Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Mother's Family

I know even less about my mom's family than I do about my dad's. Her mother died when she was nine, and, by the time I came along, she and her father were estranged. I'm not even sure he gave her away at her wedding.

My mom had three siblings, Ormond, Clyde and Ruth. She had an Aunt Janet, an Aunt Jessie and a Cousin Grace. She and her siblings were raised by her Aunt Ethel after her mother died.

Mom was born in Upper New York State, and claimed to be "Pennsylvania Dutch," and descended from Martin Van Buren. She grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. Aunt Jessie and Cousin Grace lived in Cornwall, Ontario.

Mom's father lived in Montreal. He had remarried after the death of her mother, and his second wife wanted nothing to do with stepchildren. Later, when I was in my teens, Mom started writing to him. In 1967, she made a trip to Montreal for Expo 67 and decided to pay him a visit. Her stepmother answered the door, and told Mom that her father had died some time before.

As Mom said, "Isn't that a kick in the pants!" No matter how she tried to joke about it, it hurt, and badly.

She used to tell me a story. When she and her sibs were growing up in Ottawa, her dad worked in logging camps. He visited frequently. One day, she asked him for a quarter so she could go skating. He told her that, if she could withstand his tickling without laughing, he would give her a quarter. Mom had been the most ticklish person on the face of the earth, but she wanted very badly to go skating. She survived the tickling without cracking a smile, he gave her the quarter, and she went skating. But she was never ticklish again. She sold her tickle for a quarter.

She told me the story to illustrate the fact that, if you want something badly enough, you can do what it takes to get it.

I just thought it was sad.

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