Archive for the ‘Family’ Category
The Sunday Living History Interview – A Tale of Two Katharinas, a Legacy of Strong Women by Darlene Foster
Posted September 18, 2016on:
Today I am a special guest on Sally Cronin´s Living History blog. I hope you enjoy the story of my two great-grandmothers.
Author Darlene Foster shares the story of two great-grandmothers who despite the hardships they faced, worked tirelessly to give their families a home and provide them with the tools needed to survive and thrive.
“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”Edmund Burke
I was fortunate to know both of my maternal great-grandmothers. They passed away when I was in my early teens but I remember them well. They were formidable elderly women with hearts of gold. One thing was for sure, you didn´t mess with either of them.
Both women were born into German immigrant farmer families living in South Russia and came to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to help populate and develop the Prairie Provinces. They certainly did their part in populating the area as they had twenty-four…
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two weeks ago we took a drive to Malaga on the Costa del Sol and drove up into the mountains to the small village of Sedelia. We encountered stunning scenery along the twisting road, a small church and a traffic jam, of goats!
We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast with a stunning view and had dinner at a cosy restaurant in town. It was all very picturesque and a nice little get-away.
There was a reason for the trip though and that was to meet Dot, an eight-month-old Bodeguero. Dot came home with us and is now part of our family.
Dot was quite shy at first as she lived in the mountains with an elderly man so was not used to people, traffic and houses. But she has settled in well and makes friends easily. (both the human kind and the canine kind)
She loves going for walks and car rides! On the weekend we took her to a car show and she was very well-behaved.
She makes friends everywhere we go. She loves to go for coffee with us and is a big hit at all the coffee shops.
We took a drive in the car to a biker bar for tapas. Dot made friends with a boxer. (the canine type)
What do you think? Is she settling in and at home with us? Did we make a good choice?
In case you are wondering, she was already named Dot because of the large black dot on her back. I like to think it is from the delightful children´s book by Peter Reynolds, The Dot . You knew there had to be a literary reference!
Hugh’s Views and News challenged us to post a photo of something ‘Vintage.’
I took a picture of this vintage photo given to me by my great aunt. It was taken in the early 1900s. On the back, in handwriting, it says, “The Old Maids,” a term used for unmarried women at the time. According to my aunt, these two women were my great grandfather’s cousins from North Dakota. There is also something written in German in faded ink, but I don’t know what it means. No one seems to know their names and those who did are long gone. I am intrigued by them and feel they have a story to tell. One day, I plan to write a story and give them names. Thanks for this challenge Hugh.
Check out Hugh’s Views and News and join the photo challenge fun.
At the beginning of this month we were blessed with a visit from home! My Aunt (mom’s sister) and her husband from Taber, Alberta and my cousin from Parksville, BC had been visiting my uncle’s relatives in Holland and took a side trip to Spain just to see us. We packed in as much as we could in four days. Since this was the first time for all of them to visit Spain, we tried to give them a good taste of our Spanish life. We ate churros, tapas, Spanish chocolate and paella, took a bus to an historic Roman/Carthaginian city, a boat trip around the bay of Cartagena, drove into the country, walked along the Mediterranean, enjoyed a family barbecue and attended a May Fiesta. My cousin couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Dinner at The Nautilus overlooking the Mediterranean. Every one enjoyed their meal and first view of the Med.
We had an enjoyable visit to the two thousand year old city of Cartagena. Evidence of its rich Carthaginian and Roman history is everywhere. Still considered an important naval base and shipyard, it is now also a stop for large cruise ships.We took a boat trip around the harbour to view the old walls of the fortress. The city has amazing architecture and a lovely pedestrian shopping area with many bronze sculptures waiting to be photographed. The bit of rain didn’t dampen our spirits as we explored this interesting place only forty minutes from were we live.
We stopped for lunch at a Valor Coffee Shop. Valor makes the best chocolate in Spain. You may recall my visit to the Valor Chocolate Factory last fall. Here is the post if you wish to know more. Our meal was delicious and included chocolate, of course! We finished with churros dipped in what else – chocolate, a Spanish tradition which they loved.
We also found some Roman ruins including an amphitheatre. An excellent day filled with history, architecture, the sea and chocolate!! My aunt purchased a spoon for her collection and my uncle a hat with Spain on it. Everyone returned happy.
Another day we took a drive into the country, through traditional Spanish villages, past lemon and orange groves and the occasional flock of sheep. A trip to Spain would not be complete without trying the tradition of tapas, so that’s what we had for lunch. The quests enjoyed the wide selection of small tasty treats. Something for everyone. That evening we had a barbecue at our place with my in-laws. A nice family gathering which included my home made paella and my mother-in-law’s trifle.
