happiness

Memories of Grandma’s 80th (5) (FGK 206)

Mom

It seems like it’s been a long time, almost forever. But then when one really thinks about it the whole affair has flashed by so incredibly fast. You had I have seen a lot happen and we sure missed out on a few things too. It seems as though when ever there was work to be done you were never too far. When fun and happiness were the order of the day you also were there. However, when I look back on it you were, in every case, the one making the greatest contribution to everyone else’s happiness and comfort.

Isn’t it remarkable the changes you and I have witnessed in our short span together. Remember what kind of world we lived in that day in November 1936 when you (and I) sat helpless in an old blue car, jammed in a burning hay slide with your world all on fire. Since then World War 2 and it’s uncertainties like no sugar for candy, no metal for Tory, and no Japanese oranges for Christmas.

Remember the horses, Old Spades, Captain, Old Buck, the Shetland pony, Pinkey, Cope, Shannon, Dusty, Daphne, Slim, Old Gus and of course Clipper the stake race horse. Remember the Clydesdales Pat, Shorty, Dick, Walley, Ben, and many more. Flora and Andy were exceptions as percherons while nobody ever knew what Old Toots was.

My memories with you are bright summer days, bumble bees and flowers, grass too long for the mower, toys – wagons – dolls – wire – you name it hidden in the yard for Dad’s July 1st mowing exercise. Remember looking all over for turkey eggs, looking for turkeys, setting hens, coyotes, and hailstorms. You were the best pie maker this country will ever have. I don’t know how you did all the things there were to do in those days. I do know we never missed a meal, all 15 of us. Our laundry was always done on time and you also found time to be a loving, comfy mother to all including the hired help.

You were quite a bronc buster in your day. Remember Chick! A horse few would ride. Moccasin telegraph told of trouble at Little Jumping Pound School and Chick, being the only horse isn’t eh barn because nobody could ride him, found himself going lickety split down the bank and across the creek headed west towards the school whether he liked it or not.

You have never stopped in your efforts to us all Mom. When one looks at the changes in 80 years, nothing has changed under the sun. Wars, floods, fast horses or fast cars, apple pie, picking berries. Moms and kids will never change because if they do all will be lost.

Thanks Mom for all the years. We wish you a well deserved happy birthday. 80 years, another 80 years and all will be the same under the sun thanks to moms like you.

Love you much,

Marshall.

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happiness

A History in Photos 34 (FGK 191)

As you can tell from my face I was super happy to share my grandpa with my new little sister. Me, Gillian, and Grandpa (Percy)
I’m so glad someone took a photo of this – this was my “best day ever”. The day I won dressage, individual, and team first place at the D Rally at Buckley’s. Back when Pony Club was an extreme sport.
Gillian and me with Grandma on the shore by Sidney. Grandma was such a great sport and used to walk logs with us for hours.
Our house near Sidney
One of my happy places. Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island.
The Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden – imagine it being so empty! We are wearing the same clothes as the photo that was used for the Copithorne History book, and that photo was taken in these gardens – must be the same day.
The Japanese Gardens.
This is in the Italian Garden, or as my kids call it “the place where we get ice cream at the end”
More of the gardens
The Cedarwood Hotel in Sidney. We still stay there. Mom in the front, Gillian making faces, me and Grandma further back.
Mom and Grandpa in Florida
Mom and Grandpa in Florida
Margie and John on their wedding day.
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A History in Photos 33 (FGK 190)

The Ramsay family!!

Margaret Jean Copithorne. 5 weeks old, 1940. I think it’s Grandma holding her.
Look at this cute kid. Too bad she was forced to wear the curtains as clothes. Perhaps it’s where my love of The Sound of Music began!!!
Me and my first horse
My first ride. Mom, Dad, and Grandpa in the back
Margie Copithorne
Me out playing in the snow – life before wifi
Me (or maybe Gill) enjoying some forced family fun time with Dad
Margie and her dog Sandy – cocker spaniel.
Gillian – not sure who she is with.
Gillian on Peanuts. The other rider looks like me – and is using and English Saddle – but I don’t recognize the horse. Is it Walleye? Why would I be riding him? Mystery….
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happiness

A History in Photos 12 (FGK 169)

