A little glimpse into the past


I think about my parents a lot.  I think of the life I had when I was lucky enough to have them in my life, but rarely do I think much about the lives they led before they were married and had children.

Lately, I have been helping our local library with a very interesting project that they are creating to help commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday.  They are putting together a book with photographs and personal stories of how our senior residents came to live in our little town.  I have had the good fortune of interviewing a great number of these residents so I can write their stories.  Some of the people I have interviewed have spent their whole lives here and, as I have come to know, several of them remember my mother in her much younger days.

My mom’s side of the family have cottaged in our little village for generations.  She spent the best days of her childhood on the same shores of Lake Rosseau that I had the good fortune of growing up on at our family cottage.  During several of my interviews, I have been overjoyed with the words, “I remember your mom……” and the stories go on from there.

A project that began as a chance to tell the stories of our local residents has turned into a project that has allowed me to look into the life of my mother when she was a young girl and a teenager.  I was even told a story of my mother knitting one of our local residents a pair of blue socks with a yellow diamond and she even took the time to stitch an “M” in the diamond.  That story really hit home for me.  My mom was still knitting socks until she died.

What started as just a writing project has turned into a wonderful glimpse into my mother’s past and I am thankful, especially during the holidays, to know that little pieces of her live on in the memories of those around me.



Some trips down Memory Lane


I don’t profess to know much about history.  I spent more time trying to avert my eyes from my high school History teacher’s unpleasant gestures and I unfortunately did not absorb any of the assumed knowledge he had bestowed upon us.  Instead, I doodled, wrote poems and passed notes to my friends.  I narrowly escaped with a passing percentage from my tenth grade scholastic year because of the embarrassing grade I received from that History class but my outlook on the past has recently changed.

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I have been asked to help with a project for our local library.  They would like to create a book that details the photos and the memories of our senior residents, learn what brought them to Muskoka and what the area was like when they first arrived.  I knew I would enjoy the journey but I didn’t know how much I would love it until I did my first interview on Wednesday.

This area has been home to my family for many generations.  I have been fortunate to live here for most of my life and have many photos and stories of family members who walked these paths long before my grandparents were born.  It has been a part of  my soul for longer than I have been on this Earth and I now get to hear stories of how Muskoka has been the love of many other people’s lives.

My first interview was with a delightful 82-year-old woman who was born in Cork, Ireland.  She moved to England with her family after the war and bravely left the safety of her home to move to Canada with a friend when she was 23 years old.  As I listened to her detail the moments of her life, I became absorbed in her words as she described her passion for her early days as a cottager and subsequently as a summer resident.  Her words moved me.  I felt the same strong emotion she did as she described how she felt more than fifty years ago when she first came to the area.

Perhaps history is subjective.   The stories of our past may be told in different ways but they will always hold a special place in our heart.  I am looking forward to joining a few more of our long-time residents on their journey down memory lane.

Welcome to the party – who brought my past as my present?

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Bring the past, only if you’re going to build from it. ~ Domineco Estrada


I am a big fan of Criminal Minds.  It is one of the only shows I watch with any consistency.  It is an hour of television that does not make me want to change the channel and most episodes begin or end with an inspiring quote to preface or summarize the plot.  The above quote, from the show, gave me the kick I needed to get out of the rut I’ve been in lately.

I have not intentionally been dwelling in the past but snippets of my days-gone-by have been playing in my mind like frames from the old reel-to-reel movies.  They have maneuvered their way out of my subconscious and wormed their way deep into the recesses of my brain.  Fragments of those memories unexpectedly bubble to the surface and simmer long enough to permeate my continual thought process.

I am not ashamed of anything I have done in my past.  Those recollections have not been reintroduced to make me feel regret about any choices I have made.  They have merely reappeared to remind me of the lessons I have learned and to help me appreciate the wisdom I carry beneath my battle scars.  And though these trips down memory lane have been taken unwittingly, they have served to remind me of where I have been and where I prefer to never go again.  


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I have chosen not to bury my past but to use it as the foundation for the life I continue to build.  Those blocks of my lapsed memories serve as a strong support structure.  They ensure that my present and my future are ready to withstand any storm that comes my way by giving me a solid structure to lean on in times of doubt.  Those hidden gems of guidance will always serve as the backbone of my existence and the building blocks to my future.

A worthwhile journey

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Today my brother, sister-in-law and I spent the better part of the afternoon moving the remaining pieces of furniture from my mom’s house into their winter storage spot.  The house will be going on the market shortly and we need to store the rest of her belongings while we get her opinion and decide what to do with them.

Emptying the trinkets from the larger hutches had me looking over my shoulder a few times for the TV crew from the show Hoarders, but it was only the three of us and the overwhelming presence of nostalgia.  As each set of glasses or bowls was uncovered I was transported back to my youth.  It amazes me that a glass dish contains the power to bend time.  So many memories are locked in the tiny particles that make up those dishes and just holding them in my hands brought those moments rushing back.

Subtle whispers from past holiday meals escaped from a simple gravy boat.  Recollections of chocolate pudding with a graham wafer crust and whipped cream were etched into a set of glass bowls.  Hidden photographs spoke volumes as they escaped their incarceration in an old shoe box.

Each flashback was just as special and having my brother there to share them was time that I will treasure. Having the afternoon to stroll down memory lane was worth fending off the below zero temperatures as we loaded the trailer several times to empty a house that used to be a home.  And even though I don’t have room in my house for any new dishes, those things may find their way into my cupboards so I can listen to those voices from the past a few more times.