#Memoir Byte: -Not Far From The Maddening Crowd – The Day I Thought Was My Last

New Year’s Eve, approximately 10 years ago while in Las Vegas, Nevada, we had tickets to partake in a New Year’s celebration with dinner and dancing at a fabulous restaurant in the Planet Hollywood hotel right next door to the Paris Hotel where we were staying. We thought it would be convenient to celebrate the new year close by our hotel because it was conveniently located and didn’t require a cab on one of the craziest traffic nights in Las Vegas to get there. But something we almost gravely over-looked was the much anticipated wait for what seemed liked thousands of people setting themselves up for the planned daredevil stunt of Evel Knievel’s son to cross from one side of the huge Las Vegas Boulevard  to the other on his motorcycle across a tightrope.


Our reservations were for 8pm, so at 7:30pm we began our – what should have been a 10 minute walk from hotel to hotel, but once we got outside we were presented with a dilemma.

Once outside, we saw the yellow caution tape and guardrails were all in place. Our hotel and the one we were heading to next door had been blocked off as well as much of Las Vegas Boulevard. No pedestrian could pass through the blockade to walk next door as the crazy stunt show was being prepared for. The Las Vegas strip was blocked off for blocks so that no car traffic would clog the streets where pedestrians usually stand with drinks in hand to take in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, already packed with spectators. The only way we could get next door was by crossing the multi-laned boulevard, walking down a long few blocks in order to cross back and walk back up to our destination – only the streets were filled with thousands already awaiting the deadly stunt. There was no way anyone could humanly cross through the stampede of people.

We stood in amazement surveying the crowded street, wondering how on earth we could plow through what seemed like a giant can of sardines growing tighter by the minutes. From my vantage point it seemed as though people barely had enough room to stand in one spot with barely enough room to keep their two feet both on the ground, holding their drinks high above their heads because there was certainly no room for arms length. Either many people were going to be wearing those drinks or one little shove by anyone would set off a domino effect of everyone falling and then being trampled on.

The crowd was rambunctious. My anxiety escalated by the second. We had yet to attempt to cross the road, fearing there was no room to walk through and nobody was letting anyone in their reserved standing space for fear they may get pushed back from their coveted spots. There was literally no room left for another body to squeeze onto the boulevard.

Many police were on the scene doing their best to maintain crowd control, constantly blowing whistles and reminding people not to come near the guard rails, which also guarded the police in safety from themselves not being bulldozed over by an overwhelming amount of people. All we wanted to do was get across the street and it was apparent if we were to get to our venue, we had to attempt getting through that crowd.

I’m a claustrophobic person, and the sight of what we had to endeavor just to cross almost paralyzed me with fear. Somehow, my impatient husband finally grabbed my arm and linked it tightly and said it was time to plow through.

We began our trek. After nearly half an hour of desperately pushing through people while chanting a thousand ‘pardon mes’, we barely managed to cross one lane and we were stuck. This prompted my husband to become exceptionally aggressive using his elbows to attempt to make space for us to pass while pushing and shouting out loud, “We don’t want your spot, we just want to cross the street,” repeatedly. I struggled to keep hold of his arm as I tried to breathe. My 5’2″ stature made me feel as though I were a doll stuck among a sea of giants and as my anxiety elevated I began to hyper- ventilate with visions of dying right there from lack of oxygen. The crowd was getting rowdier and had no compassion for anyone standing in their way.

I was sure I was going to die that night in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard. My fear peaked to the max and I knew in that moment we weren’t going to make it, so I screamed. I shouted at the top of my lungs, “Help me, I’m having a heart attack.” This wasn’t far from the truth as I truly felt I was about to have one. I shouted over the crowd so the police could hear me. And just like one of God’s miracles, a policeman blew his whistle and within a few minutes he’d cleared a narrow path with some other police, grabbed me and pulled me and my husband to a safe spot across to the side of the street we were aiming to get to.

Oceans of tears spilled down my face in relief as the policeman brought the paramedics over to me. I was so flustered and could barely talk but managed to let them know I had recently had open heart surgery as I pulled open my coat to expose my scar so they didn’t think I was lying about heart issues. This was not a lie as I had the surgery two years prior. Yes I screamed heart attack as it was the only option I saw for us to be saved, and surely if I didn’t, I would have had one anyway.

