Grandma 80, what will I give you Grandma. 80, it’s your Birthday! Granda 80 EVERYTHING’S HAPPY AND GAY!
It’s your birthday
It’s your birthday hurray, hurray! It’s your birthday, today, today. Hurry up! Aren’t you going to the hall. We’re cleaning up and decorating the wall. Presents and speeches and everything else! (Except a limo)
Wife of Percy Copithorne. Children Sheila, Margi, Marshall. children osf Sheila, Betty, Dixie and Lynn. Children of Margi, Gillian and Melissa. Children of Marshall, Cherie, Kathy, Michelle, Ryan, Jennifer and Erin. Son of Betty, Jimmy. Daughter and son of Dixie, Philip and Heather. Husbands and wives, Art, husband of Dixie, Teresa, wife of Marshall. Keith, husband of Betty. John, husband of Margi. Ted, husband of Sheila.
All by Jennifer Copithorne
Why I love Grandma. Because you are my grandma and you’re courteous and wonderful!
I love these memories, Michelle describes some of the absolute best moments of my childhood. In fact, the only “downside” of going to Grandma’s as a kid was worrying about the boogeyman who lived in the basement (Grandma had trained us all that the boogeyman lives in the dirt part of the basement). All these years later I’m still a bit scared to go in the basement. But the memories of that special cake, the pull-taffy, and the famous tea times will live in my heart forever. I’m pretty sure I found her tea leaf reading book in the junk room a while ago – I’ll have to go look for it.
Well Gramma, this is it: the big EIGHT ZERO. So, how does it feel to be so wise and well cultured? Ever since I’ve known you, which has been 18 years and 1 month, you have had a direct influence on my life. Ah yes, how I remember Melissa and I terrorizing you and your house. How you put up with us, I’ll never know. I remember how the big highlight of my life was to go over to Gramma’s house for the afternoon and have tea at 4:00 everyday, life would stop in order that the tea could be served, it was quite the event. Of course there would be cookies galore, of all sorts, and if we were REALLY good, we would get our own teapot. Melissa and I would always fight over who was going to get the teapot, or who was going to sit beside Gramma. In the end, Gramma would always step in and solve our dilemma. To finish the afternoon off, Gramma would always read our tea leaves to see what our future held. To my knowledge none of the predictions have come true, but I haven’t lost hope yet. There are so many fond memories I have of you, Gramma, I just don’t know where to begin. Let’s see… sleep-overs, reading comics, making pull-taffy, your “favourite cake”, going to church with you and eating shrimp sandwiches after, going to. Hawaii, and even sweet-talking police officers. I’d just like to say that you are, and always will be, the bestest Gramma us grandkids could ever have.
Love ya lots and lots. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Love Michelle
Grammas are Special by Ryan Copithorne
As years have gone by, I think of the fun Because of the special things my Gramma has done. The making of pull taffy and afternoon teas, A constant supply of doughnuts and cookies. Looking under the branches of our Christmas tree, Yes, the biggest present is from Gramma to me. She’s always there for driving me places And when asking for money, surprisingly kind faces! The cookies, the doughnuts, and special things you do, Are some of the reasons that the best Gramma is you!
Happy 80th Gramma, Ryan Copithorne.
There are lots of memories I could talk about with you – such as listening to the Bambi record over and over, going to movies etc. But the most memorable was our trip to Vancouver Island seven years ago. What an adventure! Looking back, some things were kind of funny – such as the flat timer on our rented car – some were serious. I will never forget our conversations because they changed how I looked at things. Your opinions on how important motherhood is, the sanctity of marriage, and your love and respect for grandpa have made a lasting impression. It made me respect your generation for the solid rock of values on which they built this society. Thank you grandma for being you!
Dear Grandma Copithorne
I guess that as an “In-law”, I haven’t been around long enough to have the kind of memories of our times together like Dixie has. But you have made many good impressions on me.
After meeting you the first time, I left realizing that I had met a real “lady”, a person with real manners and gracious attitude, that folks my age don’t have.
Some of my impressions are humorous too, like finding out at my engagement party with Dixie, that you had been sure to “check me out” with my high school teacher, Gordon Davies. You didn’t want your granddaughter to marry any “riff-raff”. I hope I passed the test.
And the time you lent us the use of your ranch house for our honeymoon, and leapt it a secret from Marshall. Marshall would have given us a good chivarce , but you kept it under your hat!
But my best impression of you is second hand. It comes from seeing the love and respect that my wife, Dixie, has for you and also believing that you share our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
With love and respect
Today’s photos include Aunt Annie (Grandpa’s sister), and Aunt Ruth (Grandma’s sister). I only have vague memories of Aunt Annie and don’t really know Clarence David at all -but when I was reading the letters Aunt Annie sent to mom in the hospital I thought over and over that her son was a much loved child. How wonderful to be so loved.
