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Tania’s Clothing Story

“I think that clothes can be a form of expression or a form of protection. And some days I choose to express myself and sometimes I choose to blend.”

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As I kid, I remember Christmas meant getting clothes from my aunts and toys from my uncles. I loved the toys, of course. The clothes were a mixed bag.

You see, my aunt on my mom’s side owned a baby/kids clothing boutique on St. Claire Avenue in Toronto.  The clothes were imported from Italy. My aunts on my dad’s side went there to buy special pieces of clothing for me every Christmas.  I know these clothes were expensive. I also know nobody else wore them.

I specifically remember wearing knickers in my grade 2 class pictures, and another kid asking if I was one of Santa’s elves. Of course, now they would be called capri’s, but not in the early 80s!

In grade 6, I had a pair of faded jeans and matching faded jean jacket that was covered in floral appliques. Which may be cool now, but then, stuck out among the acid wash and Roots sweatshirts all the kids wore.

Shortly after that jean outfit, I spent most of my time in a uniform. Anything outside of that, was for after school and on the weekends only. In a uniformed school, civvies day was everything. You planned for those days, where once a month you could wear whatever you wanted. For me, that meant Polo shirts and Au Coton sweatshirts. It meant cuffed jeans and balloon skirts.

Really though, if I’m being honest, my wardrobe style was to blend as much as possible. I thought I was fat. (Of course, looking back now, I know I wasn’t). I also grew up in a time when hair was teased to reach the sky and this wasn’t really my thing. I adamantly exclaimed that I wasn’t a Gina*, and preferred a more preppy style.

*The definition of a Gino (or Gina), according to the urban dictionary is as follows: A term which is most commonly known to teenagers and adults alike in the GTA. The term refers to an Italian (or one of Southern European descent) male or female who is from Canada and not from the country of their ancestry. A typical Gino or Gina  enjoys lively techno music (deemed “gino beats”), goes to clubs, wears tight or sporty clothing (some brands include Adidas, Puma, Kappa and Diesel), likes small and sporty cars (read: Honda Civic), and wears his/her hair spiked or curly.

While I did wear Adidas and Puma clothing, big earrings and dark lipstick, my hair could never defy gravity as some of the girls I knew. And I wasn’t really a fan of freestyle music.

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So aside from trying not to be labelled a Gina, I also spent my entire high school career trying NOT to draw attention to my bra size! This is where the layering started. I avoided trends like crop tops and short shorts, and was grateful when baggy and oversized clothes were a thing.

By the time I graduated high school, I don’t think I really had a style. It was the early 90s, when fashion was probably at its worst. But I spent the summer before college going to the gym with my friend. I lost weight and needed new clothes.

I remember being in a store change room trying on jeans, and remember squealing with delight that all the jeans I tried on were too big. To put it in perspective, I dropped to a size 10-12. From a size 14-16. I certainly wasn’t overweight, but in high school, I felt differently. My friends were all tiny, and I felt huge. So, losing some weight for me, made me feel like I was a new person. So, I bought those jeans in the smaller size in every colour (remember it was the early 90’s, so they came in blue, purple, red and green).

My style in college was forgettable, at best. It wasn’t really about what I wore to school, it became what I wore to the clubs. And during that time, it was about vests and bodysuits. I had accepted my body a bit more, and felt more comfortable in my skin. I showed it off a bit more, with lower cut tops and form fitting bodysuits and vests.

I loved vests. The look consisted of a bodysuit, with a vest on top, complete with a pair of Replay jeans (which I saved up weeks to buy). I accessorized with a choker and dark lipstick. That was pretty much my signature look. I went out week after week in some form of that same outfit for years. It made me feel confident and stylish.

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After college, and after meeting a boy, I got comfortable just hanging out at the local coffee shop. I began to lose my style completely, and began to gain weight. I wore sweats all the time, or worse, plaid pants! And I still had that Au Coton sweatshirt! I didn’t really care what I looked like. I worked a shift job in a call centre, so my wardrobe didn’t really play a factor.

Then I decided to get a breast reduction. After that, my confidence level rose, that boy was history and I started my first office job. From there I went onto working in a large financial institution, and bought my first business suit. I hated it at first, but it quickly became my uniform of choice. You see, it still allowed me to layer, hiding behind a jacket. I may not have been doing that deliberately, but it was happening. I was so used to covering myself up, that it became ingrained in my style.

