When I was small, my Nana and Papa (my dad's parents) were incredibly close to me. Leopold and Antoinette Seguin were, as the names might imply, French Canadian and both hailed from huge families. Among her siblings my Nana had two sisters who were teachers and nuns (I didn't know you could be both) and a brother who was an MP. I'm told when my Nana arrived in Pine Falls to be a nurse at the local hospital, my Papa took one look at her and determined because she was also short in stature, she would make a fine wife. He was not wrong. My Papa was a book-keeper at the local mill and even in a tiny town like Pine Falls there was a social pecking order between people who worked in the office/administration and those who worked on the shop floor. My Nana had a cleaning lady (which I suspect was not really necessary) and in keeping with the times she would have her lunch alone in the formal dining room while the cleaning lady sat by herself at the kitchen table. That is simply how it was done.
Together they had three children, Rita, Bob (Bobby) and my dad, Ron. Because my mom's parents lived some distance away, Nana and Papa were the center of our universe. I would toddle down the street to their house frequently to pass the time and spend afternoons playing Go Fish with my Nana at the dining room table or poring over her costume jewelry which was kept in a box in their bedroom and held endless fascination for my sister and I. They were both the types to dress up every day, my Nana in a dress and pearls and my Papa in a suit and hat - winter or summer. My Nana was also popular because she stocked our favourite foods and both my brother Murray and I would stand patiently at the fridge waiting for the banana ice-cream to be pulled out. One time when my Nana asked me what I wanted for lunch I famously replied "nothing special, just a little turkey or a roast, but don't go to any trouble, Nana". (I loved her cooking). My visits often extended overnight and they would prepare the pull-out couch in their living room and we would watch TV together before I went to sleep, chuckling together at Laugh-In or whatever other comedy happened to be on. When they wanted to have a private conversation when I was around, they would lapse into French, which I didn't understand, as sadly it was a time when passing on that part of their culture wasn't encouraged.
When we moved to BC after my mom remarried, they flew out a few times to visit but my Nana sadly passed away when I was about twelve. Once in my late teens I went to visit my Papa who, suffering from early stages of dementia, had moved into a new senior's home in Pine Falls. I found him watching baseball on TV (one of his favourite pastimes). He had reached that stage of life where he could vividly recall the scores of games from 25 years ago but couldn't remember if he'd eaten lunch. At one point as we sat together he turned to me and said, with a pained look on his face, that he couldn't remember if he had been a good husband or not. My heart breaking, all I could do was hold his hand and reply that yes, he'd been a very good husband.