September 26

I realize it’s been awhile. We arrived home from Manitoba a couple of weeks ago – in time to regroup, and spend a day with my dad on his birthday weekend. He turned 91 almost 2 weeks ago. It was the first of the firsts…events without mom. Dad, along with our whole family, is on this journey of grief…and one of the hard things about it is that dad doesn’t talk about mom much. He talks about how much he hates being alone…but rarely speaks about mom. When he does, it’s remembering times when they were younger. It has been interesting to hear those stories of their earlier life together – life before 5 children. I believe some of Dad’s quietness on the topic of mom is related to his dementia; however, I know there’s also some family history around that. The men in my dad’s family rarely speak of those they have loved and lost. Is that a cultural thing? A family thing? I don’t know. Dad is fine with us speaking about mom, and remembering. In fact my sister and I did a fair bit of that, with dad present with us, as together we made her special, well loved “peachy pear jam”. No kidding, this stuff is heaven in a jar! And we all love it. Mom made it every year – enough for all of us to get some on production day, and some for Christmas, and a few batches for her church bazaar.

My two sisters made some earlier this summer, and then yesterday I and my Calgary sister made the bazaar batches. We just couldn’t let there be none of Vera’s jam at that bazaar. You see, mom and a friend were the ones that initiated that bazaar, over 50 years ago. And this year, the Country Store area of the bazaar is being given a new name – Vera’s Country Store. I had never before made peachy pear…other jams, yes, and I’ve helped mom over the years with all the preserves she makes, however somehow, peachy pear was not part of my repertoire. So thanks to my sister for inviting me into her kitchen, where we used mom’s jam making equipment, and created that heavenly treat. Thanks to my sister, I now have the inside scoop on making that delicious jam.

Doing things like that, and sharing the memories helps. Having dad present, watching over the process, was good too.

Today, a little work to prepare for another journey across the prairie, to visit the congregations of Preeceville and Sturgis – a journey that will take me first to Lacombe for lunch with a colleague; then about 9 hours across the prairie, to this pastoral charge that is doing interesting things, and flourishing. I look forward to the journey – although the forecast for snow has put a little hestitancy in my heart. However I will take my time, and enjoy the ride…

The finished product…golden deliciousness, with mom’s canner in the background.

Author: Tammy Allan

I am in ministry with the Olds-Sundre Pastoral Charge of the United Church of Canada. I've served in a rural farm community, in a resource / tourist based community, in an urban city church, and nw back in rural ministry (over 6 years in this community). In August 2019, I began my 2nd sabbatical...the focus of which is to study what helps rural congregations thrive and flourish. That time concluded in December 2019. Today, I resurrect this blog, as we journey through this time of uncertainty as a result of a world affected by COVID 19 or coronavirus. So, journey with me, as we stay connected in this time of "social distance."

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