My maternal grandfather died when I was 11. I don’t have a lot of memories around spending time with him. I used to go to my grandparent’s apartment – and then condo – every Friday after school to celebrate the Sabbath. I would get to their place just in time to watch The Price is Right with my grandfather in his room.
Yes, they each had their own bedroom. As a child, I didn’t think twice about that setup. It was only after he was gone and the room sat untouched that I thought it was odd for married people to sleep apart.
My grandmother was devastated when her husband of almost 40 years passed away quietly in his sleep. At the funeral, she tried to throw herself into his grave, while her half-brothers and sisters pulled her away from the freshly dug earth. It was the first time I had ever seen grief so deep, and it was the first time I had ever seen an abundance of emotion from my grandmother.
I never really connected with my grandmother after that day. She withdrew into herself, waiting for her time to come. She wouldn’t talk about what she thought, or about her feelings for my grandfather, or about her life growing up. My mother and I continued to go to her condo for Friday night dinners, but the conversations were short, and not always cordial.
When my grandmother passed away in 2001, I took on the task of cleaning out her condo. Among the saved up rolls of paper towels and plastic bags, I found treasure after treasure. I was left sitting on the carpet in the master bedroom surrounded by the relics of a woman I realized I did not even know.
I had her Polish passport and her ticket from her voyage across the Atlantic to Halifax in 1929. She lied about her age and had her passport falsified so she could travel as a minor under the care of her aunt and uncle. Her parents? I have no idea what happened to them – other than the simple fact that my great-grandmother died when she was very young.
I found photos of her from a photo booth – remember those? The woman in the photos had a sparkle in her eye, and was having fun. I found a photo of her with her half-sister – two young ladies in their early 20s walking down the street in Toronto, in mid-laugh about something.
Such joy I had never seen from my grandmother. Ever.
I realized then that I knew almost nothing about my grandparents – both maternal and paternal. My own parents know very little about the histories of their parents. For many families of European Jewish decent, the stories are buried: in jewish cemeteries, in mass graves in concentration camps, in the lies of omission. Their stories are lost forever.
I missed the opportunity to learn from their experiences. After more than a decade since I lost my last grandparent, I find myself still wishing I could hear their voices.
It is so important for us to know our histories, to know where we started, to be able to hear the stories right from those who experienced them.
This was the inspiration behind the FAMILY VIDEO LEGACY.
These biographical storytelling films will document the experiences, knowledge and insights of your family members. The legacy of your family will be captured in an interview format, complete with a selection of treasured images that can be shared and cherished for generations.
For pricing and package information, or to view a sample, please fill out the contact form.
I was caught completely off guard by a recent trip to a sandbar in the Caribbean Sea. As part of a port excursion that included swimming with dolphins, we were treated to a rickety boat ride for almost an hour. I was tired and hungry, and mentally berating myself for not having read the fine print about what this excursion involved.
All I saw was Ride the Dolphins and visit Stingray City and I clicked “Buy”.
I mean, really, who doesn’t want to swim with dolphins? Stingray City conjured up images of a badly maintained facility where little stingrays raised in captivity were subjected to the endless pawing of tourists, but it was part of the deal. How bad could it be?
Little did I know that this was the gateway to an emotional experience I will never forget.
When the boat finally started to slow, our captain, in very complicated English, tried to explain we could jump off the boat and swim out to the sandbar. Awkward pause.
Or, he continued, we could use the ladder in front and step right onto the sandbar. His next sentences were crystal clear – be very careful where you step. You don’t want to startle the stingrays.
I glanced over at my husband. This is what his eyes were saying: What. The. Hell. Did. You. Get. Us. Into.
I stood up, looked over the side of the boat and I am sure my eyes bulged out of their sockets. My brain was trying to process exactly what I was seeing, fighting to over-rule the images conjured by my imagination.
My only exposure to stingrays was in a holding tank at a zoo. These were not the same thing.
If you spread your arms out wide, that will give you an idea of the size of these wild stingrays. Majestic.
If you think of the softest leather you’ve ever caressed, that will tell you how soft the underbelly of a stingray is. Surprising.
If you think of the intelligence you can sometimes see in your pet dog or cat, that will tell you how amazing these creatures are. Moving.
I had no idea about any of these things. I also had no clue that stingrays like to be touched. More than that, stingrays like to be the ones doing the touching, and as I was fiddling with my camera, I was suddenly surrounded by 8 stingrays, 3 of which decided it was completely appropriate to climb onto me. One on my back, two on either side of me.
