HOCKEY IS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT…

oiler familyMy hair is back to its natural colour…no longer blue and orange and its cut short as of today…I can sit in any chair in my living room now and all my Edmonton Oiler gear – T-shirts, large flags, wild Oiler coloured leggings are all washed and ready to put away – even my Oiler flip flops are ‘retired’ till next year .  My team lost last night – sad but not disappointed and already so excited for next seasonoILER SHOES

Its hard to explain the effect this team has had on our community – the City of Edmonton and surrounding cities like St Albert where I live.  Cars strewn with Oiler flags..not just one…but sometimes up to six, decals and even paint jobs on trucks and most company signs were lit with “Lets Go Oilers” for the past month.  As each game went by the excitement grew to include schools having ‘jersey days’ and companies allowing their employees to show up in Oiler gear.  It was magic.  People readily and publicly accepted responsibility for the team’s losses – I for one hadn’t coloured my hair the night of their worst loss, others didn’t sit in the right chair, changed up their meal or any other number of crazy superstitious ideas.  In the end everyone in this community could only breath out and say thanks to this great group of young guys……

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My Ontario family – Leaf fans of course

But has it always been this way.  Of course in the last 50 years I will say its likely there was certainly love for various teams..usually the original six and if you were in Canada that would likely be the Leafs.

 But what about 100 years ago?  When hockey first became a game played at community rinks in cities across Canada.  My great uncle Charles Francis (Frank) Wright played hockey in Edmonton, Alberta at the turn of the 20th century.  For about 5 or 6 years he toiled for the Edmonton Thistles as a rover and earned the nickname “Weary Wright” although I’m not sure why that name stuck. The team played north of the river and their main opposition was the dreaded Strathcona team (reminiscent of the Edmonton-Calgary Battle of Alberta); I’ve read many articles describing their games and the fights that occurred as well as the cheering fans.  But I wonder if they ever dreamed of colouring their hair, or wearing team jerseys daily to show their support.  They likely planned their meals on game days…not so they ate exactly the same food, on the same plates and at the same time….but perhaps just to ensure they were able to get that over with along with their chores before they ventured to the local rink!.  


frank wright hockeyMy Uncle’s team actually won the Provincial Championship in 1903 – did they line the streets and have a parade celebrating the victory….and did they stick close to their radios waiting for updates or pour over the newspapers the following morning gleaning the details of the game?  I wonder if the fans fell in love with these players the way did the Oilers….or if the collected autographs and pictures…did they check out where the players worked…or played?  Did they ever wish they could be just like them…or be with them…or want to wear their jersey.  In my uncle’s case he played in Alberta but his family was in Manitoba and Ontario….did they follow his action via the newspapers and talk about him and his teammates daily over their coffee?

My Grandmother Reta Wright Lundy and her sister Hazel Wright Kent believed in the supernatural, tarot cards and the like.  I’m sure they were superstitious and ensured that certain clothes and articles were either part of or excluded from certain events…..wonder if that also went for my Uncle?

Superstition is part of hockey afterall – my husband and two sons played hockey for years – unwashed equipment (eewwww) and right sock on before the left, right skate on before the other and so on was part of the their pre-game ritual.  As a hockey wife and mom you learned quickly just to go along with it regardless of oddities….did Frank have these same quirks….or others…it would be great to go back and find out…And when the season ended was he exhausted and heartbroken or did he need to hurry back to the fields or wherever he worked to finish his job.

I’ve always been a hockey fan…played hockey as am young girl with Toronto Star Weekly magazines as my shin pads (thanks to my Grandma’s knowledge), loved the Leafs (hate to admit it) and fell in the love with the Oilers and Wayne Gretzky when they came to the NHL in 79 shortly after I moved to Alberta.  Loved being a hockey mom and wife for many years…and now as a hockey grandma.  I have always believed in superstitions….and followed them as a teen and now as a very much older lady.  But most of all I’ve been a hockey fan and will for the rest of my life.  I love the idea that my Uncle was one of the many hockey heroes in this city long before the Oilers came into being..and who likely was admired by many in the community for his hockey prowess.

frank wright hockeyThis year the ghosts of those players like my Uncle who played on the open ice and shelled rinks like the Thistle Arena in Edmonton now are smiling down at the Ice District, Rogers Place and our Oilers…probably a little jealous of the community love…but satisfied that they had layed the foundation for hockey in this province and loving that it has come so far.

