Darlene Foster's Blog

Goodbye to a Special Uncle

Posted on: September 12, 2016

 

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This week we said goodbye to a much-loved member of our family. Paul Frank Mehrer, my grandfather’s youngest brother, passed away at aged eighty-seven. The same age as my mother, they were always very close and lived in the same care home the past two years. It was always a pleasure to stop in for a visit and listen to his wonderful stories whenever I was in town to see mom.

 

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Mom and her uncle during my visit last summer

Uncle Paul was born on his parent’s farm on March 1, 1929, the youngest of twelve children. He spent most of his life on the homestead, farming it with his older brother Andrew when their parents retired to the city and continuing after they passed away. The place, near Hilda, on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, was close to the farm my family lived on when I was a child. I recall the days of the threshing crews when my dad would help bring in their crop and the uncles would help dad in return. Mom would make a huge meal for the crew at the end of the hard working day. I can still hear the buzz at supper as stories were shared around the table. Uncle Paul, the shyer of the two uncles, didn´t say much then, but when he did it was interesting. He was always very nice to a little kid like me.

Great-grandparents Andreas and Katerina Mehrer and family

Uncle Paul is the little boy between his parents

He experienced all kinds of disasters his years on the farm; drought, hail, grasshoppers and severe storms. He tells a story of a time when a terrible storm hit, destroying a garage, two sheds, an oil shed and some corrals. He and his brother were afraid the mobile home they lived in would be destroyed as well and kept fully dressed in case they had to exit quickly. His main concern was for the animals and was happy to discover the pony had found refuge behind a combine and the two dogs took shelter behind the propane tank. It took all summer to repair the damage. Like many of his generation, he didn´t venture far from the farm. He did, however, spend a few weeks working on a nearby ranch, where he learned to round up cattle from the hills, ride over washouts and manoeuvre his horse on narrow trails. He also participated in an eight-mile cattle drive which he enjoyed. Uncle Paul loved his horses and rode whenever he had a chance.

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His horses were a very important part of his life.

He was a bachelor until age seventy-five. He retired and moved into St. Joseph’s Retirement Home where he met his love, Bertha. They married in 2004. His only wish was that his parents could have been at the wedding. They enjoyed the years they spent together until Bertha’s passing in 2013. Proof that true love isn´t just for the young. It is never too late to find the right person.

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Uncle Paul and Aunt Bertha, happily married.

Great-Uncle Paul was a kind man, who always had time for his many nieces and nephews. My daughter, his great-great-niece, visited him a couple of months ago and he immediately knew who she was. Everyone loved to spend time with him as he always had such interesting stories to tell about the old days. During my last visit, he regaled me with a story about my dad and how he could tell how many cows were in a field at a glance. Those old cowboy stories are like gold to me.  There are so few of his kind left to share these stories with us.

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Uncle Paul and his sister Aunt Meta at the 100 years in Canada celebration in 2011

Great-Uncle Paul was the last of my maternal grandfather´s brothers. We still have one of his sisters, Great Aunt Meta, at 92. It saddens me to see this generation disappearing but I am also happy to have had these remarkable people in my life. I am sure Uncle Paul is sharing stories with his brothers at this very moment. Rest in peace dear Uncle Paul.

47 Responses to "Goodbye to a Special Uncle"

This is a lovely tribute to your great uncle, Darlene. He definitely had an extraordinary life. I am glad you have so may happy memories of him and his generation in your family. Big hug. 💗

Thanks! My grandfather and his brothers all had interesting lives. I am pleased I knew them all.

How lovely to find romance at such an advanced age! Thanks for sharing; your uncle sounds a very special person.

You can imagine how surprised we all were when he announced that he was getting married. We were all very pleased for him.

so sorry to hear about your Uncle, he sounds as if he was a very special person and will be missed…….

Thanks, Lea. He will be missed by many but he had a happy life and that is all we can wish for.

Uncle Paul looks like a real buckaroo – I know he will be missed. My condolences to you and your family. This tribute will live on in your family archives. What a great work you are doing here, Darlene.

Thanks, Marian. I know you been blessed with many special relatives as well and can appreciate how much he was loved.

Sorry for your loss. Your uncle sounds like a very loving soul. I think that its wonderful how he married at such a mature age. It goes to prove that we’re never too old to fall in love!

Considering he never ventured far from his birthplace, he still lived a full life, including a happy marriage at the later part of his life.

Beautiful tribute to such a loved Uncle Darlene. Memories are wonderful to keep and remember. Many hugs.

Thanks, Diane. He has left us with many happy memories.

