Saturday, 6 July 2013

Relatively Speaking

I have in my basement a beat up old travel trunk that is well over a century old.  It came with my grandfather when he emigrated from Western Ukraine.  When it was time to empty Baba's house on the Canadian prairies nobody really wanted to venture into the basement/ half-dugout,"it's too dark down there" area, so I did.  Remnants of the past caught my eye all over the room, tidy and organized, and where Dido had left his pile of tools there were old reminders of the handy way he "made things work" - the little squirting grease tube, pencils and old worn screwdrivers, beaten up hammers, some with handles, others without.  The pile of papers, scraps from woodworking, tins from wood stain and bags of rags for spills - these reminded me of Dido.  So I simply had to take the beaten up travel trunk - rusty and filled with the left overs of a handyman's life.  The smell of my grandfather's hands faintly lifting from the old wooden pieces made me ache for hugs of times passed.

Upstairs, I announced that the trunk was going home with me.  Everyone was annoyed with my stupidity - it was a junk-heap piece, they said.  Still, I held on.  What else was there left of Dido's?  Well, there is the old cap!

I remember Dido wearing the cap, with a scarf around his neck. Everyone pulled my toque down over my ears, but Dido's cap was always on the top of his head, until it got blustery and he pulled the ear flaps down.  Over the years since then, the cap has been part of the jumble of snow suits, mittens, scarves, rain gear, boots and junk in our front closet.  I have pulled it out every once in a while, for those really windy, cold days, because it has great ear flaps.  Warm, toasty, like my Dido.  I love that old cap, and so does my daughter. She's loved it forever - so now it's Pra-Dido's hat,  for another generation. And when the weather gets cold, maybe she'll pull the warm ear flaps down, just like Pra-Did.

Dido's story, like so many others, is a fine line of information, gently stitched together by the people who loved him for a whole lifetime and more.  But there is more.

Anybody searching for family ties, connections with Ukraine can take advantage of membership in the Alberta Genealogical Society, which interestingly, among its special interest groups has a Ukrainian Interest Group.  Sadly, though there are 11 Alberta Branches, there is no such branch in Calgary.  Nonetheless, it would be a fabulous venture to pursue. For a wealth of resources, a treasure trove of volunteer experts who can help guide your research into family connections, try their main website at http://abgensoc.ca/ .  Maybe there is an old cap story in the trunk in your basement too!


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