Christmas Letter 2002

 

Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends summarizing our family activities and highlighting our proudest moments. TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER IS FROM DECEMBER 2002, word for word.

 
Merry Christmas!!
It’s been so long since I wrote a Christmas letter, I thought I’d better do one since my daughter began the tradition last year and put me to shame! What can I say – we’re all getting older and only some of us are getting better! Ha! Ha!

To start off the new year, we celebrated with our good friends and neighbours by hosting a New Year’s Eve Party in our ‘party room’ a.k.a. garage. A few years ago, Chris and Taylor put up drywall, some cupboards, added a woodstove for heat, and finished it with wall-to-wall indoor/outdoor carpeting. We use this space now for ‘overflow’, heating it whenever we have a gang for parties, Xmas, etc. but not usually for the poor Van.

Nellie turned 10 years old in January while Darin turned 25. Darin is the equipment manage of the Canadian Sledge Hockey team and traveled to Japan, Europe, and finally the Salt Lake City Olympics. I got to take the train to see my sisters, Faye and Betty, in Hamilton this month!!! Yeah – better than Europe to me!

In early February we held our annual skating party on the Rideau River in our backyard. As usual, we had a great time. On February 19th, Taylor turned 22 – he’s been living in Vancouver for a year and a half now and loves it. We REALLY miss him!

March began with a blast – Chris had a mini stroke which he’s mostly recovered from other than headaches which he never had, some memory loss, and slight loss of some small motor skills. However during the follow-up to find out what caused it, Dr.s discovered a hole in his heart! And he said he didn’t have a heart!! Not to be alarmed, though, since he’s probably had it his whole life and they’re just going to leave it for now. Poor guy – last year, after an ear infection (the only one he ever remembers having) he started to go deaf in his right ear. He’s mostly deaf in it now with some hearing loss in the other ear – he’s supposed to have an MRI, hopefully in 2003 (who knows with our health care system!).

We were distraught in April by the death of Grampa Bob Mellway. We will truly miss this wonderful Grampa, Dad, and friend. 😦

In May, I turned 49! – weeeeee…. headed for the big 50! Of course, the country held a national holiday for me and some babe named ‘Victoria’, so we celebrated with a bonfire and fireworks! Melvin resumed his summer schedule of wasp venom injections to build up his immunity to stings since he has a life threatening allergy. He even carries an Epipen in a waist-pouch where ever he goes.

We opened the pool and added the solar cover to boost the heat – I even went in during the heat wave!! I was briefly in the hospital for a heart scare. Chris turned 42 – I told him that once you turn 40 you are over the hill and start to fall apart! Everyone passed and was glad school was over. Darin graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Computer Science. Marty got a job at a local store and still works there on weekends.

The summer was hot and dry again. Marty went to summer school to boost his Math mark for a couple weeks. And Faye came up again this year for a week at the end of July. We always have a great time mostly just relaxing.

Kristi turned 20 in August, Robin turned 27, his wife Natasha turned 28, and Marty turned 16 years old! Whew! We traveled to Hamilton to Faye and Joey and Betty’s at the end of August. We took Faye and went to Niagara Falls and had a great time on the Maid of the Mist and the Caves Beneath the Falls – a must for any Falls tourist!

The kids resumed school in September: Melvin in grade 3 – his favourite subject is Math. He just loves to figure things out. He also loves to draw and is an avid outdoors player. Nellie is in grade 5 at the same school. Her favourite subject is Art. She is a social ‘butterfly’ and has many friends, her most special being Alyssa ( the one year old neighbour I babysat last winter). Nellie is almost as tall as me now! Marty is in grade 10 now and presently loves playing Playstation2. He wants to attend University of Victoria to study Marine Biology when he’s done high school.

Kristi lives in Ottawa and is in her second year at Carleton University – she maintains an A average, receiving a scholarship every year. She also works at the Ottawa General Hospital as a bilingual ER intake clerk, in her ‘spare’ time! The love of her life is Mike, whom she’s known since high school and now a student at Carleton University too.