Today marks 4 years since mom passed. I started sharing these stories last year in the hopes that I would get to understand her better, to know who she really was. I’m not sure I found what I was originally looking for, but this process has helped me in ways I never could have imagined. I was still feeling pretty broken in my own life from the challenges of recent years and I was seeking guidance and support, although I didn’t know that at the time. I think I have a better understanding of the strength and courage the entire family had to get through what they were faced with . Polio didn’t just impact mom, but her entire family. And the faith Grandma carried, the grace and humility she showed in her letters and memories have left me with gratitude for the incredibly strong line of women that I come from. The letters helped me see how Grandma was held steady by her faith in God during what must have been an unbelievably challenging time. It’s one thing reading the letters on this side of history – knowing that mom survived and knowing how things turned out. But at the time…. There would have been no way to know, no guarantees, and everything was just blind faith. As someone who really struggles with trusting that God has my back even when I can’t see it – this has been very comforting.

Look at how dressed up Grandma and Grandpa got to go visit mom at the hospital! And the garden in the background!! I remember as a kid playing with the snapdragons in this flower garden. It’s gone now, and there’s a deck near here – but I really miss the flowers growing along the side of the house. Grandma really had a green thumb.

Percy and Edna going to visit Margie who was in hospital
Margie and Len Carrol on the horse (I think this is “Slim”??)
Sheila, Margi, and Mother (Grandma/Edna)
Aileen, Sheila, Margie 1949
Sheila and Mother (Edna Copithorne)
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A History in Photos 11 (FGK 168)

I loved it when the house looked like this.
Sheila and Margie copithorne and old Buck
Sheila with Smokey the cat in the can
Percy and Edna Copithorne at May _____ home after catching a salmon off Victoria
Left to right: David Copithorne, Lawrence Copithorne, Clarence Buckley, Sheila Copithorne, baby??, Harvey Buckley, Marshall Copithorne, Margie Copithorne, Gordon Davies.
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A History in Photos 5 (FGK 162)

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.

Marshall Copithorne’s Feedlot
Sam Copithorne and Jack Copithorne. Photo copyright H. Pollard Photography, Calgary. If this was a more modern photo that would be a phone in his hand haha.
At the far calf: Albert and possibly Ferad. Branding: Marshall Copithorne. At head of close calf: Jack Buckley. At hind legs: Clarence Buckley. Photo copyright H. Pollard, Calgary.
Left to Right: Len Kumlin, Clarence Copithorne, Billy Nash, Joe Chee, Percy Copithorne, ? Kumlin/Lazy J employee, Marshall Copithorne, Jim Copithorne. Photo copyright H. Pollard, Calgary
Mom enjoying some outside time in a hospital bed (presumably on a stay at home from the hospital after polio) outside of Grandma’s house. This photo is pretty powerful for me. There aren’t many photos of mom during this time, this may be the only one I’ve ever seen of her.
Unknown woman and baby
Home sweet home
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Edna’s Story 42 (FGK 149)

As I said before, her life was very lonely, taking grades 9 and 10 at home. I wrote all over America trying to find a school without steps into it and in a warm climate. Nowadays they do build one-story schools in this country. I was finally successful and found a private school in Daytona Beach, Florida. This was built by a former headmaster who had been injured and had to spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair.

Margi and I flew down to enrol her and make arrangements for her to board at the home of one of the teachers. I also arranged for her to have her physiotherapy after school with a very fine physiotherapist, Mrs. Franks, who became a good friend of ours. While there, I celebrated my birthday and the teachers’s wife where Margi boarded had a small dinner parry for me. Just as we were starting our meal, someone banged and pounded on their door and shouted to them. Mrs Rich went to the door and there stood a neighbour with his arms full of things that looked like huge pineapples. He kept shouting “It’s blooming, it’s blooming, come and see it.” Mrs Rich promised him we’d be right over after dinner. It was a rare night blooming Agave or Century Plant and only blooms about once every hundred years. Mrs Rich put one of the huge buds in the centre of the table and before the meal was over it had opened out and filled the room with perfume. It was all very interesting to me, especially the unusual fauna. Guava grew along their back fence and they just looked exactly like lemons but you eat them skin and all and they make delicious jelly. The huge old trees around the school were heavy with silver moss and mistletoe.

Interesting too was the beautiful home across the street where Betesta lived and Cuba was in such turmoil then. Margi took her Grade 11 and 12 there and we had many interesting trips down there. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1958. What excitement that was and so beautiful. That was the year the girls were all wearing crinolines and fluffy dresses that suited their southern accents so well. They had two or three different affairs, all very exciting. One was a big lawn party at the headmaster’s home with the honour students in the receiving line. It was all a very happy and proud moment for me as I listened to the praise of Margi and saw them place a bronze plaque with her achievements inscribed on it in a place of honour in the school. She also gave a very good talk in her valedictory address. I took her to the Bahamas to celebrate before we returned home.

