Baby boom in But­lerville

Late grand­par­ents would be ‘over the moon,’ says grand­daugh­ter

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

Santa had bet­ter come pre­pared with an ex­tra large sack when he vis­its homes in the But­lerville area this Christ­mas.

That’s be­cause there’s a mini baby boom, driven mainly by mem­bers of the But­ler family. More specif­i­cally, de­scen­dants of the late Garfield and Mil­dred But­ler.

No less than three grand­daugh­ters and one grand­daugh­ter-in-law are ex­pect­ing ba­bies this fall.

Christa Shan­dera and Laura Par­sons are ex­pected to de­liver in Oc­to­ber, while Lori Hayes and Peggy Par­sons are ex­pect­ing their ba­bies to ar­rive in De­cem­ber, just in time for Christ­mas.

What’s more, three other grand­daugh­ters —Jill Greely,Mar­lene But­ler andNancy Porter — have had chil­dren within the past two years.

Over the moon

If her grand­par­ents were still around to­day, Laura says, “ they would be over the moon happy with all these ex­pec­tant grand­daugh­ters at the one time.”

No strangers to crowds in their home, Laura says her grand­mother was “ never hap­pier than when her small home was over­flow­ing with family.”

Both Mil­dred and Garfield But­ler were from large But­lerville fam­i­lies. Mi ldred had 11 sib­lings, whi le Garfield had 10 in his family.

Mil­dred and Garfield had seven chil­dren of their own: Garfield Jr., El­iz­a­beth, Irene, Beatrice and Billy, and two who died in in­fancy, Garfield and Mar­cella.

They have 15 grand­chil­dren and eight great-grand­chil­dren. The four great-grand­chil­dren on the way would make it an even dozen.

Tri­als and tragedy

But like most big, happy fam­i­lies, the But­lers were not without their tri­als, tribu­la­tions and tragedies.

In a re­mark­ably can­did ad­mis­sion, Laura says that on Oct., 28, 1980, her grand­fa­ther, Garfield But­ler, com­mit­ted sui­cide, after a bat­tle with de­pres­sion. He was only 51.

She says her family are quite open about the men­tal illness that led to their beloved grand­fa­ther’s un­timely death.

She re­mem­bers her grand­mother, Mil­dred, as “a re­mark­able and strong woman who still had teenage chil­dren to raise on her own at a time when most of the pub­lic didn’t un­der­stand men­tal health is­sues and how her hus­band could do such a thing.

“She did ev­ery­thing in her power to pro­vide for her family,” Laura says proudly. “ She worked as a cafe­te­ria worker at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate, as well as at the orig­i­nal Help­ing Hand on Wa­ter Street in Bay Roberts.

“A de­voted mother and grand­mother,” Laura adds, “she was af­fec­tion­ately known to her grand­chil­dren as ‘Old Mother Witch.’”

She earned the ti­tle from hours of play­ing with her grand­chil­dren, chas­ing them around the house heck­ling like a witch and shoo­ing them with her broom.

Mil­dred was also an ac­tive mem­ber of the But­lervil le Angli­can Church Women, as wel l as the Shearstown Loyal Or­ange Benev­o­lent As­so­ci­a­tion. Her in­volve­ment in both of these or­ga­ni­za­tions led to many so­cial out­reach op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Mil­dred But­ler died on Nov. 29, 2004, after a bat­tle with can­cer. She was 74.

No place like home

While not all family mem­bers still re­side in But­lerville, Laura says, “ we all con­sider But­lerville to be our home. It is just one of those places that you know you wi l l al­ways be­long, no mat­ter where you are.”

With so many new family mem­bers ex­pected to ar­rive just be­fore Christ­mas 2011, Laura jokes: “ there is only one ques­tion that re­mains: How will all these new high­chairs ever fit around the din­ing room ta­ble for Christ­mas din­ner?”

In fact, due to the size of the family, she says, “ we are un­able to have Christ­mas din­ner in But­lerville – no one has a large enough din­ing room. But this does not dis­cour­age us from get­ting to­gether each year at El­iz­a­beth ( Shan­dera’s) home in Bay Roberts.”

When they do get to­gether, she says, “around 40 of us show up. Some years it has been more be­cause peo­ple from our ex­tended family and friends also join us.”

Door al­ways open

The door is al­ways open. “And cook­ing for such a large crowd usu­ally means Pow­ell’s Su­per­mar­ket has to re­serve the largest tur­keys they can get for us. And even then we have to have an­other tur­key to serve at sup­per­time.

“I bet you have never ex­pe­ri­enced Christ­mas morn­ing like ours,” Laura chal­lenges.

“Each family mem­ber helps with the cook­ing, even if it means peel­ing a sack of spuds and car­rot and turnip. It’s quite the un­der­tak­ing. Sup­per is al­ways the same for Christ­mas; hot tur­key sand­wiches and french fries.

“ We love get­ting to­gether and we make the ef­fort to all get to­gether at least twice a year, over and above all the other cel­e­bra­tions like birth­days, an­niver­saries, grad­u­a­tions and births.”

In fact, a But­ler family bar­be­cue was planned for Aug. 28.

You have to won­der who did the dishes.

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