Category Archives: Family

Good-Bye John

On Tuesday we attended the funeral of my brother-in-law John in Leamington, Ontario. John once teased me that in my writing I have a tendency to make lists.  So I thought I’d make a list for John.

He was a husband, teacher, father, urban planner, son, border crossing officer, brother, farmer, uncle, business owner, grandfather, book lover, friend, sommilier,brother-in-law, world traveler, nephew, dragon boat racer, municipal councillor, news junkie, father-in-law, writer, great-uncle, coffee connoisseur, conversationalist, island dweller, nature lover, cousin, landscaper, grandson, art aficionado, talker, singer, Scrabble player, swimmer, genial host and the list could go on and on.  

On Monday night we were at the funeral home for seven hours as nearly eight hundred people came to pay their respects to John and his family. He was clearly a man well-loved  by his community. I pulled some photos of John from my collection and hope they reveal just a little of the colorful, friendly and interesting man he was. 

Even as a child John had a friendly face that just hinted of mischief afoot

John walking his daughter Hannah down the aisle

John with his four brothers. He is furthest to the left.

John with his daughter Olivia

John’s university graduation

John with his son Sam

At his parents 25th wedding anniversary. John is just to the left of his mother

John his wife Linda and their daughter Grace

John and his brothers performing at their parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. John is furthest to the right.

John, his wife Linda and their four children are furthest to the right in this family photo with his parents, their children and grandchildren

John is to the far right in the back row in this family photo

John on his yard with an oak tree planted with the cutting of a tree that originally came from the area of Ukraine where both of John’s parents were born

John was the bestman at our wedding.

John, my husband Dave and our niece Hannah at a fun family golf tournament

John is to my left in this photo taken at our son’s wedding

John with his wife Linda and their two daughters on a Driedger family vacation in Arizona

John with his grandson

You can read John’s obituary here.

Other posts…….

The Amazing Race Driedger Style

Dave The Professional Driver

Making Memories



Filed under Family

Where I’m From

Where I’m From

I am from sausage smoking,

From shoe polish and Easter bonnets

I am from “swords into plowshares”

The wind rustling the Russian olive trees round Grandma and Grandpa’s house

And Mom playing the piano for hours on Sunday afternoons


I am from swimming in seaweed and reading endless books

From Paul and Dorothy

From ‘use your common sense’ and ‘I was just thinking of you’

From ‘it will be better by the time you’re a grandmother’

And ‘oh piffle.’


I am from Diedrich and Margaretha and Peter and Annie’s branch

Sommer borscht and chili soup

From Grandma’s arm getting caught in the washer wringer

And Grandpa baking bread for thousands of soldiers


In the closet in the second bedroom

is an old battered bin

Jam packed with photos and slides and stories

I am from that jumble of memories

If I can arrange them just right will I find my place in the family landscape?

I’ve used this poem pattern from George Ella Lyon before on this blog.  The poem above is one I wrote as a sample for a women’s retreat I’m spoke at on the weekend. 

marylou kaaren and carol

My cousin, sister and me in Easter bonnets


With my maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt

parents 1955

With my parents and sister in 1955


Filed under Family

A Writing Inheritance From Two Grandparents

For my  birthday my aunt took me out for a lovely lunch and gave me a present that had belonged to my grandfather.  My aunt was doing volunteer work in California in the 1960s when my grandparents visited her there. My grandfather was very interested in the state’s giant redwood trees. So my aunt gifted him with this redwood pen stand. She kept it when Grandpa died and decided to pass it on to me for my birthday, since I like to write. 

redwood pen setI love this gift.  I had never really thought of my paternal grandfather as a writer till we moved to Arizona for a year in 1989 and Grandpa took to writing me letters, perhaps with this very pen.  They were interesting letters and full of words of wisdom and advice. grandparents writing tools

I have placed Grandpa’s pen set on a shelf in my living room next to a letter writing set that belonged to my maternal grandmother, Annie Jantz Schmidt. I inherited it when she died.  It has a holder for a pen, an ink pot, a small stamp container and a rack for envelopes.  My mother often talked about what beautiful handwriting my grandmother had. 

I love having these two pieces of writing memorabilia from my two grandparents.  

Other posts……..

A Lament For Letters

A Pen or a Wing?

