happiness

In Grandma’s Words part 12 (FGK 74)

No wonder mom always talked so highly of Lawrence, over and over I see where he’s been such a great friend to her. I remember dances at the Hall when I was a kid where it was family friendly until the “doors of hell opened” or something like that and then it was time for us kids to go home (similar to warnings I was given about going to the Cochrane Hotel – when I finally went I was quite disappointed to find it didn’t look anything like what I imagined hell to look like but was just an old fashioned bar with ugly vinyl chairs).

The Copithornes are a large, closely knit family and our family turkey dinner parties usually had twenty or more sit down to a meal. We usually tried to do our entertaining like this in the winter before the calving time in April. The children were always included in these parties and often in the dances in the Community Hall. They learned to dance and mix freely with their elders, there didn’t seem to be such a generation gap then as now. No one enjoyed a square dance more than Margi when her cousin Lawrence would ask her up. They looked quite small in the circle but they certainly knew their dance.

The evening of our 20th wedding anniversary was a bitterly cold night and Clarence and Irene invited us and Kumlins over for dinner. We had completely forgotten it was our anniversary and Percy said we were crazy to think of going out over snowy roads on such a bad night. But Kumlins insisted we go with them. When we got there there as quite a crowd gathered waiting for us. The ladies usually head for the kitchen to help serve the meal, but they made Margery Buckley and myself sit in the living room with the men. Then they took us into the bedroom and draped old lace curtains over us like veils and gave us each nosegay bouquets made from cauliflower, onions, etc. When they led us back into the living room our husbands were standing up each wearing a boutonniere of onions and Irene’s dad Don Robertson wearing a collar backwards and a wild brocade black housecoat and he read off a very comical take off on the wedding ceremony They shook rice and confetti over us and presented each of us with a very lovely tea set. It was a party we’ll never forget.

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Summer holidays and magpie feet (FGK-60)

I love these letters from the kids at Jumping Pound school. Different ages and different perspectives certainly give quite the snapshot of life for these kids.

RR2

Calgary, Alberta

June 23, 1953

Dear Marg

We started a crow and magpie campaign on the first of April. Lawrence has really been collecting magpie feet, he has 146 magpie feet. I have 45 feet. John has 14 feet.

Anne and Shirley came to visit us. We had a game of ball in the afternoon. Rose left yesterday.

I hope you will be walking soon.

Yours truly

Jim

RR2

Calgary

June 24, 1953

A man brought some more wood. We had just finished piling when he came, but he only brought half a load, so we got it all piled up except a little bit. Now we got 2 piles of wood.

The teacher lost his ring, but found it again.

John, Jim, and Elaine got new baseball gloves. The gloves have three fingers and one thumb. The colour is tan.

My family branded on Saturday.

I hope you are feeling well.

Do you want to go home?

Do you want to stay in the hospital?

Yours truly, David

RR2 Calgary

June 22 1953

Dear Marg

Lawrence, Rode, Elaine and Jim, John and Dave have planted flowers in the window boxes. we painted the window boxes. They planted sweet peas and California poppies. Both of them are growing very well.

Mary

RR2 Calgary Alberta

June 24, 1953

Dear Marg

The teacher got two new flags. One is called Union Jack and the other is called Canadian Ensign. They are very nice. Jim, John, and Law put them up. Then they put the Queen’s picture on it. We have got 56 pictures up all together.

Law has 7 pictures. Elaine has 13 pictures. Rose has 16 pictures etc. I have 3 calves.

Your pal,

Lynn.

RR NO2

Calgary, Alberta

June 23, 1953

Dear Margie

The weather is horrible in Alberta this year. It has rained so much that water is laying all over. It is so wet that when you try to plow you bog down.

The grass is not growing very well this year. It has been so wet that it is drowning out.

We are going to brand on Wednesday. We are going to brand about two hundred and seventy-five calves.

