Home Is Where The Heart Is

Trea­sur­ing a bin­der full of fam­ily his­tory and a farm full of fam­ily mem­o­ries

More of Our Canada - - The Way It Was - by Lind­sey Sal­loway, Cal­gary

My Grandma Joyce has this bat­tered, torn red Duo-tang that has been around for as long as I can re­mem­ber. She has tracked the birth, mar­riage and death of ev­ery sin­gle per­son in our fam­ily in this old bin­der. Be­tween my grandma and her four si­b­lings, along with my grandpa and his three si­b­lings, there are now four gen­er­a­tions of fam­ily writ­ten about in this book— all by Grandma’s hand. The pen­cil is start­ing to fade and the pages are too full to keep adding new fam­ily mem­bers.

When Grandpa passed away in 2016, I be­gan vis­it­ing Grandma reg­u­larly so that we could work to­gether to type up her hand­writ­ten fam­ily record and put it in a nice new bin­der. In ad­di­tion to the record it­self, we wanted to in­clude bi­ogra­phies of Grandma, Grandpa and their four chil­dren. Even­tu­ally, we would write bi­ogra­phies for the grand­chil­dren as well (there are six of us) and then, one day, the great­grand­chil­dren. In De­cem­ber, through the joy of adop­tion, I added Grandma’s eighth great-grand­child to the fam­ily. Wil­liam is named for his great-grandpa who passed away ex­actly six months be­fore we re­ceived the news we would be bring­ing Wil­liam home.

As we sat at the kitchen ta­ble, I lis­tened to Grandma rem­i­nisce about her life. She was trans­ported back to be­ing a young girl on the farm in Rowley, Alta., help­ing her dad with the horses. Then, just as quickly she talked about be­ing a young woman liv­ing in Lloy­d­min­ster, Alta., and meet­ing and be­ing courted by Grandpa. She be­came a mother, rais­ing four won­der­ful chil­dren and then a mother dev­as­tated by the sud­den and tragic loss of her daugh­ter.

Dur­ing these vis­its, as I lis­tened to her life story, Grandma be­came a new per­son to me. Sure, many of the sto­ries were ones I’d heard be­fore, but I was hear­ing them in a new light now.

A run­ning theme through­out the stages of her life was the farm in Rowley. The fam­ily home and liv­ery barn had been such a huge part of her life and, in turn, be­came a big part of all our lives. We all grew up

vis­it­ing the farm in sum­mer, help­ing to paint the wagon wheel fence, mark­ing our heights on the door to go up­stairs, get­ting in trou­ble for eat­ing all of Grandma’s snap peas out of the gar­den, and lis­ten­ing to sto­ries about Vic and Mary, two of the horses Grandma had grow­ing up. Rowley was the scene of fam­ily re­unions, bap­tisms, Grandpa and Grandma’s vow re­newal on their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary, and my Aun­tie Shona’s fu­neral—she is buried in the ceme­tery there.

Over the years, as we all grew older and Grandpa be­gan to suc­cumb to de­men­tia, the farm and barn have aged. The barn turns 100 this year and is in need of re­pairs. A few months ago, Grandma handed me a letter on one of our vis­its. It was a hand­writ­ten letter that she wrote about the farm and its his­tory. She asked me to type it up and send it to Our Canada.

It would mean the world to her to see her letter in print. And maybe, just maybe, it will bring some much­needed at­ten­tion and sup­port to our his­toric and beloved barn. ■

The Sal­loway liv­ery barn has seen 100 years of fam­ily life and events, but is now in need of restora­tion.

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