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Making Home

We lived in our first house in Tottenham for a short time really--from the fall of 1971 to February 1974; just over two years.

Paul was working hard at his studies and loving his work and I was occupied at home with our two small children.

We had not a cent to spare, which was stressful, but I baked our own bread to save money and we managed by buying 50 pound bags of potatoes and eating eggs and chips (french fried potatoes) almost every night. It was handy that we lived conveniently close to Alliston, which has an annual potato festival. We used to buy the potatoes right from the farm.

Our store of furniture included a big old black and white television set with rabbit ears and a picture that rolled every few seconds. We had a second hand wringer washer in the basement that gave electric shocks every now and then. I was very grateful for it though, as I had a quantity of English terry cloth nappies (diapers) that I needed to wash each day.

Someone donated a wooden post for a washing line to us, but we had to wait a week or so before we could afford the line itself. It was wonderful then to be able to hang the laundry on the line instead of on a clothes horse and strings hung in the basement.

After a year we were able to buy an automatic washing machine. I was amazed that I could put in the laundry and then come back later to find it washed, rinsed and spun dry. After months of putting soapy laundry through a shocking wringer, rinsing by hand and then putting them through the wringer again, I was ridiculously grateful every time I used it.

Brenda was of such a different temperament to Peter. When she came home from the hospital she woke up for feedings and went right back to sleep again. After Peter's first months of colic, this felt like a great blessing.

Paul's grandparents visited from England, staying across the road with Paul's parents, and they kept coming over, hoping to catch Brenda awake, but she seemed to always be either not awake yet or just gone down for another sleep. She eventually slept less, and was easy going and outgoing from the start.

One of our neighbours had two sweet little girls who loved to come over and play with our children. When she got a part time job, I looked after them for a very short while while she looked for permanent day care. I earned $25.00, which seemed like such a fortune to us. We used it to buy Paul some much needed shoes. It felt incredibly wonderful to have a little extra.

It is by God's grace alone that our children turned out to be the amazing human beings that they are. Looking back, I see how really ill prepared I was for parenthood. It is a huge adjustment, from self absorbed single hood; to marriage; to parenthood where personal needs and desires come after other's needs have been met.

I resorted to patterns learned in my own childhood, where children were expected to do as they were told. I had such high expectations of our children's behaviour, I realize now. I have many regrets for my impatience and anger when they were naughty.It is strange how we find ourselves living out patterns we once were sure we would never repeat, but for lack of an alternative, we do.

How different I am today, as a grandparent who knows that gentleness achieves far more than domination. My only reference tool was a Dr. Spock book, which I referred to often. I am living proof that love covers a multitude of sins because however inadequate I was at showing it sometimes, I did love our children devotedly and was not ashamed to ask for forgiveness when I made mistakes.

Robert and Mum came and stayed with us in the summer of 1972. Robert, who was 16 when I left, was now 19. Things had not been easy for him at home in the years before or since my leaving. While with us he became a regular at the Tottenham Inn, the nearest thing in town to an English pub, and made friends with people who lived on the wild side of town. In fact, Tottenham after dark was a little like the wild west. More than once Paul went looking for him late at night, like a shepherd looking for a lost sheep. Still it was so wonderful to have him and Mum with us and we enjoyed just being together, going for walks to the conservation area and enjoying the simple pleasures of a day at the beach or trips to see the sights of our new homeland, such as Niagara Falls.

Our home became a gathering place both for family from overseas and in the neighbourhood. The photo below was taken at Christmas 1972 and shows Pauls two sisters: Sheila (on the left) and Judy (on the right,) and his brother John.

Paul was driving quite a distance to work each day along highway 9, which could be treacherous in winter. He wanted us to move to Newmarket, so that he'd be closer to work in Aurora. I was happy right where I was, but I also believed in following the one I loved, wherever he led.

So we put our house on the market, but asked $35,000. We had bought the house a couple of years earlier for $21,900 so this was a very high asking price. When I prayed and told God that if he wanted us to move, I would consider the house selling for $35,000 as a sign, I thought I was on safe ground. But the first couple to look at it, said, "We'll take it." And they paid the asking price.

To my dismay we would be moving. And a whole new chapter of our life together was about to begin!

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