Sunday, April 18, 2010

A little family history

My Aunt Corrinne (I have no idea if that is the correct spelling, I think maybe not) has a photo album with some photos of my grandparents and her husband and other family members. A lot of photos of her family as well, but I don't know any of them. Anyway, the photos of my grandparents were interesting.

There was a great one of Grandma when she was a young woman, in a swim dress standing in water and grinning like the notorious cat. She looks so gay! Very overdressed by modern standards though.

Another one showed Grandad and Grandma as a young couple, standing on the bow of a small sailboat (he is standing, she's sitting I think). He is tall and skinny with long-ish hair combed back, and this look on his face that reminds me of Isaac.

Whenever people would say Isaac looks like me---which isn't very often---I never quite saw it, to me he looks a lot more like his father than like me. But that photo of Grandad as a young man knocked me out, there's a look about him that is so Isaac. A kind of defiant half-smiling "I dare you" look.

There was another photo of Grandad in a top hat, looking very Churchillian. Every inch the successful businessman. Or successful cellist.

Grandad ran away from home at age 13/14 to join the circus. He went to Chicago where he learned a trade in the printing business and came back to Toronto some years later and immediately picked up a good job thanks to the his Chicago training. Although unschooled, he was smart and inventive. He was also an accomplished cellist, playing with a variety of bands and orchestras, and for Jewish weddings. During the depression he worked several jobs and his family fared quite well during those hard times, thanks to his many skills and likeability. He was even able to buy a small cottage on Balsam Lake, which all of his kids remembered fondly, and my parents met there.

Grandad worked at the same company that first hired him when he returned to Toronto until he retired at 65; he had plans for retirement vacations in Florida, but died suddenly in a drugstore only weeks after he retired. My own father took early retirement because he greatly feared the same early demise; he wanted to get in some retirement time before fate took him out. He managed a good 16 years in retirement, dying at age 76. Those 16 years were spent at Balsam Lake, just down the way from his father's old cottage, and I think they were among the very best years of his life.

Aunt Ruthe died this winter at age 82, so far she is the longest-lived of the family. When Peter and I were visiting Uncle Bill in the nursing home, I joked with him that he needed to live at least 2 more years to beat her record, he is now 80. I think he stands a good chance of doing that.

Bill had a stroke at age 70 that left him partially paralyzed. He cannot live at home because he and his wife cannot manage his care. It is kind of sad that he is mentally still very together, but his body just doesn't get him around as we would all like. He also needs to sleep a lot, he just doesn't have a lot of energy anymore. But he reads voraciously.

The nursing home he is in is a good one, and only a few minutes drive from his home where his wife, my Aunt Corrinne, still lives. She comes by every day, knows all the staff by first name and also many of the other residents. The home is set in a very pleasant rural location, and the atmosphere there is generally relaxed and friendly. There always seem to be plenty of staff bustling in the halls, and residents everywhere, in the large bright dining room, smaller gathering rooms and in the wide hallways. In the summer you see lots of people outdoors as well, the property is maintained in a park-like manner with many trees and benches.

Aunt Corrinne says she told their kids that when the time comes they are to put her in that nursing home, she is very happy with it.

The photos are of a pair of osprey nesting near Aunt Corrinne's home, she took us to see the nest. If you look closely at the fourth photo, the one of the osprey flying away from the nest, you can see it is holding something---probably a fish---in its talons. When a bald eagle carries a fish in its talons, it holds it at right angles to the direction of flight, but an osprey holds it in the same direction, making it more aerodynamic.


Wisewebwoman said...

The ospreys are back here again, too Annie, extraordinary sight. I hope to see the Gannets and the murrs this upcoming weekend.
Interesting family stories. I'm always intrigued by these women visiting their 'homed' men, I have women friends who do this. But if it is the woman who is 'homed' the men tend to move on after a while.
My friend Laura visited her husband every day for 10 years until he died.

Barbara Anne said...

I loved reading about your family! It's strange to me to imagine my grandparents having daily lives as I do, but of course, they did. I found a photo of my grandmother standing with two members of the garden club. She's so short when compared to the friends who are beside her! I'm just 5'1" tall so wonder if I look short? I don't feel short.

My older son looks much like my father and it is so wonderful to get a glimpse of my dad occasionally.

My aunt got Alzheimer's when she was just 58 and by the time she was 66, she was no longer safe at home. My uncle visited her every day and had lunch with her, helped as he could, and was friends with everyone at the nursing home.


Annie said...

Oh WWW, I love the ospreys! Such cool birds.

Barbara Anne, I remember as a teenager my Aunt Ruthe referring to "us short women", meaning her and me, and that came as a shock to me. I never considered myself short either, until she said that. Sigh.