Tuesday 24 September 2019


It was a very long day yesterday, nearly nine hours of driving and a few hours spent visiting with family and wandering the roads of our childhood.  I'm so grateful for my brother R, he was the driver and the instigator in the trip down memory lane.  I drove out to his farm about 7:30 a.m. and we were in the truck and on our way a few minutes later.  It is about a four hour drive to our home town, but we took the scenic route which added another 30-45 minutes to the trip. 

Our detour took us down the Cherry Ridge Road, which was the main grid road leading to our parent's farm.  The farm was sold in 1991 when they moved to town to the son of a neighbour and he lives there still.

The house I grew up in is no longer there, as it burned down several years ago.  K has rebuilt, and his new home is heated and cooled by geothermal.  Mom's garden is still there, though somewhat than it was when I was a child.  K was in the garden picking potatoes when we drove past, so we drove into the yard and had a short visit.  

There are still two old buildings from our time left on the yard.  The old single car garage was there as long as I can remember. I'm 60 now, so it's been there a long time!  The old building to the left of it was moved onto the yard sometime after I moved from home in 1978 but it was an old building then too.  

What we both remarked on was that the yard seemed smaller than we remembered.  K has added a number of buildings and bins so perhaps that explains our perception.  Mom's flower beds no longer exist but K has done a good job of maintaining the farm yard.  Too, he's done much to make the property energy efficient and sustainable. 

We continued on the grid road, pointing out to each other the side roads that led to the homes of the various families on the bus route.  When one of us couldn't a name, the other generally could.  We reached the highway and had a choice to turn left to the take the "new" bridge (built in the 1970's) or turn right and use the old bridge into town.  We chose to turn right...which as it turned out was the best choice as the new bridge is undergoing some construction.

The old bridge was constructed from 1928 to 1930, and provided access to the town as well as the railway.  I don't remember seeing a train crossing very often though I'm certain it was used when I was a child.  Since the new bridge was opened, the old bridge was outfitted with traffic lights so that traffic could only cross in one direction at a time.  R and I laughed about that because it wasn't unusual for our school bus to meet a grain truck on the bridge.  Both vehicles would pull in the mirrors and inch past one another.  It wasn't always a speedy maneuver but it got done.  

After a drive down main street, we turned onto Center street and stopped at a mural that was painted in the 1990's.  The town has thirteen of these murals but this one is special to us.  On the left of the mural, the third man (nearest to the child peering in the window) is our Dad. This is how I remember him, striding along on his way to ...coffee row, the museum to volunteer, heading home for lunch.  He either walked or rode his bicycle pretty much every where until he wasn't able to do so any more.  

As we were taking our photos a lady stopped to chat and it turned out that the little girls in the mural were her young daughters and a friend.  Before we left, R had me take a photo of him walking alongside Dad.  

We headed over to a local restaurant to meet our cousins, B and D, along with B's son M, and D's daughters, K and K.  I haven't met D's daughters before, lovely young women who are in the early 20's.  They live in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and one has recently completed her university degree, the second is in her final year, both attending school in Edmonton, Alberta.  We had a great lunch, good food, good conversation, and as is always the case with this group lots of teasing and laughter.  

Before we headed to the funeral four of us, B and M, R and I, stopped by the house in town that Mom and Dad lived in after leaving the farm.  They purchased the house from B and later we sold it back to him, when Dad moved to the nursing home.  We laughed because the house was sold three times for the same price.  First when B originally purchased it, the sale to Mom and Dad, and the sale back to B several years later.  He subsequently did some renovations and resold it...I'm assuming at a much more significant price.  The new owners put on a porch on the front but it recently burned.  The house is currently uninhabitable and has a sign indicating there is asbestos.  We suspect it was found in the insulation in the old house.  Actually the house was once a two room school house that was renovated to a two bedroom house and moved to town many years ago.  

