On Sundays it was a ritual to go to Nana & Popa’s house for dinner. If it wasn’t Curry & Rice then it was Roast Beef with all the expected sides of pan roasted potatoes and in that pan alongside those potatoes would be roast carrots. Gravy was made from those drippings, which could be poured over Yorkshire Pudding just popped from well used muffin tins. Did I mention Horse radish?
After dinner brother Craig and I would go to the basement and play. We were maybe 7-9 years old at the time of this memory; and we would have on these hand-knitted pull on slippers that Nana had made, and on the basement tile floor you could acquire some speed. In a nook of that basement a mock fireplace with mantle and ornaments was constructed. It was a raised floor only about 3 feet square, so 9 square feet in total for you Canhams, we wouldn’t go on it, just around it. I remember the ornaments as being 2 full size coconuts with faces carved into the husks (a souvenir) when shook you could hear the milk/water; a variety of pictures and a little stick monkey that hung in the mantle corner.
Fast forward to the mid-90’s, I’m with my partner at that time in Aurora, Ontario at my parents place. It was wintertime so maybe a Christmas get together, and whatever went on in the evening went on, and we go to leave as our drive home at that time was Kitchener Waterloo; we put on our coats; say our good-byes and hopped in the car.
I go to put on my seat-belt and there’s something stuffed in a breast pocket of my coat. I reach in and pull out the little wooden monkey. I’d forgotten that Craig for a while was living with Nana & Pop, and once both of them were in old age facilities their property would be sold. He’d asked me once ‘if there was anything in Nana & Pop’s house that I wanted.’
Now, Nana & Pop loved and collected Royal Doulton; figurines, mugs, faces you name it. Pop also had a 15′ length of Boa snake-skin that he’d brought with him to Canada from a kill in India, he would bring it out on occasion in front of company. The company was all like, “Wow” when he would roll out a fifteen foot flattened to one foot width Boa snake skin. Only to chop off a few feet to give them. Happened so many times I don’t even know if there was any left, so I could be bull-shitting right now. I’m not!
But the only thing I could think of was that little monkey hanging in the corner on a fake fireplace mantle.
The little monkey has hung from my chandelier in many residences since I found it in my breast pocket that Christmas season. And behind the little monkey is a picture of Pop when he was a Major in the Indian Army.
So when I look around my place and see that monkey hanging from that chandelier cord I can flash remember my grandparents.
I’d forgotten that little monkey and Craig’s question so long ago now. Nana & Pop have been gone what feels like forever, has only been 20 years. I was blessed with my grandparents on both sides, to have had in my life till I was in my late 30’s.
So, phantom brother Craig remembered my answer to his long forgotten question and what could have been months later, stuffed it in my winter coat pocket and let me find it.
Now I have, what we all should have, memories of missed family and Debra’s too, around us always.
That’s special right?