Thursday, July 16, 2009

Farewell, my love

The passage of time.

Nine years have gone by since I wrote Recollections of a Joyful Life as a 92nd birthday gift for my mother in South Africa. During that time I visited her each year until 2005 when it became too difficult for me to leave my husband here in Canada. Don's memory, damaged irreparably by strokes, had failed and he was to become increasingly dependent on me for everything.

I didn't care that my trips to South Africa in those latter years did not include trips to the ocean. I wanted only to be with my family and to spend as much time as possible with my little mother. My brother, Ed, had by now developed severe cervical neck problems that precluded long trips driving to the coast and Mum, too, was showing the effects of her advancing years although she still managed to hobble around the garden once each day for a little exercise.

Most days Eddie or Ray would take us shopping to one of the local malls - with Mum in a wheelchair, of course. During one of our shopping trips to the Eastgate Mall, Mum was sitting quietly in her wheelchair outside a store while the rest of us were inside when a lady came up and dropped a R5 coin into her lap. Mum was surprised, but before she could ask the reason for the contribution the lady had disappeared. We were greeted with this news when we rejoined Mum.... and spent the next half hour laughing. Apparently there was a drive on that day to collect funds for handicapped people and, as Mum was obviously handicapped, the lady must have figured she was on the collection team! Mum was reluctant to give up her spoils so Ray put R5 in one of the many collection boxes around the mall that day to make things right....and Mum had to put up with being teased about it forever after.

Each time I visited Mum she appeared to become noticeably frailer but she was always able to show signs of her old spirited awareness. With her eyesight failing, reading was difficult but she still managed (with large print and extra strength magnifying glasses) to wade through the bodice-busting romance novels she enjoyed. I remember once she even tried to persuade me not to read a novel that she felt had too much graphic sex in it (ha ha!). Actually, when I eventually did read it I found it to be very tame indeed.

It was sad for Mum when she was finally forced to give up the knitting and crocheting that had always kept her busy because, after that, she didn't seem to know what to do with her hands anymore. Thank goodness for the television set in her bedroom in front of which she would sit for hours watching cricket or tennis whenever they were on.

Twice a day Mum and I would play five games of Skip-Bo and she would crow with delight each time she won. During these games she loved serving me mugs of tea or coffee from her little electric kettle - with a plate of biscuits to nibble on the side. Those were times when we could talk quietly and she could hear what I was saying without other noise distractions. Mum never ever failed to tell me how much she loved Eddie and Joan and how grateful she was to them for having looked after her for so many years. It was during my 2006 visit that the two of us went through all the old snapshots that she had stashed away in boxes. I persuaded Mum to reminisce about her youth and told her I would write a little memoir for her similar to my own.

Some of the saddest events of my life have been saying goodbye to Mum. Each time I returned to Canada we would cling to each other, weeping, too choked up to say more than "I love you. be good - see you next year"....and always wondering if there would really ever be another year.

In 2007 I received a call from Eddie to say that Mum was very bad - heart and lungs failing - and she was on oxygen. I panicked. Asked my step-son Rod (who lives with us) if he could cope with his father for two weeks, and after Don said he would be alright also, booked a flight to South Africa, leaving in two days. During those two days I prepared and froze meals for Rod to serve, cancelled whatever appointments had been made, then packed haphazardly, and left.

Mum looked awful when I arrived but she was clearly happy to see me. I was able to give her a copy of Hanna's Story as promised and she read it with pleasure over a period of time. When I asked her what she thought of it she said it was great but she wished I had been able to include some further events that she had remembered since then......During that visit I spent most days massaging her swollen legs and taking over, as much as possible, all the duties that my brother had been doing for her so that he could have a rest. Mum perked up upon my arrival and we even managed to play our regular games of Skip-Bo. However, she was too poorly to accompany us when we went shopping and she spent a great deal of time sleeping. I left in two weeks, comforted by Mum's slight recovery, but with a greater fear that it may have been our last goodbye.

I went into shock on April 19. 2008, when Eddie called to say that Mum was failing fast and that he might have to take her to the hospital because he and Joan couldn't cope with her care anymore. I told him to hang on and I would see if I could fly down immediately to help. Rod and Don urged me to go and, despite the fact that I knew it would put a great strain on Rod, I booked a seat to leave the next day at 6 p.m. Then I packed my bag and purchased enough frozen dinners for Rod to serve for a week. Tried to sleep that night with great difficulty, fearing for my mother and worrying about Don and Rod. At 3 a.m. the phone shrilled and I was instantly awake. My brother's voice at the other end told me that Mum had just died peacefully. It was 10 a.m. in South Africa and Ray had arrived ten minutes earlier to help look after Mum. When I told Eddie that I was all packed and ready to leave at 6 p.m.that same day he said "Come, anyway, Joy" but Ray immediately took the phone to tell me not to disrupt our lives here by leaving Don and Rod to fend for themselves... especially as there was nothing further I could do in South Africa.

So, although Mum and I were never able to say our last goodbyes I know that she died knowing she was loved deeply by every member of her family. I created a video CD recording of Mum's life which she viewed some months before she died. The last frame had the following dedication:

"In loving memory of a mother who will live in our hearts forever"

and so, while this little memoir ends in sadness, I take comfort from the many wonderful memories I have of a mother who always gave so unstintingly of her love and devotion.

Farewell, little mother, until we meet again.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Welcome to my story


If you would like to read about what it was like growing up in South Africa during the '30s, '40s and early '50s, and about some of the adventures I had while living in South America and New York as a young wife, please start at Chapter 1 of Recollections of a Joyful Life so that you'll be able to connect all the dots.

The story begins in South Africa where I was born in 1932 and ends in Toronto, Canada, where I now live with my husband, step-son and two Siamese, as you see, there is quite a bit of living to cover.

I hope you will join me in my journey back to the past and that you will find it of some interest.

Joy MacFadyen

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Canada: Mum and friends.

Starting in 1973 and continuing, with few exceptions, until the start of the new century, my mother visited us every other year and I tried to travel to South Africa on alternate years so that I could see the rest of my family - although sometimes I didn't make it.

It is difficult to keep all those visits tied to specific years so forgive me if I run them all together into one long enjoyable visit. There was a lot of repetition, of course; Mum fitted in seamlessly with our daily lives and was always game to go anywhere. She also didn't mind just being left alone which was good, too, because there have been times when my volunteer activities have taken up much of the time I would rather have spent with her.

One year, because I knew my mother enjoyed playing lawn bowls (in fact she was really very good at it) I decided to get a membership for her in the Agincourt Lawn Bowling Club. This turned out to be a great success: she showed up with a Germiston badge on her blazer and club pins in her hat and was immediately embraced by the resident bowlers who were an extremely friendly group.

Before long my mother was playing in tournaments, sometimes several times a week, then she got involved with three other ladies, playing bridge. So, aside from the busy social life she enjoyed, she was also getting lots of exercise and having fun at the same time. The lawn bowling took place during several visits until her leg started acting up and she had to stop.

One of my mother's greatest joys in coming to Canada has been to play bridge with my long-time buddies: June James, Anne Mugford, Kathy Pitt, Gwen Daffern, Edith Halls, Mona Ernst, Jeanette Buffet and Edna Wolfe. I have been a part of this group for fourteen or fifteen years now and they are some of my dearest friends.

Every fortnight throughout the year we meet for lunch, bridge, laughter....and sometimes even tears. These friends are especially dear to me because they took my mother into their hearts and have always made her feel extra special. Unfortunately there is no-one to play bridge with Mum in South Africa, which is a shame because she certainly is a whiz at the game. However, Anne introduced us to Skip-Bo and whenever we are together my mother and I play at least five games of it every day.

Several times we've travelled with the bridge group to Stratford to see musicals. It's a long drive so, ideally, it is best to stay overnight.

This we did on one happy occasion when my niece Ray came over with Mum. After dinner and the show (Music Man, I think) we climbed a steep set of stairs for a comfortable night's sleep and a delicious breakfast in the morning. Then Ray and I put Mum in a wheelchair and toured the quaint stores and boutiques up and down Main Street. Afterwards we idled away an hour watching a string of ducklings picking gnats off the surface of the river while swans scooped up all the crusts floating by. It was really quite idyllic.

Of course a highlight of many of Mum's frequent visits to Canada was always a trip to the James' cottage on Lake Kawagama. The drive up through lake country was an experience in itself: roads winding around tree-swathed hills, over bridges, alongside brilliant blue lakes and through small villages. Because it was a three hour drive, we'd stop half way there for coffee and muffins before arriving around lunchtime. The road in to the cottage is hard on cars: corrugated gravel roads and one or two hills so steep and narrow one has to shift into low gear for safety; but once there it is all peace, serenity and hugs all round.... not to mention good food and wonderful games of bridge at night, then waking up to utter stillness, broken only by the eerie call of loons in the early morning.

I believe there are around 240,000 lakes in Ontario alone and many of them are connected by the Trent Canal System with locks which allow boaters to travel easily from one lake to another. Eels Lake still evokes wonderful memories of happy days spent boating, fishing, eating and sleeping in total relaxation. The exception to the relaxing part always happened on the way up to the cottage and on the drive home. There is so much traffic congestion on the highway each summer weekend that cars often have to creep along at a snail's pace for miles, sometimes even stopping altogether. But for most people the stress of travel is well worth the benefits derived at the end of the journey.

Of course, Toronto itself has many attractions of its own. One doesn't have to travel great distances to enjoy boating: the great Lake Ontario stretches for hundreds of miles east and west and all the way across to Buffalo. It's like a vast inland sea with beaches and bluffs and, when the wind blows wild, even waves. A network of ravines connects rural and urban areas and allows wildlife to roam freely into backyards and streets, including our own. We had a fox den out back which was continually occupied until the fox population developed mange and they all died last year. I have seen an occasional healthy fox since then but I'm afraid it was only visiting.

