Wednesday 18 March 2020

Home Sweet Home Goodbye

It was in 1967 that my family won a St Patrick's Day competition from the "Toronto Today" news and current events tv show. As a child it was exciting for me to appear on tv with my very large Irish immigrant family, but the prize was most exciting of all: to bring relatives over from Ireland for a holiday in Toronto. This allowed me, as a seven year old child, to finally meet my grandparents for the very first time! I would meet my father's dad a few years later, but my mother's parents were both still living. I adored them and was heartbroken when they left. In the 1960s air travel was not as frequent as now, and the fact of immigration was very much that you never knew when you would see a loved one again. When my grandparents were due to leave, I made them a going away card. This card was found in my grandmother's purse, in 1980 when she died, and made its way back to me. The simple landscape is what I, as a child, thought Ireland must look like.

Of course I was very familiar with the Irish flag, which I illustrated on the inside of the card, along with my good wishes. During their visit, my grandparents nicknamed me "you know what" as I was constantly telling them things, preceding my revelations with this question phrase. I think now that I must have been driving them crazy, but they never showed any annoyance with me or discouraged my attention.

I didn't get to see them the next year, but they came for a holiday the following year, and perhaps both of them again one more time. I saw my grandmother again three more times after my grandfather's death, but through the years we wrote to each other often. I still think it is interesting that as a child I saw the creative use of a sliding puzzle (I think it came in a gum machine as a prize). I removed all the numbers and used the base as a frame for my mini-painting on the front of the card.

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