A Writer’s Unique Opportunity to Contribute to His Own Celebration of Life

A Writer’s Unique Opportunity to Contribute to His Own Celebration of Life

Author Ian Moore-Morrans died on February 22, 2019. (Reference the previous blogpost containing his obituary.) Since his daughter and her husband had left for a three-week trip to Hawaii early in the morning of the day he died, Ian’s wife, editor and sometimes co-author Gayle had a unique opportunity to prepare a script to be used for Ian’s Celebration of Life which was then scheduled to take place a month after his death on March 23, 2019.

Anyone who knew Ian during most of his life knew that he was usually eager to contribute his opinion or the last word in any conversation. He valued his God-given talents for using his voice, whether it be in conversation, song or through the written word.

Thank God, our pastor was also amenable to going along with Gayle’s plans for the memorial service, as were a number of friends who consented to participate in sharing several of Ian’s favourite hymns or in reading aloud some of Ian’s writings. Gayle likes to point out that Ian was able to help present his own eulogy in this unique way.

Though they did not speak publicly at the ceremony, Ian’s family members (daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) also contributed to the ceremony during a procession at the beginning of the service. These are all wonderful memories and keepsakes for years to come.

Saturday, March 23, 2019                                                              

Sherwood Park Lutheran Church

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Note: Ian’s widow Gayle and daughters Audrey and Shirley acted as greeters and invited people to sign the guestbook. Ian’s grandsons, Ian and Calan (dressed in Ian’s kilt outfits) passed out bulletins and greeted people as they entered the sanctuary.

A slide presentation of photos from Ian’s life was shown on the screen for approximately 30 minutes prior to the service. Recorded music from the Salvation Army International Staff Band playing Goldcrest (“I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart”) followed by piano music by Church Musician Corey Francis accompanied the presentation.

 

Gathering

Ian’s family procession, led by Pastor Erik Reedman Parker, bore items from Ian’s life and placed them on a table holding an enamelled vase of thistles and white heather at the top of the steps in the chancel. Family then seated themselves in the reserved rows, along with sons-in-law Eugene and Brien.

  • the wooden box urn bearing Ian’s ashes – Daughter Audrey (front center of table)
  • a large framed picture of Ian – Daughter Shirley (back left corner)
  • Ian’s Celtic wedding ring – Wife Gayle (on top of urn)
  • McKinnon Clan crest – Granddaughter Tammy (back right corner)
  • 2 brass candlesticks made by Ian – Granddaughter Ainsley (on either side of urn)
  • Ian’s antique trumpet – Granddaughter Tiffany (floor front, standing on bell)
  • Ian’s Glengarry bonnet – Grandson Ian (left side)
  • Ian’s tartan bonnet – Grandson Calan (right side)
  • Sprigs of purple heather – Great-granddaughters Caleigh, Madison, and Haylee, Granddaughter-in-law Lisa (scattered on floor in front of the table)
  • 2 miniature stuffed dogs – Great-grandsons Logan and Brayden (at front sides of urn). (Ian loved to hold these wee dogs his last weeks in the hospital and care home, representative of the many dogs he loved over the years.)

 

SPLC Choir: “The Lord’s My Shepherd” was sung during the procession, accompanied on the organ. (Ian would sing this hymn almost nightly as his evening prayer during the last years of his life.) (Based on Psalm 23, from the Scottish Psalter, 1650, tune: Crimond.)

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want. He makes me down to lie in pastures green; He leadeth me the quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again; and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness, e’en for His own Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale, Yet will I fear none ill; for Thou art with me; and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnishèd in presence of my foes; My head Thou dost with oil anoint, And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life Shall surely follow me; And in God’s house forevermore, My dwelling place shall be.

 

Greeting, Welcome & Prayer of the Day– Pastor Erik Parker

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the consolation we ourselves have received from God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  C: And also with you.

Let us pray. Almighty God, source of all mercy and giver of comfort, graciously tend those who mourn, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.   C: Amen.

 

Remembrance of Ian – (Gayle, assisted by Donna and Don Engel)

            Gayle Moore-Morrans: Because I’ve lived the adventure of being Ian’s wife and editor for the last 15 plus years, I feel eminently qualified to share my perspective on his personality. I’m the one responsible for the “Moore” portion of our family name. I’m also the author of the lengthy eulogy you have in your bulletins. Don’t worry; I am not about to read that eulogy aloud. However, I have written a Remembrance of Ian that I wanted to share with you today. I know that I’ll be too emotional to deliver it so I’ve asked our good friends, Donna and Don Engel, to assist me. I thank them for their friendship over the years and for the care they both gave Ian and me while he was hospitalized. I also thank in advance those other friends who will be sharing Ian’s music and unique written voice with us. Ian’s family and I appreciate your friendship and support. God bless.

Donna Engel reads: These are Gayle’s words:

“Ian was a man of many talents who had a great capacity to love. He was full of curiosity about many things, outgoing and friendly and always interested in finding out what made other people tick. Rarely at a loss for words, he loved to share his opinion, no matter whether others wanted to hear it or not. He had a rough beginning in life, which could have made him bitter. It just made him determined to try to make life better, however and wherever he could. He was also a man of great contradictions: at times religious and then not religious; brought up in a non-emotional, non-expressive family but readily able to express and show his love and caring as a husband and father; capable of performing quality dedicated work at whatever job he could find, but even happier when he could be on the move, learning new things, having new experiences and meeting new people. He sometimes lost his temper with those he loved, but always apologized later for causing them distress. He could build anything, repair anything and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Most of all, though, Ian was a ‘voice’ and a ‘presence.’

