Category Archives: Family

Dad’s Treasures – Part 7

My brother and I were visiting my Dad yesterday and we both left with some treasures as a result of Dad’s continued efforts to downsize in preparation for a move.  My brother took home several boxes of tools, nails, screws, wires, cords and other items Dad had been keeping just in case he needed to repair something. I took home a samovar.  Dad said he wanted me to have it because I am the only one of his children who has visited Ukraine and that’s where he got it.  In 1971 my Dad made a trip to Ukraine with my grandfather.  They travelled with a tour group of other Mennonites and the emphasis was on visiting sites that related to the history of the Mennonites in Ukraine.  My grandfather was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Canada in the 1920s.

This is the only photo I have of  Dad and Grandpa on their trip to Ukraine. Grandpa is second from the left and Dad is second from the right and I imagine the others are local residents of Ukraine. 

In 1971 travel in Ukraine was still fairly restricted. My Dad said although he and Grandpa were offered a chance to travel with a guide to the small village of Gnadenthal where my grandfather’s family had lived, Grandpa was leery about leaving the larger tour group.  He wasn’t sure it would be safe. His experiences prior to leaving Ukraine had been so violent and his escape so narrow that he still felt a sense of risk being back in the country.  My grandmother who also immigrated with her family in the 1920s had absolutely no interest in going back to a place she had left amid a time of conflict, famine and terror and I think she worried the whole time my father and my Grandpa were gone that they might not come back. By the time Dave and I visited Ukraine in 2011 we traveled freely and even had a picnic on my grandparents’ farmyard in Gnadenthal.  

Having the samovar in my home will be a good reminder of my family’s roots in Russia and the trips both my father and I made to the country that was our ancestors’ home for over a century. 

Other posts………

Dad’s Treasures Part 5- A Tender Photo?

Dad’s Treasures Part 1- The Cowbell

Dad’s Treasures Part 6- My Polio Vaccine

Dad’s Treasures Part 2-Medical Bag

Dad’s Treasures Part 3- A Hymnal

Dad’s Treasures Part 4- A Fern

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Filed under Family, Ukraine

Two Stories About Grandpa

 With my grandfather in 1956

“Your grandfather had a sense of humor.”  I was in Saskatoon on Sunday and attended church with my children and grandchildren.  Before the service, I was chatting with Joanne and Ted a couple from my mother’s hometown of Drake, Saskatchewan.  Ted recalled his father telling him about a conversation he had with my grandfather Peter Schmidt shortly after Grandpa had visited his doctor.  Apparently, the physician had told Grandpa he needed to lose some weight. Grandpa reported, “The doctor said I can only have one slice of bread a day,” Then he chuckled and added with a twinkle in his eye, “But he didn’t say how thick a slice!”  

Peter and Annie my grandparents

Joanne said she remembered hearing how my grandfather liked to help with clean up after meals at the church.  He would collect the cream pitchers from the table and drink any cream left in each pitcher so when the pitchers arrived in the church kitchen they were all completely empty. It sounds like my grandpa had a hearty appetite!

My grandfather died when I was just seven years old and I often wish I had gotten to know him better.  I am always happy to hear any little stories about him. 

Other posts………

Remembering My Grandfather

A Good Understanding

Reading Grandparents

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Statistics and Bible Verses

I sometimes think statistics have become the modern-day equivalent of Bible verses.

Both statistics and Bible verses are handy for proving almost any point. There are people who have a barrage of Scripture passages on the tip of their tongues ready to provide substantiation of any viewpoint. Quotations from the Bible have been used to defend all kinds of crazy things including……..the earth is flat, human beings never walked on the moon, women should be silent and education is bad. I read a story in the New York Times about an American pastor using Scripture to justify his advice to administer corporal punishment to babies. 

Statistics are often used like Bible verses. Pick a cause or an idea and you will probably be able to find a statistic to back up your opinion of it. It can be unsettling for people of faith when Biblical quotations are used to defend radically different ideas. Statistics can be equally unsettling.  

Take marriage for example. A Canadian statistical study on marriage looked at what factors lead to divorce and which indicators give couples a better chance to have a lasting relationship. Looking at them I can’t figure out whether my marriage has a good chance or not. 

dave marylou

Dave and I when we had just started dating and I visited his family in Leamington

My husband and I did not live together before we were married. This is in our favor since 35% of Canadian couples who cohabitate before marriage get divorced compared to only 19% of those who don’t live together. 

wedding 1973I got married at the tender age of 19.  My husband was 20. According to statistics, this makes it three times more likely we will end up in a divorce court compared to if we had waited until we were over 30 to marry. 

We attend church regularly and this is a statistic in our favor since it improves a couple’s chances of staying married. 

Another statistic would suggest shaky ground for my marriage. Women who work outside the home, as I have always done, have a higher rate of divorce. 

So which statistics should I take seriously, the ones that say my marriage has a good chance of surviving or others that say it doesn’t?  

on the la ceiba golf course with dave

Dave and I on the La Ceiba Golf Course in Merida Mexico last winter

I won’t be using Scripture either to predict the success of my marriage. “Those who marry will face many troubles,” says Saint Paul in the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians.

“It is not good for people to live alone”, says the narrator in the second chapter of Genesis. 

Other posts……….

Is Marriage a Good Thing For Women?

