Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I am honoured to have my story about my inspiring great-grandmothers featured on Bernadette’s blog. Some of you may have read it before but if you haven’t, please pop over and have a read and leave a comment if you wish.

Haddon Musings

“We can have feminist icons, but the real heroines are just quietly doing what is needed.”  Osyth

The following post was written by Darlene Foster who writes at Darlenefoster.wordpress.com.  It is the tale of her two great-grandmothers who made a fulfilling life for themselves and their families while enduring great hardships.  What struck me about this story, of these two real heroines, was that Darlene said that because of the legacy of these women it has given her the confidence and courage to know that she can thrive under any circumstance.

A Tale of Two Katharinas, a Legacy of Strong Women

“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 women with hearts of gold. One…

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I am fascinated by graveyards, always have been. The older the better. I visit them wherever I go, including Canada, the US, England, Spain, Holland and ancient sites in the United Arab Emirates and Malta. I love to wander the site and think about the individuals buried there. I don’t find them spooky, but rather peaceful, often sad and full of stories. When I was visiting my granddaughter in southern Alberta last summer we went for a drive in the prairies and discovered a well-kept, old cemetery not too far from her place. There were only about a dozen gravestones but what we found was amazing. This was the final resting place of my great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, Juliana Wegner Frisch.

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We found my great-great-grandmother buried here in the Eagle Butte Little Plume Cemetery

 

 

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German translation – Mother Juliana Frisch, born Wegner, born Jan 27, 1852, died Sept 17, 1927, Age 75 years, 8 months and 21 days

I have written quite a lot on this blog about my mother’s side of the family but we don’t know as much about my father’s side (Frisch) except that they were also German people who immigrated to North America from south Russia. They arrived in the late 1800s and many settled initially in the United States. My brother and my dad’s cousin have done some research and from what they discovered, Johann Frisch and his wife Juliana Wegner were both born in south Russia in an area what was, at the time, called Bessarabia.  They emigrated from Hamburg, Germany on April 20, 1898, arriving in New York on May 6, 1898, on a ship named “S.S.Scotia.”  With them were all seven of their surviving children, including my great-grandparents, John Frisch and Sophie (Schlect), who had already met and married in Russia. Johann and Juliana homesteaded in southern Alberta and later moved into the town of Irvine to set up a livery stable business and later a mail delivery business.

After retiring to the city of Medicine Hat, they split up in 1917.  Julianna lived the remainder of her life with her daughters until she passed away in 1927. Johann moved to the US where he passed away in 1928 on a “poor farm” in Portland, Oregon where he is buried. I can´t help but wonder why they went their separate ways.

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It was an awesome feeling to be there, at the place where my roots in Canada began. But even more amazing was the reaction of my seven-year-old great-granddaughter who was totally aware of the significance of the place. She was very serious and solemn and asked good questions. This woman was eight generations from her and resting only ten miles from where she lived!

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Standing beside the grave of her 5 times great-grandmother and feeling emotional

All the graves, although old, were in good repair. Apparently, other members of the family are buried there as well, some without gravestones.

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Always sad to see a baby’s grave.

There was a church nearby and I assume the congregation must look after the graveyard.

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And in amongst the dry grass, I found little flowers blooming and it made me think of how life is created and carries on no matter what. How a woman with seven children arrived in a new country, thrived and is responsible for so many descendants. I looked at my great-granddaughter and thought of how her legacy lives on.DSCN0193

The only picture of Juliana I could find was in the Frisch Family Tree book, painstakingly compiled by my dad’s cousin, Reuben Frisch. In the book, nine generations are documented and 1153 people listed (including spouses). In the front cover he wrote,  Thanks to these two people, Johann Frisch and Juliana Wegner who came to Canada, with their children, we get to live the good life.

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Thank you, Juliana Frisch. May you rest in peace.

On this special day, November 11, I want to share with you a poem recited by my seven-year-old great-granddaughter. It is so important that every generation understands the meaning of Remembrance Day and why we wear a poppy. Here is her short video.

Isn´t she a sweety?

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Even our Dot wears a poppy.

Take a couple of minutes to remember and think of those who did all they could to preserve our freedoms.

I was sad to hear of the recent devasting prairies fires near Hilda where I was raised in southern Alberta. Many farms and ranches were affected as wildfires, spurred by high winds, raced through acres of land destroying property, machines, stored grain, feed and livestock. In efforts to contain the fires, volunteer firefighters worked tirelessly. One young volunteer, a father of three, lost his life when the water tank truck he was driving overturned. I learned he was the son of a former schoolmate of mine. My heart goes out to his wife and children. Fires are so awful.

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A photo I used as a prompt for my writing workshop in Vancouver.

Our family was not spared, although not to such a great degree.  The house my great-grandfather, Henry Hoffman, built in 1915 soon after immigrating to Canada was destroyed when the fires swept through the homestead. Although the house stood vacant for years it contained many memories. My own mom, Henry and Katherina’s granddaughter, was born in this house almost 89 years ago. By the time I was born, my great-grandparents had retired to the city and it was their son, my great uncle John, who lived in the house with his wife and family. Since we lived nearby and they were our favourite relatives, I spent many happy times sharing meals and playing with my second cousins at this place.