We fed a feral cat for eighteen months four or five years ago and called it Edward, after my brother. Edward would come each morning and wait for me to put a bowl of food outside. We even had a doghouse donated to us and placed at the back door, but Edward would only sit on the roof and didn't like going inside. Eventually he stopped coming around and we figured he had been killed. However, one Sunday morning about two years later, there he was, sitting calmly on the windowsill downstairs. As soon as I got up, he jumped down and waited by the back door. I put out some food, which was eaten quickly, then he left and was never seen again. We assumed that someone had adopted him but had gone away for the weekend, leaving him behind. At least he knew where to get a good square meal.

In addition to the luncheon bridge group, my mother played with the neighbourhood one as well: Maureen, Audrey, Eleanor, Eileen, June, Mum, Lee and Edna. Eleanor died about a year ago and our friend Gwen stepped in to take her place. This group meets only once a month and at the end of the season goes out for a celebratory dinner. That's not to say we don't eat a lot of decadent desserts in between.

Sanctions and route changes.

When Canada imposed sanctions on South Africa before the dissolution of apartheid, it was impossible for South Africans to get visas to visit Canada without going to a foreign capital like Rome or London to do so.

At the time I wrote a very grumpy letter to the then Prime Minister, Joe Clark, and told him I was not going to vote for the Tories ever again and I doubted that the thirty or forty thousand other former South Africans in this country would vote for them either, grizzle-grumble, yours sincerely... and I sent a copy of it to our local MP. Soon afterwards I received a very polite letter back from JC explaining the government's position and urging me to understand it, signed "Joe"! Maybe our local MP told him I might be Trouble if he didn't calm me down.... I must admit I was slightly mollified.

There was an up-side to the visa situation, however. Mum and I got to spend a week in London, England, on two separate occasions. I often look at photos of Mum hoofing it past Tower Bridge on the way to the Tower of London (those ancient Brits were so cruel!) , pausing on the way to Covent Gardens for lunch and surrounded by pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

It was wonderful for us to be together in a city so steeped in tradition and to be able to see, for the first time, places we had only heard about or seen on TV. We did all the tours, of course: Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, the Cotswolds, Blenheim Castle (Churchill's ancestral home), the fabulous museums, and Piccadilly Circus which isn't a circus at all. Those two trips were unforgettable and were made even more so because I was able to share them with my little mother.

From time to time we visited Don's first wife, Kay McKeever, in Vineland and Mum was fascinated by the many owls that populate the premises of the Owl Foundation which was founded and operated by Kay. One year Ray, Terry and their son Mike also visited the Owl Foundation while they were in Canada. Kay had a dwarf rabbit at that time and when Michael touched the rabbit's carrot, it growled and bit him on the sneaker.

I have a group of friends called Les Girls who meet once a month to paint and make creative "things". My mother always went along to knit or crochet and have a good lunch because she knew there wouldn't be much of a supper when we got home. Below you can see them: Judy, Beryl, Norma, Christine, Joan, Tina and Mum, standing around in Christine's vegetable garden. Christine always refers to my mother as Grandma Gigi since Mum's great-grandchildren in South Africa always refer to her as G-G (for Great Gran) and Christine considers herself to be my surrogate daughter.... so that makes Mum her surrogate grandma, right? At home we mostly call Mum OG, which is an acronym for Old Girl.

Trains and Trips.

Christine suggested that I should take Mum on an historic train journey from Stouffville to Uxbridge to see the fall colours, so that's what we did one Saturday morning last September. The train was ancient and somewhat rickety but the passing scenery was lovely: floods of bright orange and yellow leaves on trees set against rolling hills of still-green grass.

During the trip we were treated to a running commentary about the passing landscape. The commentator also invited all visitors to Canada to sign a guest book in the control car. We promptly made our way back several carriages, swaying from side to side, with my mother moving along so quickly that I had to grab onto the back of her jacket to make sure she didn't fall.

The staff in the control car were excited because Mum was the first visitor they had had from South Africa so, apart from travelling free because of her age, she was given a certificate and two lapel pins from each of the towns we were visiting. On the way back a wedding party came aboard, minister in attendance, and we watched him marry the bride and groom through a window in the door. The bride had on a strange floppy bonnet and chewed gum. Hmmm.

Mum's visits to Canada always ended soon after her birthdays and with at least two parties each time: one would be celebrated by our luncheon bridge group (Anne usually vying with June to see who would have it) and the other would be a dinner-bridge game at home with the Holwells and the James'.

South Africa.

When I go to South Africa all I really want to do is to be with my family. Eddie and Joan live in a house that is as familiar to me as my own is here in Canada.

Mum has her own private apartment in the back garden and she always seems to be cleaning it or doing the washing or something. From a window inside she can see the swimming pool (up those steps at right) and a pergola covered with honeysuckle vines. It is a big garden with fruit you can pick off the trees in season: cherries, loquats, figs. The fruit in South Africa is wonderful, especially the tender juicy paw-paws and golden Cape gooseberries. Makes my mouth water just thinking of them.

Eddie has his workshop on the other side of Mum's cottage, right beside the garage, and sometimes early in the morning you can hear him working away at his lathe, turning bits of ordinary wood into elegant works of art. Some of his carvings are so real you're almost afraid they will fly down and "get" you.

Ed is now a master carver and wood-turner and is frequently called upon to judge at shows. At times we worry about the fact that, despite taking adequate precautions, he inhales enough sawdust to cause occasional respiratory problems....which is not good. However, Ed loves working with wood so it's not likely that he will ever stop for long - even if he does sometimes feel a little poorly. Besides he was born stubborn, so what can we do?

Eddie and Joan have three good-looking offspring who now have children of their own. How quickly the years pass. It seemed only yesterday when they were picture postcard babies.
The first child born was Cheryl: the fairy child who was always dancing. When she grew up she did, in fact, become a dancer and taught ballet lessons for a number of years. Then in 1981 she married Robert.

Robert was sent to the U.S. on a job assignment and Cheryl went with him. They socialized with a crowd experimenting with drugs. Robert succumbed to temptation and it ultimately led to his death by suicide shortly after they returned to South Africa. It's tough to get over a tragedy like that in the family. I know Cheryl has been struggling ever since that fateful day - in one way or another. A second marriage failed but produced one daughter, Sarah. She already has a mind of her own and who knows what the future will hold for her.

Next on the marriage-go-round was Geoffrey: my neffie Geoffie. He was (and probably still is) the little devil in the family. I remember when he was a very small boy watching him go around kicking the tires of somebody's car in a parking lot. I told him not to do it. So he did it again. I repeated my demand sternly. He looked at me daringly and, without taking his eyes off mine, gave the nearest tire a whacking good kick and went on to do it to the next one. Furious, I started to chase him: round and round the car we went until I suddenly stopped and went the other way. This boy is going to be trouble, I thought. But I was wrong.... he turned out to be a really good guy.

Geoff married his sporty Beverly in '88 and they have two fine children, Garrad and Suzanne. Garrad is an avid all-round sportsman, now working in his father's business and dainty Suzanne is still at school. When my brother's second daughter, Ray, married Terrence three years later I was of two minds whether to be happy or mad. My dream had been for Ray to marry Rod and come to live in Canada with Aunt Joy. But noooo. She had to fall for her eagle-eyed pilot and never gave a thought as to how her Aunt would feel. Oh, I know she kept Terry guessing for a while, telling him there were other suitors waiting in the wings, but there never ever was anyone else but Terry. Now, of course, I realize the advantage of being married to a pilot: reduced airfares to visit her aunt in Canada! Nice going, Ray, you made the right choice, kiddo: Terry is tops.

Both Terry and Ray had a son in due course and Michael turned into a sportsman just like his dad. A champion rower, Mike has travelled to Boston several times to compete for his school team against international crews. Too bad Boston isn't that close to Toronto: if he came over here maybe I could find a nice young Canadian girl for him.... Let's be realistic, though: Michael is driving a car now so it's only a matter of time before some young South African girl gets her hooks into him. Perhaps I'll give up matchmaking and just do my knitting instead.

All of the holidays I've had in South Africa have been memorable ones: I can smell the sea and almost feel the sand between my toes whenever I go through the photographs I took on every occasion.

About five years ago we had an exciting excursion, first to the legendary Sun City casino with it's manufactured ruins, giant leopards carved in stone and elephants guarding a bridge. We stayed overnight in the super de luxe hotel (Michael Jackson was there at the time and people were lining up in the lobby waiting to see him arrive) where I took this photo of the largest elephant ever to have been seen in the Kruger National Park. It must have taken an awful lot of bronze to cast it.

Of course Mum, Ed and Joan had to go gambling in the casino and lose their allotted amount of money. Since I am immune to the vice, I spent my time trying to gather them all together like a hen herding chickens under her wing. When they were ready, and not before, we left for the
Hluhluwe Game Reserve where we stayed in luxurious rondavels with panoramic views of a large section of the park. The next day we sighted giraffe, buck, water buffalo, zebras, a huge troop of apes - two of which were having hot and heavy sex right in front of our car - guinea fowl and hundreds of deer and antelope. All the while we were there it drizzled a light rain but that only seemed to make the green of the trees all the more intense.

From there we travelled to the Wild Coast and Shelly Beach. Ed went fishing and in between we had a great time touring small villages along the coast. On the way home we had one more adventure.

In mid-afternoon the sky darkened ominously as we drove into the centre of a storm which enveloped us in sheets of rain and hailstones the size of golf balls. The noise of the hailstones battering the car was unbearable. Eddie, barely able to see to drive, had to open his window and Mum and I in the back seat were getting soaked. So out came my umbrella to shelter Mum from the onslaught. Hailstones dimpled the car in dozens of places after that storm and the ground was white as snow. It was a spectacular ending to a really spectacular holiday.

Perhaps this is a good place to end this voyage of mine into the past. It hasn't been easy to cram seventy years of living into these pages but I did my best. That's what my little brother always says on parting: "Do your best!" and I think it is good advice.

Our Mum has certainly led a full and eventful life: from her girlhood in Rhodesia, hunting with her brothers, riding motor cycles, getting married, having children, hardship, good times, family, friends, bridge, tennis, lawn bowls, travels.... I think she's had a ball. She has laughed till she's cried, loved with all her heart and been greatly loved in return. Can you ask more than that at ninety-two and counting?