The paramedics wanted to take me to the hospital until I explained what happened and why I was driven to scream for their help. They checked my vitals, gave me a bottle of water and asked me to sit down for a few moments to bring back down my blood pressure. Then they wished me a Happy New Year and let us go.

We walked down 2 long blocks before we could safely cross back across the boulevard – without the crowd, and walked to the restaurant, almost an hour late for our reservation.

I should have listened to my internal warning alarm and sacrificed our evening plans, but I didn’t and learned the hard way how easily people can die in a crowd. If I hadn’t had the good sense to scream ‘heart attack’, I’m almost certain I would have had one anyway.

We were meeting my hub’s daughter and son-in-law at the restaurant. When we finally sat down, they asked, “What took you guys so long.”

Have any of you ever been stuck in a mob crowd?





Memoir Bytes: – Love Notes and Other Words

Childhood Scribbles

Vision perception - Memoirs


Whenever I’m asked when my passion for writing evolved I always remember that my journey began through writing love notes for the people I loved as far back as I can remember as soon as I learned how to write, which is stated in my bio.


As a child, I had so much love in my heart and empathy for others going as far back as I can remember. It’s rather odd when I think back to my childhood because “I love you” words weren’t familiar words in my home, leaving me feeling uncomfortable to say them. But writing from my heart to express my feelings was easy.


Memoir love notes

I wrote:

I love my mommy and my daddy. I drew pictures of them and wrote: This is mommy and daddy.


My mother died four years ago October. When we sat ‘shiva’ in the mourning period for her at my brother’s home, my sister-in-law brought out some photos my mother kept in a worn out looking makeup case. I was still feeling a million unresolved feelings that day and wasn’t too interested in looking at them at the time. But last week I went to visit my sister-in-law and she told me she had cleared out her basement and found some photos and items I may want. I came across a few of those cards I wrote my parents along with a few of those ‘love notes’ I had written.

The notes I found had me wondering why of all the many things I’d written as a child, my mother had clung to these very few items my sister-in-law gave to me. Where were all the rest gone? And the note that moved me most was one poem my father had written to my mother. Besides how touching and beautiful that poem was, it broke my heart to read it. It had taken me back to many memories of my father asking me to help him get back together with my mother.


Memoir love not from Dad

It reads:

E – Is for you’re Everything to me

L – Is for my Love for you

I – Is for If I had you

Z – Is for Zilch when I’m without you

A – Is for I’ll Always want you

B – Is for you’re Beauty

E – Is for my never Ending want for you

T – Is for the Time I wait

H – Is for when I’ll Have you


After my tears subsided, it dawned on me that my father must have had some instinct for writing. Nobody in my family had ever displayed an interest for writing. I knew I was a blacksheep in many ways, and often wondered where my passion for writing came from. That love note was a reminder that I had inherited my compassion from my father. But did I also inherit the secret passion he had for writing?


Paper Towel Love Note Cover:

To Mommy from Debby (I love you inside the heart)




Unfolded scrap of paper towel: Inside:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Sugar and honey are sweet

But you are the sweetest

(I love you inside the heart)


One more I found written on a piece of cardboard. This card reminded me of the numerous cards I’d written each time my parents broke up when my little heart was aching and the only wish I had in the whole world was that they’d reunite.

Memoir love not to mom

Front of card: To Mom from Debby. I love you Daddy

Back of card: I love you mom I love you dad.


Memoir love note 2

Inside that card left side: Dear mom I love you and daddy I am always going to be fair with you and daddy

Left side: hugs and kisses mom xxxxxxoooooo hugs and kisses dad xxxxxxoooooo – look on back


I remember another card I’d made during one of their separations, which I never did see again, but the memory of that card stuck with me till this day. It said:


I have a mommy and I have a daddy but I don’t have a mommy and a daddy.


I remember that card well because I was afraid to give it to my mother and had left it lying around somewhere. She eventually found it and I got slapped for writing it.


Such was my tormented childhood growing up with a mother I idolized as a young child and a father who lived apart from us more than he ever lived with us. My heart ached for my father because I had such empathy for his broken heart. As I grew into a young teen my resentments began to grow for my mother as I learned to understand her manipulations and watched the games she played on my father. My love for my father never faltered. I took care of him as a child as I did till the day he died. A heaviness in my heart that even 27 years passing never lightened.