When I think about what I wore the night I met my husband, (a fuzzy pink sweater and jeans) I know that he didn’t care about clothes too much. He liked me for me. When I got pregnant, my maternity clothes were made up of collared shirts and dress pants. I owned exactly one pair of maternity jeans. And a few casual tops. Otherwise I wore oversized sweats at home. And that trend continued through my mat leave and beyond.

A few jobs later and I work in a place where I can wear jeans to work. But if I look at what I am wearing right now, it’s still a layered look. Jeans, top and sweater. It’s my usual. I own a lot of black. Like, a lot! I do love colour, and wear bright pinks, and yellow, but I still gravitate to black most often.

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I don’t consider myself stylish or on trend. I don’t go out of my way to fit in either, yet I feel confident in myself. Maybe that’s my age talking, but I don’t think clothes should define who you are. Yes, I still layer and I guess in a way, I still hide.

 


Note from Lainie:

Tania and I met as strangers this winter.  We both attended an event for Canadian Influencers, hosted by Collective Influence Co.  We got to know each other a little bit that night and have kept in touch over Instagram ever since.

After posting my clothing story, I reached out to see if anyone else would be interested in writing theirs and I was so excited when Tania said yes!  You can read more of Tania’s writing on her blog, tania2atee.

In reading her story, it might bring back memories of your own childhood.  I hope you can take a moment to post a comment for her – say hi and to share your stories too. It’s more fun when we all join in.

This is Life, written by Nicki

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Grandpa and I spent our birthdays together.  We were born 7 days apart during the perfect month of August. We spent the majority of our celebrations on one of the most gorgeous lakes in Northwestern Ontario, Clearwater Lake.

One birthday I sat on grandpa’s lap for a classic photo opportunity with one of those click and crank yellow Kodak cameras.  I turned and said to him, “Gramps, this year I am 6 and you are 60.  Next year, I will be 7 and you will be 70. (Cue the hilarious look on his face).  Wait a minute, that can’t be right!” – and that right there, ladies and gentlemen, went down in history as one of Grandpa Bill’s favourite stories. He told it EVERY YEAR, at least once. Harmless, right? But eventually it became a few times every time I saw him, then every time, and then 2 or three times in the same visit.  Dementia? What is Dementia? MY GRANDPA? No way. They obviously don’t know Wild Bill like we do. He works non-stop and is so healthy. Not MY GRANDPA, that’s impossible.

At first it wasn’t too bad. I mean come on, it’s Grandpa Bill, he is going to be fine. We had good conversations and did crosswords and word searches together (you know, to keep the mind as fresh as we could).  A highlight was having lunch at my grandparent’s house about 2-3 times a week when I was working in Emo. Looking back now, I am so damn thankful for those moments – of good conversations, him getting in trouble from Grandma, and giggles from us all.  And I remember a conversation that was an honest check in – “How’s it going, Gramps?”  “You know what, Nick?  It’s getting fuzzier and fuzzier.  But I will never understand how we can put a man on the moon, but no one can tell me what’s going on with my brain.”  Me sitting at the table with him, with tears going down my face.

So the years go by and I go to college.  My grandpa’s dementia progresses. I meet my fiance, Eric, on May 30th of 2016, at Dairy Queen for our first date. It went so well that we sat and talked for 3 hours, then went for a 45 minute walk together. It wasn’t long before I was ready to bring him home and introduce him to my family – our first trip to the lake. We planned a 5-7 day trip in July and ended up staying for 16 days.

The weather was perfect, our family was together, the water was so warm…it was just an incredible time.  My family met Eric, Eric met my family – except for gramps. This trip was bittersweet for me. It was sweet because this trip, I knew I was in love with this man.  It was so easy to be with Eric and my family; we had so much fun together. And it was bitter, because my grandpa was never going to meet him. Sure he might “meet” him physically, but he was never going to know him, remember him, heckle him, and love him.