These memories were written for you, Mum, dearest. Happy Birthday - and may you have many more. Much love, hugs and kisses as always from your ever loving, Joy.


Donald Aikins MacFadyen and others.

I am rather glad that I was too young to have known Don in his salad days. I'm not saying that he's become any more trainable with age....but he has mellowed a little, although not by much.

Don has always been supremely self-confident and, because of that, has never hesitated to take risks in both personal and business affairs. I remember that, when the company he worked for refused to buy some equipment that Don deemed essential, he just went out and bought it himself then leased it back to the company. It seemed the only way to get things done. He still takes risks that sometimes cause me to swallow my Adam's apple but, most of the time, he succeeds in achieving whatever it is he sets out to do.

I've talked a little bit about Don's wartime experiences in these recollections so I won't say much more about them now. He was a brave night-fighter pilot and is featured in all the books on Canadian Aviation history about WWII. He is one of a handful of pilots profiled in a book called The Tumbling Sky and is frequently asked to provide his autograph for history buffs. Recently we were told that a portrait of him, along with a summary of his wartime exploits and decorations, will be placed in the Aviation Museum at Trenton.

Don was featured in a wartime film called Wings of Youth which was narrated by Lorne Greene. We came by a copy of the film (on video) when an airline pilot, who is also a history buff, saw a photograph of Don displayed at an Airforce Reunion. He recognized Don's face and asked if he was still alive. He then telephoned us and asked if we would like to have a copy of the film. You bet. Rod and I got a kick out of seeing Don (with no hair on his chest at that time) doing field exercises, talking with the commanding officer and then going up in an airplane with a camera attached to its wing so that it could photograph him doing acrobatics in the air. After seeing Don flying upside down and doing somersaults in that film I was really glad I didn't know him way back then.

The RCAF 418 Squadron, with which Don was most closely associated, recently celebrated its very last reunion. Most of the members who are still around attended, as did we. Don's two best friends and navigators were there also: Rob Bruce and his wife Beatrice travelled all the way from Gloucester, England, and Jim Wright (and his wife Laurice) came down for it from British Columbia.

It was a poignant affair with a piper, a five piece band playing all the old songs from the '40s, a splendid dinner, and speeches recalling some memorable past events. I can attest to many surreptitious tears being shed that night, especially by my old softie husband - and me.

Don's middle years were busy and successful. As an officer and trouble-shooter for Hunting and Northway Surveys, he travelled the world, and since you have followed him on part of those journeys, through these recollections, I won't go into any more detail.

For a number of years Don was absorbed in a search for his Scottish roots. His grandfather was a Baptist minister who emigrated from Scotland with a young family which grew to include eight sons and four daughters. I don't know how he did it on a minister's salary but all the children thrived and led full and productive lives.

Through the search for those roots Don met a distant cousin who came from Tiverton, the small town where Grandfather Alexander and some of his family members are buried. Florence Lambden is now a good friend of the family and, because she is the same age as my own mother, I feel especially close to her. (Florence has since passed away).

Don made one or two trips to Scotland himself and met other MacFadyens on Tyree. In typical Don fashion, he researched the Clan tartans and when he found that there had once been a MacFadyen tartan (it is a sept of the Clan MacLaine) he ordered a bolt of it to be woven again so that he could have a kilt made for himself and any other MacFadyens who might want one.

About ten years ago Don attended a Clan Reunion in Roanoke, Virginia, and I was commissioned to do a portrait of the Chief for presentation at that time. I was also asked to put Castle Moy in the background as it was the ancestral home of the Chief of the Clan MacLaine of Lochbuie. The castle has been in ruins for centuries, of course. A rival clan exists called the Clan MacLaine of Duart which the Lochbuie people tend to pronounce as "Dirt".

While in Scotland on his roots search, Don was out in the rain one day, turning over gravestones, when he spied four legs sticking up out of the heather some distance away. Investigating further he discovered a big fat sheep lying, feet up, in a hole. The poor sheep, unable to get up, might have died if it hadn't been found. At any rate, with much levering Don managed to get the animal on its feet, after which it urinated for 10 minutes, looked him gratefully in the eye and tried to go home with him. Fortunately its flock was seen grazing in the distance and the stray thought better of adoption. Although considering the amount of mutton eaten in Scotland it might have been better off with him after all.

Don has been actively searching for diamond properties in Canada for the past fifteen years and there has been no time to continue his genealogical studies, but he does still occasionally hear from the MacFadyens on Tyree as well as a number of other distant relatives unearthed in the original investigations.

Don had the misfortune to have a heart attack in '93, the result of too much stress and too many hamburgers and French fries for lunch. Fortunately he survived it well and since that time has been fairly good at sticking to the proper diet and regimen, although he grumbles frequently about the side-effects of some of the medication he takes.

Then, six years later, just when everything seemed to have been nicely stabilized, Don had two strokes in one year. The first left little evidence of its passing but the second caused him to experience some impediment to his speech. Now he cannot always find the words he is searching for and it causes him endless frustration - let's face it, this man lives to talk - but, having a great deal of determination and stamina, he simply soldiers on without too much complaint. Soon to be eighty-two, Don has never even considered retirement: he works full days from Monday to Friday and sometimes goes in to his office on Saturday too. Just to check the fax machine, he says....

Strangely enough, Don is associated with people who are actually finding diamonds, and gold too, in Ontario. There are even five discoveries called MacFadyen #1, to #5. Of course I haven't yet received a single diamond, or even a small nugget of gold, but Don is eternally optimistic and I wouldn't have him any other way. He loves my little mother and, although he has never met my brother, says he has always had a good feeling about him; so, in my book, that makes him much better than all the diamonds or gold in the world.

Every Saturday Don goes to see his good friends Ruth and Andy Andersen. They are the originators of the Hot Stove League, which is just another way of saying that Ruth has to make a lot of tea and snacks for Don, Andy, their friend, Bob, and others to eat while they solve the problems of the world. Theresa and Bill Bryan are also part of this group and once invited us to attend a Robbie Burns celebration in their home to eat haggis, read poems and sing songs. In keeping with the spirit of the occasion Don wore his kilt and even had a small dirk tucked into his sock for emergencies. Andy does lapidary work, grinding, polishing and facetting stones with great skill and Ruth sets them into jewellery to sell at craft shows.

I probably should mention that Don met the Andersens through a mutual interest in facetting. After his official "retirement", Don spent two years getting a degree in Gemmology and was so good at facetting gems that he became an instructor at Georgian College in Barrie for a number of years. Because Barrie is a two hour drive from Toronto, Don used to spend the night with his old airforce friend, Tom Andersen, who lived up there at the time; in that way Don was able to arrive at the college in time to instruct an early morning class.

Tom Anderson was a diabetic and, being a widower, lived alone. He enjoyed having Don's company and Don was instrumental in saving Tom's life on two occasions when he arrived to find Tom in a diabetic coma. Once he had fallen into a ditch outside the house while his dog waited anxiously beside his unconscious body. Sadly, Tom died of the disease some years ago and Don felt the loss of his friend very keenly.

Cats and mice.

Siamese cats have always been central to our lives in Canada and they are especially important to Rod. He loves our cats so much that he won't go anywhere for any length of time because he knows they will miss him (and he them).

I mentioned earlier that our first cat Mingo died in '83 and we acquired Topaz as a replacement. Then Topaz died in '86 and Bluebell and Blinky came into our lives. Blinky died in '97 and Angus and Amy were imported to console Bluebell and the rest of the family. Each cat has had it's own special character and place in our hearts. Sadly, Rod and I have had the tearful task of holding each of our five beloved cats as they were euthanased. However, we've also been consoled by knowing what a painless, peaceful passing each of them had.

Up to now I've said very little about the adventures we've had with field mice. The MacFadyen Mouse Motel is a prime destination for many of the rodents in our ravine each winter. There is a well trodden path up the vine outside, through an invisible hole, and into the ceiling of the recreation room. At night they can be heard squeaking and rolling toys around to entertain the babes. When the babes grow up and set off to make their own way in the world, however, they sometimes get lost and fall down the space between the wall shared by the recreation and laundry rooms. Hearing their desperate jumps and pitiful scratchings, imagining their panic and even slow death, is always more than Rod and I can tolerate so we developed a rescue technique of our own.

Into the laundry room, locate the level of scratching, get a drill bit and make an escape hole one inch in diameter. Next put a stool under the hole with a box on it containing seeds. Before long, mouse jumps through hole, grabs a few seeds, and is put outside. Easy. One time I saw a little whiskered face at the opening before the box was in place so I quickly grabbed a glass jar and caught two of them one after the other. The wall has nine holes in it now, at various levels, and even though we haven't had any escapees for some time, we consider them to be safety Fire Exits for the MacFadyen Mouse Motel.

Amy did manage to catch one adventurous rodent last winter. We heard a strange growling sound as she ran past the door with a mouse tightly clenched between her teeth. Alarm bells rang as we chased her all over the house (the two other cats, Don, Rod, Mum, and me) until we cornered her in the kitchen. Unfortunately the mouse was dead. It was a horrible, gory sight, but one that left Amy with an insatiable thirst for blood and glory. Since then she's been constantly on the hunt for another one.

Two winters ago we caught a total of 35 mice on 35 successive days in one of those Have-a-Heart traps that allows you to release them alive into the garden. It's been said that we were catching the same mice over and over again, and that may have been true. Rod kept big bags of birdseed in the vestibule downstairs and until these were stored in plastic garbage cans, we continued to catch mice. Despite the fact that the supply has now dried up, Angus and Amy live on in eternal hope: each evening they crouch in front of a small round hole at the base of a door jamb, waiting. I always close the door - just in case.

More sadness.

Sadly, Don's sister Joan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the late '80s. While we were all completely devastated by the news, Joan accepted it with her usual calm, good grace.

All through Joan's illness Bob cared for her tenderly and, as the disease progressed, Susan and Sally helped to feed and bathe her with loving care. Eventually, when Joan needed to be placed in a nursing home, Bob visited her every day. When she died, some six years later, Bob felt totally lost and, although he went to live with Sue for a while, it wasn't too long before he joined Joan in what we sincerely hope is heaven.

