HJW was born on the 1st of September 1925 to parents Bert & Stella. He lived in Silver Stream, SK, on his Grandparent's homestead and moved to FF in 1930. He went to war at 17 years old. When he returned, he married Lucille Marsollier in 1948 & became a father for the first time to my mother Linda in 1950. He worked at HBM&S for over 40 years, mainly on the surface train crew. When he finally retired, he raised 2 of his grandchildren in his golden years. He was all I could have hoped for as a Grandfather AND Father!
His family is big! He had six children, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, with one more on the way. And then there are nine siblings and their families, with the majority of us all still living in FF. He'd want us to focus on those who passed before him. His Father, Bert, taught him not only how to have fun & tease every & anyone but also the essential skills for survival. He taught him to be a respectful hunter and to love animals. Gramp had fond memories of his time spent with the men of his family wandering the land.
He told stories of his mother, Stella, as tough but constant and resourceful. She loved her family and instilled in Grandpa a love for gardening.
I remember how similar Uncle Charlie & Gramp were with their curly hair and spiffy clothes. I always loved hearing how Uncle Charlie & Aunt Marcella met and how perfect they were for one another from the very start.
He missed his best friend, his sister Margaret so much. He talked about Auntie Marg often and had fun with her in his 20s and 30s. She also wrote him during the war, and Grandpa said her letters kept him going. She helped my grandparents when they first had children and grandchildren, as well as when they started raising my brother and me. There wasn't a single week that went by without Grandpa talking about Auntie Margaret.
He loved his brother Dale's gentle presence and humor. My Grandpa was pretty funny, but Uncle Dale was the funniest of the bunch.
Auntie Donna also reminded me of Grandpa—her laughter and how welcoming she was. I can even see some of my Auntie Donna in my aunts. He had great stories about his time with her and Uncle Mervin.
His wife was Lucille. Their love taught me how I should love and be loved. I never saw him without his wedding ring. When asked why he never remarried, he said, "I already had the love of my life, Kyla." Grandpa helped Grandma's sisters, our aunts, Alice and Isabelle until they passed in their 80s. He loved the Marsolliers and took care of them until the end.
His daughter Linda, my mother, died in 1982, leaving behind my brother Wayne and I. Grandpa and Grandma took us North to raise us. When my brother married Krista in Winnipeg, my Grandpa sat on the hotel bed, looked out the window, and said, "Look at all this concrete. Where're the trees." He rarely left home. He taught me to love the North and to remember who I am because it was my home.
So, who was this man named Red, Buddy, Herbie, Pa, Gramp, or Old Papa? He loved to see how much he could get you going. His best comebacks and laughs happened when you believed his tall tales. And then he'd wink at the spectators. My Grandpa was a natural storyteller. I will miss how much fun we all had laughing at his shots. He was witty until the end. He always had the best and the quickest comebacks. He really was an entertainer.
We wanted to share a few stories or memories of Grandpa; most will make you laugh, which he would've liked.
Every summer, when the poplar was just right, he would carve whistles & slingshots with his trusty jack knife. He was always the first to test out the whistles and had strict rules about the slingshots. We couldn't aim them at people, animals, windows, or vehicles in that order. But there was that time that Scotty didn't quite listen and knocked a squirrel out of a tree. Grandpa was probably secretly proud of his aim.
Michelle, Grandpa's first grandchild, remembers how Grandpa and Grandma spoiled her rotten! She had to wear leg braces as a toddler and would love sleepovers at her Grandparents because they wouldn't make her wear her "sleepy time shoes." She was the only one of us who could dance with Grandpa at her wedding. And boy, could he dance!
Tara tells the story of how Gramp always blamed her for his bruises, saying she bit him. Once, he sneezed so hard that his dentures flew out and scrapped his hand. He blamed her for that one, too, even though he bit himself as far as she was concerned!
Laura remembers when Gramp hiked to Cliff Lake with Mr. Petersen's 5th-grade class providing a history lesson on FF along the way. She was pretty proud of the old guy!
Richard recalls a chicken hunting trip with Grandpa and Wayne that was suppooooose to be a walk. Apparently, Grandma wasn't too impressed, but I guess Gramp thought ya gotta teach em young!
Sara remembers Gramp taking her and her siblings fishing at the Rotary Pond, where Scotty & Jenni both caught fish. Sara did not. Gramp took them all home for supper and then packed Sara up afterward to take her back so that she could catch a fish, too. Nathan remembers how many times they actually hooked GRANDPA at those derbies. He always stayed calm and ensured every one of us was happy.
Michael's favorite memory happened one day after school. He was in the bathroom, and the door handle broke off in his hand. He had to hang out the bathroom window and wait for his sister to get home. He told her that he needed help and to get Grandpa. Grandpa rushed over for an emergency and started laughing with Laura in tears when he realized what was happening. He always saved the day!
