Happy Mum’s

Loved the day at Historic Joy Kogawa House, thank you to Ann-Marie Metten and the lovely volunteers who make this magic happen for us.

Here is my story for my mom, who was in attendance:

“Not Auntie Carol”

When I was five years old I thought Auntie Carol was the best pseudo mom. Auntie Carol and Uncle Harrry took me to the Organ Grinder, a fancypants restaurant downtown that had music, puzzles and candy canes for the kids not even over Christmas, and of course, a man dressed in vaudeville stripes and bowtie playing a huge organ grinder. Auntie Carol took me to Ice Capades, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and even put me in a big Bedknobs and Broomsticks beds, and twisted the bedknob, told me to close my eyes and dream of flying to different lands. In Auntie Carol’s basement there were all the Nancy Drew books ever written, and she let me read them every weekend I slept over, and even take a few home. Auntie Carol gave me the Disneyland poster I had right down beside my bed. Every night I would pick somewhere different to go, trace my finger over Animal Kingdom, Frontierland, Bear Country. But Tomorrowland was the best. I could see the dips and exhilarating turns of Space Mountain, that big eyeball following my every move as I went under a microscope, and the kids, dreaming of being one of the kids who performed in futuristic costumes on the Tomorrowland stage. Auntie Carol promised we would go. And then I was 6 going on 7 and then I was 7 going on 8 and she still promised. But Auntie Carol drank. Not a lot, not like Uncle Harry. But certainly not like my parents, or mum. Which was never.

My mum and dad saved to take us to Denmark to visit mormor and morfar. My mum made stews and yogurt and froze them to save money on groceries. Mum rarely went out at night, exhausted after family daycare, and that summer we had not only her 5 daycare kids, but their brothers and sisters and I felt like I was part of a huge awesome foster family. Mum bought huge bulk boxes of freezies and McDonald’s juice in the gallons big jug, passed out the goodies like we were at the Sardine Festival every day. All of us girls would pass around Davey, a gorgeous little one yr old who was often sick and lethargic. He had asthma and his mom often had to stay up nights with him when it was bad. So he’d come the next morning, all sleepy eyed and we would bundle him up in his blankey, carry him around and cuddle him, argue in whispers, No you’ve had him since snack time, I get him now, No you just had him, go play in the sprinkler we’re reading Goodnight Moon.

Mom would finally take him from us and make him play blocks with the little kids, so he was all napped out by the time his mom came. In the morning she’d have everything planned out: Today you older kids walk to the library for Summer Book Club, and we take off with a snack in our backpacks, I’m telling Shelley about Margaret and how she talks to God but I don’t and she’s telling me about Sally J Friedman and how her mother thinks she can get polio from swimming at the public pool in New York, not Brooklyn. “We gotta look at the map, I don’t really know where that is,” “Yah, she says, “it’s far, we went there once for holidays. We saw the Statue of Liberty, it was excellent, and we also saw the dancers at Radio City Music Hall at Christmas, and the biggest best Santa I ever seen, at Macy’s, just like in the movie.”

“We never go anywhere,” I say, but then stop myself, because that is not true is it, “We go to Denmark, Well except for Denmark.”

“Denmark is cool enough, that’s far.” Shelley says.

“Yah, but it’s not Disneyland,” But I instantly regret it because I love Denmark and Mormor and my cousins and aunts and uncles and the Little Mermaid and we even got to go to Hans Christian Andersen’s house last time and the beach and picnics at the castles. And Tivoli. Before Disneyland was even made, Walt Disney himself went to Tivoli and marvelled at the beautiful gardens, the shows with Columbina and Pierrot, the lights and the rides nestled among the trees and flowers. Then he went home and envisioned the same while looking at an orange orchard in Anaheim, California.

Some days Mom would help us pack up our bikes for an adventure to Richmond’s River Road: Here’s a package of wieners and buns and marshmallows. You know how to use those matches properly now, be careful. And we go for a bike ride to the River, get some sticks and have a campout. We’d race our bikes down behind Steveston Highway, get to five road where when we’re older our Dads would teach us how to drive a car behind Ironwood, and zoom up to River Road. The sand dunes were off limits, kids had dug into the sand to tunnel themselves, and the sand had collapsed. But we would look for work cars—most Mondays they weren’t onsite—and then we would lock our bikes, sneak under the fence, and climb up the huge dunes. They weren’t really sand dunes—more like Fraser River sand dredged up for housing foundations. And they smelled as much too, sometimes the stuff kicked up from underneath had that dank river stench. But the top of the dune was sun kissed, sweet. We’d climb that dune and feel like queens and kings of the Fraser, could see all the way to Ladner and South Delta, sometimes even the ferry over in the Ocean. Shelly would start the fire, and Larry and his brother would go down and start cooking up the first batch of hotdogs. Me and Angie would walk to the farthest point of the dune and then take off running, leap off and into the soft sand below.

That summer Auntie Carol was kind of awol, and I changed my Disneyland poster up for Abba. And it was later that we spent 6 weeks in Denmark, my second winter there, but this one I could remember not just from pictures when I was little, this one was long and languid, helping Mormor make Jul Aften and dancing around the Christmas tree and really getting to know my cousins and walking on the ice, “All the way to Sweden, you could go.”, my dad said, it was that cold. It was the winter my cousin Marianne said, We see that Mickey Mousekateers show here too now, will you go to Disneyland soon? Because we were cousin pen pals, and I had taken pictures of my Disneyland poster, so exotic to her those years before Euro Disney, and she coveted them. But I said, No, I don’t care about that anymore. I’d rather see you.
And it doesn’t matter that I didn’t go to Disneyland until I was thirteen, because by then my little sister was 6, and it wasn’t Auntie Carol who took us, No, it was my mom and dad. From saving pennies and working steady, and watching TV at home instead of going to exciting movies every weekend, from eating good, cheap Danish food over The Organ Grinder—I never remembered the food from that place anyways, but the stress of watching Auntie Carol and Uncle Harry order cocktail after cocktail, get drunk, and drive me home. That sickening feeling in my belly as we weaved across the road. No, it wasn’t them who took me when we really got to go on Space Mountain at Tomorrowland, my family.

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