May 22, 2005
Fisherman's Daughters

My aunt turned 75 yesterday. I still can't quite get my head around it...she is strong, and full of life. Only when she broke her arm two years ago did she ever seem even slightly slowed down and somewhat mortal.

We're from fishing stock. My grandad was born on the Irish Sea (as the legend goes) and was fishing from before he was born. When he came here, he had a boat and his daughters often helped on the seas. His son, of course, was overseas in WWII. The above picture was taken around 1938. My Aunt, who turned 75, is the one on the far left. My Mom is the toddler sitting on her eldest sister's lap.

She's always been a bit rough around the edges. Tough exterior, but would give you the last penny she had if she thought it would help. She married at 17 to a wild, partying man who's mother had been shot and wounded in a saloon fight a few years before. She and my Uncle had 6 kids, and lost one to SIDS at 3 months old. My Uncle did become an alcoholic, but she loved him dearly. Never complained and taught us young how to make drinks watered down so he wouldn't know it. Like dipping your finger in the gin bottle and then lacing around the top of the glass so his taste would be of pure booze. When he was dying of cancer in 1995, she tended to him so he could go at home and ministered his medicines with the care of the greatest nurse. The wake was one of the best parties I think I'd ever been to and I think my Uncle would have been very proud.

When she fell down the stairs while carrying the laundry a couple years ago, she phoned my mom and said 'I broke my f*ckin' arm'. I don't think she would even know how to speak, if it wasn't her rather colourful vernacular. Turns out she had not only fallen down 12 concrete stairs, but had broken the upper part of her arm and had to shimmy to the phone which took her a good 45 minutes as she kept passing out. But she wasn't one to complain, and wouldn't mention that part, only that she was more worried that dinner was on the stove and she wouldn't be back from the hospital in time to fix it.

When we arrived at the hospital, we found her looking feisty and argumentative with a hospital gown draped over her splinted upper arm. As they couldn't put it on her properly, she was lying there fairly exposed, her clothes in tatters at her side. 'F*ckin' doctors. They're lettin' me sit here with my dairy's out'. That always makes me laugh. But she took her injury with surprising ease, learning to readapt to everything she did, and sewing new clothes for herself that would fit over the cast. She once casually mentioned that she had to sleep in the recliner as she couldn't lay down and that had been after 4 months. Never once did she ever complain or whine.

We had cake for her last night, and next weekend is a surprise party. We're working on getting a bunch of old pictures of her to put in a slideshow.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
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