Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Gabriola Island is a wonderful place to visit and since my daughter lives on a nearby island, I have had many opportunities to spend time on this peaceful paradise. On one occasion we visited an alpaca farm, much to my delight. I love camels and llamas; and alpacas are also part of the family of camelids. I was surprised to find that these creatures are so unique and loveable, with individual personalities. Here are a few pictures from my visit to these delightful creatures prized for their fine wool.



What´s not to love about this guy!


Getting a kiss from an alpaca

Getting a kiss from an alpaca





The wee ones




Daughter, her partner and his daughter. Love my family!

Daughter, her partner and his daughter at the alpaca farm . Love my family!

Children who love animals volunteer at the farm and are happy to show you around. You can purchase lovely alpaca hand made items in the shop.To learn more about Paradise Island Alpacas here is the website:


and here is a great video:


Have you been to a farm with unique animals?


I don´t consider myself a poet. I have far to much respect for poets to include myself as one of them. But I once composed a poem about my dear grandmother, although not that good, conveys how I felt about her. A cousin found it in a family history book and sent it to me recently. I thought I would share it.


I feel her blood running through my veins

I see her in my dreams

In my daughter´s determination

She often comes to mind

when I am baking

I still feel her soft warm hugs

Hear her reassuring words

Letting me know I am loved

I feel her frustrations

Dreams that didn´t work out

The power of her love for her family

The lack of love for herself

Her confusion enters my mind

Her craziness stirs my soul

We lost so much when she left us

She left us with so much

Darlene Foster, 1999


My grandmother, Lydia (Hoffman) Mehrer, was born in 1910 and passed away in 1978 at only 68 years old. I loved her so much and miss her everyday.

A picture of her and my grandfather shortly after they married in 1928. Grandpa kept this picture in his wallet for years. I have a copy hanging in my office above my computer to keep me going.

Gramma & Grampa Mehrer

Grandma and Grandpa with their  six children taken in 1950. My mom is standing next to Grandma.


I was the first of  her 32 grandchildren.  She was a wonderful grandmother who loved us unconditionally and made us all feel special. I consider myself blessed to have had her in my life.

Page in the family history book

Page in the family history book



My children and grandchildren still have them; but there are not many my age that are still in possession of their tonsils. For some reason, they were removed when we were children. I was about twelve years old when my younger brother had to have his tonsils surgically removed, so the doctor suggested we all have it done. Did we get a family discount?

I remembered overhearing a story about a child who bled to death during his tonsillectomy. So when it was my turn, I was convinced I would have the same sad fate and was very frightened. Coming out of the anaesthetic, I saw a blurry image of my mother bending over me touching my wrist. I guess she had the same concern.

Having survived the operation, I did what any aspiring writer would do; wrote a letter to my aunt who was my age, and my best friend. She had undergone the same operation a few months earlier. She has, amazingly, found the letter I had written to her. (I love that our family saves things like this.)


I no longer have readable penmanship. However, I still have terrible spelling and use the word lucky a lot.

Do you still have your tonsils? Do you remember having them removed?

Tonsiles, Darlene


I shared information about my mother´s mother´s family (Hoffman) so I think it only fair I  share something of my mother´s father´s side of the family (Mehrer). Both families were German immigrant farmers from South Russia and came to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to help populate and develop the prairie provinces.

Great-grandparents Andreas and Katerina Mehrer and family

Great-grandparents Andreas and Katharina Mehrer and their children

While in Calgary last month I stopped in to visit my grandfather’s only living sister, Meta, and her husband Lex. They  still live in their own home and put out a garden every year. At 91, Great Aunt Meta is in great shape and shared a wonderful story about her parents, my great grandparents, when they first settled on the homestead in southern Alberta.