Celebrating our Marriage History in a Historic Building

Bucket List For Marriage

Chinese Wisdom on Marriage

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Filed under Family, Religion

Auntie Millie

Last week I ran into Mildred Schroeder at the Folio Cafe on the grounds of Canadian Mennonite University. It was the second time that week we had bumped into each other. I asked the friend who was with me to take a picture of me with Auntie Millie. When I was a child growing up you didn’t refer to your parents’ friends just by their first name. It wasn’t considered polite. But using their last names seemed too formal so we referred to them as aunts and uncles even though we might not be related to them in any way. Mildred was a dear friend of my mother Dorothy’s so I grew up calling her ‘Auntie Millie’ and I still do.

My mother and Auntie Millie as young women

Auntie Millie and my mother spent their childhoods on farms across the road from each other in Drake Saskatchewan. They went to the same elementary school in Drake, both attended a private Mennonite high school in Rosthern Saskatchewan, and both came to Winnipeg in the late 1940s to attend Canadian Mennonite University. They both married in the early 1950s and had families but always kept in contact with one another.

My Mom with her friend Millie at my parents 60th wedding anniversary

I just took their relationship for granted as a child but realized as I observed Millie and my Mom near the end of my mother’s life how unique and special it is to maintain a life long friendship like my mother and Millie did.
Auntie Millie is 95 years old and is still very active. She attends an exercise class regularly, goes out with friends for coffee and is pretty savvy with social media. She is my Facebook friend, reads my blog faithfully and often comments on my writings.
Whenever I see her it’s like getting a glimpse of my mother who died in June of 2013 and each time we do Auntie Millie mentions how much she misses my Mom. Seeing Auntie Millie always makes me just a little emotional and makes me miss my mother too, but I am always glad when we meet. 

Other posts……..

My Mom Starts School

My Mother’s Friends

My Mother’s Button Box

My Mother’s Childhood Christmases




Filed under Family

My Polio Vaccines- Dad’s Treasures Part 6



One of the interesting treasures I found while helping my father downsize for a move was this copy of my polio vaccinations.  Currently, children are vaccinated for polio at ages two months, four months, 6-18 months and at ages 4-6.  So why did I receive only three vaccinations and all within a few months of each other when I was four years old?  

Dr. Jonas Salk administering a vaccine

That’s because the polio vaccine was only discovered by Jonas Salk in 1953, the year I was born.  The vaccine needed to be tested and it was only in April of 1955 that the government approved the administration of the vaccination to all six to nine-year-olds. I wasn’t old enough to get it then.

Polio epidemics had caused many deaths over the centuries. Just between 1949 and 1954 nearly 11,000 people in Canada were left paralyzed by polio. In 1953, the year I was born there were nearly 9,000 cases and some 500 deaths in Canada.

People with polio in iron lungs

The incidence of polio in Winnipeg was higher in 1953 than had been previously seen anywhere else in the world.  Close to a hundred people in the city were in iron lungs because their breathing muscles were paralyzed. The 1953 epidemic was the most serious the country had experienced since a national epidemic in 1918. 

By 1956 it was clear that children who had received the polio vaccine during the previous year were much less likely to get polio or experience paralysis than those who hadn’t been vaccinated.  Although not every province decided to go ahead with vaccinating more children, thankfully the province of Manitoba did as the official notice above indicates.

Photo from the Manitoba archives showing St. Matthews Church where I had my vaccinations

That’s why in 1957 at age four I received the potentially life-saving vaccine. My mother had to take me to the St. Matthew’s Church in Winnipeg for the shots.

This photo was taken at Easter in 1957 the year my sister and I had our first polio vaccinations

I imagine my sister who was sixteen months younger than I was also had the vaccinations. 

I just read recently that thanks largely to the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation polio is now on the verge of being eradicated throughout the world. 

Other posts…….

Vaccinations Aren’t Just For Babies

Another Shameful Chapter in Canadian History

My Mother’s Friends


Filed under Childhood, Family, Health, Winnipeg

T is for Together




Tractor Riders



Together then

Together now

Other posts………

44 Years

Celebrating Our Marriage History in a Historical Building

Two Trees – Forty-One Years


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Dad’s Treasures- Part 5- A Tender Photo?

grandpa braiding grandma's hairI found this photo when I was helping my Dad do some downsizing for an upcoming move.  My grandfather is braiding my grandmother’s hair.  They are both in their 90s at the time. At first glance, this is a rather tender picture.  Grandma was no longer strong enough to braid her long hair so her husband was helping her.  

My grandmother had beautiful long hair.  Sometimes she let me comb it for her.  Grandma only told me after my grandfather died that she had always wanted to have her hair cut. But my grandfather insisted she leave it long. So she did until he died.  

Shortly after Grandpa died Grandma got her hair cut and permed.  When I visited her and complimented her on her new hairstyle she said she had always admired my other grandmother who had beautiful short, white wavy hair. 

Me with my two grandmas and Dave’s Oma at our wedding. My two grandmas are on either side of Oma. My Grandma on the left with the tall hat loved my other Grandma’s wavy white hair. 

It is lovely that my Grandpa braided my Grandma’s hair when she needed help. But if Grandma had been able to make her own choices about her personal appearance she wouldn’t have had hair long enough to braid in the first place.  Photos can often have a deeper meaning than what we might think at first glance.  

Other posts…….

Dad’s Treasures- Part 1- The Cowbell

Dad’s Treasures- Part 2- The Medical Bag

Dad’s Treasures- Part 3- The Hymn Book

Dad’s Treasures- Part 4- The Fern

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