One other sad note – my atrocious handwriting remains the same. 😊






Memoir Bytes: – The 10 Red Flags I Didn’t Pay Attention To – Domestic Abuse

Vision perception - Memoirs


“Oh c’mon Deb, you never give a guy a chance,” my bestie Bri lectured on. “You have too many stipulations about dating before you let anyone into your life.”


I was managing an office for a PR firm when I met ‘him’. He’d drop by once a week to pick up work as a freelance editor, After five or six visits and a couple of flirty chats with ‘him’ he’d asked me out for dinner and I accepted,

‘He’ was somewhat handsome and at least gave some interesting conversation. He mentioned his failed marriage and almost had me feeling sorry for him. But as I am ever the skeptic, I always believed there are two sides to every story. It only took me a few more months to discover why he was most likely the ‘dumpee’.

We continued to date despite my nagging little doubts about things I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but my inner alarm system signaled something was amiss with this man, yet, my curiosity got the better of me. So I continued to date him. ‘His’ personality went from hot to cold – sometimes acting affectionate and sometimes downright mean – a streak I learned to fear.

Almost a year had passed and as so many of us do in life, I got complacent. I was in my early thirties when I had brainwashed myself into thinking this was the lot I was dealt, so I better make the best of it, instead of asking, Is this all there is? Don’t I deserve some of those tingly butterflies in my stomach when I’m kissed by the man I’m supposed to be loving?

Six more years went by I spent with ‘him’. In the earlier stages I had resolved myself to thinking that if I left, maybe I’d never get married. I settled for a roller coaster relationship. I thought I could ‘fix’ him. I thought nobody’s life is perfect. I learned to dance around his moods and fits of anger with great caution. After all, I’d made my choice. And like many other women in my situation – women who feel compelled to stay in toxic relationships, I thought I was stuck in that relationship for life.

It took a good few years until I realized myself, and with the constant badgering of friends and loved ones that I became a shadow of my former self. I became quiet, complacent, and had lost any self-esteem I’d worked so hard my whole life to build by allowing a man to demean, threaten and possess me. I would spend the last three years of that relationship making plans to get out of it. But finally I was free. It wasn’t as easy as just picking up and leaving as there became financial issues involved and threats I had to weigh out – would he make good on his word that if I tried to leave he’d make sure that nobody else would have me?

After my escape, I never felt fully free to talk about what went on in that relationship. When I did manage to escape, I was stalked for another two years. That feeling of being watched never goes away.


Many women in abusive relationships stay because they don’t see any alternatives, Some are reliant on their abuser’s financial aid and trade off freedom for captivity because of it. Some women are made to feel so worthless that they feel they are almost deserving of their situation. There are many reasons why women can’t seem to walk away, or run for their lives from toxic relationships. But there is always a way. When I finally got away, the concerns about my financial situation and how I was going to get by with the bills became the size of a raindrop when I compared it to how it felt to be alive and free. Doors do open. People who care will stand by and help us. There are also government programs and shelters to help women in these situations.


Red Flags to Pay Attention to Which are Unacceptable for a Healthy Relationship:

  • Being demeaned
  • Threats or blackmail
  • Uncomplimentary
  • Bossing around – making all the decisions, uncompromising
  • Raising a hand to you (even once is a flag of things to come)
  • No regard for your feelings or thoughts
  • Telling you what you can and cannot do
  • Making you feel insignificant
  • Criticizes everything you do
  • Apologizes, cries, begs you not leave and after, continues to do all of the above


There is absolutely no logical reason for remaining in an abusive relationship no matter what we think we’re sacrificing if we leave. The only sacrifice is ourselves when we stay.- D.G. Kaye


Last month Sally Cronin put up a lovely post in honor of International Women’s Day. I highly recommend this read. And besides the article itself, there is much to take in from the comments as well. Please visit Sally’s post by clicking the link below.



****Don’t forget to vote for your favorite bloggers for the Annual Bloggers Bash. I’ve been nominated for ‘Best Pal’ Blogger. Please VOTE HERE for your favorite Bloggers. This is the last week to vote before voting closes!

