Darlene Foster's Blog

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Bette Frisch: December 25th, 1928 to March 17th, 2021

My heart is broken as I recently lost my dear sweet mom. I know she is at peace and with my dad and brother, but I will miss seeing her smiling face forever. Due to Covid, I was not able to say goodbye or be with the family at the small graveside service in Canada, which was very upsetting. However, I have many good memories that bring me much comfort. As my daughter said, she showed us what unconditional love looked like.

Mom was a Christmas baby, born December 25th, 1928 at Hilda, Alberta, the oldest of six children. She first attended school at Echodale where her Aunt Beth was the teacher. She enjoyed school and was a good student. She met the love of her life, Herb Frisch, at a local dance and married him on October 2, 1947. They were married for 59 years, until his passing in 2007. Family was everything to Mom. She devoted her life to looking after everyone, even those not part of our family. She was an excellent cook, baker, seamstress, knitter and gardener. Everyone loved her kuchen and perogies. Her traditional German food was delicious, but she was not afraid to try new recipes. Her Christmas dinners and branding party spreads are legendary. Her home was always open to guests, and she could whip up a fabulous meal for unexpected visitors with little effort. No one left her house hungry. Mom worked hard on the farm, milking cows, feeding pigs and chickens, making her own butter, bread, jams and preserves, and tending a large vegetable garden. Every night before bed, she wrote in her journal, documenting the days activities. Her strong faith sustained her throughout her life especially during times of great sorrow. She was an active member of the United Church of Canada, where she taught Sunday school, was a CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training) leader and belonged to the UCW (United Church Women) for many years.

Mom loved Tim Horton’s ice caps, nice clothes, dancing with dad, playing scrabble with Aunt Barbara and reading my books. But most of all, she loved all of us. She had four children, three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and people she made to feel like part of the family.

Here is what one cousin had to say about her after hearing of her passing:

Bette – Small but mighty…she moved with quick, efficient steps in the kitchen, a tea towel over one shoulder while scraping the cake batter from mixing bowl to baking pan – another coffee cake ready to bake! Herb and Bette’s home was home for so many of us! She welcomed all of us! Always fun and laughter, warmth and love. That short 35 minute drive out for just the day or a three-night sleep over! Or those gatherings in Elkwater for a day-long picnic. Or visits to our house after getting grocery – the ice cream was always brought in to the freezer so they could stay for supper! Oh silly memories, but they mean so much! 

Another cousin had this to say:

Our family visited the Frisch’s farm many times when I was a child and my brother and I would stay a few days each summer. Bette and Herb were always welcoming and hospitable. Being able to experience a mixed farming operation and seeing how Bette and Herb embraced this lifestyle of hard work was a positive influence. Bette was always friendly and always answered her younger cousins’ questions about the farm.

And from two nieces:

I have such amazing memories of Auntie Bette. She was a true gem and never missed a birthday. Even when we got funny gifts! We were blessed to have such a beautiful person in our lives.

Aunty Bette is definitely an important part of my life – childhood memories on the farm shelling washtubs full of peas, riding horses, wonderful meals and evening cards or games with snacks before bedtime!

And from one of her former CGIT members:

Betty was a wonderful lady and mentor for me in my youth. 

A sweet and kind woman who will be missed by many. May you fly with the angels, Mom. 

Here is a video I created with a collection of pictures from mom´s life.

There are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest if the three is love. 1 Corinthians 13, 13

Although some of you already know about this, I´m so excited to share this news. After some consideration, we adopted another dog, a little sister for Dot! Her name is Lia, she is three years old and a bodeguero, the same breed as our Dot. She is a bundle of energy and a real sweetheart. Dot is starting to get used to having her around. Like all new parents, we have taken tons of pictures.

Lia the day she arrived
Sharing our bed
Sleeping outside in the sun

Lia has her own bed but insists on sleeping in Dot´s
Going for a car ride
Sharing the backseat
Lia enjoying a visitor
Waiting for Dad to take them to the beach
Sharing the new outside bed

Having fun at the beach.

Lia with her new Dad
Dot and mini me

You can be sure there will be more pictures!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

We have so much to be thankful for. What was I doing at this time last year? I was launching Amanda in Holland and visiting friends and family. I am so thankful I was able to do that. For now, I am thankful I have the pictures to look back on. Stay safe everyone. xo

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Darlene Foster's Blog

I was missing in action for the last month as I went to Canada to promote the latest Amanda Travels book as well as visit friends and family. It was a very successful trip, although a bit tiring. Here’s a sample of what I was up to.