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Edna’s Story 41 (FGK 148)

I love Grandma’s Kitchen (obviously) and I really appreciate all the thought and love that went into building this room. It truly is the heart of this home. I also love that the photo of Grandma standing by her fireplace includes the best dog and by best friend ever – Kayla. When I was away, especially when times were tough, thinking about this room that I love to much was what got me through. This room is filled with memories of all of the people I love, and I feel incredibly blessed that I am making new ones with my family.

Harry used to send Margi comic books regularly and Slim sent her flowers. And all through her stay in the hospital the J.P. School sent her a weekly newsletter. In the fall of 1955 she was able to come home to live with us again. Percy built a physiotherapy table in her bedroom and we fixed up all the pulleys and sandbags, weights, etc. I went in and learned how to give her physiotherapy and took schooling by correspondence. It was a lonely life for a young teenager. Both Sheila and Marshall were gone to town. She still had great difficulty climbing steps and had one or two nasty falls on the three steps down to our kitchen. We decided then to tear this lean-to off and build a new kitchen level with the rest of the house. And build up the earth to be level with the back door and widen all our doors so that a wheelchair could get around easily.

At this age in my life, I have enough experience to really know what I wanted in a kitchen and I got it. Small kitchens were the style then, but to me and our way of life the kitchen always seemed to be the heart of the home. I compare a good kitchen in a home to a good woman. Like a good woman, a kitchen should be efficient and beautiful and always have a pleasant fragrance surrounding it. What is more alluring than the aroma of fresh baked bread, hot fries, and a roast in the oven?

One wall of my new kitchen is of knotty pine and has a fireplace with built in china cupboards on each side, a television set and two easy chairs. The cooking area has knotty pine cupboards. Natural wood adds warmth to a room. The southwest corner is all windows which look out on a panoramic view of the Jumping Pound Valley into the wide range of the Rockies. This area is an indoor garden of flowers because we seem to have nine months of winter in this country. It also holds our old red leather covered chesterfield. My range is a beautiful old-fashioned one Percy bought me many years ago and I wouldn’t trade it for any modern one, even an Ultra Ray. There was one small window – about three feet by two feet in the south wall which I didn’t like in it so I designed a stained glass one which portrayed our wildflowers, our friendly wild birds, and of course our source of existence – cow and calf on pasture. This adds colour and conversation to the room. My kitchen table seats twelve comfortably but of course often more. Adjoining is a very efficient mud room and extra bathroom.

I worked hard in that kitchen. The summer we built it I cooked for 18 men all summer in just a make-shift kitchen. At the same time I gave Margi her physiotherapy which consisted of 38 exercises with resistance and each one 15 times. This I did twice a day. Margi also caught the mumps that summer to add to the confusion. We heard of more modern treatment and equipment for polio in Warm Springs, Georgia, and the USA President Roosevelt built this wonderful place. Percy and Sheila and Margi and I flew down there to see if there was any way we could improve her condition. It was quite an experience for us. We landed in Atlanta, Georgia, and the moist heat really hits you. We rented a car and drove the 70 miles through the pine forests, peach and pecan orchards, to the beautiful spot called the “Georgia Warm Springs Foundation”. She got much better braces there – more modern, lighter and stronger metal. We took her there many times after that.

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Edna’s Story 29 (FGK 146)

Another emotional one – although I think that Grandma’s reaction at the hospital was completely appropriate. I’m glad that times have changed enough that we can show some of these emotions. I’ve never heard/read these details of mom’s illness and time in the hospital and while it’s incredibly painful to read I’m grateful to Grandma for writing it down. On a different note, the “favourite sauce” at Christmas must be what is now called “Grandma’s special sauce” (which sounds more like devilish than it is – the extremely high calorie delicious spoonfuls of goodness that we no longer have to put on gross pudding or disgusting fruitcake and instead smother our gingerbread cookies or panettone with the sauce).

