Sentimental, in the Very Best Sense

My mother-in-law Jane is sentimental, in the very best sense of the word.  She and I have that in common, among other things, which is surely part of the reason her son fell in love with me.  Jane saved the outfit Christian wore when they brought him home from the hospital forty-some years ago along with the exquisite ivory knit Hudson Bay baby blanket and matching booties he was swaddled in.  Just before Xavier was born, she sent them to us to wrap up her grandson when he came home from the hospital, which we did.

She also saved Christian's teddy bear, in mint condition minus his voice, which she brought as a gift when she came to meet Xavier two weeks later.

We've just returned from visiting Jane in Toronto where she lives in the same condominium complex where she brought up her two children (she moved away once briefly but moved back as she missed the neighborhood).  She pulled out family photo albums where she looks as glamorous as ever in miniskirts while Christian toddles about in sailor suits in Hyde Park in London and Stanley Park in Vancouver.  She told stories of her father's pet lion, her pet tortoise Aldolphus, life at her convent school and the ship voyage when she emigrated to Canada from England as a young bride in the 60's.  I can't get enough of the stories and she has an amazing recall of dates and details.  She's promising a memoir.

Wanting to show me more of Ontario, Jane planned a weekend in the pretty and historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake with a stop at Niagara Falls.  She insisted on taking us to dinner at the superb Oban Inn, a place she'd dined with her parents in 1977, with Christian and his sister when they were younger and recently with her bachelor friend Colin, who shares her taste in theater, film and the arts.  The inn is an institution, so naturally she wanted to take her grandson to the same place to knit together the generations through more associations and good memories - and the food is still amazing.

She bought tickets for the Saturday opening night of Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windemere's Fan" at the Shaw Festival for Christian and I to enjoy a rare date.  This was a lovely gift for us but really her ulterior motive was simply to have her grandson all to herself for a few hours.  We were happy to oblige.  The play was excellent and while the actors tossed many witticisms across the stage, this one struck a chord with me: 

     LORD DARLINGTON. What cynics you fellows are!

     CECIL GRAHAM. What is a cynic?

     LORD DARLINGTON. A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
     CECIL GRAHAM. And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd
     value in everything, and doesn't know the market price of any single thing.

We had a good chuckle as Oscar intended, but some of us know there is great sentimental value in certain everyday objects, family keepsakes and places which trigger happy memories.  I will always be sentimental about these treasures and stories from Jane.  And I will carefully and lovingly save the little dress, blanket and teddy bear for Xavier's future child.  Perhaps many years from now, we'll take him and his family to dine at the Oban Inn, and I'll send him off for an evening so I can play with my own grandchild.