“His voice was what most attracted Gayle to him when they met at Grace Café on north Henderson Highway one Monday evening in June of 2003. She had walked into the café to find it practically empty except for what she describes as a “wee, balding, ruddy-faced 71-year-old man who was ‘holding court’ with the waitress”. The waitress seemed as intrigued as Gayle with Ian’s melodic Scottish accent and the charming blarney that was coming out of his mouth. He introduced himself, asked if Gayle were alone and then invited her to take a seat at his table. After discovering that they were both writers and shared lots of other interests, they hardly stopped talking and, within a week, they had decided they wanted to be together always. And Gayle hadn’t even heard him sing yet! She soon found his musical talents enthralling, as well as the charisma and humour he imparted when he was performing. She had been brought up in a musical family and hearing Ian sing intrigued her all the more. Later in this service you’ll be able to hear Ian sing, as there are video recordings of some of his performances in past years.

“In conclusion, Gayle would like us to share Ian’s favourite poem which, again, points to some of his contradictions. Desiderata is a prose poem by Max Ehrmann. Now, Ian normally claimed that a poem wasn’t authentic unless it rhymed and then he turned around and chose a poem that doesn’t rhyme as his favourite. (Go figure!) The word “Desiderata” means “things wanted or needed.” The poem is a concise but truly inspiring reminder that one should strive for high ideals. It reminds us to treat others kindly, to accept who they are and to be gentle with ourselves. It motivates us to have faith in ourselves and to develop trust in the way our circumstances unfold. Gayle could understand how this poem would resonate with Ian, except for the fact that several of the ideals that the author points out include words like ‘quiet,’ ‘silence’ and ‘placid,’ concepts that Ian wasn’t really able to grasp until the last years of his life when he was very ill. The rest of the poem certainly is a fitting summary of the ideals for which Ian strove to live out his life.”

Don Engel reads:

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Rest in peace, dear Ian.

 

A Reading from Colossians 3:12-17 – Pastor Erik

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Reading and Solo “The Old Rugged Cross” – Bill Johnston

A reading from Ian’s Memoir: From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. (This story happened in Ian’s teens when he was active in Campbeltown’s Salvation Army congregation.)

“Shortly after the Saturday evening meeting started, I would be asked to go to the local pubs to sell The War Cry, a Salvation Army newspaper. This was done without fail every Saturday night, but usually by different people on a rotating basis. Anyway, this one night, I went my rounds and, as luck would have it, I seemed to meet with a lot of drunken men. Now, it was my own belief that it was wrong to sell a paper to a drunken person. So what I would do was to fold it up, put it in his pocket in the hope that he would read it the next morning when he was sober and start to lead a Christian life.

“Needless to say, with meeting so many drunks that night, the money box was a little on the light side and all the papers were gone. When I returned to the hall, the Captain opened the box and only a few coppers fell out. She turned to me and asked where the rest of the money was. I told her that I had met a lot of drunks and had put the paper in their pockets. She wouldn’t accept this and insinuated that I had pocketed the money. So that was me, quitting again! A few weeks later she was at my door and apologized. I went back, but this time I didn’t have to hit the mercy seat!

“There was one rather peculiar situation that occurred when it was my turn to go around to one certain pub on Shore Street. In this pub there was always one certain large man who would put a hand on either side of my waist and pick me up, lifting me onto a table. (Not a difficult move for him, as I barely reached 5 feet 5.) Then he’d take The War Cry papers and the collection box from me, and order me to sing ‘The Old Rugged Cross’—all three verses. (There are actually four verses, but one is seldom sung.) Meanwhile, he would go around to all the people in the pub with the papers and the moneybox, distributing and collecting. It’s no wonder today that I still remember all of the words to those three verses by heart, fifty plus years later!”

Solo – “The Old Rugged Cross”, sung and accompanied on guitar – Bill Johnston. (Melody and Lyrics: © George Bennard, 1913)

  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.
  2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.
  3. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.

 

Reflections and Readings: Tom Lurvey, Kolleen Karlowsky-Clark

            Tom Lurvey: I was a pastor for twenty years, now retired, here at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church.  I’m privileged to have gotten to know Ian over the years as his pastor and as a friend.

I remember very well the first time I met him.  One Sunday morning Gayle showed up with a man on her arm.  They sat together there on the left, on the aisle about halfway back. After worship he came up to me—a man small of stature but, I learned, large in personality and heart—and greeted me with the words, “Pastor, that was a bonnie wee sermon you had today.”

Some time later I learned that Ian wanted to be baptized. In the Christian tradition in which he grew up, the Salvation Army, they didn’t practice baptism.  Ian being Ian, planning for that baptism took some discussion and negotiation. The main stipulation was that he didn’t want to be baptized with water just being sprinkled or poured on his head.  Rather, he wanted to be dunked right under the water. Well, that was great with me: I’d always wanted to do a baptism like that.

When the day came, we gathered at Bird’s Hill Lake. I remember it as a chilly day. Ian and I were clad in swimsuits and t-shirts.  He and I waded into what felt like frigid water till we were just past waist-deep. Then I said, “Ian, I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and I dunked him under. Ian came up spitting and, as fast as we could, we pushed our way back to shore where Gayle waited for us with some warm, fluffy towels.