By now Marshall was going to Mount Royal College too, and he and Sheila would bring their new friends out to visit. For Christmas I cooked our usual oyster soup, roast turkey, and Christmas pudding with our favourite sauce. It was a big dinner but Margi insisted on eating it like we did. But she wasn’t able to get it down. She soon was becoming dehydrated again. We bought a big rubber boat hoping to fill it with warm water and try to give her underwater therapy in her bedroom. The hospital didn’t have that facility at that time and it was supposed to be good for polio victims. But we couldn’t get it to work. I used to see pictures of Mahatma Ghandi and shudder at the sight he was so thin – but by now Margi was worse than that, she weighed only 56 pounds. Clarence came to see her and was almost ill with the shock of seeing her. Dr. Price came to see her and decided to put her in the Holy Cross for a while. We hired three special nurses and were able to visit her whenever we wanted. They gave her one or two blood transfusions that seemed to put new life into her. Dr Price brought many of his colleagues to see her and we decided she was able to be back in the Red Cross Hospital where they had special equipment for treating those with paralyzed limbs. This time one nurse, Miss Homer, took her in hand and just about hypnotized her into into eating a bit and keeping it down. Gradually she was successful, and by the following summer Margi was getting a little physiotherapy. By now she was so rigid that the agony of her physiotherapy just doesn’t bear thinking about. Miss Olsen, her physiotherapist set her goals ruthlessly and just persisted until Margi could lift her arms. She still cannot lift them very high but just being able to move them was wonderful.

About a year later when I went in to visit her one day there was an air of excitement in the room and when the other mothers left, they asked me to wait a few minutes. Then Miss Olsen came in and said “Well Margi, are you ready to show her?” Even when the patients couldn’t move the nurses always put a dress on them and noted lay on the bed nicely dressed. This day they had put a back brace on under Margi’s dress and Mis Olsen lifted her off the bed and Margi was able to stand up by leaning against the high bed. It was the first time I had seen her stand up for well over a year and the shock or surprise was just too much for me. I crumbled up and cried when I should have shown such happiness. I have never in all my life been so ashamed of myself. Everyone was embarrassed but I think the children understood, each one in there had endured so much and they were all such wonderful characters. Margi was able to sit in a wheelchair then and go down to therapy instead of on a stretcher. She was taking her schooling by correspondence with the help of a wonderful volunteer teacher Mrs John’s. That year (1954?) they fitted her with a leg brace which was the worst and she learned how to walk with crutches. I spent hours down in the physiotherapy room learning all I could about it and Miss Olsen often came out and spent weekends with us teaching me more.

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Edna’s Story 27 (FGK 144)

Then by 1947 to the 50s, Margi became quite a good little rider and Clarence gave her a black saddle mare to ride to school if she would let him have Buck for his small fry to start on. Marshall had bought a beautiful little thoroughbred from Laurie Johnson named “Daphne” and Sheila had a fine looking thoroughbred named “Sleepy”. Sheila went to Mount Royal College in 1950. In the spring of 1952 Margi’s mare had a colt so she often rode Daphne to school, and what a lively ride that was as Daphne dearly loved to run. Lorraine Kumlin started Jumping Pound School in 1951 and she tried to ride a very mean horse which no one could ride, and she was just a tiny tot just starting school. Clarence let her ride faithful old Buck. One morning Buck died of a heart attack right at the school gate. Everyone felt they had lost a loyal friend, especially Lorraine and Margi.

All that summer of ‘52 Margi would be sitting on the top of the corral at 6am to see her mare and cute little colt when the men ran the horses in for the haying job. She put in a long day without rest after that. In August she spent a few days in Cochrane with my sister and was very active in there, trying to learn to ride Gordon’s bike. There was no way you could make her take a rest even though we warned her about the epidemic of polio that was raging through the country at that time and she was intelligent enough to be very concerned about it. Then on August 22, 1952 she became very ill and I was almost certain before the night had passed that she had polio. There seemed so little I could do, the doctor said to wait until morning and then bring her in. I have always been thankful to both my parents for the sound religious training they gave me, especially my mother. It gave me strength to bear that night and the severe test of my faith in the following years. Little quotations from the Bible kept coming to my rescue: “Have faith as a grain of mustard seed”, “God can move mountains”, “Lo, I am with you always”, and through it all “Thy will not mine be done”. That quotation took all my strength and faith to believe in, believing in a loving Father who would not willingly hurt His child. And I had to keep Margi’s faith strong too, through these years. Perhaps my greatest strength came from knowing we had the prayers of all our community and friends and relatives everywhere, backing us up and again another quotation “Where one or two are gathered in my name”. How thankful I am now to each one of you because this story does have a happy ending.

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