I remember his love of gardening and how he'd grow plants in the basement and let me heat the old greenhouse when I was a teenager trying to learn. He even kept my houseplants alive when I lived at home. I still have some of those plants nearly 25 years later because he watered them.
And we all remember those fish hooks Grandpa made. He did alright! He even managed to send my mom to college with that gig. It was his sneaky money! He'd pour & paint the metal while dyeing the feathers at the kitchen table. Auntie Tracey remembers how she'd run by, and he'd always have to tell her to "sloooow down" Meanwhile, Auntie Kim would be grounded, so she'd sit at the end of the table and huff, puff & sigh until the feathers flew everywhere and Gramp would say "Fine! Go out then!" She was messing with his zen.
Auntie Diane said she had so many memories of her 2nd dad. He welcomed her into the family and treated her like his own. He also welcomed her mom, Irma, to all the family gatherings. He always asked about all of her kids and grandkids. Last year when he was so sick, Morgan put a stethoscope up to Old Papa's arm & said, "You are ok!" After that, we called her Dr Morgan. Grandpa had a big heart and shared his love with everyone. His in-laws were his children, too. To him, there was no difference.
As a young boy, Uncle Randy used to get so excited on the Friday nights leading up to the Trout Festival. He would go fishing in the morning for big Jacks with his Dad and uncles in the old wooden boat. In those days, they would troll with big red & white spoons. They used the old knuckle buster casting reels. Uncle Randy knew he would end up with a bird's nest. His dad would patiently pick out the knots. He was told that the new-fangled spin casts he wanted so badly weren't strong enough for the big pike, and skinned knuckles would heal. Fast forward 40 years, on their last trip for trout, Uncle discovered that Grandpa was right . . . The son was busy picking the bird's nest out while the Father caught the fish. Uncle Randy now knew it was the only line strong enough for big trout. He realized they'd come full circle.
Auntie Fran's funniest memory—although it wasn't at the time— was one that Grandpa loved to retell at family gatherings making everyone laugh. Grandpa was in his 80s and still climbing
ladders like a spring chicken. It was time to set up the tree that was stored in the attic. Gramp had gone up the ladder behind Uncle Dennis and somehow lost his footing. And Grandpa was hanging on for dear life from the hole in the ceiling. Fran quickly reacted the only way she knew and threw her arms around his knees, holding him while yelling, "I got you, Dad!!" This came to mind in Gramp's last few days when, although weak and afraid of falling, he could still stand to help transfer from his wheelchair to his bed. As she supported his creaking hips to guide and pivot him, she once again reassured him.." It's ok, Dad, you're not going to fall… I'm right here, and I've got you!"
Auntie Brenda has a similar memory. She was standing at the kitchen counter preparing supper when Gramp's chair started to crack. She grabbed him in a shallow squat to prevent him from hitting the floor as he toppled over. She probably could've gently lowered him fully at that point. But not on her watch. She squat walked him to another chair after he said, "Well, now what!"
He was Grandpa to many! When we were young, he'd give ice cream cones to the neighborhood kids. As he aged, it became cookies. No matter how he was feeling, children would always make him laugh. He never met my niece and nephew in Quebec but still thought they were his own. He had welcomed many special people into our family, such as the Chaisons, grandbaby Mirabelle, Father Paul, all of his kid's and grandkid's friends, and the gals who also lovingly cared for him over the last few years, Judy, Lora, Bev & Nancy. Judy had the honor of caring for Grandpa at the time of his passing. We are forever grateful to each of you!
It blows my mind how much change his generation endured. He didn't even have electricity for the first 13 years of his life. He lived in this town when it didn't have a name or when he could hunt moose where this church is now. He probably shot it right where we are sitting. I am honored to have had a relationship with such an important elder. I'm so grateful to him. And I will always remember how incredible a long life can be. He taught us more than any degree or scholar. His life was an experience we can only hope to have, even when it is hard. Being with him allowed us to see that he was still who he was when he was 40 years old. Just tired sometimes & definitely wiser.
He was kind. He was supportive. He was opinionated. He was smart. He was humble, and he reflected. He always welcomed anyone to his table. He would tell us today that we have to take life less seriously. He was funny. And he was just plain goofy!
Until we meet again, Gramp, in all that you taught me and helped me to live through, I do not question that we will be reunited. I love you. Hopefully, I'll see you some morning when I have lived a long life, surrounded by the love you created. We'll look after one another and remember you every day until it's our end, too. I hope that Grandma's honey to-do list isn't too long. I hope you relax a bit up there before she puts you to work. See you in my garden!
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