By Jennifer Spencer
Manager, Communications & Marketing,
Providence Healthcare Foundation
On September 9, Providence will be celebrating Grandparents’ Day with a “Walk, Run & Roll-a-thon”. I’ll be walking with my “grand-dog”, Henri (because I don’t have grandchildren), and I will also be walking to show my love for my Dad, who is an amazing grandfather for my two daughters (Dad won’t be at the event because he is on a four-month trip – at 90-years-old he will be kayaking in the Arctic). But most of all, I will be walking to honour my maternal grandmother, Dorothy Scott – Granny.
Granny and I had a special bond. I have so many memories of summer days spent with her either at my grandparents’ home on the outskirts of Ottawa or at the cottage we would rent on the Bruce Peninsula.
At the cottage, we’d play Liverpool rummy (she, with reckless abandon; me, being cautious and careful), make up word games, have picnics and walk to the store for ice cream after supper. Swimming was always a shared pleasure, as was rowing the boat – she taught me how to row. In Ottawa, we’d visit with family and friends, go to the art gallery, have tea at the Chateau Laurier, and I’d help her with their vast fruit and vegetable garden, picking squash blossoms for pancakes and shucking peas for supper. Each night, I would sleep in a bed made of birds-eye maple by her great grandfather, handed down through the girls of the family, and I would peek in the deep drawers of the matching dresser where she kept her hats for church and the large, sparkly brooches she liked to wear.
I have certain summer smells and tastes that always make me think of her. Raspberries each year and beets, in particular, always create a sudden and acute memory of being with Granny. And peppermint Chiclets gum – she always had them in her purse in tiny blue cardboard packages. I wasn’t allowed to chew gum, except when Granny was there.
But my fondest memories of Granny are about music. She was an accomplished pianist and taught music for the Ottawa School Board. I loved music, but studied classical guitar rather than piano. Granny taught me musical theory and I lapped it up. And we’d sing. The entire family was musical, so there was always a large group at family gatherings either singing along with me or Granny or both of us.
The picture here is my favourite snapshot of Granny and me. It was taken by my Dad at Christmas at my parents’ home in the mid-80s. There was no piano in the living room so it was up to me to accompany us all as we sang Christmas carols. We didn’t have any sheet music and I didn’t know the chords to all of the songs, but that didn’t matter. Granny just called out each chord just before the change so I could play with no pauses. We were a seamless team. I love how the picture shows the joy we shared, and that her hands were playing air piano as she thought of the chords – and that she was wearing one of her sparkly brooches.
Granny died in 1989 and I miss her. She and I loved walking together. On September 9, I’ll be proudly walking for her.
About “Run, Walk & Roll”
Providence Healthcare Foundation’s “Run, Walk & Roll – a thon” is a 1K, 5K and 10K fundraising event in Toronto’s east end that:
It is on Grandparents’ Day, which is Sunday, September 9, starting at Providence Healthcare at St. Clair and Warden, by the Warden TTC Station. To find out more and to register, go to welovegrandparents.ca.
Every dollar raised will be matched by Rexall, up to $25,000.
Providence Healthcare is a leader in providing rehabilitation, palliative care, long-term care and community outreach in Toronto. In 2017, Providence Healthcare joined St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital to operate under one corporate entity. For more information, visit www.providence.on.ca.