The Way It Was

Mom’s sib­lings made sure sum­mer hol­i­days were full of mirth and mer­ri­ment

Our Canada - - Features - by Elaine Durst, Kelowna, B. C.

My grand­fa­ther loved to tease. It must have been his Ir­ish her­itage—al­though he was born in In­dia, he was the youngest son of an Ir­ish fa­ther who was serv­ing in her Majesty’s 39th Reg­i­ment as a sergeant in In­dia. Grand­fa­ther would speak Hindi, which we didn’t un­der­stand of course, but would “in­ter­pret” into the wildest of tales.

I must say, though, the most fun came from my mom’s sib­lings, my Aunt Mary and my Un­cle Ron. Aunt Mary lived a ru­ral life on B.C.’S Cortes Is­land, where we en­joyed many sum­mer hol­i­days. Un­cle Ron, the youngest of the clan, hosted fam­ily re­unions at his home in Pen­tic­ton, B.C. Both had lots of zany ideas to keep us kids busy. As we got older, the ac­tiv­i­ties aged ap­pro­pri­ately along with us, and al­ways in­cluded the adults as well.

On Cortes, we would en­joy evenings of stoop tag, or a game of base­ball on the cow­pie-filled field, which ne­ces­si­tated some pretty fancy foot­work. While sleep­ing up in the hayloft, we’d lis­ten to the night sounds and let our imag­i­na­tions run wild.

There were Satur­day night dances, where a log­ging truck would pick us up and trans­port us across the is­land. As only three peo­ple could fit in the cab of the truck, heavy timbers, run­ning the length of the truck bed, were se­cured to the bunkers that nor­mally car­ried logs. We’d all sit back-to-back on each side of these “tim­ber seats.” Place­ment was ex­act to make sure chil­dren who were ac­com­pa­ny­ing their par­ents had a seat be­tween two adults who could hold on to them. Once un­der­way, the sing-along would start as we trav­elled the nar­row road.

In Pen­tic­ton at the fam­ily re­unions, we’d en­joy lake­side ac­tiv­i­ties at Skaha or Okana­gan Lake, de­pend­ing which way the wind blew.

Weiner roasts were held around the back­yard fire pit, which al­lowed lots of time for rem­i­nisc­ing. The fam­ily re­unions al­ways wound up with a huge spaghetti feed—un­cle Ron’s spe­cialty.

Sev­eral years af­ter our last fam­ily re­u­nion, my hus­band and I trav­elled from Alberta and took our chil­dren camp­ing along the Sim­ilka­meen River. We in­vited Un­cle Ron and fam­ily to join us. He sug­gested that he pre­pare a big spaghetti sup­per for us that could be re­heated over our open camp­fire. We agreed and when ev­ery­one was ready to eat, Un­cle Ron said he had to check the sauce one last time. As he bent over the fire, he popped his false teeth out and into his hand to bet­ter taste the sauce. Our kids had never seen such a thing and sat bugeyed un­til we all started laugh­ing. That was a typ­i­cal Un­cle Ron joke.

We’re of­ten told that laugh­ter is the best medicine. I have a large store of happy mo­ments to draw on for belly laughs when I re­call fun times with fam­ily and friends.

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