 

My car flags will stay on my car for a few more days….to many changes too fast is not healthy for my 69 year old heart….and as they wave and I share nods and smiles with other fans as they drive by…..I thank my great Uncle and others like him for loving hockey and sharing it with the community…and my sons and husband for continuing to make me part of their game…..and mostly to the current Edmonton Oilers for giving us a glimpse of what is to come.  And yes I will likely have blue and orange hair this time next year…and maybe just add a few more details to boot!!

Till next season…..and next time……………

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY -2017

Seems strange that such a day of recognition could raise controversy among the very women it is meant to recognize.  Women are stating that the Women’s Marches and “Day Without Women” speeches and strikes don’t represent them… There have been debates about even the fact we celebrate women on this day.   Funny….we all have one thing in common – we are all women.  While that makes us the same, there is much that we don’t have in common and that’s what makes being a woman so special.

There are those woman who want nothing more than to be mom’s, stay home and raise children.  There are those women who love their children unquestionably but decide they need to work outside the home – some by necessity and some because they simply enjoy the challenge…but both are offering the world – and more importantly their children the opportunity of learning that strength is not only about muscles, that love can be spread not constrictive and that there are choices to be made.  I am a mom who has ‘had’ to work due to finances for many years but later continued as I loved the job I did…so I understand it from both sides as well.

 I was never a scholar in school – yet I admire the women who have excelled and become engineers, pilots, CEO’s.  If they can made my world a safer, better place now and in the future so be it.  I admire the women who chose to take on ‘blue collar jobs’- mechanics, big equipment operators  – they are building our world and making sure it continues to be a place for all of us to live in and learn.   I envy women who have taken the step totally outside their comfort zone, become entrepreneurs or just said ‘screw it’ and are doing something totally different such as musicians, artists. Or news reporters -especially those on the front lines of wars around the world, keeping us up to date with all that is happening.  And of course this brings to those brave women who are serving their Country at home and around the world.

There are women who are doctors and nurses fighting to find cures for horrible diseases like cancer – and sadly many women who are fighting the biggest fight of their lives in battling this horrible disease.  There are women who are police officers who have chosen to ensure we stay safe in our communities and there are women who need those officers to support them in leaving abusive relationships and ensuring their attackers are met with the letter of the law.  I’ve been in an abusive marriage many years ago and it takes much more than ‘want’ to leave – especially when children are involved.  It takes courage and guts…and it it never easy.  No fight is.

For many years I believed I was the ‘black sheep’ in my family – as a teen I was outspoken about worldly matters – the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War (sadly influenced mostly by American television – not that the issues weren’t the right ones just sadly I didn’t know all that was happening in my own Country regarding Residential Schools and our Native population); was a staunch supporter of what was good for people and believed even then that kindness was often far more important than power and had more influence in most cases.  I was an unwed mom (hate that term) in 1973 when it was not a socially acceptable role – I suffered horrible work place bullying by supervisors and disappointment from my own family; I worked until the day before I had my son  – and because the then EI payments were very male biased was only eligible for about two weeks of cheques before I had to go back to work when he was six weeks old.  I learned at that time that if you spoke out and had facts to back up your issues changes can be made – and they were, using my case as one of the examples which has lead to the luxury many mom’s now have of having a year off and guarantee of their job being available when they returned from maternity leave.  I moved away from family – 3000 miles away – and have stayed living far away for some 40 years – since then I had another child and adopted one, I left an abusive marriage and married a wonderful man who supports me daily,  I ran for political office at a time that being a women candidate was very unusual, went back to school to become a social worker,  have advocated and supported many individuals and families as a volunteer and in my professional life as a Child Protection Worker And hopefully during that time I have made a difference in some people’s lives.  But perhaps I’m not the first ‘black sheep’ – in fact perhaps I’m not so out of place afterall.