#Memoir Bytes: Patterns – Cooking, Entertaining and Getting Social

Memoir Bytes

Vision perception - Memoirs


Have you ever tried to trace one of your habits back to its origins to attempt to piece together how it evolved? Many of our preferences and habits stem from situations or events that made us feel comfortable and cozy, stemming from our childhoods. Whether it’s a practice we enjoyed or craved, it tends to stay with us and becomes what develops into part of the patterns we form in our lives.


“The hostess with the mostess” is an old cliche I remember hearing when I was a kid by my mother when she’d talk about a party she threw or about one of the many she attended. I craved having company over when I was a child because we seldom did. Our family was far from ‘The Cleavers’, when the mom stayed home all day, wore pretty dresses with an apron tied around her waist, had dinner waiting on the table when Mr, Cleaver returned from work. No, my mother wasn’t a stay at home mom in the real sense of the term – not that she worked, rather she had an active social life that didn’t include her children.

Maybe it was because I’d taken on the motherly role at a young age that I eventually grew into that ‘hostess with the mostess’ role. The dinners I cooked for my siblings in my mother’s absence afforded me to learn how to become a decent cook. Once I moved away from home to my own little sanctuary, it became a social hangout for my friends to gather and hang out at – often a place where friends made their own home away from home because while I was on my own many of them were still living at home and considered my little ‘pad’ a place of refuge from their own parental constraints. I always enjoyed cooking and loved having visitors.

Within a few short weeks of living on my own, Sunday evenings became company is coming for dinner. Anyone who was over at my place knew there would be something tasty prepared by me. Sometimes friends would call first, but often I’d just hear that old apartment buzzer with a surprise drop by visit from a friend. I never minded at all as my constant wish for visitors as a child was coming to fruition in my own home.

As the years went by, there were numerous dinner parties, birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties I held at my place. I had friends from all walks of life and my world had expanded exponentially after I moved away from home. My dinner party gatherings continued after I got married as our new coupledom circle of friends was still growing. We had several  different groups of friends we’d get together with and take turns hosting dinner get togethers with on a monthly basis, and the Christmas parties we threw for years where friends would bring some of their friends and our gatherings were always fun and interesting.

As the years pass now, we don’t go out as often as we used to for dinner or dancing. And since we’ve downsized from our lovely homes into a condo we no longer throw lavish parties. But some of our simple pleasures are still getting together with our good friends and taking turns having each other over to our respective homes for a dinner gathering. Some things just remain.

Memoir Bytes: Forgiveness? Love? The Power of Money – Backstory from Conflicted Hearts

Memoir Bytes

Vision perception - Memoirs


Sometimes I look back in reflection at some of the poignant moments in life, at some of the characters in my family. I like to analyze in retrospect, how I felt about a certain situation while emotions were running high, and interpret them later in time by dissecting some of those events to see how I handled the situation while experiencing the emotional moment and if my perceptions were accurate.


This particular incident recently resurfaced in my memory. I try to look for the compassion I may have missed back then while originally feeling confusion and resentment. As a memoir writer, I tend to do this with many of life’s difficult situations I’ve encountered to assess and better understand not just my perspective but what the other parties concerned may have been feeling. So today I’m going to bring up a sad memory about my father’s death. It seemed only fitting to write about this today when January 9th was the day I buried my father in 1991.

The situation was tragic enough that my father had died suddenly and out of country, but with a dysfunctional family background to add to the mix, there were many more mixed emotions presented at that time.

My paternal grandmother had been dead for a few years prior to my father’s death. And my dad was the only child left of my grandfather’s – a man who’d been dominated by his overbearing, bossy wife throughout his marriage. My dad had one older brother who had been disowned, completely banished by his parents, and consequently, from all of our lives when the edict had come down from my grandmother twenty-five years prior. “We shall speak no more of his name” were her words. And so it was written. And so it was done.

Dad and my estranged uncle Don ran the family business with their father up until that fateful day when something huge went down. I was only about 6 or 7 years old at the time and my investigative listening skills were already fine-tuned from growing up in a volatile and emotional roller coaster household, where listening in the shadows always gave me a leg up on what I could expect come tomorrow. But despite my efforts, I wasn’t permitted to ask questions without being reprimanded for doing so, consequently, much about what I learned about this occurrence was from the chatter that went on after the event at my grandparents’ house and afterward in my own home while I listened to my mother tell her sisters and friends.