That day, God told Ian in a very concrete way, “Ian, I love you.  I have called you by name and you are mine.”

Today, as we remember Ian and thank God for his life and all that he’s meant to us, I want to remind you all about how much Ian means to God.  God loves him.  And even as God has guided Ian and walked with him all through a remarkable life, so God continues to hold onto him right now and forever. Thanks be to God.

            Kolleen Karlowsky-Clarke: (A friend of Ian and Gayle’s and former intern and later interim pastor at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, who offered the prayers at Ian and Gayle’s wedding.) Tom and I will share portions of a 2013 interview of Ian on The Author’s Show, an internationally acclaimed online radio book marketing show. The interview was about his first memoir: From Poverty to Poverty.  I will read the part of the interviewer and Tom will represent Ian’s answers as they were given.  In a way, one could say that Ian is acting here as his own eulogizer.

Q. Is there a central message in your book, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada?

A. Yes, I think so. I’ve found that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty but, in order to do so, one has to have a lot of grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humour to get through it all.

Q. For readers of your book who have not experienced poverty in their lives, what one word do you think they would choose to describe your book?

A. Even though my first thought was “horrendous,” my present wife who is also my editor said, “eye-opening.” That’s the word she used after she first read my story before we were married almost 10 years ago.  She was not brought up in poverty and was astonished and taken aback by all that I had experienced.

Q. You claim this book is an autobiography.Are all the stories in it true and all the characters taken from real life?

A. Yes, all of the stories are true. They, of course, are filtered through my own eyes and my own experiences so another person may interpret happenings from a different perspective. In certain instances, I’ve chosen to change the names of people because I felt it necessary to protect their identity or maintain their privacy. One prime example is the character I’ve chosen to call “Jock Campbel.”  When I was a wee lad and our financial situation at home was even more dire than usual, my mother would occasionally ask me to go to that man and ask him to lend her ten shillings.  This was about a dollar and a half, but it had a lot more buying power then than now.  But before I would go she always cautioned me to wait until he was on his own.  There never was any hesitation from him.  Out would come his wallet and a ten-shilling note would be handed to me. As far as I know, my brother was never sent on a similar mission and I never thought to discuss it with him or even ask Mother why.  That man was an upstanding member of the community and a married man with children.  I never thought much about this strange mission until years later when some things my mother said about the man led me to wonder whether he could have been the man who sired me.

Q. You describe your early family life as rather dysfunctional with no one showing affection to the others. How has this affected your adult role as husband and father?

A. I know my mother and grandmother cared very much for both my brother and me.We lived on welfare and Mother worked at degrading odd jobs on the sly to get a wee bit extra.  She also put ourhunger ahead of herswhen there was little food to share.  But none of us showed or spoke of any affection or caring toward the others. Perhaps Mother and Granny had never been shown affection and didn’t know how to do so.  And if they didn’t know how, my brother and I didn’t have a chance to learn by example.  I don’t know where I learned it, maybe showing affection was something that just was innate in me and eventually came out when I had my own wife and children. As an adult I’ve made special efforts to tell my family members that I love and honour them and have always been ready and willing to take care of and help them to the best of my ability.

Q. What role did your membership in the Salvation Army play in your early life?

A. It taught me how to live a respectable and God-fearing life. It gave me a place where I knew I belonged, was respected and valued (although I rebelled off and on at a lot of restrictions it placed on my choices of entertainment).  Most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to learn to sing and play several instruments.  Because of that I can truly say that my real avocation in life is music making.

Q. What was the greatest single decision in your life that started to lift you out of a life of poverty and how did it do so?

A. That would be quitting my apprenticeship to a drunken, cruel blacksmith and enlisting in the Royal Air Force. Overnight I had three decent meals a day, a decent-paying job, a bed with sheets on it, all the decent clothing I needed and future prospects through career training.  Plus that, I could continue to play in a band and had money left over to send home to my mother to help her out a wee bit.

A. I understand you use humour in your writing.How does this connect with the tragic circumstances of poverty?

A. Poverty is bad enough. If you can find anything humorous in whatever day-to-day happenings you encounter, then you should celebrate those things.  Laughter can elevate you from the depressed hole of poverty – at least a wee bit.  If you really look, there are comical aspects to a lot of things, even those that are essentially negative.

Q. What is your favourite humorous story in your book?

A. Soon after we immigrated to Canada, my wife Mary and I were at a dance in Toronto. A group of us were standing and chatting at the edge of the dance floor when I announced that I was going to the bar for a drink.  When I returned, a young, good-looking woman put her arm through mine and I understood her to say, “I like the way you roll your arse!”  I hesitated a little and looked down at one buttock and then the other, wondering what it was I did with my “arse” that got her attention.  It wasn’t until I thoroughly thought about it that I realized that she was saying that she liked the way I rolled my “RRRRs!”  I guess she enjoyed the Scottish accent.  Boy, what a relief!

Q. You claim that musicianship is integral to your life. How is that reflected in your book?

A. When my wife/editor first read my story, she was struck by how much music was woven into the narrative. She encouraged me to expand on those instances, leading me to quote from songs or to fill out descriptions of the song connections with my own story.  For instance, when I am describing my hometown Campbeltown, I mentioned the folk-song made most popular in the ‘60s by Scottish folk-singer Andy Stewart: “Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky.”

