Baby boom in Butlerville
Late grandparents would be ‘over the moon,’ says granddaughter
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.