You get a sense of Theo's height from this photo. She never made herself small — for my parent's wedding, she chose kitten heels over flats. What a smile, and legs for days.
I have more to write about my grandmother. Here's a link to a few earlier pieces.
One of the things I'm practicing is waiting patiently for an idea to form — and remaining confident of its arrival. Good things happen under those conditions.
This week a painting turned up in my Twitter feed. It was there with a purpose — a message to get cracking. I was going to show you, but I need time with it. It's a work by a Canadian woman. Today I spent time at the Reference Library reading about her — what a character.
I had a colour print made to hang in the "office" corner of my studio apartment. A trip to the National Gallery to see it in person is in the near future. I want to stand on the spot where it was painted in Montreal.
I've felt certain for a while that another piece on Theo opens in the Montreal harbour. Her first year working as a cook on a canaller on the St. Lawrence River was likely 1933. She would have come into the city often.
I've been listening to a historic crime podcast on BBC Sounds. Journalist Audrey Gillan goes to great lengths to correct the record about three young women who were victims of a serial killer in Glasgow in the late 1960s. Police and news reports at the time laid part of the blame on the women. They were young, poor, and liked a night out and those details are used to explain away their terrible deaths.
I admire Gillan's sensitivity and found myself focusing on her process — how she conducts interviews, examines historical bias, and questions a perverse patriarchal narrative. And she's a gentle human. I was teary listening to one of the victim's grown sons talk about his mother's death for the first time. The respect in the reporting made the intimacy possible.
The skewed narrative had me thinking about what Theo was up against working on a boat, mostly with men. About the morals and values of the time and how they applied to her. Montreal was cosmopolitan, but it was still under Catholic rule, an oppressive force for a young woman with a mind and spirit of her own.
A few months after Chuck passed, I walked along the Lachine Canal toward the Atwater Market. I wondered how often Theo would have passed this way as a young woman. They were both gone. I called my aunt Pat to talk with someone who knew.
On Monday — tomorrow — my dad would have been 82. He lived way past his expiry date when he passed in 2015. We'd laugh about his longevity often.
People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it's later than it seems
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