Sentimental Saturday – The Wine And White Formal

The year was 1975.

In February of that year, at least that’s my recollection, I was privileged to be the date of a very pretty 18-year old young woman named Karen when we went to her Notre Dame High School’s annual ‘Wine and White’ formal dance in Toronto, Ontario.

Four months later, I had the honour of escorting Karen to her graduation prom.

In April of 1976, on Easter Sunday, she said ‘yes’ when I asked her to marry me and in June 1977, we became husband and wife.

Today, January 23rd is Karen’s birthday. She would have turned 59-years old but for the cruelty of life that took her from us when she was only 45 years of age. Yes, cancer sucks and it affects the whole family in devastating ways.

Happy Birthday, Karen! I know that you know you are loved and remembered.

BENEDETTO Karen Ann - high school wine and white formal 1975

Karen Ann Benedetto, 1975


Sentimental Saturday – Dancing With Lisa, The Flower Girl

Twenty-five years ago, my daughter Lisa was a flower girl at the wedding of my late wife’s brother.

Wow, hard to believe it was that long ago. I must have blinked.

Lisa was (and is) beautiful in her white dress and with her hair coiffed for the occasion. How could parents resist having a dance with their little princess, the flower girl!

Lisa (Hadden) Donovan, the flower girl, dancing with Yours Truly, September 1990

Lisa (Hadden) Donovan, the flower girl, dancing with Yours Truly, September 1990

Lisa (Hadden) Donovan, the flower girl, dancing with her mom Karen (Benedetto) Hadden

Lisa (Hadden) Donovan, the flower girl, dancing with her mom Karen (Benedetto) Hadden

Family Members We Lost in 2014

As 2014 winds down to a close, I thought it worthwhile to reflect back on those connected to my family that we lost this year.

They are people who we were part of our family circle and who made a difference in our lives, however large or small. They are relatives that we won’t forget, who will live on in our memories, and who will be in our thoughts as the New Year unfolds.

Gregory Phillip Francis Donovan

‘Greg’ was my son-in-law Phil’s father. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Greg was die-hard Toronto Maple leafs fan. Perhaps unusual given the long rivalry between Toronto and Montreal, but true. His quiet demeanour could quickly be enlivened when a conversation turned to hockey. His love of his family, especially his two sons, Phil and Jason, as well as his grandchildren was always evident. Greg passed way on November 21, 2014 in Oshawa, Ontario.

Susan Ann (Kamula) Benedetto

Susan was my sister-in-law; the wife of my late wife’s brother Anthony. Susan was a scientist who taught for many years in high schools in Cambridge and Kitchener, Ontario. She was also a devoted mother to her son Nicholas and daughter Catherine. Sadly, she was stricken by a still unidentified illness that rendered her immobile and hospitalized. She passed away on May 16, 2014 while enjoying a family weekend away at a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario.

Howard Works

Howard was the father of our son Chris’ partner Matt. Born in England, Howard never lost his love for ’60’s music and the original vinyl recordings that he played non-stop. A true family man, Howard loved having family and friends with him at his Haliburton lakeside retreat. A skilled butcher, he passed away suddenly while at work on October 20, 2014.

John Gerald Foley

John, or ‘Johnny’ as he was known, was my first cousin, once removed. He was the son of Gerald Foley (born Lewis Fitzgerald Foley), after whom both John and I received our middle names. Johnny was a fun loving family man who passed away on December 1, 2014.

William David Armstrong

David was my wife Ellen’s step-cousin. David lived, as he wanted, a full and independent life until the frailties of age took him from us on September 15, 2014 in the former city of North York (Toronto), Ontario.

This list would not be complete without finally mentioning …

Ivy ‘Hadden’

Ivy was our daughter Jenna’s best friend and constant companion. Ivy was Jenna’s birthday present in 2003. For more than eleven years, Ivy shared both happy and sad times with Jenna, providing the unconditional love that dog owners know so well. After enjoying a weekend of camping and running in the surf of Lake Erie, quite suddenly Ivy became very sick, passing away peacefully on August 28, 2014 in Guelph, Ontario, with Jenna by her side. 

I truly hope that I haven’t inadvertently forgotten anybody and I hope even more that I don’t have a list to share at the end of 2015.

School Photos Document Part of the Journey

For the past several decades many of us were lined up at school to have an annual ‘school’ photo taken. Sometime later, the photo packages with an assortment of different sized photos were handed out along with the instructions to take the photos home, show our parents, and if the photos were wanted, parents could pay to keep them.

If you’re like me, and my children after me, the photos were considered to be somewhat of an embarrassment but to my Mom, they were delightful and of course, they were paid for, kept and then stored in a nondescript cardboard box tucked on a shelf in my parent’s bedroom.

I don’t have the ‘full collection’ of my school photos but managed to retain a few, and make digital copies of them , covering several years. 

Recently, many genealogists on Facebook shared their high school graduation photos. It got me to thinking about how these school photos over the years document the journey of our growing years. They also speak volumes about the times we grew up in particularly, I think in my case, the hairstyle, or lack thereof.

Here is how those school photos documented me:

Elementary School – probably around 1962 or 1963
High School – Grade 10 in 1969 (the cut back area on the left side of my hair was caused by doctors who cut my hair in order to stitch a cut caused by stopping a hockey puck during a game. I was the goalie on the team.)

 High School Graduation from Grade 13 (Ontario, Canada) in 1971

Graduation from the University of Toronto in 1976

While this is not a school photo, it is part of the journey. My wedding day photo in 1977, for which I tried to clean myself up a bit, when I married my late wife Karen Benedetto.

What about you? Do you still have your school photos? Are you happy with them or do you still think they are a bit of an embarrassment?