There is a real mixture of photos today: cows, ancestors, horses, home, and mom during the hospital years when she was so sick from polio.
I’ve found a beautiful letter from Auntie Gertie. You know, it’s funny how things evolve. I started this wanting to know more about mom and her life before me – stories were so rare about her life before and particularly during polio. But I’m finding that along with discovering more about who mom was, I’m really learning a lot about our community here in Jumping Pound, what rural life was like in the 1950s, and the power of love and faith. Somehow it seems fitting to me that I’ve found these letters and these memories while we are stuck at home because of Covid, and I couldn’t imagine writing this anywhere besides From Grandma’s Kitchen.
October 25, 1953
We’ve certainly thought about you often, especially since you were home at thanksgiving. I’ll bet you felt as if it was the best thanksgiving you ever had. Even the weather co-operated. Sorry we didn’t see you then, but perhaps next time you are home we’ll have a chance.
To-day we went to church again and it was a christening Sunday Service. Vernice Wearmouth had her baby christened and she had the hiccups so bad we all got the giggles. The babies were all good as gold and stayed right through the service.
Last Thursday I went to a pageant on the Growth of Christianity. It was held at Western High School. It was quite good, one scene had all real Japanese actors and I really enjoyed them. the girls were ready pretty. The play went back in history to the pilgrims who came over in the Mayflower and took us through scenes up to present times in such countries as Scotland, Holland, Africa, Japan, and ____?. The costumes were very interesting and added quite a lot to the story.
Last Wednesday George and I went to a banquet at the Nag-Hey(?) a rather picturesque restaurant built of pink logs. The main room has a huge fireplace at one and over which are hung crossed ski poles. On the walls are show shoes, skis, and other sports equipment such as fishing rods, etc. There are some beautiful pictures of Indians painted by Gerda Chiristofferson. the skin looks so real it makes you want to touch it. Back of the long guest table is a huge drawing of a bucking horse and various brands. At each side of this are old fashioned ox cart wheels. On the table is a church wagon illuminated inside by a green light. There are many curios about, stuffed animal heads, a snowy owl, a model Indian teepee etc. The one side of the room has very large windows that command a beautiful large scale scene of the mountains and the sunsets.
First of all we had cocktails or ginger ale as we preferred. Then we had a scrumptious chicken dinner. Later after a speech by Clarence and one by Edith Edge we had a sing song. Mrs Sam Scott played the piano. Then we had a dance. Everyone had lots of fun and it was sure fun to be out with friends again.
The W.A. had a fine Floral Tea a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Whitburn lectured on how to arrange flowers and care for them. Later the bouquets were given to the holders of lucky tickets. Then we had a tea and ___ of home cooking. I sold tons of the lottery tickets. One was to Nellie Bapti and another was to Mrs. Barkley. Georgie Copithorne won a lovely bouquet of roses and mums. By the way my sweet peas stalks and holly hocks are still blooming. Every day I expect to seem them frozen down but so far they have survived.
Last Friday the school children had a very interesting sports day. They had standing and running broad jumps, high jumps, foot races, and relay races. Then they put on a first aid show, demonstrating various bandages. It’s as rather cleverly done. Each child went over a high jump and purposely fell. At a signal from Mr. O’Brien certain students ran forward and gaven the patient a certain kind of bandage or a firemans lift etc. Done that way in a natural setting the first aid was quite effective.
Mrs. Cornelius Buckley married Art Koher lately. This Wednesday Edith Sibblad is having a small shower for her inviting only her well known friends. It should prove a very interesting party too.
Patsy is 5 years old now. My sister Sibyl(?) had a birthday party for her in town. None of our children ever had a real birthday party with guests and presents before. They always had a birthday cake but that’s all, so you see Patty had a pleasant surprise on her birthday.
I made rather a pretty punch work cushion cover lately. The design is made by pink roses and is done on black velvet so it is quite effective. Punch work is fun to do and I enjoy it.
Well Margie it’s time to get supper again. Seems as if all I do is cook. Food disappears at an alarming rate around here.
We are all glad to know you are improving and putting on weight.
Love and best wishes to you form all of us
Edna just phoned to tell me you got some new shoes and took several steps today. We are so thrilled. Do keep up the good work. We are really proud of your progress.
That last part may have made me tear up a bit. Gosh, Aunt Gertie was a wonderful woman.
Today’s letter is from the Barkleys. There are several of their letters in this box, all are written so kindly and are quite delightful to read, but I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I don’t know who they are. I know someone reading this knows, so please tell me!
Anyway, we are once again in the midst of Stampede week 1953, always a fun and busy time in the area. I’ve mentioned this before, but the quality of handwriting in these letters is quite phenomenal.
July 10, 1953
Have you been comfortable this past week? Hope it hasn’t been too hot for you. The country certainly looks lovely even tho’ the crops aren’t as high as usual.
Suppose you have listened to the radio and know all the stampede doings. We just listen to the Chuckwagon races. Look as tho’ no one from here is going to attend and not too upset over it either. We had a man from Montreal here last night and he said he had travelled around quite a bit and had never seen so much for his money before and thought it was quite genuine.
