Note: This is for the most part, is a true story about my Mother, Grandmother and myself. I originally wrote it in June 2010 as a child’s story. It comes from a true memory that has stayed with me since the early 1960’s. I wanted to write it down as best as I could remember before it was forgotten, as I was about four years old at the time. After all, memories tend to disappear with time. With the events over the past year, I was compelled to find it. This morning I am happy to say that I found this deep in my computer memories innards. I re-worked it a bit, and brought it out to it’s truer form. There is the odd spot where I had to infuse some author’s license to smooth over some jagged edges. Learned family members should be able to spot where I sprinkled in a small (or maybe not so small) dose of fiction. Otherwise, it’s pretty accurate. I hope you like it… Doris
Mother and I climbed the steps and entered the bus hand in hand. Our long wait at the Toronto Bus Terminal was over and our journey was about to begin.
Both of us were relieved to finally be away from the roar of the bus engines and the choking diesel fumes in the air. After making our way down the aisle, Mother signalled to me to take the left window seat of row nine. I could see that Mother was anxious and was hoping that I would find some amusement from looking at the passing countryside during their long six-hour journey from Toronto to Montreal.
Granted, it was a lot to ask for a four-year old little girl dressed in her finest outfit to sit quietly for so long. However, I was a good little girl, and Mother had every confidence that I would be on my best behaviour. This was, after all a very important journey for the both of us. We were on our way to meet my Grandmother’s boat in Montreal, as she was arriving after a weeklong voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
Truly, this was a wondrous occasion because we had not seen Grandmother for what seemed a very long time.
And oh, how I loved my Grandmother.
It was only a month ago that a package had arrived in the mail that Grandmother had sent from far away where she lived overseas. Knowing that it must be filled with all sorts of fun surprises and goodies I very eager to open it. And just as I had guessed, there were indeed all sorts of gifts neatly wrapped in festive paper and tied with lots of curly bright ribbons.
Grandmother, in her infinite love always forwarded care packages to all of her Grandchildren filled with cellophane bags of gummy bears while others contained crunchy little fish crackers. Other packages contained small little bottles of sweet perfume, starched white handkerchiefs, a children’s book, and a delicate silver necklace.
However, there was one package which Grandma had neatly printed on saying that this particular package was to be opened last, for inside was an extra special surprise.
Scrutinizing the package wrapped in pretty paper I saw that it was rectangular in shape and quite thin.
Whatever could it be, I wondered.
At last, Mother opened it.
After shredding the paper away from the box, she carefully pulled away the cellophane tape holding the lid in place.
A few moments later, the lid was lifted and a layer gently and Mother pulled back the white tissue to find a bright cherry red silk scarf.
Upon seeing the red scarf in the box, Mother let out a joyful cry.
Puzzled, I wondered what could be so special about a red silk scarf that would evoke such glee from Mother?
Seeing the confusion on my face, Mother began to explain.
“Do you know what this means?”
I shook my head no.
“This scarf means that Grandmother is coming for a visit.”
Then, Mother explained how it had always been a family custom to use a red scarf to help family members quickly find one another in a crowd of people.
“Now do you understand?”
Still, a little confused, I shook my head yes, although I really meant no.
Later, in the evening, a quick overseas phone call to Grandma confirmed that she was indeed arriving by boat in Montreal in one month’s time.
Good news indeed.
Each day Mother and I marked off the days on the calendar hanging on the kitchen wall until at long last, the big day finally came.
And now, here we both were on the bus that would take them to Montreal.
“Do you have the red scarf?” Mother asked me as our bus finally pulled out from the Toronto station.
With an affirmative nod, I opened her child’s purse revealing the neatly folded red scarf inside.
“Very good,” Mother said as I closed my purse with a snap.
“Now, don’t lose it,” Mother advised. “It’s very important.”
A package of gummy bears, a bag of chips, one bottle of pop, three trips to the bathroom and a long nap later, our bus finally pulled into the Montreal bus station.
My excitement at seeing my Grandmother grew with each passing minute. Indeed, I found it hard to sit still as we rode in the taxi headed towards the Montreal harbor. We arrived just in time to see the boat appear on the horizon. Together, we anxiously watched as it came closer and closer.
It seemed to take forever.
In time, we found ourselves inside a great crowd of people who openly cheered as the boat pulled into the dock.
Hundreds of people aboard the boat were lined against the ship’s railing cheered back at us.
I gave my Mother’s dress a tug to get her attention.
“Is Grandmother up there?” I asked.
“Yes she is Why don’t you get out the scarf so that we can wave at her and she’ll know where we are?”
Reaching into my purse, I pulled out the brilliant cherry red silk scarf.
“Now wave it as high as you can,” Mother instructed me.
I waved the red scarf enthusiastically up and down, back and for the as they stood together on the pier.
“You see,’ said Mother, “it will be very easy for Grandmother to find us in the crowd because we’re the only ones waving a red scarf.
At last, I understood the mystery behind the red scarf. Indeed it all made perfect sense to me now
On and on, I waved the scarf. First in my left hand, then in my right. And when both my arms grew very tired and sore, I handed the scarf to Mother so that she could continue waving.
At long last, we spotted Grandmother rushing towards us. I flew into Grandmother’s arms and held her tightly as she kissed my cheek.
“Did you see me waving the red scarf you sent us Grandma?” Jackie asked as her Grandmother put her back down.
“Yes, of course I did,” Grandmother replied. “That red scarf showed me exactly where you and your Mother were waiting for me, just as I knew it would.”
And so, we were all reunited with thanks to the red scarf which Grandma had seen little Jackie wave from a distance to where she stood on the boat.
Through the years and decades that followed, I always used that very same scarf to help those that I loved find me, as I waved and signaled them from afar to say…
“Here I am and I love you very much.”
Forty years later I received the sad news that Grandmother had died.
Eleven years later, my Mother died.
In the days and weeks and months that followed, I spent a great deal of time remembering all the wonderful times our family had shared.
Then one day, as I was going through our photo albums, I spotted the picture that Grandmother had taken of me as a child standing on a pier in Montreal with my young Mother proudly standing next to me as I waved the red scarf.
How I miss my Mother and Grandmother.
I found myself wishing for the chance to tell them both how very much I love and miss them.
Closing the photo album, I rose from my chair in the living room. Then, after finding a wooden box given to me by my Mother I pulled out the very same scarf from so long ago.
Then, I went outside to my backyard and stood there alone and waved the red scarf above my head.
I knew that both Grandmother and Mother could easily see me as I waved the scarf at them to tell them
… “Here I am…
… and I love you both very much.”