This is my godmother. Her name was Faith Mahwinney and she was a lovely sweet woman. I remember her being like a little bird and smelling like roses. She loved a good giggle and always wore heels.
When my parents first came to Canada in the mid-fifties they were introduce to the Mahwinneys and the older couple basically adopted them. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to be newly married and living in a new country with no family of your own. It must have been reassuring to have a nice couple to help them out and act as surrogate parents.
When I was born my parents chose Faith as one of my godparents. Traditionally three godparents were chosen but I think that with a lack of close family they decide two was enough. That is her holding me on the day I was baptized. I still have the little gown I wore packed away in tissue…..somewhere.
Do people still have godparents? I feel like it is a bit of a dying tradition. Traditionally godparents are appointed by parents to provide spiritual guidance for their godchildren. They are present when the child is baptized and make a promise of renunciation, faith and obedience in the child’s name. In the past it was required that godparents be baptized themselves but the Anglican Church has waived that requirement in recent years. Frankly I’m not even sure my godparents went to church at all.
Since we only went to church on the big days. You know. Christmas , Easter and Thanksgiving. It was a bit more about tradition than wanting us to have somebody teach us about God, but really, it’s a lovely tradition.
Generally speaking godparents are chosen for their interest and ability to nurture the Christian life and faith of the child/adult whom they sponsor. I can’t say that I ever discussed God with either do so in that respect she may have not lived up to the bargain. But in other ways she knocked it out of the park.
Every Christmas we would all get dressed up and go to the Mahwinneys house on Marine Drive for tea. The grown ups would sit in the living room and have tea and we kids would hang out in the dining room with our own tray of goodies and lemonade. She made the most amazing cookies and treats and we each had our favorite. My favorite was the coconut strawberries. I have no idea what was in them other than coconut and sugar but they were shaped into little red strawberries and holy crap they were good. My brothers favorite was very thinly sliced home-made brown bread slathered in butter and my sister loved the butter tarts.
After her husband passed away Faith moved into an apartment. I would go and visit her on my own then as I was older. She was getting old and frail and didn’t hear well but she still wore heals and smelt like roses. She would putter around that apartment overlooking Ambleside making me tea and chatting about the people she had met in her new building. She would always walk me down to the elevator when I left and remind everyone that we saw that I was her goddaughter.
I was twenty-seven when she passed away. I helped to spread her ashes over the rose garden outside her church. She may not have guided me spiritually but she taught me a lot by always being polite and ladylike. Traditions can take many forms and that makes them one of the Best Things in Life.