happiness

Indra’s Net

I woke up at 3am today. Lately I’ve been doing lots of waking up at 3am which means I must be hella stressed. Usually though when I wake up in the middle of the night I lie there and stress about the problems of the world, while lately I just lie there and think about God and where I fit in the universe. Much lighter thinking haha.

This morning (is 3am morning? I feel like it’s still deep night time, or when I was younger it was time to come home) I woke up to a vision of Indra’s Net. Perhaps I’ve been feeling very disconnected lately. I think Covid has a lot of us feeling disconnected and confused. Alberta in particular seems to be filled with anger, confusion, and chaos as we are being divided between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. While I am one of the vaccinated, and strongly believe in it, I don’t like how we are fighting with each other when we would do better to work together.

So anyway, with that I’m feeling a bit separated and confused and waking up to the image of Indra’s Net was kind of perfect.

Indra’s Net is a spider like net that spreads infinitely in all directions. In each “eye” of the net, or where the threads join together, there is a beautiful jewel. Each brilliant jewel reflects every other jewel, which are infinite in number, and every reflected image holds the image of all the other jewels. Infinity to infinity, whatever affects one jewel affects them all. Everything contains everything else, but at the same time every individual jewel is not hindered or confused by the other jewels.

I love this idea because I often get hindered or confused by the other jewels.

In his book Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977), Francis Dojun Cook wrote,

“Thus each individual is at once the cause for the whole and is caused by the whole, and what is called existence is a vast body made up of an infinity of individuals all sustaining each other and defining each other. The cosmos is, in short, a self-creating, self-maintaining, and self-defining organism.” (Source here)

Instead of thinking that everything is part of a larger, collective whole, the idea is that everyone is the larger, collective whole, but also simply themselves at the same time.

I find this idea so completely abstract that it actually makes perfect sense to me. And I love the way it allows me to see how we are all connected. What affects one of us affects all of us. We are one being working together, but we are also our individual selves with the freedom to choose who and how we are. Some people I find it easy, and a beautiful privilege to think of being connected with, and some make me want to cut their jewel out of my beautiful web. The challenging ones are probably the most important ones as they probably reflect some unhealed aspect of myself. If their behaviours didn’t trigger something in me, who they are and what they do wouldn’t bother me and so I know there is more internal work for me to do in those areas.

Hopefully the 3am wake up time comes to an end soon, but until it does I find gratitude in the comforting thoughts that are coming to me during this time.

Namaste.

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The Garden at Braeside (Grandpa Taylor’s Garden) part 3

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.

The end

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”.

Grandpa in New Liskeard or Twin Lakes circa 1925
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Skipping Assembly, New Shoes, School Stress (FGK 33)

I was quite a ways into this letter before I realized who it was from. Before I throw my aunt too far under the bus, I’d like to say that compared to some of the teenage naughty school behaviour, hers is really pretty innocent. For example, the year my parents made me go to boarding school on Vancouver Island they had a Terry Fox Run and I think we had to go at least 10k. We were to run up the Malahat (seems super safe right?) turn around, and come back. I was with a group of kids who thought it was total BS and had no desire to run. We made it to the turn around spot and spent the entire time back to the school trying to hitch a ride. Fortunately no one actually stopped to pick us up or goodness knows where we’d be now! I never told my parents that story, so if there are sudden rumbles of thunder and lightening tearing across the sky today, it’s just them reading my blog in heaven!!

I miss my aunt a lot, reading these letters reminds me of how when I was younger and went away to both the boarding school and University of Lethbridge she consistently sent me letters to remind me I was loved. The letters I received were not nearly as hilarious as the ones she sent mom, but I suppose then she was an adult, I would send much different letters to my niece than to my sister. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for her because of that, and reading these letters to mom is like reading a letter she would have sent to a good friend of hers. It makes my heart smile. This is also the closest I have ever heard her use “bad” language. It’s nothing like my “bad” language, but that’s like comparing apples to pineapples.

Assembly period Tues

Dear Marg

I have just gotten into trouble I think. Five of us girls, Sheila Stephen, Evelyn Heinrich, Rita Holms, Pat Mrstik(?), and myself were sneaking up the stairs with the intentions of skipping assembly, and guess who was talking on the phone at the top of the stairs, that’s right Mrs Stevie. We kept right on going. Wonder what’s going to happen.