I visited four schools in Alberta and BC, consisting of a variety of class sizes and students. All delightful with many questions and comments. My favourite part of being a published author is visiting schools and reading to the children. When I walked into one class, a young boy shouted, “She´s here! She´s here! I can´t believe she´s here!” For a moment I felt like a rock star. 




I launched my latest book, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action, at Albany Books in Tsawwassen, BC, a community I lived in for fifteen years. I love this friendly, locally-owned, independant bookstore that has…

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Like everyone else, many of my plans for this year have been ruined due to the global pandemic. A long-anticipated trip to Venice, a trip to the UK to see longtime friends and to celebrate a good friend’s 70th birthday, a meeting with a Canadian friend in Valencia, visits from Canadian friends during their around the world tour, and a trip to Canada to attend my youngest grandson’s high school graduation and a huge family reunion – all cancelled. But the biggest disappointment of all, is missing the opportunity to see my 91-year-old mom.

Mom is well looked after in a care home in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I keep in touch with the staff on a regular basis, and they have informed me that she is doing well, is happy and healthy. They are doing a great job of keeping the residents safe, and no cases of COVID 19 have been detected in the care home, which is a relief and I am so thankful.

But she is not allowed any visitors, for obvious reasons. As a result, I’ve not been able to Skype or FaceTime with her from Spain for the past four months, as it is the visitors who facilitate these video calls. I keep feeling she will think she’s been abandoned because no one comes to see her. I send her emails, as do my brothers, that the staff read out to her, but I really wish I could see her, at least on a screen if not in person.

The care home recently started allowing the residents to have visits by appointment. These visits are held outside with the regulated two-metre distancing and both parties wearing masks. My darling granddaughter made an appointment last week and visited Mom. It was hard not to be able to hug her great-grandmother or hold her hand. Mom has difficulty hearing and her own voice is very soft so the distance made conversation almost impossible. Initially, mom didn’t recognize her, but when she pulled down the mask for a quick smile, mom nodded and smiled in recognition. Of course, there were tears. As there were for me when I saw the pictures and video.

Mom wearing her face mask.
A quick photo of her without the mask.
Mom with a visit from her great-granddaughter.

There wasn’t much conversation but there was a lot of love. I was so happy to see these images and to see that Mom is all right and smiling.

This is what my dear granddaughter had to say about her visit:

“I booked a visit with my lovely Great Grandma. I have always had a close emotional bond with Grandma Frisch. She often took care of me when I was young, most weekends and more, and I returned the care to her when she needed it. I love her so much. Grandma’s existence throughout her whole life thrived on family. Thrived on making sure her family was ok by visiting, keeping in touch, and keeping close bonds. She is now in her 90s so she cannot hear very well and speaks very softly. Visits with Grandma are always in close contact so we can hear each other and feel the close presence.

Visiting Grandma like this, in today’s world, I had no idea I would break down. She didn’t recognize who I was at first with a mask on so I broke the rule and pulled it down for a smile. She lit up and smiled back and said I love you. We sat for our 30 minutes of no touch, no conversation, just eye contact. And uncontrollable tears from me. It is saddening, heartbreaking, and just too frustrating to even bare the strength of holding it back. I tried to hide my tears as best as I could… and I’m usually pretty strong.. but I could see that she knew. She tried to unlock her wheelchair brakes to come to console me. But of course, she couldn’t. So I smiled instead and said over and over I Love You.

I did ask, as she was about to be taken back, that we take off our masks for a real smile. The nurse thankfully said that was ok.

Our poor elders. What is this for … what is worse… and at what cost? Humans need humans. Humans need touch, humans need love…. we survive on it. Love through our eyes at a distance will have to do for now. Grandma is well, Grandma looks amazing, and I told her everyone loves her and thinks about her every day. ❤️

Suddenly small things don’t matter anymore like eyebrow waxing or hair cuts, when there are innocent people literally dying alone. And not just from COVID19.”

I feel incredibly proud of this young woman and touched by her words. And so very grateful that she shared this with me.

Who have you been missing during these days of lockdown? Have you been able to see your loved ones?

