On June 22nd we celebrated Mom’s 100th birthday – what an amazing landmark – what an amazing woman: Her actual birthday was the day before (June 21st, the spring equinox & the longest day of the year) & her immediate family took her out for dinner. This was a panoramic shot which David (far right) took – boy he looks weird eh?!
There was lots of preparation on Saturday, which my darling cousin Jane, had organized perfectly! It was a wonderful day & went without a hitch! Here are a few shots:
The family groups, all taken with her last living sibling, Uncle Bud who is 97 & made the trip from Creston, BC. He flew a Lancaster Bomber in WWII & is a true war hero. He received a standing ovation from everyone when he was introduced.
Mom with all her immediate family. L-R: David, Brian, Omanthi, Ben, Katherine, Inga, Bill & me.
With Uncle Bud’s family – Joan, Norm, Erling, Randah, Brad, Penny, Wilf, Anne & Jason.
With her sister Joy’s children. This is the most amazing story of the day (besides Mom’s BD) because these 4 sisters have never met before. This is because Aunty Joy gave up 2 daughters for adoption. L-R, Judy, Aldis, Lynn & Joy-Ann. Judy & Joy-Ann were brought up by Joy. Aldis & Lynn were adopted (in 2 different families) & Aldis just found us a couple of years ago. She now lives in Calgary. Lynn lives in NZ, but found her sisters several years ago. Lynn came all the way so the 4 sisters could be together for the first time!
With her sister Lois’ family – Steven, Fran, Colden, Jill, Arnie, Robyn, Desiree, baby Quentin, Carm, Al, Jane & Leslie.
with Uncle Lloyd’s family: Kristin, Patsy, Rob, Barry, Karen, Adam (our photographer) & Murray.
Unfortunately Janet was missing from the 1st photo, but they reconvened later to include her, but Murray was unable to be included. There she is, right above Mom!
Now Dad’s side: with Aunty Jo’s family – Roger & Miki – bonus shots below with Miki’s grandson talking to Mom first, then her handsome son Sean in the right hand picture at the back with the beard.
with Aunty Bunny’s family – Norm, Steph & Suzanne
With Uncle Ted’s family – Doug, Dave & Jean
With Aunty Betty’s family. This includes the famous ALDO! Aldo, Nancy, Beth (above Nancy), Jon & Marty. If you don’t know why Aldo is famous – your loss!
Last group – & certainly not least, are the “friends”! Joey, Garth, Barbara, Sandy (my best friend), Jo-Anne, Nick, Wendy & Sabine
I have to include this photo of Bill with David – such a nice one.
Also this beautiful shot of Robyn & Jane (the sisters)
We then lit the candles on her cake & she made her wish & blew them out.
Some of her family paid a personal tribute to her: me, David, Brian, Jane, Bill & Jon Linton sang a song. Sadly, no-one took a photo of Bill. Bill is not happy about it!
Mom, of course, had the last word. You can see the photo of the queen just behind her.
She told us about her life, which not everyone knew about. I thought I’d include her speech:
The first word that comes into my mind is “WOW”! I am speechless at the number of relatives and friends who have come here to help me celebrate my 100th birthday. From what I can gather, you have come from as far away as New Zealand, Vancouver, Gabriola Island, New Brunswick, Toronto, Michigan, Iowa and all points in between. I would love to acknowledge all of you individually now but I’m afraid it would take too long but please believe me – I’m thrilled to see all of you. I have only 2 of my oldest and dearest friends living, and they are in nursing homes – Marion Kell, 100, in Esterhazy, and Betty Jackson, 94, in Vancouver. Wish they could have been here today.
And now I would like to thank my own family: David, Brian and Lois Ann, and alsomy niece, Jane, who helped in so many, many ways. If I’ve missed anyone who has been of help, I apologize and thank you now. They have all gone overboard to organize this party.
Now that I have welcomed all of you here, I would like to say a few words about my life so far. I shall try to be brief – even though I know I have a captive audience.
I was born in the little town of Abbey, Saskatchewan. My father Lars Larson, was born in Norway and immigrated with his family to Fargo, North Dakota when he was 8. Then they homesteaded up to Saskatchewan about 1906. My mother’s family – Harrison was their name – arrived around the same time from Wisconsin, but their farms were about 2 miles apart. My Dad was 20 when he met my Mother who was 16, at a little country school dance. Their courtship was short and they married on Dec 4, 1916. Their honeymoon was a train trip to Wisconsin to visit relatives on Mother’s side. That would have been a cold trip in the middle of winter. BRRR!
The next year they built a house and had good crop yields until 1925 when the drought hit. They sold the farm and moved into Abbey in 1925. In the meantime, 5 children were born: brother Lloyd who is gone, brother Bud who is here at 97 and is a war hero, myself, Lois, who left us tragically at 39, and Joy who is gone. Most of their children are here today and I am so pleased.
We lived through the Dirty Thirties and my father worked very hard to make a living for us. Being children, we weren’t too aware that we were poor as we always had food on the table and good clothes to wear. Mother sewed everything.
I enjoyed my high school years so much as we had a principal who exposed us to all sorts of activities – sports, gymnastics, drama, music. These were some of the best days of my life.