I eventually wrote the following: “As we were growing up, three or four of us boys would go arm in arm down the street singing the first few words—‘Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky.  I would drink ye dry!’

“The song imagines how nice it would be if the loch were full up to the brim with whisky and you could anchor a boat in the whisky-filled bay to go in for a nip and a dip ‘by night and by day.’  Clan gatherings would feature wading into the loch with toasts of ‘slainte bva’ (meaning ‘good health’).  The only problem would be the police showing up in a launch and shouting, ‘Time, Gentlemen, please!’”

Q. Your book is permeated with “Scottishness.” Why would someone who has no Scottish connection want to read this book?

A. Lots of people like to read biographies or hear stories of other people’s personal experiences, especially if they are out of the ordinary. It also seems to me that a lot of non-Scots show a curiosity about and interest in Scottish things like tartans, kilts (or what is or isn’t worn under them!), bagpipers, Robbie Burns’ suppers, Scottish parties called “caleidhs”, Highland games and the like.  I hope they’d enjoy a first-hand account of one Scot’s unique experiences.  We Scots are known as folksy and sometimes blunt people who put our own colourful slant to our language. I attempt to reflect that in my writing.

 

A Reading from Revelation 21:1-7,22-27 – Pastor Erik

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

 

Reading and Solo – “The Holy City” – Darryl Pokrant

A reading from Ian’s not-yet-published Came to Canada, Eh? Memoirs of a Scottish Nomad. (The story finds Ian in 1997, recently retired and moved from Winnipeg to Flin Flon.)

“I found Flin Flon a great little place. I met more people and made more friends in the short time I was there than I ever made in any other place I’ve lived in Canada. [I had joined the 120-voice Community Choir and was delighted that we had a successful presentation of Handel’s Messiah, first in Snow Lake and then in Flin Flon.] …

“Our choir also performed and was well received at the Cathedral in The Pas a little after the New Year. I was asked to sing a solo in the service immediately before the Messiah was to be performed, and although I’m not Roman Catholic, I said that I would be honoured. (I was delighted to think that I was considered good enough to do so!)

“The Holy City” was my choice–my old standby from way back when I first sang it as a young boy in Campbeltown’s Salvation Army worship service [and then later when I was in the Royal Air Force and stationed near Cardiff, Wales, I was thrilled to sing it in a concert in Abertillery in the Rhonda Valley. I considered that quite an undertaking, because Wales is the “land of song.” For a Scotsman to be asked to sing a solo; well, that could be seen as maybe a wee bit presumptuous. It seemed that I “knocked them dead,” as the saying goes. Maybe they were just being nice, giving me an “E” for Effort, I don’t really know; but the applause seemed very genuine. I’m a tenor, and the top note was a healthy “G” which I was able to achieve with no trouble at all.]

“The song is a bit operatic and I fancy myself emulating the great Scottish singer, Kenneth McKellar, who was famous for that piece. I always get a rush of joy as it paints a majestic picture based on Revelation 21 of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” 

Solo: “The Holy City”,  Darryl Pokrant, piano accompaniment by Corey Francis. (Lyrics by Frederick E. Weatherly, Music by Michael Maybrick, writing as Stephen Adams)

    1. Last night I lay a-sleeping, there came a dream so fair, I stood in old Jerusalem beside the temple there. I heard the children singing, and ever as they sang Methought the voice of angels from heaven in answer rang, Methought the voice of angels from heaven in answer rang, Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing, Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to your King!
    2. And then methought my dream was changed, the streets no longer rang. Hushed were the glad Hosannas the little children sang. The sun grew dark with mystery, the morn was cold and chill, As the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill, As the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Hark! How the angels sing, Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to your King!
    3. And once again the scene was changed, new earth there seemed to be. I saw the Holy City beside the tideless sea. The light of God was on its streets, the gates were open wide, And all who would might enter, and no one was denied. No need of moon or stars by night, or sun to shine by day; It was the new Jerusalem that would not pass away, It was the new Jerusalem that would not pass away. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Sing for the night is o’er! Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna forevermore! Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna forevermore!

 

Prayers of Intercession & Commendation – Pastor Erik

Let us pray. Almighty God, in holy baptism you have knit your chosen people together into one communion of saints in the body of Christ. Give to your whole church in heaven and on earth your light and your peace. God of mercy,  C. hear our prayer.

Give courage and faith to all who mourn, and a sure and certain hope in your loving care, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may have strength for the days ahead. God of mercy,   C. hear our prayer.

Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that, where this world groans in grief and pain, your Holy Spirit may lead us to bear witness to your light and life. God of mercy,           C. hear our prayer.

Help us, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting. God of mercy,    C. hear our prayer.

God of all grace, we give you thanks because by his death our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed the power of death and by his resurrection he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Make us certain that because he lives we shall live also, and that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, will be able to separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.   C: Amen.

Lord’s Prayer; Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us: C: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

 

Commendation. (Pastor Erik places his hands on the urn.) Let us commend Ian to the mercy of God, our maker and redeemer:

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Ian. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.   C. Amen.

