Great Aunt Ada was my maternal grandmother’s sister. She’s another strong female figure that features prominently in my family history, although I never really knew her. My Nana, Leona, grew up on the Prairies with a dozen siblings. I can tell from her papers and photo albums that I have – and a few memories – that she kept in touch with everyone as they grew older, but it always seemed as though she had a special bond with Ada. Both she and my grandmother trained as nurses in Toronto; I often thought of them exploring the city while I lived there, wondering where they might have gone for brunch or out dancing. Ada served during World War II, had a long-distance love affair with a Jewish man from Montreal that never ended with them living happily ever after, and spent her final years as she did her first, living with her brother on a farm in Saskatchewan. I guess I see her as someone who struggled between two personalities – a sophisticated city woman with an independent life, and a woman with a fierce loyalty to her family and her roots. I’m not sure if she felt these personalities clashed or if she found a way to combine them; I hope the latter. I’ve been to what I think is the property my grandmother, Ada and their siblings grew up on; it’s a long way from nursing in the war or being in love in Montreal. I wish I could ask Ada what it was about that place that drew her back; I think that’s where the core of her strength lay.
A Grandmother’s Legacy March 4, 2010
My paternal grandmother turned 90 this year – and what a celebration of life it was! It’s incredible to see the number of lives one person can touch. I’ve never felt overly close to my grandmother – she’s got more than a dozen kids and more than three dozen grandkids and great-grandkids, so there wasn’t a lot of one-on-one time. But of all the branches on my family tree, I think hers is the one that influences me most today. She’s a strong willed woman, who left her home on the top of a mountain in Cape Breton in her teens to head to the ‘Boston States’ to work & send money home. She returned home to marry a much older man not of her faith – not an easy step to take, even for love, in Victoria County in 1940. That desire to make her own way stands out in my mind, always. So does the virtue she instilled in her children, which has been passed on to her grandchildren – to make a difference in one’s community. She’s still volunteering at the seniors home where she now lives, she’s helped shape the local museum, school board and political landscape, and she’s raised a family that comes together whenever someone needs a hand – or needs a celebration! (Can’t wait to see so many of the Dan Rory’s this summer at our wedding.) Grammie won’t be at our celebration this summer, but this brooch that she had for her first suit when she went to the United States as a teenager, will be in my hands – and will be cherished forever. Thank you for everything, Grammie.