BIRTHS, DEATHS AND SEWING – part eleven
GROWING UP WITH GRANDMA BY PAT WHALLEY
Grandma never seemed to have time on her hands, if she wasn’t baking bread or washing clothes in her big outdoor tub, she would be out in one of the neighbours’ homes. I didn’t realize at the time but when grandma did all sorts of nursing jobs for the people nearby, she wasn’t just visiting, she was actually earning money.
Grandma called it welcoming them in and sending them off, but what she did was deliver babies and lay out the dead. Sometimes I got to go with gran on her errands of mercy and I would sit in the kitchen or living room, with my crayons, and ignore the cries and moans coming down the stairs. After a while the moaning would stop and a high, screeching would replace it. I never quite figured out how a new baby would suddenly appear, but usually cups of tea and biscuits would be handed round, so I was always happy to go along and didn’t really question it.
Laying out dead people was a much quieter affair. I was still relegated to the kitchen table, with crayons while grandma went about her duties. Her job would be to wash the departed one and put them into clean clothes, I don’t know what else, but once she was done the body was ready for viewing.
Viewing the dead was a regular event but I was never allowed to go. Some of the older kids I knew enjoyed this as, apparently pennies would be placed on the eyes of the corpse, and some of the braver kids would pocket the coins. The idea of putting coins on the closed eyes of people ready for burial was to pay the ferryman, who would take them on to heaven. The more practical idea was to keep the eyes closed so people viewing would not be unnerved by the corpse looking at them.
I told gran that I was scared of the thought of dead people but she assured me that there was no harm in people who had passed and that she was just getting them ready to go back to God. Grandma had a very spiritual attitude and had daily conversations with God, she taught me to keep my heart open to receive his messages and to treat every person as though they were an angel in disguise. She never expressed any negative remarks about anyone who looked different and if I ever said anything negative about people, she would tell me that if they were good enough for God, they were surely good enough for me.
Grandma also used to do sewing for neighbours. A popular job at that time was to turn collars on shirts. This meant she unpicked the collar and turned it back to front so the worn part would now be underneath, giving the shirt some extra life. She also did lots of alterations and made clothes from scratch. Grandma would get me to return the finished clothing and tell me how much to collect. I would quite often be given a few extra coins for myself, this would have to go into my coin bank.
When I was a little girl one of my aunties had opened a Post Office savings account for me. This included a savings book and a coin bank. The coin box was in the shape of a book with a slot in the top. There was a crafty mechanism across the coin slot so, once coins went in, they couldn’t be shaken out again. I know this because I often tried. Any gift of money that came my way had to go into the coin bank. This was the cause of many arguments as I thought it unfair that I had to save my money instead of buying myself a special treat.
To get money out, the coin box had to be taken to the post office, where they opened it and deposited the money into their bank and enter the transaction into my savings book, This was not a very satisfying state if affairs and would result in much pouting. This had absolutely no effect on my grandma. Her answer to any face pulling would result in me being told that if the wind changed, my face would get stuck that way.
Grandma had a good supply of these useless sayings, for example…If you don’t stop moaning I will give you something to moan about. ………..Because I said so………..
I won’t tell you again (she always did)……..needs must……If you don’t stop it, I will………….I’ll knock you into next week……if I have to come over there, you will be sorry, and many more.
Gran didn’t tolerate much bad behaviour and she never forgot punishments that were due. If I managed to say something cheeky, as I was going out of the door, she would be waiting for me when I got home. Her form of punishment was usually a damp dishcloth whirled around and then whipped round the back of my bare legs. This would really sting and leave a red welt for the rest of the evening. However, this form of punishment was over and done with in a short time, the worst punishment was being sent to bed early.
There was absolutely nothing to do in the bedroom, there were no books or games there so I would lie there for hours feeling very sorry for myself. I would imagine how terrible gran would feel when I died in bed and I would wallow in tears as I imagined my funeral, with gran in mourning and begging for forgiveness.
Luckily, once gran had meted out punishment, she immediately forgave the crime and it would not be mentioned again. I would try to wear a martyred air for a few hours but she either didn’t notice or just ignored it, so I soon gave up and got on with life. No point trying to make gran fall for my theatrics, she had raised six children of her own and could see right through my foolishness.