Don't you think that when a friend or family member dies it always makes us reflect on the legacy that person has left behind? We recall happy memories mostly, but sad times, too. I firmly believe that those friends and family members live on through their children - and in the things those children might do to make this world a better place. And they live on in the hearts of their loved ones... forever. That seems to me to be a legacy worth leaving.

Okay, that's enough. I've just decided that the rest of my recollections have got to be compressed into one final chapter. I simply cannot ramble on forever about cats or mice or even immortality.

It has taken five months to write this memoir for my mother but before I end this chapter, I must thank the people who helped me along the way.

My brother, Eddie, of course. He checked an early draft and, among other things, corrected me on one very important point: the year in which I first got married. I thought it was '54 and he reminded me that it was '55, several months after his own wedding to Joan;

Yvonne Komlenovich, Tina Noble and Babs Currie kept me going with their unfailing interest and encouragement;

Nick Holwell followed the developing story all the way and called me up if he found any glaring errors: like typing Ottawa instead of Oshawa;

Gwen Daffern questioned the length of time we had lived in our house: I said 42 years (counting from the time Don and I were married) when it was only 33!

Sally and Sue straightened me out on several key points; and my two guys did sterling duty as proof readers. Don even said these pages have filled many holes in his memory.

I thank you all very much indeed for your invaluable help and encouragement! It means a lot to me that you cared enough to want to read my story.


Volunteer days and creative times

It was only after Don and I got married that I felt free to indulge my creative urges. First there were the few painting classes in Long Island and then inspiration at the Art Guild of Scarborough. It was great fun to experiment with colour and form and in the beginning I was quite prolific. Fortunately there was a small gift store in Apsley that sold more than a few of the landscapes I painted at the lake, otherwise they might have been used to build an extension on the cottage. My real interest, however, has always been in painting people.

There was a year in which six or seven members of the Guild attended a high school in Scarborough to take adult art classes. It was a wonderful opportunity to try different media: clay, printmaking, pastels, acrylics, and oils: we learned a lot by trying everything. Actually I have always felt drawn to working three-dimensionally so playing with clay was very satisfying to me. With the help of Rod's advice and keen eye I made clay representations of all fifteen species of Canadian owls for Kay and she has them displayed on a bureau in the dining room at Fossil Hall.

In early 1978 I was asked to represent the Art Guild at an arts conference (held jointly by the City of Scarborough, Ontario Arts Council and Ministry of Culture) to activate the arts in Scarborough. It was an interesting experience and at the end of it, a Steering Committee was formed to establish an arts council in this city. Six months later I attended a meeting to hear the Steering Committee's report and ended up being nominated to the board of the proposed new arts council. I agreed to serve, rather reluctantly. Had I known it was to provide me with six years of full time work, I might have thought twice about accepting the position at all.

First I was the Secretary and cobbled together a newsletter, among other things. With no permanent address for the arts council, our personal home telephone number was used as a contact, so I was literally run off my feet answering the phone until an office was established in the Ellesmere Statton School one year later.

In a continuing effort to publicize the existence of Arts Scarborough, one day I approached Scarborough Cable TV with a proposal to interview local artists and allow them to demonstrate their particular art form on camera, with examples of finished works on display. They decided to give it a whirl, I was invited to be the producer/interviewer and instructed to get a minimum of four additional volunteers to act as camera operators and work in the control booth. My friends Tina Noble, Yvonne Komlenovich, Julia Kemp, Isabell Currie, Helen James and others volunteered for the job and we were off and running.

Ultimately our team produced over sixty programs featuring painters, musicians, potters, decoupeurs, choral groups, woodcarvers, poets, quilters, actors and craftspeople - it was never difficult to find talented artists to feature and it was great fun to do. In fact I still occasionally meet people at art shows who regularly watched the program but, like everything, it ran its course and lives on now only in a few tapes that I remembered to save and in the archives of one or two libraries.

In late '79 I became president of the arts council and also served on the founding board of Human Services of Scarborough. One of my chores for HSS was to co-ordinate the first multicultural week up at the Town Centre and arrange performances for the central space. We had dancers from China, Greece, Armenia, Korea, and Scotland, along with barbershop groups, choirs and individual performers.

That experience also enabled me to produce quite a few Arts Scarborough concerts at the Civic Centre and to co-ordinate displays during Arts week in various Scarborough locations for, and with the help of, the Recreation and Parks Department. For a while there it was touch and go as to whether I would relocate to Hollywood to start a whole new career as impresario!!

The arts council took part in Canada Day parades for a number of years. The first year Colin DeLuca (first president) managed to borrow a tiny antique car which ran on a lawnmower engine. We bought hundreds of colourful balloons, had fifty yellow T-shirts stamped with the AS logo and invited thirty or forty school children, each carrying bunches of helium-filled balloons, to march behind the car, which was also festooned with balloons. All went well until the engine couldn't make it up a hill near the end of the parade. Colin and I bravely pushed it all the way to the top of the hill, accompanied by encouraging hoots and whistles from crowds along the way. Fortunately weariness was completely forgotten when our pushed-walking float won third prize in the parade.

Over the years we made other more ambitious floats: Artypus went through two or three incarnations, Artysaurus was another, but eventually we found that it just took up too much energy to keep doing it so we channelled it elsewhere.

I was greatly honoured in 1982 to be designated Citizen of the Year by the provincial Recreation & Parks Department during Scarborough's Annual Volunteer Recognition night. I had to make a (mercifully) short speech in front of more than 600 people but, even though I was extremely nervous, I managed to get through it with only minor trembling.

Next came the Arts in Action Conference to establish a 5 year arts plan for the city. Paul Schafer and I co-chaired a Task Force to draft this plan. Fortunately Paul, with his extensive knowledge of cultural policy, did all of the work while I simply kept the meetings under control and prepared minutes. We were really pleased when many of the recommendations made by the Task Force were eventually implemented by the city.

When I retired in 1983 as president of the arts council my friends, Paul Schafer and June James, went to a great deal of trouble to organize a huge farewell party for me at the Guild Inn. Everyone was there: the mayor, politicians, friends, family and many potentates from the arts. There were speeches and gifts (two fine easels), entertainment and a wonderful dinner. I handed over the gavel to David Masters, who had been Treasurer on the board, and breathed a sight of relief thinking that I'd now be able to relax a little more - but then came Fanfare '84.

By now the Arts Council had engaged a young, ambitious executive director who was able to persuade board members to hold a city-wide festival in Scarborough. Two professionals were hired to do the production work, and funding was obtained from three levels of government. A fabulous 6-weeks-long festival was organized with events showcasing professional artists of the highest calibre performing with local amateurs. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that there was not enough audience support for a festival of that size in Scarborough; ticket sales did not meet expenses incurred and, after only one-third of the events had taken place, the festival had to be abandoned, leaving the arts council with a debt of $250,000.00! Panic Stations were manned in full force.

Current president, David Masters, convened meetings which went on for many hours, the executive director resigned, and lawyers were invited on board to help solve the problem. When the lawyers discovered the enormity of the debt, they recommended declaring bankruptcy and quickly vanished.

However, with the staunch support of remaining board members, and the help of a new executive director, Sheila Hillen, debts were either renegotiated or forgiven, additional funds were raised and some events rescheduled without the aid of professional producers. Ultimately the debt was paid in full and the Arts Council gained a well-deserved reputation for accountability and dedication.....and I lost, forever, my own ability to cope with stress.

When Sheila left Arts Scarborough and went to work for the city, Lynne Atkinson took over as executive director and I stepped in to fill the job of administrative assistant for a year. Lynne turned the AS newsletter into a high class newspaper and made many other creative changes but when I left after a year, so did she. Happily she has remained a very good friend of mine ever since that time.

Somewhere along the way I received two more medals for volunteerism: a Bicentennial Award from the province and another one from the Federal Government celebrating 125 years of Confederation. I'm sure you will agree that that's quite enough recognition for one lifetime, so 'nuff said.

Here's a postscript to the Fanfare debacle: Arts Scarborough was holding a rescheduled concert by Chinese pianist, Fou T'song. I was rushing around trying to look important on the evening of the concert when my friend Gert showed up for the performance on the arm of my ex-husband! Fortunately it wasn't a total surprise to me because he had telephoned a month or so earlier, completely out of the blue, from Ottawa. I was surprised then, of course, since I hadn't seen or heard from him in 21 years. "Just wanted to know how things are going with you".... uh, huh.... and to say he was lonely. Oh, yes?

After we got caught up on who had died and when, I mentioned that one of my friends travelled to Ottawa quite frequently and that she was lonely, too. Would he like an introduction to my friend Gert? Yes, please. I called Gert and she said "Sure, why not?"; so when Bill phoned back the next day I gave him her number and before the week was out he and Gert were bonking each other in Don Mills! (Gert told me.) Well! I thought, he sure has changed - and what about Gert? At the concert Bill and I reacted to meeting each other in much the same way: total amazement that we both now had white hair. I lost touch with Gert some years ago but, before that happened, the Gert-Bill liaison had ended.

One other comment about the Fou T'song concert. We knew it was customary for the guest artist to receive a bouquet of flowers after the concert. Because the arts council was so strapped for cash, I got a number of baskets of flowers from the local funeral parlour, extracted all the red and white carnations and a little greenery, made them into a very nice arrangement wrapped in cellophane and tied them with a bow. I hope he never found out about it.

In '83 our first male cat, Mingo, died of leukaemia. This sad event depressed Misty so much that we soon acquired Topaz. It took a while for Misty and Topaz to accept each other but they eventually did and lived amicably together until poor little Topaz died two years later of cardiomyopathy.

When we had recovered from that loss we brought Blinky and Bluebell into the equation. That really set Misty back on her little black paws. Two small kittens who wanted her to mother them so much that they wouldn't leave her alone until she finally gave in and let them cuddle up to her as much as they wanted. Misty lived to be 23 years old and when she died Blinky was as inconsolable as we were.

