HELEN LANG: Grab opportunity by both hands and hold on

We were parked in downtown Sidney, still sitting in the car discussing the things we had to do before heading home.

This is a true story and it warms my heart to recall it. It concerns my husband Jim’s ancient aunt, Gertrude.

New Year’s story

We were parked in downtown Sidney, still sitting in the car discussing the things we had to do before heading home.

Jim was half-watching several elderly ladies chatting just in front of us.

Suddenly he said, “You know, I think that is my Aunt Gertrude, the one in the brown coat.”

“Why don’t you get out and speak to her?” I asked

“Oh” he said, “there has been a spit in the family, Mother felt that the Lang girls considered themselves better than her and, for years, they have had nothing to do with one another. Mother ran a bakery during the war, where the Lang girls considered themselves landed gentry and did nothing.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” said I, opening the door and stepping out of the car. “She looks like a darling to me.”

I went and stood close to her, pretending to be examining things in the store window. When the group broke up and the other women walked away I turned and touched her arm, saying, “Are you, by any chance Gertrude Lang?”

She turned and fixing me with a cold and suspicious look, she answered, “Yes, young woman, I am, and who might you be?”

I said, “My name is also Lang and I’m married to your nephew, Jim, who is sitting in that car.”

At the point Jim had the car door open and was getting out”

Gertrude cried out “JIM!” and she had tears in her eyes.

And so they met and from then on it was a love-in as we adopted her as our very own.

She had never married, no one seemed to care whether she lived or died, she was desperately poor, living in a rather dreadful two room apartment in Victoria. Jim changed much of that.

She was entitled to a pension from a job she had worked at forever but hadn’t known how to access her entitlement. Jim took over her finances and suddenly she felt rich. We moved her into a lovely retirement home on Rockland avenue (a good address which seemed important to her) and began to look after her welfare.

At one point she fell ill but we had moved to Vancouver because of Jim’s job. I phoned her one day and she sounded so ill both Jim and I were concerned. I went over and found her weak and exhausted.

I said, “Gertrude you are coming home with me!”

She said, “Oh, my dear, I couldn’t. I have no decent clothes, not even a suitcase.”

But I had spotted an old suitcase on top of her cupoard and said, “Get up, sweetie and lets get you packed, or I’m taking you with me wearing your nightie!”

That got her moving.

The thought of being seen in her old flannel nightdress galvanized her into action and she was soon ready to go,

We kept her a month, during which time Jim revamped her finances and found her a great place to live.

We bought her a winter coat, gloves and a felt hat, and moved her into a lovely home in what seemed to her to be a little piece of paradise.

Once in a while you have a chance to do something good.

Grab it with both hands and thank Heaven for the opportunity!

Happy New Year to all of you!

 

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

Just Posted

More buoys allowed for Brentwood Bay

Proposed number rises from 40 to 60

Victoria airport reaches nearly two million passengers in 2017

This year expected to see additional growth

Peninsula speed skating duo aiming for the national stage

Pair opted to train in long track skating this season for the first time

Tent city resident just wants a home

Roving tent city has made its way to Central Saanich

Island Health, service providers meeting to talk about used needles in Victoria

Recent public needle-prick incidents prompt call to reduce number of needles found

Sidney’s Salish Sea aquarium to close for maintenance

First extended closure for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea since it opened in 2009

Butchart Gardens is hiring now and paying more

Wages start at $15, job fair Feb. 20

Cash still needed for Stelly’s Cross Path

MLA Olsen wants more specifics first

Injured parachutist wants stolen backpack back

Bag contained important video files of 2017 parachuting incident

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

Wanted by Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers for the week of Jan. 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read