I continue to be blessed by individuals who somehow land upon a post of mine now-and- again, (quite often, recently), as it relates to family. I have often come across old photographs, military medals and treasures in second-hand shops and thought to myself, “I hope that our family treasures are always cherished and remain with our families, somehow.” Well, in this world of digital imaging, more and more, photographs of our loved ones surface and just as I have shared with others…others share with me.
I am hoping that in the morning, my family members are surprised by these recent gifts from a man who I will simply refer to as Phil.
Yesterday’s e mail, in my inbox, began like this…
“I’ve known for years that your grandparents John & Florence were friends with my grandparents, Percy Hayes (1899-1979) and Mary Hayes (nee Severs, 1909-1996) of Oshawa, Ont. I’m afraid I don’t know the nature of their friendship. Percy worked most of his life at GM. I grew up just up the road from them, my Dad being their oldest son Cliff Hayes (b.1929). I recall being told that your grandpa had moved to Magrath to run the woolen mill, being a strategic industry during WWII.
I know Mom & Dad (can’t recall if ‘Granny’ was with them) stopped in Magrath years ago on a trip. I can’t recall if they connected with anyone though. I seem to recall Dad saying there weren’t any/many Moors left there…”
Phil began by sharing two photographs, along with their annotations. I immediately forwarded the e mail to my father and he very shortly responded via Skype, sharing stories about his three oldest sisters and the three gents that they dated…all horse-riding cowboys. Off they would go for their rides together, evenings, in the herd pastures of McIntyre Ranch. *OOPS! A mistake…Dad has sent me corrections, here.
“It was not Mcintyre ranch herd pasture. It was the Magrath herd pasture where all our cows were pastured every day !!! Rob worked at the ranch as I recall ‘but even that may be wrong cause we all owned horses in Magrath and Raymond in those days even me . Love you big good work.”
It is an amazing thing, this lovely collection featuring my aunties. Beautiful Margaret is now passed on, but Auntie Eleanor just enjoyed her 90th birthday…as did Auntie Ruth, a couple of years ago. Auntie Mary, the youngest, was not to be excluded from this set. Also featured, my Gramma Florence Moors, my Great Auntie Caroline; her son, Orval who flew with the Canadian Navy and would not have lived much beyond these two photographs, having served on the battleship, HMCS Magnificent, (was a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier that served the Royal Canadian Navy from 1948–1957.) meeting an early demise when the plane he was flying, crashed. His little sister, Joan, is also present in one of the photographs.
Based on the annotations, it seems likely that Auntie Ruth sent some of these archives…some might have been mailed, along with letters, by my Gramma Moors to these friends in the east.
I am amazed by the generous hearts of people who take the time to scan and forward such treasures on to me. I do not take any of this for granted.
Family, do enjoy and copy and save these to your own archives. I love you all. Thank you, Phil, for taking this time.
Auntie Ruth with Rob Gorman
Eleanor and Bob
Margaret and Jay Passey
Front: Joan Gamelin Back Left to Right: Auntie Caroline, her son, Stanley Orval Gamelin and Gramma Florence Moors
Dolly, Orval and Auntie Ruth
And, here’s dear little Mary Jane.
Mary Jane Moors
Today, I enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Blackfoot Diner with Phil and his wife, Cindy, and they generously gave me the original photographs that you see above. I am blessed.
We never stopped gabbing the entire time! I got a little emotional when I gave them my good-bye hug. Can you imagine what our grandparents might have thought?
Somewhere in our interview, Auntie Eleanor told me that she received names from both of her Grandmothers…Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors and Mable Burrows Elliott. Eleanor Mable, of anyone, brings to mind my own Gramma Moors. While our time was so short, I have to say that I absolutely loved having Auntie Eleanor all to myself. It seems that when families get together, they are all about LOUD and CRAZY…so much food…so much laughter and fun. On Tuesday morning I reveled in having quiet conversation with this dear dear soul.
For a zillion years, Auntie Eleanor and her beloved husband, Uncle Ted, hosted our family reunions. There was always a campground bustling with fun of every sort, a family program in the afternoon to show off just what an insanely talented family we have, big meals and candy toss. So many golden memories come from our family reunions. In the days of being a wee little thing, my most precious recollection is of our Grampa Moors sitting on a chair all by himself…his huge family sitting perfectly quiet in front of him on the grass. His eyes watered with his smile…he tapped his toe…held both hands on his knees…his racing cap on…looking out upon his family…and sang Froggie Went a Courtin’. He knew all of the words.
John Moors Hanging With a few of His Crazy Grand Children
Auntie Eleanor told me that she didn’t remember much of anything. Hmmm…funny…as we connected with one another she spilled out all sorts of little narratives. It was pure magic. That evening, I slept out at the farm…all alone with Max. It was funny, but at the same time frightening because it was dark and perfectly silent. I wanted to go out and buy myself a snack, but I was afraid to leave. As I write, this sounds ridiculous. My second cousins, Kecia & Mack and their beautiful baby, Maverick, delivered chips, dip and a can of pop and just hung with me for a while…that was awesome!
When they left, I took photos of the photos on the walls. I felt surrounded by the spirits of my ancestors…very powerful experience indeed! Thank you, Auntie Eleanor. I love you.
