Gill alerted me recently to a picture that appeared on Facebook. It was taken by her California friend when she visited us for a week when both girls were 11. We all stay in touch even though the friendship began in 1980. I have gone on a cruise with the mom and we still have long telephone conversations all these years later, picking up right where we left off.
The FB picture was hilarious. Gill (age 11), L’il Sis (age 8), Crazy D (age 10) and the California Girl (age 11) were all in bathing suits, having just played in the local creek, hence covered in mud. Their faces were plastered with huge smiles (as well as mud) and they were posing like clowns in a circus act. Not far from the truth that day! As we looked at the picture, both Gill and I had the same reaction: “We haven’t changed much! Oh, we’re older, but I still wear the same black Speedo (The Narc model as we call it) and still don’t put much thought into fashion; California Girl still looks glamorous and graceful; L’il Sis still loves fashion as exhibited by her pretty, feminine suit with the ribbons and partially makes her career from it. Crazy D…well, Crazy D, in his black male Speedo still looks like Crazy D, probably not realizing that it’s unusual to have girls as your best friends (and that includes your sisters!). Oh well, being raised by women has served him well. He’s seen the best and the worst of the female psyche and has chosen a wonderful girlfriend despite(or perhaps because of) it all!
We then searched out the original batch of pictures from which the FB one had come and spent some time laughing and remembering, having such fun that Gill ran the clock and was late to meet a dear friend. But when we get going, there’s no stopping us. The episode takes on a life of its own. There is nothing better than sharing memories and great laughs with your child.
That week in the 80s was jam-packed with adventures. We went to Ontario Place where the kids jumped in the piles of plastic balls, played games, strolled around, enjoying the lake venue, trying to convince this young Californian that Canada was every bit as ‘cool’ as California. Or perhaps, judging by some of the photos, we were simply showing off the bad fashion choices that were the 80s.
The greatest coup of the visit was Gill’s birthday. There is, near us, what used to be a ‘Pioneer Village”. I loved going there to indulge my interest in history and antiques. It consisted of log cabins, farm buildings, Old Order Mennonite homes,open spaces, a creek, and forests. An oasis in the city. I had the brilliant idea to host Gill’s party there.
To make it even more over-the-top, I sewed Mennonite-style bonnets for the girls (all 12 of them) and long skirts to match so they might more accurately experience what it was like to go back in time. Poor Crazy D…he was left with his regular jeans and a somewhat ‘country’ plaid shirt. But when all the girls and Crazy D lined up on the platform in front of the old ‘Iron Horse’ (train locomotive), everyone was beaming with happiness! One of the girls (now the mother of two and a successful career woman) confessed proudly that she still has the outfit (and still wears it for costume parties!) I didn’t know what to say! I was thrilled that the party and outfit had made such a lasting impression on her.
Gill’s California friend returned to her home remembering three important things: Canada (then) was a very clean, safe place with almost no litter; she got to play Mennonite for a day; and she had the chance (in fact, was ORDERED by an adult) to “go play in the mud!” What more does any kid want on a holiday?
It wasn’t long after that Gill visited her friend in California — proud as punch to be traveling as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ — and so began her global travels!