This is my sister's speech she gave on the occasion of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, which I missed!
This is a special day for Mom & Dad and I'd like to say a few words about them and the life they have shared together. Everyone here knows them well but I thought I'd start with a little bit about their backgrounds. This is the kind of information that you can only glean, for instance, when people reminiscence while sitting around playing Euchre together on Boxing Day.
Dad is the oldest of five children - three brothers and one sister. As far as I can tell, his Dad was a gruff, tough Irishman and his mother was a gentle, tender-hearted English woman. They all lived through the Depression one way or another. Despite that, those four boys seemed to have a lot of fun with a little mischief thrown in. I'm not sure how his sister Jeanette survived it. You'll have to ask her, later!
I'm not sure of the order but I think Dad lived in Toronto, Shelburne and Orangeville. Dad was helping his family at a young age. At 12 years old he started working part-time doing deliveries for a bakery.
By age 17, he joined the Army and suffered the longest ride of his life going over to England, crammed into the hold of a troop ship. I think it was overseas that he gained his command of the French language. The hungrier those boys got, the better they got at asking around for grub.
When the war ended, Dad went to Northern College of Mines in Haileybury to study Geology. I think he was planning to do a little prospecting and strike it rich. He did make an important find but it wasn't ore.
As for Mom, she was born and raised in Haileybury. She has two younger brothers. Her mother was a French-Canadian with roots going back to some of the first French settlers. Her father was from England. She grew up with her mother's parents nearby and her command of the French language surpassed Dad's. Now, I know Mom lived in Toronto for a while, before she was married, when she was studying...dressmaking I think it was. [pause and ask Mom] But for most of her life, she stayed in Haileybury.
She was working at the Bank of Nova Scotia, I think, when she met Dad at a dance. Something tells me Dad was going to those dances with a keen interest in the Haileybury girls because I recently heard a story that Mom's brother Gilbert told Patty. He said that he ran into my Dad [where was it Patty?] and after a little conversation, Dad asked Gilbert if he had any sisters. Now, there were a lot of students at the Mining School and only so many Haileybury girls to go around. It seems Dad was making sure he got there before the other guy!
Their courtship lasted a couple of years and when Dad graduated, they married and Dad whisked Mom off to South America where they lived in Columbia and Peru. I think Dad's French knowledge came in handy then, because if he didn't know a certain Spanish word, he could always try and see if a French word would do!
I was born in Peru but Mom took me home to Haileybury while Dad stayed behind for several months. Dad was then transferred to the States and they lived in New Jersey and Minnesota. Rick was born there and because of that was later able to emigrate to the States quite easily.
Next, they moved to North Bay and it was there, I believe, that they bought their first house. Patty and Kathy came along and, while Mom was expecting Terry, Dad told us he was starting with Boart-Hard Metals and we would be moving to British Columbia.
Dad drove across the country with Rick and me for 5 days and Mom joined us in Edmonton, by air, with the younger ones. I still remember that trip as an amazing adventure. Dad let us do things that Mom never would have allowed. We rode while laying on the back seat with our feet out the window. We went swimming in our underwear. My kids have heard me tell my favourite story. Dad bought wieners and buns and a jar of mustard at the grocery store. We had a swim and Dad brought out this lunch but Rick and I hesitated to eat uncooked hot dogs. Dad just dipped a spare wiener into the mustard jar and spread some mustard on and told us they were cold cats. We thought they were the greatest!
Dad was on the road a lot and Mom did everything necessary. She looked after the house; did a lot of yard work; always had a garden and looked after her five children and all the other kids that trooped in and out. When we moved to a new place, Mom would get her garden ploughed out of a patch of grass and get it well-nourished and producing and then Dad would whisk us off to somewhere new and Mom would start her garden again.
Mom sewed for us all the years we were growing up. We had matching sister outfits, smocked dresses, embroidered dresses and even practical shorts and tops. Our clothes were always admired. To me, a dress from the store was a step down. Of course, now the grandchildren are getting the benefit of Mom's talent.
Dad, as usual, did a great job in British Columbia and was soon promoted, so back we went to Ontario. He stayed with Boart-Hard Metals until 1974 [is that right?]. Dad spent a couple of years with Sala but Boart couldn't get along without him and he agreed to head the Button Bit division in Pennsylvania.
The three oldest children were in University by that time so Mom and Dad went to Pennsylvania with Kathy and Terry. They were there for 11 years and made a lot of good friends. Dad became an American citizen but Mom was so thoroughly Canadian that she never did get her American citizenship, though she was eligible.
Once Dad returned to Canada, he tried to retire but that didn't last long. He was soon running Parts Headquarters and Mom said she was really happy to see him with his own business.
Eventually, Dad did get used to the idea of retirement and he has been pursuing his wine-making hobby and sharing the joy of it with all his children. He's gotten into his computer and, after a lot of persuasion on his part, he's even gotten Mom sending e-mail.
Of course, this is only the briefest possible summation of 50 years together. I don't need to say that 50 years of marriage is a remarkable accomplishment and any long-lasting marriage is always the result of a lot of commitment, patience, tolerance and love.
All of us are here to offer our congratulations to you at this special time.
To June and Jim: congratulations on your 50th Wedding Anniversary.
I don't know if 2 or 3 more toasts are in order - maybe a toast from us kids thanking them for their loving, constant care of us? Someone else might think of one, too. I bought champagne so we gotta have toasts!!