I’ve said this before, but a day in the life of Grandma is exhausting for me to read. I can’t even keep up with my laundry now and I’ve got a fancy machine that does almost all of the work for me. I really need a machine that also folds and puts away.
Well we aimed to spruce up that cottage cute too. It was all shingles outside and wallboard inside. I really don’t think any newlyweds should ever do their own decorating. We were so dumb and green about the job and chose the hardest wallpapers to match etc and just didn’t have a clue how to do it. Our ceilings were high and we thought it would look smart to have a drop ceiling. Percy brought in the sawhorses and put those planks on them. We tried to put the paper up to the ceiling across and down the drop on the other side of the room. What a schemoozle! There was always one end of that long slimy wet roll of ceiling paper dropping off just when you had the other end all neatly stuck on. Then when you ran to grab it the loose planks would upend and away went the paper hanger, or the glue, or both. It just wasn’t funny. Of course we were dumb enough to start in the living room and do all our practicing there. But when it was done it all looked lovely. Then Percy decided his job was outside staining the shingles. He made himself a scaffold to stand on and one nice day when I had the front door open and I was in the pantry peeling onions with tears rolling down my cheeks from that job, his scaffold broke and he took a nosedive right in the front door. He brought his pail of brown shingle stain in with him and splashed it all over one wall of the newly papered living room. I ran in to see if he was hurt and was so relieved to see he wasn’t but when he saw my tear-stained face he said “Good grief, you don’t need to cry about it.” I assured him I wasn’t crying. I was only peeling onions and he wasn’t so pleased about that either. Then we both saw the wall and I think we both felt like really crying.
Like Wordsworth’s description of Hiawatha’s friends “Straightway ran the path between them, never grew the grass upon it.” The path between me and Jack Copithorne’s and Nicoll’s was certainly well-worn. We used to meet at least once a week for tea, and always walked, as it didn’t seem far. Aunt Ada was an exceptionally fine cook. Her lemon jelly rolls and hot biscuits just make my mouth water to think about them. Nan Copithorne was always sewing and redecorating. I remember one time she decided to paint her long dining room in red and pink. We were all quite horrified, just couldn’t imagine anything pleasant about that combination. When she was finished she had us down for tea and were we ever surprised! It was beautiful. We learned that tones and shades make all the difference. Nan’s homemade bread was superb. For tea in June she would often serve strawberries, rich yellow cream, fresh bread, and fresh homemade butter. But the laughter and gaiety of those gatherings out-shone any food you could mention. Everyone had such a crew of young men working for them and every home had a girl to help too and they were all like one big happy family. They just made their own fun to compensate for the hard work.
I didn’t own a washing machine for five years after we were married. Those were the dirty 30s and money was scarce. My sister in law, Annie, had a five year old Maytag and allowed me to use it whenever I wanted to. The water here is the hardest in Alberta, a queer hardness, soap just went like chewing gum in it because of the rock formation peculiar to oil and gas fire lids. There were no water softeners dreamed of then. We would save every drop of rainwater and melt snow in the winter and sometimes haul water from the creek when all else failed. Laundry was a big job. Heavy loads of snow in boilers of water, all to be heated on the stove. I used to feel I was such a nuisance when Annie wanted her stove to cook on. And heavy loads of wet clothes to be carried home by hand and hung on the clothesline. We scrubbed and polished our bare floors. Polishing by hand is very hard work, but it certainly preserved the surface and in those days we preserved everything.
I have to admit that this story didn’t end the way I imagined it would. And like many real life stories, the unexpected turn was a wonderful one. Reading this made my heart so full and so grateful that this man was my grandfather. I really wish I had been able to get to know him better, he was a man with a very kind heart.
He mentions that this story was written for Cindy to illustrate, and that she was doing it for some class assignment. He also mentions that there should be copies for us four “younger cousins” – did anyone ever see the illustrated book? I’d love to see what she did with it. It has been a real joy to get to hear Grandpa’s voice as he tells this story. If any of the Ramsay family would like a digital copy please let me know and I’ll email it to you.
By the time he was 10 years of age, Ralph had become a bookworm. His Grandpa Taylor had a huge library, and Ralph would spend much time in there lying on his stomach on the carpet pouring over the beautiful books. Some of these books were the great big family bible, and copies of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in large books with lovely illustrations. And there were the noble stories of the round table, and the knights of King Arthur.
These books planted many new ideas in Ralph’s mind. By this time also, Ralph knew a lot about halloween and it is about this particular halloween that this story is told – from his grandfather he knew how little boys and sometimes older boys too, played many naughty tricks on their neighbors. Some of these tricks cause trouble for the persons on whom they were played.
