Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!




Happy Father's Day!

To celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday this fall, one of my wonderful cousins decided to open up a Facebook page where family members could share photos and memories that we may not have all had access to before. What a gift! The one thing this page has done is bring us all together. My dad's siblings are all in Western Canada, but the rest of us are scattered all over.
At last count, my grandparents have:
17 children
44 grandchildren
56 great grandchildren
7 great-grandchildren

If my grandpa could see this bunch now! Unfortunately, we lost him to a heart attack when I was just a kid. My dad broke the news to us the next morning by telling us "you have no more Grandpa Rondeau." That's the way serious matters were treated in my house. Nonchalance.

My grandpa Roland Rondeau during basic training in 1944.

One of my favorite memories of my grandpa was hopping in the back of his big red pick up to go to the dump. My grandma always cringed but grandpa would always come back with all of us kids - and usually some sort of treasure he found. One of my aunts even found an entire set of beautiful dishes she'd dreamed about the night before!

My cousins and I were always Grandpa's girl or Grandpa's boy. No favorites. He loved us all to pieces and whisker rubs were the price you paid for a huge bear hug!

He was a lumberjack who built and ran his own sawmills with his sons. While I didn't get to spend time at his sawmills, I certainly spent a lot of time shoveling sawdust and piling lumber once my dad had his own sawmill!
Me and my dad. about 1970.
 My dad and I were close while I was growing up. He'd work away from home all week and come home on weekends. I was devastated when he'd leave, but a happy camper once he'd come home on a Friday night! Once my brother was born, my mom looked after both of us alone all week in a tiny cabin in the woods. No phone, no electricity, no neighbors for about a mile. I don't know how she did it without going completely around the bend some days. We got into all sorts of mischief!
Especially with forest all around us, a rambling old "haunted" house across the yard, and a swamp not far behind the trees.

My dad longed to be his own boss and eventually built a steel sawmill that he set up on the property. As we grew older, we became big enough to help. The best memories I have of life at the sawmill was when I'd wander off to pick berries for a snack and when we'd roast marshmallows the days Dad burned the slabs (the parts of the tree he couldn't harvest for lumber).

The absolute worst memory was the day I stepped on a wasp nest. I can still feel the burn from over 50 stings while I sat in the cab of the pick up truck and dabbed them with water.

I've become resilient thanks to my role models.
My childhood was filled with love and I learned to live simply.
My grandma still repeats the same mantra today as she did back then:  "It is what it is."

Today is a special gift. The present. It is what it is.
You can choose to complain or you can make it better.
Your choice.