After high school, I had a beauty parlour for about 1½ years in Abbey. Then I went to Regina for 6 months. By then my parents had moved to Cabri and Dad took over his father’s meat market. I left Cabri in 1942 and went to Saskatoon and took a business course. I stayed with my sister, Lois who was already working. Then I got a great job at Davies Electric, where I worked until 1948.
In 1945 I met my husband Steve (how I miss him) who had been in the Air Force. When the war was over, he had enrolled as a veteran at the University of Saskatchewan to study geology. His parents Gladys & Wilmot Bleakley (he was a doctor and she a nurse in the little town of Dinsmore) had moved into Saskatoon so their 5 children could all further their education. So Steve was able to live at home.
We courted (as they used to say in those days) for 3 years and decided to get married before Steve finished his final year. We married Sept 15, 1948 and Steve graduated in April, 1949.
To our surprise, I became pregnant but was able to work until May of 1949. Meantime Steve had gotten a job with Imperial Oil, and had been sent to Redwater,Alberta (just outside Edmonton). I quit my job to join him there and we lived in a basement suite in Edmonton until September.
In August our dear daughter Lois Ann was born and we had to move into 2 rooms in a wartime house. Imperial Oil built homes for their geologists in Redwater and we were able to move there in December. It was -40° for the first two months we lived there. In the fall of 1950 we were transferred to Edmonton and bought a bigger house (900 sq ft) which seemed like a mansion to me at the time. Our son David was born in March of 1952, and then tragedy struck our family.
In October, Steve was diagnosed with Bulbar Polio, which was 99% fatal. Through sheer determination and optimism he lived, but remained paralyzed in his throat and chewing muscles for about 5 months, when he was finally discharged from hospital and allowed to come home.
There was no rehabilitation for him, so he engineered his own remarkable recovery. Learning to speak again and eventually learning to swallow. His biggest difficulty was eating, as he couldn’t chew normally. Somehow he developed his own unique way of chewing and most of you here have been exposed to that and understand the reasons for it. He was left with some paralysis in his face and speech, and his emotions were easily visible on his face.
But he was back at work in February of 1953. The company had kept him on full pay and he was able to do the work that was required of him.
We were transferred to Calgary in November of 1956. I was highly pregnant with my last child – Brian (who is one of my mainstays in my present life). He was born in April 1957 and we moved into our house at 11 Woodlark Drive that month. It was 1500 sq ft so I thought I was living in an even bigger mansion! Our location was such that all my children were able to walk to all 3 schools which they attended in Wildwood.
Our life was very full and we made many good friends in the neighbourhood and other friends in different areas. I was a ‘home’ mother and had a full happy life looking after my children and entertaining friends with many dinners and muchbridge. I volunteered for Meals on Wheels for 35 years, at the Kerby Centre for 30, and also did some for the Red Cross. We had a full life entertaining relatives and friends, did a lot of travelling before and after Steve retired. We went to Europe 4 times and drove all across Canada several times and around the USA. It was indeed a grand life.
We celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1998 with a big family reunion at Waskesiu, Saskatchewan, where we had honeymooned. Seventy people in all, much like the gang we have here tonight. Now we’re just a wee bit older!
We sold our Woodlark Drive home in 1999 and moved to a side by side bungalow in Coach Hill. We enjoyed a grand life there for 14 years.
In June of 2011, In our later years there, Steve began to suffer post-polio syndrome and eventually he could no longer swallow. So it was back to feeding him through an incision in his stomach for the next year. He lived quite normally, still driving, playing a lot of bridge and socializing with friends. He never complained. SuddenlyIn July of 2012 he had a sudden heart attack in the night and passed away. He didn’t suffer, for which I was so thankful.
I wasn’t meant to live alone as I am a people person, so in 2013 I moved into my present abode: Signature Park Manor for Seniors. Everything is done for me, so I often feel very useless. The Manor is a nice friendly place, though, and has a lot of activities to partake of if you’re able – bridge, exercises, other games and plenty of entertainment. They even honoured me this week for my 100th birthday.
So there you have it – the story of my life. My only claim to fame is longevity which I inherit from my father’s side of the family. But how lucky am I to have 3 wonderful children and be blessed with 2 grandchildren, Ben and Katherine! Not to mention all of you!
Thank you so much for coming. Having you all together today just means the world to me.
After the party (Saturday evening) the Bleakley clan got together (with various Larsons dropping in who were staying in the same hotel!). I got this pano shot:
The next day the 4 sisters got together at Mom’e place for lunch. Such a nice photo of all of them (with Aldis’ handsome son, John)
On Sunday evening, Mom went out dinner with her brother Bud & some other family. Sorry I wasn’t there & don’t have any photos!
On Wednesday (late night), she was taken to the hospital. Long story short, tests showed she had a gall stone. This is very interesting since she had her gallbladder removed when she was 27! This means she’s had the damned stone for 73 years! They removed if using a scoping device down her throat & pulled it into her stomach so it would pass through her system. She’s had quite a few tummy problems over the years, which we’ve always attributed to “nerves” – but ha ha – this is not the case! She was pretty tired after her stay since she was in some type of a psych ward where patrons shouted, pounded on the locked doors, groaned, etc. all night. Nonetheless, she is now well-rested & eating normally, returned to her exercise classes & playing bridge! The moral of the story is: You can’t keep a good woman down, even after 100 years!