 None of this would have been possible without my women ancestors who spoke out, acted out, took chances, made changes and worked hard so that I had these opportunities.  My 7th great grandmother Jayne Lyons was only 16 when she came to America in a ship which was apparently captained by an unscrupulous man who planned to sell his passengers to plantation owners in South Carolina.  Somehow the issue was settled and my ggrandmother walked – at that young age – from South Carolina to Philadelphia with a small party to begin a new community and life in that community. She and my 7th ggrandfather Richard Lundy are the ‘parents’ to folks in every State and Province – they must be extremely proud to look down and see what they started.  Many of my ancestors were Quakers who had strong beliefs which included a very non-violent lifestyle.  They served others with kindness and sharing and eventually traveled by foot and wagons with many children in tow, in the late 1700’s to Canada because the believed strongly in their values and were seeking a better life for their children.  Others took up arms in American then and later to follow their beliefs, leaving their women behind to care for their families  After arriving in Canada many took up arms as well – fighting against wrongs and for their Country believing that they needed to stand up and ensure their families and country were safe.   My great grandmother Josephine Wright saw many of her siblings and her father die within days of each days as a child from a dreaded diphtheria outbreak and many years later saw her own daughter die from this same illness.  She stayed behind in Newmarket, Ontario with 7 children while her husband Daniel Smith Wright traveled to Carberry Manitoba to homestead – then traveled there with her children, her mother and the family dog on the newly completed train rails to meet him.  After the death of her daughter and her husband she returned to Newmarket with her children and worked as a seamstress to support them and each became successful in their own right.  My grandma – who I loved so much and wish I had the opportunity of tell her so much now – also had a hard life  and yet persevered.  I suspect she may have been an unmarried mom to be when she married her first cousin in 1916 – as yet I am unsure if he is actually my grandfather but I always remember her telling me that mental abuse was often worse than physical – even though there were no bruises to show for it.  She was left alone almost as a soon as my dad was born and raised him on her own, often not able to pay bills and moving to escape eviction while working at minimally paying jobs to ensure her son had his needs met.  In fact she worked until well into her 60’s and happily remarried again late in her life.  

My mom was also an incredibly strong woman who lost her own mom at a very young age and yet believed in herself enough to stand up to her father and join the St John Ambulance and served in the London England hospitals to save the brave soldiers fighting in WWII.  She returned to Canada and after marrying my dad moved to suburbs – with the endless fields of mud and little services.  She never drove and would walk everywhere to ensure we got to school, had food on the table and kept house for my dad; she cared for him for almost a year when he was in an explosion and not working yet I don’t remember doing without  and then lived on her own for many years after he died.

My sister Pat has fought and won the fight against Cancer; my sister-in-law Ros was a teen mom who has raised three wonderful children and returned to school to become a social worker, my daughter Caolaidhe is an entrepreneur who has her own small on line company and continues to succeed in a field of work ‘outside the norm”.  But in addition I have raised two sons Trevor and Doug who are compassionate men who show respect for the women in their lives as well as others around them. My nieces Breanne and Rebecca have become successful business women; one of whom has also raised two great kids as well.  We are all very different – each with characteristics which have allowed us to be who we are.  But we have in common that we are women who have worked and struggled and still managed to succeed in this sometime difficult world.  And there is still much each of us will do.

I am not clear why women have to fight among themselves in attempting to discredit other women who have made different choices….would any of us be here if women before us had not done so.  Regardless of where your family came from our women ancestors were all the above and then some.

On this International Women’s Day, lets celebrate our differences, rejoice in the fact that each one of us plays a different role in this world regardless of the various titles we wear…..and yet we are all the same -Women who proudly are the mosaics of our past, our family and friends and of a world that we are making a difference in.

Till next time…….

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM

mom's handToday would have been my mom’s 97th birthday…..she passed away on December 11, 2015 after being ill for some months ….It surprised me today that it really hit home that she was gone…gone was her stoic presentation, her concern about what others would think,  her righteousness about her birth family and her obstinate attidude  to do things the way she planned to do it…with no deviation.  In fact she told me last July when she started her downhill slide that she planned to die on Christmas Day “just to ruin it for you”…..yup that was our mom.

She was born in Toronto on March 13, 1919 to William Pattison and Annie Sinclair Wilson Pattison who had moved to Canada from Scotland some 8 years before.  She spent her whole childhood and some of her married life living at 11 Laurier Avenue in downtown Toronto in an area known as Cabbagetownlaurier ave

In 1954 we moved to  Scarborough where she and my dad  bought a house on Miramar Cres., one of the first real suburbs built after WWII. Dad passed away in 199miramar8 and  Mom remained there until 2005 when she moved  into her first assisted living apartment.  Years later she moved to Butternut Manor in Uxbridge where she lived  until she passed away. My brother Kent and his wife Ros ensured she had all she needed and she spent most Sundays at their house for dinner, an event she used to host at her place for years.  Mostly tho she loved her home on Laurier and it became a focus of her life as her memories there were so dominant in her conversations.