Are you coming home for the holidays? How do you like the hospital?

Yours truly

John

Cochrane, Alta. Box 58

June 22, 1953

Dear Margie

Well holiday time is just around the corner isn’t it? My family is going up to Windermere on Friday. I suppose you heard that Marshall is coming with us? Oh boy! I can hardly wait! By next Saturday I will be basking in Radium swimming pool.

I guess you will be coming home for your holidays. I bet you will be happy.

We branded last Saturday. The Sibbalds, uncle Frank’s clan, had Jim Bateman etc were up to help. We will drive our cows and calves up to 14 on Thursday.

We had our school picnic last Friday. Instead of having a usual picnic we had a party at Batemans. Rose and Elaine made speeches. Everyone had a great time.

Well I will write you more letters during the holidays.

Your pal,

Lawrence

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Sunday Drives (FGK-57)

I remember when Grandma’s dementia was getting worse and it became too challenging to take her out to do things, but she still wanted to go out and do things, we began doing longer car rides. Sometimes it was just around the neighbourhood, and sometimes around Moose Mountain, or just through Kananaskis. Just getting out and watching the scenery go by seemed to really help her feel happier. Since Covid kept us home for such a long time, I started doing the same for my girl who rarely left the house. She fought me at first, especially because she remembered us also doing the same for mom on cold days when she’d been trapped in the house, and didn’t want to have to be driven around “like an old person” (I told her to instead think of it like taking the dog for a car ride which didn’t go over much better). But she always felt better when we got out and went for a drive. It seems these “Sunday Drives” were a thing for mom in the 1950s as well. How lovely that Grandma was able to get her out for these. I’ve mentioned this before, but I realize how much I learned about how to care for people from my parents and their siblings. I watched how they looked after Grandma as she got older and the love and respect they gave her right to the end and it taught me how to look after my own parents the same way. I have watched my cousins do the same as well, and to those of you who have had to experience this my heart extends to yours with deep love. Our family is truly a gift and I feel incredibly blessed to have a strong tribe on both sides of my family.

RR No.1 DeWinton, Alta

12th Aug. 1954

My dear Margie

I was so pleased to receive such a long newsy letter from you a short time ago. I was certainly very happy to hear that you are getting about a bit more each day. I think you did wonderfully well to pass your exams with an A1. You surely must have your head screwed on properly. I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all you did during the year and pass with an A1 standing too.

I do hope you’ll be able to drop in to see us some Sunday while you are out for a drive. We would all love to see you and have you to ourselves for at least a wee while.

I haven’t much in the way of flowers to see this year as they have had a good hailing twice already this summer. I guess there can’t be any nice dahlias this year. Ed is positively sick when he looks at his lovely crops. They have just about been pounded out of existence. I did manage to get twenty pints of peas in the deep freeze. I don’t think there will be any more by the look of the pea batch. It looks pretty sick right now.

I have had a few visitors this summer. Tuella Kirkland nee Pollock stayed with me a few days. She has two children, a boy eight and a girl ten. Everything hummed around here while there were here. It seemed very quiet after they left.

The girl friend from Ottawa that was up there years ago was back again this year. She stayed from Monday until Friday. She is going on to Kamloops, Vancouver, Victoria, and then back to Trail. She surely has a trip mapped out for herself this year. She has a month’s holidays so she has quite a bit of time to do it in.

Clarence has been just fine this summer and is beginning to talk a bit now. He has a pup that he likes a lot and Auntie Margy brought him a kitten last week. He has a big time with the two of them. However, the pup and the kitten don’t get along together any too well.

We three went around that new road through the Forest Reserve last Sunday. We went with Ed’s sister Esther and her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Herb Jenkins). They have three children so you see we were a real car full. It was the first time I had been over it. We went in through Turner Valley and Long View. It was the first time I had seen the famed “Stampede Ranch”. I was a bit disappointed with it and thought it would be more distinguished looking. It sure didn’t look like much. That is the ranch that the late Guy Weadick built up as a dude ranch.

