*** Gatherings ***


Jim Low

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

web site:

Christmas 2003

17th Annual Message


Time to Grow

Time is precious and life demands so much of it before this is recognised. Looking back on the years Eleanor and I raised four children I wonder where the time went. It danced by in the blink of an eye. A few years ago a friend, upon learning I had four children, asked "did you have any regrets?" "One" I replied: "that I didn't have more." She thought I was crazy. Upon mentioning I made many mistakes as my children were growing, I regarded those years as just a rehearsal, and said I wish it were possible start over. She then knew I was crazy! I know: be careful what you wish for&emdash;you might get everything you ask for. The miracle maker and weaver of time granted my wish by giving me grandchildren.

Bliss is grandchildren. Carrie and Brian presented me with my second grandchild, Lily Eleanor Larkin Porter, on February 9 this year. Nolan James Khan, son of Cheryl and Jameel, was born seven months earlier, reported in Gatherings last year.

As my children were growing, I tried to be fair, but was tough at times. I had a quick response whenever they said "you're mean." "True," I said: "I went to Mean School. It's a requirement to attend Mean School before becoming a parent." But it turns out that the time I spent with my children they were my teachers in Fun School. Did you know it's a requirement to attend Fun School before becoming a grandparent? Alas, they now have to face the fact their children will be spoiled by this grandfather who just graduated from Fun School. Call me grandpa Peter Pan.

With time comes wisdom. I require much more time.

Swingin' in the Park

Nolan is having his first sleepover at Grandpa Low's. It's time to spoil him and for him to spoil me. Just as I did a quarter century earlier, I push the stroller along Queen Street with a stop at Baskin-Robbins. We have ice cream and the traditional messy face. Following that, it's a trip to the playground in Kew Gardens where Nolan enjoys his first swing ride&emdash;on the same swing I pushed his mother on almost 30 years earlier. He also enjoys the slide, but is much more interested in the sand, sticks, and stones around the playground. Later, we stroll along the boardwalk and beach, building castles in the sand. Arriving home, it's hard to tell who is the dirtiest: Nolan or me. Thank goodness people are so easy to clean.

Grandparents don't Babysit!

Carrie phoned: "Can you babysit Lily today?" "No" I reply. "Grandparents don't babysit. Grandparents visit grandchildren, play with them, and spoil them. If you want me to spend time with Lily, spoil her, and play games with her, great, I'll be over, but I don't babysit." Thank goodness she lets me share time with Lily.

The annual Jazz Festival in The Beach is on, so Carrie and Lily, along with Lily's uncle Peter and his girlfriend Kate and I join the crowd on Queen Street. It seems Lily enjoys the music. I bought an ice cream cone, but Lily wasn't quite old enough to enjoy what I wanted to offer her. Or so said her mother.

Later, Carrie allows me to spend time with Lily on a beautiful summer day. I decide to take her for a walk in the stroller. "I'll be gone about an hour," says Carrie. Two hours later, I get a frantic call on my cell phone. It's Carrie. "It's past her feeding time. Isn't she screaming?" "No," I reply. She probably wondered how I could take her mind off feeding time. I didn't tell Carrie, as I wasn't sure she'd be pleased, but Lily does like ice cream, now.

Then there is the day Carrie, Lily, and I go for a walk to do some shopping and have lunch. Carrie emphasises to staff that Lily is my granddaughter. She wants to avoid mistakes as happened when Nolan got his haircut!

After seeing the movie "Daddy Day-Care" I wonder if it's time to start "Grandpa Day-Care?"