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A recent picture of the Hoffman house taken by Debbie Hoffman Nagel, granddaughter of Henry and Katherina Hoffman.

Over the years, whenever in the area, we would visit the homestead and reminisce. I particularly loved the old barn, built from rocks and clay by my great-grandfather, as it had so much character. Sad to say it was also destroyed by the recent wildfire.

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The barn built by Great Grandpa Hoffman

This was not the first time fire has visited this farm. Back in 1910 when they first arrived at their homestead, a wooden shack was built for Henry and Katherina, their four small children and Henry’s parents to live in. While they were all out digging a well one day, a suspicious fire consumed their shack. Not to be deterred, they replaced it with two sod shacks until the large two-story wooden building was built to accommodate the growing family. Nine additional children were born in this house. Sadly, as often happened in those days, only five survived infancy. The nine surviving children produced hundreds of descendants who remember this farm with fondness.

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What was left after the prairie fire, October 2017

The buildings are gone, but the memories will live forever through pictures and stories from the many descendants of these enterprising people.

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A picture taken in 1927 of  Great Grandpa Henry Hoffman standing outside the house and barn he built.

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Henry and Katherina with their children and some of their grandchildren, taken in 1942.

Note: The pictures are a collection of mine and my cousin’s.

My granddaughter has started a new venture and I am so proud of her. She has always loved animals and has worked with pets for some time now, most recently managing a boarding kennel and volunteering at a shelter. She has purchased, along with her husband, a chunk of property outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta and opened her own boarding kennel called Aunty’s Place Pet Boarding. I can assure you those pets will get so much care, attention and love. I was happy to spend some time with her during my recent visit. She had just opened for business and was already busy. She is working hard and I know she will do well.

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There is a special place for cats at Aunty´s Place.

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Oscar lives there but he doesn’t mind all the extra guests

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Thumbelina making herself at home

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Another happy guest

And tons of room for dogs of all shapes and sizes

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Welcoming committee

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Dog guests having fun with neighbouring cows looking on.

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An early morning run.

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A satisfied customer

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The spacious house with the office in front.

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Fabulous prairie view from the back deck

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With helpers, a brother and daughter. A family run business.

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Many lovely fir trees from BC had been planted in the yard. We’re standing by a gorgeous blue spruce we named appropriately, Bruce.

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A very tidy office

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Professional  business cards

Animals instinctively know this is a safe place. Recently a stray mother cat appeared on the doorstep with seven little ones in tow. They were fed of course and homes were found for them.

Through hard work and perseverance, my granddaughter’s dream has come true. I couldn’t be more proud of her and her family. The property is near where I grew up and, get this, my great-granddaughter is now attending the same school I did!

Check out the facebook page and like it. Be warned, cuteness alert. She posts pictures of her adorable guests. 

https://www.facebook.com/auntysplacepetboarding/

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Remember, if you haven´t yet, there is still time to enter my giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4e6fad2120/?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stevie Turner has a new feature on her blog site called share your short story. I encourage you to submit a story   https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/new-category-share-your-short-story/     Here’s mine!

Prize Winner

By Darlene Foster

We were close to being a perfect family and we didn’t need anyone else to disrupt things. Mom, good at family planning, spaced the three of us out evenly. Three years apart seemed just right, as far as I was concerned. A sister would have been nice. But in spite of the fact that little brothers could be annoying, I felt happy with the way things turned out.

I was not happy when I heard another baby was about to join our family. At almost sixteen, I didn’t relish the idea of looking after a little kid and missing out on parties and fun stuff. Why did mom have to have another baby? Couldn’t she be more responsible and think of the rest of us? Besides, wasn’t she too old to be lugging around a small child? Angry at this turn of events, I decided not to speak to her ever again.

Mom explained that she hadn’t planned this and it disrupted her life too. “Things don’t always turn out the way we want but we have to accept them and make the best of the situation,” she said.

I didn’t care how Mom felt and refused to look up from my book as she spoke. My life was about to be ruined.

Mom looked awfully tired at times, and although I was not speaking to her, I tried to do as many of her chores as I could. I had a packed schedule with school, choir practice, drama club and Canadian Girls in Training. There’d be no time for the extra work a new baby in the house would entail. What if the child cried and I couldn’t do my homework or study for exams? Could we even afford another mouth to feed?

February arrived, soon time for the annual Valentines Day dance at school – and I had nothing to wear! Mom had a piece of burgundy baby-wide corduroy in her sewing chest and we bought a Chanel style suit pattern the last time we were in town. She promised to have the suit made for the dance. After doing all the farm chores and cooking meals, she was always too tired to start the project. I would die if I had to wear something old to the dance. We had no money for a store-bought dress.

Besides being a good seamstress, Mom was a great cook and baked mouth-watering desserts. She often entered her recipes in contests, attended the bake-offs and won prizes. That year she entered her Apple Cottage Cheese Pie recipe in the Medicine Hat News Recipe Contest. She passed her love of baking and cooking on to me and we enjoyed trying different recipes together. Once I entered a recipe contest and won a Five Roses Cook Book for honourable mention.

