WOW Gal Angel 

Grandma (Fitzpatrick) Bowles 

I never knew my Grandma very well. In fact I still don't even know her actual Christian name. I only ever knew her as Grandma Bowles. She was my father’s Mom and he died when I wasn’t even seven so that was the last time I ever saw her…until 30 years later.

I was freshly divorced and ready to find out more about my father’s side of the family so I took some of my settlement money and prepaid a trip to Nova Scotia. It was the first long trip alone yet somehow I felt very safe taking the train and still have very good memories of the journey itself.

Meeting my Grandma after all those years was a complete shock. I remembered her as this monstrous woman who 

towered over me and from all the stories I had heard about her was expecting to feel fear.

Instead I (only 5’1”myself) towered over this tiny 4 foot plus woman and immediately liked her as both our twinkling eyes met. She was a bit reserved so I didn’t get a hug at our greeting however the long embrace at our parting spoke volumes.

During my visit she gave me a box full of photos. Many were of my father and the rest were of us kids. She was in her late eighties and felt I should have them. I was honoured by this gift.

I was mesmerized by her feeling an immediate comfort and tickled by her concern for me having walked alone quite a distance to get to her home. I had needed to see if I could remember anything about the area. My fondest memory was visiting her store. Her eyes were always softer as she handed me my treat. That same softness was there when she handed me this box of photos.

Two years later I brought my Mom from Ontario to see her. They had long been enemies: first because of their religious differences (Protestant & Catholic) and secondly because Mom was a country bumpkin and dad had come from a middle class city family. To fuel the fire… Mom had been upset to receive photos of my father in his coffin with coins that had been thrown in to “buy his way into heaven for marrying a protestant” according to the note included. Mom had used all the money collected for her from the RCAF to send his body back to Nova Scotia to be buried near his family (Dad died in a car accident not in the line of duty so the only compensation was what the guys he knew collected for her to help out with the funeral.) While I knew this had been a Man-Made not God Made act even at such an early age yet was angry for the hurt it had brought to my Mom and could sense she needed to heal this if possible.

On the drive to Nova Scotia Mom wasn’t sure she wanted to see Grandma Bowles again, yet she did. And when they came face to face after all those years…the years of anger and distrust seemed to melt away and before long we were having a beverage and they were talking like old friends. Again we all hugged warmly on departure. I was so proud of both these ladies for their courage to face each other and let go of the past even if it was for one short moment. It meant the world to me to be a witness to the love in the room that day.

My Grandma died soon after this visit. I am so glad that I had the chance to meet her again and rid myself of that long held image of her as a “Big Mean Monster”. I recognize that she had her faults as we all do and that her early perceptions of my Mom were just that…the way she saw things in the past. She remained a strongly opinionated woman over the years for sure, yet her beautiful soul and all the love she felt for others could be seen through her beautiful sparkling eyes.

I have just learned the true identity of my Grandma Bowles from my brother Rick and cousin Catherine but decided to leave this tribute as is...the way I knew her best. For the rest of you...I introduce Florence May Hanneberry Fitzpatrick Bowles.

I still think of you often Grandma…I am sure I have inherited some of your strength and stubbornness. I am so thankful we were able to connect again while you were still alive and welcome a continued connection now that you are in heaven.

It seemed only fitting to present this tribute in August being the birthday month of your son and my father Richard (Rich). I love that You, Mom & Dad are all together in a place where differences don't matter and only pure LOVE is felt for ALL.

Contributed by Florence May Hannaberry Fitzpatrick Bowles' Long Lost Grandaughter, Carolyn Shannon

The Above inspired this Poem Tribute to Nanny Bowles  from Grandaughter Cathie Panteluk

Sunday Dinner

You remind me of my Nanny,

Sitting there under the shade tree on your floral quilt,

Short bobbed iron grey hair while hers was always permed

Or sometimes sticking straight out all over her head

A cigarette dangled from her mouth most of the time

Unless she was sipping on a tea between puffs- Red Rose-

Canned vegetable soup usually for lunch and saltines covered in soft yellow butter – sometimes,

Others times with just a skiff of red strawberry jam

She didn’t always eat like this,

Sundays were roast chicken dinners with the best dressing you ever tasted

With savoury, not sage, the Maritime way, her way with potatoes and bread,

The blue enameled roasting pan- spotless even after years of use-

Marinated all the goodness of the years into that bird,

Sweet, plump and juicy

Crisp, golden skin always that we all usually fought over

Even the pope’s nose -can you imagine?

How many of you know now even what that is?

Go ask your nanny

She’ll laugh as she tells you,

Now we all go on without her

Even the roaster, once passed on has disappeared

Gone its own separate way

Lost in the many moves, or perhaps given to someone else

Ah yes, Sunday dinner with Nanny and Grampie

Those were the best.


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