Sunday, September 21, 2014

Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Many years ago, on a previous blog, I wrote a poem for my Great Aunt Doris, who had Alzheimer's. She and my Great Uncle Gordon were very special people in my life, and I learned a lot from both of
Aunt Doris. Photo from the Albert County
Funeral Home's website.
them. Aunt Doris passed away in April of 2008, and Uncle Gordon left us just two weeks ago. Rather than making this a sad post, I'm going to reflect on some fond memories I have of them. There are a lot.

I was lucky to have loving grandparents growing up, but I also had some very special great aunts and uncles. Aunt Doris, my Nana's younger sister, would visit with Uncle Gordon to stay in the cabin in our lower lot--a cabin Aunt Doris's parents used to rent out to tourists many years prior. Due to the frequency of their visits, and the time we would spend together, they became like a third set of grandparents to me. Their care and love was so strong.

They were also very generous with their time. They never had any children of their own, thus having no grandchildren, so they always treated me like the granddaughter they didn't have. They took me on drives in the park, and, with my parents, we would all go on hikes together to enjoy the natural beauty of Fundy National Park. They told me that when they were visiting, I could come over anytime. Once, I took this entirely too literally. I was invited to come and see them for breakfast one morning. I combined the two offers and decided to show up to visit for breakfast--at seven AM.

A much older picture of Uncle
I was still in my pyjamas and I was excited. I went down to the lower lot and knocked on the cabin door. Uncle Gordon greeted me in his own pyjamas, his hair dishevelled--obviously they hadn't been expecting me so early. But he didn't turn me away. He greeted me with his booming "hello!" and welcomed me indoors, and I had breakfast with him and Aunt Doris.

Aunt Doris made these beautiful little shortbread cookies, and she would feed them to me with milk every time I visited them. These shortbreads were always topped with colourful rainbow sprinkles, and I would dip them in the milk to let the colours run. We would eat them together while playing dominos. She was a fantastic cook, and I would join them for suppers and lunches on a regular basis, as well. Both of them were very patient with me. When I couldn't figure out how to tie my shoes, Uncle Gordon, knowing I learned things a little differently than other kids, showed me the "bunny ears" method. To this day, I still use that method.

I'll end this with a poem I wrote in the years that Aunt Doris's Alzheimer's got to the point she didn't recognise most of us. I've edited it recently.

A decorated tin filled with
White shortbread cookies topped by
Round rainbow sprinkles that make the
Milk turn colour 

Sits on the
Kitchen table.
A fold-out table made of tin with
Sturdy aluminum legs and the scene of a
Forest brook in autumn, surrounded by sepia foliage and
The glimpse of a deer is set up before the
Couch, with a
Small box of dominoes spilled over: a
Game to be played.
I can't quite tie my
Shoes yet, but he helps me.
Two bunny ears. Tuck under. Pull. Now it's a

An overstuffed yellow armchair sits by the
Dusty screen door, and beyond that, the
Porch, where the
June bugs used to collect at night and buzz in our ears.
Strawberries grow here too, hidden in the
Tufts of grass.
She has me gather them in a
Porcelain dish. I pick them and
She washes them for me.
We eat them together.

This is what I remember, and though
You cannot, I will keep remembering
For both of us.

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