Chloe’s First

This dinner gathering was the first time Chloe, my great granddaughter, was with my extended family. She kept us entertained with her laughter and shrieks of delight.

I am overwhelmed, more than in past times, by the goodness I have been shown by the people around this table.

It is symbolic that we are at Kirsten’s table. She has inherited the gift of hospitality from her mother and me, so we are now the beneficiaries of her continuation of family tradition.

It is also symbolic that we are here as a family, missing Loc and Zoe, extending our arms around the new little baby that has captured our hearts. We welcome Chloe, daughter of Justin and Emily, granddaughter of Kirsten and Bryan, my great granddaughter.

There are two special guests. Well, they are not guests anymore. They have become part of the family. Chris and Anne-Shirley. For those of us in the family who love animals, especially cats, Chris has become the guru, showing us the gift of whispering to animals spirits. He faces new things as he heads for California.


Anne-Shirley, Chris, and I have three.

Kirsten and Brendan have two.

Lara has two.

Rebecca has two.

Justin and Emily have two.

Eleven in all!

Anne-Shirley is the other person at this table who has brought new dimensions to me in our mature romance, and to this family. She has adopted you with love, and you have responded with open arms. I am deeply grateful. She brings to us a multi-talented life, and kindness. She makes growing old easier for me, and I love her for it.

Isabella and Max are here at the family table. They will remember these events as times when their aunts and uncles talked with them, played with them and loved them. At their young ages they brighten our day with stories about school and dreams of treating animals with special care when they grow up. Thanks to their mother, they love music.

Brendan is that special person in our lives who has quietly moved from studies to professional life in the midst of severe Covid complications. Now he works with people who enjoy the coffee and donuts he brings them Friday mornings. He, too, has inherited the gift of hospitality.

Do you see a theme emerging? Gracious hosts and animals lovers.

Bryan is a good partner for Kirsten, smooth and smart in any milieu, down-to-earth with Isabella and Max, and a grey-haired sage in the company of Mr. Reimer’s rich colleagues.

Loc is a good partner for Lara, sharing love for music and the digital world. He, too, is down-to-earth with friends, unassuming, yet brilliant as a presenter in Europe and throughout North America. He brings a different culture to our family, particularly Vietnamese food.

I wish Zoe was here. She fits right in with everyone, smiling and talking knowledgeably about just about anything. She slipped right by, right under our noses from being a girl to a being a mature woman.

Justin and Emily have brought us Chloe. Is that what defines them now? Not entirely. They bring us a new household with new life. They have all the material things they need, and most important of all, they face the challenge of parenthood with a love for their child and their love for each other. We have watched Justin grow from the time he was born to the time of being a father, and Emily asks Kirsten, was Justin like Chloe when he was born?

Lara has shown fierce independence right from the start, going to York University, going to Montreal and settling in Vancouver with Loc where Zoe was born. She has made music more a part of her life than any of the rest of us, playing the Maggini Mr. Horch got for her when she was taking lessons from him. Now she plays gypsy music with professionals and loves it. She has been expecially generous to me this trip, going to Costco for meds, Staples for supplies and Big ‘n Tall for pants and a shirt. I love going for visits to Vancouver to see what new digital toys she and Loc have acquired.

I see another theme emerging here. We are all music lovers.

People, cat and music lovers.

That fits Rebecca. At the Alzheimer’s Society she helps families deal with dementia, at home she plays with two cats and two dogs, and with her kids she finds new musical instruments to play. The Day of the Dead took on new meaning for Rebecca when Diane passed away, so she went to Guatemala to retrace those last steps. Now she remembers Diane while working with bees. A book about bees is the last gift she got from her mother.

Wayne is a good partner for Rebecca, providing for his family with a job related to his farm upbringing. He’s been with MacDon for more than 20 years, a sign of the stability he provides. He’s a great conversationalist, able to hold his own on anything, but excelling in talk about farming and fixing things.

I have mentioned Kirsten’s table, but there’s more to tell. She has shown resilience to bounce back from life’s twists and turns to become an accomplished authority on latest accounting developments. Who would have known, long ago, when I got her a teacher’s bell for Christmas. She has become a mover and a shaker in Winnipeg, being on the boards of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Centennial Corporation. Her love for music shows up when she goes to concerts put on by contemporary singers.

This is my family. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.

The people around this table are good people, loyal to me through thick and thin, and loyal to each other.

I am so very proud of you, my family.

It is a particular pleasure to welcome Chloe.

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