 

 

Video Presentation of Ian entertaining

1998 – Selections from the musical Brigadoon, including Ian singing “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” – Community Production: “Flin Flon Remembers,” Flin Flon, Manitoba;

2003 – Scenes from Ian & Gayle’s Wedding at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba, including Ian singing Robbie Burns’ “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” at the church reception and of Ian speaking at the evening reception/smörgåsbord at Winnipeg’s Scandinavian Centre;

2005 – Ian participating in Scottish Country Dancing during a Robbie Burns’ supper Ian hosted at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Riberas del Pilar, Mexico;

2007 – Ian and Gayle entertaining at New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay) Party, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Penticton, British Columbia, singing “Campbeltown Loch, I Wish Ye Were Whisky,” “Donald, Where’s Yer Troosers” and “Auld Lang Syne”;

2008 – Okanagan’s Mr. Scotland and His Bonnie Lassie entertaining at the Kelvern Celtic Society’s Caleidh in Vernon, British Columbia; singing “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen,” “Misty Islands o’ the Highlands” and “The Song of the Clyde”;

2006 – Ian recording “Scotland, the Brave” at a recording studio near Chapala, Mexico;

2018 – Photos of Ian and Gayle at home in Winnipeg on their 15th Wedding Anniversary with a recording of Ian singing “Come In, Come In, It’s Nice T’ See Ye.”

 

Congregational Hymn:“Amazing Grace” (words projected on the screen), accompanied by recorded bagpipes plus organ (Corey Francis) and trumpet (Janet Giese).

    1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.
    2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.
    3. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

 

Grace & Blessing– Pastor Erik

God of all mercy and grace, the eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. We give you thanks for your servant Ian, bless our conversation and fellowship, as we remember him and give you thanks.    C. Amen.

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do God’s will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in God’s sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.       C. Amen.

Postlude:“Ode to Joy”

 

Celebrating 15 Years of Marriage

Happy Anniversary to us! In the first wee hour of September 7, daughter Audrey came by after we had dressed up in our wedding finery so she could take a picture to complete the musical slideshow Gayle has been working on to document our 15 wedding anniversaries in several far-flung areas of North America.

The music is one of our favourites, Robbie Burns’ “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” which Ian sang to Gayle at our church reception following the wedding. On this slideshow the singer is Kenneth McKellar, the famous Scottish opera and concert virtuoso. If Gayle ever figures out how to isolate Ian’s rendition of the song from our wedding day video, she may one day substitute Ian’s voice for that of McKellar’s.

For the most part our anniversaries have been happy occasions celebrated first in Manitoba, then in Mexico for two years, nine years in British Columbia and now back in Manitoba for the last three years. Only our fifth anniversary photo illustrates the wedding vows “for worse … in sickness…” as that anniversary found Ian in the Intensive Care Unit at Vernon Jubilee Hospital in British Columbia having been felled into a life-threatening situation by sepsus and BOOP (bronciolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia). By the time of our anniversary he had just come out of an induced coma but was unable to talk due to a tracheostomy tube. Gayle had been visiting every day and singing to him as he slowly recovered. She couldn’t bring flowers, wine or chocolates into the ICU to celebrate their anniversary so instead substituted two appropriately decorated helium balloons. These, however, caused Ian to freak out on anniversary night when he mistook them for ghosts as they floated around above his bed, so they had to be taken away. Frightening memories for him that we can now laugh about!

We hope you enjoy a second musical slideshow of our 15th wedding anniversary to a rendition of Ian singing one of his signature Scottish tunes, “Come In, Come In, It’s Nice Tae See Ye” (written by Andy Stewart and Ian MacFayen for the White Heather Club). This is from a CD of Scottish songs Ian recorded just before we left Mexico in early 2007. We hope you’ll enjoy it.

Regarding this slideshow, we’ve really laughed at the likeness to Churchill that Ian shows on the first photo, when Ian was caught unposed. Guess he looks like Winston when he is serious. We went out for dinner late on our anniversary NOT in our wedding finery. Just getting Ian kilted up for photos was quite a task now that he is not in very good health again. It was much easier when he could do it for himself. We do love his kilted look, though, and wish he could wear it more often.

As a last chuckle, we share this photo taken a few years ago at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park when Ian was hamming it up with his “twin.” We were struck by the facial similarity to Mol’s Winston Churchill bust. Leo Mol is the professional name for renowned Ukrainian Canadian stained glass artist and sculptor Leonid Molodoshanin (1915-2009) who died in Winnipeg at age 94.

Ian and Churchill

SHARING OUR STORIES – THE SNOWMOBILE TO STRASSENBAHN SAGA

SHARING OUR STORIES – THE SNOWMOBILE TO STRASSENBAHN SAGA

We send greetings to all our readers, hoping that you have had wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations and that you will have a happy and peaceful New Year 2017. This year’s celebration has been a cozy one for us, though Ian’s health is fragile, necessitating a lot of sleeping, sometimes into late afternoons. He has to be cajoled (Gayle’s task) to get dressed and participate in some of our celebrations though he didn’t get out for church services, Gayle’s choir concert or the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s glorious performance of Nutcracker. We did host his Winnipeg family of daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren and their spouses, plus five great-grandchildren on Christmas Eve, though. Thirteen of us in our small penthouse floor apartment made the choice of the description “cozy” a true reality, but our gathering was nonetheless enjoyable. Chinese takeout and frozen pies made for a festive but easy supper. The adults and one teenager huddled in around our large dining table while the four younger kids enjoyed kneeling around their own festive coffee table. With city lights twinkling below us through our decorated windows on our 17th floor apartment, candlelight inside, festive decorations, goodie bags for all, new pjs for the kids to don, some early presents to exchange and some Christmas carol singing and dancing, we all had a great time. As a long-time percussionist, Gayle has a collection of rhythm instruments that she brought out to enhance the music from our Christmas CDs, so we could all participate in singing and making music.

