When Leni and I were girls, my mom was very strict about TV consumption. I sometimes joke with Austin that the reason I’m such a good cook (besides growing up in a restaurant kitchen) is because as a little girl, I watched The Urban Peasant, every single morning on the CBC, before we walked to kindergarten. I never missed an episode. James Barber was mom-approved TV that taught 4-year-old Maria how to properly roast a duck.
Apart from cooking shows, mom had a couple other programs that passed her test: The Elephant Show (a.k.a., Sharon, Lois and Bram) and Under the Umbrella Tree, which she deemed sufficiently educational Canadian children’s programming for our consumption.
Sharon, Lois and Bram were a deep part of our childhood consciousness. Leni and I sang and signed skinnymarink e-do with my mom in the bath, we harmonized in our dress-up room, we whisper-sang it after bedtime stories and we belted it out at my Aunt Angela’s wedding to elicit a kiss from the new couple:
I love you in the morning,
And in the afternoon;
I love you in the evening,
And underneath the moon.
These lyrics were a natural part of childhood and our vernacular, passed from my mom to her daughters to my nephew and one day my own children. There was no childhood without love, underneath the moon.
Lois Lilienstein died yesterday at 78. I’m still too young to have had many pieces of my childhood depart this earth (something I am grateful for, and something that I know changes all too suddenly). It felt strange, to know this jubilant, dancing woman who made up so much of my early years, was no longer here.
Tonight, I’m singing loudly the songs of my childhood and saying thank you to a woman whose voice filled so many of my mornings (and afternoons, and evenings) with love.