I declare Edna White a saint. I do this without proper authority from God or the church, and with the realization that under the current laws of the church a person cannot officially be canonized a saint unless dead; in fear that they stumble into sin a second before they die. But, Edna is very much alive and a saint. I should qualify this a little. All mothers who have had four or more children should be declared a saint. Edna has six children.
About sixty of us, family and friends, are gathered in the Club House Room, with hushed voices, to celebrate Edna’s 70th birthday. It’s a surprise party and the announcement has just been made, by her son, John jnr. that Edna is expected to arrive in 30 seconds. On cue Edna walks into the room, glass of white wine in hand, and looks on in bemusement at the crowd gathered. We erupt into a chorus of happy birthday and a sunny smile transforms her face as understanding dawns. A line up quickly forms in front of Edna as people surge forward with their hugs, kisses and congratulations. Edna proceeds into the room and the crowd disperses into its various groups the noise level steadily increasing.
Edna’s parents were originally from P.E.I and moved to Chateauguay, Quebec where she met my brother John. John played for the Chateauguay soccer team and Edna was part of a group of girls who would turn up to cheer the team on. It was love at first sight and they married just over a year later. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year. I first met Edna in 1969 when I emigrated to Canada and was immediately charmed by her soft spoken and courteous manner. She is always there for her six children, and families, with unconditional love, and rarely refuses any request from them.
The noise level in the club house increased in intensity as people mingled. I soon found myself deep in conversation on hip hop, showing my ignorance by asking the eternal question,what’s the difference between hip hop and rap. I explained I would probably like rap more if I understood the actual words that were being rapped. I was told that other people had reached the same conclusion, and were calling it mumble rap. It’s always gratifying when your views on modern music are ratified by someone two generations younger than you.
Time for birthday cake. Two cakes were carried in procession, regular and gluten free. Celeste, Edna’s ten year old granddaughter, started the refrains of happy birthday on the piano and we all joined in. This was followed by Celeste playing ‘The Sound of Silence’ and ‘Greensleeves while the cake was being cut and distributed. She is very, very good at playing the piano. I passed from group to group discussing current events and reminiscing on past events. After a while I felt a tug on my sleeve. My granddaughter was trying to get through to me that it was time to leave even though I had just got there.
So time to say goodbyes. I gave my niece a hug and she took my arm and said, let me introduce you to my boyfriend. As I approached her boy friend I was thinking shall I shake his hand or assume he will be part of the family and give him a hug. I assumed the latter. I was reaching out to give him a hug, when I noticed he was unsmiling and looked a little tense. I paused mid hug and thought is this my #metoo moment, am I invading his personal space, and tried my best to stop the hug. I succeeded in stopping about three inches from his body but I think my right arm might have brushed his shoulder. He gave me a benign smile and said , ” well, that was a little awkward” and we entered into a conversation on his Irish heritage, his grandparents were from Belfast. We then discussed a fish and chip shop where you caught your own fish to serve up at the meal. With my granddaughter again tugging at my arm I proceeded to meet the rest of the family at the exit.
Waiting in the lobby for my wife who had visited the washroom I struck up a conversation with the security guard sitting at his desk. I learned he was a Sikh from the Punjab but didn’t wear a turban because he made a choice to keep his hair short rather than long. He had lived in Canada for two years with his wife and had two children, 6 and 8 years old, who were still in the Punjab with family. I wanted to delve deeper into his life in Canada but my wife appeared and we were ready to go.
Happy 70th birthday Saint Edna. Long may you reign.