(When times of transition or crisis occur many resort to a familiar place of refuge where they can go to get their thoughts together and regain perspective in life. For me this place was a tree overhanging a creek and curved in such a way as to form a moss-covered ‘lazyboy chair’ above the water on the Abbotsford acreage we were selling. Big changes were ahead for us. On the last Sunday afternoon of our residence there, I resorted to that tree one more time and wrote most of the following.)
It’s quiet here couched in the crook of this overhanging tree.
The creek beneath me gurgles its charm
while the sun filters through the leaves.
Birds ripple the stillness with their warble.
It’s so peaceful.
Why can’t it stay like this?
Why does it have to change?
Sometimes the storm rages, tearing clods from the bank or
gouging furrows with splintered trees.
Sometimes a hawk claws the life out of a rodent,
it’s my life or yours.
Sometimes a fish gasps its last,
mercilessly plucked from its home.
Sometimes the wind slices the air with sleet,
stripping the trees, gaunt ghosts of a fruitful past.
Sometimes it’s the dry season,
child of the same rays that warmed my mossy couch
now leach the last life out of the dry creek bed.
How much like life!
The virtuous and the violent,
the life-giving and the life-taking,
the warmth and the cold,
the pleasant and the harsh,
all wrapped in one bundle.
How much like death!
The bright and the beautiful so easily snatched away,
so quickly reversed,
so overwhelmingly harsh.
Why is there pleasure and pain? God has ordained both.
Out of adversity and struggle are born the delights of peace.
But now it’s quiet here,
couched in the crook of this overhanging tree.
The creek still gurgles its charm,
the birds still warble their delight,
and I am at peace.
Let’s keep on the sunny side.
27 youth participated. Both 1st Oliver and 2nd Penticton Groups were represented (Summerland opted out this year). A good day was had by the youth and the young at heart alike!
A heartfelt thank-you to all the businesses who donated materials/services and volunteers who donated their time and energy that made this day possible for the youth! – Mike Field Cubmaster
Even tho they led for much of game six in Calgary, the Canucks could not hold on.
Lost 7-4 in Calgary Saturday losing that series 4 games to 2
Voters in Okanagan Falls and the Heritage Hills area approved the borrowing of $950,000 to purchase parkland within the Okanagan Falls and District recreation service area with voting results released about 10 o’clock last night.
Of the 526 votes cast during advance polls and general voting 294 (55.9%) said yes while 232 (44.1%) said no.
The purchase of the Okanagan Falls property — located at 605 Willow Street, northeast of Christie Memorial Park — will provide for unbroken access along the Skaha Lake shoreline from Lion’s Park to Main Street.
The Oliver and District Heritage Society is looking for university/college student to be a member of our team. The successful candidate will develop practical skills through hands-on experience performing daily tasks and working on special projects. There will be an emphasis on customer service, collections, exhibits, and programming.
This position is funded under the Young Canada Works program. It will start on or after May 11. Wage: $12.75 hr. To view the full job posting visit our website at www.oliverheritage.ca or call 250-498-4027.
Community Heritage Manager
Oliver and District Heritage Society
Box 847, Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
Hwy. 3 near Hedley closed for several hours Saturday but re-opened shortly after noon.
The accident happened around 7:30 a.m. when a pickup truck collided with a what is believed to be a minivan (top) west of Hedley.
Both occupants of the pickup truck were injured, but not as severely as the lone occupant of the minivan, which rolled down a fifteen foot embankment, settling in a field next to the Similkameen river.
Crews from the Hedley Volunteers FD used the jaws of life on both vehicles. It took over an hour to remove the driver of the minivan from the remains of his vehicle and then airlifted to hospital.
Files from Castanet
But not to worry – it’s a training session for the instructors and young Similkameen fire-fighters today in Oliver.
Training officer Scott Schaffrick at right instructs a Keremeos high school student.
The whole crew gets a talking to
Bottom – apply the pressure in a practice session.
Thanks to Chief Dan Skaros, Deputy Chief Bob Graham and the other members of the Oliver Fire Department on hand today at the training grounds.
I have the incredible honour of taking part in the Communities For Veterans Foundation cross Canada horse ride.
I will be riding on Monday April 27th leaving Summerland rodeo grounds heading north to West Kelowna. If you would like to meet the riding and support team and show your support they will be at the Oliver legion at 3:00 Sunday April 26th – Jim Stewart
More Info : http://www.communitiesforveterans.com/