Stay safe my friends.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers and mother figures out there. It will be different this year as we can’t get together, but the love will be just as strong. Recently I was guest on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Friends and Family series where she featured a post I wrote about my dear mom. For those of you who haven’t seen it, enjoy.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares memories of her mother, a tribute on Mother’s Day 2015, which despite being celebrated on different dates around the world, is a very important day of celebration.

The Gift of a Wonderful Mother by Darlene Foster

Mother´s day is a special day in many parts of the world although is not celebrated on the same day. Today it is Mother´s Day in Canada and the US and it was Mother´s Day in Spain last Sunday. In the UK, Mothering Sunday, sometimes known as Mother’s Day, is held on the…

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I am a guest on Sally´s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine where she features a post from my archives about my wonderful dad.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares a lovely post about her dad, who was a real life cattle man, and also shares some of his down to earth wisdom. This was first posted in 2014

Cowboy Wisdom

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My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hard-working man of integrity, loyalty and determination, he almost always wore his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt. He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you…

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The youngest member of my immediate family, my great-granddaughter, just turned ten. Ten! How did that happen? She is an amazing kid, wise beyond her years, kind, smart, funny, hardworking and an animal lover. Even though I don’t see her often, I have a close bond with her. She even goes to the school I attended all those years ago, and she is an Amanda fan. I spoke to her on her birthday, which made my day. Here are just a few pictures of her through the first ten years of her life. Some taken by me and others by her mom and other family members.

A sweet baby
A determined toddler
Visiting me in Vancouver
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Best buds
All ready for school
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A visit to Santa
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So excited
An Amanda fan
A real sweetheart
Helping me sell books
A school project based on a book I gave her
With some of her dog pals
Almost as tall as me.
Four generations of women
Reading to her dog.
Playing with her cat in the snow
Getting ready.
Ten years old. Love this little woman.

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time…”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

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Susie Lindau is featuring a Blessed Project on her blog and I’ve decided to join in since Christmas is a perfect time to count your blessings! Here is the link if you would like to join in too. https://susielindau.com/2019/11/26/join-the-blessed-project-i-will-feature-yours/

I have been blessed with an amazing family.

The best parents ever! (Yup, that’s from the 90s)
A son who is a super dad, grandfather, and musician
An amazing talented potter daughter
and great brothers
Awesome grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Grandsons to be proud of
Fabulous granddaughters
A happy son with his kids and grandkids.
Blessed to have five generations in our family
A loving husband who keeps me laughing
And the sweetest dog!

I am blessed to be part of a huge German Canadian family with many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are a few of them, but not all.

My wonderful aunts and uncle

I have also been blessed with many friends, some I have had since childhood, who support me and make me feel loved every day.

Friends since babies

So you can see that I am indeed blessed and I am grateful every day.

May you have a blessed holiday season and new year with the special people in your life!!

Thanks, Susie for this opportunity to be part of the Blessed Project

I was missing in action for the last month as I went to Canada to promote the latest Amanda Travels book as well as visit friends and family. It was a very successful trip, although a bit tiring. Here’s a sample of what I was up to.

I visited four schools in Alberta and BC, consisting of a variety of class sizes and students. All delightful with many questions and comments. My favourite part of being a published author is visiting schools and reading to the children. When I walked into one class, a young boy shouted, “She´s here! She´s here! I can´t believe she´s here!” For a moment I felt like a rock star. 

Amanda Travels fans in Okotoks, Alberta

“Any questions?” Look at all those hands in Airdrie, Alberta

Reading to students in the comfy chair in Sunrise Ridge, BC. It doesn´t get any better.

Eager students in Stirling, Alberta

I launched my latest book, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action, at Albany Books in Tsawwassen, BC, a community I lived in for fifteen years. I love this friendly, locally-owned, independant bookstore that has supported my books since the start. 

With my amazing publisher at Albany Books

I also held a book signing at Chapters Indigo in Coquitlam, on the other side of the city, which was also well attended. Chapters is a large Canadian chain, with each store run like a local independent store. The staff and atmosphere at Pine Tree Village couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming.

At Chapters/Indigo in Pine Tree Village, Coquitlam, BC

I also had a table at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference where I sold books and met other wonderful writers including Diana Gabaldon, the creator of the Outlander series. I love her books and her.

My table at SiWC, one of the largest writers´ conferences in North America
A favourite author, Diana Gabaldon. A fabulous writer and a lovely person.

In Medicine Hat, my home town, I held a reading and signing at the charming Inspire Art Cafe. It was awesome to see so many folks come out and support my writing. I had a sweet young helper too.

