened in the middle of the kitchen floor in a round tub. Auntie Ruth remembers the water being heated in a kettle on a wood/coal stove.
Magrath had two stores at the time, the Trading Company and Louis Stevenson’s store. There was a black smith shop on main street, as well as a show house. There were no sidewalks in the town.
When Ruth turned 16, she remembers that the family moved into a white stucco house, the very house that James and I visited on September 1 of this year. She remembers that Eleanor, Margaret and Johnny went off to school in the town, located where today’s school stands but, of course, a much smaller building. During the war, Ruth worked at one of the blanket-making machines in the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill. I’m posting a photograph of that particular mill here…it is not to be confused with the Woolen Mill that my grandfather opened up some years later.
Many contracts came in to the Magrath Golden Fleece Woolen Mill during World War II 1939-1945. My Auntie remembers working there.
A booklet published by the Magrath History and Museum Association and written by John Balderson, explains…
“When in full operation, the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill ran three 8 hour shifts, 24 hours a day. Twenty-five men and women were on each shift making seventy-five individuals in total. Two hundred and twenty five army blankets were made each day using 1,000,000 lbs of wool each year.”
Whenever my Auntie speaks about that time, she mentions the Canadians of Japanese descent who shared her machines with her. She also talks about the shame she feels at how they were treated. She explained to me this morning that eight Japanese-Canadian women were pulled off the Sugar Beet fields, to work in the mill. They were all University educated and lovely, however, shy women. Auntie Ruth said that their housing was comprised of sheds lined up on the far edge of town, rows and rows of sheds where these beautiful and hard-working people were treated as prisoners-of-war. My Auntie will never forget the women she worked with on her shifts.
In terms of the house, my Auntie remembers very good and also, difficult times. She dated my Uncle Roy for four months when they got married and moved to Lethbridge, Uncle Roy worked for Western Drilling. Ruth was 20 at the time. Auntie Ruth will always tell you that the Korean War finished off her husband. And all these years later, having read about the war and discovered the exposure these soldiers had to Mustard Agent and Lewisite as well as the bizarre view of PTSD at the time and the irresponsible treatment of these veterans, it is absolutely no wonder that he and his family, struggled upon his return.
I remember vacation days in both Magrath (at my Auntie Ruth’s and at my Grandparent’s place in front of the mill) and Raymond (at my Auntie Eleanor and Uncle Ted’s place). In fact, I regret that I didn’t have the chance to grieve the farmhouse in Raymond like I did this house. I remember much family laughter. I remember the smell of a slow-cooked blade roast in the oven. I remember my Grandmother’s laughter. I remember the smell of wool.
This past weekend, I said good-bye to a place. That does not mean that it does not remain with me…always.
I continue to be blessed by individuals who somehow land upon a post of mine now-and- again, (quite often, recently), as it relates to family. I have often come across old photographs, military medals and treasures in second-hand shops and thought to myself, “I hope that our family treasures are always cherished and remain with our families, somehow.” Well, in this world of digital imaging, more and more, photographs of our loved ones surface and just as I have shared with others…others share with me.
I am hoping that in the morning, my family members are surprised by these recent gifts from a man who I will simply refer to as Phil.
Yesterday’s e mail, in my inbox, began like this…
“I’ve known for years that your grandparents John & Florence were friends with my grandparents, Percy Hayes (1899-1979) and Mary Hayes (nee Severs, 1909-1996) of Oshawa, Ont. I’m afraid I don’t know the nature of their friendship. Percy worked most of his life at GM. I grew up just up the road from them, my Dad being their oldest son Cliff Hayes (b.1929). I recall being told that your grandpa had moved to Magrath to run the woolen mill, being a strategic industry during WWII.
I know Mom & Dad (can’t recall if ‘Granny’ was with them) stopped in Magrath years ago on a trip. I can’t recall if they connected with anyone though. I seem to recall Dad saying there weren’t any/many Moors left there…”
Phil began by sharing two photographs, along with their annotations. I immediately forwarded the e mail to my father and he very shortly responded via Skype, sharing stories about his three oldest sisters and the three gents that they dated…all horse-riding cowboys. Off they would go for their rides together, evenings, in the herd pastures of McIntyre Ranch. *OOPS! A mistake…Dad has sent me corrections, here.
“It was not Mcintyre ranch herd pasture. It was the Magrath herd pasture where all our cows were pastured every day !!! Rob worked at the ranch as I recall ‘but even that may be wrong cause we all owned horses in Magrath and Raymond in those days even me . Love you big good work.”
It is an amazing thing, this lovely collection featuring my aunties. Beautiful Margaret is now passed on, but Auntie Eleanor just enjoyed her 90th birthday…as did Auntie Ruth, a couple of years ago. Auntie Mary, the youngest, was not to be excluded from this set. Also featured, my Gramma Florence Moors, my Great Auntie Caroline; her son, Orval who flew with the Canadian Navy and would not have lived much beyond these two photographs, having served on the battleship, HMCS Magnificent, (was a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier that served the Royal Canadian Navy from 1948–1957.) meeting an early demise when the plane he was flying, crashed. His little sister, Joan, is also present in one of the photographs.