 

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How enjoyable we find reading through many short stories in a favourite Christmas present: the 2016 “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthology: The Joy of Christmas: 101 Holiday Tales of Inspiration, Love, and Wonder, compiled by Amy Newmark with a foreword by “Mrs. Nicholas Claus” and highly recommend it for your holiday enrichment. We also love to re-read and recall holiday stories of our own.

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In past years we have shared several holiday stories from Ian on this blog: (Dec. 10, 2012) “Unusual Holiday Flavoured Passages from My Memoir” (including “My Non-Event Christmases of Childhood” and the New Year’s Eve story of his youngest daughter’s premature birth and how her life was saved by a bottle of Scotch whisky) and (Dec. 31, 2012) “Happy Hogmanay! Happy New Year” an excerpt from our yet-to-be-published autobiographical book “Mexican Follies.” Below pictures Ian, Gayle and our poodle Peppy in our motorhome patio in Mexico in December 2004.

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In December 2014 we blogged a spontaneous play that Gayle and her then-4-year-old daughter had originated “The Christmas Story According to Gwynne” complete with Gwynne’s original illustrations.

manger scene for Christmas story

This year Gayle wants to share her story of a unique holiday trip she and her late husband Gus Johannesson made in December 1972 from their home in Germany to visit Gayle’s family in North Dakota. She calls it “The Snowmobile to Strassenbahn Saga.” For those who don’t know German, Strassenbahn means “streetcar” or “tram.” Those who read her story will understand why Gayle is reluctant to consider any more extensive travel during the wintertime. Pictured below are Gayle’s family at the time: back row: husband Gus, Gayle, sister Barbara, niece Danelle, mother Grandma Mil, sister Doreen, nephew Todd and brother-in-law Bill; front row: nieces Billi, Lisa and Lori. Missing is brother-in-law Danny who presumably took the photo.

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The Snowmobile to Strassenbahn Saga

Gus and I had moved to Germany in summer 1965 where he began to pursue a doctorate in systematic theology at the University of Heidelberg and work part time as a civilian chaplain with the US military and I worked as a secretary for the Judge Advocate, U. S. Army, Europe and Seventh Army. By 1972, we had already spent seven Christmas/New Year’s holiday seasons in Europe, either with Gus’ aunts, uncles and cousins in Norway or with our friends in Heidelberg and were excited to finally be flying home to the States to spend the holidays with my family members.

In many ways, 1972 had been a disastrous year for us–mostly because of Gus’ health. He had lost over 30 pounds due to an illness which was finally discovered in July and had already taken four bouts of rectal surgery for abscesses and fistulas, leaving him with a lot of pain and sapped strength, all of which grossly interferred with continuing work on his doctoral dissertation. In addition, I had shattered nerves after terrorist bombs had killed three people in the barracks where I worked and our headquarters were plagued with continuing bomb scares and security precautions. Despite Gus not really feeling well, we had been able to get away to Spain in June for a few weeks’ respite touring the Moorish treasures in Grenada and then relaxing at the home of friends on the Mediterranean island of Minorca, sunning, swimming, snorkelling, exploring ocean-side caves and touring quaint fishing villages with Gus doing a lot of napping. However, returning to Germany and our daily routines led to more stress and, for Gus, the string of surgeries. We were really anxious to get away from it all and back to family and a traditional holiday at “home.”

In December, after several days with friends and attending to business in Chicago and Minneapolis, we flew on to North Dakota, spent some time with each of my two sisters and their families and then finally took a bus from Fargo to my mother’s home in New Rockford (middle of the state). We had a few relaxing days alone with Mom before the rest of the family arrived for Christmas. Here’s Mom (Grandma Mil) and Gus on one of our walks.

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It was wonderful for me to bask in the smells and flavours of the traditional Swedish-American Christmas of my childhood. Picking out and decorating the live Christmas tree, stringing coloured lights, putting up the manger scene we had sent Mom from Germany,

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singing melodious carols in English, Swedish and Norwegian, helping Mom to bake spritz cookies, sandbakelse, krumkake, Julekake, pepparkakor, and Swedish almond bars (from my grandmother’s recipe brought from Sweden), buying and wrapping gifts, preparing turkey, ham, Swedish meatballs and even Lutefisk (though I still didn’t like it, but good-old-Gus sure did!).

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Gus and I got away a few times for walks alone. The photo above shows us posing on the frozen James River, not far from Mom’s two-bedroom apartment in a four-plex right across from the church where I had spent so much of my childhood. (I had been shocked when we first moved to Heidelberg to find out that the Neckar River there usually stayed open all winter long, only having frozen up once during the Twentieth Century, right after World War II.)

