Posted by: Rob | December 9, 2007

Leona, my Mother-In-Law

I’m probably not going to be telling you anything about Leona that you don’t already know. But I thought I might share a few of my memories of Leona with you.

For those of you who may not know me or perhaps don’t recognize me, my name is Rob. I am Leona’s son-in-law. I was married to Leona’s youngest daughter Shelley for just over 25 years until we lost her a year ago August.

When I first met Leona she was just a few years younger than I am now. That was when I first started dating Shelley. Leona was a bit dubious about me at first. After all, I was relatively new to the area. She didn’t know me and she didn’t know my family. And, if you might recall, she had a fairly low opinion of men in general at that time. At least, that’s how I remember it. Fraser was the exception, of course.

But, she allowed me to keep coming around. I hope it was because she thought her daughter had good judgement, but I’ll never know now, will I?

In those early days, Shelley and I spent a lot of time out at the Grant farm. We were pretty poor in those days and we could always be assured of a good meal at Leona and Fraser’s. I can remember many, many games of aggravation. Often played late into the night. Always “one more game” or “time for the rubber”. I’m sure most of you know the game, but for those that don’t it’s a game played with cards, a special board and marbles. It’s a game for four; two teams of two. And it’s almost always women versus the men. Now, I’m not saying that men are necessarily more skilled at the game than women, but it seemed like more often than not the men were victorious. Well, at least that’s the way I remember it when Fraser and I squared off with Shelley and Leona. That we men won a lot never sat well with Leona. Her dark eyes would be flashing and her sharp tongue would be lashing. Fraser and I would just sit back and smile. No point in riling her further. I remember getting the cold shoulder from Shelley on occasion after these matches and I imagine Fraser received similar treatment as well.

If you’ve ever been out to the Grant farm, then you’ll know that the kitchen and dining are one big room; the first room you come into once you’re through the porch. And the kitchen was Leona’s domain. She was an excellent cook and loved to feed a crowd. Shelley often joked about how Leona would get up to start clearing the table from one meal and, before we’d even had a chance to push ourselves away from the table, was asking us what we wanted for the next meal. I ate myself into agony at Leona’s table on more than one occasion I can tell you. I will certainly miss those home made buns, the lefthsa, crum ca-ca and the myriad of other dishes – simple or fancy – that Leona would whip up.

As I said, eventually Shelley and I married and I became part of the family. And somewhere in there, Leona found out that I was somewhat handy. It wasn’t long before I was being greeted at each visit with a list of things that needed fixing or building. I was always happy to help out with these assignments – even though the lists got longer as our visits became less frequent when we moved farther and farther away from here. I didn’t mind because the reward was always the smile and look of pure pleasure on her face when I had completed some repair or built something new. It was the least I could do in exchange for the meals she always put on for us.

Leona was already a grandmother by the time I entered the picture. Cory was a toddler and Keli arrived not long after Shelley and I started dating. Mine and Shelley’s two daughters, Farron and Jordan, were Leona’s next two grandkids. And did she adore her grandkids. We were fortunate in living fairly nearby as the kids grew up so they could visit and get to know their grandma as they did. Close life-long relationships were formed. Leona loved her grandkids; there wasn’t really anything she wouldn’t do for them. I know my own two girls have many, many fond memories of the times they spent at Grandma’s farm.

I’ve already talked about Leona’s prowess in the kitchen. Of course, being a farmer’s wife, she knew well what was needed when the men were working in the fields. And she never let them down, often times delivering food to the guys in the field when there wasn’t time to stop and come in to the house. And being a hostess didn’t stop there. It didn’t seem to matter what time of day or night a friend or a neighbour dropped by. Leona was always willing to feed you. And, if it was the middle of the night, she was willing to get up and have a drink or two with you as well.

Leona loved to have fun. You can see it in some of the pictures here on the slideshow. She laughed from deep in her belly. Head thrown back, guffawing out loud. I am sure there are many of you here who have seen this first hand, whether it was out camping, or down at the Rio Grande sports, at the Legion, at a dance, in a camp or in her own kitchen.

I remember the time she and Joyce came to visit us while we lived in Kansas. For a weekend, we all went over to Branson, Missouri to see a show (it was a Patsy Cline impersonator) and spend a day at Silver Dollar City. You wouldn’t believe the things those two old grandma’s did, the rides they went on. But they had a blast. And, of course, what trip to the US would be complete without some shopping? Leona, apparently, liked shoes. And she bought a lot of them. I don’t remember exactly what transpired as these two old grandma’s attempted to bring their booty back into Canada. But I wouldn’t have wanted to be the Canada Customs agent who decided to turn their van inside out just to make sure they weren’t smuggling whatever. I well remember those flashing eyes and sharp tongue!

She was quite the gal.

But there were some sad times too. I shall never forget that when Shelley and I needed help – when Shelley needed care – Leona was one of the first to arrive at our house. To do what she could. I can not even imagine what it must be like to lose a child and I hope I never have to find out. But, Leona was there. And when we lost Shelley, she was comforting me, supporting me. I won’t – can’t – ever forget that.

So, in closing these reveries of mine, I would just like to say that we could all learn something from Leona’s life. The things that were important to her – family, good friends, good food, good fun – these are simple things and I think that Leona helped show me that these are the most important things in life. Maybe it’s a little something that she can show you too.

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Responses

  1. I think Farron was right. You should’ve gotten up and read this anyway.

    Love you!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Rob. I was moved by your obvious affection and gratitude for Leona.

    I hope Shelley and Leona have found each other again.

    Hugs,
    Sally


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