As told to me by Meta (Mehrer) Davis

April 1912
Father was out turning sod, when he had some trouble with the horses. He called to Mother, who came across the road, leaving the little ones in the house, thinking she would only be a few minutes. It took a long time before she returned – to an empty house. Panic-stricken she rushed out, calling the little ones but all that greeted her was silence. After searching the yard she returned to the house wondering what she could say to their father.
In the Kitchen, on one of the walls there were six large hooks on which to hang heavy garments. On one of these hooks hung the long, black wool coat that Dad had brought from Europe. A long bench sat underneath. As she entered the kitchen she noticed a slight movement of the coat. She pulled it to one side and there sat four little people, sleeping and perspiring. John holding the baby and a little girl on each side of him.
He explained to his mother that she was gone so long that he decided to keep them safe in case someone came to take them away.

Note: It was not uncommon for children to be abducted in Europe in the 1800s and John had heard these stories. Their ages at the time Baby (Frieda) one year old, Martha 2 ½ years, Beth 4 years and John 5 ½ years.

It was my dear grandfather, John, who protected his siblings all those years ago. He is the gentleman sitting on the far left in the family picture. Aunt Meta is standing beside him. He married my grandmother, had six children, thirty-two grandchildren and many great grandchildren. I remember him as a kind and caring man, always making sure his family was safe.

I also had the opportunity to visit my grandfather´s only surviving brother, Great Uncle Paul. (He is the little boy between the great grandparents in the family picture above). He is 86 years old, the same age as Mom. He also lives in the same care home as my mom so she gets to see him often. He, along with his brother, Great Uncle Andrew, farmed the original homestead, until fairly recently. He also had many interesting stories to tell me.

Mom and her Uncle Paul

Mom and her Uncle Paul

Great Uncle Paul with a team of horses

Great Uncle Paul with a team of horses

The barn on the homestead painted by Great Aunt Hilda

The barn on the homestead, painted by Great Aunt Hilda

I wrote about the 100 year celebration of the Mehrer family here  if you wish to learn more about this side of the family.

It was so wonderful to spend time with my grandfather´s siblings and hear stories about him and the family. I just wish I had spent more time with him when he was with us, as Grandpa loved to share stories.

Do you have any old timers in the family that enjoy sharing stories of the past?

11071564_10153267314708936_3092559696858088784_n[1] (2) A couple of posts ago I showed this picture of my great grandparents, Henry and Katharina Hoffman taken when they arrived in Canada in 1909. They came from South Russia with three children, had one on the way to the homestead in Alberta (my grandmother) and had seven more once settled. 11659330_398384047028968_6797137594108185426_n This picture was taken much later with the surviving children. My grandmother is standing, third from the right. 11659330_398384040362302_2468084364640730572_n This picture of Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather Hoffman at their 50th Anniversary, in 1954, shows all the children and their spouses. My grandparents are the second couple on the right. The only one still with us is Great Uncle Tony, married to my grandmother´s sister Ann. (First couple on the left) The descendants of these brave, hardworking people have been meeting every five years for the past 30 years at The Hoffman Reunion. The reunions are organized by a different family group each time. This year the reunion was organized by the Raymond Becker family, descendants of Great Aunt Lindina, one of the little girls on the original picture. It is a lot of work and they did a great job. I am so glad I crossed the Atlantic to attend.

Descendants of Henry and Katherine Hoffman at the 2015 reunion

Descendants of Henry and Katharina Hoffman at the 2015 reunion

It was so great to see all my many cousins, aunts and uncles.  We ate fabulous German food, caught up on news, reminisced, played cards and board games, looked at old pictures, shared hugs and ate some more. Being together was all that mattered.  Family pictures were taken and loved ones no longer with us fondly remembered.  I brought my 14 year old  grandson and my 8 year old great granddaughter, who had a fabulous time. I was able to take mom out of the nursing home for a couple of hours to attend. At 86 she was almost the oldest person there. 136 attended this reunion; out of over 250 descendants spread all over the world, that is a good turn out. The youngest was 11 days old, the oldest 91.

My great granddaughter with my cousin´s granddaughter. We think they are 5th cousins

My great granddaughter with my cousin´s granddaughter, 5th cousins.

