This weekend I was on a cruise. Of sorts.
Last spring, Dad had said that he wanted to go on a cruise. One that he had been on in the past and wanted to do again. An East Coast cruise that docks in cities such as Quebec City, Boston, Halifax and ports in between. Being 92 years old, it was thought that he needed a travelling companion and I was chosen. Fine by me.
A deposit was paid in early spring with the rest of the money due mid July. As summer approached, Dad talked less and less about the cruise and I began to suspect that he was having second thoughts. And so he was. While in Hearst I received an email from him, in his typical staccato style, that read something like this. "Not feeling well. Nothing serious. Just feel more like 93 than 92. Have cancelled cruise."
I responded with the suggestion that we substitute the week-long cruise - complete with the hassle of major airports and crowds - for a weekend in Toronto to hear some jazz.
And so Saturday morning saw me driving south, while Dad trained it in from the west for a noon meet-up in Toronto. Dad stepped out of the cab wearing the jazz-lovers vest I knit for him several years ago.
Danny Marks at the Rex. Danny never fails to entertain and even, this time, gave me my 15 seconds of fame. I approached the stage thinking to buy a CD but they were all sold. Apparently I looked so disappointed that Danny invited me to join him on stage and cajoled the audience into feeling sorry for me until one gentleman offered to sell me his CD. Lucky me.
Following the Rex we were off to Grossman's Tavern. The first time I ever went to Grossman's, Dad suggested " If you have to p - -, go now. They named the tavern after the condition of the washrooms."
Lucky for me, they have renovated and the ladies loo now boasts granite counter tops. The rest of the tavern still has that no-frills feel which provides a great venue for their Saturday afternoon show featuring The Happy Pals. A lively, fun, raucous band playing Dixie Land Jazz favourites.
Niece Katie - she of the red felted hat -
Sunday, we were back at the Rex to hear the Excelsior Jazz Band. Same instruments and same songs as The Happy Pals but a smoother, less raw sound.
Shortly before the band started to play, an elderly lady entered, pushing her husband in a wheel chair. They sat at the end of our table. She gently removed his jacket and the foot rests from the wheel chair - the better to feel the vibrations of the music. Periodically she would get up from her chair and hold a glass of water to his lips so he could have a drink. She ordered him a grilled cheese sandwich, then cut it into small pieces, so he could feed himself. When all that was done, she took him to the men's washroom.
The couple were known to the band and part way through the afternoon, the band leader introduced them. It was her birthday which was the reason for the outing. The band leader went on to say that the husband was in his 90s and a World War Two veteran so they played It's A Long Way To Tipperary. All of which brought tears to me eyes. My Dad is in his 90s and a WW2 veteran. He came a 100 Kilometres by train, then cab to join me for our 'cruise'. Saying good bye to him Sunday afternoon I watched him toddle across Queen Street in downtown Toronto, waving his cane at an approaching cab to get a ride to the train station for his trip home. He had booked first class - a sale on tickets he said - which offered him a choice of meals. He chose Hindu. He had never eaten Hindu and wanted to try it. I am very lucky.