Once my sisters and their husbands and children had arrived, we were a family of 12. One sister had married a local boy so those five could overnight at his parents’ house just a few blocks away. However, my other sister’s family of four stayed at Mom’s, as did we. She and her husband slept in the living room on the couch bed but their two little ones got to sleep with Grandma Mil. Gus and I, as the “honoured guests from across the Atlantic,” got the guest room. This was fortunate as I had to be the nurse who cleaned his open (rectal) wound several times a day. (Surgery in that area has to heal from the inside out without any stitching.) It was a bit difficult to maintain much privacy, however, especially with five little ones underfoot. We got the biggest laugh of the holiday one evening when our two-year-old niece came out of the bathroom wearing two long “q-tips” (that I’d previously used to probe the wound and thought I had disposed of discreetly), one in each ear!!! (Even now in her late forties, she doesn’t appreciate the humour when reminded of the situation.)

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Other laughter was more pleasant, while unwrapping gifts, joyously sharing the Christmas story, telling the little ones of Jesus’ birth, singing, eating, going to church, playing games, taking walks in the snow, shopping and loving being together. Billi, Lori and Todd even got in some ice skating time. billi-lori-todd-skating-1972How wonderful for me to be at worship services in our home church again, sitting with my sisters and singing all those beautiful carols in three-part harmony as we had always done in the past. We revelled in a sunny, snowy North Dakota winter (coming back to a gray, rainy Heidelberg winter seemed a bit of a drag). With five small grandchildren, three daughters and three sons-in-law under foot for a week, Mom (“Grandma Mil” was then in her late 60s) stood up surprisingly well. Here’s Uncle Gus taking nieces Lisa and Lori for a walk. Our church, First Lutheran Church of New Rockford, is in the background at the left and part of the school I attended through Grade 12 is in the background at right centre.

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After our week together my sisters and their families drove back to their homes further east and we had another couple of days resting at Mom’s. Then came the start of our return trip, which I’ve named the “Snowmobile to Strassenbahn Saga.” The trip started with a wild bus ride in a near-blizzard to Fargo. This is usually a three-hour drive and took about twice that long. We were met by my sister Doreen and driven to her house in Fargo’s twin city of Moorhead, Minnesota.

Instead of flying out the next day we had a day’s delay caused by full-blown blizzard conditions which closed down the airport, plus everything else in the twin towns. We were to have flown from Fargo to Minneapolis and then on to Chicago where we were catching our international flight (a military charter airline from Chicago via New York to Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany). Listening to the radio, we learned that there was still a possibility of our getting out of town to meet our plane. The Great Northern railroad had a train plowing its way from Montana and across North Dakota, due in at 1 a.m. The only problem was that we couldn’t get to the depot (in Fargo, about five miles away from my sister’s house in Moorhead). My sister’s car was buried under layers of snow and, anyway, the roads were not passable. Fooling around in the snow in front of their house was about all we could do.

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Absolutely nothing was moving … but snowmobiles. Gus had heard on the radio that emergency snowmobiles were evacuating people. He figured that we qualified for an emergency since we had to meet a “military flight” in Chicago the next day. He called, explained our situation and we were granted clearance from the city police. To my two little nieces’ delight and my terror, we were picked up by two snowmobilers at midnight. Gus and I rode behind one snowmobiler; the other one carried all our luggage. There we went, over the (Red) river, through the woods and over 18 inches of snow, not to mention four to five feet of snowdrifts to Fargo’s train station. I hung on for dear life and had visions of falling off all the way; but we made it, only to have a long delay. The train arrived three hours late, struggling across North Dakota with a snowplow on the engine. I was too flustered by the whole situation to get any photos at the time.

So at 4:00 a.m. we boarded the train. Delay continued to be the motto of the trip, however. We missed our first plane connection from Minneapolis to Chicago and barely squeezed onto the last possible one, making connections at the Chicago Airport five minutes before we were to report in for our charter flight. Luckily, we had friends in Chicago that met us at the airport and got us from the domestic to the international departure area in record time. Had we been on our own, we never would have made it in time. We were delayed an hour getting out of Chicago, had to circle New York for two hours because of fog, were delayed in New York because of waiting for other passengers who were late in coming in from connecting flights, made an unscheduled landing in Shannon, Ireland (we never did hear why) and finally landed in Frankfurt six hours later than scheduled.

Once at the Frankfurt airport, we had to take the subway into the city’s train station, then take the train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg (an hour away) and then the Strassenbahn (streetcar) to our stop on Rohrbacherstrasse and walk a block to our apartment on Turnerstrasse. So – bus to car to snowmobile to train to airplane to another airplane to subway to train to streetcar to foot – and we were finally home. (I think we had just about every mode of transportation but ship and dog sled.) It was time for a long winter’s nap – well, at least two day’s worth – before I had to get back to work and Gus to start cracking the books again … then surgery again. He had 16 surgeries in all over a five-year period before the problem finally resolved itself. I ended my Christmas/New Year’s letter that year with the following: “Neither of us has ever had a great deal of patience, but we’ve had to develop it lately. Once one gets through the inevitable periods of despair and self-pity and gets back to the basic trust in God’s presence and strength, things look better. So, we’re hoping for a year of fulfillment and health – and wish you all the blessings of our Lord for the New Year.”

