I want the genteel friendships my grandmother curated

I want the genteel(jenˈtēl) friendships my grandmother curated(-ˌrāt,ˈkyo͝orət,ˈkyo͝oˌrāt)

By Joyce(jois) Thompson

Their names were Lillian and Mary(ˈme(ə)rē). They lived on neighbouring(ˈnābəriNG) farms for over 40 years and while I was witness(ˈwitnəs) to their friendship, I never heard them call each other anything but Mrs. Ireton(irəˈdən) and Mrs. Thompson.

It was common in rural(ˈro͝orəl) Ontario(änˈte(ə)rēˌō) in the 1940s for three generations to live under one roof as was the case in my early years. An aspect(ˈaspekt) of that was captured by Margaret(ˈmärɡ(ə)rət) Lawrence(ˈlär-,ˈlôrəns) in The Stone Angel(ˈānjəl). “Privacy(ˈprīvəsē) is a privilege(ˈpriv(ə)lij) not granted to the aged or the young,” she wrote. “Sometimes very young children can look at the old, and a look passes between them, conspiratorial(kənˌspirəˈtôrēəl), sly(slī) and knowing.” Even though I had two parents, brothers and sisters, I tagged after Gran(gran) in particular. Mostly, I just watched her, starting in the morning as she brushed(brəSHt) her long hair(he(ə)r), braided(brād) it neatly(ˈnētlē) and pinned(pin) it into a bun(bən). She was good at so much. She could sew(sō) and knit(nit) and cook and make butter and lye(lī) soap(sōp). She and my mother grew a fine garden and baked(bākt) every day in the big farm kitchen.

The one event that I never wanted to miss was a visit from Mrs. Ireton. She and Gran visited each other’s homes monthly for many years. They did not belong to the same church and, therefore, not to the same ladies groups, but their friendship was solid(ˈsäləd) and lasting.