Taylor works as a bartender in Vancouver and also does DJing, ‘spinning’ records at clubs whenever he gets a gig. His girlfriend’s name is Mary. Robin and Natasha live in Victoria, B.C. where Rob goes to U Vic and Natasha works. They say they love it out there, but it’s VERY far away……

Darin and Amanda got married this October 6th in a beautiful outdoor wedding. The day was absolutely perfect and they were so awesome – they honeymooned in Hawaii. At the end of October, Amanda celebrated her quarter-of-a-century birthday.

Faye and Joey came up for Thanksgiving this year and as usual we had a real nice time. The biggest surprise of the month was that Kristi and Mike got engaged!! They plan on waiting a few years while they finish University before getting married. Mike’s a really nice guy and the two of them are just like two peas in a pod – except Kristi does most of the talking!!

Well, November’s been an interesting month – Chris had a possible gall bladder attack (Stones? = ultrasound in December) and during the bloodwork they turned up some abnormal results, so they’ve run some further tests. He’s feeling better now, but still has constant vague discomfort. This weekend we are going to have a Canadian Football League Grey Cup party to watch the championship game – well, we don’t stare at the TV, it’s just an excuse to get together for a pot luck supper and good discussion while the football game is on!

December 19th, Melvin turns 8. But before that, I have to get my B.C. parcels ready to mail – which means making the usual Christmas cookies, squares, candy, and special surprises in early December. Oh yes, I still have to finish my Christmas shopping/decorating/creating – with 7 children, 2 daughters-in-law, and one almost son-in-law (let me see 7+2+1= that’s 10!) plus Chris, other family and friends, I’d better close this letter and get busy!!! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year. And if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, we’d love to see you!

Merry Christmas!
Linda, Chris, Melvin, Nellie and Marty

Eaton Place

 

When I was growing up, I lived in a child’s dreamland on a little street called Eaton Place. The neighbourhood was built after World War ll in the early 1950s and was home to low income, hard working families. Most of the Dads were war veterans and most of the Moms stayed at home and raised the children. There were hundreds of kids in our neighbourhood.

Moms & kids of Eaton Place

Moms & kids on Eaton Place

All the backyards were unfenced in those days so we had one huge yard to play in – tag, kick-the-can, football, or baseball in the summer and sledding, ice skating, or building snow forts in the winter. My Dad built us a brick patio to dance on when we brought our record player outside on the back porch during the summertime.

Dancing on the backyard patio

Dancing on the backyard patio

In the winter, Dad made a skating rink on the empty lot beside our house and Mom would take the garden hose and water the hill out back for sledding after she flooded the rink. The whole neighbourhood would come over to our place after school and on weekends to skate or slide all winter long!

Winter fun

Winter fun

After our gravel road was paved in the late 1950s, we skipped with our skipping ropes, playing ‘double-dutch’ while singing songs. We were NEVER indoors unless we were eating or getting ready for bed or watching Hockey Night in Canada.
I remember back in the day, that the ‘ice man’ would come around selling ice for people’s iceboxes (pre-refrigerators). There was the ‘milkman’ who left full quart bottles of fresh milk right on your front porch and exchanged the empty bottles – there was never any concern that the milk would go bad because there was always someone home to bring it in the house. The ‘bread man’ came to the door every day with a heavy wire basket full of goodies and bread – our Mom simply had to pick whatever she wanted. Every Saturday morning, I would go with my Dad to the Loblaws grocery store and sit on the 10 cent horse ride dreaming I was on a real horse.
We like to play in the nearby ‘field’ which was an undeveloped area of bushes, trees, grass, and hills which afforded tons of fun and imagination. When I was a bit older, I was allowed to go to ‘the creek’ which was a small river, the Red Hill Creek, with high banks that cut through the edge of the neighbourhood. I remember tobogganing down a steep hill there once and hurt my ankle when I crashed into a tree so my sister Faye had to pull me all the way home on the sled. I was always trying to climb trees too big to reach the bottom branches. The biggest ‘dare’ of all was to walk along ‘the cliff’ – I did once and I was scared to death.

Eaton Place girls

Eaton Place girls – baseball game out back

My sister and I went back to the ol’ hood a few years ago – all the yards are fenced now and the homes are owned outright. The ‘field’ is now occupied by houses and the ‘creek’ has a highway running through it.
We made lifelong friends on that street. Those close ties cannot be broken by time. And the memories will last forever.

