Monthly Archives: August 2011

Belgian Ambassadors- Winnipeg’s Folklorama

In a previous post, I mentioned having met some former students of ours at the Belgian Pavilion at Winnipeg’s Folklorama. I went back to the Pavilion the following Saturday to interview Lyndsay and Allison Kalyta and do a story about them for The Carillon, the Manitoba paper where I’ve had a weekly column for many years. The Carillon is not available online without a subscription and since most of my blog readers are not Carillon readers I decided to include my newspaper story about Lyndsay and Allison here. It allows me to add many additional photos I took and I think their story goes well with the theme of my blog yesterday—that the current generation of young people is pretty terrific!

“ It’s a family affair”, says Lyndsay Kalyta, “we’ve been here every summer since we were three or four years old.”   Two Steinbach sisters are the 2011 Belgian Pavilion ambassadors at Winnipeg’s Folklorama.  For Allison and Lyndsay Kalyta, the one hundred-year-old Belgian Club on Provencher Boulevard has been the site of an annual Folkorama family reunion for as long as they can remember. “Our mom’s family, the Spitaels, pretty much run the Belgian Pavilion and working here with our cousins and aunts and uncles is a tradition”. 

Their mother Elaine, a French teacher and reading specialist at Elmdale School in Steinbach, first got her daughters involved as members of the children’s dance troupe that performs for Folklorama guests. In the past, Lyndsay and Allison have served food, bartended, been in charge of hosting bus tours and have emceed the nightly performances at the Belgian Pavilion. This year they are serving as its official ambassadors. 

Their duties include greeting visitors at the door, giving personal service to VIP guests, encouraging the crowd to clap and sing along with the performers, being introduced on stage each night, and representing their pavilion at official Folklorama events, such as the inaugural ceremony on July 13th.  Lyndsay and Allison have never been to Belgium, but they studied and did research about the country to prepare for their job as ambassadors. Visitors ask them all kinds of questions about Belgium and its people. 

The food and drink at the pavilion is what draws many people there, the Belgian waffles, beer stew, leek soup, blood sausage, pickled herring, head cheese, Belgian chocolate and the fifteen kinds of Belgian- made beer. The pavilion is also famous for its French Fries served with mayonnaise. Many visitors don’t know French Fries were invented in Belgium. Lyndsay and Allison’s favorite dish is koninglinnepasteitjes, a pastry cup filled with creamed chicken. As ambassadors they get to sample foods from many other countries as well, because they have the privilege of visiting any Folklorama pavilion at no cost, where they receive VIP seating and complimentary food and beverage service. 

Lyndsay and Allison’s grandparents immigrated to Canada from Belgium as young newlyweds and made their home in Holland, Manitoba. There are two main Belgian cultural groups, the Walloon, who speak French, and the Flemish, whose language is more like Dutch. Lyndsay and Allison’s family is Flemish. Their grandfather died before they were born, but their grandma comes into Winnipeg during Folklorama to visit the Belgium pavilion and see her children and grandchildren.

Lyndsay is a 2006 Steinbach Regional Secondary School (SRSS) alumnus, who recently graduated from Red River Community College with a degree in Landscape Technology.  Prior to that she was pursuing an arts degree at the University of Manitoba, something she hopes to continue doing this fall, perhaps with an eye to a future career in nursing. Lyndsay has had a summer job as a gardener for the City of Winnipeg for several years.  She made a special request of her supervisor that she be assigned to tend the flower garden in the Provencher Boulevard median just outside the Belgian Club. It surrounds a memorial to the Canadian soldiers of Belgian descent who died serving their country in the first and second world wars. Lyndsay thought it would be fitting for someone whose family came from Belgium to care for that garden.

Allison, a 2008 SRSS alumnus, just completed a science degree at the University of Manitoba. She will begin a two- year program in Dental Hygiene this fall. Allison has a summer job working for the City of Steinbach taking care of landscaping duties at the city cemeteries. She also works part-time at Extra Foods in Steinbach. Allison and Lyndsay’s Dad, Phil Kalyta, is an engineer for the City of Steinbach and although he is of Ukrainian descent his daughters tell me they have their Dad volunteering at the Belgian Pavilion as well during Folklorama. Truly it’s a ‘family affair’!

