I just got back from my last-minute funeral/Easter trip to Manitoba. I’m really glad I went. It was a great opportunity to say bye to Baba Luhowy and a chance to catch up with my relatives.
The weather for most of the weekend was amazing. I didn’t bring any shorts out to the farm and regretted it. It hit +26 on Saturday. It was weird because there were still ice on the lakes and piles of snow in fields.
Baba’s funeral was sad but fun. It was interesting to see how everyone coped with the mourning. There was a lot of crying, especially during the eulogy my mother gave. But there was just as much laughing and joking around. I realized this weekend that I come from a family of practical jokers and comedians. We’re probably the first family that felt the need to leave the funeral home because we were laughing too much. I don’t feel bad about this. A lot of the times we were laughing about stories about Baba. She was an amazing woman and had a great sense of humour. I think she would have preferred to see us laughing than crying.
The only thing I think Baba might have been disappointed about was that she didn’t raise very devout Catholic children or grandchildren. During communion, Baba Coulson was the only one from the family to go up.
The rest of the weekend was just like a family reunion, but with more reminiscing stories, more crying, and nobody ended up in the hospital. We had the Farm Golf League’s 1st Annual Memorial Classic Barn Tournament – our 7 iron only golf tournament around Baba Coulson’s front yard. We put a lot of divots in her lawn and aerated her garden, but our golfing didn’t improve that much. Only Justin could hit the broad side of a barn from 100 yards away, literally.
On Easter morning, I hid chocolates around the Ponderossa and sent my parents on an Easter egg hunt with cryptic clues leading them from egg to egg. It was reminiscent of the hunts they would create for my sisters and I when I was younger.
The weekend was also a binge eating contest. With everyone packing in as much Ukrainian food, cookies, and other yummy food as they could. I figure I can use the extra pounds to sustain myself while I am in Europe’s more expensive cities. It’s fun being around all my relatives because I can discover where I get some of my traits and put them into perspective. I think I eat a lot, but not after watching Uncle larry polish off a dozen sandwiches. I think I’m tanned, but compared to my relatives, I look like a pale skinned computer nerd. I think I’m well-travelled, but I’ve never been been bar hopping in Thailand (and never been a bar fight either). And I think I’m fairly witty, but not compared to most of my relatives.
Some exerts from Mom’s eulogy:
No matter how old Baba got, or how small and frail she looked to us, she was always a tower of strength.
Her great grandchildren, Derek, Trevor, Christopher, Kelsey, Justin and Alexander, remember going to help in her garden. They’d tell her “It’s okay Baba, we’ll do it for you”, but she’d have nothing to do with that. She’d take her hoe and dig holes for potatoes, make rows for carrots and weed and hoe along with them. In the end she did as much work as anyone else.
Her farm was always ablaze with bright red poppies, or at least it was until the RCMP raided her, taking her poppies. I never knew Baba had a secret opium den!
Baba had a great sense of humor. Adrian remembers sitting with her at one of our family reunions. He was wearing a sweatshirt his father gave him from the Ukrainian Village in Edmonton that proudly proclaimed “Korinya”, or Roots in Ukrainian. They were sitting enjoying a companionable silence when suddenly Baba leaned over and elbowed Adrian and said, “Ukrainians don’t have Roots, they have Beets”.
Laverne remembers stopping in to see Baba and finding her out in the garden, which was not unusual, except that this time she had two hoes. She asked her “Why two hoes?” Baba said “Because I lean on one and hoe with the other. Then when I get tired, I lean on the other one and hoe with the other one. That way I can hoe all day!”
Baba enjoyed a long, healthy life surrounded by a loving family and friends. She saw her children grow up, her grandchildren grow up and even her great grandchildren knew her well. She died peacefully in her bed. You can’t ask for better than that.
Vichnya Pomyat Baba.
Those were very beautiful eulogy exerpts….I love funny stories at funerals, I think they’re the only way to go. If I catch anyone telling a sad story at my funeral, there’ll be hell to pay!