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Memoir Monday

By Belinda

The years that we spent living at Maplewood Lodge, from August 1974 to January 1984 were so happy; we all feel that way. And if you were to ask any of the men that lived with us through those years, they would mostly say the same. I know that because some of them are still in my life.

Oma came over from England with Mum to visit twice during those years. She was 80 the first time, in this photo.

When we took over the running of the home from the people who were there before us, I followed the routine that was in place already. On weekdays the men would be picked up at 8.00 a.m by a van that would take them to work at locations in Newmarket, Brampton and Aurora. They would come home again in the afternoon at about 4.00. In between I would be busy shopping, cooking and cleaning.

On Monday mornings the men would bring their sheets and towels downstairs and I would launder them, in summer, hanging them to blow in the wind on the line that hung from near the window in the breezeway. I would fold them up and put them by their places at the three tables in their large kitchen. When they got home they would put them back on their beds. On Thursdays they would bring down their soiled clothing and I would wash them. When she was with us, Oma would sew on missing buttons and ripped seams. She could never rest while there was work to be done. She saw the men as needing extra love and care and she had a lot of compassion for them.

The two acres on which the house stood, was a wonderful place for the children to grow up in. We did not have much in terms of material things and often I was so tired that I fell asleep the moment I stopped moving, but we were together, in a place that was happy and we were all being shaped and changed by living in community with so many people.

A retired English couple who were friends, would come on Sunday mornings and stay with the men so that we could go to church.Paul's sister Sheila lived with us and helped by spending time with the men when they came home from work

I cherished the quiet hours during the day when I was in the kitchen cooking or cleaning and often found that while my mind was on autopilot while I was doing some menial task, inspiration for a poem would strike. It was at such a time that this little poem; more of a word picture than anything; came to me, and the photograph of Brenda is the perfect illustration.

A child's tousled head
in bed,
Eyes dream laden,
tightly shut,
Dark lashes brushing a soft cheek,
rosy with sleep.
Arms flung wide
with abandon,
Or gently holding close
some favoured, furry teddy bear.

Dear child,
each night
I feast my eyes
upon this sight,
and with a mother's grateful heart
I pray,
my thanks to God
whose precious gift
you are,
and share with him
my hopes, my fears,
my prayers...

For one day,
far away from me
you'll sleep,
and I'll no longer
watch beside your bed.
But in his tender care
my Lord will keep
a watch for me
o'er thee.

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