Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Picking up where I left off


It looks so cozy, a warm earth-bound bed with my name on it.  Oh, but wait a second, that's not me, I can tell by the dates, and by the name of my grave-mate Anna Irene.  This past weekend David, Nan and I made the 2 1/2 hour trek along the 401 and QEW, to a land of peaches, grapes, and cheesy amusements to watch David and several hundred other crazy marathon runners cross the finish line in the annual Niagara Falls International Marathon.

I have fond, but failing memories of many childhood trips to Niagara Falls, where my father was born, to visit my paternal grandmother and a myriad of curiously interesting relatives.  Often on the way home we would stop at one of the fruit stands to pick up a basket of juicy peaches.  My sweet grandma was the second wife of my namesake, James Paul Corcoran (the 1st, I suppose), who had three or four children from a previous marriage.   Grandpa died the year before I was born, (I arrived too late for my namesake to revel in this tribute to him, the first of many disappointments that I would be Irishly punished for by my dear dad) but from the snippets of history that I have been able to extract from my father and his kin, James was a feisty fella, often in trouble with the law, (he once told a police officer to shit in his hat), a bootlegger and hotelier by trade, a pistol wielding, typically tough, Irishman with a grumpy, discipline based approach to business, parenting and marriage.  All this to say that his remains are presumably marked by the substantial chunk of granite shown above.  In an interesting twist of fate, I was born on the same date, (32 years later mind you, that James married Anna Irene).  Back to the present day: Dave, Nan, Rusty and I stayed at the Marriott, with a room almost overlooking the falls, but close enough to allow Nan and I to make the short pilgrimage to the Casino for some voluntary taxation.  Unfortunately, Nan left her wallet in the car, so I had to gamble solo, which turned out to be a net loss for the casino!  Getting Rusty in and out of the hotel un-detected was quite an ordeal, but you kind of had to be there to see the humour in it.  I must say that while the falls themselves haven't changed much over the years, and really are incredible in their sheer magnificence and power, the area around the falls is much improved with the new hotels and the area now known as Fallsview.

On Sunday mom and I took in mass at St. Pat's R.C. church downtown, where grandma used to take us as young children.  When I first walked in, nothing felt familiar, but after an hour or so, memories started to creep out of the recesses of my mind; I think grandma sat on the left hand side of the aisle, and I'm pretty sure the church has been updated in the past 25 years. Other than that, a few streets looked familiar, and I think we found grandma's last apartment on Simcoe St., along with a playground where she used to drop my sister Anne and I off while she ran her errands.  I'd love to go back with my mom and dad, a camera and some notepaper to preserve a little more history before time steals it away.  Getting back to the cemetery for a second; I had a bit of a revelation while searching for the graves of my grandparents; our bodies are like cars - they function a lot better when they are maintained and when they have a good driver, but when the car ultimately breaks down and the driver moves on, both are still real, just separate.  David's body proved once again that training pays off - congratulations on your second successful marathon, and on your ongoing recovery from your skiing accident.  But remember, ski season is just around the corner!

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