Of course I had to save this: 


(At seven, daughter Hollis shared the family predisposition toward journalism.) And this:


(Nurse Marguerite Walker, my grandmother, was the belle of the ball.) And this: 


(Because it is an exquisitely perfect thank-you note... So many adjectives.)  And I saved this from the books table at the first Writers at Woody Point:



— and a now-faded note of the phone message poet Des Walsh left us, reassuringly, when he arrived for that first festival: "Everything is perfect."

My sons, both historians, were startled when I told them that I had finally thrown away a note recording my grandfather's last words. To save it seemed like a morbid thing. It's hard to get the cull right when you sort paper.

I can see my father, grim, leaning into the back of a Toronto cab, heading north on University Avenue, away from hospital row in the April dawn. He is reaching into his suit jacket for one of the thin black felt pens he liked and writing, as he did, on the back of a chit for his taxi account, what he had just heard: "Je vous amour for Jeanie."

I attended a French-speaking school; Mac was reaching back to French he had learned fifty years earlier at a prairie university and would use during two wars.

It was a little joke between us, his rusty French, though I wasn't there to share the joke earlier that morning and then, of course, neither was he.