George Elliott and Mabel Burrows Elliott
My Great Grandfather, John Moors
My Great Grandmother, Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors
This…from my beautiful cousin, Margy…daughter to Auntie Eleanor…a treasure to me in my deepest soul…this free write is something that she wrote ages ago. I cried when I first read it, but it sort of captures what happens when our family gathers. While the shape of our family changes over the years as we lose precious members and gain so many new babes, the love remains the same, forever.
Tents, trailers, cars and campers, sleepless nights, babies screaming, pancakes in the morning, soothing. eggs, bacon and parade, duck pond, and the creek, stinky suckers float on by, laura screams, we’re all insane.
Family in one space, generations multiplied by genes of persons past, I don’t wonder anymore, your ears, your lips, your skin. Aunt Ruth, always here, feelings, love, connections, Our family made from all that’s good and all that made us strong. move over now, get me cake, this program will be long.
God has made us one, you have my eyes, energies, blood that pulses through our veins, we are the same, different, strong, loving arms embrace, come and sit, you are so beautiful, sit down, spend some time.
pains, children, love, divorce, disease, wisdom, who is who? great aunts and uncles, getting old, sadness seems to flee away by memories of love, hope, hearts and blood flows through our veins, with all the world we stand apart, brought together by our hearts.
how is it that we fit so well? friends are in, so are we, they feel right, everyone will it better, united, open, fresh and new, old ones, young ones, blessing on the food,
dig in, bottomless pots of heaven sent. salads, salads, feed my sheep, in a line we go to graze on carrot cake, barbeque beef, Mom exhausted, wouldn’t have it any different. chinese salad, pasta too. Baked beans, grandpa, chocolate cake, belly ache, fruits and greens, bowls of color, left over food, feast continues far past noon.
Kids with tap shoes, clogs and strings, made up songs they will sing and family grins, French, english, hip hop dance, pride, laughter, sweet, kind, upside down on the table, puppets talking, let’s go on, parts and pieces glued together, flexibition, poetry, babies sit on grandma’s knee, Aunt Jackie holding two or three, there’s jamming in the kitchen
Here’s the show, the drums, the sticks, music played, with energy, and laughter fills sacred air and hence the divine, togetherness, thrill of thrills, here we go, old times, gay little eskimo, a froggy went a courting go. sit still, quiet say the mothers. tradition has it place.
rodeo and competition, candy throw, run and play, peanuts for our uncle bob, coffee on, he drinks the pot. cousins, sisters, aunts and uncles, grammas, grandpas, brothers, hope you make it, distance time, life beginning, life change and happens, who is sick? and who is able? what age are you now,? heart to heart, eye to eye who’s your Father? never mind, I see it in your smile.
Now stand quiet, hold it still, seems the same, just new faces, children, family, other races, permeates, with resounding pleasure. Cecil’s boat, and strong wind, take it home, no fun again. disappointed children.
freedom to be who you are, who’s your partner? who’s the star?, who affords such a car? circles, squares and dirty looks, just be forward, don’t be shy, get another plate, here we feast together, have a smoke behind the barn. I’m sure you’ll find another.
fishing like they have been given, grandpa moors, river banks, lakes and roadside fishin. breeze, smells, don’t stay long, mosquitos, flies and black eyed suzannes, come back just in time for seconds. adults sit in shelter, wait, guarding home, home, always there’s forever.
genes, talents, eyes, hair, lips and disguise, I fit in, so do you. come back and stay awhile, you are a puzzle piece, without you there, I wonder why. I have your butt and you have mine, Moors they say, what about this nose I carry, it’s a guess, it’s from genetics, blood and cells, make impressions, we are tied with heart of hearts, we are strong, weak and needy, we have life, we have freedom. Life is good, we’ll meet again if God is willing
In this photo, the two lovebirds that started it all, John Moors (my grandfather) and Florence Elliott (my grandmother).
John and Florence Moors
A portrait I painted just yesterday of my Auntie El, to celebrate her 90th year….she is now 91, going to be 92 in January. I love you, Auntie.
What a wonderful feeling to hit open roads…heading south always gives me some sense of going home to my peeps. I weep when I see this blue up against this yellow…reminds me of grampa and our talks as he drove, with his racing cap on (ball cap turned backwards). The past two days, I moved between Raymond and Magrath and Lethbridge…connecting with that feeling, pretty much the whole time. Interviewing two of my beautiful aunties about family history was a joy.
I started Tuesday morning off with bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee at Ying’s Chinese and Western Cafe. I love that there is no choice here…no brown and white toast, for example. This was where I bought my penny candies as a little girl…and where grampa went in to catch up on the stories. I chatted with these folk (different-but-the-same) over my first two coffees. Thing is, the place looked so different years back. Apparently, one of the fellas told me, May died some years ago and Mark lives in Lethbridge. There used to be booths with high backs…dark wood. These Canadians were a part of my childhood story. I felt blessed in remembering.
From there, I went out to the cemetery to have some time with my relations who have passed and who rest in such a beautiful and peaceful spot.
The mill…a spot where family photos were taken…keeps on changing as it changes hands. For our family, though, it will always be connected to that smell of wool and grandma’s roast beef.
I spent June 30th in a rural setting with Lorraine and Ron Russell. In the evening, I sat with Lorraine and we shared stories, sipped apple-cinnamon tea and snacked on homemade butter tarts. It was so relaxing and a really special treat before landing upon a big family reunion in Raymond, the next morning. I have tried to capture the gist of my feelings in this short video. We all need to take time to reflect…and really listen to bird songs.