Sunday, March 4, 2012
Good-bye Mrs. Champion
Off today to the city to pay my respects to Mrs. Champion.
She had a first name, Mary, as well as a colourful, well-lived life with many friends, a loving family and worldly adventures, but she will always be Mrs. Champion to me.
I got dressed this morning, not wanting to be too funereal so decided on a plain black skirt and a purple blouse, and I put on some make-up, the first I have worn any since my cataract operations. As I did, I marvelled sadly at the lines on my face. It has shrunk, in these past few months, falling in on itself in a web of tired lines. I am not worried about this, per se, but I do notice it with a certain amount of resignation mixed with the realization that I'm not a kid anymore.
When I was a kid, I lived across the road from Mr. and Mrs. Champion and their houseful of kids. Their house was much like our own, being a cookie-cutter suburban bungalow built when subdivisions were the new love child of the 1960s and the world was everyone's oyster.
Mrs. Champion, though, she was a rare and exotic flower in my eyes. Known to enjoy a glass of wine on occasion, she could be found in her well-appointed living room that had actual paintings on the walls and a copy of her own book on the coffee table. She always reminded me of author Margaret Atwood, in looks and personality. Even her voice was similar. I imagined they were sisters, both authors, both with regal aquiline noses and austere wit and throaty chuckles. Her handsome husband, dear sweet Joe, always held her in the highest regard. After a lifetime together they still had a sparkle that danced between them. Their son, my friend Mark, used to say that sometimes he would look all over the house for his parents, only to discover them giggling in their bed under the sheets in the middle of the afternoon.
Joe, who used to take his evening cigarette on the front stoop watching the suburbanized world go by, has been gone so many years that I can't count. His sweetheart, the girl of his afternoons, soldiered on by herself for all this time, standing up to a multitude of health issues with her trademark stoicism and, I'm sure, a glass of wine from time to time.
Today I go to the city to remember her, but I will also recall the great love of her life and the indelible sweetness of their long romance.
My best wishes to all their children and their grandchildren and those who loved them most.