My mom lead a very difficult life as a small girl as her mom passed away when she was 12 and her dad sent her to live with her maternal family in Port Colborne , Ontario.  It wasn’t a happy time in her life, not only had she lost her mom, but she was virtually abandoned by her father and brothers although to their credit I’m sure they did it to attempt to provide her with some female influence in her life and had no idea what she had to endure while living there. Perhaps this is where she learned to be more stoic as she never talked much about her life there or elsewhere until the last few years of her life.  Perhaps it also made her strong enough to enlist, without her father’s permission in the St Johns Ambulance Brigade during WWII – a role she was so proud of and always wore her medals proudly on Remembrance Day every  year….right up to the last one when my brother Kent made sure they were displayed by her bedside.ww2 She also enjoyed her life as a young women and spent time in the summers at Lake Couchiching near Orillia with my Godparents the Hanmore’s and  tmom as young womanhe Blencow’s – both couples remained steadfast friends throughout their lives.  I’m sure they are all together again now enjoying reminiscing their younger years.

 

mom;s weddingMy mom and dad Stuart Maxwell Lundy actually met in London England during the war, introduced by my paternal grandma – mom was working with other women at St Enoch Church in Toronto preparing packages for the soldiers and my mom mentioned she was going overseas; my grandma suggested she meet up with my dad..which they did..according to my mom she wasn’t much impressed with him as he got drunk the first night.  Talk about first impressions…but obviously he overcame that initial blunder and they were married for over 50 years before his passing.

I was definitely a baby-boomer, the term given to those of us born shortly after WWII, followed a few years later by my sister Pat.  We were still living on Laurier Avenue at that time and spent many days  st james cemetarywalking in St James Cemetery which was at the end of our street.  In fact I literally learned to walk there among the gravestones – perhaps this was my early introduction to genealogy!

After we moved to Scarborough my ‘baby brother’  Kent was bsibingsorn (actually Stuart Kent)…I remember it like it was yesterday and loved caring for him after school every day when my mom went back to work.  I was so much older than him (12 yrs)..that I sometimes felt like his mom..and loved taking him on road trips and hockey games (and still do)  .

My mom and I did not have a good relationship when I was growing up. I was outspoken and often defiant (I know my friends will find that hard to believe).  She felt the only way she could teach me a lesson or make me behave was physical punishment..and we had many a screaming battle over the yemom and me2ars…I moved to Alberta in 1978 primarily because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore..but this past summer while she was hospitalized in July and struggling to stay in reality she suddenly stopped and looked at me and said “you and I didn’t get along very well when you were growing up did we”; when I teared up and said no we didn’t – she replied “I hope you know I always loved you”…as I type this I’m crying.I wanted to hear those words for so many years and in that moment the past was made right.

I miss you mom…even our arguments and disagreements….I loved visiting with you over the last 10 years or so when you were in Uxbridge when I could visit and have lunch…I hope you know that you taught me alot.even if at times when I was an unwilling learner…I hope I made y0u proud as a mom and grandmother myself as well as in my professional life  I know without your guidance it would not have happened.  I hope today you have a celebration wherever you are and know that you are missed.

 

Till next time………………

 

ADOPTION JOYS-thanking the Haineault family

When my youngest son, who we adopted when he was five weeks old asked me almost 10 years ago if I would help him find his birth mom I was initially filled with a feeling of dread.  A lot of ‘what ifs’ filled my mind, mostly what if he loved her more than me….how very silly and selfish of me….but I had no idea what that simple question would bring to all of us.

As often happens fate plays a quiet role in many events in one’s life….and the simple question my son asked me all those years ago started a series of fateful events that have continued to play a part in Doug’s growing up years.  When he was placed in our family at 5 weeks of age we were told that he was “probably Metis” – which of course was just fine with us…and we were grateful at the time he wasn’t declared a ”Status Indian Child” as the Province of Alberta has a moratorium in place that does not allow those children to be adopted.  I suppose this is in response to the 60’s scoop which saw many Aboriginal children taken from their families and adopted out to families as far away as Texas; children who lost their identities as well as their families but it also creates a sad state of affairs for many children left in limbo.  Fortunately at the time Doug’s supposed “Metis status” provided us with the first blessing of FATE and  with it  the opportunity to finalize his permanent place in our family and in our hearts …….even after we found out much more about our son. 

