Even though I knew better, I went to bed with gum in my mouth, on Monday night.

Predictably, on Tuesday morning, I woke up with gum on my pillowcase, on my sheets but, worst of all, in my hair, my LONG hair. I consulted Dr. Google for a quick solution and found many. Several involved creamy, not crunchy, peanut butter. Other suggestions included: ice, Vaseline, WD-40, Coca Cola, vinegar (Is there anything vinegar cannot do?). EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) became my method of choice. A little bit of massaging and out came the wad. As for the smaller bits, I ripped them out, like a mad cave woman.


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That was not the ideal way to begin the morning we would attend a graveside service for the interment of the urns of my Aunt Norma and Uncle Warren, two people who influenced my life in a big way. It would have had meaning for me anywhere on earth, but the cemetery at Stoney Island, Cape Island was particularly poignant.

At the end of WWII, Aunt Norma and Uncle Warren left Cape Island, (not to be confused with Sable Island) Nova Scotia’s southernmost tip, to begin a new life in Toronto where they raised their children and spent their entire married lives.


Their journeys began and ended on Cape Sable Island. It was a beautiful Nova Scotia morning when about 50 family members gathered at the cemetery.


Their children and grandchildren shared heartfelt words about them. We learned that Uncle Warren attended all the Boy Scout camping trips, not because he was an avid camper, but because trips would have been cancelled because other Dads refused to go.

Aunt Norma and Uncle Warren were honorary grandparents to loads of children, including ours. Every child loved to open the doors of the coffee table which held the coolest toys ever. Children left with treat bags of stickers, games, colouring supplies, car games eager to return for another visit.

A lump filled our throats as my brother Edsel shared that when tragedy, the death of a 19 year-old son, struck their family, Aunt Norma continued to encourage them with cards and letters for years.



Together, we recited Aunt Norma’s favourite Psalm, Psalm 23, and then made our way to the grave. Their son David placed the urns in the grave and we tossed in flowers and filled in the grave.

One sight will be forever seared in my memory ― 4-year-old great-grandchildren and twins, Patrick and Greta. They wanted to participate in every part of the process, placing flowers, filling in the grave and finally tamping the soil. Six-month old great-grandson, Davis, looked on. His mom will share how when he was just a baby, he was present in the cemetery for the burial of Great-Nana and Great-Papa.


Funerals have fallen by the wayside in many circles, but what I witnessed, convinced me that a ceremony of some sort is just as necessary as it ever was. Funerals are appropriate for everyone – from babes in arms to the elderly leaning on canes.

Tears and laughter mingled together as we acknowledged how much Norma Mertina Nickerson and Warren Gordon Brown meant to each of us.

Now getting back to the “gum in my hair.” What would Aunt Norma have said? With a twinkle in her eye and a chuckle in her voice, she would have said, “Melda, you’re just like your mother.”