Conversations With Mom
Opportunities, knowledge and growth often arrive in one’s life at a time when you least expect it to happen. As I reflect on 2020 - 2021, I am both delighted and amazed at the journey I have experienced into the past through conversations with my Mom. As a child, I lived each day in my “now” world where I explored, dreamed, learned, and usually found a piece of joy to treasure. I still am that person. The past is a place I don’t usually visit except for sweet cherished memories.
Mom introduced me to our family history and stories through her world of advanced dementia. Mom’s recollections are mostly accurate and have given me great insight, knowledge and interest refreshing my memory as to how life was lived in our family many years ago.
My 94 year old Mom proudly shares the detailed life story of her dad. Grandad’s Dad and brother treated him badly. At the age of 9 years old, he left his home in the USA and found jobs on farms. He worked his way to Canada to earn his way and survive. Grandad was a quiet man full of strength, willpower and direction. He made a future for himself through determination and hard work, wonderful lifetime long qualities. He taught himself many skills and became known for his excellent equestrian training methods, an exceptional farm hired hand and manager. Eventually became manager of Canadian Dry Beverages in Edmonton.
My Grandad met my Gran in Heatherdown, Alberta and together they raised my Mom and her brother in the farming community. Life was simple but hard work. Mom rode a horse two and a half miles to school (one way) everyday and there were chores to be done when she returned home. In the winter, she had to walk because there was no shelter for horses. They lived without running water or electricity and bathroom facilities were outside. Mom said the smell of coal dust was heavenly which meant fires didn’t need to be tended at night. In order to survive, gardens were planted and harvested, animals fed, cows milked, wood and coal hauled, butter made, kerosene lamps filled, water carried for drinking and washing, clothes washed by hand, mending and sewing, bread baked 3 times a week, meals made, weather to contend with and always, the possibility of crop failures. Mom said it was a simple life but the hard work was rewarding and fulfilling. Family and neighbours were an integral part of their lifestyle and honoured.
Learning about my Grandad and Mom’s past has given me reflection in my own life. I now understand myself with regard to commitment, tenacity, determination, work habits and willpower. I am proud of these inherited traits. My Gran was another influence in my life which I will share in another story. Even though Mom lives with dementia, she is always articulate and usually displays these qualities. Our family lineage which began with a small boy who sought a better life, became our role model, continues in our children and grandchildren.