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memories of Memorial Day weekends

Posted May 31 2010 12:00am

Thinking of past Memorial Day weekends includes the times that my three friends and I used to travel to Toronto (from Detroit) for the weekend. We had the best times together. We always stayed at the Andore (sp) Hotel, which was just a block away from the corner of Yonge and Bloor streets. We would drive up Saturday morning, arriving early enough to have breakfast to start the day in Toronto. The Andore (sp) was a classic old hotel with rooms large enough to accommodate four women with all of their bags and additional stuff picked up during shopping sprees. Back then, the American dollar was at least 1.25 times the Canadian dollar, so it was great fun shopping and being able to get such bargains. Leather goods were a great bargain, so shoes and bags were always on the shopping list. We also used to go to a tiny shop crammed with the finest linens at the best prices. It was a steal. Back then, I loved the beauty of a formal table with crisp napkins and pristine white tablecloth, and going to this place was a required stop on each visit. I think that’s when I started loving beautiful cotton and linen handkerchiefs, and I still collect themnow, thank goodness for the Internet, via online sources.

Besides the museums, galleries and the very chi chi little store with the adult toyssomething absolutely taboo here in the US back thenwe, also, made a special visit to Mrs. Hyde. Mrs. Hyde was about eighty-something years old and read tea leaves. It was the most incredible experience. My one friend introduced us to her, and we all loved going to see her. Every time we got to Toronto, the first phone call we made was to set up our appointment with Mrs. Hyde. As I recall, she was on the second floor of a building in the arts district. Mrs. Hyde always made statements with the utmost conviction and clarity. She did not say things that were nebulous or general or inquisitive. I remember thinking, when I first saw her, Well sure, she can say anything and a year from now it won’t matter because I will have forgotten about it.

Yet, the strange part about it was that the things that she told us about in terms of future were eerily correct. When I met her one year, she kept saying that the letter H was prominent. She was adamant that I knew someone whose initial was H. I always took what she said with the obligatory grain of salt and then forgot about it, and at the time no one fit the description. Not a month later I met Steve Horowitz, my tennis teacher at the local YMCA in Dearborn, whom I started seeing that July 4th and whom I married a year later. We married the following year on May 31, 1975, and this explains what I did for Memorial Day weekend for the following twenty years.

Even stranger than the H prediction, and in the same conversation, Mrs. Hyde told me I would one day visit or live in a place surrounded by birds of paradise. I remember thinking, yeah, right, whatever . . . It seemed vague and kind of funny. Birds of paradise. I had not asked her whether she meant the birds or the flowers. No matter. I figured it was silly, anyway. I did think about it over the years, though, and whenever I went on a trip or moved, I would think about it. No birds of paradise, however. Until I moved to SoCal. When I arrived in Long Beach and Marvin and I used to walk around the neighborhood, I recalled Mrs. Hyde and realized that her prediction had come true. Birds of paradise flowers do surround you when you live here. They are everywherethe bright yellow-orange flowers you see at the florist and, oh my goodness, the giant white birds of paradise that grow as tall as the house roof.

This weekend I thought about my Dad, who recently passed away, who was a World War II veteran and felt again the pride I have in being his daughter. He has left to be with Mom, but I think of both of them every day and remember all of the good times we spent on these Memorial Day weekends as a family. Nothing can bring any of it back, but nothing can take away those sweet memories.

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© 2004-2010 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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