Around 1987 Don retired from paid employment and decided to do consulting work from home. When Northway was dismantled and sold to Questor much of the office material was simply abandoned. At the time Don was asked to take custody of whatever he thought was worthwhile saving. Guess where it all ended up? On specially built shelves in our double garage, in boxes under tables or piled up against the walls in our spare bedroom. Things had to change: Don was unable to work in that small space and when Genevieve came home she had to climb over boxes to get to bed. So we decided to build a two room extension onto the back of the house for Don to use as an office.

The new extension turned out to be a boon from my standpoint because, when Don found even that space inadequate, he rented an office up the road and moved most of the stored material to those premises. And I inherited a room with great lighting for a studio. My very own studio! Perfect.

One of the really special cultural spaces in Scarborough is called the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre. It's a centre for teaching both art and crafts as well as a very fine gallery, so I was thrilled when my portrait of the late Nikita Marner was included in the Cedar Ridge permanent collection and especially pleased that my little mother was in Canada to see its inaugural exhibition.

Learning to skate.

One of the things I've always wanted to do was learn to skate. So I thought, since everyone in Canada seems to know how to do it, what better place to learn? My friend June James offered to teach me and so off I went to buy a pair of snappy new skates. Not only that: I persuaded Don and Rod to buy skates too so that we could all enjoy the sport together. Don used to be a hotshot skater when he was younger and played the clown in a number of Carnivals at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club.

Things went really well, June was a good teacher although I was slow to learn how to stop properly so kept slamming into the boards and hurting my shoulder joints. Kathy Pitt joined us a couple of times and I got along famously between the two of them. It was so exciting.

Then June had to go away for the weekend. Oh, no! I was so keen that I decided to go solo. Did pretty well, too, without even holding on, until my friend Doris McCarthy (who, at 92 could still do twirls and figure eights) came along and took me out onto centre ice - then set me free - to fall within seconds.

Broke my ankle in two places and couldn't walk on it for six weeks. Lynne, crying crocodile tears, gleefully took possession of my new skates, while Rod's and Don's went into a garage sale, having been used only once. Damn, I thought, another dream bites the dust..... guess I'll just have to try something a little less hazardous next time.

Just before I had that unfortunate skating accident something exciting fell into my lap: a commission from Lipton's Soups to do eighteen portraits for their cross-Canada Family Pride Contest. It was a contest in which one family was chosen, from the five regions of Canada, to have a portrait painted with up to four subjects in it.

Most of those portraits were painted from a wheelchair in our living room because of my skating accident. At the same time, our old cat Misty was dying. So, as you can imagine, it was a challenging and stressful time for me.

I think I've recounted enough of my painting experiences for now except to mention that, over the years, I have garnered 27 ribbons for best this or that in Art Guild shows - events which always made me feel pleased and re-energized but, unfortunately, didn't always mean I was to become a great deal more productive.

Every year, in August, the arts council stages a large art and craft show in the beautiful grounds of the Guild Inn. I invariably sit at the Art Guild's table and demonstrate portrait painting just to keep busy. Whenever Mum has been in Canada she has taken pleasure in keeping me company and she once even sold some of her own beautiful hand-crocheted doilies.

I have experimented with soft sculpture, making boxes out of vinyl, papier mache, made 200 leather name bags for a conference (each one different), created silk flowers, worked with soapstone, clay and fact somebody had better hit me over the head soon or I'll just keep on going forever. We ran out of wall space long ago, every closet is filled to bursting and even the beds have more than shoes under them these days.


God's Country, new home, new job.

I rolled up to Canada Customs in my overloaded VW, opened the car door and fell out with two frantic cats glued to my back and shoulders. Disengaging them carefully I led them over to a patch of grass expecting them to do the decent thing. They had a different plan in mind and made straight for a nicely tended flower garden: Eden compared to the sardine can they had just left. I spent the next fifteen minutes untangling leashes and trying to get them back into the car, yowling pitifully, so that I could check my papers through Customs.

Easier said than done. Because Don was not travelling with me I was viewed with suspicion even though my documents were in perfect order. For two hours the cats and I tried to comfort each other while we waited for permission to enter Canada. It was dark when we were finally allowed to pass and there were still another two or three hours to go before reaching Port Hope, with cats pacing the car like caged ocelots on heroin.

Asleep, that night, my nightmare journey replayed endlessly while our two cats prowled up and down stairs in Pap's antique laden house. At 3 a.m. I was thumped and jostled awake by two excited felines batting a dead mouse around in the middle of my bed. Horrified, I woke Don, who gallantly leaped out of bed, picked up the mouse by its tail, threw it into the toilet, and flushed. Still shaken by the rude awakening, I decided to use the facilities myself. I lifted the lid and saw the poor moribund mouse still floating in the bowl - water pressure hadn't been strong enough to push it all the way down so Don had to use the toilet brush to send it on its final journey. What a night.

In the morning I was greeted by a stormy Pap. He had discovered some lumps of what looked like cat poop on the dining room carpet and was not at all pleased. On closer examination the lumps turned out to be dead baby mice unearthed from a nest that must have existed behind the fireplace screen. Pap's face lit up at this discovery and from that moment on he was pleased to have our cats in his house - even when they broke one of a pair of prized vases later on.

Because that old house was home to many mice I had to close my eyes to the carnage that ensued. For the privilege of staying in Port Hope, those poor rodents had to pay with their lives. The sooner we found a place of our own the safer they would be.

Pap took a great interest in the search for our new home and he came with us to see the final selections I had culled with the help of an estate agent. The vote was unanimous for the house we have lived in now for thirty-three years. The front is unprepossessing but the back takes us into a wilderness ravine filled with wildlife that includes foxes, raccoons, skunks, ground hogs, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and even the occasional deer and coyote.

So, after the big move had been made, we settled in and I hoped that we would never have to move again. I told myself that the only travelling I wanted to do from now on was to make occasional visits to my family in South Africa.

Don was soon back into his workaholic daze at the office, and finding a new job for me turned out to be relatively easy. Within a month I had started work for the two senior partners of Marshall, Macklin and Monaghan, consulting engineers and surveyors, with offices on Don Mills Road. It was a job that turned out to be mutually satisfying and I made a great many new friends there.

It was at about this time, also, that I started getting commissions to paint portraits for some of the staff who had discovered my hidden hobby. I even did a partially nude painting of one of the girls in the office (for her husband, she said). He came along to supervise the pose, which I then photographed, and painted later on.

Now that we were settled in a community of our own I intended to join an arts group, so it was exciting to discover that there was an organization called The Art Guild of Scarborough just a few blocks from our house. What luck! I dialled the number, got through to the secretary, and was invited to attend one of the Thursday evening meetings at the local community centre. I clearly remember the names of the members I sat between that night, including the name of the artist who was demonstrating. It was such a stimulating experience that I joined up right away, started attending meetings regularly, and have continued to do so for the past thirty-two years. Who would have thunk it??

Back in 1970 there were under fifty members in the Guild and it was easy to join. Nowadays, with a membership of one hundred and seventy-five, it takes two to three years on a waiting list before it is possible to become a member. All of which just goes to prove what a good organization it is.

Meanwhile, Pap was jigging along comfortably with Jimmy as his general factotum-cum-driver, helped out by a lady friend of Jimmy's in the housekeeping and cooking department. Then one day, quite out of the blue, Jimmy just up and died of a heart attack. This sudden turn of events threw Papboy into a real tizzy. The lady friend-cum-cook decided she didn't want to stay on without Jimmy and Pap was obliged to seek new help. He came to stay with us while a proper search was conducted.

Pap and I pored over the replies to an advertisement we had placed in the newspaper. Several interviews were arranged and I served tea to prospective applicants in the living room. Papboy, as usual, wanted to do all the talking so I learned to do some quiet probing on the side. After the applicants had left we discussed our impressions and it was left up to Pap to make up his mind. Most of them were not at all inspiring and we had got down to the last couple: Nellie and Norman, without having made a choice.

Norman was small and pale with a rather unctuous manner, but he was respectful and well-dressed. Nellie looked nice in an old-fashioned way and was patently eager to please. They had good references and were quite willing to relocate to Port Hope because they knew there was an excellent Kingdom Hall there. Uh, oh. Nellie and Norman were Jehovahs Witnesses. If they tried to convert a crusty old Baptist like Pap there would be trouble. But..."We'll, give it a try," said Pap.

Norman spent countless hours polishing, not only the silver, but all of the doorknobs in the house and Nellie kept everyone well fed. Pap was having some trouble with his own heart at this time and, mindful of Michael's and Jimmy's fate, was disposed to take a little more care of himself. This took the form of only having two pieces of bacon and one egg for breakfast instead of his usual double portions of both.

Genevieve grows up.

In 1971 the Orthogenic School reminded Kay that Genevieve would be required to leave Chicago after her birthday in March. Kay, living in Vineland again with Larry and Rod, was by now deeply involved in owl conservation with huge outdoor cages built to house the hundreds of owls that were being sent to her for rehabilitation. Introducing Genevieve into this environment would be disastrous for the birds and extremely stressful for both Kay and Larry. So Kay sought alternatives, one of which was the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital.

Some time later Don and I were asked to attend a meeting at the hospital, with Kay and Larry, to discuss Genevieve's possible admittance. We were advised that there would be no therapy or individual care for Genevieve, that she would be placed in a large ward with patients of all ages, given a small dresser for her clothes, and essentially left to her own devices. Don wept quietly throughout the entire meeting and it was left to Kay to ask a number of pertinent questions.

For Kay, placing Genevieve in Whitby seemed like the only alternative. On the way home, however, I urged Don to stop crying, and said that we could not allow Genevieve to be placed in what was essentially an insane asylum: if need be I would give up my job to look after her myself. Of course, I had no idea what taking care of Genevieve might involve, it was just an emotional response to a situation which seemed untenable for both of us.

The first thing I did was write to Dr. Bettleheim to ask his advice about Genevieve's continuing care. His reply did not recommend that she stay with us at home. He said Genevieve needed to lead a very structured life among peers, that she would never grow beyond the present stage of her development and that trying to keep her at home would have extremely negative effects on other family members. So there it was. What to do now?

