Friday, April 8, 2016

Ramon and Carla's first communion

Ramon and Carla's first communion.  NOTE:  As the writer of this blog I feel I need to add a disclaimer.  I have no faith/belief in the whole Christian/Catholic thing, yet I feel the need to be respectful of Maria's beliefs.  Gotta have balance in a marriage.  The kids will get to hear my own agnositic/animist (if I have to put a label on myself) thoughts soon enuf....

Ramon sure isn't as shy as his dad....

Insert Studley joke here: "the priest explaining that the upcoming paintball activity is going to make quite a mess of the children's white outfits"

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mom's trip down memory lane

 For a few years now I've been trying to get mom out of the retirement home by enticing her with a trip to the opera in Vancouver, where she hadn't been for about 30 years.  At age 75, he finally agreed and over the Spring break we drove out to Vancouver for a 4 day trip down memory lane.  Our first stop was Hope for the night and the next morning, while making her way out of the hotel, she tripped and fell on her knee.  After picking her up, dusting her off, cleaning her scrape (just like she used to do for her baby boy) she decided that she would ice it and continue on.  She was better the next day and then it started to tighten up to the point where we decided to go to the hospital when we returned to Salmon Arm.  Diagnosis?  Broken knee cap! We had no idea. That's my mom....she soldiers on through life's trials and tribulations.

So our first stop was a visit to the townhouse we lived in for 6 years in Port Coquitlam from 68-74.  This was purchased new in 1968 for the sum of $15, is now worth about $400,000.  

Here we in front of the bay window.  There are two extra kids in the picture; I don't know who they are. (Don just emailed and says they are his cousins, Terry and Sherry Matthews)  After leaving my dad when I was about 5--story below, mom answered an ad in the paper for a live in nanny to take care of 4 kids, which developed into a 'common law' relationship.  So we were the Brady bunch for six years with 3 boys and 3 girls; Karen and I being the youngest. (I'm in the front with Karen on my left)  In 74, after finding out that Herb was having an affair, Mom moved us up to Chetwynd BC, where her parents and younger twin brothers were living then.

The back of the house, looking fully renovated except for the fence.

Same back yard in about 73 with the 25 ft boat in the back as Herb could barely afford the boat, let alone moorage in Port Moody.  Lots of great times on that boat, touring around the ocean close to Vancouver, playing on the islands and eating tons of coho salmon.  That's me in the red shirt and Doug? behind me with?

By chance a neighbor was out washing his trailer across the street, so I drove over for a chat and when I explained who we were and what we were doing, he recognized mom and started telling stories of what he remembered!  Turns out Irv Jostle is one of two original 40 owners who still live there!

The local outdoor pool where I almost lost my life.  I was sliding down the edge to the deep end, following my step sister JoAanne, when I lost my grip.  I remember looking up at all the legs above me and then in the hospital having my lungs pumped out.  Amazing I don't have a fear of water.

Next stop was Pandozy street in Burnaby where we found the house of Herb's parents nanny and poppa, who we used to visit regularly and had a huge overgrown back yard, which has now been subdivided up.  The house is now surrounded by multi million dollar mansions.

The house I lived in when I was born.  My parents first house that they purchased on Rupert street, close to the PNE.  

Here we are in the front of the house looking out on to Rupert St.

Where mom first lived with my dad on Lakeview in Vancouver.  Bottom right unit.  Don't know how she remembered this address!

Where mom used to shop; on East Hastings.

...and just a bit further down.

Magnolia tree flowers, common throughout Vancouver.

.....and ornamental Cherry trees.

However, we sure don't remember seeing palm trees back then!

Another house we lived in, in Burnaby.  Mom knew the name of the street only, so we drove the entire length of Dundas St. To find it.  At this point I was about 4-5 years old and my dad had it in his head that he had to keep up with his friends and buy a bigger house and newer car.....which he couldn't afford.  Guess that led to his decline, not able to make payments, not wanting to work and taking to the drink.  Mom left when I was 5, Karen 2.  I have no memories of being/playing/talking to my dad.  

At each place we went to, we'd sit in the van while mom's memories and stories came flooding back.  Here is the back of the house and below is how it looked in about 66-67.

Me, Mom and Karen.  Guess with all the vehicles around now there isn't enough parking on the street.

Mom knitting away as always.....

A drive over the Lion's Gate Bridge.

To Prospect point.

Friendly little critter.

Mom reminiscing about heading out in the boat from Port Moody out to the Georgia Straight. 

Georgia Street, where Maria, in a few more weeks,  will once again fly down in the start of the Vancouver Sun Run, leading 50,000 other runners.

The highlight of Mom's trip: Visiting stepson, Doug Gillette 42 years later.  They had a special bond and she always wondered what became of him.  I had googled him up and gave him a call, but mom had no idea, until she walked into his house!  Now that's what you call a surprise!  (Found out that his dad passed away about 8 years ago.)

Here is the lovely couple, Doug and Susan.  They have a daughter Lily, who is in Uni and about to head to the University of Wales.  We are so happy to see he's doing very well.  Hey Doug, we're going for a bike ride the next time I'm in town!

Mom in China town, looking for an authentic restaurant.    

The church she used to attend near city hall.  Her grandfather Edward Schmok served as reverend for many years, when it was called Christ Lutheran.  Karen and I were baptized here.

....and the magnolia/tulip tree across the street.  She wondered if it would still be there.

Chinese food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime snack if you still had room for more!  We filled the mini fridge in the hotel room with leftovers.

Well there weren't any operas playing during our stay, so I booked a musical Onegin at the BMO theatre.  We got lucky and hit the hottest show in town according to this review:
  Here is mom with the cellist in her fancy evening gown.   " A brand-new musical from two of the creators of Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata. Life is quiet on the Larin family's Russian country estate–until the charismatic Evgeni Onegin ignites the romantic longings of its residents. Poet Vladimir Lensky dances with jealousy when his dear friend flirts with his fiancée, and even the reclusive Tatyana Larin finds herself falling for the handsome rogue. But will Onegin embrace real love or simply skim its surface? Through Gladstone and Hille's original, dynamic score, audiences are swept into a musical experience as immersive as love itself."

Mom loved it.  I thought I would be 'bored' but it was stunning.  

Our final stop was a visit with Aunt Mary and Susan Findlay at the Sunshine diner in Kitsalino.

....Where we met up with Mary and Susan for a great visit.  This was the only meal on the trip where mom did not have Chinese food....none on the menu!  Note the vegan french toast with blueberries and cream.... not.  Mary gave me one of Uncle Clarence's books on mushrooms :)  How did she know I like picking mushrooms?

Mom and Dad on their wedding day in 1961.

And now for a very odd piece of news.  My dad ended up on skid row in East Hastings.  There wasn't much left of his brain when I next saw him at age 18.  I visited him about 5-6 times in 80-81 at Central City Mission, but after he stated, 'Your not my son if you don't buy me another beer"...after only having had 2-3 beer, I never saw him again, thinking at the time, that he wasn't really a 'positive' influence and I sure didn't know what I could do for him, when I was trying to sort myself out!   So.....after the trip, I decided to do another search online and after searching BC vital statistics and a few other sites, the next google link was the last one I was going to try and this obituary jumped out of the screen.
  So 12 years after his death...............
Seems to raise a few more questions, but not sure I want to do more digging......time to let the past lie.
So mom has survived the 3 men in her life.  The last one, Bob Manly, being her true love.
Love you Mom.....thanks for always being there for us.