Based on the annotations, it seems likely that Auntie Ruth sent some of these archives…some might have been mailed, along with letters, by my Gramma Moors to these friends in the east.
I am amazed by the generous hearts of people who take the time to scan and forward such treasures on to me. I do not take any of this for granted.
Family, do enjoy and copy and save these to your own archives. I love you all. Thank you, Phil, for taking this time.
Auntie Ruth with Rob Gorman
Eleanor and Bob
Margaret and Jay Passey
Front: Joan Gamelin Back Left to Right: Auntie Caroline, her son, Stanley Orval Gamelin and Gramma Florence Moors
Dolly, Orval and Auntie Ruth
And, here’s dear little Mary Jane.
Mary Jane Moors
Today, I enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Blackfoot Diner with Phil and his wife, Cindy, and they generously gave me the original photographs that you see above. I am blessed.
We never stopped gabbing the entire time! I got a little emotional when I gave them my good-bye hug. Can you imagine what our grandparents might have thought?
This is a very brief post that serves only to express gratitude for the recent and generous connections I have made related to my Great Grandfather John Moors (1876 – 1918). What a wonderful thing it is to have cousins discover my writings and research and to respond! These Paternal relations include Charlene, Jacqueline and now, James. Thank you, for your connection. For about 15 years, I’ve been fanatically engaged in research on both my mother and father’s sides of the family.
Some would ask, “Why does it matter?…or… “What does it all mean, anyway?”…but, there is something innate within me that wants to know who my people are. It is a weakness.
Long-story-short, I have always looked for a photograph of my Dad’s Grandfather, in uniform. Every Remembrance Day, I was disappointed that I had only the image of his wedding day. He died and is buried in Etaples, France. He was lying in General Canada Hospital #51, when during the night, a bombing raid orchestrated by the Germans, decimated most of the location and killed John Moors. I’ve thought that he should be remembered. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy about having the wedding photograph…but, imagine my excitement when, randomly, Charlene sent a photograph over the internet from her home to mine…and to, in a flash, have my Great Grandfather’s visage appear face-to-face with me on a screen in 2018. GAHHHHH!
Enough said…first, our family’s single archive up until now…my Great Grandmother Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors in the center front and my Great Grandfather John Moors back right.
I took this photograph of a photograph that my Auntie Eleanor had hanging in her home. When it comes to gathering family history, I’m not super fussy about archival quality of images. It’s a simple blessing to have moments of history sustained and easily available to as many family members as is possible and as quickly as possible. I think I’ve written about this before…that ‘in the day’ how would family members even include one another in these histories? We are sooo blessed!
Here he is! My Great Grandfather! What a handsome man! My father said he had striking red hair, much like my own Grandfather Moors did and now, my own beautiful daughter.
I’m hoping that Betty Silver’s daughter has an opportunity to see this as I know that she was on the look out for the very same image, saying (as other relations remembered) that a large framed photograph of John in uniform hung in the family dining room.
Second to this, Charlene shared what looks like a younger image of this John.
He looked dapper. I try to imagine as I look at this image, that here is captured the 13 year old who came by ship, on his own…a British Home Child who worked very hard on at least three farm placements including Elora and two outside of Guelph. This was likely taken during his Hamilton days.
And finally, a family photograph including my own Grandfather John Moors, his young brother Robert (Bob), his sister, Grace and his mother, Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors. Mary Eleanor had striking dark eyes and hair…I see a lot of my father in her. This would have been taken some time after the passing of their father and husband John Moors.
And finally, something that I just received tonight…icing on the cake! My first cousin once-removed, James, has provided photographs of front and back of John’s military medal. I’m so grateful that unlike so many families, this object has been cared for and cherished so that now, so many years later, all can enjoy. Blessings on my family for their generous work. My cousin, Teddy Witbeck, has been doing a remarkable job working on our family tree on Family Search. As we continue to piece together our history, his work can be accessed. Trust me, you will have a great head start that way!
Love you all.
I’ve written away and had much support attaining John’s military record…this medal assignment was included there.
Recently, like everyone else, I’ve been swept up in more fear and anger than usual because of the shifting tides of political, economic and philosophical posturing the world over. We try, surrounded by the bombardment of ideas, reactions and media, to sort and sift things out, but sometimes, regardless of our efforts, cave to the tumult.
I was feeling the darkness of our times.
It seemed that last evening, there was a shift of this dark into light, as my dear cousin living in Utah, sent me a message to give him a call. He’s known for a long time that I have a big heart for family research, and a desire to find the pieces of our history, however narrative in nature and lacking in the documentation required to make real sense. He and I, both, have worked on our paternal side for a very long time, in our own ways, if you count up all of the years between us.
