My great-uncle Jim passed away this weekend. Let me tell you a bit about him and my great-aunt Hilda.
Jim and Hilda are officially my great-aunt and great-uncle, but they are only a few years older than my parents so they felt more like an aunt and an uncle. They always lived in the same place in Newfoundland, in Blaketown, just down the road from my great-grandmother. We would visit them about once a year when I was a child, and the last time I visited them there, I was in college.
Trashmagination means approaching life as a Maker – as someone who sees potential in the every day everything. Jim and Hilda always lived that way. Jim had a shed behind the house filled with scraps of wood that he made into whatever fit into the scrap. He gave me these two shelves that he made, and I carried them home tucked in my suitcase, and from Canada to the United States.
Jim always had a little Pomeranian dog – the tiniest little fluff ball of a dog. When I was little, I wanted a dog desperately, and I loved visiting Jim and Hilda to spend time with their dogs. These dogs usually warmed up to me pretty quickly, even though I didn’t know anything about dogs.
Jim and Hilda showed me how to put seaweed into the garden as fertilizer. They fed me moose n’ brewis – the one and only time I have tasted that dish. They fed me quince jam, and years later when I bought jars of it at farmer’s markets, I thought of them.
When we moved to the United States, they came to visit with my parents two times in 2004 and 2005. It was a very big deal – they rarely left Newfoundland. How did they spend their time? Mostly baking bread and fixing things in my house – the same things they probably would have done at home. I remember watching Hilda kneading bread in a giant bucket at my dining room table and thinking, “She has so much more energy than me. Let’s be hopeful that runs in our genes, and I will have more energy as I get older too.”
Hilda – Your and Jim’s great love affair inspires me every day. I’m hugging you in my heart.