I was to see the dentist the other day and what do you know, I got them all patched up in one hour. I usually have to go back several times.

Well Margie my dear, it is getting late and I seem to be running out of chatter too. I guess I am getting too sleepy to write properly. So until net time I’ll say “cheerio Margie dear” You’ll be hearing from me again.

Much love

Aunt Annie

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How to Kill a Skunk and Other Animal Stories (FGK 32)

There are many things I love about this letter. Mom was in a wheelchair and able to be out of bed!! She’d been in hospital almost 2 years by this time. I bet she loved the freedom of being able to move herself around! The young boy they had staying with them would have been the same age as mom, and I don’t know where he was from or who he was, but how kind of Aunt Annie to stop whatever she was doing and play with him in order to make him feel more comfortable. Small acts of kindness go a long ways.

When I was a kid, mom used to read Old Mother West Wind to my sister and I, as I did with my own kids when they were little. Aunt Annie gives a more graphic “from the farmer’s view” version of stories much similar to those. I can imagine Mr. Skunk had quite a time gorging on eggs before he finally met his demise. Out here there’s a man who can’t smell the stink of a skunk and he’s been called by various community members to help deal with a skunk who has made himself at home where he shouldn’t. Unfortunately, this man’s wife CAN smell skunk, so I’d imagine he’s not too popular when he returns home!!

RR No 1, De Winston, Alta,

4th July, 1953

My dear Margie,

I thought I would just sit down tonight and drop you a few lines. I was so pleased to get your nice card and to know that you enjoyed the box of what nots that I sent in.

Your mother had told me about you manipulating the wheelchair around. good for you. I bet you will have lots of fun getting about in that. Can you go visiting the other patients? I guess you would have lots of places to go in that beautiful big building.

We have been having a terrible year of it. We didn’t get very much of our crop in and what we have in is just being hailed.

July 5 – I had a little interruption while writing your letter. We have a young boy, thirteen years old, staying with us now. He seemed rather lost so I suggested a game of rummy. so we had a game and he beat me too.

As I was saying earlier in my letter, we got considerable hail last night. It smashed my poor flowers down most pitifully. However, I am still hoping I’ll be able to take you some Dahlias later on. It’s been so wet and cold that everything down here looks as if it’s a whole month behind schedule. I don’t suppose the snow when it comes will be “behind schedule”.

Our poor old duck has laid all spring and sat twice. Each time she sat the old skunk came along and helped himself to the eggs. I don’t know whether she’ll try again as it’s getting rather late. She had fifteen eggs in the first nest. I didn’t find the second nest but the skunk did as she is up and about again. However this morning Uncle Ed had Mr. Skunk in a trap. We had a lot of fun over him. Uncle Ed said he could kill him without him leaving any smell. I didn’t believe it possible. He said he would put a wire on a long pole and slip it over his head and choke him. Well everything went fine until the wire broke. However he finished off the sunk by drowning him and he didn’t smell very much either so I guess we had to admit that he knew the best way to kill off a skunk. Tippy took good care not to get too close as he had tangled one time earlier in the year. He surely did look disgusted. He came and sat by me and left Uncle Ed to hunt the skunks by himself. I didn’t appreciate him sitting by me very much either.

We have two pea-hens sitting this year. I was surely glad the skunk didn’t find their nests. They come every day to the door to be fed bread. They make quite a clatter too just to make sure i know they are all there. I have three that we raised last year and they surely are all in the dog house. They went to the garden one day and ate up the cabbage and cauliflower. It’s the first time they ever did anything like that. I think they found time on their hands and just decided to get into mischief and they did. I was really muttering to myself and out loud too when I saw what they had done.

Clarence has been sick again last week but he is better today. He is running around all over the place now. He followed his Dad down the road the other day. I saw him disappearing around the corner and had to chase after him. Tippy was with him but he wasn’t trying to bring him home at all, but just going away with him.

