The Van Dusen monkeys
The craziest, most insane family in Ottawa is the Van Dusen clan.
Actually, they’re also probably the most famous. Tom, Mark, Michael, Peter, Julie, Tina and Lisa Van Dusen have all been fixtures in the media and boardrooms of the Nation’s capital.
They might be accused of being spotlight hogs.
But according to their mom, Shirley, it’s not her fault; they were raised by monkeys and sheep.
At the tender age of 84, Shirl decided to write a book about it, The Mother’s Day Monkey.
All I can say is she certainly had enough material.
They’re nuts, and while Shirley tries hard to pin that on the monkey, we all know she and husband Tom had a lot to do with it.
When my kids were small, I was always asking Shirley for advice. And she had the absolute best childrearing advice. Ever.
“I used to put the (seven) kids in the back of the car,” she said. “If they acted up, I took a fly swatter to them.”
If I tried that, they’d call social services.
I once asked Shirley whether she worried about leaving her husband Tom alone while she travelled the world painting.
“Oh, Rose,” she said. “If something happens, somebody will find him eventually.”
Of course, Shirley was kidding…about Tom. And seriously, if I had could have had any other mom in the world — other than the wonderful Vera — I would have asked to be placed in Shirley’s care.
Sadly, nowadays, the quick-witted, self-deprecating Tom Sr. has dementia. But that hasn’t slowed down Shirley, not one bit. She continues to buzz along, painting, writing, travelling, and hopefully swatting the grandkids when they’re bad.
The Cube Gallery is having a book launch for Shirley January 27th (tomorrow). Here’s the link.