The Writing Life


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The Kitchen Table and Thanksgiving

Perhaps The World Ends Here

 The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it.  Babies teethe at the corners.  They scrape their knees under it. 

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling down-selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table.  It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen  table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

 This poem by Joy Harjo seemed appropriate somehow for this Thanksgiving.

Our sons at the Thanksgiving table in our house in Kykotsmovi Arizona

Making cookies with my cousin at the kitchen table in my grandparents’ farm house

My father in-law serving up gravy for perogies while holding our son at the kitchen table in their home.

My son and his cousins puzzling at their grandparents’ kitchen table

My husband and son playing chess at our kitchen table in Hong Kong

Coloring Easter eggs around the kitchen table with my mom

Celebrating my birthday at the kitchen table with my sister and brother

My husband and our niece at the Thanksgiving table at my brother and sister-in laws’ 

Other posts………


Family Thanksgiving

Cooking Together

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Filed under Family, Holidays

90 Years

dad ninetyLast Sunday we celebrated my father’s 90th birthday.  Staging the event was a real collaborative effort.  

dad with his two younger sisters

My Dad with his two youngest sisters. 

One of my father’s younger sisters made a speech about Dad and along with his three other sisters supplied a beautiful flower arrangement to add color to the room where we had the party.  

dad interview

Dad talks about his childhood in an interview

My nephew who is a television news reporter had interviewed my Dad about his life and we played an edited version of the interview for the guests.  

dave and I with dad

My husband Dave and I with Dad.

I had collected some 200 photos of Dad and compiled them into a slide show that ran throughout the afternoon. As you can see my sister-in-law did a great job with the decorations.  

food at birthday

My sister arranged for the party food.

My sister had arranged for the food and cake and one of my brothers sent out all the invitations and kept track of the guest list.  

dad and family

My brother and his family pose with Dad.

My younger brother was the master of ceremonies for the party and gave the toast to Dad.  

dad with bryan and abigail

Even some great-grandchildren were at the party.

We were so grateful to all the people who came out including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

dad with elbert and loraine

Dad with good friends from Steinbach who drove into Winnipeg for his party

Dad has lots of friends and we were glad quite a number of them whom we’d invited were able to come to the party.  When I asked Dad how he’d felt about the party he told me it had been great but his heart had been beating pretty fast through the whole thing. I think he liked his birthday celebration.  It’s not every day you turn 90.

Other posts…………..

My Dad Is…

My Dad Hasn’t Lost His Green Thumb

My Dad Was Once A Teacher

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Grandparents Who Were Readers

annie jantz schmidtI came across these photos of my maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt recently.  In each photo they are seen reading.  peter schmidtI was fortunate to have four grandparents who all liked to read.  I don’t have photos of my paternal grandmother Margaretha Peters reading but I do remember making regular trips to the bookstore in Steinbach to buy her romance novels in German. I remember how my grandfather Diedrich Peters loved to read National Geographic. 

I had four grandparents who modeled reading as a worthwhile and enjoyable activity.  I was lucky.  I hope I can be that kind of model for my grandchildren too. 

Other posts…….

The Lady With The Book

They Remembered the Books

A Bottomless Vortex of Books

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Filed under Books, Family

Playing Church

The last few days I’ve been going through old family photos to prepare for my Dad’s upcoming birthday and while doing so I came across this picture of me and my siblings ‘playing church.’   I am leading worship from the piano bench, my eyes closed in pious prayer. My sister is joining me in prayer but my little brother, although his eyes are closed seems to be doing his own thing, waving something in his hand.  My sister has her arm around him trying to keep his behavior in check. Behind us on the piano is a Sunday School book titled We Learn About Jesus. I see my little purse on the piano as well and since my sister and I are in nice dresses  perhaps we had just returned from a church service and were reenacting it. playing church

It is interesting to me that I played the role of the minister and leader in this  ‘pretending church’ game because in the churches of my childhood no women would have led worship or preached. Those were exclusively male roles in the congregation.

I am preaching in a church in southeastern Manitoba this morning.  Perhaps my childhood pretending game was a good omen for future changes that would come to the church providing opportunities for woman to be leaders and preachers. 

Other posts……….

Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them

More Visible But Not Equal

Doc Schroeder

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Filed under Family, Religion