Well Margie, my dear, I guess I had better stop my chatter and close for this time. You’ll be hearing from me again soon.

Love from us all

Aunt Annie

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Crocuses and memories

Yesterday my aunt headed home to be with Jesus. Although I will miss her here, she was a woman who held true to her faith and I know she was welcomed with open arms.

When we were kids, my cousin and I would go spend a week or so in the summer at my aunt and uncle’s farm, splitting our time between VBS and scaring the crap out of ourselves with whatever fun things we could find to get into. Sometimes our cousins would take us to the nearby “haunted house”, once we found a two headed grasshopper, but a lot of our time was spent playing in the yard and generally enjoying ourselves.

When I went away to school, my aunt sent me cards regularly so that I wouldn’t feel too lonely. She even came once and took me out for lunch which meant so much to me (I really was lonely).

After Grandma died, we were all sitting in the kitchen when my aunt returned from a walk in the field. It was early April, but she had found some crocuses growing in the field and brought them into the house. It seemed very fitting to have there for Grandma, but it also seemed fitting that my aunt would have gone out and found something that provided us all with a bit of comfort when we were all sad.

For some reason, after everyone left, I grabbed those crocuses and dried them in one of my books. The crocuses came with me as we moved around, and every once in a while I would open the book and look at that memory of love from home.

I opened the book at Christmas time and again looked at the crocuses with so much gratitude that we were back in the same home where they had sat in their vase (actually, in our home crocuses always go in a small juice glass), steps away from the field that had grown them. Grandma will be gone 17 years this spring, and it’s always amazed me that these crocuses held their shape. This time, though, the crocuses were disintegrating and as soon as I touched them they crumbled into little pieces.

It was like they knew they’d done their job well and were ready to go. Hopefully they’re a centrepiece at a beautiful tea table in heaven.

Love lasts for eternity. Everything else is noise.

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Little Abu

We had a health emergency with little Abu yesterday that put us all in a small state of panic (she’s going to be ok). Abu is Aladdin’s sister and littermate, they lived together with their mom in the abandoned house before they were rescued, to say she was bonded to him is an understatement.

Man, it was hard taking her to the same clinic where we let Aladdin go to his happy hunting grounds, I cried during her intake.

But you know, little Abu is a trooper. Besides the emergency, it turns out she’s in great health, and she won over the hearts of the kind people looking after her.

Abu may not have bonded with the other cats quite the way I’d have thought, she didn’t really need to since she had Aladdin. But, she has developed a strong bond with her two giant canine friends. I think they knew something was up because they both spent some extra time with her yesterday. It’s quite cute to see this little round ball of cat fur all curled up beside one of her dog friends.

The power of love is quite incredible. Us humans love Abu to bits, but our animals have these profound relationships with each other that I learn so much from.

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The Next 50 years

Yesterday I marked a half century on this planet. Incredible to me since I’m still trying to figure out how to be an adult, but there you have it.

Seriously though, I am so grateful to be here, to be healthy, and to be finally figuring myself out and learning to let crap go and enjoy life. I’m actually very happy to be 50.

I was reminded of how loved I am yesterday. Birthdays are the best day to be on Facebook for all the wonderful messages. My sister levelled it up one and had friends and family send her letters for me to read which melted my heart (and made me cry a little bit). She and her family also gave me a little robot, and once I figure out how to get it running (old age problems haha), I will be terrorizing my pets with it.

The girl made me a beautiful pendant out of rose quartz. The boy made me his (getting) famous Beef Wellington. A cousin stopped by with “holy crap you’re 50” signs and a present and some flowers. I had a lovely text chat with an aunt, and one today with a “lifer” friend (as she puts it).

I am so grateful for this life. I’ve promised myself that in this next chapter I will be the author of my own story. And I’m excited to write it.