At Inspire Art Cafe with a special helper

It wasn’t all about books though. I spent wonderful times with family and friends.

I visited my great aunt and great uncle in their new home. My great aunt is the last of my grandparents’ siblings and doing very well in spite of breaking her hip earlier this year at ninety-five years old.

And later I met their great-grandaughter, Anika, at a library presentation in Calgary.

Anika is my fourth cousin.

I stopped in to have a cup of tea with my Aunt Peggy and she made an apple pie, from scratch, just for me!

The best apple pie ever, warm from the oven!

Of course, I spent some good times with mom and my son and his family

Mom loves her Tim Horton’s ice caps!
Mom with my grandsons and great-granddaughters
My son and his granddaughter

I took a floatplane to Gabriola Island to spend three glorious days with my potter daughter
On the floatplane to Gabriola Island
The little green and yellow rowboat is how I got to her island

I watched her make horsehair raku pottery. Fascinating.

Creating horsehair raku
Sharing Ethiopian food with my brother

There were many visits with other family members and friends, shared meals, coffees, and sleepovers. Everyone had pets so I had lots of fur babies to cuddle. I may share those pictures on another post.

I encountered rain, snow, sunshine, strong winds and more rain, sometimes all on the same day! I traveled by plane, train, car, bus, truck, taxi, floatplane, and rowboat. It was a busy time with never a dull moment but I loved every minute!

I follow the blog of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitkzee at A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie is an amazing teacher who truly loves her job and shares her 30-year teaching experiences with her readers. In some of her posts, she talks about the importance of reading out loud and of reading chapter books to children who cannot yet read. Here is some of what she has to say.

Jennie and her students with a favourite chapter book

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by Jennie

In order to read, and more importantly to want to read, it all starts with parents and family reading aloud to children, every day. The statistics on reading aloud and its link to academic success in all areas is profound. If reading is a pleasurable experience, then school work is by far easier. Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we’ve got 100 percent of enthusiastic kindergarteners when they start school. The National Report Card found that among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read for pleasure. Among eighth graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure. By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily. Yikes! What happened? The better question might be, what did not happen?

The seeds of not only learning to read but loving to read were not planted early. Reading aloud to children for 30 minutes every day, starting at birth and continuing after they have learned to read, is the single best thing a parent can do to build a reader. I know this. When I read aloud in my classroom, it’s the time that children are totally absorbed. Totally. A good story, read aloud, is the best learning and pleasure experience I give to children. It opens the door to questions and discovery.

People often ask why I chapter read.  After all, many of the children in my classroom are three-years-old.  When we chapter read, the children don’t have an image from a picture book.  They have to make the pictures in their head.  That requires language development.  The more they hear, the more they learn.  Even the youngest children benefit enormously.  For example, they may not ‘get’ the humor of the goose repeating everything three times in Charlotte’s Web, but they are still getting a huge dose of language.  And, that language is sparking their imagination.  No pictures; just words pouring into eager, young minds and creating their own images.

Jennie discussing a chapter book with a student

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school.  Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and talk.  They ask questions.  When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children.  They are preschoolers.  Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds.  It is marvelous.  After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”.  Learning can happen unexpectedly, and reading aloud is often the catalyst.  Children don’t need to sit and listen to a book in silence.  Asking questions is a good thing!

Reading aloud is the gift of language, and language is the most important element in a child’s development and success in school.  Wow!  The number of words a child knows can be directly attributed to his or her success in school; not just in English, but in Math and Science as well.  Perhaps these are the most important words a parent can hear.  Reading aloud is a strong part of my classroom curriculum, and children love it!  The more you read aloud at home increases your child’s development!  The biggest bonus is bonding together.  Nothing beats snuggling with Mom or Dad, one-on-one, reading a book.  Life is good!

Jennie

I have often been asked why I don’t have my Amanda Travels books illustrated. This is why. I want my readers to create their own images. I also hesitate to categorize my books for 8 to 12-year-olds as many pre-schoolers enjoy my books being read to them by adults or older siblings. One grandmother read my books to her three-year-old granddaughter, who loved them and drew pictures of Ali Baba the camel from Amanda in Arabia. This young woman is now 12 and still enjoys reading, including the Amanda Travels series.

Follow Jennie’s blog with more meaningful reflections of an experienced teacher https://jenniefitzkee.com/


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