Yesterday Barbara and I went into the library to study during assembly and guess who walked in but mr Schula. He never said anything.

5:40

Well Mrs Stevie hasn’t said anything yet. I was just in her room buying stamps and it wasn’t mentioned.

I bought a pair of shoes today, black suede shoes. They haven’t got the toe out so I hope Marsh is satisfied.

Two of the girls from the college ran for the Teen Queen for Calgary. There as one from every high school. Anyways, one of the girls that lives in the dorm (Irene Stowell) won and the other girl from MRC got second, so we feel pretty happy. Irene got a real Hudson Bay coat and then tomorrow she’s going to Edmonton to compete against Queens from all over the Province.

I saw Aunt Irene, Heather Scott, Gina (?) McDougall, Mrs armstand, and Mrs Charlie Robinson. Aunt Irene is getting another baby! Honestly!

Must get ready for supper

Love Sheila C

Wed

Dear Marg

Went to assembly this morning for a change. Bored silly.

I have to read a take the minutes at the Council meeting today. Marilyn’s Modeling at a fashion show.

Love Sheila

8:15

Mum came in after 4 and went into speak to Mr. Collette. Wonder what they talked about. Then she took Marsh and Wayne downtown and they had supper out. Doggone that meeting anyways!!

Talked Marsh into going to the dance at Glendale so I’ll be able to wear my new shoes.

I sent in a request on Hospital Hour for you so you’d better listen. Don’t know whether you’d like it or not. You’ll have to hear it to appreciate it.

Must get to work.

Saw Anne Monday. She might come out during the latter part of the Easter Holidays.

Thurs 12:20

Dear Marg

Boy am I ever mad!!! I was under the impression that all the biographies for the yearbook were in and even written out, now I just found out that only half of them were in and some lost them. Gad. What a mess!!

Sure have a lot of studying to do. Exams next week you know!! Where does time ever go!

Marilyn and Peggy are eating ice cream. Slurp Slurp

4:10

Dear Marg.

I have just disgraced myself. In French this afternoon I was reading a part out loud and I couldn’t say ‘monsieur’ finally I got the giggles and I couldn’t say anything. I felt like crawling through the nearest window. Another girl had to finish. The teacher just laughed and thought it was a great joke thank goodness. Still haven’t got those GD Biographies.

Must get to work

Love

Sheila C

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Worms, Parties, Well Wishes (FGK-25)

Mom always talked about how much she loved Aunt Annie who lived in the old house (so basically next door) until she got married. Auntie Gertie was another bright light in the world, I remember her as a kind woman who always had a smile on her face.

I’m not sure in Aunt Annie’s letter if mom had some sort of relapse, and if she was in the hospital or not. Her card didn’t have an envelope, but it’s a really cute card, as is Auntie Gertie’s.

Oct 3rd 1953

RR No1, De Winston

Dear Margie,

At last I have found my pen so here is a wee letter with your birthday card.

I was so glad to hear from you and to know that you are well and happy and just getting along fine. I know you’ll lick that thing and that you’ll not be too long about it now that you are over the hump.

Clarence is growing and changing a lot. You aren’t going to know your little cousin when you see him again. He is seeing all sorts of strange things himself. He was shouting and calling the other day so I went out to see what all the excitement was about. He was down and his hands and knees with his little face right down on the ground, and pointing to something. I had to get down too, to see what it was. I surely laughed I discovered it was a big __ worm. So if you hear about anybody looking under a worm’s tummy you’ll know it can be done.

We are going up to the Birthday Party for the Buckley boys, we will all miss you Margie, but we’ll really throw a party when you are able to be up and about again and can join in the fun. I hope you’ll be able to read this as I am rushing so that I wouldn’t be surprised if you had some difficulty. Clarence is asleep and I have my dinner dishes yet to do.

So I’ll close for this time and you’ll be hearing from me again.