 

 

 

Tribute to Chris

On this day six years ago, Sunday March 2nd, 2008, our beloved Chris passed from this world.  This year, my tribute to Chris is in the form of photos over the years.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so please enjoy:

Our backyard wedding

Our backyard wedding

“I do” – our backyard wedding with friends and family.

vacation

vacation

Holidays at Perce Rock, Gaspe Quebec.

Newborn Nellie

Newborn Nellie

Chris was a gentle, loving soul.

Building the playhouse

Building the playhouse

Chris was able to build or fix anything.

Waterskiing in April

Water skiing in April

He was always happy to fulfill dreams like taking Robin water skiing as soon as the ice melted on the river in April…….. brrrr.

Teaching Melvin to skate

Teaching Melvin to skate

He had tons of patience.  He worked hard to make a skating rink on the river for everyone to enjoy.

Building our Garage

Building our Garage

Chris was always eager to teach the kids to build or renovate.

Playing pool in Garage

Playing pool in Garage

He even finished our garage into a play room for Saturday night hockey, pool, darts, and cards.

Chris and Kristi

Chris and Kristi

Even though he was big and strong, he never dismissed affection.

Collecting shells

Collecting shells

He would spend hours and hours doing the simple things like collecting shells and beach glass on long walks along the beach down home.

Fancy Restaurant

Fancy Restaurant

Always fun

Underwater

Underwater

and playful

"Santa"

“Santa”

and giving.

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

And he was proud to be a Grampie.

Chris and Yukon

Chris and Yukon

Chris loved his dog – the only one he ever had.

Chris

Chris

We will always remember Chris

Skating Rink of Dreams

Melvin and I  (okay well, mostly Melvin) made a skating rink last weekend.  We took shovels down to the frozen river and just started shovelling.

I wondered if it had been cold enough for several days, to freeze the river thick enough to skate on……..until I saw a truck pulling an ice ‘shack’ down the river!   Well THAT answered my question!   According to the Lifesaving Society, our River’s ice needs to be at least 4″ (12cms) thick to walk on and 12″ (30cms) thick to support a vehicle.  We were Safe!!

Melvin learning to skate 1997

The last time we had shovelled off an ice rink on the river was 2006 -the year Chris was diagnosed with cancer.  That rink was huge with a skating oval around it – rink for hockey and the oval for just skating or a game of ice Bocce!  For awhile, we had the help of our snowblower or snowplow truck to get the heavy snow off before we scraped it down to the ice, and it still took us 4-6 hours every time it snowed!  But it was all worth it to see the kids, neighbours and friends skating!  We even put up spotlights on the trees along the river’s edge for night skating.   Our favourite event was our annual Skating Party where friends, family, and neighbours would gather at our place for a day of skating and other winter activities like curling or dog sledding (poor Yukon wasn’t too keen about this role), plus a winter bonfire, and followed by a pot-luck supper.

Around the bonfire @ our Skating Party

It was a great time……..and I thought those days were gone forever.   Until 17 year old Melvin said that he wanted to make a rink on the river this year!  And last weekend it happened!  I had forgotten how exhilarating it was to be out on the river pushing snow!  Melvin did most of the shovelling, with me just pushing the little rows, that fall off his shovel, towards the bank.  We put some 5′ bamboo poles with some streaming flourescent orange trail-marker tape, into the far banks to keep any skidoos off our rink.

Granddaughters Kalia and Olivia were already here for their ‘sleepover’, so I put their skates on them (not as easy as it used to be BTW), and helmets and off they went!  Sturdy plastic lawn chairs helped them slide along the ice and stay upright as they re-learned how to skate, while I helped Melvin finish shovelling.  It was absolutely wonderful to watch them skate!  On Sunday, when Kristi and Mike arrived with their boys, the rink was busy again with skaters!   We should be able to get in 6-8 weeks of skating, as long as we can keep the snow shovelled off.

And today we’re getting our first real snowstorm with 15-20+ cms of snow!   I guess I know what we’ll be doing tomorrow…….

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