KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The next morning we awoke to clear skies and sunshine, all the better to see the sights of Kirkland Lake. When I had written to Dianne earlier I had asked her about showing us around the town and she had replied, “That will take all of about two minutes…”. She took us around the small downtown area and I was surprised to see it looking much less rundown than I had imagined it would be. We were pretty young when David and I made our trips across Canada, with our mother to visit the Lalondes, so there wasn’t much that seemed familiar.
Then Dianne turned down Duncan Street and we recognized the lay of the land immediately. The street seemed wider than we remembered, and the house smaller, but there was a certain familiarity that was exciting. I noticed the school playground and suddenly remembered spending hours on the swing set there and David started talking about climbing a vast rock wall that seemed to loom high overhead. We both had very fond memories of playing in the small creek behind our grandmother’s house, sailing cardboard milk bottle caps along the stream and dislodging them when they became stuck.
I’m not exactly sure how many times I have been to Kirkland Lake in the past, but I do remember long train journeys across Canada with my mother and brother when I was five, nine and fourteen. I made trips later on my own when I was eighteen, twenty-one and then with Anil and an infant Adia. For this reason, my memories of Kirkland Lake are more vivid than David’s. I remember going for cherry ice cream sodas with Dianne and also attending a dance with her when I was much older. She doesn’t remember these events nearly as well as I do, but then she wasn’t in a city so very far from home.
We parked the car in front of the house and David and I got out. We were both keen to see if the creek still flowed behind the house but didn’t want to enter the yard without knocking on the door first. As we climbed the steps, we could see someone close the drapes on the front window. We knocked anyway, but no one answered. Disappointed, we turned back to the street and just then a woman poked her head out of a window on the opposite house and asked if she could be of any help. We explained that we were just taking a trip down memory lane and she told us she was very good friends with the family across the street. As we stood talking, the door of my grandmother’s house opened and two women came out on the porch.
When we explained who we were, they were quite willing to have us enter the back yard and see the creek. The old garage was gone, but the creek trickled along just as we remember it. What a thrill – we posed for several photos. Dianne finally got out of the car to see what was taking us so long and came into the back yard too. What a surprise for her; this was the home where she had lived while growing up, but she had never been in the yard since leaving. When I introduced her to the new occupants and mentioned her name as ‘Dianne’, the friend who was visiting suddenly exclaimed ‘I used to be your roommate’. What a happy coincidence! The woman was just in town visiting after the recent death of her mother but now lived far off in southern Ontario. If we hadn’t been so bold, these two old friends would never have reconnected. Dianne was invited to see the inside of the house, but so many changes and modernizations had been made that the home was almost unrecognizable to her. In the end, it might have been better if she had never gone inside.
The afternoon was passing swiftly and it was time to move on to the cemetery to visit the graves. Along the way, we stopped at the Miner’s Memorial for some photographs. I later learned from my Uncle Art that my grandfather had never worked deep in the mine, and that he died of emphysema from all the dust, in spite of the fact that he worked above ground. He died at age fifty-seven, four months before I was born. The memorial only listed the names of those killed in mine accidents, not those who died from disease brought about by exposure to pollutants.