With heaps of love and kisses

Aunt Annie xxxooo

This is a small card from Auntie Gertie – there was no date on it so I’m not sure exactly when it was sent. It’s a beautiful card, makes me feel like I’m home (which of course I am).

Dear Margie,

I’m still thinking of you. It’s wonderful to hear you’re improving. Keep up the good work. I’ll try to send you a letter next week.

Love from Aunt Gertie

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Dances, Gum Chewing, and School Stress (FGK-24)

I love this letter. I had so many questions I wanted to ask my aunt and I never did. I always felt a certain kind of kinship with her that I hope she felt too. Her daughter (my cousin) said that my aunt didn’t just know God, she had a relationship with God – and that has stuck with me ever since. I always admired the faith that she lived her life by.

But on top of that, she was quite funny. She would come out with some one liners that made me laugh so hard I’d almost snort (the sign of a really good laugh). And when she writes here about the gum chewing incident and the hair incident, I was like “me too Auntie Sheila, me too”.

Her letter reminds me of the time when everyone living in Jumping Pound knew everyone else’s business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it meant that there was an entire community of folk looking out for each other, even if sometimes it could be a bit stifling. I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant to have a tribe of people close by who love and care for you until I moved away. It really is a unique kind of community we have here.

This letter was mailed by my aunt from Mount Royal College (now University) to mom at the Junior Red Cross Hospital, but then the hospital address was crossed out and the ranch one written in its place. This letter was written 2 weeks (and on my future birthday) after the letter Grandma received from Iowa regarding mom’s loneliness in the hospital (You can read that here). I wonder if she was able to come home for a visit or something.

Auntie Sheila would have been almost 17 when she wrote this. She, my uncle, and many of the other kids in the community attended (and lived at) Mount Royal College for their high school years. What a change from riding horses to school every day in their younger years.

M.R.C.

Mon. Morn. Jan 26, ‘52

It was postmarked 1953, so I’m assuming perhaps she did the typical January mistake and missed a year.

Dear Marg,

I put in a perfectly useless weekend. I just got up at 12 o’clock Saturday morning! Wasn’t that awful?

The dance was really crowded. They made $175 ____ cleared. They just “sit” lights over the doors Friday afternoon so we’re really high-toned now.

We got there about 10:30. Mom and Dad came too. It’s the first time they’ve been to a dance for a dogs age. the dance was well under way when we got there. A square dance was in the making with Laurie Johnson calling. Peggy R tells me that Donna Butters (Johnson) had a son last November, news to me! She also told me that S__ R___ is engaged to D___ _____ but she was at the dance with H__ P___. God what a mishap!!! I had supper with Harvey B we sat with Bruce B and his girl, Aubrey Moore. She’s awfully nice. I don’t know what happened to Sonny (?) but none of that crowd were there except Anita ____. Shirley Wearmouth was there too.

I deleted some names here, I’m sure it was all in good fun, but I don’t want to be the one bringing up ghosts from 70 years ago lol. The other blanks I just couldn’t make out.

I had a dance with one of the oil drillers. I was sure a fool to get up with him. he had a great big wad of gum and was putting his whole heart into the noisy recreation of chewing it in my ear. He offered me a chew but I declined quite graciously. Between Scotch and Spearmint we made out alright. Jackie Arnell was there with earrings that must have weighed a ton. I had a dance with Bill Scott, Jan McPherson, Laurie Johnson, Bernie Barkley, Wayne Sibbald, Uncle Clarance’s friend mom didn’t know his name, Frank Edge, Marilyn MacMillan, and Don Edge made me so proud. I had quite a few dances with Jim but anyway they would dance beside us and keep telling us it was chilly and that we should dance closer to keep warm and kept going on like this!I was simply furious and I think Jim was getting hot under the collar. He was really embarrassed but it didn’t bother me. If they wouldn’t have kept it up it wouldn’t have been so bad.

I have a social studies exam tomorrow, an English one Wednesday, and Chemistry on Monday. Work! Work! I had to turn in a book review today. I read “A man Called Peter” in the book section of the Reader’s Digest. I don’t care. It might have been cheating but I just didn’t have time to read the kind of books they expect you to.

