Our second exclusive excerpt from Bill Livingstone’s soon-to-be-released memoir, Preposterous – Tales to Follow, is from the book’s third chapter, “Family.”
In the passage, Livingstone shows piping and drumming readers that even the parts of the book not about piping and drumming are good reading, thanks to his dark humour and honesty.
While issues of mental and physical health are serious, one cannot but see the humour in his account.
[Warning: this excerpt contains strong language that some might find offensive.]
Gramma Glover was from a family of United Empire loyalists. These were the folks who, during the American War of Independence, declared their loyalty to the Crown by voting with their feet, hightailing it to Canada. She apparently grew up in the Kingston/Ganonoque area of Ontario (I only have old family recollections to support this), and how she met Grampa Glover is a lost mystery.
Looking back on her, with the hindsight that a lifetime gives, it’s pretty clear that she was a bit nutty. She showed, I now see, all of the signs of fairly profound depression, with an unrelenting sad countenance and a very negative and down view of anything going on around her or her family, including her grandchildren. This could flip in a heartbeat to raucous laughter and fun, and a flurry of baking pies and bread that no one in his right mind could resist. Perhaps the diagnosis in today’s world would have been bipolar disorder.
These were the days of no medical insurance and no money. So when teeth went bad, out they came, to be replaced with ill-fitting, painful falsies. Grandma Glover lost her uppers, and one half of her lowers to the mid-point at the front of her mouth. Either because she didn’t care or they were too painful, she usually left her false teeth in places other than in her mouth. This tended to give her the look of a very sad, but somehow tormented and threatening terrier.
Gramma Glover’s maiden name was Filtz, a fact that has always intrigued me. Her coloring was dramatically Mediterranean, bordering on Middle Eastern. Her three children, my mother, my uncle Jack and my uncle Stuart, are all of the same hue. It appears that this familial trait passed down to me. Was Filtz a Jewish name, or the name of a German Jew? I wonder. I have been taken for an Italian, a Greek and an Arab, and many of my law school friends were Jewish. Maybe they thought I was one of them and not goyish after all.
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