|Written by Lucy, my grandmother. [1913-1985]|
Just a few days ago I was thinking about my cousin Jo and then what happens? A letter in the mail. I haven't corresponded with her for at least five years, maybe more. We live so far away from each other. She's a terrific person: kind and funny and supportive and empathetic and one of those people who conspires to make others happy. Including me. (I hope I've done the same for her a few times.) Jo is a tiny blonde with curly hair and a bottomless heart. Our Grandma Stewart died when we were still kids and even though I've never told her this, Jo always reminds me of our shared grandmother so when she sent me our grandmother's written history it seemed especially appropriate.
I never saw my grandmother stand. The entire time I knew her she was stricken with multiple sclerosis and wheel-chair bound. My first memory of her is in front of the TV, me on the floor, her in the wheelchair, Grover debating with Cookie Monster.
Before the M.S. changed her life so drastically, I knew she was an artist but Jo's gift taught me things I didn't know. Most astonishing to me is that she wanted to be a writer but all of it ambushed me. Here are some of her words:
"I was born in the Markinch area (a Scottish settlement in Saskatchewan) on February 25, 1913 in the biggest snowstorm that year. There was a lot of excitement about my birth because there were twins. First a little boy was born. The little boy was dead. Mom and Dad were not expecting me. When I came along, all four pounds of me, Aunt Lucie said, 'what are you going to do with that wee little doll? Why, she can sit in my hand!'
Mom smiled and said, 'I'll wrap her in a blanket first and then a pillow, so she's an armful.'
Aunt Lucie gave me my first bath while Mom shed a few tears for the dead little boy...when Dad returned a couple of days later from Regina, there I was. The baby boy had been put out in snow. Dad cried, as he hated to have to bury the baby. Aunt Lucie cried too. She suggested Mom and Dad call me after her so they named me Lucy."
I knew none of this. Not that she was a twin. Not how she came to be Lucy. Not even her birthday. Reading the 39 page document and the attached news articles was like discovering a room in the attic, like opening a place in my life that had been there all along but I didn't even know I'd been living with it. Thanks Jo.