The summer of '79 was no different than other summers we had in the three years we lived at 14 Ingham. I was 11-years-old.
We lived on the second floor of a detached, two-storey home belonging to the Chan's. The landlord's family occupied the main floor and basement. It was a nice place for my family to live, as we were struggling to make ends meet.
Both my parents had to work. The couple, who had a grown daughter, was like a second set of parents to me and my sister. For my parents they were like free babysitters thrown into the bargain. It was a nice arrangement. I can still remember the one time Mr. Chan took us to Gerrard Square for ice cream.
That summer, the Chan's daughter Shirley got married. Mrs. Chan's sister and her entire family came from Holland to take part in the wedding. It was going to be quite an occasion.
Prior to their visit, Mr. Chan called us downstairs to tell us about the kids, who were coming to visit. He told us to make them feel at home during their stay at the house. We seldom played with kids outside of school, especially in the summer. So this was going to be a new experience for me.
They were three boys, the twins and their younger brother. These three Chinese boys only spoke Dutch. This was going to make communicating extremely difficult. By then, we had learned French in school, so some of the words I heard them speak sounded similar. But beyond that, our first meeting went very awkwardly. We didn't see much of them before the wedding day.
Summer was just starting. We only had to go to the banquet later in the evening. The boys were part of the wedding party. They had to don 3-piece suits. They came back from the ceremony looking miserably hot. I got the feeling that they didn't like dressing like that and took a lot of convincing. Until that day, I've never seen a boy pout like so.
They stayed on a bit, after the wedding. Left on his own accord, I thought the younger boy seemed down. To cheer him up, I offered him some of my Lego to play with. That did the trick. He wasn't so shy with us anymore after that. Had I known a small gesture like that could help to break the ice, I would have done so a lot sooner.
We didn't need language to understand each other either. The way the boy came upstairs to return the toys was thanks enough for me.
I never found out what their names were. I would be curious to know if they remembered their visit to Toronto in the summer of '79.
My name is Cindy and this is a true story.