Friday, July 24, 2009

Niagara Falls and Remembering My Family

We had a lovely evening in Niagara last night. We ordered room service and had dinner in our suite overlooking the falls. They set up a table in front of our window, and the three of us ate by candlelight. The view was just incredible. Later on there were fireworks over the falls - it was really something seeing them from that high up. It’s a totally different perspective on the 31st floor!

It was a very rainy night last night - in fact as we went to sleep we were watching lightening over the falls. It was awesome, and a tiny bit scary... It was still rainy this morning so we decided to get out of town for a bit, and made an unscheduled journey to Stoney Creek, where my Mom grew up. It was really lovely to go back, although it had been so long since I had been there I had trouble finding everything. Eventually we located the house my Mom grew up in, the church where she got married, and even where my Grandpa used to live when I was growing up. I could not find the cemetery the family graves are in though so went into the Donald V Brown funeral home, where I remembered many family funerals had been held. The man there was so nice; he looked up the details for us and sent us off in the right direction. It was good to go back, and also to show my son where some of his ancestors and also family he remembers are laid to rest. I wish we had brought flowers, but I had not planned our journey at all and by the time we found the cemetery it was too late to get any. In the end, my son decided to evoke the ancient tradition* of placing a coin on a grave to mark our visit, and I nearly burst into tears as he placed a shiny pound coin - Queen’s head up - on one of the graves to acknowledge them all. He chose the grave of my Grandma, who died wanting visit England just one last time - so the pound coin seemed strangely appropriate. I still wish I’d had flowers, but in the end, I think she - and indeed all my family buried there - would have been pleased with all the love contained in my son’s gesture. I felt really sad afterwards, but also somehow comforted. (This custom stems back to ancient pagan traditions, but has evolved in many cultures as a way of remembering the deceased, of saying you have been there and as a mark of esteem, also of saying that they are loved and remembered. )

We finished off our afternoon by going to the Stoney Creek Dairy where my Mom used to work in the 1940’s. It is famous for its ice cream - and has been serving customers in the same location since 1929. Mom was with me the last time I went there - we each had an ice cream cone - I remember mine was Raspberry Ripple. I miss my Mom so much. It was nice to remember her by enjoying an ice cream in that same evocative place - but despite the fact I was in wonderful company, I do wish she had been there as well to share it with me!

We got back to Niagara late in the afternoon, and as we arrived, the sky cleared and the sun came out. We were very grateful, and decided to go on the Maid of the Mist, the boats that sail into the mist of the American Falls and also the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. My husband and I have taken this trip before, but our son never had. We had such fun on this very wet adventure - and what a view of the falls we had! It always inspires such awe to look at them from the bottom - all that water pouring over the edge! You do get incredibly wet - but it is part of the adventure and despite how scary it all sounds, at no point was I ever afraid (and I scare easily!).

Dinner tonight was at the Outback Steakhouse. I do enjoy their food. We eat so well on holiday I know I shall have to work very hard when I get back home! All my clothes still fit as they did when we left for our holiday, and I am walking as much as I can, but I am eating much more than I normally do. I’m enjoying every bite though!

Tomorrow we leave the Falls and head off to my home town of Kitchener. Time is so short this visit we are only there for one night, for dinner with an old friend and her family. I’m sad to miss seeing my other friends, but we are on a tight schedule this visit, despite being on holiday! Then we are heading off to Sarnia to visit with family for the weekend which we are really looking forward to as well. After that we head back into the US. Tomorrow marks the half way point of our holiday - where does the time go? It sure does fly when you are having fun.

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