We still had a bit of time before the service was to start, so R and I took a drive around town, past old our old high school and out to the farm of family friends just on the outskirts of town.  Then it was downtown where we were stopped by a red light at the only light in town.  You had to be there, it was funny!  

The service was....interesting and I won't say much more about that.  I generally cry at funerals (and weddings) but not this time.  Perhaps it was just me but it didn't seem to be a touching tribute to Deb.  There were moments in the eulogy that came close but never seemed to meet the mark.  The family had done up a lovely pictorial tribute that was displayed in the front lobby, along with various framed family photos throughout the years, and the beginnings of a scrapbook.  I found these brought back more memories than anything.

After the service, as is always the case in small towns, there were sandwiches, dainties (does anyone use that term anymore?  Small desserts), and coffee and tea.  The room was far too small, so I stopped in only to chat with Deb's husband G, and other cousins.  G is doing okay, though he's had his own health challenges in the last year.  He and Deb were married young, in 1974, just out of high school.  They've been through a lot in that 45 years, various moves, and jobs, and adopting two of Deb's younger siblings when their mother passed away.  Their three adult children live nearby and I know for certain will be a good support for one another in the days to come.  

We didn't stay long as we had another long drive ahead of us and had a stop to make in a nearby town to drop off a box of items for a distant relative of R's wife.  Instead of heading west from there we took the highway south through areas where R has hunted in the past.  We saw thousands of snow geese either in the air or on the fields, a huge flock of sandhill cranes, and more flocks of Canada geese.  The swathers and combines were busy taking off the crops so there were many grain trucks on the highway as well.  Further south we cut across country back to the highway we'd taken north, and at the valley we turned onto the smaller secondary highway that leads to the farm.  That was a cautious ride the rest of the way, as there were more deer crossing than R has seen before.  He's a good driver though and avoided hitting any of them.  

I didn't stick around, as I was tired and ready to get home.  I can't imagine how tired I would have been had I driven all that way and back.  I arrived back at home about 8:30, grabbed a small bite to eat and was in bed shortly thereafter.  

Despite the reason for the trip, it was a good day.  My brother and I enjoy each other's company, never running out of topics to discuss.  Seeing the old farm yard was a treat, sharing memories and visiting with my cousins for the first time in many years was appreciated.  Even if one of them didn't recognize me.  

Have a great day everyone!  


  1. My condolences to Deb's husband, to you and your entire extended family. I'm very sorry for her passing and hope she's at peace and free of any suffering.

    The day sounds very bittersweet. It's good you were able to go and to take that walk down memory lane. Take good care of yourself.

  2. It sounds like a long day, and a full one. It must have been bittersweet; it's hard to believe that some youngster will one day be thinking the same things and reviewing similar memories when he is older. I'm glad it was a good day, though I wish Deb's memorial service could have been more representative of her and how people knew her. But you knew her and will remember how she really was.

  3. So sorry for your loss. Good thing you had your brother to go with you and had a great trip down memory lane:)

  4. A tiring but nice outcome, from a sad occasion. Isn't that the way? Families tend to only get together, at funerals.......

    So glad you did not have to drive!!!!!!!!!!


  5. So sorry for your loss but happy for you that the return to home, which can often be a disappointment, went well. We usually are surprised how small things look because we were once smaller and everything looked big. I was stunned once how small my high school appeared.
    The mural had to be a real treat seeing your Dad like that. Wonderful that your brother drove and that you had such pleasant conversations. You were there for eachother.

  6. As so many times have shown me, it is true as another commenter stated that we all of us seem to get together for funerals..not jut to visit. I am sorry for your loss, my friend. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the blog. I always do, but this one was so close to the things Enjoy too. I loved being a part, albeit a reader, of your own family and experiences. Loved the pictures too. I was out of circulation due to computer probs. Sorry I missed you till now..

  7. Still calling them dainties here as well. Guess it is a prairie thing.

    Sorry for your loss.

    God bless.


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