Homebodies - family ties


Rita Friesen
The Neepawa Banner

A cousin from the west coast was visiting in Southern Manitoba and I was invited to join several family members first in Morden and then to Winkler, for a sit down supper. Caring deeply for my two remaining paternal aunties, and willing to reconnect with cousins, I scheduled my day and headed south.

We first met at Oldies But Goodies, an antique shop Bevan loves and cares for. Sadly, I recognize all the memorabilia! I enjoyed viewing the glass table lamps, the collectable coloured glass dishes, the aged and ancient travelling trunks and sundry side tables. I was intrigued by the stained glass window collection and once again vowed to have mine restored (That’s been a vow for a while). More family members joined and we sat around exchanging chit-chat, inhaling coffee and swapping family stories.
Crossing the back street, we rested at the one aunt’s home. While some rested, Aunt M and I spoke of deep and wondrous things. Her husband died just months before Ed and so we explored our growth through the dark times, our determination and courage to continue living each day. Aunt M had tried living in a 55 plus complex but, at 86, found it was too filled with old folks. She loves her condo and has resumed substitute teaching in the public school - music is her specialty but she holds her own wherever-- and volunteers. Not yet ready to step across her street and take in activities at the Senior’s Drop In, or the shared meals, but aware they are available when she needs them, not now. To gently wake the ones who were resting, she pounded out a rousing Vivaldi selection on her well used and beloved piano. It worked, they woke.
My other aunt, Aunt M the younger, turns 81 this summer. Half the year she and her husband run a Bed and Breakfast on Runaway Bay in Jamaica. While there they work closely with a church; providing hot lunches; sporting equipment and opportunities and education. Each summer home they collect soccer shoes, books and anything they can find that would be useful at thrift stores and yard sales, and my uncle crates them and sends them ‘home’. Aunt M the younger, is a mere 10 years older than I and we are close friends, exchanging phone calls and visits.
The visit was going great. We now gathered at a cousin’s home in Winkler. Eight of us around a table laden with goodness. It is our custom to sing our table grace. I asked for “Be Present at our Table, Lord”, longing to hear the wondrous four-part harmony. As the voices swelled and filled my being, my eyes sprung a leak and my voice stilled. I sat there, surrounded by family that loves me, inspires me and supports me and now I simply allowed the music to carry me. I ached to once again hear Ed’s voice contributing to the hymn of thanks and invocation. I gave thanks for the memories and all my tomorrows.