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Sad Farewells

Peter and Joyce Coulson

A few weeks ago we travelled to Manitoba to say farewell to my grandmother, Baba Coulson. She passed away last December but wanted to be buried in the summer. So on the September long weekend, her family gathered in Sandy Lake to give her a final send off.

Farm Kids

She was an amazing woman and had a big influence on my childhood. My cousins and I (pictured above) spent every summer vacation with her on the farm, having a blast, helping her with the gardening, and growing strong on home cooked food and fresh country air.

Funeral

It was great to have all the family get together to tell stories about Baba and say good bye. It was like a family reunion, with relatives I haven’t seen in over a decade making the trip to Sandy Lake.

Remembering Baba

But a key part of my mom’s family was missing. Auntie Laverne (who everyone affectionately called Weiner) was sick in a Winnipeg hospital and sadly passed away on September 12. We were prepared to say goodbye to Baba, but no one was ready to lose Weiner.

Weiner Baseball

Weiner was the most joyful, fun-loving person you could ever meet. You usually heard her laughing before you saw her and she always had a smile on her face. In a family full of jokesters, she was the Queen of Fun. When you first arrived at the farm, Weiner would often be found leading a band of kids banging spoons on pots to welcome you. At Christmas, her and Uncle Uke gave out the loudest toys as gifts.

Weiner Toys
Some of the musical stuffed animals Weiner gave my mom and Auntie Sheryl over the years as Christmas presents

She taught us all to enjoy life to the fullest and always have fun. She left this world too soon and I miss her a lot. Astrid never got to meet her, but I hope she carries a piece of the spark that made Auntie Weiner special. If I ever see a mischievous look in her eye or hear her give a hearty laugh, I’ll think she got it from Weiner.

Kerry, Weiner, and me as a baby

Here’s my mother’s obituary for Laverne Lewandoski (aka Auntie Weiner).

Pictures from Laverne’s Last Ride on June 24, 2017.

Laverne's Last Ride WFO

Laverne Lewandoski (Coulson) Memorial Bonfire

Remembering Baba Coulson

Baby Christening Baba & Dido Coulson

Christmas wasn’t the same this year. Just before we arrived in Manitoba, my grandmother passed away. We all knew it was coming but it still made it hard to enjoy family time when she was missing.

Baba was a huge part of my childhood. My cousins and I spent every summer, from 5-15, with her on the farm. My parents, aunts and uncles would visit, but for the most part she looked after us (up to 7 grandkids) on her own for two months of the year. We had chores (like picking weeds and feeding the animals) but she did most of the cooking and cleaning. She was a mother to 5 children and a second parent to 7 grandchildren. It must have been exhausting but she made it look easy.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the summers I spent with my cousins and Baba on the farm. I learned to swim in Sandy Lake, we played cribbage and crokinole in the evenings, we picked raspberries and chokecherries, and she made the best homemade bread.

Baba Perogy Boiler

She gave each of her grandchildren a trip anywhere in Canada for our 9th birthday. I chose Churchill – an odd choice, but we had a blast. We took the train up (a three day journey) with interesting people from around the world, rode a tundra buggy looking for polar bears (we didn’t find any but they let me drive for a while), ate the most amazing arctic char, and froze our butts off, even in March.

A few weeks before she passed away, I was able to talk to her and say good-bye. It wasn’t easy, but I know it’s not an opportunity most people get. She looked tired, but her mind was still sharp. She remembered things I had long forgotten. She never complained, but it must have been hard having her body fail her when her mind was still so strong.

Good bye Baba. I hope one day that my kids get the same opportunity to spend quality time with their grandparents.

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