Tamara MacDonald succumbed to her long battle with emphysema on November 14th, 2020.
Two words that struck fear in her four sons, William, Robert, Richard and Kevin: Rene Simard.
Now, you may ask, what does a regionally popular 70s teen idol from Quebec have to do with fear? Well imagine four impressionable young men being woken for school by the middle aged warbling of Ma Mere Est Un Ange, which thankfully can’t be recreated in print here. Suffice it to say, the emotional scarring continues to this day. (It’s Kevin’s fault, he bought her the album for Christmas one year.)
Tamara MacDonald, or ‘Tommy’ to most people who knew her, was born in Montreal on March 9th, 1932 to Adam and Agnes Zenovitch, five years prior to her lone sister Jennie, who sadly passed away October 8th of this year. Within a few years they moved to Toronto where the girls took up Ukrainian dancing which surprisingly saw little in the way of a monetary future for either of them. In high school, whilst also working at her parents Fish & Chips shop on Wellesley Street, Tommy managed to find a job at Bell telephone as a switchboard operator. Yes, kids, that used to be a thing.
In the early 50s she was convinced by some semi-inebriated (just a guess) friends to attend a dance at the still mildly infamous Georgian Grill at Balm Beach, near Midland, Ontario. There she would meet her future husband Joel MacDonald, thereby making Zenovitch now hopelessly redundant as a moniker.
In amongst several moves around the province including, London, Windsor, Brantford and Toronto, four sons would quickly follow in a whirlwind of 6 and a half years. William first in ’57, followed by Robert in ’60, Richard in ’62, and Kevin in ’64. Whew, even got tired typing that! Imagine how Tommy must’ve felt.
Scraping together what money she could over the years, as her husband Joel insisted on making drinking his full time hobby, Tommy managed to find all the best used hockey equipment money could buy to allow 3 of her sons to ply the boards and ice of Double Rink Arenas , north of Jane and Steeles for several years. The youngest Kevin choosing baseball, because, let’s face it, those early morning hockey practices before school, were murder!
Eventually settling in Mississauga to be closer to her sister Jenny and brother-in-law Gene, the MacDonald boys were able to go to school with cousins, Tim, Mitch, Virginia and Ben. With her impending separation from Joel on the horizon, Tommy was able to spread her wings further and gain independence through a new accounting job at Sherway Temperature Control. Something to do with air conditioners, I think. Kevin and Tommy would spend many an evening checking out the double-bills at the old Dixie 5 Cinema near Dundas Street in Mississauga, discovering both Mel Brooks and Monty Python together. Well…not really together. She was usually in the last 8 rows of the theatre having a smoke. Yes, kids, that used to be a thing, too. However, soon enough she would be sending her four strapping young sons out into the world to find their true destiny. (Insert echo here)
And who knew they would take it literally.
Will, would settle in Switzerland with his wife Pat and two sons Chris and Sean, of which Chris would move to London to marry Lenka, and Sean would move to Kitchener, Ontario and marry Sarah. And I guess this is the part, where we mention Tommy would then become a Great Grandmother, first to Sean and Sarah’s Charlotte, and then Chris and Lenka’s Juliet. Circle of life. (Insert echo here.)
Richard would settle in Cambridge where he would meet and marry Debbie and then subsequently move to Tennessee, USA.
Kevin would move to downtown Toronto and become a standup comic, which is kind of a marriage, I guess. Not really.
Robert would remain to care for Tommy in her retiring years and keep track of her true crime shows and internet bingo matches, as well, before sadly passing in 2018. Around the same time Pat and Will moved back to Toronto, where Will took on the role of caregiver in Tommy’s waning years.
Sadly, with her heart further broken at the passing of her sister, she finally gave in to her long bout with emphysema.
She will be missed. xo
We would like thank the staff at both the Revera The Beechwood, and Cooksville Care Centre for their patience and understanding and true caring during these more than difficult times. They were lovely.
We hope to be able to hold a small memorial in the spring to celebrate Tamara’s life and lift a drink to her. Stay tuned. :)