As the time drew closer, Ralph came up with a Halloween idea all his own. He gathered together a group of 4 or 5 other small friends around him and suggested a different kind of trick for them to play. It happened that a few days before Halloween, Mr Scott had received four chords of firewood dumped behind his house for burning on his stoves. At this time, wood cut from trees on the nearby farms was the cheapest means of heating a house during the colder months of the year. Mr. Scott had arranged with a farmer to bring in a wagonload of wood. A chord of wood usually measures 128 cubic feet. And while this doesn’t mean much to you, it might mean something to your mother and father. And for stove firewood the sticks would be about 14 inches long and a chord of wood when piled would be about 4 feet high and 8 feet long. The wood was neatly split and ready for the stoves but was thrown in a heap on the ground and had to be first piled to keep it dry and protected from the rain and the snow.
Ralph knew how difficult it was going to be for Mr. Scott to pile all that wood with all his aches and pains. The weather was turning colder and there was more rain. Ralph could tell from Mr Scott’s face at times how much he was hurting. Ralph’s suggestion to his friends on that halloween was that they sneak over behind Mr Scott’s house after dark and pile all his wood for him in neat piles. That way it would be much easier for him to get to it when winter snow came, and it would be all piled and ready.
His friends agreed to his plan. After it was dark, and they were sure Mr Scott had gone to bed, Ralph and his followers made their way as quietly as they could around to the back of Mr Scott’s house. They worked and worked in the night until they had piles of wood all ready to surprise Mr Scott when he woke up the next morning. Naturally all the boys were curious to know what Mr Scott might say the next time he came over to work in Grandpa Taylor’s garden. And of course Ralph was more interested than anyone else. When Mr Scott did come over to Grandpa Taylor’s to work he looked curiously at Ralph as if he suspected that Ralph might have had a hand in what had happened. But he didn’t say anything, nor did he ever mention his woodpile to Ralph. Yet Ralph noticed that from time to time there was a difference in Mr Scott’s attitude towards him. He ceased to be so cross, and was much friendlier than ever before.
Ralph would often look up to catch Mr Scott looking at him as if to say ‘did you have a part in piling my wood for me?’ Ralph would look him right in the eyes and smile. He experienced a very nice feeling about doing something for someone else, without being asked and without expecting anything in return. His reward was a warm feeling inside himself, and the hope that God might have approved of what he had done. This was the beginning and the first time perhaps, that Ralph and his friends consciously gave away something of themselves – a gift of their work to someone else. For Ralph this was the beginning of a practice which later on became a habit. He called it “Investing in People” and it brought him a lot of happiness.
So you can see who it is I’m writing about, I’ve included a photo of Grandpa that was sent earlier this year though our “cousin chat”.
When it was time to clear out Grandma’s room at the Wentworth, I was invited to choose a few things I wanted to remember her by. My items were her desk (the boy uses it every single day and it has been a most treasured item for him for most of his life), her bible, and the memory book created for her 90th birthday party. I carried all of these while we travelled, and when I felt disconnected from who I was, I’d read her bible or look through the memory book to remember. Her memory book is made up of her autobiography and photos put together (I think) by my aunt. I thought I’d take a brief break from the letters and share her story here. As I’ve been reading and sharing her letters I’ve begun to better understand what an incredible woman she was and thought it may be interesting to share her life story in her words.
I remember Grandma telling me of her adventures sledding down the hill in Cochrane with such a look of happiness on her face, until she looked at me and saw the wheels turning in my head. The stories always ended with “but it’s not safe now, you should never do that”. So instead I went tobogganing down the buffalo jumps until I got caught, apparently that also was not acceptable haha. It also didn’t make for a very smooth ride so I was happy not to have to repeat it.
Cochrane September 27th 1908
The Fairies and the Leprechauns were in Cochrane and they clapped their hands in glee
When the Doctor spanked the bottom
Of a baby that was me.
Woe is me.
“Ow”. That was me when Dr. Park spanked my bottom when I was born in our house in Cochrane. What a difference to the soft touch the babies have now when born. No wonder we’re a hardy race, it was survival of the fittest. Then I remember my mother trying to talk me into an afternoon nap a few years later. My father rocking me in his arms in the rocking chair and singing to me to ease the pain of an earache with a bag of warm salt pressed to it. The rocking chair had a coyote skin draped over it, a big hide tanned and lined with red felt with scalloped edges.
These dear old hills of Cochrane provided endless fun and adventure for a child living in the village. Picking flowers in the spring. Building play-houses out of stones just laid on the ground in a pattern etc and galloping around on my stick-horse. Then when the winter snows came there was nowhere could compare with the marvellous speed of a bob-sleigh coming down the hill, then hitting the road and flying down nearly to the front street. The only traffic was horse drawn and they panicked from us, not us from them.
