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.
Aunt Ada’s Opal March 27, 2010