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So Polite

The news has been filled with stories about young people looting and rioting in London. The British prime minister has been lecturing their parents about the poor job they’ve done raising their kids.  I encountered three young men this week who certainly did their parents proud.  They were courteous, friendly, punctual and professional.

Ryan sold me a vacuum cleaner. He patiently answered all my questions about various brands, styles and attachments and asked good questions himself about what I needed my vacuum cleaner to be able to do.  My new Sears credit card hadn’t arrived in the mail yet, but Ryan said it was no problem and spent time on the phone patiently dealing with office people to verify my card number. He told me he was a student at the Asper School of Business and selling appliances was his part-time job to help with his tuition costs.  After I’d paid for my new vacuum cleaner he insisted on carrying it out to my car for me and chatted in a friendly way as we walked to and from my vehicle.

Morley from Noble Locks came to install a new lock on our mailbox in our condo lobby. I went downstairs at 8:20 to meet him for his 8:30 appointment and he was already pulled up in front of our building having a coffee. I knocked on the window of his van and said I’d be waiting inside when he was ready but rather than finish his coffee as I expected, he jumped right out of the van and followed me inside.  The lock wasn’t easy to fix but he assured me this was his job and he’d figure it out. He told me about his Scottish and Irish heritage and we chatted about the fact that both he and Monty Hall were alumnus of St. John’s High School here in Winnipeg. He told me about the new car he’d just bought and his plans to save money for a house. Despite the fact he’d been ‘on call’ for  the previous twenty-four hours, and had gone to take care of several lock emergencies during the night, he was alert and happy. My lock was fixed professionally and before leaving for his next appointment, Morley wished me a pleasant day and gave me his business card in case I had any problems with my new lock.

Chris from the Manitoba Telephone System shook my hand and gave me a friendly smile, slipping his shoes off politely before entering our condo to install our cable television, telephones and wireless internet service.  We had a bit of a hunt to find the main cable connection but he was patient and used his flashlight to search behind cupboards and the piano so I wouldn’t have to move too many things. He gave me several options for where he could run the cords and helped me decide which would work the best and be the least visible. He joked about his short stature when requesting a chair to fasten the wires along the top of a doorway. He worked quickly and professionally. He obviously knew what he was doing and when he was finished gave me a tutorial on how my new television worked and carefully wrote down the numbers for my wireless service.

Two other gentlemen, quite a bit older than either Chris, Morley or Ryan were also in our condo installing our new washer and dryer from Sears and when they couldn’t find the pair of pliers they needed Chris lent them his. Chris carefully cleaned up after himself while the two middle-aged guys hooking up my laundry appliances left stuff all over the floor and since they had forgotten to bring duct tape told me I could finish installing my washer and dryer myself and move them back against the wall on my own. They could have taken a few lessons in courtesy and professionalism from their younger counterparts!

What next? One of the things I want to do in my retirement is look for positive things to write about young people.   Having just completed six years of teaching high school I am a big fan of the current young adult generation. Its been a pleasure to teach them. The media seem to predominantly feature stories about what’s “wrong with our youth these days”. What would happen if more of us started talking about what’s great about the young people we encounter in our daily lives?

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The Mink Bay- Happy Jack Trail in Kenora

‘You always went away from his shack as happy as can be. He never raised his voice. We never saw him out of sorts.” Those are the childhood memories of people who visited the Keewatin, Ontario resident known as Happy Jack.   Jack Whitmore came to Keewatin in 1891, worked there for 33 years and died in 1940. Children who knew him say he was fond of cats and although he never talked about his past or his personal life he was affable, well informed about community events, and always willing to listen to the young people who dropped by his simple dirt-floor home that had neither running water or electricity.  

This week I hiked the Mink Bay Wetland Trail in northern Ontario. It has been nicknamed Happy Jack’s Trail in memory of a rather mysterious man who lived along its route. In summer Jack worked in a heading factory which made the tops and bottoms of flour barrels, but in winter he just hung out at his shack.  He was a well educated man and students who struggled with math sought his help. But no one knew where he had been born, where his relatives were, or how he had landed up in Keewatin. There was speculation he was from a wealthy family in England and had been banished to Canada for some misdeeds- but no one ever asked him and the truth about his past died with him. 