It was freaky and exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.
And now I can cross that surprise item off my bucket list.
What about the dolphins? Just as amazing, but without the fear.
I get it.
We, as Candians, are pissed off about another icon being sold off to America.
We, as consumers, fear the “wrecking ball” of American companies.
But if we get past the ridiculous photos of timbit burgers, if we dig deep into our emotions, it’s easy to see why we are so upset about the Tim Hortons/Burger King merger.
It’s not business, it’s personal.
Tim Horton’s isn’t just a Canadian company, it’s the ultimate Canadian brand. Across this nation – and yes, the international markets too – Tim Horton’s is the most recognizable, welcoming, one-size-fits-all business. The stores are the same everywhere, no matter what province, city, or rural town you visit. Your experience will be the same at the Timmies in North Battleford or Charlottetown or Victoria. Same food, same coffee, same waits in the drive-thru
We’ve found warmth in wrapping our hands around a fresh cup
That last one is close to my heart. My husband and I prolonged our first date into the wee hours at a Tim Hortons. We signed the papers for our first house while sitting in a Tim Hortons and celebrated with Timbits. As we moved across this country, we bought three more houses while sitting in Tim Hortons.
Tim Hortons is so ingrained into our lives, that we are upset when we feel the brand is threatened.
For every single one of us, there is a Tim Hortons story, a memory that pops into our heads when we least expect it.
And that’s really why we take this business so personally.
I normally just shrug my shoulders and carry on when I read about a celebrity death.
But when I heard about the death of Robin Williams, my heart started to hurt just a little bit. I never met the man, but I feel a connection none the less.
I grew up with Mork.
Mork and Mindy is the first sitcom I can remember. I was 8 years old when the show started – the age when pop culture really started to become a part of my life.
I completely understood Mork – the alien, sometimes isolated and grossly misunderstood visitor. The awkward conversations, the innocent naive questions, the wholehearted friendship with Mindy.
Robin Williams taught me that humour is a great coping mechanism.
Mork and Mindy was the first couple I watched evolve from awkward roommates to platonic friends to comfortable marriage. Their relationship was a much better example for me than the one my own parents were providing.
When Mork and Mindy finally got married, I was a pre-pubescent 11 year old whose own parents were close to finally closing the books on a bitter 8-year separation.
I was naturally drawn to a family whose dysfunction was funny, whose child was an adult with wonder-filled eyes, whose absurd domestic situation was so far removed from my own and yet, people thought it normal.
At the time, I had no idea the show was spiraling into the bottom third of the ratings. I simply looked forward to my weekly dose of laughter and camaraderie in what was mostly a lonely life.
Robin, thank you for providing light to so many, even when you were surrounded by your own darkness.
Guest post from Andrea, owner of SchoolWorx
Yikes…the last week of school, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit anxious…but mostly because each day this week my kids are bringing home piles of papers, notebooks, writing samples, artwork…well basically everything and anything they created these past 10 months and piling it on my kitchen counter. Times 2 kids in full time school…that makes for one huge pile!
THIS IS WHY I STARTED SCHOOLWORX…
I get it! It’s not just another scribble, it’s part of our kids childhood memories. I always found it incredibly difficult to throw away my kids’ precious one-of-a-kind creations, from their first drawings of people to the hand made cards with their little hand prints painted and stamped as a flower.
The concept for SchoolWorx really began after my oldest child brought home a painting from preschool of a tree…but it was no ordinary tree, it had Rice Krispies glued one by one as the leaves. I thought to myself “How in the world could I save this one?” and so it started. I began photographing those pieces of art that would not stand the test of time in a box and made my children their own hard covered art books.
Once I began sharing these with friends and family it was not hard to see that I had clearly solved a problem for many of them – the desire to get rid of the bins taking up space and the relief they felt when they were finally going to preserve their children’s art that they so longed to do! Because believe me when I say…we ALL have bought scrapbooks from our favourite craft supply store…in the hopes that one day we will get the chance to fill them up! I have two that are still covered in plastic lying in my desk drawer:)
SchoolWorx uses professional series art scanners and photography to capture the perfect image, even those macaroni and feather projects look like they can be picked off the page. Chances are some of your little artists masterpieces are scratched or torn, we do our best to bring them back to their original beauty. We create high quality books and back our service with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
~Andrea, mother of 3