Money's Funeral in Toronto in January in 2018
Gathered in Mrs. Thompson’s house in Shanty Bay in the dead of winter. Severing the crowd into pairs of siblings. If you can’t find your Other, quickly jump into a conversation with one of the elders, and talk about this or that, how it used to be, what my grandmother was like.
We all think we’re owed a piece of her. This person who many ignored in her winter years. An evasion born more of respect than malice, a careful turning away so as not to humiliate. Because old age humiliates, mortifying our younger selves.
What I gather from her very educated and British-Canadian collection of friends:
Jane was a woman who knew what she wanted.
She was fiercely competitive and equally intelligent.
She was hard to keep up with, you needed to know your stuff with her. But for me, she was inclusive. Not for everyone, but she was a collector, and she'd invite artists, writers, actors, anyone interesting to add flavor to a party, into her home.
But I also have memories of her, so many, like little mints to pop in my mouth of a hot July day.
Summers were given to Canada. I’d march my assembly line of sisters right up to a glass wall of her painting shed, standing fifty feet away from the lake house. She’d have that line between her eyebrows and if she saw us, she’d flutter her paint stained fingers and tell us to scram.
On softer days, she’d fix me vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberries, and later, she flew all over the world to catch me for a few days in various cities abroad.
When I finally stumbled my way into a Southern California halfway home, thirty days into sobriety I called her and explained, “I’m an alcoholic, I’m sorry to tell you.”
She sighed and said, “Oh dear,” with her breathy trans-atlantic accent. “I always knew one of my grandchildren would be an alcoholic. And my darling, I’m so glad, so so glad, that it’s you.”
I consider this a high compliment, and I’ll hold this in myself, always.
IMAGE FROM ART INSTALLATION “KIDS”