To this day, I still don’t know the whole reasoning behind the incident that had my uncle banished for life, but what I got from it was, my quick-tempered uncle grew very angry at his father one day at work and pegged his dad up against the outside brick wall and was stopped short by my father who heard the ruckus and he restrained my uncle from throwing a brick at my grandfather’s head, as he shouted in anger with what seemed the end of his tolerance for his father’s orders. After the feud was broken up by my dad, my uncle was thrown out from the family business – and the family.

When my stern grandmother was informed about what had transpired, she made an instant declaration ( I heard it with my own ears), her son Don was now dead to my grandparents. They even sat the traditional ‘Shiva’ period as we do in our religion to mourn the dead.

We never saw my uncle or our cousins again for almost a quarter of a century.

On January 9th, 1991, 4 children and their grandfather sat in the mourner’s room at the funeral home before it was time for the funeral to begin in the chapel. The door opened and a strange man walked in. He looked as though he was in his early 60s, dressed in a dark suit and tie, slighted hunched over with age, he kept his eyes focused toward the floor as he entered while adjusting his yarmulke (skullcap). I leaned over to my one brother and asked him who this man was that just invaded our mourner’s space. My brother replied, “It’s Uncle Don.”

My heart skipped a beat. In my dire moments of grief, I didn’t know what to make of the sudden appearance of my long lost uncle. Within the same one whirlwind moment of emotions, I felt curious, angry, and heartbroken. I never said a word to him and moments later we proceeded into the chapel for the ceremony then out to the cemetery. We buried our father on that freezing cold day in January and my Uncle Don stood along right beside us.

After burying my father, we proceeded to my younger brother’s house to commence the Shiva where we’d sit in mourning for one week from morning til sundown and receive guests and visitors who would come by to keep us company and pay their condolences.

We’d just arrived from the cemetery, and took our respective seats on the cushionless couches, as tradition warranted for the immediate mourners. Immediate family of the lost loved one are the mourners – parents, children and siblings. And then into my brother’s home walked Uncle Don. That’s when emotions were escalated. My siblings and I were dumbfounded, wondering why he had suddenly showed up after a quarter of a century to his brother’s funeral and for mourning. This was a brother who never even went to his own mother’s funeral a few years earlier.

Suspicions, doubts, and curiosity ran through each one of us and before any of us even voiced our opinion to the others, my grandfather stood up, embraced his long lost son and announced aloud, “I lost one son, but I gained another.”

Who does that?

Resentment built up within me that the complete stranger to us could walk into my brother’s home the day we buried our father and our grandfather greeted him like he was the consolation gift God had given him – the man who threatened to kill him a quarter century past, when his only other son who had been nothing but obedient at his beck and call for all his life had saved his father’s life.

Many thoughts rolled through my head that day – why did he show up decades later? Was there remorse? Was his sudden arrival back into my grandfather’s life for monetary gain?

I felt heart-broken when I lost my father, but I also managed to feel sorry for my grandfather too, for losing his only son who had stood by him all his life. I was never close with my grandfather because of the years growing up around him, feeling no love or compassion from him or from my grandmother – the price I paid for my mother’s deceit when she purposefully got pregnant with me to get my father to marry her. I was a constant reminder to them of my parent’s union.

Because I harbored a life-long resentment toward my grandfather, it wasn’t difficult for me to speak to him with snark and sarcasm. I never had a problem letting someone know what I thought once I moved away from home and found my voice. The four of us confronted him when we were alone together, questioning how he could welcome our uncle with open arms as though the past had never happened. We didn’t hesitate to let him know we suspected the only reason our uncle had shown up was because he knew he was the only child left and there was plenty of money to be gained if he got himself back in my grandfather’s good graces and ultimately back into the will. My grandfather didn’t seem to care. In his own moments of grief I think he felt alone with the loss of his beloved wife and no children left, and so he clung to whatever rope was thrown to him despite motives. Sad.

Us four kids had spent much of our growing up years at my grandparents’ home, despite our reluctance or desire to do so. We were to become the inheritors, but as suspected, my uncle did manage to get involved with the finances. Sure there was some left in the end of it all, but not much. And whatever was left was not divided evenly between us four. I got the biggest shaft of all of us, and that was quite expected. But I never used that against my own siblings because, as I learned well, money had the great potential to divide a family.