I didn’t see Happy Jack’s shack as I hiked the trail named after him and I didn’t see a mink either, even though I was on the Mink Bay trail. I did see many other things of interest and beauty. My hiking companions were my sister Kaaren, her husband Ken and my husband Dave. Kaaren and Dave are looking at the map to figure out if we have strayed from the trail outlined on the hiking brochure published by the city of Kenora. The sky scattered with downy clouds drew my attention repeatedly. After years of living in Hong Kong where the atmosphere is usually dull and gray the bright blue Ontario horizon beguiled me. 

My sister and her husband have a cottage at Louise Lake near Kenora and we were spending a few days visiting them. Tuesday we woke to a chilly morning and decided a hike might be a better option than lake sports or swimming. The Mink Bay Trail runs along a wetlands/ boreal forest area- a combination eco-zone. A wetland gets its name from the fact that its soil is damp for most of the year and so certain kinds of plants and animals live there that might not live anywhere else. The term ‘boreal forest’ is unique to Canada and describes the coniferous woodlands flung like a green shawl across the shoulders of North America. 

On our boreal forest/ wetlands hike we  saw……………… bees, wildflowers, a unique wooden bridge, wild cranberry trees, water lilies, Canada geese, a driftwood garden, bulrushes, a waterfall, a reflection

What next? I’d like to do more hiking here in my home and native land. The scenery is very different than that of the European and Asian countries I visited during my six years in Hong Kong, but the Canadian landscape has a beauty all its own.

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Filed under Canada, Family, History, Nature, New Experiences, Retirement

Caleb’s Crossing

 The title of this book is misleading. It’s not really a book about Caleb, the first Native American man to graduate from Harvard University in 1665 and thus ‘cross’ the dividing lines between his own culture and religion and that of his Puritan neighbours. It’s really a book about its narrator, Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a Puritan pastor, who befriends Caleb and constantly dances along the lines between her loyalty to her own culture and religion and Caleb’s. Even more interesting to me however was the way Bethia tries to navigate the lines that separated men and women in her time and the way she struggles as she crosses the lines that demarcate her love and loyalty towards her family and her desire to be her ‘own person’ and do what she finds fulfilling and rewarding.

This is my second Geraldine Brooks’ book- I also read People of the Book with my Hong Kong book club- but I enjoyed this book more, perhaps because I could identify with each of Bethia’s ‘line crossing’ struggles. 

An illustration by Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times review of the book illustrates the cultural differences between the two protagonists. I have lived in two very different cultures than my own- one on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northern Arizona, where Dave and I taught for a year, and the other in Hong Kong, where we lived and worked for six years. I liked the way Bethia was open to experiencing the Wampanoag  culture she encountered with her friend Caleb. His language, food, music, family relationships and social practices intrigue her and she can’t help but explore them. My life too was enriched as I learned to appreciate the beauty of the Hopi language ( actually our younger son Bucky became the most proficient at it) and the lively sing-song cadences of the nine tones of Cantonese. I liked eating piki bread and dim sum and observing the way strong women in both the Chinese and Hopi cultures shape their family’s lives as well as the way both cultures show such high regard and respect for their elders. The emphasis placed on artistic expression in the Hopi culture and on education in the Chinese culture influenced me both personally and professionally. 

An illustration of Caleb’s Crossing by Anthony Russo in the New York Times review of the book shows the struggle Bethia has as she encounters Caleb’s religion. She sees so much value in it and even drinks the liquid that will allow her to go on a ‘short’ vision quest, the way Caleb does when he is crossing the line between childhood and manhood. Yet her father is a Christian pastor and in her own way Bethia is very devout and truly believes God has a plan and purpose for her life and is in control of it. As I learned more about the Hopi religion during my time in Arizona and the Buddhist faith during my time in Hong Kong I too struggled with how both religions seemed to serve their purposes in their respective cultures and ‘work’ for the people who followed those faiths in their settings just as my Christian faith did for me. Learning about other religions shouldn’t be a ‘scary’ or a ‘guilt laden experience’ the way it was for Bethia, when doing so can only serve to enrich our own faith. The Hopis knew how to worship in colorful community ways that left no one a mere observer and the temples I visited in Hong Kong were definitely places where people found hope, solace and healing. 

