Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jenny's Pin

This pin was given to me by a wonderful fiesty lady by the name of Jenny on my 21st birthday. Jenny, originally from England, came to Canada as a very young woman, married here and had eight children. A fiercly independent woman, she was one of the first ladies in the province to own and drive a car. She lived through a fire that destroyed everything they owned and survived divorce in a time when divorced woman were considered tainted. She went on to hold a good job with the telephone company and find love and happiness with a man named Harry Reiter.

I met Jenny when I was just eight years old. Her children had already grown and left home and become successful in their own lives. Harry and Jenny lived in a house about a half mile from me and they were to become second parents to me. So much so that I often wished and pretended that my name was Reiter in the rough years of my childhood. Harry and Jenny bailed me out when I locked myself out of my house and drove to school on days when the rain was pounding down making the dirt roads that I traveled a sea of mud and listened to me when I had no one else to talk to. They were there for me when I left home to at the tender age of 15 to make it on my own not only encourageing me with love and kind advice, but giving me little bits and pieces of things to make my run down apartment more liveable. On my twenty first birthday they came all the way in from out of town to pay a special visit and bring me this wonderful present.

I cherished this pin and carried it with me to the many places I would eventually live over the next thirty years. Then, a few years ago, some good friends of mine from China became Canadian citizens and after some soul searching I decided that Diane, their daughter, should be given this pin as a reminder that she was now a Canadian woman with a rich Chinese cultural background and that Canada and the world was hers to conquer. I knew that Diane would not only treasure this gift for itself, but would understand the depth of the value of this pin. On her wedding day Diane attached the pin to the base of her wedding bouquet. As she walked across the bridge over the pond in the garden to reach the place beside her groom's side for the wedding ceremony, the pin fell off her bouquet into the water. Diane confessed this to me after the ceremony and vowed to get the pin back even if it meant that she would have to wade in the pond herself. I smiled to myself thinking what a chuckle my dear friend Jenny would have gotten out of all this and how she would have loved to tell the story to everyone she knew. I really felt the pin was gone forever and bade it a sad farewell. A week later, true to her word, Diane went back to VanDussen Gardens and begged the gardener to help look for the pin. This wonderful gardener took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his pants and waded in. After almost an hour of looking he handed the pin back to a very excited and happy new bride. The message of delight that she left me on my answering machine that day after finding the pin made me realize how right my decision had been to give Diane this very special piece from my youth.

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