Wow. Ben & his grandmother.

I just found this old article online, about Ben and his Grandmother.  It turns out, Ben died just a week after his grandmother – this was the grandmother who came to me asking me to talk to Ben about reincarnating back into his family.

It turns out it was so appropriate that this conversation with Ben was scheduled for Christmas night – Ben’s Grandmother was a huge fan of Christmas.

Unbelievable… almost.  Wow.  I feel so privileged to have been able to help.

Here’s the article:
Grandmother and grandson mourned
The Toronto Star
Thu 05 Oct 2006
Page: R10
Section: GTA
Byline: Catherine Dunphy
Source: Toronto Star

Moira Robinson died Aug. 17 at 82, after a long and full life.

For 57 years she and her husband, George, were Mrs. and Santa Claus at thousands of appearances at hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, schools and orphanages.

They danced into all those appearances – entering the hospital ward or gymnasium or party room doing a swing dance to “Here Comes Santa Claus” on their music box, George in full Santa regalia, whirling Moira in her red tights, red gloves, white-trimmed red dress, its full circle skirt a-twirl revealing her red tights and sometimes even the white frills she had sewn on her knickers.

For years they made up to 60 appearances a season, starting in the first week in November, hitting a peak nearer Christmas when they worked seven-day weeks – not for money – never for money – but to see the smiles light up people’s faces.

“She used to say that if Christmas were all year round she would be the happiest person in the world,” said her daughter-in-law, Bev Robinson.

Moira Robinson loved Christmas. Every season, out would come the garlands and candles, the Santa salt and pepper shakers, the Santa toilet paper, the special toilet seat cover showing a Santa covering his eyes, saying “Oh no.”
She would retrieve the tree decorations of faded construction paper made by sons Dan and Tim decades earlier.

Her home, first in Brampton, later in Orr Lake just outside Elmvale, was ablaze with the season; it took three full days to unpack all the Christmas boxes every year.

On Christmas Day she’d cook a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings for her family, and watch the five grandchildren rip open the gifts she’d carefully chosen for them. Then, and only then, would she sit back in her chair and exhale.

Moira Robinson’s grandson, Ben, died one week after her, on Aug. 24, in a motorcycle accident. He was 24 and on the second day on a cross- Canada journey to a job at a Jasper ski lodge that was going to give him money to live on, but better still, the chance to work on his art.

For the first time in a long time, he was happy, his mother, Bev Robinson, said.

He had fallen in love and his skilled, intense line drawings had taken on a new tenderness.

Living in a downtown Kitchener loft, alternating with some student digs in Waterloo, he’d been selling some art – doing murals for a couple of local restaurants, designing tattoos for some tattoo artists and had mounted his art show at a local cafe. He hadn’t liked going commercial – he was vehemently anti-capitalist, pro- recycling, anti-cars and war.

At 18, he’d gone to live in Toronto, turning his back on his family and what he perceived as their values, turning onto drugs, which didn’t help and probably contributed to his feelings of paranoia and his depression.

He was one of the anti-poverty protestors arrested in the June 2000 demonstration at Queen’s Park that turned ugly, and when a judge ordered him back home to live with his parents, the rift between them began to heal.

He’d been a sweet kid, but he’d become something of a mystery to his family, who couldn’t understand why he hadn’t gone on with his education after high school or even got himself a regular job with prospects.

He had rejected their values; he knew it and they knew it.

Latterly his family had begun to get glimpses of their loved son. During his last visit to her Kitchener home, his mother saw him lying on the kitchen floor on his stomach colouring with his twin two-year-old nieces.

“We do have these brief moments when we observed him doing something loving and sweet,” she said.

At his funeral, they marveled at the hundreds of their son’s friends who came to pay their respects – street people, artists, musicians (Ben was never without his guitar) – and at how many talked to them of Ben helping them out, handing over 10 bucks here, grocery money there.

A very petite young woman described to Bev how Ben used to wake up at 1 a.m.
to come and walk her home from her late shift in a cafe in a rough part of town.

Ben’s family hold these stories close to them. They are a gift that will help them through this crushing grief of two sudden deaths in the family.

“I used to call him my cowboy grandson because I thought I could never get through to him,” said George Robinson. He and Moira were newlyweds when he came home from Malabar’s Costume Rental in December 1948, with a snazzy Santa Claus outfit ($89.50), one artificial hair beard ($7) and one wig ($12.50).

It cost the apprentice plasterer more than a week’s pay, but Moira didn’t bat an eye.

In fact, she learned how to make the beards and wig. She’d buy the sheepskin, cut the wool with a razor, pull it apart and shape it.

And in 1950, when more and more community groups began asking her husband to show up as Santa, she made herself a cowgirl outfit and became Santa’s assistant. (She also made a cowboy outfit for their son Dan, who was 10 before he realized that the Santa he and his Mom were always helping was his
father.)

“Mom was adamant about keeping the magic of Santa Claus,” said Bev.

For years she and her children weren’t allowed to drop in unannounced at their grandparents’ place in November or December, lest they see a bit of a beard being worked on, or other signs of their secret identities.

When Moira realized some kids were frightened of Santa, she became Mrs.
Claus, sewing herself a white-trimmed, red velvet dress and a red satchel bag she loaded up with the candy canes she handed to Santa to give to the children.

She would tell anyone who recognized her that her husband was at home. Santa was a real person to her; she wanted children to believe in him as she did.

“She was always there and so I was very confident being Santa when she was there,” said George.

Last Christmas, she was too ill to be Mrs. Claus and, George admits, that was “difficult,” although Bev and Dan Robinson’s daughter and son-in-law have taken over their costumes and some of their appearances.

“People don’t understand how I am able to handle (the deaths),” George Robinson said.

“But seeing what Moira and I saw over the years helped us and helped me.

“We saw very sick kids and people with Alzheimer’s and seniors who had been abandoned by their families, and because of what we did visiting them all through the years, the good Lord has given us the strength now.”

cdunphy @ thestar.ca

© 2006 Torstar Corporation

Illustration:
• Ben Robinson, 24, was killed in a motorcycle accident just one week after the death of his grandmother, Moira Robinson, 82.

***

It really causes me to revisit the conclusion I’d drawn from all the pain and emotion surrounding Ben’s death – that it had been accidental.  It certainly temporarily paralized his spirit as though it was so shocking, so contradictory to his life plan, that he refused to move on.

But his grandmother died just a week before him.  In reading this article, I suddenly understand that Ben & his grandmother orchestrated this death for his learning experience, and perhaps also for mine.  Moria ensured Ben did not get lost.  They basically exited together – a week in time is barely a blink apart.

And that he would return to his path on Christmas Night.  How perfect.  How poetic.

How about that.

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