@DGKaye 2018


The Story of My Life – Writing Prompts – Memoir- 10 Things that Sparked Childhood Creativity

Writing Prompts



Last week I had to go downtown for a doctor’s appointment. After my appointment, instead of heading back home on the subway, I decided to walk a few blocks to our huge shopping center downtown, the Eaton Center. I thought I’d grab myself a latte and have a wander into one of our biggest bookstores – Chapters/Indigo, and  have a look around some of the bookshelves. I rarely get out to the bookstores now that it’s become so easy to order what I want directly online, but there’s nothing like being inside the actual bookstore.

Once upon a time a book store was just for books, but now there are home sections filled with pillows, mugs, frames and whatnot. But my favorite part is the stationery section where I happened to get lost in for almost two hours! Did I mention I’m addicted to shopping for journals, notebooks and all their ilk? Well, I found a few notebooks and various other books and items I wanted and realized I’d have to lug all those things home. So I purchased the notebooks and one journal that offered writing prompts, and made a list of the other things I wanted, wrote them down and when I got home I ordered them online to be delivered.


I had initially picked up a big, thick book called 500 Writing Prompts. I thought it was a great book to create posts with when my writers block sets in. And then I found another similar notebook titled, The Story of My Life, which is another book offering writing prompts, except they all have to do with answering from our personal experience. I had to get that one. I brought that little gem home and ordered the bigger book along with all the other writing goodies I wanted online. The damage I did in the store was heavy enough to carry on my walk to the subway.


So today I’ve chosen to share one of the prompts I randomly chose to fill out in The Story of My Life journal and share it here with you. The beauty of these prompts is that one question can spark a flood of memories. These prompt journals are inspiring and are helpful with aiding us to write about the first thing that comes to our mind without over-thinking.


Below is the question asked:


Top 10 Time! – List the things you did as a child to express your creativity. What drew you to each one?


  1. I created an imaginary world where I could slip into when I felt sad or scared.

  2. I wrote poems since the time I learned how to write. I wish I’d kept some of them. Writing became my secret outlet where I could express my pent-up emotions. I shared them with nobody.

  3. I loved to make up sentimental cards and write love notes to give to loved ones.

  4. I listened to music and sang along to all the lyrics as I took myself into the lyrics. My first idol was Barbra Streisand, and she remains my most favorite icon today.

  5. I loved to bake in my Easy Bake Oven. Sadly, I still suck at baking today.

  6. I loved to play ‘house’ with my friends. We’d put on costumes (usually taken from our mother’s closet), and I was always the mother. It was fun playing house because it was peaceful with no drama, acting out the way I envisioned parents should be with their children.

  7. I was addicted to the TV show Bewitched. I’d watch Samantha intently, hoping to learn how to crinkle my nose to make  myself  be able to disappear and make magic happen.

  8. I used to invent games to play with my siblings, particularly on weekends where we were forced to spend at our grandparents’ house. I was always bored and restless.

  9. I was obsessed with a fascination of high-heeeled shoes. I’d try on my mother’s shoes and clomp around in them pretending I was a beautiful model. This obsession began at age 3.

  10. I would make believe things were better than they were or not as they seemed. I’d cry when my mother went away on her leisure trips, but I never let anyone know how sad I was. I would pretend she was just gone for the day then for the night as each day passed until she’d come home.


Do any of you enjoy using writing prompts?



Memoir Bytes – Miss Toronto 1926 – My Grandmother

Memoir Bytes:

Vision perception


I’ve written a lot in my books about my relationship with my mother and had touched on tidbits about her mother, my grandmother Dorothy who died shortly after my mother’s 15th birthday .


My mother had a knack for ‘expanding the truth’ whenever she chose to share a snippet of her life, so as I got older and caught on to her delusional stories, I had to do my own searching around for truth, mostly from my aunts while they were still living. But luckily, my sister-in-law, Katy, is a great FBI sleuth herself. She obviously found our erratic and dysfunctional family history fascinating when she married my brother and conducted her own search and found out much more than even I was told.