Mom also taught me to sew long before I took Home Economics in high school. I had already made a few things for myself: a shift dress, a couple of pop tops and a pair of shorts. By the time I took Home Economics, the obligatory pot holder and apron were a piece of cake for me. I ended up assisting the others with their sewing projects which was much appreciated by the overworked teacher.

The new baby was due mid-February. Mom finally cut the suit out of the corduroy and assured me it would be completed for the Valentine’s Dance. During the night of February 9, Dad woke us up to say he was taking Mom to the hospital as the baby was coming – and would I look after my brothers.

I mumbled, “Sure,” while I snuggled deeper under the warm quilt.

My third brother was born on February 10. Dad reported mother and baby doing well. The news didn’t have much effect on me except that mom would not be home until after the dance, and she had barely started on the suit.

I moved the sewing machine out of my parent’s bedroom into mine, studied the fabric pieces and sewing instructions, and with much care, made the A-line skirt. I admired the finished product in the mirror. It fit just right and actually looked store bought. I had never made anything as difficult as a jacket. I followed the instructions to a T and took my time. After a couple of frustrating hours fitting the sleeves so they were smooth, the jacket was finished – the night before the dance. Even the buttonholes looked good.

I felt like Jackie Kennedy in that suit. I received many compliments and didn’t sit out one dance. My town friends, in store-bought dresses, asked me if I could make them a suit just like it. It was my shining hour.

There was still the issue of a new person soon to inhabit our already crowded home, and I was not looking forward to it. They better not think I would babysit or help out in any way because I just wouldn’t. I had too much too much to do already. This baby wasn’t my concern.

I began to put things away in Mom’s sewing chest and considered sewing myself something else after the success of the suit. Mom had lots of pieces of material that she never got around to sewing. In my search through the fabric, I came across a large piece of canary yellow flannelette and a package of baby patterns.

An idea started to form. The sewing machine was still in my bedroom and it would be a couple more days until mom came home. I spent the entire weekend sewing a baby bunting bag for my new little brother. It turned out so cute. I looked forward to seeing him in it.

On Sunday I gave the house a good cleaning since Mom was coming home the next day. First, she had to go the Medicine Hat News office to collect her prize for the Apple Cottage Cheese Pie recipe and get her picture taken. Dad took the dress she requested when he went to pick her up from the hospital. He also took the bunting bag.
Dad, Mom, and baby arrived home soon after we got home from school. Mom beamed as she handed me a cute little person in a canary yellow, flannelette bunting bag. “Thanks for making this for your little brother.”

I held the precious bundle and fell in love. We had lots of room in our house and our hearts for this little guy. He would be fun to look after.
The following weekend Mom’s picture appeared in the Medicine Hat News. With a big smile, Mom held her prize-winning pie in front of her. No one could tell she had just had a baby and could not do up the zipper in the back of her dress.

Mom may have won an electric frying pan for her prize-winning recipe but I got the best prize – my wonderful little brother!

Featured in the anthology, In the Moment – Inspiring Hope 

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Dad and my three brothers.

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Lunch with my youngest brother and my awesome website designer.

After visiting six cities in BC and Alberta, travelling by car, train, metro, bus, large and small aircraft and ferry, I am back in Spain and back to blogging. It feels like such a long time since I wrote my last post. The trip was successful on so many levels. I was able to see many family members and friends. The time spent with my mom was precious and seeing my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was wonderful. I was treated to many amazing meals, picnics, a Monet Exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a remarkable production of Much Ado About Nothing at Bard on the Beach and a performance by my son’s new band who dedicated the first song to me! I launched Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind and sold out of books at a couple of the venues. Visiting schools, libraries, and bookstores is always a pleasure for me. A week as a workshop leader at the Vancouver Public Library´s Writers and Book Camp was a real treat as was presenting at the BC Association of Travel Writers.

It was a busy schedule and I am now catching up on sleep and chores but I wanted to share a few pictures with you. I’ll start with the most important, my family.

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Mom with me and my great-granddaughter, Emma.

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An Amanda Travel’s fan

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With my handsome musician son and his daughter

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Sharing Mexican food with grandson No. 1.

 

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His first car!

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Sharing Indian food with grandson No. 2

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Grandson at his youth group’s garden produce stand.

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Great granddaughter, Devin

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Another Amanda Travels fan with a matching Day of the Dead bowl.

They are all growing up and becoming amazing young folks. I enjoyed every minute I spent with them. Then it was off to Vancouver Island.

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Beautiful potter daughter showing off the skirt I brought her from Cordoba. I think she likes it!

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Best buds

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Cousins at the beach

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Typical fabulous family meal, with daughter and cousins. I am so lucky!!

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My new grand-puppy Petite Du Champs. Love him to bits.

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Enjoyable lunch in Calgary with the younger brother who is also my clever website designer.

More to come. I missed blogging and was pleased to see my posts continued to be read and commented on while I was away. You folks rock!!


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