A year and a half goes by, and Eric and I are at our friend Taylor’s house for breakfast and some ice cream on September 30, 2017 (we have ice cream on the 30th of every month to remember our first date and our obsession with ice cream). It seemed all casual. I was sick so I had dressed up and put makeup on to trick myself into thinking that I wasn’t really sick, but I was. Then it was the second last bite of my cone and something caught my attention – it’s hard, yuck! What kind of ice cream is this?!  OMG disgusting. It has plastic in it. Eric didn’t unwrap the cone right. Now I’m sad, you know, because I’m sick and he didn’t do it right. Why is Taylor taking photos? This is awful. Wait, what the hell is this? Eric?

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You know it. He got down on one knee and asked me if we could share our lives together forever. YES. YES. YES. Cue the tears… not only had I found my best friend in my partner, but this ring. Let me tell you about this ring. WOWZA!

This is for me? Are you sure? Can you believe it? This ring.

He goes on to tell me – this ring is not only mine, but my grandma Armin’s.

Wait, what?

Well, this diamond right here is her 25th Anniversary diamond.

Okay, I recognize that one.

And all off these other little diamonds are her wedding and engagement rings.  Her ring is melted down to make your band, and your wedding band is made up of more of her diamonds and rings.

Eric had asked my parents in May, conjured up a plan with my Gram and got the diamonds in August, and had a friend make this ring. Of course, I cried. I’m emotional like that.  But why was I crying? My Grandpa and Grandma Mosbeck had been married for 61 years at that point. Gramps will not be at our wedding physically, but he will be with us EVERY single day leading up to and after our marriage.  That is damn special to me, to us, to my grandma, and to my family. How lucky are we?

As we got closer to Christmas, we made plans to stop and visit Gramps on our way into town. My Dad and Gram would meet us there (I can’t go there alone – it hurts too much). Thank goodness, Eric will finally meet my Gramps.  Of course it’s not the Gramps that I wish he knew, but it’s still him. He is in there – somewhere.

He was in such a good mood that day.  We ate some lunch and it started snowing lightly outside.  It was gorgeous. His conversation was fuzzy, here and there, and up and down, and never a full sentence.  His facial expression looked lost but then I showed him my rings.

Ooooooooooh,” he said with raised eyebrows and a great expression on his face.  He knew. He knew those diamonds, not together, but separately he knew them. And I felt it. He was proud that I would wear their diamonds. It was short, just a moment in time, and then it was gone.  He went back to looking outside, sipping water when prompted, and eating slowly. But what happened next, shook me.

My grandma came over to take his bib off.  He turned and looked at her, with PURE CLARITY and a snicker out of his mouth, “Hey Boss!!” She stopped and we all laughed.  It was a nickname that he had for her.  There he was, my grandpa. I saw him. He saw us, well no, he only saw her, but that’s okay.  It was beautiful.
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Those moments, like when he is brushing his teeth in his bathroom and stops to point at the glass with his toothbrush, and says, “that guy right there, he’s my best friend.” Then turns to my grandma and says, “and you, you’re next.” Code for, “I love you. You’re my best friend.”  I imagine those moments are why we hold on so dearly, because we know deep inside that he is in there.  He is FULL of those moments and he is FULL of those memories. Memories of Gram, us, hunting, trapping, flying, fishing, swearing, fighting, joking, laughing, swimming (just kidding, he never swam), and watching his grandchildren grow and some of his great grandchildren grow, and living his days in those blue overalls, busy outside working on a project.

My grandpa could take apart anything and put it back together.   He could plumb, dig wells, build houses, and he could wire anything.  He could swear like a sailor (only the fellas knew this, not us ladies), eat apple pie and chocolate chip cookies with the best of them, and he could CHUG burning hot coffee (my dad and I still talk about this every time we drink coffee together).

And here I am, writing this, about thirty days away from our wedding. I’m gonna be a Barrett. Planning is crazy, my mother and father are saviors, and we found the right person to marry us.  We have our clothes set and ready, our groomsmen and bridesmaids are ready to party, and our guests are getting excited. Cabins are booked, photographer is ready to make us look amazing, there will be a tent, and the natural beauty of the best lake on earth – Clearwater Lake.  And I keep thinking about my Gramps.

I wish he could be there, sitting front and center with my Gram, holding hands and crying.  I know he would cry. I am his favourite granddaughter (I am his only granddaughter – this was his favourite thing to tell me).  He would see how happy I am and how good we are together. And he would see this ring.