One story in particular was about my grandmother apparently, winning the very first Miss Toronto Beauty Contest in 1926 held at Sunnyside Amusement Park. Pictured below is my grandmother standing as a runner up to the far right. The story told to me by mother was that her mother had actually won the contest and was deemed the first Miss Toronto until she was disqualified and became a runner up when it was discovered that she was married when she entered. This of course turned out to be another lie my mother loved to boast about because of course if her mother didn’t win, there had to be a reason. In the photo my grandmother was 21 years old. (Late correction, either the newspaper got it wrong, or my grandmother fibbed about her age because she was only 17 in the pageant)

Miss Toronto beauty pageant 1926
My grandmother, Dorothy (nee) Asling , far right, sporting a bob hairdo. Photo was sent to me from the Toronto Star Newspaper.


Back in the day, being skinny wasn’t a factor required to either enter or win a beauty contest. And despite my mother telling her tall tales, anybody who knew my grandmother had told me she was considered a striking beauty. In fact, Katy sent me this article clipping from an interview the Toronto Star did with my grandmother before the final competition when it was down to 5 contestants.


This is all I know of my grandmother, from how she spoke in the article interview in this post I can almost hear that little air in her voice that my mother had of herself. Dorothy was apparently a very popular girl who had many men vying for her attention, and although she tried to sound modest and naive in this article, I could hear my own mother in her words, particularly in the paragraph where the journalist seemed to detect the same thing when they thought Dorothy knew well that this would be printed.

Dorothy Asling interview Miss Toronto 1926 Article interview with Dorothy Asling from Toronto Star Newspaper August 16, 1926, journalist unknown. From the archives.


I’ve heard so many controversial stories about the life of my grandmother and have had to make my own deductions from comparing versions of stories my mother told me and relaying them back to my aunts for verification and authentic versions. Apparently, my grandmother was a real live wire, who, according to this article, may not have smoked, but loved to drink, party and gamble. She was the life of all parties, and the complete opposite of what I know of my grandfather, who was meek and mild mannered, and a very handsome man. Dorothy was the love of his life and he never married again because he never stopped loving her.


I notice similarities in Dorothy’s physical stature to my mother and some of her siblings.


My mother was a dark beauty like her mother and she even had the same mole on her left cheek, which she emphasized with a black kohl eyeliner as it appears her mother did too. Back when I was a child I remembered that mole as my mother’s ‘signature’ beauty mark.


Another prominent feature of my grandmother was her ‘thick’ upper arms. I wrote in humor in my book, Menowhat? A Memoir, about the women in our family nicknamed ‘the arm family’, which I had crowned the name to all of us – sister, female cousins and aunts, because no matter how slim any of us could be, we all had thick upper arms. Thank you grandmother Dorothy, not.


I’ve never seen another photo of my grandmother other than this photo that my Aunty Sherry ordered copies of years ago from our Toronto newspaper to give one to each of her nieces. So naturally, I’ve looked at it a million times and analyzed the heck out of it.


My sister-in-law Katy had done research on my family tree and had obtained copies of my mother’s lineage when she got curious about the ongoing lie my mother had told me and stood true to till the day she died, that I wasn’t conceived out of wedlock, and that her mother was Jewish. In fact, Katy had given me a copy of my parents’ marriage licence she obtained, confirming my suspicion that my mother was indeed 2 months pregnant with me when she married my father. I was also flabberghasted to find that in the little box where they tick off and state their religion, my grandmother was born and raised as a Baptist. I’d already obtained confirmation from my aunts on these factors, but looking at the actual document was a confirming piece of my family history.


There were so many tales spun by my mother to create dramatic effect to every story she told. And still, I truly believe her stories were not only to attract wow factors or sympathy, but also that she had spent her life creating stories to the point where I honestly believe she believed her own stories. She had such a dire need to be more than what she was.


Below are a few photos I plucked out of an old photo album – the women in my life as well as 2 more clippings of Dorothy that my sister-in-law managed to get copies of.



D.G. Kaye at 2 yrs old
Me at 2 years old. I’m thinking the look on my face says something about my mood and environment.


My mother at my Sweet 16
The ‘dark’ beauty, my mother at my Sweet 16


Me and Aunty Shirley my Sweet 16
My hero, my beautiful Aunty Sherry (Shirley) at my Sweet 16 having a toast together


My beautiful Aunty Lee
My beautiful Aunty Lee at my Sweet 16


Dorothy Asling Miss Toronto runner up
Dorothy Asling my grandmother, 2nd from the right.