Bethia is intelligent and eager to learn but she lives in a time when education is not for women. She sneaks back and forth across this gender line constantly -covertly reading books, listening to the boys’ lessons, intellectually sparing with Caleb and keeping a journal where she records her ideas and thoughts. She also finds it hard to reconcile herself to the idea that men- her brother, her father, her husband should have control of HER life. I too have struggled with gender lines in the past.  I fought for maternity leave rights in my school division so that women would be better able to balance their personal and professional lives and in my writing and speaking I tried to address the use of non-inclusive language particularly in the church and to make people aware of the many strong and influential women in the Bible and in history. 

I think we all can identify with the struggle between personal fulfillment and family committment. Bethia experiences this so often in Caleb’s Crossing. The death of her mother means she must set her own personal plans aside to care for her family. She must sacrifice her own desire for an education so her older brother can be educated. I found it hard when I was first married to give in to what Dave wanted instead of doing what I wanted to do. That struggle never stops in a marriage but you grow more comfortable with it and it can even become a source of growth, learning and joy. But………. I have found that you need to have a line you can’t cross when it comes to being true to yourself and doing what your partner wants you to do. If you cross that line you lose yourself. I found it easier I think to set aside my own personal desires and plans to give my children’s needs and desires priority. Perhaps their vulnerability as children made that easier and the way their happiness was so intertwined with my own. Although this has not been a big struggle for me personally I do know people who have had to draw an uncrossable line between self -survival and their loyalty to their children. I think this same struggle has been there for me with my extended family- parents and grandparents and other relatives- doing what they think I should do and believe is right for me and what I think is best. 

I would recommend Caleb’s Crossing but I think it should have been called Bethia’s Crossing. One thing I am enjoying about being retired is that I have more time to read. What book is next?  I have just started Miriam Toews’ Irma Voth- another story about a young woman who must deal with lots of ‘line crossings’ in her life. 

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I Live in a Piece of History

The condo where we live is located in a building that is a Winnipeg historical landmark. The Ashdown Warehouse on Bannatyne Avenue was built in 1895 by James Henry Ashdown, also nicknamed “The Merchant Prince.”

The warehouse, the largest in Winnipeg at the time, had sections added onto it in 1900, 1902, 1906 and 1911. It served as the headquarters for James Ashdown’s retail empire that made him one of Winnipeg’s first millionaires.

At the turn of the century the building was a warehouse  used for keeping all the things sold in the Ashdown Store, which was located in a building at the end of Bannatyne- housewares, dishes, cutlery, sporting goods, paint, automotive and electrical supplies, tools, agricultural equipment, plumbing supplies, furniture and wood stoves.  Mr. Ashdown who was a charter member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade used his influence to have a railway line spur built right near his warehouse so it would be easy for him to move things back and forth between his other warehouses in twelve different Canadian cities.  A set of scales that must have been used for weighing goods still sits in the front lobby of  our building which was designed by S. Frank Peter and J.H.G. Russell. The building has wood post and beam construction and the original walls of Selkirk stone and brick are still visible in all the condos.

James Ashdown came to Winnipeg in 1868, but at the time it was just a little village called The Red River Settlement. Born in London, England, in 1844 James and his family had immigrated to Toronto when he was eight years old . James began his work life as an apprentice to a tinsmith- which is perhaps why there are beautifully tooled tin ceilings in the lobby and elevator of our condo.  James was imprisoned for 69 days by Louis Riel, a Metis’ leader. James was part of a group of fifty citizens who resisted Riel’s attempt to take control of the Red River settlement. 

The enterprising Mr. Ashdown devised  the country’s first catalogue as a method to advertise his products across the country.  Once he loaded up a train that traveled across the country making stops in every town along its route, opening up its doors to sell goods to the local citizens. The forward thinking James chaired a committee of citizens that insisted Winnipeg be incorporated as a city, long before it qualified as a city because of its size.   James would later serve as Winnipeg’s mayor for two terms. 

529 Wellington was where Mr. James Ashdown had his home. Today it is a well known restaurant, with a pricey menu. Mr. Ashdown lived at 529 Wellington with his wife Susan and their five children. His son took over his business when he died in 1924 and ran it till his own death in 1971.

