Because it is also Father's day, I'll start with Poppy. I've mentioned him a couple of times in the past, and to tell all of the stories about him that I've heard over the years would take years more. There could be no-one more fitting for the position of patriarch of this clan than Poppy. And in March of 2011 he left us. This was the reason for the great Skanes migration of the summer of 2012 back to Newfoundland. His children and their families wanted to take him home.
Something that I hadn't mentioned then was that Poppy was cremated. And the family asked André to build the urn. This is what is holding Poppy now, back in Newfoundland, sharing a plot with his own father.
To this day there really aren't words to describe the family's reaction to seeing the urn for the first time. Even talking about it still brings tears to André's eyes. I can not believe how fortunate I've been to have been able to be part of something like that.
Unknown, or at least un-understood, by me, the Skanes' have honoured me hugely, and all with simple phrases in passing.
While I knew that Poppy loved and accepted me, I never had the privileged or pleasure of meeting Nanny Skanes. Every so often though, a member of the clan would say something like "Jen's always knitting, just like Mom [Nanny]. They'd have gotten on like a house on fire."
Or, "She's just like Mom [Nanny]".
While Nanny's been gone for 20 years, the victim of a vehicle accident, the past weekend the
Nanny was a fierce, loving, inspiring, hardworking, creative beautiful woman. There were hours and hours of stories. Even better than sharing the stores was finding out how each person that knew her saw her differently, but everyone held her in the highest regard.
The family didn't have the easiest time in their early years, something Nanny always wanted to do was have a hand-made Christmas. Every person drew names, and the gift they presented must have been made with their own hands. Well, Christmas is a lot of months away, but hand-made gift exchange there was.
The rules: $20 supply maximum. Must be made by you for the name you drew.
The twist: Don't put your name on the gift - the recipient must guess who made it for them.
Imagine everybody's surprise when not one, but two uncles opened hand-knit scarves and guessed, incorrectly, that the were from me.
The recipient of these beauties though, totally had my number.
They're traditional Newfoundland thrummed mittens. The wool is from Upper Canada Village, a local heritage site where they live like it's 1866. With a working wool mill. The wool has almost no processing so the resulting yarn is lanoline rich. The result - beautiful soft mitts which will just become more and more waterproof with wearing.
And interesting twist - the other half of the aunt who received these had my name. And carved it delicately into a key chain for my knitting bag!
The staff of the resort we rented (yes the family took over the ENTIRE resort - no, it's not small, there are just a lot of us) were telling us afterwards that they were laughing and crying right along with us. And if anybody ever finds themselves out on Manitoulin Island, you will stay at the Red Lodge Resort. They are all honourary Skanes/Vokey's after surviving us that weekend. Oh, and it's one of the most beautiful places ever.
Better than any gift though was a comment from one of Nanny's sisters that shared our breakfast table. She pointed her fork at me, then looked over at André's parents and said "she really is just like Eileen you know".
I can only dream of being half the person the Nanny was in her life. But to hear that the family that knew her best sees even a little something like her in me, I will cherish that forever.
Although it might have also had something to do with the fact that I was knitting at the table...
In memory and with deepest love and respect, to Eileen Vokey.