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Thursday, June 12, 2014


I don't expect this to be interesting for anyone, really. I do want it recorded, since my memory is a pathetic black vacuous hole.

Blumengard is where my dad was born and grew up. He returned as an adult with his wife and four young kids to the farm he purchased from his Uncle Martin for $12,000.

Dad once said he would like to be buried here.

when I was growing up, just across the field from this cemetery, I used to wander around in here, imagining the people who had lived and died before me. Last weekend, on my way to visit my dad for his 92nd birthday, I stopped again.

Dad's mom (my paternal grandmother) was married twice. G.G. Kehler is her first father-iin-law.

Abram Kehler was my dad's paternal grandfather. They lived together and my dad was his favorite grandchild. Dad likes to tell the story of having been a sickly child and his grandfather holding him on his knee and reciting- (in German)

"Abey, Abey, what will ever become of you? You'll never make a farmer, but perhaps a fiddle player".

Dad likes to tell us this, because he grew up to become a successful farmer and was rarely sick. Every spring and harvest as he made his rounds on the fields surrounding grandpa Kehler's gravesite, dad would imagine his shock at seeing dad operating huge implements- if he could poke his head out of the grave.

And my dad never played the fiddle.

I took this picture because I thought it was beautiful. "Mutter" means mother.

This is the tombstone of Susana Schultz, who lived on the farm I grew up on, before Uncle Martin.

She was somebody's mother.

Jacob K Enns was my dad's first cousin and his closest friend. I remember Mr Enns as a very, very kind man. He had his own children, plus two foster boys named Charlie and Bertie. My sister got her first kiss in Mr Enns' hayloft thanks to Charlie or Bertie. Sadly, his wife died of cancer when the boys were maybe around 10 years old and they got moved from the home. I remember feeling so sad that Mr Enns lost his wife and part of his family, all at once.

Susan Enns was the lady who died of cancer.


Peter (Loeppky) Kehler was my dad's mother's first husband. He came from a well to do line of Mennonites. Peter and their infant daughter Helena died in the influenza of 1918. They were building a house at the time, and living with Peter's parents during its construction. After Peter and Helena died, the father in law said- "that's still my house", and the young wife (dad's mom) was forced to move back to her own parents home, grieving the loss of her baby girl and young husband.

Helena Loeppky Kehler (Frau g. g. Kehler) was my dad's mother's first mother in law. I wonder how she felt after her son and granddaughter died and her daughter in law was sent away homeless and sad.

Elsewhere in this graveyard are unmarked graves, one of which is a mass grave of children who I believe died either of the flu epidemic of 1918, or of diphtheria.

I took this picture because the row of trees in the backyard border the farm that I grew up on. Dad's farm, and his Uncle Martin's farm before him.

The farm is no longer in the family.

I drive by at least weekly, and crane my neck to see the tree I climbed in summer, the lawns that I so carefully mowed, and the house that I called home for so many years.



Anonymous said...

Joyce, THANK YOU, cause my memory sucks as well. I'm so glad you wrote it down. I really like this. All of it. Thank you sister.


janice said...

Wowy Zowy - I LOVE that kind of history. I can see a bit of it when I go to Crooked Creek or Linden - the old house, the graveyards. My childhood home in Crooked Creek was recently demolished, I heard. I saw it last June - walked by it the first time without recognizing it, as it used to be in a field, and is surounded by housed now. My childhood home in Linden burnt down last year. The tree I used to climb was still there, last time I looked.

Did your grandmother marry two Kehlers? How sad her mother-in-law lost her son, granddaughter and daughter-in-law all at once. My aunt lost her husband, Abe Isaac and married a George Isaac, so all the kids have the same last name (and she did not have to change the monograms on her luggage ha ha).

Glad to see you back. Hi to Floey.

brenda said...

What is it about our past that draws us back so fervently, like we're trying to awaken the ghosts or return to our childhood if for only just a moment. I wonder if people who had a horrible childhood also return to their roots occasionally. I spent a lot of my childhood in my grandmother's house in Steinbach because my mom worked and my grandmother basically raised me. I still drive by her old house on occasion wishing I could wander its halls again and try and get a glimpse of my grandma's ghost making unbaked cookies at the stove.

joyce said...

You are kind to keep coming back, Janice. Very astute, and I left it out of the telling. My great gran married two Kehler's. The second was a cousin to the first, but poor. Not wealthy. So gran lost her first family and any chance of a comfortable life, then married my great granddad who was apparently a great dancer, but crummy with money, and not a very good farmer.

My dad was firstborn and left to fend for his own on the field by age 10 or 11.

joyce said...

It's where we started. When we thought our family was normal, and we believed what we were told, and home felt cozy and kind. (We were lucky)
And we never thought about where our parents came from, or if they struggled, or that they had parents and grandparents of their own.
I like looking back for clues of who I've always been.

CityCowgirl said...

Great post! I enjoy this kind of history. In fact, a good Sunday for us is driving around and finding cemeteries of days gone by. We wonder too about the lives of those buried in overgrown grasses and mossy headstones.

About a month ago we came across a cemetery buried in the bush, off a beaten path... it was taken care of...but had 5-6 children (all from one family)die one after the other, not living longer than a year . I wonder what the cause was and wonder how the parents felt about so much death.

When I do tours at the museum I enjoy listening to the history of the older folks. Things like…" I sat right here with my grandma when I was a little girl." "My parents went to this church back when it was in Winkler", "My dad knew the person who lived in this house, and it used to be across the street from my uncle." All those statements make the history of the museum come alive and a very small glimpse into the life and history of another human.

History is so rich and helps us know where we came from good and bad.

Thanks for the glimpse into your past.

Laura said...

Hope we can bury Dad there. And I like to think I could join him there when my time comes. It would feel like I'm finally home. Worn out physical body here, and new body rejoicing with Dad in my new heavenly home. Why is it so many of us long to go "home" even tho we have rich lives elsewhere?