Good to see that the education system has become so much more sensitive to how overwhelmed students are now (insert sarcastic smirk here). I remember pulling “Cole’s Notes” off the bookshelf in a panic to hand in a book report, and I’ve now I’ve helped my kids google information they’ve needed for the same. The method may have changed, but the feeling of being overwhelmed and the impending doom of consequences of missing an assignment is exactly the same all these years later.

Well, I guess I’d better get ready for school,

Love

Sheila

PS Peggy and I might go across to bridge to get me a pair of stockings after school. All together I have 8 pairs of stockings. Such is life

PS I danced with Hank too

PS Had hair in my soup for dinner so I couldn’t eat it.

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A Real Hay Day (FGK-17)

Today is Mother’s Day, so I decided to post a letter to my mom from her mom. I can hear not only Grandma’s voice, but her “mother voice” throughout this letter. It’s so full of love, and also carries the mother reminders (did you write the thank you letters?), and also includes how she’s got mom’s back and is so proud of how well she’s doing.

I also had a little laugh, because it does not seem as though family conversations about the Stampede have changed at all in 70 years – lots of grumbling about how it’s not so great this year and we’re just not going to bother with it, then we all go down and have the time of our lives. Same. Thing. Every. Year.

RR2 Calgary, Alberta

July 9th, 1953

Dearest Margie

Just thought I’d scratch you a few lines so that Sheila can post the letter form the Old Timers Hut at the Stampede tomorrow ‘cause I hear they stamp them with some special stamp from there and thought you would like to have it.

Sheila and Ann rode up to the school and the rocks this morning while I made cookies and weeded the flower garden. It sure was a beautiful morning an the newly cut grass smelt so good. The weather is staying perfect for the Stampede and that is a good thing because there is a terrific number of tourists in Calgary.

Did you write and thank Aunt Annie for that nice box of eats yet? Hope my cake didn’t make you sick.

Marshall is busy plowing up in the homestead with Bill, and Ken and Dad are building a hay slide in Grand Valley. They are going to camp over there for the three weeks it will take to put up that hay and Mary is going to cook for them so Sheila and I will really be alone here. I have been trying to coax Sheila to go to Banff with me to take a course at the art school but she is not interested. Marshall is just not interested in the Stampede this year and doesn’t want to go at all, we have tickets for Saturday night by may not use them.

Is Smokey ever glad to have Anne here – he’s just showing off all the time. I took a snap of Anne holding him in your room this morning but I doubt it will come out very well, it’s none too bright in there now that the leaves are on the trees.

Aunt Ruth phoned this morning to say she heard Aunt Agnes’ Mother had died so Claude and Harry are coming back from the coast right away, they motored over together. I haven’t been talking to Winnie for a long time, have you thanked her for the mice yet? I guess I should phone her one of these days.

Marsh said that Shirley Norman is in the hospital again. He said there were 24 men there, the barn is over a hundred feet long, and they didn’t get it finished. He and Richard worked together and he said Hazel really did have a field day – they served them a swell afternoon tea – ice cream etc.

I owe Margaret Rowland a letter for ages now, I guess I should be writing her instead of you but I sure get terribly lonesome for you these days, just pray and pray that you will soon be able to walk and then you can come home for holidays at least. We sure have lots to be thankful for though – you are progressing really fast for the length of time you’ve had treatments.

Well I guess it’s time I made afternoon tea for Marsh & Bill, Sheila & Anne want to take it out to them I think so I’d better get to work. I’ve cut out quite a few things from the paper for your scrap book. I’ll take them in on Sunday.

So long for now dear – will see you Sunday

Loads and loads of love

Mom xxxxxxxx

The fancy stamp they put on the letter at the Stampede Grounds. 3 cents to mail a letter!!
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Long Distance Parenting (FGK- 11)

The second part of this letter from Grandma to mom. This is September 1952, mom had been in the hospital for about 3 weeks. I love how Grandma includes mom in daily life at the ranch, describing things so well that even I feel that I am there. And the gentle reminder to mom about her compresses and ensuring that her caregivers remember to be gentle and attentive to her needs, so subtly done in a way that probably was soothing to mom.

Tues Morning.

