Thursday, June 15, 2006


This past weekend the family gathered here in Ottawa for our mom's 85th birthday. And it was the first time all five siblings were together in ten years! Sister Christine (the oldest) flew in from Calgary, Eric and wife Max from Toronto, and Jon and his two teenaged daughters Marianne and Rebecca came up from Montreal. We all gathered at youngest brother Mike's place (a 20 min. bike ride for me), where he lives with his wife Jane and their youngest son Mark (home from university). Mom and step-dad Gerry (they've been together for 26 years now) came up from Kingston, and we spoiled them with a room at the ritzy Chateau Laurier Hotel.

The weather was rather crappy, being only 14 C and rainy, instead of the seasonal 23C, but the weather cleared enough for us to go for a walk down to the Ottawa River and play in the nearby park. Marianne (18) and Rebecca (14) actually love to make the trip to see family, especially here in Ottawa, since Mike and I like to play and be silly with them. Some teens can get rather uptight when the adults start getting goofy, but not these two! They join right in... (though perhaps things might be different if their friends were around).

Mom, surrounded by her offspring (L to R: Christie, Jon, Mom, Me, Mike, Eric)

The highlight was dinner of course, with dessert being a pie instead of cake. The pie featured a candle centrepiece that said "crone". This was because Mom has reclaimed that word from its typically derogatory meaning ("she's an old crone"), to reinstate it to its proper use as meaning "wise elder (woman)". I think "old crone" came into use by patriarchal men to denigrate a wise woman's powers, especially if she was calling them to task on their decisions or behaviour!

And don't worry, we had more than one pie. ;o)

After dinner was done, we gathered in the living room to do what we love best - sing! Jon played guitar, I occasionally played light percussion, and we all harmonized as we saw fit, or just listened. There are some songs Jon sings quite beautifully that Mom and the rest of us really like, so by the time those came along in the late evening we were quite sated.

The next day I had to play my weekly Sunday Brunch gig with my jazz quartet, which conveniently occurs at a restaurant right beside the Chateau Laurier! So everyone gathered there to eat and watch us do our musical thing. When the food was done I of course had to remain, and the rest headed off to visit the new and impressive (so I'm told) War Mueseum. From there they gradually made their ways back home. We all had a fabulous time, and while we're all getting older we still know how to have fun together. It's been a year of significant numbers in our family - our Dad (who lives with Nonnie, his wife of 30 years in Toronto) turned 90 back in March, Mom turned 85 in early June, and Eric turns 60 in November!

Everybody, incl. Jane's sis and family, plus Tiga the Cat.

A funny coincidence: as mentioned above, the last time all five siblings were together was ten years ago, and that was for Mike and Jane's wedding here in Ottawa. And my band The Jivewires played at the wedding. This time, the four musicians in the brunch jazz quartet were all members of the Jives for that gig! So, an interesting synchronicity of events...

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