It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of an old family friend this week.
I grew up amongst a cast of "characters" that forever bring the fondest of memories. We spent every summer at a cottage, set in a grove, by the river and it was the best place in the world to be a kid. The Smith's lived in the cottage next to ours. Lorne and Gladys and their three daughters, Sandra, Heather and Janice were my "other" family. Gladys passed away several years ago, and this week, at the grand old age of 94, Lorne heard the last post. He was my favourite veteran. He was a true gentleman and one of the most romantic men I have had the fortune to know, and I daresay, to have been loved by.
My favorite story of Lorne, was the Christmas that he took Heather, Janice, cousin Joan and I to the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa for a Christmas tea-dance. We were all dressed up. It was a party. I can't remember exactly what we ate, but finger bowls were involved. This was where Janice learned the function of this particular piece of tableware. Janice was the youngest ...oh to be her now, but then, it was always best to be "older" and wiser. Much merriment ensued when Janice thought that this delightful silver bowl contained "Lemon Soup". I'm not sure that any of the rest of us knew any better than she at the time, but we never let on, and she never lived it down.
Those were the days when the Chateau had a real, live, orchestra. They played all of our favourite Christmas songs, and one by one, Lorne invited each of us for a special dance with him on the dance floor. Our crinolines twirled and our taffeta sung out it's approval. My song was 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer'. It was magic. We were such LADIES that day. I don't know of any other gentleman who has ever done such a wonderful thing on a Saturday afternoon with 4 little girls. When lunch was over, we proceeded to the famous gift shop. In the day, it was THE most fabulous gift shop in the WORLD, and part of the festivities just to visit. We were each allowed to choose a small stuffed animal or doll and we agonized over our perfect pick. Such an extravagant gesture, forever remembered and touched by.
I don't know where that silly little stuffed thing that, at the time, meant the world to me ended up. Likely relegated to the toy box in the basement as I outgrew such "childish" possessions.
Tomorrow, Larry and I will drive to Ottawa to say goodbye to my old friend. While I will be terribly sad, I will always have such happy, happy memories of childhood days. Thank you Lorne.
How I would love to have just one more dance.
Sleep well sweet Prince. Forever in my thoughts. I love you.
Leslie Jane....the other daughter.