Endings & Beginnings

My Dad closed his store in about 1940, and after that he just ran the Western Grain elevator, the father of the other family in the village ran the Wheat Pool elevator.

I started school the same year my Dad stopped running the store.  He had the elevator for awhile, and then he started buying a bit of land.  Eventually he acquired quite a lot of land and started growing mostly wheat, along with some barley and oats.

Then he brought in cattle, first he had registered Hereford cattle, then he went on to Charolais. He did well with the farming and cattle business.  In 1944, we had a very good crop and things were really looking up.

A Great Loss

scan1.jpgBut in 1946 my mother fell ill with a thyroid problem. My Dad went everywhere trying to get treatment for her.  In 1948, they said she needed surgery. So my Dad took her to a hospital in Regina, which was about 160 miles away – that was the other side of the world for us at the time!                                                          (My Mother and I)

She was there nine weeks, and she died there, in the hospital in Regina. They never did the surgery.  She had a thyroid condition, and she got all jaundiced and just wasted away. I thought later that she may have had cancer.  They wanted to do an autopsy, but Dad didn't want them to do that, so we have no way of knowing what her diagnosis was. She was only 39 when she died.

I was the second youngest child and I was 14 when she died.  My brother Ernest was the oldest, then Anne, Henry, and I. My younger sister Helena was three years younger than I, so she was 11 when my Mom died.

Anne was born in 1930, so she would have been 18.  My oldest brother Ernest would have been 20.  Anne got married in 1950, Ernest went off to work and Henry went to Bible School so my younger sister and I were left home alone with Dad.

Lifelong Grief

Dad really missed my Mom when she was gone.  He remarried five years later. We knew of the family, but didn’t know her. Her brother used to play the organ in our church.

Until the day he died, every year on my Mom and Dad’s anniversary – which was November 20 – he would write me a letter and it always said: "I married the best girl in the world.” He wrote the same thing every year without fail. The other kids didn't get a letter, but because I was gone so far away he would always write to express his sadness.

My mother prayed faithfully for my Dad, and actually he came through and committed himself to the Lord the year before she died. Her purpose in life was fulfilled in the fact that we all made a profession of our faith, and accepted Christ as our saviour, which was a great joy to her. It was the answer to her prayers.  Dad put on her tombstone: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."

Commuting to the “City”

I started grade nine by correspondence the year Mom died.  Out in the country, that’s what you had to do if you wanted to go to high school.  The teacher at the country school would help you when you needed it.

I had started but I wasn't doing very well when Mom died in November.  By Christmas I hadn't accomplished much so I just quit.  The next year I started going to school in the city, actually Swift Current was a small town, but it felt like a big city to me.

We lived in Dunelm, which was only about eight miles away Swift Current. But in the winter we were snowed in, Dad would take the train to town. We could go in on Wednesday or Saturday morning, and come back the same afternoon. Dad would go in and buy groceries and come back on the train.

The first year I went into town I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s and then later at my grandmother's house.  Dad built a house in town and we moved there, my Dad, Helena, my younger sister, and I.

Off to Bible School!

Helena and I were at the age where we started to want to have boyfriends, which my father felt he couldn't really handle alone, so he sent us to boarding school. I think he didn’t really want to have the responsibility of bringing us up at that really awkward age.  He would never admit that of course, but that's what happened.

So we went off to high school at the Prairie Bible Institute High School, which had a real emphasis on becoming a missionary, preparing you to go out to another country to bring the good news of the gospel to others who hadn't had the chance to be exposed to it.

This is where I started out on the path that would bring me eventually to the UAE.

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Gertrude's story