There is a statue of James Ashdown in the walkway of famous citizens in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park. Mr Ashdown certainly deserves to be there. He founded the University of Winnipeg and served on its board of directors for 36 years.  He also founded the first YMCA and public school system in Winnipeg. He led the drive to open Assiniboine Park and was a life governor of Winnipeg’s General Hospital. He was a director of the Bank of Montreal and founded the St. Charles Country Club. It was his initiative that got an aqueduct built to provide fresh water for Winnipeg and make typhus a thing of the past for its citizens.  Mr Ashdown was barely finished one civic improvement before he began thinking about what was next on the agenda to make Winnipeg a better place to live. 

 My home is in a building that belonged to a pretty important man! The Ashdown Warehouse was the first building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District to be turned into residential condos. Now there are quite a few others and more are being built and renovated all the time. 



Other posts about buildings in my neighbourhood………



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Visiting Belgium and Colombia

Yesterday we visited Belgium and Colombia vicariously by going to the Belgian and Colombian pavilions at Folkorama, a traditional Winnipeg summer festival. During the two weeks of Folkorama celebrations, groups of people whose families have immigrated to Canada from places around the world,  work together to create pavilions that showcase their home country’s culture. The pavilions, located all over the city, offer food, entertainment and activities. More than 40 countries provide showcases each year.  We went to Folkorama with our friends Garry and Lynn and Hans and Chris. 


We had chorizo sausage and empanadas at the Colombia pavilion and beer stew, turkey soup, Belgian waffles and Belgian chocolates at the Belgium pavilion. Some people in our group had French Fries at the Belgium pavilion. Did you know French Fries were invented in Belgium? There are speciality shops called frietkot in Belgium that sell fries with all kinds of dipping sauces.  At the Belgian pavilion they served their fries with mayonaisse.  We also tried some Belgian beer. The master of ceremonies at the Belgian pavilion told us there are 500 kinds of Belgian beer.  The Belgian pavilion was located in the Belgian Club which is just a five minute drive from our home. The Belgian club in Winnipeg was established in 1905. If the friendly and warm volunteers at the Belgian pavilion are any indication, I’d have to say Winnipeg has a vibrant Belgian community. Their main social activities appear to be Belgian bowling, which some people in our group tried at the Belgian pavilion, and pole archery- which involves shooting at artifical birds perched on poles. 

We watched dance shows at both the Belgian and Colombian pavilions. There is a Belgian Dance Club in Winnipeg which meets regularly and is for all ages.

These excited and lovely little girls were part of the Colombia dance group called Folklore de Mi Tierra. They had a large cadre of enthusiastic and talented performers of all ages wearing a variety of colorful costumes. I thought it was great that at both pavilions they were involving children in their dance performance groups. The kids were getting lots of healthy exercise and learning about their family’s cultural heritage at the same time!

We were surprised to be greeted at the Belgian Pavilion by Lyndsay and Alison Kalyta, two young women from Steinbach, the city where Dave and I lived and worked for over thirty years. Lyndsay was a student in my Journalism class at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School. She and her sister are the official Belgian ambassadors for Folkorama. Their mother is Belgian. I want to return to the pavilion this weekend to do a story about the girls for my column in The Carillon. 

Although I’ve never been to either Belgium or Colombia, my Folkorama visits will certainly make me consider them as destinations when I’m thinking about what’s next on my travel agenda. 


Filed under Canada, Culture, New Experiences, Winnipeg

What Next in Saskatoon

On one of my walks in Saskatoon I came upon a flock of Canada Geese beside the river. Having lived in Hong Kong for many years, where obviously there are no Canada geese, it was nice to see this native Canadian bird again. I have written about Canada Geese before, but this time I thought about how Canada Geese seldom have to worry about what’s next.  They follow the exact same migration routes year after year.  On their annual journeys they always stop to rest in exactly the same locations, both on their flights north in spring and south in fall. They make their nests in exactly the same places each year, sometimes even using the previous summer’s nest. Usually their nests are very near to where their parents built nests. Sometimes it’s comforting to have everything you need to do already established for you, so you don’t need to worry about what’s next.  I visited the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon and one of the exhibits told the story of the Mendel family. In the 1940’s Fred Mendel owned a large international meat-packing company. He maintained homes in several European cities. but he was forced to flee , leaving his business headquarters and personal wealth behind when the Nazis took control. What next? He came to Canada and started over, building up another very successful business and amassing a large and impressive art collection. In the 1960’s he donated funds to the city of Saskatoon for the building of the Mendel Art Gallery and gifted the gallery with many of the pieces of art from his collection. There are times in life when all of us are forced to begin again- when we don’t have any idea what’s next but we have to leave old things behind and start over.

