No, not me, silly! Myself, I am quite content with singlehood, as of yet; it’s Ruby that told me this story, and isn’t it high time for another one from our favourite Little Old LandLady?
Yes. Yes, it is…
We were watching a ball game… the Jays were playing; Ruby’s favourite team, and for once they were actually winning while I was watching, which is unusual, because I generally jinx them into doing stupid things that cause them to lose the game…
During a lull, Ruby started to talk – took me a bit to realize she was speaking to me and not the umpire – my first clue should have been that she didn’t start the sentence with, “Idiot!!” (Ruby rarely calls me that).
“Remind me to tell you a story when we go back to the kitchen…”
Me: “Oooh! What kind of story?”
“It’s a cute story. Funny, but cute, I think.”
Me: “Yeah? Is it about you?”
“No. Shhhh, now!”
So, I had to shhh for about 15 minutes. I got up to get another cup of coffee. Ruby doesn’t drink coffee in her living room. She says she forgets about it, and it gets cold. Usually by the time she gets her coffee on baseball nights, there’s only enough for a 1/2 cup left, but she doesn’t seem to mind…
By the time I’d jinxed the Jays badly enough for Ruby to give up on them, I was wired on caffeine and worked up about the upcoming story…
Me: “So, give it up.”
Ruby laughed. “Well, like I say, it’s funny, but it’s cute. *I* think it’s cute, anyway…”
And then, of course, she took a long pause while she sloooooowly wandered around her kitchen, sloooooowly getting cream for her coffee, and sloooooowly adding the sweetener (after first discovering that her little sweetener container needed to be refilled and sloooooowly refilling it), and then sloooooowly stirring it all up…. I was ready to strangle her before she finally started to talk.
“Have you met my niece, Carol, yet?”
Me: “No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, Carol has a friend that lives in the middle of the bush somewhere down in Southern Ontario, I don’t know where for sure, but she doesn’t live there all year ’round, anymore. She comes and stays at Carol’s place in the winter. Her name is Dahlia.
And last winter, Dahlia got using the internet, and got herself into one of those chat rooms…”
Now, as we all know, Ruby does not like or trust the internet, and I was really surprised that she actually knew what a chat room was at all. So I waited for her to start shaking her head and talking about how Carol’s friend got herself into something she shouldn’t have, and wondered how this story was going to turn out funny or cute.
“And, of course, she met this guy…” Ruby chuckled again, and stirred her coffee some more, making me wait it out.
Ruby laughed out loud. “I was thinking the same thing, when I heard about it! I guess she started chatting with this fella, and after awhile, he was the only fella she was chatting with… His name was George. Well, you can guess where this is going, can’t you?”
Me: “Yes, I can. She fell in love and ran off with him, didn’t she? Did he take her for her cabin in the woods and she ended up destitute?”
“Now, don’t go gettin’ ahead of me; you’ll ruin the story!”
So I shut up again.
“So, Dahlia and this fella started talking about meeting up, and I guess that’s when Dahlia got a little nervous about what she was doing, and she talked to Carol about it.
Carol read all the letters, or what-you-callems that they’d sent back and forth so far, and she told Dahlia that the fella seemed like he was on the up and up, but then again, who knows for sure? So, Dahlia decided to stick to chatting with him for a bit longer until she knew a little more.
After awhile, though, she decided to take a chance and meet with the guy. Carol said that Dahlia could tell him her address…”
Me: “WHAT?! You’re not SERIOUS!! OH. MY. GOD.”
Ruby laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
“That’s about what *I* said! Now, let me finish the story!
So, they set up a date and time that this George-fella was gonna come to town and visit Dahlia, and Dahlia got more and more nervous as the day got closer. If I’d been Carol, *I* woulda been the one that was nervous-”
Me: “Yeah, me too!”
“-but Carol didn’t let on that she was when she told me this, anyway.
So, anyway, the day comes, and Dahlia was so worked up that she darn near hit the ceiling when the doorbell rang. So it was Carol that answered the door.
And she took one look at the fella standing there, and said, ‘GEORGIE!! What are you doing in town?!’
It was my nephew, George, Carol’s cousin, standing there! At first, Carol didn’t put two and two together, figuring Georgie had just come to visit ‘cuz he happened to be in town… but, no, it turned out that OUR Georgie was DAHLIA’S George all along!
Me: “So did they hate each other?”
