A blogging friend posted a lovely tribute about a member of her community who had made her a most beautiful quilt several years ago. Apparently this lady had celebrated many special occasions in her community by making quilts for others. I questioned Sue about where she had lived, and assumed that she had come from a small town where "everyone knows your name." She corrected me. This lady was a part of Sue's church community. In turn, Sue asked me about where I last felt a sense of community...which was at my Toronto home.
I was born in the Silverthorn district of Toronto. Until I was eight, I lived in the home my dad built. It seemed at the time, a very large two story home. Everything seemed large in those days. My dad was the tallest man I knew. My grandad who lived in the basement with my nana had the biggest hands. My nana had an enormous heart.
I only remember one door into that house...the front. I believe that the steps up to that door were enormous. I might think otherwise should I see that house today...but large is what I remember.
Our house was nestled between the homes of my aunties and uncles. Everyone's was an "aunt" or an "uncle"on that street. We were not permitted to call our elders by their first name. My real auntie lived several houses away, and she cared for my grandmother until she was no longer able to manage her care.
I remember grandma's home as long and narrow. At the end of a long hallway was my grandmother's room where she seemed to spend most of her time. I have visions of her at other times, sitting in her wheelchair in the kitchen that looked out upon her back garden. When my granddad was alive, I have been told that he had the most beautiful English country garden.
While the details of life at that time are sketchy, what I remember most are the memories of the senses. I remember the new puppy smells of my grandmother's home. I remember the taste of tar that had dripped onto her front stoop. I remember the sorrow I felt when I came across the little bodies of fluffy baby birds that had fallen from the eaves of the house my dad built. It was in the backyard where we buried those little birds that I learned that sunlight on tears causes momentary blindness.
Our neighbors were as parents in those days. If we misbehaved, my parents would know about our behaviour before we arrived home. The expectation for conduct seemed the same in every home.
Every Sunday we attended the same church my parents had attended for years. Again, there, we're many "aunties" and "uncles.". I believe that the love I felt in that community was so thick that it was tangible. That was a community where everyone truly did know my name...my parent's and brother's name, and my grandparents' names.
We moved, when I was eight, to the Etobicoke district of Toronto. There have been many moves since, but I have not found that feeling of community since leaving Silverthorn.
I am grateful that I have these memories. I am one of the lucky ones that do. I often wonder, given the frequency that people move about, if they will ever know a sense of community, as I once did.
Where and when did YOU last feel a sense of community?