Monday, April 14, 2008

Mabel Darby

Every time I have a chance to think about my upcoming trip to London, I automatically think about my Grandmother. She always enjoyed an adventure and never hesitated to either organize one for a bunch of seniors on a bus tour, or hop on a bus, plane, train on her own and go find one. She loved to have a friend with her, but it never seemed to stop her from forging ahead on her own. In fact, the last time she made the trek "across the pond" to the place that her Mother called "the old country," Mabel was around 80 years old and travelling solo. She did have a brother living there, but her intention was to purchase a rail pass and see the places she had always wanted to see but for some reason had never had the chance. This is exactly what she did. To learn about one of her endeavours on that trip, click here.
If my Grandmother were alive today, we would be celebrating her 96th birthday. Mabel loved a party..........loved any kind of celebration...........and loved having picture taken! In honour of her birthday, I have scanned a few pics to share. These photos, circa 1935, are classic shots of Mabel and her friends, many of whom were in her life ALL her life. They were a closeknit group living in Hamilton Ontario together, and remained in touch through all the trials and tribulations life threw at them.

I love this shot. They look kind of daring and carefree don't they? As far as Mabel was concerned, nothing was more important than her family and her friends.........especially her girlfriends.

This is a picture of Mabel and my Grandfather on their wedding day. I never met my Grandpa. Sadly and tragically, he passed away in his 40's when my Mom was only 9 years old. He was the love of their lives.

This is a photo of Mabel, my Grandfather and my Mom before my Uncle Johnny was born. I like this photo. Tonight when I was scanning it, and looking at a much larger image I was struck by how much my eyes are similar to my Grandpa and my Mom. I also see the resemblance connected to a couple of my nephews too. I had never noticed this before.

Mabel was a wonderful seamstress and in fact used to teach sewing at the local high school night classes. She had a creative flair in many areas and was always working on projects. This is a photo of her fancy outfit for Christmas, 1956.

This was taken when Mabel was in her early 80's, at my parent's cottage. She was fiercely independent and continued to drive her car until she moved into a retirement home at age 88.

A big birthday bash was planned and organized by my Mom for Mabel's 90th birthday and this picture was taken that day. She is posing with her little brother, my Great Uncle Chris. They always had a very close relationship, and I have always believed that it was partly because their personalities complimented one another, but also because when Uncle Chris was a young child, Mabel was very much a mother figure because of the circumstances in their home when they were growing up. Mabel was the one to step up to the plate to ensure everything ran smoothly......... and then when Mabel needed support after my Grandpa died, her brother Chris stepped in to help in anyway he could. They were constants in each other's lives. Always. It was my Uncle Chris who gave my Mom away on her wedding day too. And, it was Uncle Chris and his wife, my Auntie Helen who cared for me when I was a toddler when my Mom went to work. I look at this one particular picture and it conjures up so many family memories and ties that bind to me and my own family today.
I wish she was here today so I could share with her my excitement about my own upcoming adventure to England. Not only would she be full of suggestions and questions, she would pass on her lifelong advice.............don't forget to look up and around and take it all in. Then, she'd hound me about coming along! However, I know she will most definately be there in spirit, and I will most definately be yearning to ask her some questions I'm sure she has answered before but for some reason I was too pre-occupied to fully take it in at the time.
Today, I have been flooded with memories, of the events we shared and some of the talks we had over the phone.........with me living here in New Brunswick and she living in Ontario. What always came through loud and clear was her ongoing love of learning, which most likely fed her desire to travel on the road less travelled and to take along anyone willing to keep up with her. You just had to be prepared to sing off key, drink strong cups of tea, stop to smell the roses, and be open to befriending a stranger..............oh, and to look up and around.


BreadBox said...

Between this post and the previous "Sunday evening" post, you have shared a beautiful set of memories from the past, and a beautiful set of memories to be: the future's look back at now.

Have a lovely time in London, and if you wander round Covent Garden, say hello to it for me...


Awareness said...

N., thank you for linking those two posts.....i hadn't thought about it until you pointed it out. One of the very key threads that ties four daughter, me, my Mom and my grandmother Mabel is working with our hands....creative pursuits run deep.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a WONDERFUL Post, My Dear....Your Grandma sounds like such an amazingly wonderful woman. What a grand legacy---this strong family filled with so much love. Love of life; Love of Learning; Love of Family; Love Of Friendship; and just good old fashioned "love", period---end of story!

And, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, ALL those pictures. Photographs are such important touchstones, aren't they?
WONDERFUL, my dear....just truly wonderful!

Oh, and BTW: Scallawag???? LOL!
I thought I was sharing a closer look at the beauty that is before us if we just stop and really look.
Maybe 'scallawag' means something different in Canada. Here in the states it descibes something I hope I never have been or ever will be.

Under there... said...

What a wonderful post and what a wonderful life!! Your text and photos really capture the movement of someone fully alive in her lifetime. It sounds like she never settled for a half-lived life. This post really deserves a standing ovation!

Gypsy said...

Mabel sounds like a lady who lived life to the full. How wonderful to have lived life in such an adventurous and happy way.