“NO, they didn’t hate each other! They got along just fine, and as far as I know, they’re still seeing one another. Turned into quite the match, I believe.”
Me: “Oh. So, then, he didn’t take her for her cabin in the woods and she ended up destitute?
“NO! Now you be nice, or I won’t let you blog this one!”
Random Song-for-the-Day: “Obla Di Obla Da” – The Beatles
I found this bear claw in a box full of little trinkets and treasures in my father’s closet nearly a year ago. It was in the same box with his pocket watch, along with some other neat stuff.
This was during my Walk-About days, when I would hoof it all the way across town once a week, to see my parents at The Old-Age Home, have a visit, a meal and a story, and then hoof it all the way back. I had a tight ass, then, dammit. Not even a year ago. Man, things change fast.
I must apologize to the memory of my Great Aunt Emma, for this horrible photo of her painting. It’s a water-colour, framed behind glass, hanging in an awkward niche in my parents’ small space. To get the shot at all, I had to jam myself between the fake gas fireplace and the stereo stand, straddling something or other – it might have been a speaker; I don’t remember. I imagine Emma, if she could somehow see them, would marvel at both the fireplace and the electronics in the stand, not to mention the annoying blinds that caused me problems with the reflection shining on her painting, 70-odd years after her death.
The knight in the painting is Emma’s depiction of a Crusader, having his sword blessed before setting off to convert the heathenish sinners into unwavering faith in a God they’d never heard of.
And if you can’t convert ’em, hell – run ’em through.
When I was little, I used to stare at Emma’s painting for hours at a time. I thought, then, that it was Joan of Arc. I used to imagine that maybe Emma felt a little like Joan: misunderstood… ostracized… martyred. Well… “martyred”, I guess, came later for Emma.
She was my mother’s father’s sister, one of three. As you can see, Emma was an artistic soul, at a time and in a place where that was unusual. The time was the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, and the place was a teeny-tiny farming community on the Manitoulin Island – a community of hard-working, God-fearing, good people. “Haweaters”, they still proudly call themselves, and I’m just as proud to be descended from them.
Emma was a “difficult” girl. She was not exactly… dependable. Her moods were sometimes… erratic. Her actions often confused people.
Sometimes, she could be extremely morose. Depressed. Her family worried over her. At other times, she became violently angry, and frightened them. There were days that she was giddy, and loud, or just plain “odd”. There were also days, and weeks, and probably whole months at a stretch that she was just plain “Emma, herself”, and they would be relieved and nervous at the same time, wondering which Emma would be there next, and hoping by some miracle that her “fits” had passed for good this time.
My mother believes, now, that Emma might have had Bi-Polar Disorder, or what at one time was called Manic Depression. I think my mother might be right, but that was an unheard-of condition way back then. And I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea where Emma ended up.
It must have been a difficult decision, sending her away. Committing her to an asylum. The Nut House. Booby Hatch, Funny Farm, Loony Bin. Horrible, terrible names, I know. Back then, though, they were horrible, terrible places to be “institutionalized” – places where, if you were shut up into them, whether by your family, or by a magistrate, you would be shut up with other people that may very well have started out with troubles similar to yours, but over time had really been driven literally mad. By the time you met your fellow inmates, most would be dangerous, psychotic, unrecognizable versions of themselves. And you would probably end up the same way. And back then, they almost never let you out.
Emma’s sisters, Marjorie and Lavinia, would go and visit her when they could afford the trip to Toronto. Sometimes, she didn’t care if she saw them or not. Maybe during those times, she didn’t realize who they were. But there were also visits when Emma was “Emma, herself”, her perfectly normal “self”, the sister they loved. Those visits were especially hard for Marj and Vine, because Emma would cry, and beg them to please, please, just let her come home. She hated it in the asylum. The other patients frightened her. She was going crazy. Please, please, just take her home. But they couldn’t take her home, and they would have to say good-bye and leave her in that awful place, alone.
After awhile, they didn’t visit anymore.
Emma died some time during the Great Depression. My mother doesn’t know if she was still in that asylum or not, but she was still in Toronto when she died. No one had any money then. No one could afford to travel.
There was a man who came from the Manitoulin, who lived in Toronto at the time. He saw Emma’s obituary in the newspaper, and recognizing the family name, he decided to go to the funeral. He knew Emma’s people, and he wanted to give his condolences. He wasn’t able to.
He was the only person there.
Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles