Happy Birthday Dad,
As I’m sure you know, the Oilers had a great run in the playoffs. I can hear your encouraging voice saying, “They’re a young team. Next year the cup will come home.”
The big C claimed our stubborn old coot of a Dad, at the age of 76, on August 2, 2016. He had great stories. This one is written from a voice recording done with his sister, and himself on July 1, 2016.
The accounting happened in the 1940’s, shortly after Dad ‘s family moved onto the family homestead, located in the Northern wilds of Alberta.
Aunty Shirley began with the telling of their mile and a half trek along a trail, through the forest to school. “It was a long ways in the spring. When you had to walk through all the mud puddles, especially through the sticky, clay mud of Wandering River.” moans Aunt Shirley, as she wrinkles up her nose.
“Yeah, mud.” Comments Dad, his face holds a small grin, and a faraway look. “One nice fall morning, we were going to school.” He begins.
Aunt Shirley inhales a quick breath, a sparkle shines from her eyes, “You’re going to tell the moose story.”
“Yeah, I’m going to tell the moose story.” Drawls Dad, his words slightly slurred by the pain medication. He taps his leg. He is tilted in his recliner, a gentle smile upon his lips, “At the end of our quarter section, kitty corner from our farm, there was an old trail we followed to school. That morning, we heard this crashing through the bush, and what have you.” His smile widens, “The old moose comes out right in front of us.” Dad’s hands are gesturing in front of his chest, and his eyes are wide with excitement. “You could see the nostrils. Flaring.”
Aunty Shirley chuckles too. “Oh. And it was fall.” she exclaims, “And the moose was steaming! And he was gonna get us!” she announces with excitement of a child.
We all laugh, deep chuckles. Dad is still smiling, ear to ear, memories shining from his face.
“The moose had gotten so sweated up, “ explains Dad, “because it came from Rencavich’s.
“Somebody had seen it.” Added Aunty.
“Everybody at school knew about it.” Said Dad
“Yeah,”agrees his sister.
“It ran around the country—“ started Dad.
“Scaring all the kids.” finished Aunty.
Laughter and giggles fill the room.
Aunty begins again, “ Instead of running back to the farmhouse, which was at least a quarter of a mile, we ran to the school.”
“I still remember,” Aunty sucks in an excited breath, “I had started to eat a chocolate bar out of my lunch can.” she pauses, “I hardly ever—“
She looks at Dad questioningly, “ Well, how often did we have a chocolate bar?”
“Hardly ever.” affirms Dad.
“It was a real treat.” She leans forward, hands on her knees, “After that, for a long time, I couldn’t stand to eat chocolate. It made me sick.”
Laughter floods the living room.
Aunt Shirley goes on, “When we came home that night from school, and told uncle Bill, he said, well how come you didn’t come back? They had gone out hunting that morning, and he missed the moose.” She says laughing, “In the meantime we were dying, because this moose was attacking us.”
“Yeah,” says Dad with a puff, but in a tone, which says, ‘Oh Shirley, you sure know how to exaggerate.’
Then Dad bobs his head, continuing on loudly “Yes, Uncle Bill was a little upset that we didn’t go back.” He throws his hands up, “Of course,” he pauses letting his arms relax into his sides, “But we were young kids. What do you do? We didn’t know about all these big mammals yet.”
Aunt Shirley is still in the memory, “I was running behind.”
Dad chimes in, “Every once in a while I’d stop, and wave an arm,” Dad demonstrates. His housecoat sleeve falls open to reveal a skeletal arm. “Come on, come on. I’d shout.”
Aunty Shirley and Dad’s eyes meet, both glowing with life, with the sibling tales of the past.
Dad’s sister smiles, “Yeah, I thought for sure we’d get eaten by the moose.”