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A Handful of Mint

Updated: Feb 24

It’s been 20 years since I visited the final resting place of my beloved grandmother Anastasia. Despite today’s cold temperature (Toronto’s April weather), which I utterly despise, and the fact that I have become a complete and total hermit, I put myself together, got in the car and made my way over to her. Unsure of how I was going to feel or react I just went with it. The need to get there fast was running through my veins.

To me my grandmother was a legend. Although I’ve never really spoken about it, losing her was one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome in my life, for I was only 22 years when she passed. She was the first loss in love that I had to endure and it was painful. I remember crying for weeks, maybe months. Speaking of it now, it still feels fresh. She loved me. No doubt, she loved all of her grandchildren, but our bond was different. How so? From birth, I was chosen to carry her name forward in this life physically and then spiritually through the sacrament of Baptism. In return, this name has carried me, for I am here because of her. She was and is the mother of my mother and in life the direct connection to my ancestral past.

Walking towards her grave, my mind was flooded with memories of days gone by. So many moments forgotten then suddenly remembered. Before I knew it, I burst into tears. I cried for her and for my mother. I cried for all of us. I began to speak as if she was there. Perhaps she was? I gave her the Coles notes version of life through my eyes. My life’s achievements and great disappointments. The broken family ties, the moments that have broken me, the greed and the egos, the pride and suffering. Feeling orphaned and incomplete without the basic family elements that I once had. I continued to cry with one hand on her tombstone asking for strength and guidance. I sat for a bit, looked around and then began to tidy.

Her house was always tidy. She was a very proud and noble woman and would have only wanted people to see her in that way. Although the frigid temperatures of the morning numbed the tips of my fingers, I continued to clean as her home was in pure disarray. A forgotten plot that seemed totally abandoned. Oddly enough, I had scissors and a garbage bag in the glove box of my car which assisted me in the collection of clearing away the winter debris and old dead plants. I found a number of black and white empty snail shells which instantly brought me back to my childhood and to a place I enjoyed visiting--the cottage. Her cottage.

She loved her cottage and I loved it too, but only when she was alive. The sound of crickets, the old well on the hill top, the growing grape vines and the path that secretly provided passage to Indigenous lands. The mint, how could I forget, it always smelled like fresh mint because like a weed, it grew everywhere. It wasn’t fancy but it was what a cottage is supposed to be. It was hers and everything in there was perfect. The spinning ashtray was always fun and I personally loved her style. She was so cool.

The sudden need to connect with her today didn’t come out of nowhere. The Universe has called upon me to take this journey and for once I am listening. To those of you that know me, I may in fact sound like I’ve gone mad, but rest assured, I have not. I am on a journey that I cannot explain. It is painful and confusing, but with each passing day, things get a little more vivid. Its crazy to say but the old me has in fact died. She no longer resides inside. I have entered some kind of rebirth and as strange as that may seem, it is in fact true.

Great things are on the horizon and for me I welcome them with an open heart, open mind and open arms. But first, I must continue to endure this initial period and tough out the trials and tribulations. This is a time where all things that once were, are now being assessed and reassessed. In life and in death, today I was reminded that 20 years is a long time to be away from the ones you love. I will be back soon and the next time I place my hand on her grave, it will be warm enough to plant a handful of mint.

Have a Remarkable Day!


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