Stars, Friends and Family

Retirement projects are well underway. As mentioned in my last Gatherings, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by visiting Australia and New Zealand for two months late last year. I spent a month camping with a group through the Outback and along the east coast, from Ayers Rock to the Great Barrier Reef. I met wonderful people on that adventure. One, Jan, unknown to her, gave me my theme for this year's Gatherings. I joined Robert Price, an astronomy pen-pal of 45 years, and David Thurley, President of the Astronomical Society of Albury-Wodonga, as we travelled to the Outback for the total eclipse of the sun. It was a perfect view where I had three astronomy "firsts." It was my first time observing the stars of the southern sky never visible from Canada, and the first time I observed the moon both the day before and day after new moon (which coincided with the eclipse of the sun). Also it was my first time to see the rare green flash at sunset, with the sun still partially eclipsed. Robert surprised me by informing me that he booked me as a speaker for a school astronomy weekend. Arrrggg!

After years of being an armchair astronomer, I returned to active observing and purchased a telescope. I observed Mars during it's close approach and am volunteering by taking my telescope to public star events. Last summer, I drove to Vancouver to attend the General Assembly of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Camping along the way, I visited over a dozen friends and relatives across the country. I stayed with my sister Penny, her daughter Erin and granddaughters Cassidy, Kennedy, and Gelsey in Edmonton. The three young girls introduced me to all the rides at West Edmonton Mall, and I managed not to throw up! Two months later, Penny came east and we travelled around southern Ontario, during the big power failure, visiting many friends and relatives, including her son George and grandson Nathan near Ottawa.

I'm finally getting around to updating the family history. Preliminary work can be found at my web site noted on the first page of this letter. I'm sorting over ten thousand family photos going back to the 1840s. I'll be dusting off my mothballed darkroom to copy old negatives and am scanning pictures into my computer to store on CD, for electronic family history publications. Thanks to Eleanor and Meredith for helping me make copies of Eleanor's pictures of the family. Thanks to Blaise for copying old home movies to DVD: an ongoing project. I'm getting help from others, too. Years of work lie ahead. Give me time!

Not only am I still coordinator of the Help/New User and Hardware group of LOGIC, an Apple Users Group, but have returned to the club's Board of Directors.

My former employer sometimes calls me for contract work. Fortunately, not too often: I don't know how I ever found time to work for a living.

Next year I plan to camp in the Atlantic provinces from early June to mid July: observing the rare Transit of Venus from the east coast on June 8, then take part in the RASC General Assembly in St. John's four weeks later.

Carrie, a lawyer, has been on parental leave from RBC (Royal Bank) this year. She plans returning to work early in 2004. Her husband Brian continues to work as a firefighter with the Toronto Fire Services.

Cheryl had a contract social work position before she went on parental leave last year and since the contract expired, didn't have a job to return to. But late this year, she started job-hunting. She hinted I may become a part time "Grandpa Day-Care." Her husband Jameel is a manager/consultant at Accenture.

Peter is working at Ikon, a document efficiency company, as a Customer Service Representative. He enjoys the work although some days are long and tiring. His girlfriend Kate has moved back to Guelph where she is attending university, planning to be a veterinarian.

Jerry lives in Corner Brook and actually did find work after moving to New-foundland from Toronto! However, he doesn't have a full time job. He enjoys living there and is trying to find more work. He stayed with his birth parents Ken and Betty Barry for a while, then found his own apartment. Eleanor visited him earlier in the summer. Jerry visited us in late August and the entire family enjoyed his much-too-short stay. I plan to visit him next June.


Nolan James Khan *** Lily Eleanor Larkin Porter

born 2002 July 10 **** born 2003 February 9


Cheryl & Jameel *** Carrie & Brian with Lily

* *

Jerry ****** Lily and Peter ******** Me and my telescope

If interested in seeing other pictures of the family, go to my web site noted on the first page, scroll to the bottom, click on the * and enjoy!

Age brings wisdom before we become aware of the sweet miracles time may bring. Thanks to Jan, who I met on the Australian tour, for her insight. Wonderful relationships with friends and family is essential for me. Thank you for being part of my life. This is a joyous time when I look forward to exchanging tidings with you. In the coming year, may we share more of our precious time.


Merry Christmas


may the New Year bring you the Best of Times


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