Because he was placed with us initially as a ‘foster child’ we were well aware of Doug’s birth name but little more than his mother’s first and last name – Elize Haineault.  We had no idea about any other family nor was there any offer or support from Children Services to provide us with anything more.  But Fate against bestowed on us a number of events leading to the opportunity for me to be able to fulfill our son’s wish a number of years later.  In my other life as a Child Protection worker I ran across another worker with the same last name as Doug’s birth mom; I had the opportunity of meeting Vic Haineault at a conference and asked if he was related to Elize (they’re cousins) and two weeks later I found myself seconded to the same Reserve where he was employed to assist with their files for a period of time.  He generously shared with others at that office that a ‘sort of relative’ was coming to work and by the time I arrived on my first morning I was totally accepted by everyone – but it didn’t stop there. I learned from Vic that his family were in fact Status Indian’s and that started the very difficult, sometimes complicated and always frustrating application for Doug’s Treaty Status through INAC which we finally got some 2 years later.   Over a period of months we talked about his family and I found out Doug’s mom was not well and was in a long term facility in Edmonton.  This story made me realize how fragile life is and as a mom made me recognize how much she probably wished she knew about her youngest child.  I wrote a letter to her and enclosed a picture of our shared son, inviting her to respond if she wanted.  And of course she did – bravely replying that I was his mom but if he was interested when he grew up she would love to meet him.  Reflecting back as I learn more about the Residential School’s and the 60 scoop, as well as the role Children Services has often played in the lives of First Nation families I wish this gift could be given to so many more parents who have lost their children because even those who may not be able to provide the care themselves doesn’t mean they don’t care. Can you imagine what knowing that would do to a child’s esteem  and to parent’s heart?

In the fall of 2007 we received a call from one of Elize’s sisters – out of the blue – but advising us that she was sick in the hospital and may not live to see her youngest grow up. After some family discussion we broached the subject with Doug asking if he would like to meet his birth mom and telling him a little about her current circumstances.  I later asked him why he had wanted to meet her and he simply said he wanted to see what she looked like – but that meeting gave him (and us) so much more.  The night we arrived at the hospital to meet Elize we were greeted by three of her sisters = Kathryn, Betty and Rose who were very excited to meet their youngest nephew and with Elize we also met Doug’s bio sister Sally.  That meeting was not long but it had an emotional impact on all of us and yet there was more to come.  Sadly Elize passed away in March 2008 but her death brought with it more than we could have ever imagined.  As a family we were invited to attend her wake and funeral and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by her family –  his sister Sally lovingly put her arm around Doug and he stood with her during the service, his Aunties who we had met in the hospital were pleased to have him there (plus other Aunties Coulette and

Lorraine) and besides a multitude of cousins we met the patriarchal head of the Haineault family – George who, although he had just lost a daughter openly showed his love toward his youngest grandson.  His first words to me was ‘you know he can have treaty status don’t you”……..

This weekend was George Haineault’s 80th birthday.  We drove 4 hours north to Fort McMurray to be part of the family’s celebration to honour this humble and gentle man who along with his late wife Sarah had been Elize’s parents.  As I watched my son meet his many cousins and other extended family members I realized that his reply of “I wanted to see what she looked like” was ricocheting through my mind as I noted family resemblances and characteristics…my heart swelled with pride for my handsome 18 year old son who will graduate high school this Spring as he joked with his cousins and shook hands with Fort McMurray Band members who had attended the party.  Fate continues to play a role in his life as we have learned he will soon become an ‘official’ member of Fort McMurray First Nations – a membership which will continue to open doors for him throughout his life.  We are so blessed to have our adopted son but equally important to us is being blessed with having been adopted by his birth family and their extended family members.  His Aunties are always so excited to see them, his cousins slowly getting to know him little by little at each meeting = sharing family meals where we have never been made to feel like ‘outsiders’ and we are simply Elizes’s youngest son’s mom and dad.

Speeches were given last night by family and friends extolling George’s role not only as a dad but lovingly as a grandpa and great grandpa to a growing number of beautiful children – and as a community leader who played an instrumental role in creating Fort McMurray’s Friendship Centre and through other means of making Fort McMurray grow into the vibrant city it has become.  The name Haineault is highlighted on Streets and buildings throughout the town.  Doug’s genes will give him the opportunity of fulfilling all his goals and as his mom I can only hope he will be a loving parent, a community leader,   and be open to welcoming others into his family circle with open arms like his Grandpa George.

Adoption is a wonderful thing when you receive a child in your arms knowing you have the opportunity of raising that child as your own, to mould his growth and fall in love with this little being…..in our case we also have had the opportunity of sharing all of this with a birth family who lovingly has adopted us as well.

 

Till next time…………………..

 

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