Their visit coincided with the Torrevieja May Fiesta, called Feria de Sevillanas. We were able to take them to enjoy this very popular fiesta featuring the traditions of Andalucia. My Canadian visitors were delighted to see women of all ages dressed in colourful, flamenco dresses and white mantillas. We strolled through the marquees and fun fair, watched paella being made and enjoyed the parade of dancers, Andalusian horses, riders and horse drawn carriages. My cousin sampled her first sangria with lunch on the esplanade.
My Aunt will return with a report to mom that all is well with me and my new life. She kept saying, “This is so wonderful, I’m so glad we came.” I am so glad they came as well!!
We were recently invited for lunch to the home of a distant relative of mine. Beth was born in Canada, married a handsome Spanish doctor and moved to Spain over forty years ago. They live in a three hundred year old home, owned by Vince’s family since 1941, when his grandfather purchased it. The house sits on an olive farm, or finca, and contains the original olive press which was operational up until the early 1970s. The living quarters have been modernized but much of it is still the original. There are many nooks and crannies filled with historical objects. It’s like living in a museum. In the kitchen is the original clay oven which Beth uses occasionally to make delicious roast lamb and potatoes.
Earthenware jugs, used to store olive oil, hide in one small room along with the metal measuring cup and funnel used to fill containers brought by customers. In another room, off the living area, the three hundred year old press sits as if waiting for the horse to walk around and around dragging the mill stone once again. The bags used to bring the olives in from the fields are still there as well.
In the yard sits an old pony cart. Vince recalls riding into Alicante on that very cart with his father. A trip that takes about ten minutes by car now, took an hour and a half each way then.
The ground floor, now the main living area, was where the animals were once kept. The family lived on the second and third floors. When renovating the house before moving into it fifteen years ago, they discovered a well in what is now the sitting room. It is still there but covered over. It may make a good wine cellar one day.
The attached goat house is also filled with interesting items including an old Spanish saddle.
Vince gave us a great tour of the house and property and was proud to share his heritage. We were treated to a fabulous meal in front of the original fireplace. I couldn’t help thinking about all the meals that had been shared in this house over the years. I’m sure the same warm hospitality we experienced has been extended to many over the centuries. I was so happy to know I have family here in Spain!
This will be our second Christmas in Spain. Last year our boxes hadn´t arrived so we decided not to decorate the place we were renting. (The first time in my life I didn´t decorate for Christmas) This year we have our own place and hubby cleverly packed some Christmas lights in his boxes. He went all out and decorated the terrace and even the palm tree. Ours is the only place on the block decorated and the neighbours love it!
We bought a small artificial Christmas tree (another first). I then realized I didn´t pack any ornaments. They went to our daughter´s place so they are in good hands. So I picked up a few things at the local dollar store and decorated it. I think it looks cheerful and makes the place very cosy.
Christmas in Spain is not the crazy commercial event it is in North America. The malls are decorated for Christmas but are very quiet with tons of parking spaces and no line ups at the tills. It didn´t seem right. I wanted to scream, “What is wrong with you people? Don´t you know it is only two weeks before Christmas??” Then I remembered, that is why we moved here. So we joined the others and relaxed over a cafe con leche.
There are many Christmas Fayres, brass bands playing around town and carol sings. Most events are in support of a charity. We attended a fun Christmas Fayre in a small town square last weekend and watched our wonderful eight-year-old friend, Ana Lucia, dance.
She was also part of the Nativity scene that assembled as a talented man sang “When A Child is Born.” It was very moving and made me feel full of the Christmas spirit.
Our young friend came for a visit with her parents to see the Christmas lights, the tree and sample some Christmas baking. She sends a Christmas greeting to my family and friends in Canada and all over the world! It just isn´t Christmas without kids and I´m so happy we have Ana Lucia in our lives. She is bi-lingual and helps me with my Spanish too.
I Skyped with my soon to be 87 year-old mom last week from her room at the retirement home. My brother set it up for her and my lovely granddaughter arranged it. My grandson and great granddaughter were there as well. My son stopped in for a surprise visit and we had a Skype party. It was great to see Mom so happy. The next evening my granddaughter and great granddaughter attended the Christmas dinner with mom at the home. Mom had a great time, as you can see, and enjoyed a glass of wine.
I am enjoying Christmas on both sides of the Atlantic. There is so much joy in my life my heart is bursting.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of Joy and Peace!!