My condolences to you and your family! What a great tribute you have given him!! Thanks for sharing!!

Thanks for your kind words, Kirt.

Beautiful testimony to your great-uncle, his family, and his interesting life. And how wonderful to have found a loving companion late in life. You’re right, it’s never too late. Lovely pictures!

It is remarkable that he found someone to care about at long last. He ended up with wonderful step-children too who were very good to him!

What a lovely tribute to a one-of-a-kind man.

Not many of his kind left, unfortunately. I am pleased you liked it.

Such good memories are very precious! He sounds like a wonderful person and I’m glad you had so many great years with him in your life. My Aunt Norma was the special person in mine, and was the last of her generation to leave our family. Now my hubby and I are “the old folks”!

It is sad to see the older generation go but the precious memories live on forever. In our family we keep old photographs, write things down and tell stories of those who have gone. We have history books which are updated every 5 years. We make sure no one is forgotten. I am sure you have fond memories of your Aunt Norma.

Wonderful memories of a very special person in your life, Darlene. He will always be missed.

Thanks, Irene. I feel so fortunate to have had this special person in my life as do all his many nieces and nephews.

I am so sorry for you loss. You’ve written such a beautiful tribute to your Uncle Frank. So many beautiful memories to hold on to.

Thanks for your kind words, Patricia. I believe I speak for all those who knew him.

Sorry for your loss Darlene, it is nice to hear he had a long happy life, loved by his family. He would be proud of this great tribute to his life.

Thanks, Gilda. I hope he would have liked my post about him. He certainly was loved by many, including his step children.

Darlene I am so sorry to read of the passing of your Uncle. What a wonderful man you described and honored here. How fabulous that he met his true love in his 70’s. Sending hugs and sympathy across the miles.

Thanks, Sue. Coming from the prairies you probably have some of these characters in your family as well.

Yes I do indeed Darlene. Perhaps that is why the story of your Uncle resonated so much with me.

A lovely tribute to a lovely man. And yet again we see that love isn’t only for the young. Your uncle and I can both attest to that.

Yes, that is true.He was a good husband to Bertha and was at her side when she took ill the last couple of years.

Darlene — What a lovely tribute to your uncle. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

So sorry for your loss, Darlene. Your Uncle Paul sounds like a wonderful man and I enjoyed reading about his life and seeing all the pictures, especially the one of his BIG family!

Those prairie families were large in the early 1900s. I love that picture too. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

I’m so sorry for your loss, Darlene.

Darlene, I’m enthralled with every word you write here about your (Great) Uncle Paul. What an amazing man-of-his-time, a time that seems long gone now is so many ways, doesn’t it? And the fact that he found love at 75! (Being the romantic I am, I kept wondering about his love life as I read your post.) My guess is that he was such a hard worker, he didn’t have time for love until he retired. I wish I knew this man – I honor and respect his life, and your post does that beautifully. Thank you.

I am so honoured that you enjoyed this post and would have liked to have known my great uncle. He would have liked you a lot as he enjoyed sharing stories. We were all so happy that he found someone to love at a later age. I am not sure if it is true or not, but there was a story that he fell in love when a shy young man and the young woman broke his heart. He was not brave enough to try again until age 75! He did work very hard on the farm and didn´t get out much so it would have been slim pickings as well.

I actually believe the story that he first found love when young, but then struggled with a broken heart for years. Yes, strong quiet men like that suffer silently, I believe. But how wonderful he found ‘true’ love, later. xo

It is most probably true. ❤

Coming from a large, Alberta-homestead family I can easily step into the life your uncle lived and know that, with his passing a hole has been left in the fabric that is life. A rend in the hearts of all who new and loved him that will never be filled.
Are there any of these men left in the world? If there are they are few and far between. Yes, Darlene you were incredibly blessed to have had him in your life. May he rest in peace.

We do have a lot in common, especially the type of families we came from. There are few men like Uncle Paul left. Not to say there aren’t good men out there, just in a different way. Thanks for your kind words, Sheila.

What a lovely tribute to your great uncle Darlene. By writing this you keep the memories of his generation alive.

Thanks for that lovely comment, Gerlinde.

I’m sorry to hear about your Great Uncle Paul’s passing, but what lovely memories and how wonderful to have known him for such a long time. I often think of how remarkable your family is, with so many generations alive at the same time. It’s a precious thing, as is the story of him finding love in his later years. I’m sure he’d be delighted with this post.

The older I get the more I realize I am indeed fortunate to have this multi-generational family. I was very lucky to have had this uncle in my life who shared the gift of the gab!

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