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Staying connected

It seems that often in the darkest of times we see the most beautiful rays of light. People are calling each other and checking in. People are using Facetime and Skype to visit and catch up. We are able to spend more time with our families if we live with them, or virtually if we are not.

Of course, this is a more dangerous time if you’re living in a house that was unsafe to begin with and I am mindful to say prayers for those people often.

I’ve got a cousin who is on lockdown in Rome with her family, and over the last few days we’ve been sending videos back and forth instead of texts. All pride goes to the side as we stop caring how our hair looks or what we are wearing, and just send our faces and voices back and forth sharing little moments of our lives.

That human connection is important, and while we may feel isolated in our homes we are so lucky that we have other ways of communicating with each other and we need to take advantage of that.

As an introvert I often find going out of my way to socialize uncomfortable, but I’m discovering that for my extraverted friends being forced to stay at home is the same level of discomfort I experience at loud parties or busy places. These extraverts in my life I’ve allowed to “adopt” me and look after me in stressful busy life situations, and I feel now that it’s the job of us introverts to adopt our extraverted friends and show them how we live life on the inside.

I love all of you, my friends and family. I’m so gratfeful to have a strong circle of love support.

Everything will be ok ❤️

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End of a year, end of a decade

Usually I don’t get too excited about New Year’s Eve. My birthday is in January, and instead I celebrate that as my personal new year. But this year, I’m quite mindful of the fact that we are closing the door on the most difficult decade of my life. I had a friend jokingly say that the 40s were supposed to be the “fuck-it” forties, where you do what you want, no matter what people think. For me it was kind of more a “fuck-you” forties – but lots of growth and change happened.

I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine at the beginning of the decade as I dedicated myself to dealing with the anxiety disorder that reared its ugly head during my marriage. My (now ex) husband lost his job not once but twice, which had us move from Rhode Island to Virginia, and then him to northern Virginia without us. The rage and abuse went from a mild simmer to a full out explosion of hatred and eventually the kids and I were able to get out and return home to Alberta. Then my dad died, I got divorced, my son became very ill, I broke my shoulder, my mom died, and my daughter also became ill.

Through this I learned about Ayurveda, studied it in a course to become a practitioner and became connected with a healer who guided me through my life changes. I started attending church regularly in Virginia, made a connection to my pastor who was integral in helping save me and my kids, and for the first time really learned about having a relationship with God. I took a health coach course that helped my interest in healthy living return. I started riding again, which has always been my soul connection, it helped me learn how to be brave again, how to keep going, and how to enjoy life. And finally, I was accepted into a masters of counselling psychology course, and now I have some direction for my future.

I’m happy to say goodbye to this decade, but I’m grateful for all I’ve learned about myself and about my family – immediate and extended – in this time too. When I say how blessed I am to have the family I do, they’re not just idle words. They literally helped save our lives, and have held us up ever since.

So when I think of where I want to go next, what I want to take with me, it’s what I’ve learned from these last few years.

Love unconditionally and bravely

Keep your circle small

Love yourself

Love others

Love God

Be strong, but allow others to help

Laugh often

Happy New Year, may your life be blessed.

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It’s genetics

I’ve really been missing my parents lately, I find the season change seems to make grief reappear in ways that are just as raw as at the beginning. Grief is not at all like how I expected it to be, it’s not something you get over, more something you learn to live with.

I was looking through some old photos and came across one from when my family came to visit us in Roanoke the first Christmas we were there. One day we all went out for lunch and then walked the streets of Salem window shopping. I was walking behind the family when I noticed my dad and my son doing the exact same walk.

It’s a photo we’ve talked about often, but one I hadn’t been able to find. My dad meant a lot to my boy, he was his role model and father figure, and it broke my boy’s heart that dad died right after we moved home.

But I see my dad in my son all the time, they’ve got the same build, the same mannerism, and the same insane sense of humour.

Those genetics are strong.

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