6/21 "Oars in the Water" (album: Into The Mirror) is the story of my maternal great grandparents as it was passed on to me via my mom, from her mom.
The second I heard it, everything in me cried, FOUL PLAY. But we didn't have all the facts. I still don't, and we may never.
When I was a little girl I named the shadow man who sat on my bed and watched me draw, Mister Man. When I saw a photo of my great grandfather, I believed his identity had been revealed, but why him? Why me?
One Samhain decades later, as we were opening the house to our ancestors for our annual traditional supper, Eva entered the house dripping wet. She stood there and waited, like she expected to be turned away as she had been by others. I welcomed her and her son.
She needed to be written back into our family history, so I wrote a song in her honour. And when I went on my 6 month tour in 2017, she came with me. I sang it at every single show and I told her story. Even nights I hadn't planned to play it, she urged me to include it in my set list.
One night in 2019 someone in the audience said, "I can look that up for you" and within 24 hours she had found an article describing the circumstances, giving me a date of death and how many people were in the boat. 4 men, apparently not including my great grandfather, all of whom survived, but not Eva and Norman.
Today is the 2nd anniversary of the death of my mother. The memories of that last year with her, and that last week with her, aren't quite as sharp as they once were, but they're a part of me.
Relationships with parents are complicated, especially when religion or some other construct stands between you. Not all my memories are good ones, but that last year was precious. Mom said it was a gift, and it was.
One day I'll go on a pilgrimage to Noranda Quebec to see what I can find. A gravesite? Records? Notes from the inquest? Maybe next summer. Meanwhile I sing, and welcome in all those who were exiled for reasons I find absurd.
Side note: performing this song at a Winterfest audition 7 years ago did not get me into Winterfest. Go figure.