It was awful having only one sister and she was six and a half years older than me. I just couldn’t keep up to her, hard as I’d try, and she tried equally as hard to leave me behind. So I amused myself with whatever was handy and that nearly always was a horse.
Dad and Grandma talk about how mom got licensed to drive. Mom had to use her left leg to drive as she had no controlled mobility with her right. The sheer determination of mom and my grandparents for her to have as normal a life as possible is amazing.
Then she wanted to get a job and she took – a friend of ours who had a home oil company said we need a girl – a receptionist – at the front of the office and we’d love to have her there. And we thought, well she could live at home if she could drive a car and go in. And so she tried to take, she took drivers lessons, the whole course. And then the night before she was to have her final test the gentleman phoned me and said that she’d done very well but they couldn’t possibly recommend her to drive. And I was feeling quite furious. To let her take the whole course and then not let her have her test. And he said well we’ll test her, but I want to tell you that I doubt that she’ll pass the test. And so Margie was just furious. So she went in early in the morning for her test and she said I’ll put him through the windshield when he tells me to stop (haha). And show him. And so she did, and she got her license to drive.
And we got her a nice car and she worked as a receptionist and also she took a business course. And typing.
Dad: is that where she learned shorthand?
Grandma: I don’t know that she knows shorthand
Dad: no she does
G: that’s where she learned it then
My memory -I’m getting too old. I should have done this a long time ago. anyway she got that and it has helped her all her life having that business course. It was to one side kind of.
Then when she completed that business course, while she was working there was when she took it. She decided she’d like to go away to university. And she wanted nothing but the best so she wrote to Stanford University in the America and put her application in there.
When I was a kid, like under the age of 12, we often had Pony Club on Wednesday nights which meant Dad (who was deathly allergic to horses) was still at work when we needed to get out to the ranch to catch and load horses, so it was mom who took us. She’d drive out in our old Jeep and wait for my sister and I while we caught our ponies and got them ready for the trailer. Together we’d line up the Jeep and trailer and I’d guide her back and hook it up. Once the horses were loaded, mom drove us to Pony Club where we’d get our horses ready for our lessons.
I remember driving through Cochrane, which only had the one 4 way stop at the time, and she’d start hitting the gas as we sped on the 1A towards the bottom of Cochrane Hill because if we weren’t going for broke before we started the climb, the poor Jeep could barely make it up the hill.
There are also stores of mom racing around Europe in the little car she got the semester she studied in France.
I can’t imagine how cross she would have been at the thought of not being able to pass her test, but I know the determination she would have brought to that exam. I mean, really, the best way to ensure mom would do something was to tell her she couldn’t – and clearly Grandma was the same way.
The tape ends with mom heading off to Stanford. It ends suddenly, and I remembered that my attempts to stop mom from coming over to see what was going on failed. She never found out about the interview, but dad never got to complete it either.
However, I have the letters still to go through. I wish I had mom’s responses – and maybe they’re hidden in a box here too, Grandma kept everything.
My dad was the family photographer, in effect he was our memory keeper. Everything that we did that was recorded was thanks to his passion for photography. I appreciate it even more now that he’s gone and we no longer have someone snapping shots of the good moments in our lives.
Jenna needs a new computer for school this year and my mom said that she could use dad’s old laptop. For the first time in 2+ years it got turned on and we took a look at what dad left behind (as an aside – when I die I need someone I trust to go through my things and delete, delete, delete).
Here are some photos from their trip to Virginia in 2013 to visit us. Our lives took a HUGE turn sideways within a day of my parents going back home, and it was good to look back and see some really happy memories from a time I’ve tried to wipe out.
So, here’s a little trip down our memory lane. I’ve found it hard to look at Dad’s photos – they bring back such bittersweet memories. But today we looked at them and it was Jenna’s turn to laugh until she cried. There were a lot of good times. A lot of happiness.
This was Easter 2013
Neither Jenna nor I have any idea what this is. She says I look so proud of it, but it looks like poop. So there you have it.
Swimming was always a huge part of any grandparent visit. My kids inherited dad’s love of the water.
Day trip to Monticello – one of our favourite spots – I loved Charlottesville.
Jenna rode this scooter everywhere. Interesting that I made her wear a helmet here, but there’s no helmet on the toboggans at home.
Those of you who know me understand how emotionally scarring this was for me. Freaking mascots.
And these from 2010
These kids and these cats – good buddies. We lost Tawny last year in an accident 😦
I grew up being super close with my cousins – I love that this tribe of cousins has kept their close bonds even when we had thousands of miles between us.