Friday, May 29, 2009

Nan: A Confession

Nan, I really should finally tell you - I absolutely hated that milk pudding you made.

On Wednesday I carried you, your head resting just a foot from my hands. We carried you to lie next to Pop and we sung your favourite hymns. It was a service you would have enjoyed.

It was surreal to walk into your house afterwards and not be greeted by a bear hug. Entering you house was always the same. The kettle was put on to boil before I could even realize you had filled it. Then the food would start to appear and it never seemed to stop. A cup of tea, bread and pickles, date squares, and tea buns, jam and molasses cookies, jam-jams, sweet raisin bread. It was useless to tell you I was not hungry as you fluttered about like a butterfly pulling jars and containers from the cupboards and fridge.

And no lunch was worthy unless something hot was made on the stove. That’s when you would whip up that milk pudding. A little bowl and a steaming hot spoonful of this gelled white mass. It reminded me of Cod liver, I know so many of your daughters and grandchildren lapped that down but I just couldn't take to it. I shoveled it down fast in an effort to pass it through my gums before I could really concentrate on the taste and texture.

Of course you saw the empty bowl and thought: "he's starving" so you would flop an even larger spoonful of this mock cod liver into my bowl. I ate that too, slower.

As I left you would pull a loaf of homemade bread from the freezer and smack the round buns like a baby's bottom. Your hands testing it to make sure it was a good enough loaf for your grandson.

The bread, the squares, homemade pickles and jam it was gold to me. The pudding not so much. I thought I should tell you that. I thought I should also tell you how much I love you, more than you would ever know. Your influence is alive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Governor General has a Heart

The Queen's representative in Canada asks for a piece of Seal Heart, she is handed a freshly cut slice and swallows it raw, commenting that is is delicious.

In that gesture she has done what very few Canadian politicians have ever done in the history of Canada. She has shown an appreciation for the regional differences that ideally define this Canada. She has sat in solidarity with the people who have lived off the resources of Canada's North long before "Canada".

When there was brief talk of adding seal fur to Canadian athletes in 2010 Vancouver there was a spark of a true coast to coast Canada, as is the national dream. It was quickly dismissed of course; few could honestly say that being Canadian is trully identiable by all of the people of this federation.

So for this one single powerful act by the governor general I congratulate her. By reaching out to this Northern culture that is so far removed from her own experience, by emercing herself into the virtue of their lives she has shown what Canada trully lacks as a country: An empathy and understanding of all of the cultural identities of this dominion.

If the dream of Canada is to be successful more of our leaders have to reach beyond their comfort level. Reach beyond being a country that is like the awkward cousin of the U.S. and look to our history and culture, the very definition of what this country could be. If only it had the heart.