Queens, Floats, and Marching Bands

Queens, Floats, and Marching Bands

My grandmother was very artsy-fartsy. I mean that in the fullest of that expression, both literal and descriptive. I have this crazy memory of being a younger boy spending time at my grandparent’s home, along with my younger brother when one afternoon we came across my grandmother cooking away in the kitchen as she so often did. Then, to our awkward surprise she ‘let one go’. However, she started belly laughing and grabbed onto the counter-top – and I swear, through the memory of probably a 10-year old boy, she ‘let one go’ for the next two minutes straight! In a strange adolescent boyish way my grandmother earned my respect that afternoon. My brother and I would talk about that moment for years after.

However, what I meant was that my grandmother had an art studio in her home. She was always up to her elbows in crafts. She did pottery, painting, decorating, sewing, ect… and often my brother and I found ourselves caught up in it all. My grandparents called my birthplace their home. It was their home for close to 50 years and perhaps it was contained in the notion of staying put that one derived ‘wealth’ from. They had property and a home that were paid for. They had all that they wanted and were content in their lives. When their property became too much for them they carved out a smaller chunk for themselves, sold the rest, and built themselves a new home where they stayed until they needed 24-hour care.

It seemed strange to me as a little boy that they would live in a new house but still drive around in a Pontiac Acadian with the passenger carpet the only thing separating you from the ground below. My grandfather would be the only one who drove, except that he had this habit of turning on the lane change indicator and then leaving it on. Often my brother and I would be sitting in the back seat listening to my grandmother yell at my grandfather that he has left his ‘flicker-dicker’ on. My grandfather was hard of hearing.

Early on in their time in this quaint little town, um, city, they became involved in the community. So much, in fact, that they were awarded citizen’s of the year and were well talked about all over the area for their contributions made. Beginning in the early 60s my grandmother’s involvement meant that the community could host its own beauty pageant, made possible because she would sew everything from gowns to sashes to fancy decorations to table tops to float decorations for parades to marching band outfits to anything else she deemed needed decorating. Donald Trump had nothing compared to my grandmother and her enthusiasm in making sure this pageant in all its glory would go on for the next 30 years.

This, of course, meant nothing to my brother and I except that we were brought on board as an early example of child labour. We consoled each other because we knew we had a 21 cubit foot deep freezer filled to the brim with tasty treats that we could help ourselves once we have cut out 100 snowflakes and glued enough glitter onto everything to make Lady Gaga jealous. It is this intertwining of my birth, which holds no real significance given that the hospital does not exist any more, and the fact that my parents very quickly moved from this quaint little town down to the bustling metropolis of a coastal city, and my memories of my grandparents that hold the significance for me. Somehow, when I think of my birth place now, that fact is merely a passing of gas compared to the realness of spending summers at my grandparent’s home, in forced labour of course, but somewhere in the midst of it all, learning some really cool things about life as well.

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