I wrote to Kay to ask if she would reconsider her decision to place Genevieve in the Whitby Hospital and offered to try to find an alternative home for her from Toronto. Kay gratefully agreed to let me try so I contacted my old employers, the Canadian Association for Retarded Children. They referred me to Suffolk House, which was a testing facility, and I arranged to take Genevieve in for evaluation as soon as we had fetched her from Chicago. The carriage was in place and all we had to do now was set the wheels in motion. I wrote to Dr. Bettleheim again and told him of our plans. Fine, we could pick her up in May.

Regretfully I explained the situation to my employers and then handed in my resignation. They were kind, sympathetic and understanding. I still wear the gift I received at a farewell party they gave for me: a gold charm bracelet with two charms on it: one is a little desk with a typewriter on it (the typewriter flips over and disappears beneath the desk), and the other is my zodiac sign, Virgo. The bracelet has acquired a few more charms over the years and it doesn't jangle any more because now I wear it as a necklace instead.

Next I decorated a room for Genevieve, complete with stuffed toys and children's books. Everything was in readiness as we set off for Chicago by car early one Saturday morning. Both of us nervous, not knowing what to expect, we went straight to the School so as not to waste any time because our plan was to be back in Toronto by nightfall.

The transfer of Genevieve into our care was effected very quickly with no instructions given nor advice received. She left with a suitcase containing all of her clothes and one small circular green bath mat. Genevieve herself seemed nervously excited and I don't really think she knew she was leaving Chicago forever.

Uninterested in the pillows, blanket or small cuddly musical toy on the back seat, Genevieve kept yelling loudly and pointing at anything passing by. Wound up like a spring ready to go "sproing" at any moment, her speech was all but incomprehensible to us. We stopped once for supper - and to go to the washroom - and then, many hours later, arrived home totally drained and exhausted, ready to collapse.

Not Genevieve, though. She was as hyper as she had been when we first got her. However, I unpacked her suitcase, helped her to wash and get into pyjamas, wound up her musical toy and told her it was time to go to sleep. We both kissed her goodnight, put out the light and fell into bed ourselves. It felt like one of the longest and most stressful days of our lives.

At 2 a.m. I sat bolt upright in bed: there were lights on and music was playing loudly. I jumped up and found Genevieve fully dressed in the same clothes she had taken off no more than three hours before; every light in the house had been turned on, including all the elements on the stove, and the stereo was blaring out classical music. "No, no, Genevieve, honey," I said. "It's still night time. You will have to go back to sleep." So I helped her to undress, put on her pyjamas, and tucked her into bed again. I showed her a small alarm clock, pointed to 8 o'clock and told her not to get up before that time. Then we went back to sleep and I think she did too.

The five days that Genevieve spent at Suffolk House being tested were tough on her. For someone who needed to live in a structured environment the world must have seemed terribly disjointed and uncertain. She had been plucked from her home of nineteen years by a father she hardly knew and a stepmother she knew not at all; then taken into an unfamiliar house before ending up in another institution being examined by at least 15 psychologists.... I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for her.

When I drove down to visit with her each day they told me that she had been crying in the night. Poor Genevieve. It was a relief for both of us when the fifth day came and I was called to a meeting with the staff and psychologists. Don was unable to be present and my heart was beating fast as I sat at a table with at least fifteen other people to hear the results of their assessment.

The bottom line was that Genevieve had the mental development of a four year old and was unlikely to improve beyond that point. They recommended a privately run home in Campbellford, On. and gave me the name and telephone number of the people to contact. Genevieve and I drove home, two strangers who were destined to get to know each other very well in the future.

The results of the assessment were expected by us since they had already been confirmed by Dr. Bettleheim. However, it was encouraging to think that there might be a permanent residence for Genevieve with all the fine qualities that had been described to me at Suffolk House. So I called Mrs. Ridley at Wingfield and she invited us to bring Genevieve up for a preliminary visit. We fixed on two weeks away as we planned to take her up to the cottage for a vacation first. "Stay for lunch and don't forget to bring Genevieve's bathing suit" were the last words Mrs. Ridley said before I put down the phone.

We had a reasonably good visit with Genevieve at the cottage; she was disposed to reach out to us at that time and would often almost choke me by clinging to my neck. It was also extremely exhausting because Genevieve has a very short fuse and is quick to throw a tantrum. Over the years she has broken her bed and several lamps and radios that I know of. She tends to pick up anything that is close to her and let it fly. Because she has no control of her emotions, I have learned to control my own in response to her tantrums so I just leave her alone to get over her bad humour. I would be pretty bad humoured myself if I had her limitations.

Wingfield turned out to be the perfect place for Genevieve. With a large farmhouse and three additional buildings beside, it is owned and operated by a Dutch family called the Klompmakers who treat their charges with great care and compassion.

The setting is rural and most residents also attend a sheltered workshop in Campbellford during the week. We know that Genevieve is happy there now. It didn't happen overnight, of course, but she has at last come to understand that she has two homes and that they are interchangeable.

Each year Genevieve participates in the Special Olympics in Kingston and she looks forward to it for many months: she runs and jumps in the competitions, everyone gets a medal (win or lose) "and hamburgers and coke and French fries" as I am told often enough. She is also a sports fan with a large collection of hockey and baseball cards. Don spends countless hours sorting them into teams and putting them in albums for her and then, as soon as he looks the other way she takes them out, shuffles them around and puts them in her pocket.

Genevieve also loves pomp and ceremony, and anything to do with the Royal family or the Pope or marching bands or Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. She goes to church regularly in Campbellford and I've heard her trying to hum hymns when she hears them on TV - oh, and she loves Jesus too, especially at Christmas time when she's home for two weeks. Normally she comes home once a month for four days (to watch Sesame Street, go shopping and to the movies for popcorn).

Now that Genevieve is fifty she has put on some weight and has to take pills to lower her cholesterol. Just like her Dad. Apart from that I think she is as well and as happy as she can be under the circumstances.

I would like it if she didn't wet the bed every night, of course, but otherwise we are grateful that she has friends among her peers and is as functional as she is. And every day of our lives we bless her caregivers at Wingfield.

Oh, dear, Papboy was definitely getting frailer now....suffering from congestive heart failure but still getting around reasonably well. Unfortunately Norman and Nellie decided to retire and so once again the search was on for replacements. Pap moved back with us and we went through the usual routine. This time he ended up with a very strange couple indeed. A large rather blowsy woman who came into our living room with a tiny little Chihuahua tucked under her arm, accompanied by a husband whom I barely remember. The Chihuahua started yapping the moment he saw our cats and they promptly disappeared under a bed, terrified at the sight of such a strange creature.

Even though I did not have a good feeling about this couple, Pap invited them to start immediately. They turned out to be very disappointing, often absent doing something else when Pap wanted them, and meals were not well prepared either. However, they were all going to jig along together uncomfortably for at least a little while longer.

When I joined the Art Guild of Scarborough in 1970 I had no idea that it would set me on a long path of volunteerism that would last for many decades. It started in my first year with an art show, proceeded in the second year to being Vice-president, then later as Secretary, and President (several times over the years). In '74 the Guild nominated me to receive the award for Visual Arts presented each year (along with many others) by the Recreation & Parks Department to honour volunteers. The plaque I was given is still proudly displayed in our TV room. More about volunteering later, though.

The exciting news of the moment was that Mum was planning to visit us again and intended to stay for six months. This time we were going to make sure to spend a lot more time up at the cottage. Before she arrived, I rushed around spiffing up the house so that it would be neat and tidy enough to pass inspection when she arrived. (My sister-in-law, Joan, is a superb cook and housekeeper, you see, so there are definitely times when I suffer from the comparison.)

Mum loved our new house and spent a lot of time sitting out in the back garden reading or knitting. She's an outdoorsy person, my Mum, and a sportswoman too. Actually I'm not really sure that she IS my Mum because she often says she doesn't know where she got me.

I quickly caught up on all the South African news: my niece Cheryl, a dancer, teaching ballet classes at twenty two; Geoffrey, now twenty still into mischief, and Raylene getting ready to take a Home Economics course at College. It was going to be my turn to visit South Africa in '75 and I couldn't wait to see them all again.

One day early in '73 I received a phone call from the couple who were looking after Pap. They wanted to let us know that they would be leaving Port Hope because Papboy was becoming difficult and he was also walking around without his trousers on! Hmm. Pap was obviously getting fuzzy.... the trousers story didn't surprise me much (remember the washbasin down on the dock?) but I suspect that he was just walking around looking for his under shorts. Clearly, though, Pap's health was deteriorating and he could no longer live alone. I suggested that, instead of looking for new housekeepers, he should come to live with us and he agreed.

The house in Port Hope was sold and all the magnificent antiques and other contents auctioned off by either Sotheby's or Waddingtons over a period of two days. It would have been painful for Pap to see his belongings being bandied around so he didn't attend the sale, but Joan and I were there to keep track on his behalf.

So Pap moved into our downstairs TV room with some of his own favourite pieces of furniture around him. His double bed, a comfortable chair and lamp, a small Persian carpet. We bought a new colour TV which he couldn't really hear but enjoyed watching nevertheless. Even his eyesight was marginal by then because one day he told me that women were silly because they put "Oil of Clay" on their faces. Papboy loved the mohair rug that was given to me when I left AOC in South Africa and relinquished it only when he died in 1975.

Having Pap at home was a bit distracting. He kept trying to orchestrate my paintings (he had done a few, himself, in his salad days) so I decided to take up decoupage in self defence. After completing the first course I was asked by the instructor to teach a class of beginners myself. Flattered, I agreed, and spent the next two years teaching a succession of ladies how to convert plain bottles into elegantly decorated ones, with unusual tops, and how to shape wood into interesting wall plaques using electric drills and sandpaper. Once the shapes had been created, magazine photographs or fancy wrapping papers were used to create designs on them and these would then be overlain with up to fifteen or more layers of varnish.

One of my pieces was even featured on TV: Channel 9's news program previewing the first show by the Decoupeurs Guild of Ontario. It also won a cup for best design under varnish so I was quite chuffed about that. Unfortunately all the sanding that decoupage required eventually gave me bursitis in my right elbow and I had to quit but I still have many pieces around to remind me of that phase of my life.