Mom with her brother and sister

Mom with her brother and sister

Great Uncle tony at 91 with some of his family

My Great Uncle Tony, at 91, with some of his family

A popular event, after the German meal and Hoffman Olympics, is the silent auction.  Family members donate items and others bid on them to raise funds for the next reunion in five years.  The bidding is fierce as everyone vies for cherished items such as hand knitted afghans, homemade wine, jams, pickles and many other treasures.  There is much friendly competition, no one gets hurt and most leave with something to take home.

Hoffman Olympics sack race

Hoffman Olympics sack race

Emma making a home run at the baseball game

Emma making a home run at the baseball game

Fun and games

Fun and games

You can see my great granddaughter had a lot of fun and met many relatives she didn’t´t know she had.

Lining up to eat (again)

Lining up to eat (again)

Everyone takes turns cooking

Everyone takes turns cooking



Every time I attend these events, I feel so blessed to belong to such a large loving family that stays in touch with each other, no matter where we live.

Some of my grandmother´s family

Some of my grandmother´s family

Sharing fond memories with cousins

Sharing fond memories with cousins

Someone made a special cake Note: not all the pictures were taken by me. Some were taken by cousins!

I just returned from a trip home to Alberta, Canada, where I attended my grandson´s graduation and a large family reunion, visited many friends and relatives and spent quality time with mom, my son and his family. Needless to say I had a wonderful time. I´ll let the pictures tell the story.

Proud Grandma

Proud Grandma

A proud family!

Proud parents and brother

I did it!

I did it!

So glad I could be there for this important occasion.

Calgary friends

Long time Calgary buddies

A friend I haven´t seen for many years

Catching up with a childhood friend I haven´t seen for many years

We worked together 35 years ago.

We worked together 35 years ago. Where does the time go?

Dinner with the grandsons

Dinner with the grandsons

My sweet great granddaughter

My sweet great granddaughter

With my other sweet great granddaughter at the reunion

With my other sweet great granddaughter at the family reunion

my other sweet great granddaughter giving her great great grandmother a ride in the garden

Giving her great great grandmother a ride in the garden


DSCN1618 (2)

With Mom and her sister at the family reunion

I saw many relatives I hadn´t seen for some time, including my 91 year old great aunt and her husband in Calgary, my dad´s 90 year old brother and my 86 year old great uncle in Medicine Hat. Always good to see them and hear their wonderful stories, some of which I plan to share on this blog.

I´ll write more about the family reunion which deserves its own post.

It´s now day 5 of the Five Day Challenge. This is how it works: Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

This is my picture for day 5

11071564_10153267314708936_3092559696858088784_n[1] (2)

Family Picture 1909

This is one of my favourite family pictures. As you can see it is very old. It is of my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother, Henry and Katherina Hoffman, my great Uncle Gust and Great Aunts, Tillie and Lindina. Great Grandmother is expecting  my grandmother in this picture. The family had just arrived in Canada from South Russia. As Germans living in South Russia, they could no longer stay due to the political climate at the time. After crossing the Atlantic in a cattle ship, they were about to travel by train across Canada to their homestead in southern Alberta. The journey was delayed by a stop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where my grandmother, Lydia, was born. Once settled on the prairies, Great Grandmother gave birth to nine more children. I remember her as a strong, hardworking woman who always put family first.

This will be my last blog for a couple of weeks as I am travelling to Canada soon to attend a Hoffman family reunion in southern Alberta where the many descendants of these hardy, brave individuals will celebrate with food and stories, and carry on the tradition of family get-togethers. I expect to see well over one hundred relatives. We are all forever grateful that these incredible people made the decision to immigrate to Canada when they did.

Now I would like to nominate Marylin at Things I want to Tell my Mother Marylin writes wonderful stories about her mother, before the onset of Alzheimer´s, in a compassionate and often humorous style. You will enjoy her blog.

Thank you so much for following these posts.

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