The sixth presentation in this series.
In the summer of 1937 the Thompson family is still on the farm, but they are busily packing up for a big move to temporary rental accommodation in Calgary. Belle and Will are both determined that their two daughters, Doris and Marjorie, get good educations. While Marjorie finishes her Grade 8 at the one-room country school, Doris takes as much of Grade 9 as is available by correspondence.
Will commutes back and forth as the farm work permits. He also oversees the building of a new home. Continue reading
I am now aged. Although my accumulation of years is obvious, what is not as apparent is the inner changes that are taking place. My interests, abilities, and expectations are all undergoing revision. I feel an urgent need to define the new me: Time is running out! Is there anything now that I can be a part of and that could be of value to present and future generations? What must I do? What am I able to do? What do I want to do?
Taking the easy route, I decide that what I want to do is apt to be what I can do best. The answer, then, is easy, too: I will be a custodian of family history, of the stories that reflect both the everyday lives and the dreams of people I have known and loved. Recording those stories will be the invaluable ingredient.
For centuries, the history of a family or a people was passed down in the only way possible: orally. Person to person, generation by generation, the precious stories were told, memorized, and passed on. Now, I can take my pick of recording methods, using one or all: books and pictures, videos, and computers.
But it is all storytelling, and the old oral tradition can still be a part of it. Whenever my family gathers, in the midst of the laughter and fun, I will “remember when,” sharing the stories I know. Passed on with love, these memories will be part of what binds the family together, today and tomorrow.
I face a real dilemma when trying to come to grips with the modern idea of a “family”. My generation lived in a very different era. We would have been baffled by the title of this essay. A dilemma about the proper structure of family life? What foolish talk is this? Back then we saw no other viable way of forming a family unit. There was only one good model, and it was ours!
By contrast, society today offers so many options. There are:
• A young couple with children, married or living in a common-law union.
• A couple in their 40s who pair off. If children are added, the parents are often in the last years of their 40s.
• Same-sex couples of all ages. If they choose to enlarge their family, they adopt or use sperm donation.
• Some families want children.
• Some families decide not to have any.
There are many more types of family unions, but the above will do for examples. Some similarities appear in these diverse examples. The couples I know consider themselves to be legitimate families. Each one strives to be loving, kind, and supportive of their particular “family”. Divorce or separation rates fall within the current national average. Continue reading
A strong sweep of emotion rushes over me when this picture appears. There I am, a 20-year-old, home for a visit with my beloved parents. It is the summer of 1942. I am delighted to be “home”, and it shows. Being in this house with those I love is a great tonic for me.
Unbelievably, that is 72 years ago. I remember, and feel again, many of the same emotions which stirred my 20 year-old heart then. But something is different. What added emotion am I sensing from my 92-year-old reality? Gratitude! That’s it!
Then, I took it all for granted. I was as sure of my welcome when I came home in trouble, as when I came home celebrating a success. My parents were loving and full of fun, but level headed and direct. I did not always like their advice, but always respected it. What a priceless gift life handed me – a home, a dependable home. It was a comfortable, safe touchstone, always there, always within my reach.
Did I recognize it then? Not fully.
Did I ever express it to them? In words, probably not. Hopefully, they knew. I believe that the actions and attitude of my sister and me made that clear to them.
Still, sometimes I regretfully wonder. There is a saying: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” It’s a mite late, Mom and Dad, but here’s your present. I deliver it with much love, gratitude — and memories, which never die. Love, Marjorie
The second of two installments
We near Calgary and turn off the highway onto the Stoney Trail bypass that crosses a high bridge over the river valley, and ends at the TransCanada Highway. Valley Ridge Lodge, the seniors’ residence where Sheldon and I lived for five years, is a stone’s throw away.
Arriving at the Lodge is a homecoming indeed, just the thing to ease the yearning in my heart.
“Marjorie! Are you moving back?”
“We miss you. Did you miss us?”
The trip from the front door to my second-floor guest suite takes almost an hour. I sink on the bed, exhausted. Ralph leaves for his nearby Bed and Breakfast.
“I’ll see you after supper, Mom. We should talk about tomorrow’s coffee party.” Continue reading