Pap used to spend his days reading, eating caramel candies, dozing and watching TV. He had become very frail, wouldn't eat properly (no doubt because of the candies) and his heart problem was getting worse. His ankles were swollen all of the time and he had become totally incontinent.

It was a sad day in 1975 when Papboy died in hospital at the age of 88. His ashes were scattered up at Pig and to commemorate his memory his name is inscribed on a totem at the Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough. William Thomas Aikins MacFadyen was a kind and generous man whose presence is still very much a part of our lives. I think of him every time I see a chipmunk.

Rod turned twenty-one in 1975 and at this point was studying biology at Queen's University. We drove to Kingston on his birthday to celebrate the occasion; he seemed pleased to see us but I thought he looked really lonely.

Rod has always been an introverted and solitary soul who does not assimilate comfortably into social gatherings or make friends easily. Unlike his garrulous father and grandfather (or maybe because of them), Rod is the calm, silent type who rarely speaks. I've always thought a happy medium would be nice but, ever since I got hooked up with the MacFadyen family, that has turned out to be an unattainable dream.

Rod eventually left Queen's U and completed his degree at Brock University in Vineland. It was difficult to find employment from that rural community so in 1976 he came to live with us. Rod moped around without any direction for several months before Don sent him to a company that assessed candidates' intellectual capacity and suggested optimum career paths. Seems our dear Rod came out in the top 3% of intelligence.

When I asked him a little while ago what career paths had been suggested for him he said: "Used car salesman". Yeah, right. Salesman was the last choice on the list, with computers very near the bottom. At any rate whatever the prime suggestions were, Rod was soured on academia and would have none of it. Eventually I bullied him into taking a computer course at Control Data and after that he went to work as a programmer for IBM.

Rod grew a beard during his first vacation so that nobody would ever know whether he was smiling or not. Despite the fact that he has a successful career at IBM and has received numerous awards to prove it, he would retire in a heartbeat to cultivate and plant native wildflowers in the garden and spend time playing with our cats. Soon, Rod, soon.... only eighteen more years to go.


Long Island, a new job, Mum and Chichi.

No weight on that broken ankle for a month and then a new walking cast would allow me freedom from crutches. Don, mercifully, back in Long Island because Papboy and Mary fussing around was more than enough for me.

Going back to work at CARC seemed out of the question so wheels were set in motion to find a replacement secretary. Fortunately Dr. Roeher understood the situation perfectly and, before long, had engaged someone else to take my place. As a postscript to my time at CARC, I was sad to read, many years later, that Dr. Roeher had been killed in a plane crash.

Six weeks later the cast came off my injured ankle and, apart from a still angry-looking scar from lip to nose and several new bumps and depressions on my lips, I was able to walk about town without frightening the horses. There was one problem, though. I couldn't pronounce my "p's" properly. They came out like "f's". Don lamented that I would never be able to work for a lawyer because I would be required to say "the party of the first part" and you know what that would have come out like.

In August '66, my US visa and work permit were granted at last. Don flew to Toronto so that we could have one last trip up to Pig before driving my newly repaired VW back to Long Island. Papboy seemed disconsolate but since he and bachelor Jimmy had bonded so well we knew they would keep busy traipsing around the countryside looking for trouble.

Pap did, indeed, manage to find some trouble when he bought a run-down old chicken farm, in the village of Welcome, shortly after our departure. The "farm" was devoid of chickens but extremely well-populated with fleas. Pap actually persuaded himself that he was going to build something on the property one day, but it never happened and the flea farm was eventually put on the chopping block.

Once we got settled in Huntington, I enjoyed fixing up our own home for the first time. Every house we had lived in up to this point had belonged to someone else, most of them with a lot more money than we had to spend on decorating, too. Being thrifty by nature, I scoured house sales, furniture sales, and flea markets, to find bargains some of which have remained an integral part of our furnishings to this day. Two stuffed and arm-less chairs have been particularly beloved by a succession of Siamese cats who considered the nicely curved back and sides to be perfectly elegant scratching pads.

As soon as decorating the house had been fully completed, I started checking out employment possibilities. First I took a job in a one-woman office working for a man who made some sort of gauges that regulated water levels.... I think.... it was a long time ago. I spent the days dusting furniture, sharpening pencils, taking an occasional telephone call and putting up curtains made of fibreglass that left my hands and arms covered with painful scratches. I seldom saw my employer and so, after a couple of months of inactivity, I got fed up and started looking elsewhere for a more challenging job.

This turned out to be in a busy orthodontist's office in Smithtown (about 30 minutes drive down a highway from Huntington). At the interview Dr. Conarck gave me an extensive IQ test. He told me that I didn't do well on any of the math questions, but said he liked my personality and hired me to start right away. I was chuffed to hear about the "personality" part, that's for sure.

It was midwinter and during my first day at the office, a blizzard dropped so much snow on New York that the highway closed down completely. Don called to suggest that I stay in a motel room for the night and, at first, Dr. C. tried to help me find one. Then he must have spoken to his wife about it because he insisted that I spend the night with them instead: would I mind sharing a room with his mother-in-law? It was the last thing I wanted to do, but what could I say? "Thank you very much, I'd be most grateful" was all I could think of.

So we struggled through massive snowdrifts to the Conarck home and I spent an uncomfortable night sleeping in my undies, listening to the mother-in-law snoring loudly. At least I was given a new toothbrush but, with no make-up to wear the next morning, I felt positively scruffy and in dire need of a shower. It was an odd start to a job that eventually became stressful enough to give me high blood pressure and put me on tranquillizers for 18 months.

My new office was really quite elegant: carpets and wall coverings in soft colours, comfortable chairs, good paintings and a play area for children downstairs. I was the receptionist who also did bookkeeping, all the secretarial work and everything else associated with a busy practice that dealt with more than 50 children a day. I worked behind a glass wall, like a bank teller, and used a microphone to talk to the patients; or they could talk to me through a hole in the glass if they wanted to.

At first I practised using all kinds of sultry voices over the mike but when it got really busy I would simply push the button and yell out the name of the next victim. Sometimes parents would drop their children off and then leave. If the children misbehaved, I went out and read the riot act to them very sternly. I do believe that if I'd had a whip I would have cracked it. Maybe it's just as well I didn't have any children of my own, after all.

One of my extra curricular duties at the office involved gerbils.

Dr. Conarck had ordered two gerbils for the play area from a catalogue. Unfortunately children poked at them so much that they lost their sex drive and wouldn't procreate. This was not good, as there was a growing list of anxious patients waiting to become adoptive parents. The list even specified whether the adoptee should be male or female. Fortunately I could tell which was which because the male's hind end was pointier than the more-rounded female one. Each child was told, of course, that only one gerbil was allowed per little person.

When the situation got critical, and whining became unbearable, Dr. Conarck bought two more (hopefully sexier) gerbils from a pet store and took the sterile pair home. The two new gerbils didn't seem to mind children looking on at all, they were as randy as rabbits, and within a few weeks (or maybe six) they had produced their first litter of five: eyes shut, sans hair, bright red and squeaky. I started to spit on the end of my pencil, eagerly, getting ready to reduce the waiting list by five.

Taking my duties seriously, as always, I went downstairs to check on the new brood the day after they were born only to discover that one of the five was missing. That's funny, I thought. Maybe I had miscounted. Puzzled, I changed the water and replenished the kibbles. The next day, there was only three left. What was going on? I looked all round the office, then counted again. Definitely only three. Then it dawned on me that either one, or both, of those parents was a cannibal - they had eaten two of their own babies! Horrified, I reported the infanticide to Dr. C. As usual, we suspected the male, found a box and removed him immediately. Since no more babies were eaten after that we assumed that the male must have been jealous of the competition and had simply decided to eat it.

The handbook, however, advised that cannibalism would occur if the gerbils were stressed out and so, from then on, whenever a litter was born the gerbils were transported to the Conarck home to breed and feed in peace. It worked for the sterile pair too because, in the privacy of the Conark home, they also started to produce offspring. Our waiting list soon emptied and it wasn't long before I was pleading for new adoptive parents and offering pairs and triplets as special incentives for good behaviour. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.

In all the years of separation from my family in South Africa, my mother and I kept up a weekly exchange of letters that helped us to stay connected even though we were many thousands of miles apart. So now, three years after my father's death, I wanted her to visit us in Long Island for as long as she could stay.

Up to this point no-one in my family had met Don and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for my two loved ones to get to know each other. I broached the subject with Mum. She loved the idea but would we mind if she brought her little dog Chichi as well? Oh, boy! Don was overjoyed at the prospect of having a dog around the house again.

No sooner had the visas and travel documents been processed than my little Mum and Chichi arrived at Kennedy Airport to be met by an ecstatic daughter and happy son-in-law. Mum and Don loved each other on sight as I knew they would and, of course, there is no need to describe my own feelings of joy in the matter. Ultimately we were able to keep my mother with us in Long Island for 18 wonderful months until time ran out on her visa renewals.

In the summertime we went for picnics on some of the pristine sandy beaches along the southern shore, we drove for miles through towns that stretched from Queens to Montauk. We saw lighthouses and parks and antique stores, visited Coney Island, Fire Island, Jones Beach - there was always something to see and do on weekends.

Of course, during weekdays both Don and I had to work so Mum would spend time watching TV, walking Chichi, and, best of all, making warm, nourishing meals for us to eat when we got home tired from work. I never had it so good.

Nineteen sixty seven was a banner year for us in one other respect: Rod, now 13 years old, came to L.I. to spend a part of the summer with us. It was wonderful being able to take him to all of our usual weekend jaunts as well as to the Aquarium and the Bronx Zoo.

Rod's mother, Kay, had just married Larry McKeever and they were living in Larry's cottage on Chemong Lake while a new home was being built to Kay's specifications nearby. The other inhabitants of the cottage included Rod's two pet flying squirrels, four dogs: two schnauzers, one cairn and a huge Scottish deer hound. Oh, and three owls in cages that Kay had rescued from a pet shop! No one could have imagined that those three birds were just the forerunners of hundreds more - or that Kay would dedicate her life to the care and rehabilitation of owls and, in doing so, receive the Order of Canada and become a world renowned authority in the process. No wonder Rod developed into the ardent conservationist he is today.