This is life.  62 years of marriage and this family they built.  He will be a part of our marriage every day and I promise to put in the work to bring these unbelievably beautiful rings through another 62 years.

Gramps, our family is kindhearted, hard working, honest, hilarious, and they love one heck of a party. In your honour, we are asking our guests to kick back, relax, and celebrate – because we know, you would if you could.

I love you Gramps and what I wouldn’t do to have you with us – a full day of clarity with the Boss (love you Gram) to celebrate the future. I know you’re there and that you’re happy for me. And I know that you love me. Thank you for shaping our lives.

Cheers to all the memories on Clearwater Lake. I promise to make this wedding another one to remember, at our special place.

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Gramps and I, in his plane, on Clearwater Lake.

 


 

Note from Lainie:

This piece was written by a close family friend, Nicki.  I’ve known Nick since she was little.  Our dad’s were childhood friends and both of our families grew up spending lots of time on Clearwater Lake.

This past Christmas, Nick was sharing some stories about her grandpa that were really touching.  I’ve never experienced firsthand what it’s like to have a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s so I recently asked Nick if she could share some stories. This one left me teary at the end.

Nick, I’m so looking forward to your wedding next month and seeing the whole Mosbeck crew.  Your grandpa will be there in everything that’s around you – the lake, your family, the party, and your ring.  He would be very proud of you.

Remembering Dad: Edward Patrick Pitt

As we celebrate Father’s Day this week,  I decided to reach out to three colleagues and asked if they would be interested in writing about their dads.

Here is the first of three stories to be shared.

Kathy, thank you for writing about your Dad.  He sounded like a lovable man who enjoyed people’s company.


 

 

Edward Patrick Pitt
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  ~A.A. Milne

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My girls called him Papa.  When Laura was learning to talk, she thought my dad looked like Belle’s father from Beauty and the Beast.  Belle called her father Papa.  It stuck with him.

My dad had many passions, especially sports.  He loved golf, curling, and watching the Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs, and the Argos.  He loved harness racing.  On most days he could be found at the Off Track Betting, sitting with other retirees watching the races on the big screen TVs and placing two dollar bets.

He kept his greatest love for his family.

He took every opportunity he could to brag about his girls and his grandkids.  He loved going to my girls’ sporting events and in fact he was the carpool parent for their before and after-school swim practices for many years.

My dad loved being around people.

He liked to be the life of the party.  When we watch old home movies, my dad was always laughing, joking, or doing a goofy dance to make my girls laugh.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  The saddest thing about my dad’s illness was that it robbed him of his ability to interact with people.  He lost his ability to make funny faces, dance, and think quickly enough for humourous quips.

My dad lived out loud for most of his life, but the last couple of years reduced his life to a very quiet, contained existence.  He had a form of Parkinson’s that included Lewy Body Dementia. This horrific form of the disease includes vivid hallucinations.  The only joy we took from his last year was that many of his hallucinations included animals (which he loved).  He could describe with extreme details the animals that were in his hospital room.  He thought it was great that the hospital allowed him to stay in the barn with the horses.

I miss my dad when….

  • I see a photo of parking lots or people without their heads in the shot (he was a notoriously bad photographer)
  • I hear someone order a Rye and Pepsi (he preferred Pepsi to Coke)
  • I watch curling on TV
  • It’s Kentucky Derby time
  • I make stewed tomatoes and serve them with sausages
  • A “Western” is on TV
  • I vote (he was a staunch Conservative and would never vote for another party.  I always told him my vote cancelled his vote out in every election since I was 18 years old)
  • My husband buys another baseball cap (my dad had hundreds of them)
  • I see pictures of the 1977 Blue Jays snowy opening day (my parents were there)
  • I think about Winnie the Pooh (we inscribed on his tombstone a quote: “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~A.A. Milne”)

 

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I think of us dancing at my wedding to Unforgettable (just one month after he was diagnosed with cancer).

 


 

Lainie Note: This piece was written by Kathy Witherow.  I met Kathy about 5 years ago when we were both part of a learning network in the York Region District School Board.  I remember when Kathy lost her dad.  On Instagram, she shared a photo of him along with the A.A. Milne quote.  The quote stuck with me and when I thought of someone who might want to write about their dad, I immediately thought of her.