"Who bought Corningware?" asked my Grandma Tufts, waking up from a catnap in her gold Lazy Boy chair, her big blue eyes bulging out of her head. We were gathered in my grandparents' rec room unwrapping our Christmas gifts. Someone had received Corningware but Grandma had drifted off to sleep and missed the opening of the gift. She had a knack for pretending not to know what was going on when she really did know. I always knew she was much brighter than she let on. It was her way to get everyone in the family laughing.
Grandma often spoke her mind and I remember my Grandad occasionally tapping her ever so slightly on the shoulder and saying: "Shh, Dorothy, Shh." Her response? "Don't you punch me!" She had a gift for hyperbole. Another example of this happened when my Mom bought our first microwave in 1986 and Grandma said: "Won't it blow up?"
Sometimes, however, she did bite her tongue. Anglo-Saxon Toronto slowly changed as my grandparents aged. East York became home to a lot of Greeks and Italians, including some on my grandparents' street. Their next-door neighbours would make home made wine and bring them a bottle. Grandma and Grandad were teetotalers, but she was too polite to refuse a gift and so she took it and said "Thank you". She promptly emptied the bottle's contents down the drain and returned it to the neighbour. He thought that she drank it so fast that she must have loved it and he gave her another bottle.
Once my Dad and my brother Bill visited to clean out my grandparents' eavestrouphs. Grandma, doing dishes at the kitchen sink and peeking out the window, warned: "Look out, Norman. That looks like number 2 from a raccoon."
Later, she showed them the new cupboards she had built in her bedroom. In the meantime, she had something cooking in the kitchen. Normally Grandma was an excellent cook. However, on this day she forgot to pour water into the bottom of the bunwarmer. She raced into the kitchen, grabbed the kettle and poured water on to the buns. Later, Grandma served hotdogs for lunch. Grandad ate without complaining; my brother's eyes watered as he ate, but he didn't say a word; but my Dad asked: "Mother, how come these hotdog buns are so soggy?" Grandma replied: "Oh don't you worry about that, dearie." And no one left the table until all of the hotdogs were eaten.
Grandma, like most women of her generation, never learned how to drive a car. When my grandparents would come to our house in Hamilton and Grandma was ready to go home, if my Grandad did not move quickly enough, she would often say: "I guess I'll just walk home."
Grandma had the sense of humour in our family. She knew how to entertain us. Unfortunately I did not inherit this wonderful trait; however, my brother Bill definitely got it. He keeps Grandma's memory alive with his humorous comments. My daughter Jacqueline also received some of that wit. I can remember a few summers ago Jacqueline's favourite stuffie was a giant Dora Doll. We brought it to my in-laws cottage and Rob accidentally dropped Dora in the sand. Distraught, Jacqueline said: "We might as well through it out now!" I knew she was related to Grandma when I heard those words. Thank you, Grandma, for making us all laugh.
(Dedicated to Dorothy Tufts on October 25, 2006.)
Born in Brampton in mid-1909,
Her parents baptized her Dorothy May.
She moved to Toronto when she was nine.
Where they settled on Mortimer one day.
She married a man from a Kirkton Farm.
Their Toronto home was spotlessly cleaned.
Her husband showed such charisma and charm.
For sixty years on each other they leaned.
Her hands baked cookies and casseroles, too.
Her sweet voice made the church choir sublime.
Her house had space for each item, it's true.
Save her son's motor oil and neighbour's wine.
Her sense of humour brought joy to my life.
She was a great grandma, mother and wife.
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