At the Ukrainian Museum in Saskatoon I spent a long time looking at a series of paintings by William Kurelek showing the life of pioneer women in Canada. They moved from one task to another, gardening, child care, home improvements, housework, cooking, cleaning, laundry. Did they ever have to ask “what next?” when another task always lay before them.  Life was just one long, never-ending arc of work. In my teaching career I have often felt that way too- in September when school opened I stepped onto this long moving walkway of endless grading, lesson planning, meetings, crisis, problem solving, classroom organizing and a million other things. That walkway just kept moving and as fast as I walked I never reached the end. My old school in Hong Kong has already opened for the year and as I see e-mails and Facebook postings from my teaching friends there, I am not sure yet if I am completely happy or just a little bit sad that I won’t be stepping onto that teaching walkway of work this year.

Our son and his wife bought a home in Saskatoon a year ago, which we saw for the first time on our recent visit. Although their home is new and they are the first people to live in it, they are already asking “what next?” when it comes to things they want to do in their house and on their yard.  They were busy landscaping while we were there.  They have plans to finish the basement and build a deck and cover a walkway in their backyard with a roof. When you are a home owner you seem to constantly be thinking about what’s next when it comes to maintaining your home. It was kind of nice in Hong Kong where we rented a serviced apartment not to have to worry about any of those things. If something needed to  be done in our suite we just called the front desk and they sent people up to take care of it.  Already since moving back to Winnipeg we’ve made long lists of things we need to do in our condo here- replace a cracked window pane, buy a new washer and dryer, paint the walls, fix the mailbox lock, clean the ceramic sink, reinstall the broken towel bars, caulk the bathtubs, put up picture hangers……… I’m not sure I like being so responsible and having to constantly think about what’s next when it comes to home maintenance.

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Aunt Vi

I had two nice long visits with my Aunt Vi during the week I spent in Saskatoon. Viola is my mother’s older sister. Aunt Vi had a rewarding career as an elementary school teacher and since her retirement she has traveled the world and done all kinds of volunteer work for her church and community. She lived with my grandmother for many years caring for her after my grandfather’s death. I don’t think Vi is a person who ever says “What’s next?”  She always has so many projects and plans on the go and she moves calmly from one to the other.  Vi does needlework and gives almost all of it away.  As her nieces and nephews have begun to mark their twenty-fifth wedding anniversaries each has received a beautiful picture she’s made.  Each picture requires thousands of stitches and endless hours of Vi’s time.
Here’s Vi with my son and his wife. She made them a needlepoint picture of the Prayer of St. Francis as a wedding gift. My husband Dave and I stayed with Aunt Vi five years ago when we were in Saskatoon getting ready for their wedding and Vi helped me make hundreds of dainties and desserts to serve to the wedding guests after the ceremony.  

Aunt Vi is busy now writing her life story.  She likes to do jig saw puzzles and she is a member of a book club. For many years she has organized music and recordings to sell at an annual fund raiser for the symphony orchestra in Saskatoon and her door is always open to guests.  She loves to cook and bake and keeps records on cards what she served you the last time you were her guest so she won’t repeat the same menu.  

Vi is easy to talk to and she is an excellent listener. It’s no wonder so many people phone her or stop in for a chat at her apartment in the Saskatoon senior’s complex where she lives. She keeps a guest book and has all her guests record their names. I don’t know how many of those books she’s already filled, but I’m sure by now its dozens.      

Aunt Vi with my Aunt Louise at my brother’s wedding

Despite the fact she always has many projects on the go, she seems so relaxed and always makes time for activities and programs at her church, and in the seniors’ community where she lives.  Walking the halls of that community with her, as I did last week, it is clear everyone knows her. She has a friendly comment for each person she meets and she makes a habit of giving cards to people who need affirmation or encouragement.  


Aunt Vi holds our son when he was a baby

 Aunt Vi has no children of her own but she has been a caring and conscientious aunt and great aunt- remembering us all at Christmas with gifts, praying for us and never missing family celebrations and events.

As I ask “What’s next?” and think about how I want to spend my retirement years- Aunt Vi is definitely someone I can look to as a role model. 


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