The men all took lunches today and they are going to finish the haying, it is a lonely morning. Marsh and Ken just ran the binder so Marsh is always getting after poor Slim for being so slow with the haying. Delores and the kids were just in, Delores wanted some certo to make jam with.

We haven’t heard a word about how the Cochrane Rodeo went, everything is sure quiet here. I told Sheila she better jump in the car after diner and got up and spend the afternoon with Anne and Rosie. Sheila is sure lonesome for you and everyone is finding life dull. I daren’t even think about this empty house after the kids go in to school. However, I am lucky I can see you twice a week and I can look forward to the day you can come home. But you will find it terribly lonely here after being in there. There is so much going on in there all the time and someone around you all the time. I think that whole hospital has an air of happiness about it except sometimes Mrs. Hope looks worried and distressed. I think she is overworked don’t you? Well, I must get busy, I’ll write some more after a while – cherio xxxx

When mom was sick and had started her chemo, she talked a lot about looking for the silver lining in everything. I see those words here too. I would be more likely to be devastated that I could only see my 11 year old twice a week, but Grandma makes it sound like it’s the icing on her cake (and for those of you who remember, Grandma made the BEST icing). If I was Mrs. Hope I’d be worried and distressed looking after so many sick children too, but Grandma doesn’t dwell on that, instead she shines a light on the happiness of the hospital. Words are important, they can change how we perceive a situation, and Grandma seems to always look for the lining.

2pm

Dear Margie:

Do you miss Mrs. Powers very much? Every time the nurse brings the compresses be sure to remind them to be careful how they place those sandbags against your ankle or leg. Keep on telling them ‘cause they are so rushed they are apt to become careless and it is really important.

I should be baking a pie for tomorrow lunch but it’s hard not to write to you, you are so near and dear to me, I miss you terribly, but writing is next best to talking to you only i don’t get answers to all my questions.

I think Sheila must have gone up to Annies. You would have come in and said goodbye etc, but Sheila is so silent sometimes, I long for your company.

I had such a laugh about the comment regarding my aunt. At this time, she would have been about 17, and for some reason it made me deliciously happy to read that she was a normal teenager – holding the surly silence of a teen and escaping over to her aunt’s for a visit without saying anything (Aunt Annie lived in the old house, so she was just across the yard – definitely within yelling distance).

Dad came in for dinner time to say they broke the bailer just when they only had about 3 acres left to do. He doesn’t know whether he can fix it himself or not.

I am making buns so I must stop writing soon again. I sure have a stack of mending I should do too.

And she says that it would be boring at home. Grandma sounds like she never stopped except to sleep, or maybe to write to mom. And while they weren’t having constant parties, I can assure you that they all had a more active social life with people who really mattered to them than I do now.

I notice Rex out snooping around the bailer in front of the garage while Dad is working on it. He is sure getting big and rough now. He wants me to play with him like you did and he nearly knocks me over. I noticed Lady and her colt down on the flat across the creek this morning. You could see quite a change in the country now. We have had two severe frosts and everything is turning brown fast. The peas all froze in the garden, we only had one feed of string beans. It just seems as though school should be starting, it is in the air I guess.

Well I must get to work again I guess, the frig is melting and will need cleaning this afternoon too. Will write more later – love mom

Wed. Morning

Dear Margie – I was too tired to write more last night and I am a rush to get in and shop this morning before the stores close. I am sure looking forward to seeing you. Will write more to you tonight.

Lots and lots of love dear

Mother xxxxxx

I am so grateful I found these letters, I feel like Grandma and Mom’s stories are coming alive in this kitchen.

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Crazy driving, constant hope, and tea time (FGK-9)

Based on the timeline given in the previous post, which you can find Here, mom had been in the hospital for 3 weeks when Grandma wrote this letter:

September 1st 1952

Dearest Margie:

I have thought of you constantly all day but you won’t get a letter today from me, there just seemed no way to get one in to you. Dad and Slim and I came home from Calgary right after seeing you yesterday and we met a car right by the slough at Edges and it side-swiped us and burst our rear bumper. Boy! Was Dad ever mad. It was a car from our oil well and they were coming so fast we were really frightened so Dad pulled as far into the ditch as he dared to. We met the same car one Sunday when you were in Isolation and it nearly put us in the ditch that time too, and it tossed a rock up that hit our windshield and put another crack in it. We told him about it too and in no uncertain terms. His car was badly dented and scratched though. We had a miserable little cup of tea with cheese and crackers when we got home, then Dad did the chickens while I got a bit of supper and Slim helped the Ecklund’s milk. Then we got ready and went to church – picked Sheila and Marshall up first at Aunt Ruths.

