Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Red Bus

image by: skaliwag66 via blogTO

I lost my darling Mum last month on April 13, 2015 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease and a brain tumor. My heart's broken but she left me a lifetime of love and sweet memories. I started this post last year and saved it as a draft. This seemed like a good time to share it.

Peering out through the gaps between the balcony railings, waiting for that vintage red Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus to stop in front of our tenement is a vivid memory I have of 1970s Toronto. It was a gateway to the outer mysterious non-home world. People were always riding up and down the street in those bright coloured buses, all hours of the day, seven days a week. Where were they going? Where were they coming from?

For me, those red buses transported one VIP: my Mum. She traveled to the nursing home where she worked eight hour shifts and then returned home each night as I lay tucked in bed. I used to worry about her journeying in the dark, the thought of which still makes me queasy. One night, mum got lost but was mercifully guided home by a kind bus driver (even as a kid, I used to worry how they would treat a brown immigrant woman journeying alone). It perturbed me so, that I made up a cute (alright I admit it: absurd) little ditty to soothe the anxiety I felt. It was called "Mummy Dancing on the Bus". And those were the lyrics also. Just repeat, add a little beat and voila. As I sang that ditty for comfort, in my mind's eye Mum always appeared in her nursing uniform (her outfits fit into four categories: nighties, nursing uniforms, errand shirt-slack combos or church-saris)—dancing carefree in the bus up and down the aisle, twirling round the pole (a different kind of pole dance). That jovial dance in my mind was akin to a "rain dance" but instead of coaxing a rainfall, it ushered on Mum's nightly homecoming.  Sometimes I'd see her walking into the building, each exhausted step, a mark of victory and an indication of how hard she worked.

Those red buses of 1970s Toronto will forever remind me of my mum coming home. There's not a better feeling in the world than that.

RIP Mama.

PS: Some archived posts I wrote about my mother:

Postum, Bread and Mum
Happy Mother's Day
It Has a Smell


  1. We had those buses here as well. Right up to recently. The last one they brought out on special occasions, was also coloured red to I guess mark it as special. Normally they're a yellow green motif. They as in the bus drivers would also take donations for what ever event that took place that day.
    I guess the most memorable would be when my mother took me to swimming lessons in the big yellow green bus. It was a 1C. Afterwords we go to Mc Donald's so I could enjoy a Big Mac. The summer of 84 was a very influential year to me. Most memorable. Never had a summer like it again.
    We were suppose to start getting electric buses over here but as usual the bureaucrats blew it. Progress is always very slow here.
    Oh have you heard, our city is one of the most sadist in Canada. Yeah I kind of felt it over the years. No wonder this place has so many bullies and grouches.

    I'm so sorry about your mother. My condolences. That would explain why I didn't see any activity at your blog for awhile. I'm sorry I suck at this. I'm a better listener then a talker. :( And a better dreamer then all this other stuff.

    My mother is also an immigrant and dad as well. I also had a hard time even though I was born here. But I can imagine you probably had it rougher. I like to imagine that people, possibly are a bit more inclusive now and excepting but I'm sure you know best.

    None the less, I hope that now spring is hear that somehow the wonderful parts of this time of year can somehow be soothing along with your siblings can help you heal fast. You are very lucky to have them.
    Feel better soon and enjoy the present. :)

  2. Dear Tina, thank you so much for your lovely comment and kind condolences. It means so much to me. You are most definitely both a good listener and talker. You cheered me up with your words and am so blessed to call you friend.

    I love reading your memories—we truly are kindred spirits. I would love to hear more about your Summer of 84 and why it was so influential. Sounds wonderful. The summers of the early 80s were my favourites: the days seemed boundless and there was so much to explore.

    Times have changed and things are definitely more inclusive (by leaps and bounds) now than they were in the 70s. Being an immigrant or child of an immigrant is hard. I'm sorry you had a hard time too. :( What city do you live in Tina? I know it's somewhere in Ontario. You deserve to live in a place filled with people as lovely as you.

    For some reason when it comes to progress, transit always takes a hit. In Toronto, it's a topic that gets debated for years with very little change.

    You are a dreamer and creator and a wonderful friend and now when I step out into these Springtime days, I will remember your kind words. It's been a month since we lost Mum but all the love and kind words are carrying me through.

    Thank you. Love and hugs.

  3. So many condolences, Chelle, on your mother's passing. Your blog used to help ease my homesickness when I lived in Kentucky, far from my native Ontario. You grew up in the seventies, like me, so we share a lot of memories. Your mother is never gone so long as we keep speaking her name. <3 I thank you both for the memories that kept me going till I could move back home again.

  4. Mimi, bless your beautiful heart. <3 You just made my day and made me cry. If I could make a fellow Ontarian sister feel closer to home than it's my absolute honour. There's nothing better than sharing memories from the 70s. :)

    Wow you lived in Kentucky. Very cool! Thank you so much for your lovely message. Hugs to you my friend.

  5. I am just now reading this post, and I am so sorry that I didn't realize to read it. What a beautifully written ode to your beautiful Mum. I agree with Mimi above, we keep them alive with our wonderful memories and spoken words / stories, and I know that draws them near. I have felt my Mom very close lately... I saw the butterflies. =)

    Always here and so glad to be back with you writing, Jax

    1. Aw thank you so much beautiful Jax!! So happy to be writing with you again too. <3 Your words always make me happy and lift me up.

      Aw, bless those butterflies. Here's to our mamas! <3


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