There are some beautiful roses along this west side road now. I took lunch back to the ?? Place today to my men. Edna gathered me some blossoms the other day so I have quite a rose bowl. They certainly look better this way.
Bernard was leading his father around today, one tractor ahead of another. They didn’t get stuck so feel quite pleased with themselves.
Haven’t seen anyone from your house for some time now. Suppose they are busy.
Clarence was in Monday evening on his way home from the city and said he had seen you at the Parade. Sure glad to hear you had seen it. I guess you would be plenty excited. Nice to hear you are looking so well. He tells me your latest report is walking. Keep the good work up. Surely they will let you come home then and go in for treatments.
I remember mom telling me how the hospital took some of the kids to the stampede while she was there. In fact, this story was shared with me when I was a little kid and was begging for money from my mom to play games on the midway. She told me how the only time in her life that she’d ever won a game (and then she won all the games) was when she was there as a patient. Mom believed the games were un-winnable and that the sick kids had won because the people running the games felt so badly for them. Oddly enough, instead of this making me feel upset about not being allowed to play games, or about how the games were fixed (I think we all kind of knew they were), I was so happy that the sick kids had been given the chance to win and be excited about their prizes.
Don and Roy were exhausted with the heat when they stopped. They got up on a chair and just sat.
Buckley and Barkley juniors had a day fishing Sunday. they done well too. Had quite a day I guess.
Better get busy here, Margie and I’m really glad to hear such good news of you.
Best wishes again
I have a letter written by Grandma to Mom in the isolation hospital dated September 1, 1952 that is 5 pages long. I’ll share parts of it as we move ahead, but at the end of her letter, Grandma included a timeline of the days before Mom was admitted into the isolation hospital and told her that she could stick it her diary if she’d like.
Throughout this project I want to be as culturally sensitive as possible while remaining historically accurate. I am including the more outdated term “Indian” although we now generally use the term First Nations. The stories I was always told were that Grandma and Grandpa built and maintained good relationships with our Morley neighbours to the west and I want to honour that. But our terminology has changed and I think my grandparents would also want to be respectful and culturally sensitive.
July – Friday 25th – a young neighbour took sick
Saturday 26th – show in Cochrane
Sunday 27th – we went to church
Monday 28th – we went to Cochrane, you stayed in
Tuesday 29th —-
Wednesday 30th – took Indians to town (Cochrane) and brought you home – tired. You went to bed for your supper
July 31st – Went to show in Calgary with Dad
August 2nd – Saturday – went to show in Cochrane
3rd picnic at Morley. 4th —— 5th ——-
August 6 – Wednesday night – took Vera over to Margs – you were feeling sick – Sheila made you lie on chesterfield and covered you with the green rug.
August 7th – you ate a good breakfast – the last I cooked for you – toast eggs etc. But you stayed in bed all day and felt pretty miserable. was very sick at night.
August 8. Went in to Dr. and was very sick – went to Isolation Hospital
The timeline has never been very clear for me, I found this quite interesting to see how the last couple of weeks went for mom before she was admitted to hospital. How scary it must have been, and how the virus seemed to be a roll of the dice as to who was going to be sick and who would remain healthy.
I have to admit that reading this made me tear up a little. Honestly, most of the letters are painfully beautiful to read. But here, as Grandma was laying out the last bit of time that they had with mom when things were “normal”, it just made me so sad for Grandma. Much as mom never complained about things, I never once heard grandma say a bad word about anything that happened during this time. But as a mom it must have been absolutely heart wrenching.
Tomorrow I’ll share some of this letter from Grandma to mom.
One of my daily affirmations (when I remember, I’ve been lax lately) is that I’m grateful that the gift of health is keeping me alive. It’s amazing how even though I live with the intention of being grateful for my health, I don’t fully appreciate it until it’s not there.
These past two weeks I’ve been knocked to my knees with a brutal cold. I’ve been coughing and using Kleenex nonstop. On top of feeling terrible, it’s been gross.
It made me stop and really reassess my health. What can I be doing to look after myself better?
Since beginning my studies in Ayurveda my self-care has increased exponentially, but there’s always room for improvement. After moving back home last spring, I dove face first into a big piece of cake to soothe my sad feelings and it’s taken me a long time to crawl back out of that sugar hole.
I’ve been eating too much sugar, and sugar makes me feel like crap. Correction, in the moment it makes me feel soothed, happy, safe, and loved. Not long after that it makes me feel like crap. My muscles are more tense, I’m more anxious, I don’t sleep as well… the list goes on. And yet sugar… it calls my name and it’s hard for me not to come running.
Aside from that, I was grateful for the things I’ve learned over the years that help me get back to health. Allowing myself to stop and rest (this is a big one), honey and ginger, apple cider vinegar, rest, rest, honouring the fact that this is where my body is at right now.
Today I feel closer to my healthy self than I have in two and a half long weeks. I’m certainly well enough to know I’m feeling better and to feel immense gratitude for my increasing health.
Today’s happiness moment is the joy of appreciating how well my body looks after me and how much better I feel as I return to a state of balance and health.