In 1978 our family of 16 at Maplewood Lodge grew by one as my brother Rob, came over from England, intending to make Canada his home too. His decision was helped by the fact that during a visit the year before, he had fallen in love with one of my friends, Anne.
So it was that in the fall of the year, Rob arrived. The children made welcome banners out of construction paper (I found them while cleaning up the loft room.) "Welcome to Canada, Uncle Bob. We love you," the words danced over the paper in childishly scrawled letters.
Rob was a champion shot putter and into weight training. Paul was the brother he never had and together they lifted weights and trained in the frigid shed that stood about 20 feet from the house (wrecking their bodies, but they didn't know that at the time.) At school Rob had been the victim of ruthless and relentless bullying and for him, building a body that was big and strong was a way of ensuring no one wanted to pick a fight with him.
The men we supported at the home loved and respected him, although the first person he met, the day after he arrived for his 1977 visit, told him so convincingly that he was the gardener, that Rob believed him and we in turn had to convince him that we didn't have a gardener!
Peter remembers Rob's green Adidas track suit, in which he thought he looked like the Green Giant! He credits his uncle with teaching him how to throw a frisbee and catch a football. He taught Peter to keep his eye on the ball, the application of which principle he thinks helped him finally win the heart of Sue after we had all given up hope! Peter quickly added that his dad also helped, with the adage, "Faint heart never won fair lady." What mentors Peter had! How could he go wrong?
Rob mowed a running track into the front lawn. Not used the heat and humidity, he sweltered as he ran, sweat dripping, while Peter trotted behind him. Peter made the mistake of saying to his uncle, "This is easy," once. Funny but Peter still remember that day!
Rob regularly ran the 5 kilometre block from our house. Our little mutt Honey, used to hide when she saw him lacing on his running shoes!
Buffy the cat showed her affection for Rob in another way. She used his suitcase as a rather large litter box on occasion, but the worst of all was when she was sprayed in the face by a skunk and then retreated to her favourite suitcase. Did I mention that Rob is the most fastidious person you would ever wish to meet? :)
Rob stayed with us for two years, during which he became a Canadian citizen, but sadly, his relationship with Anne did not go further than a very close friendship and after a few jobs that were not something he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing, he realized that he just couldn't settle and in 1980, returned to England.
Before he left he carved his initials into a tree in the conservation area off Mulock and Bathurst in Newmarket.
We have so many happy memories of Rob's two years with us and when we are together, inevitably the stories begin. There are so many! Next week I will share one or two.