Dorothy Asling interviewed

A ‘popular entry’ Dorothy Asling


Sadly, all I know of my grandmother is from these articles, and they are the only photos I’ve ever seen of her. Had she not been a beauty contestant, I wouldn’t even know what she looked like.




Memoir Bytes – Sing Me No Songs Piano Man

Vision perception


Each night, around 8pm we’d hear the beautiful music from a piano being played next door. The music was beautiful and soothing. I was eleven years old.

We’d spend a few weeks every summer for the couple of years we owned a condo in Miami Beach there, as well as Christmas and Easter break. The piano man had to have been well in his seventies. He and his wife had introduced themselves to my mother and I one day as we passed them in our mutual hallway. They lived next door. He smiled at me with what felt like kindness, but as a young girl who was always eager for any attention paid to me, I didn’t know what was behind his smile.

My siblings and me spent many fun days at the swimming pool on those dog day afternoons of hot Florida sun. We’d swim for hours, splashing away and jumping off the diving board without a care in the world. Many days I’d see the piano man lounging at the pool. It was hard to miss him because I could almost feel him peering right through me as his gaze always seemed intently focused on me. When my eyes would catch his, he’d offer a smile so bright it was difficult not to smile back.

As the days passed, the piano man wasn’t always around, but when he was, I couldn’t help but feel he was a lonely man as he’d sit by himself and never talk with anyone. I’d look at him sometimes from the corner of my eye just to see if he was still around, but something within me warned me to keep my distance from him, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

The fact that I thought I’d seen his penis hanging out from his bathing suit one day as he lay on a sunbed with his legs sprawled apart taking in the sun didn’t alarm me because, quite frankly, I’d seen a few of those mishaps a few times when some older men were sitting awkwardly in a chair. Besides, I knew nothing about sex or desire at that age.

I was the carer of my siblings by that age, even on vacation our mother was busy socializing, out with her then boyfriend on some lazy afternoons when she thought she wouldn’t be missed. We spent most afternoons at the pool there during those summer holidays while my dad was back home in Toronto working. I’d learned years later that my mother’s boyfriend was indeed a family friend who coincidentally also had a condo with his family in our same building in Florida. Convenient.

Nobody seemed to pay any mind to that piano man, not even my mother.

One day when I’d had enough swimming and wanted to head upstairs for some lunch, I found myself sharing an elevator with the piano man. I supposed he’d had enough sun too and was going back to his condo. He never spoke, just smiled at me the whole time in the elevator then he followed closely behind me as I exited the elevator. His door was next to ours so I thought nothing of the coincidence, as a naive girl of eleven.

While I stood at my door fiddling with my keys, he’d caught up to me. I felt him push his body up against me as I was opening the door. In that exact moment as I flung open the door, and wondering what he was trying to do, my mother appeared in the front hall doorway. The piano man said hi to her and made a beeline for his condo.

My mother never suspected anything other than perhaps he’d been walking me to the door. I was confused at the man’s actions but never mentioned any of my concerns to my mother or anyone else. After all, what did I know in 1970 about pedophiles?

That story could have had a much worse ending, and it’s a story I’ve never forgotten. I never had any growing up lessons from my mother. I knew nothing about the birds and the bees, only about never having courage to ask my mother about anything personal, especially about anything regarding my private parts, my fears, hopes or otherwise.

Many children share some of the same fears I had as a child because their parents don’t give them a platform to discuss their personal selves or don’t allow them to feel comfortable doing so. Particularly in the world we live in now, parents must talk with their children, not scare them, but make them understand that when strangers approach them, invading their private space, or trying to lure them away with offers of treats or fantastic adventures, they must understand the boundaries of safety. They must talk to their children and make them feel comfortable about coming to their parents with any concerns.

Had I felt a comfort talking with my mother, I would have told her about the man who kept staring at me whenever he was around, his penis hanging out of his bathing suit, and him pushing himself on me. I knew instinctively that he was trying to get into the condo with me, not merely walking me to the door. I was scared of that man after that day. I didn’t tell my mother I was scared, but I never again went in that elevator or into my condo alone without asking one of my brothers to come with me. I learned from my own instincts and gratefully, it wasn’t too late. By the grace of God I wasn’t raped.