When the time came for Rod to return to Canada we drove him back through New England, Vermont, and Massachusetts, toured historic Old SturbridgeVillage, then went on to Montreal to experience Expo '67: a wonderful new-born "city" of pavilions and exhibits from all over the world. After that it was on to Port Hope and a quick visit up to Pig for everyone.

The first time Pap saw my mother he greeted her warmly. Then he saw Chichi and the two of them reared back on their heels, eyes popping, neither one of them knowing quite what to make of the other.

Pap, wanting to be friends, decided to let Chichi out for a breath of fresh air while Mum and I were out. Chichi, not believing his good luck, took off down the road in search of adventure with Pap in stately pursuit brandishing his walking stick imperiously. When we returned shortly afterwards it was to find Papboy, flushed and furious, walking up the road with a sad-looking dog draped under one arm. We apologized profusely on behalf of Chichi, naturally, but further than that we dared not go.

My outdoorsy Mum loved Pig on sight and could have stayed there forever except that Don and I had to get back to work again. So we returned via Peterborough, dropped Rod off at the Chemong Lake cottage, then kept on going past Niagara so that Mum could see the falls.

As we pulled into the driveway at GPC at the end of our journey, I think that all three of us felt it was really rather wonderful to get back home again after so much travelling.

One of the tasks I found most stressful at the office was having to tell people that their accounts were overdue and demand payment as soon as possible. I heard many strange and pitiful stories as a result of my calls: mothers had died, fathers had run away with floozies next door, broken legs, dying grandmothers, husbands who had lost their jobs, divorce, separation, accidents..... and each time I was obliged to say "pay up, or else" as diplomatically and sympathetically as I could. It was really tough.

Mornings in the office were generally quiet, when one and two-hour appointments were scheduled to put bands on new patients, but it was bedlam in the afternoons with children coming in every ten or fifteen minutes for adjustments or emergencies. There was little time to take notes or to type the lengthy reports that Dr. Conarck sent to dentists and parents, let alone keep all of the accounts up to date, send out bills, and tend to the gerbils as well.

Ah, yes, the gerbils. With two sets of the little rodents reproducing regularly and no more names on the waiting list, Dr. C decided that the only way to stem the tide of fecundity was to return both couples to the pet store free of charge. We all agreed, with sighs of relief, that it was the most sensible thing to do.

The front garden of our home on GPC sloped down steeply to the street. The house itself was built on two acres of woodland, most of which was at the back. There was an aboveground swimming pool which Mum dipped herself into whenever it got very hot but the pool was difficult to keep clean because of the many leaves that fell into it every day.

The house to the right of ours was occupied by a couple with a 12-year old daughter, called Faith, who had a large black dog. Unfortunately, Faith's mother had attempted suicide some years before and suffered brain damage as a consequence (I think her husband had been unfaithful). Lacking a functional mother, Faith adopted me as a substitute and spent a great deal of time visiting unannounced, along with her big black dog. We used to make cookies together.

One day Mum was sitting in the back yard, accompanied by Chichi, when the big black dog (BBD) appeared and attacked Chichi without provocation. My mother immediately picked Chichi up, BBD let go of the dog and transferred his teeth to my mother's right index finger, biting it right down to the bone. We didn't hear Mum's screams for help because we were in the basement cleaning Don's seven tropical fish tanks. So, with great presence of mind, Mum twisted BBD's collar until he could no longer breathe and was forced to release her finger. When she staggered inside, dripping blood and shaking like a leaf, we immediately rushed her to a clinic for a tetanus shot and to have the wound properly dressed. Unfortunately, despite those precautions, Mum's finger became badly infected and (as a permanent reminder of Long Island) she has been unable to bend it ever since.

Nineteen sixty eight went by very quickly for me. We had another very snowy winter and shovelling our steep driveway became an extreme sport. Luckily my rear end was well padded. Even Mum suffered one day when she accidentally locked herself out of the house during a snowstorm and had to take refuge with neighbours to the left of us. After phoning Don from their house he came home to rescue her.

Meantime we packed in as much activity as we could. We saw Man from La Mancha at the Westbury Theatre, and it was wonderful. Then there was a concert by Ed Ames at the same theatre which made me a fan of his forever. And South Pacific, performed on a stage built out over the water at Jones Beach, had its own special magic in that setting. Strange, isn't it, how music triggers such vivid memories of people and places we have known?

When my mother finally went back to South Africa we were sad that she had left but grateful for the eighteen happy months she'd been able to spend with us. It was comforting to know, also, that her visits would now become regular events and that I would be able to visit the rest of my family in South Africa in due time.

To cheer ourselves up after Mum's and Chichi's departure, Don and I decided to acquire some pets of our own. We chose two wonderful Siamese cats, the sleek and elegant seal points, Misty and Mingo. M. and M. were to give us endless years of unforgettable pleasure: fifteen for Mingo and twenty-three for Misty.

Next we thought it would be a good idea to take a series of night-time art classes being offered by the local library. Don chose a course in watercolour painting and I opted for one in oils. The thought of doing something creative was exciting to both of us so we signed up right away and arranged to buy each other paint supplies for Christmas.

We spent Christmas in Port Hope with Papboy as usual and while I was oohing and aahing over a large paint box with tubes of every imaginable colour, big brushes, small brushes, palette knives, canvas and solvents, Don was down in the basement making me an easel. By the time he returned with the finished product I had already produced paintings of two of Pap's Christmas cards that didn't seem half bad to me. I decided that this was going to be a really fun hobby, and it has been, too. Although Don gave up after doing one watercolour, I've kept on painting with unabated pleasure to this very day.

Rod, now fifteen years old, returned to stay with us again during the summer of '69. I didn't see as much of him as I would have liked because he took a summer job at Don's office, looking at photographs stereoscopically, in order to count telephone poles. It was also the year of the moon landing and I particularly remember sitting in front of the television, open-mouthed with awe, as that historic event unfolded.

Unfortunately, my job at the orthodontist's office had been taking its toll on me for some time at this point. High blood pressure, caused by stress, was diagnosed as the cause of my malaise and I was given tranquillizers to stop chronic heart palpitations and fatigue. I knew that my health problems were caused by my job but because I didn't want to leave Dr. C. in the lurch by resigning I would just take another pill and keep on going.

When Genevieve turned seventeen years old, Kay received a letter from the Orthogenic School advising that she would soon have to be discharged since there was nothing further they could do for her. Dr. Bettleheim suggested a preliminary visit home to test the waters. Sadly, the waters turned out to be far too hot.

Genevieve was uncontrollable: she threw tantrums, broke things, screamed constantly in frustration and sent the birds and animals into perpetual panic. We were all disheartened by the failed visit and Genevieve returned to Chicago for two more years.

Then, just when I thought I could not cope with going to the office for one more day, Fate took a hand in the matter. Don was recalled to Toronto and I had a legitimate reason to hand in my resignation. It was a great relief, albeit short-lived, because now it meant sorting, packing and moving again. Fortunately for Don he was absent through most of it.

I haven't mentioned much about the seven tropical fish tanks that Don kept in the basement of GPC, perhaps because they were the bane of my existence for so long. They were all guppies acquired when we first arrived at GPC to satisfy Don's boyhood fascination with the species.

We hadn't been in the house more than a month (Don was in Toronto at the time) when the whole of New York State suffered a power blackout, causing all heaters, pumps and lights to be extinguished in the fish tanks. There were no candles or matches in the house but I did have a flashlight so I went downstairs and peered at the fish: they looked alarmed and very still. It was the middle of winter and all I could think of to do was cover the tanks with towels and blankets to keep the fish from freezing. Then I hopped into bed to keep myself from freezing. When the lights came on again the next day I was relieved to see that the fish had survived. I believe it even made me feel quite heroic.

Then there was the Rape of the Innocents incident. Don attempted to breed a strain of albinos with bright red tails so all the female albinos were kept in one tank to preserve their virginity (Don kept detailed notes of births and lineage) while in the adjacent tank several proud and gloriously coloured males swished tails invitingly at the separated females.

One night (Don was away again) an impassioned male, unable to contain himself any longer, leaped through the air and landed among the virgins. He whiled the hours away impregnating every one of them I'm sure. Acting on Don's telephoned instructions, I scooped Lothario out and returned him to his own tank. He jumped again the following night. I removed him once more (and covered the tank this time) but, to tell the truth, there didn't seem to be much point by then. I was surprised that Don was not more sympathetic to that male guppy's needs.

Now that we were leaving Long Island the fish would all be going to the pet shop. I thought, rather remorsefully, that I wasn't going to miss them at all.

As expected, Papboy was delighted to hear of our imminent arrival and he promised to store our furniture in his basement until we could find a permanent home for it in Toronto.

The movers came to give us a quote and left a half-dozen large cardboard boxes into which I was to pack everything breakable. Misty and Mingo tried to help by leaping in and out of boxes, completely unaware that their lives were soon to change.

Dr. Conarck interviewed applicants for my job and I was able to help the chosen one settle in before I left. When I said goodbye, Dr. C expressed regret at losing my services but he sent me away with his blessing and an excellent reference. Working for him taught me one thing I will never forget: TMJ stands for temporal mandibular joint. This knowledge has already served me well on several occasions and I never know when it might come in handy again.

Fortunately our house was on the market for just a week before it sold for a fair price. Faith cried when I told her we were leaving and I hoped she would be happier later on in life. Who's to say she isn't making cookies for her own grandchildren right this minute?

* * * * * * * * *

There was nothing left for me to do but pack our clothes into suitcases, call the movers, load up the car, and leave. With Don still in Toronto, once the movers had left, I looked around the empty rooms of our first home together, and said goodbye for both of us.

Then I gave myself a shake, wiped the tears from my eyes, loaded the cats into the car and drove away without a backward glance. I'd moved too many times to have regrets and there was a new life waiting for us in Canada.