My baby sister is getting married tomorrow, to a wonderful fellow, and the wedding will be great fun I'm sure. What I am enjoying the most though, is the opportunity to chat with both Tara and our Mum and the rest of the family about times past.
Human memory is a complex, fractured, ephemeral and multi-faceted thing; getting together means we can remind each other of things we have experienced together but may have forgotten in the meantime.
Tara met me at the 7-Eleven by the airport yesterday afternoon when I went to pick up Mum, and had Valentine's doughnuts to share while we waited for her to debark. "Right on time," she grinned, as I pulled up beside her Escape. We got on to talking about the difficulty in estimating arrival times, and she recalled our Manitoba pilgrimages as children, where one time three of Dad's brothers were waiting by the driveway, looking studiously at their wristwatches to taunt him about being a full 7 minutes off his ETA, which he always provided to the minute.
"I don't remember that at all," I chuckled, "but it sure sounds like himself."
"Oh, don't you?" Tara said, "I'm sure it drove him mental when he would have to stop for Mum and I to have a smoke or to let the dog do its business or whatever."
My mind flashed back to the many road trips I've taken with my family. "How long until we get there, Daddy?" prompted by boredom, a full bladder or simple curiosity. For someone who detested math as a child, I have a habit of calculating the odometer reading at destination. Since I like a highway speed of 120 km/h, which works out to 2 kilometers a minute, I also like to give the ETA to a minute. Of course I like to over-estimate just a little to allow for emergency vehicles, construction and traffic, but I can always drop my speed a little beforehand in order to arrive 'on time, on target' and enhance my reputation just a tad. Of course, early arrivals can always be blamed on a tail wind or accredited to driving prowess, but the latter is getting a little harder to sell as the girls get older.
Returning to Tara, I said, "It sure sounds familiar."
After getting Mum and returning home, I offered Mum a coffee from the Tassimo machine, and explained how I could flavour the milk with vanilla syrup or even a liqueur if she liked. Ten minutes later we were both enjoying an Amaretto latte, and the talk naturally came around to liqueurs.
"I love a small glass of liqueur after dinner," I confessed. "Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Drambuie..."
Mum nodded. "A glass of Drambuie on the side of a cup of coffee was pretty regular for your father after a dinner out."
I laughed, "Yeah, I remember! I'm not too much on after dinner coffee usually, and recently I've gotten into Rusty Nails [a really simple but brilliant cocktail made of two parts Scotch to one part Drambuie over ice]."
She smiled, "Just like your dad."
I started a bit. "Really?" I said; I had no recollection of this at all, really.
"Oh, yes," she nodded, "Not usually at home, mind, but if we were out and he was in a position where he could have a cocktail, it would be a Rusty Nail."
Now, it's important to remember that for a very significant part of my youth, I felt like my life was defined by how un-like my father I was. He loved facts, I adored fiction; he was interested in history, while I was always looking to the future; he enjoyed projects, and I was committed to leisure.
Finding out facets of my personality or behaviour are drawn of almost full cloth from my father is both a little disturbing, but also a little gratifying. It's also interesting to see it trickle on down the line a bit.
Dad and Mum are both known for being able to turn a phrase, thanks to Dad's love of language and Mum's Newfoundlander background. Children live what they learn, so now I enjoy the reputation of being the fellow who will say, "That is crazier than a fish in a car wash," or what have you.
The other day, Fenya was at school and the probability of a future event was being discussed among her friends. When she offhandedly remarked, "I'll bet you a nickel to a fried doughnut that isn't going to happen," everyone turned to look at her like she had suddenly grown a second head.
Hearing this, I could only shake my head and say, "Get used to it kid; from what I hear from Nanny and Auntie Tara, it's not too likely to change."