The past 18 months have been hard on everyone and it has taken their toll on families. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear a story about families divided over the reality we’ve been living in. Divided over wearing masks or even visiting them if they’ve been injected or not injected, it all depends on the circumstance. But make no doubt, and I suspect most of you know what I am talking about, this is a problem that is hurting so many. In days gone by, for centuries, most people could always count on a few constants in times of need, their faith in God and their family. But it seems today less people have “a faith” thanks to the fear mongering media, the propaganda driven government leaders, Big Pharma, the fear of their jobs from the medical community and the “so called” medical experts, families have never been so divided.
Which is why I felt so blessed on the August long weekend to have been born and raised in such a wonderful family. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday over 30 of us spent time together at “The Farm” for a family reunion. The farm is the place that was first purchased by my grandfather, C.O. (Tim) Cooper and grandmother Lelia, or Nammy as she was affectionately known. The farm is currently owned by my cousin Gary who along with his wife Rae and help from his numerous sisters, hosted a fun filled weekend with camping, games, fellowship, campfires and plenty of food.
This is the third time we have met in the past 10 years and my Aunt Ruth Cooper, who lived on the farm most of her life, gave a nice history on the farm and took time to honour those that have passed in our family. They include Grampa Tim, Nammy, my cousin’s son Brendan, Aunt Maxine, Uncle Norm, cousin Dean, cousin Scott, two infant siblings of mine, my infant son Jared, my Uncles George and Bob and 11 months ago, my Dad Gerry.
Who knew that a man with a grade 6 education and only one arm due to a near deadly accident while working in a sawmill, living with his in laws and working for a farmer during the Great Depression would have created such a legacy? In 1936 he traded his labour for the use of farm equipment to seed the section of land (40% was pasture at the time) we met on that weekend. It had been abandoned as so many farms were in the Dirty Thirties. Grampa Tim used a 6-foot one way, got a bumper crop, as the rains had restarted, and had enough to pay for the entire section. He went on to own 3 sections before his death in 1966.
The greatest part of the weekend was how there was no talk about the pandemic or the vaccine. Handshakes and hugs were plentiful and not a mask in sight. I came and left not knowing, nor caring who had been injected and who hadn’t. No one that I know of stayed away due to that uncertainty for which I believe we all owe a debt of gratitude to our upbringing, an upbringing of common sense and genuine respect for others’ opinions. And of course, faith, never underestimate the power God has in all of our lives.
There was a peaceful resolve that we were all there together just hanging out. Maybe the sun and the heat and a raucous, wet and slippery ball game on the dried out prairie, (with two mighty fine umpires I may add), that kept us in line but I feel the fact that most of us grew up withing 6 miles of each other had a lot to do with it. And we’ve added some significant others that we allow to carry the load, such as “SIL and BIL.” Dare I say we’d be a bit vanilla without them despite our shy, lovable and colourful youngest surviving cousin who is the best baker I know? I can’t forget to mention the creative and huggable hostess who might respond to SIL but made the weekend filled with fun.
We missed our cousins from Ontario who used to join us most every summer and hope next time we can see you. You’d enhance the circle, make Nammy proud and maybe spice up the stories around the campfire.
“The Farm” of the 60’s and 70’s is not replicated anywhere these days, can’t be as corporate farming has devoured the landscape. It is sad, we had the most amazing upbringing. The Farm is where Sunday dinners were plentiful and eventful. The fun and adventures we shared would not be allowed today. Building forts in the hayloft and swinging on the rope careful not to land in the hole in the floor or else fall into the manure below. Anti I-Over (that playhouse used to be a lot higher), ten or more of us piled into an old military jeep going through ditches and rough prairie driven by the eldest cousin who was likely about 12 or 13, running from deranged roosters (did they only exist on the farm to torment children, I am beginning to believe that)or tying a little red wagon to a billy goat for a helmet-less ride from hell that usually came with gravel scrapes while the adults laughed hysterically on the side were a few of the escapades. Oh, and what farm kid didn’t ride on top of a 12–16 foot high wobbly bale stack. As Baby Boomers we were blessed beyond compare. It was the greatest era of this province where farms and neighbours were plentiful. We had Faith, Family and Freedom. Values we need to stand up for, so our children may have the same.
As I sat in my lawn chair on Sunday and reflected, hiding my misty eyes behind by dark sunglasses, of how glorious life can be when we get back together and back to our roots, and how so many weren’t nearly as fortunate I felt the presence of Grandpa Tim and Nammy as they looked down at what they started. We got the big group picture taken and our legacy continues with the three matriarchs.
From left to right, My Mom, Lorraine, Aunt Darlene, who grew up on the farm as a child and Aunt Ruth who raised her family on this farm. God Bless you.
While Grandpa Tim died a young man, Nammy lived to the age of 101 ½ with all her mental faculties intact. Our gathering brought back to mind the song she requested for the recessional hymn at her funeral that day in November 2004, “May the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Well done cousins, well done, we made our grandparents proud.
And thank you again to the organizers, all I had to do was show up.
Yours in love of Faith, Family, Freedom and Friends, and this great Province we call Saskatchewan,
missing a few but, “you get the picture” :), get it? the picture? Oh well, I try :-)