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October 19th, 2011

Published by: mooresb

My Grand Mothers Imagination My Grand Mothers Imagination October 19th, 2011

Meetings of The Cackler's Club were convened by my grandmother a day or two after the arrival of guests to the island. This island was a paradise of summer living in northern Georgian Bay where I spent three months each year with my family from the age of nearly one. Family friends would come for a week or two and became unwitting participants in my grandmother's imaginative games, of which there were many.

Gram began by calling the meeting to order and making a verbal listing of the responsibilities of all members. In this her theatrical abilities shone through as she regaled us with a speech which rang with grave and grand importance. The inductee would have to answer a few questions regarding their sincerity and promise to keep the Cackler's Club Pledge: To be fruitful in all endeavors. Throughout this procedure the person was made to alternately sit and stand.

One of these, The Cackler's Club, was convened in the evenings in the living room of my grandparents' cabin. This was where all islanders converged after a sunset paddle, or casting a line off the dock towards the concentric rings where fish had just jumped for mayflies, or Canadian Soldiers as we called them. As dusk settled in, my grandmother would light the kerosene Aladdin lamps; my grandfather settled his green plastic gambler's visor on his broad, bald head; my mother might be knitting the summer's sweater sitting on the couch nearest the table lamp waiting for the ceremony to begin. The Cackler's Club required the arrival of new potential initiates, and some minor preparations. When all was ready, and a pillow was set behind the initiate in the middle of the couch made out of small cedar logs and an old stuffed twin bed mattress, my grandmother stood in the centre of the room acting as officiator. My mother stood beside the guest acting as sponsor and I was usually required to stand on the other side to visually balance the grouping standing in front of the couch.

Finally, the ceremony came to its close and my grandmother would solemnly ask for the assembled members and guests to rise; she would then instruct the initiate to put their thumbs in their armpits, as she demonstrated. They then had to give the Cackler's Club official greeting, which, upon meeting another member anywhere, the new member must always do. As Gram and the inductee, my mother, and I all bobbed our elbows and cackled like hens just laying fresh eggs, everyone in the room (except the new member) looked expectantly and in awe at the pillow below on the couch. There, cradled in the pillow's softness, lay a perfect, fresh, white egg: the sign that the inductee was now truly an active, fellow member of the esteemed assemblage. Dramatic gasps and a round of applause were called for. The stunned and unwary guest often took a few seconds to appreciate what they had just 1


October 19th, 2011

Published by: mooresb

achieved! My grandmother was a truly unique woman who not only saw to the islanders' entertainment, but instilled in her grandchildren a sense of fun and imagination. Unfortunately, it often takes advancing age to consciously appreciate the gifts that are given to us. I hope Gram knew what children often don't think to tell their elders: when she wasn't scolding us for some offence which rankled her Victorian-influenced sensibility, she was a blast, and we loved her.

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My Grand Mothers Imagination  

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