I weep this morning, as I type here, about the lovely conversation shared between Dr. Ted (our name of affection for him) and myself. Ted lead me through some of his research on our family. It was like bags of sweets laid out before me. (Remember that feeling as a child?) He guided me patiently, while the both of us logged on to a family ancestral site…this is a fan chart…click on person…click on tree…this is who this person was…and this one…here is the document…And so it went! Any of you who do this sort of work know how generous this gesture of love is. My grandfather, John Moors, would be so pleased. My father, John Moors, will be, when he reads this. Blessed! I love you, Ted! And I will pour over every detail bit by bit and so much will be revealed to me!
This morning, I decided to continue to focus on the unbelievable possibility of the positive. Rolling out of bed, I stepped into my slippers and shuffled upstairs to go through my morning rituals. As a single woman, I typically do a day’s dishes in the evening, later than you choose, I’m sure, but, just the way I do things. Last evening, I didn’t. I expected to bury my hands and arms into warm sudsy water while the coffee maker burbled. I like doing these things, although when I had a partner, I was over the moon about having a cup of coffee prepared for me and delivered to the sofa, while I either read the paper or eased into the day. Rituals change and I have become very happy about treating myself to those tender gestures of support and kindness.
I woke to a note on my kitchen counter.
do when I come
My adult daughter and a gesture of love…makes everything feel different, doesn’t it? When someone does you a kindness? Little effort, but a whole spin that takes you to a place of reassurance and gratitude. Thank you, Cayley.
I opened up Twitter while I sipped on this first hot cup of coffee. This, after turning on the Tallest Man on Earth. (My cousin Peter finally showed me how to connect to those lovely speakers over there, with Bluetooth).
My friend, Wendy, had posted this…and I felt so grateful. Something about me? Really? The artist? And the title of the piece, STABILITY! Thank you, Wendy!
I’m feeling that these three gestures of love are a small smattering that represent the possibilities that are available to me today, these and the warm nuzzle of my Max Man pushing up against my thigh, here at the computer desk. “Let’s go, Mom! Let’s walk!” Today, let’s all look for the gestures of love in our lives and look away from the natural draw to worry and sadness that pull at our heart strings these days, often issues that we have no control over. Let’s simply do what we can, with a real focus of what are the blessings of our lives. Create!
The topic, Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions, really inspired me and I was thrilled that I would have opportunity to hear Margaret Atwood speak as I find her very entertaining, closely linked to family and very very smart.
At home, I shot about loading easel, panel and STUFF into the car. At the U of C, I was met, early, by Allan Rosales who made the invitation for me to submit my artistic intention a week earlier. Allan was helpful and very gracious. I also met Zareen and friend, from the University visual arts department, as they displayed a beautiful art exhibit based on compassion. It wasn’t long and I was settled alongside artists Mark Vazquez-Mackay and Rebecca Zai. As the day opened up, Mark seemed to be painting the various layers and facets of compassion and his piece was breath taking. Rebecca was working from a photo reference that she had taken while on one of her international travels, a person demonstrating care for the ordinary street cats of his village. Again, a beautiful painting!
Photo Credit: Allan Rosales painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016
Hmmm…doesn’t seem I have a completed painting by Rebecca in my photo archives. I’ll grab one and post later.
It was a blessing day, as it revealed itself. I thought it was very gracious of both Shane and Graham to come and introduce themselves and chat a little about art and life. While my painting was not completed by end of day, there were a lot of different feelings that I moved through in the process and I was very excited to begin the journey of painting a body of work based on British Home Children that I’ve been researching for probably, WAY TOO LONG. I interviewed descendant, Janet Fair, such a long time ago. Her grandfather, Sidney Emms Prodgers, was about to become my very first subject.
Red underpinnings…the pain of the stories. Gold…elevating the experiences of these lost/forgotten/abandoned children.
Application of Collage bits to the panel…S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada…facility where Sidney was surrendered as a baby, maps.
The complete biography written in gold…information received via electronic mail from descendant, Janet Fair
Photo Credit: Allan Rosales
Photo Credit: Allan Rosales
Photo Credit: Waqas (Rebecca….last name?)
Home! I’ll take Sidney into the studio to complete…so happy with the process!
I was grateful to hear Margaret Atwood’s talk on Compassion…the humour woven throughout, colourful experiences of nurses and health care providers, historically, leading up to contemporary issues, as well. I thought a lot about my sister as I listened. I’m grateful for Valerie Jean Fiset, more than she will probably ever know. She has had a most inspiring journey and I am so proud of her. I likely should have brought along some of my Atwood books for signatures…I’m not surprised that I forgot.
Another blessing during the course of the day was to have a visit with a dear friend, Dr. Rita Irwin. Our friendship began while we both achieved our B. Ed degrees at the University of Lethbridge. She wandered over to my location, along with three of her witty and smart friends, and had a short but amazing visit. Another strong and accomplished woman; I simply loved our shared big hugs and the familiar ring of Rita’s voice and laughter.