I loved this story. I can imagine grandma and grandpa in this moment, but I also think of all the times white knuckling it in the passenger seat while grandma drove us somewhere. Or of my favourite driving story about her occurred probably in the early 80s. She was driving home to the ranch from Cochrane on the 1A when a car started following closely behind her. She sped up, the car sped up. She slowed down, they slowed down. Finally she hit the pedal to the medal and shot out of there only to see flashing lights in her rear view mirror. When the officer came to her window what he got was a lot of trouble “How dare you scare an old lady like that, what were you thinking following me?” She got an apology instead of a ticket.

And, there’s the little comment “we had a miserable little cup of tea with cheese and crackers when we got home” which may sound like it was no big deal, but knowing grandma it was a BIG deal. Teatime was something you didn’t mess with in this house, and there was usually something sweet. I remember when Grandma was in her 80s she fell and broke her arm. I was in emergency with her while they were doing X-rays and assessing her. The doctors and staff were quite concerned about her break, but Grandma was livid because it was tea time and what she really needed was a cup of tea. I remember her trying to explain to the doctor that if he’d just stop and leave her be for a minute so she could go out and get a cup of tea, everything would be just fine. They wouldn’t let her go, but I ran out and got her one, and it really did seem to make things better for her. In fact, in my family growing up, and now with my own family, whenever anything even remotely stressful happens, the first thing we do is make tea.

There sure wasn’t many at church, only 24 counting the minster, and he preached a good sermon too. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ed took the kids for a drive while we were in to see you. They were sure scared of his driving but enjoyed it otherwise. I think they went up to where the Cochrane Rodeo was to be held. We came straight home from church, I felt kind of sick – headache etc. But woke up feeling fine today. It is nearly 10 pm now so I’m really tired. We did a big washing today. Just after we got the lunches put up and got started with the washing. Uncle Clarence and Donnie came long. They stayed drinking coffee for hours. Donnie didn’t get into much mischief though, just let the hose on my washing machine down once and let the water run out it a while before Sheila caught him.

Dad was away measuring hay and Clarence just left and we cleared the table when Dad brought Dave Bryant and Mr. Fox in for coffee and they stayed until 15 to 12 o’clock. Then we really had to hustle and didn’t affect anyone only Dad for dinner but Rose (Reese??) and Slim came in too. However we finally got through washing and doing dishes and I wrote 11 thank-you letters and cards for you while Sheila ironed clothes.

I phoned Mrs. Hope today to see how you are and she said you are just getting along fine without Mrs. Powers. I was pleased to hear that, and Mrs. Hope was very nice, she explained why you had to have the penicillin etc. She said your kidneys needed it, your innards get so sluggish when you are so inactive and the penicillin is just a precaution, she thinks you won’t need much of it ‘cause she said you are rally doing exceptionally well now. I hope you get a little sleep now int he day time too. You must be very tired of all that mess of compresses but try and stand it for a little longer, it will be worth it to be cured.

I thought it was really sweet how Grandma explained to mom what the nurse (I assume?) told her about mom’s health. Mom was only 11 and all alone in the hospital and it probably meant a lot to know that her mom was checking up on how she was, and then to have her mom explain to her what was going on.

It will be worth it to be cured. Forceful hope is a what I see throughout these letters. Words are powerful, and whenever Grandma talks about mom getting better, she never allows for anything but constant hope and positive thinking about how that’s going to happen.

I am terribly tired tonight so I must go to bed now, I’ll write you some more tomorrow and I’ll be in to see you on Wednesday. Lots of love Dear – Mom xxx

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happiness

1952 – A timeline (FGK-8)

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.

1952

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.

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happiness

Driving and Stanford (FGK- 7)

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.

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