When I think of manners, I think of my step-grandmother Verna Bride. She was an old school Baptist schoolteacher and a single woman for most of her adult life. When she met my grandfather Morley, two worlds collided.
He was a hardworking farmer and later worked in Budd’s Store in Guelph, ON. His faith grew beyond his United Church roots once he met Verna. Together they devoted themselves to serving in their Baptist church and making hospital visits. Imagine the life change for a woman in middle age marrying a widower who had already raised his five children.
Both of them had very strong opinions about how one should conduct themselves. They were a curious couple in my eyes and I made a decision during my college years to get to know them both better. At that time, they would have been in their seventies.
I’m grateful for their dedication to God, but I often found it hard to relate to Verna’s ‘fussy’ ways. I was not offended. I just did not understand why fine china, lace doilies and particular manners and affectations were so important.
I think of Verna when I think about manners. I also think about being corrected as a child for talking with my mouth full, picking my nose, staring, interrupting and many more things. As an adult, I still need some reminders to keep good manners.