|Holy Cross Hospital, Calgary, AB, Graduation 1953|
Ruth Adel Olsen. My mother-in-law, pictured above, long before I knew her. Her smile belies the hard times she'd endured growing up on a remote farm in the north. A father who suffered from mental illness. A tragic house fire where her efforts to save a little step-brother resulted in severe burns and the death of the little boy. Her older brother died later in a gruesome sawmill accident.
|Mum with some of our family (missing Ashley and Owen) in July 2013|
Several years ago, during a family get together in Jasper, Mum told us of the long journeys she made by train from Newlands, BC to Calgary, AB for her nurse's training. The old train station in Jasper is still in operation at the time of our visit. We wandered through it while Mum recalled long hours spent on the hard benches waiting for a connection, and told stories of other passengers she had met.
The train passed within a kilometre of her home in Newlands, so the train engineer would stop there and let her off in the middle of the night. Her step-father met her with a lantern and together they trod across the road and up the long drive to the farmhouse.
She met her husband, Ron, while on a blind date with his brother, at a park in Calgary. Ron saw her from the other side of the river, swam across, and introduced himself. Ruth said that she thought Ron much more handsome than his brother. They married soon after her graduation. Four children were born. Ron had itchy feet and the family moved frequently. Ruth made a home wherever she found herself - USA, Chile, Namibia, Mexico, Guatemala, and numerous places in Canada. After Ron passed away 18 years ago, she moved back to Alberta, to be near family.
I learned much from my mother-in-law: how to pack boxes and crates for overseas moves, how to make Yorkshire Pudding, a great pastry recipe, the importance of not complaining when life doesn't go my way, and so, so much more. She used more black pepper than anyone I've ever known and she was generous with her time and resources. She set out to make friends wherever she was, although in her later years, because of hearing and sight loss, she kept more and more to herself. However, she was always happy to chat on the phone or visit in person when we were there. We did learn not to call on Sunday evenings when Downton Abbey was on for she was quite enthralled with the first few seasons.
The first summer we were married, she brought over this Pinwheel crystal brandy snifter containing a rose from her garden. Just because. She was like that. If she saw something she thought someone else would enjoy, she shared it.
Of course the best gift she gave me was raising her son, my Tim, to be the wonderful man he is today. I'm so thankful for his love and steadiness, his dry sense of humour much like his mother's, and so much more.
One of the last photos of Mum, taken in March of this year, at her daughter's wedding. She was so glad to be there. Family was so important to her. And faith. She loved us all well and prayed for each one of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She would have been 87 tomorrow; she passed away just three months ago come Sunday. We miss her. Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mum.