Monday, 13 August 2012

Another Kind of Anniversary

Auntie Agnes, Mom and Dad, Uncle Carl

August 13th is my parents’ wedding anniversary—they married in 1957.  Weddings weren’t as elaborate in those days.  The wedding party was small, including Mom’s sister Agnes as matron of honour and Dad’s younger brother Carl as best man.  Mom’s wedding dress was light blue and knee length.  I don’t think there were any professional pictures taken—at least I haven’t discovered any yet.
Mom (Lela Andrews) and Dad (Harry Pedersen) met on the Andrews family farm.  Uncle Russell could hardly wait to point out the two new hired men to his youngest sister.  They were Harry and his best friend Maurice.  “Which one will you have?” he asked her.  Responding to his teasing, Lela pointed at Harry and responded, “I’ll have that one.”  I bet no one thought at the time that there was anything more to it than brother-sister teasing!

                After high school graduation, Mom moved to Trochu where she worked in Balkwell’s pharmacy.  Options for women were few and far between in those years.  If you went on to secondary education you had two options, teacher or nurse.  Neither were to Lela’s taste, although both her sisters attended Normal School to become teachers.  If she’d had the chance, I think Mom would have chosen to try a career in journalism, as writing was her passion.  But her days as an independent career woman were cut short when her father died.

                That was a difficult year for the Andrews family.  Earlier in the year, Grandma’s mother  Dora Farley (née Gee) passed away, having lived with the family for many years.  Shortly afterwards Grandpa Andrews (George) also died after quite a long battle with illness.  For Grandma Matilda this must have been an earth-shattering year,  losing her mother and her husband in quick succession.  The call went out and my mother came home to be of emotional assistance.

                When my parents married, they bought the quarter of land just north of  the homestead where Grandma Matilda still lived with her son, my Uncle George.  I know that this was very significant for my father—he had never really put down deep roots anywhere as his family of origin moved a lot.  He once told me that he had never attended fewer than two schools in any given school year.  Once he owned a farm, it became next to impossible to convince him to leave it for any appreciable amount of time.  Why would he vacation when he was exactly where he wanted to be?  [Which makes it very ironic that the car accident that killed him happened when he was on one of these rare vacations].

                The Ghost Pine farm district, where my sisters and I grew up, consisted of a lot of family and many neighbours whose families had also been in the area for a long, long time.  Like many farm communities, driving directions were given which made no sense to outsiders.  Instructions like “turn north at the old Wright place” were difficult for even me, since there had been no Wrights living on said piece of land since well before my birth!  And when Mom and Dad bought a second quarter of land, it was always referred to as “the Dickson place.” It may have been ours legally, but in the community memory it would always be associated with the original homesteaders.   It was the Ghost Pine community that helped us so much after Mom and Dad’s deaths—Dad had decided that 1996 was his last crop year, but he didn’t live to harvest it.  It was our neighbours who came with the appropriate machinery and made sure that crop got threshed and stored.

                I also remember before we held our farm auction, having the auctioneer advise us to “line up all the machinery from biggest to smallest” for easier sale.  My sisters and I, all now city women, looked at each other and said, “Do you even know where to sit on some of this stuff?  Any idea how to start it?”  It was at that moment that we decided to phone our male farmer cousins and request some assistance (and received it in spades, I might add).  

                I will always have fond memories of all the time spent with family on our farm.  Mom’s family lived close and we spent most signficiant holidays with them as well as many ordinary day visits.  I can think of at least one Christmas where Mom and I planned lunch for about 75 people (all relatives).  Dad’s family was spread far and wide, from Canada to the United States and to exotic locations like Morocco, France and Pakistan.  Eventually, Dad’s parents retired to the Three Hills area to be close to the son with the stable location.  That made our house a magnetic centre for all of Dad’s family too.  When his siblings came to visit, they generally stayed with us.  I have many happy memories of playing with seldom-seen cousins, walking the pastures, picking flowers from the garden, petting the cows, riding the horses, and picking vegetables or berries to feed the crowd assembled at the dinner table each evening.

                In many ways, it was an idyllic way to grow up and I am grateful to have experienced it all.  Lately, I wish that I had paid more attention to the stories of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles.  How much family history is gone from our memories now?  How much resides in only my  own shakey memory?  Although I really have plenty of projects on the go right now, somehow this one has the greatest sense of urgency and I must make time to visit with all of my remaining relatives and get as many stories as possible captured and pinned into the collection like butterflies in the museum.

Cutting the Wedding Cake


  1. Hi Wanda

    A sad but beautiful post.

    All the best.

    1. Thank you, Guy. I'm glad you stopped by.