Previewing “Twitterpated” As We Celebrate Our Wedding Anniversary

Previewing “Twitterpated” As We Celebrate Our Wedding Anniversary

We’ve just closed a nostalgic celebration of our 13th wedding anniversary with a return to the site where we met in June 2003 at Grace Café on north Henderson Highway in Winnipeg. Though we were seniors then, we are even “more senior” today and Ian is no where near as spry nor talkative as he used to be. In fact, due to mild cognitive impairment, he has forgotten so much of our story that we are super grateful that he shared his memories in writing while he still could. Most of his next memoir, Came to Canada, Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrant’s Story was written by 2007, but it hasn’t yet been published. Gayle is presently editing the memoir (and embellishing it here and there as she finds gaps and inconsistencies). She is plugging along as fast as her care giving duties permit. In the meantime, she read parts of the memoir’s last chapter to Ian this afternoon before we drove north to have a lovely meal at our “meeting place.”

Perhaps readers of this blog will enjoy a preview of selected excerpts from  Came to Canada, Eh?‘s chapter entitled “Twitterpated.”

To set the scene, Ian who was widowed in 2002, has decided at age 70 not to sit around and mope but to enjoy life and pursue the dating scene again after almost a 50-year hiatus. He joins a senior’s centre and dances up a storm, dates a few women he has met there and finally has a few unsatisfying encounters through an online dating organization. Then things change when Gayle enters into his life.

Then I thought I’d go for broke and sent a smile to a much younger widow (age 60) who was “religious,” had a professional position and was interested in music, reading, writing, travel, good wine, fine dining, history, conversation, and a lot of other things that interested me. We exchanged a few e-mails, thought we’d be quite compatible and then arranged to meet at a place she suggested. I had originally thought her name was Irene, as that was the handle she used on Lavalife. Just before we were to meet she disclosed that “Irene” was her middle name and that she really was called “Gayle.” While I was sitting in Grace Café, a Christian coffee house at the north part of Henderson Highway, I was kidding around with one of the waitresses. I knew right away when “my Gayle” walked in, even though I’d never seen a photo of her. Just as if this were a casual encounter, Gayle joined in on the chit-chat with the waitress and I, just as casually, invited her to join me.

I told Gayle I’d never been in this coffee house before and asked if she had a recommendation for something good that I could order. She replied, “Why don’t you try a chia tea latte?” (I think I could have drunk anything this very good-looking woman suggested and found it delicious!)

During our ensuing non-stop conversation, I found out that she was the editor of a Christian women’s magazine. (Hey, every writer needs his own editor, doesn’t he?) She seemed intrigued with my accent and asked me lots of questions about Scotland, indicating that her heritage on her father’s side was mostly Scottish. She told me that her maiden name was “Moore” but that she knew little about her father’s background as he had pretty much adapted to the Swedish environment of her mother’s side. She was born and raised in North Dakota (was American, in other words), had a bachelor’s degree in psychology and religion and served as a Lutheran parish worker before marrying her husband, Gus, who was a Lutheran pastor. They had lived 18 years in Germany where Gus was in graduate school and then served as a parish pastor. Then they moved to Winnipeg where he served a Lutheran church before taking an early retirement at age 58 due to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He had died six years previously at age 62. Presently her two children, a daughter, 26, and son, 21, still lived at home with her.

We ended up closing the café and going in search of somewhere else to continue getting acquainted. We did find another one (Salisbury House), and spent more than an hour and a half there.

I asked Gayle if I could see her “tomorrow night,” and heard her say, “Well, I’m busy tomorrow night…” (just what I was expecting), but was delighted to then hear her say, “But I’m free on Friday.”

~*~

Friday couldn’t have come soon enough for me! We went for a walk along a beautiful creek meandering into the Red River, took pictures of each other and then drove to the Forks and had dinner. We continued to talk and talk and talk.

The next night I invited her to my house to watch a film. (I spent the day cleaning things up–my housekeeping hadn’t been the best up to that point!) The movie I chose was one I had recorded some years before, a Scottish film entitled, “The Bridal Path.” This is a film that Gayle loves to watch nowadays but at the time she said she was really in the dark–could hardly understand a word of the Scottish accent!

Our snogging after the film certainly convinced me that I was head over heels in love and Gayle seemed just as intrigued with me. (Wow, and she didn’t think I was in kindergarten!!!! Interesting how one can act so naturally with some prospective partners and so awkward with others. )

So “here’s us” (I had to get that Scottishism in), two seniors, both widowed, who felt and acted like teenagers and couldn’t have been more thrilled or surprised by it all. Gayle pronounced us both “twitterpated.” She had to explain that one to me, as I had never seen the movie “Bambi” and so didn’t know the story of the two fauns, Bambi and Fayeleen, completely taken with their newly discovered passion and the rabbit Thumper teasing them about being twitterpated. Later I looked up the word online. Here are the definitions:

“1)to be completely enamored with someone/something. 2) the flighty exciting feeling you get when you think about/see the object of your affection. 3) romantically excited (i.e.: aroused) 4) the ever increasing acceleration of heartbeat and body temperature as a result of being engulfed amidst the exhilaration and joy of being/having a romantic entity in someone’s life.”[1] Whew! I’ll buy that; very appropriate word!

~*~

By Sunday, on our fourth date, I couldn’t wait any longer: I proposed! (We both had quickly realized we’d met our “soul mate” and this was a concept I’d poo-pooed for years. Now I understood what it meant!) Gayle immediately said, “yes! I couldn’t have been happier.

The next day my bubble burst, however. Gayle e-mailed me from work. I had sent her something with an attachment and she e-mailed back that she had just realized we weren’t compatible (no more explanation)! I got on the phone and called her office, completely upset. She then laughed and apologized for upsetting me but said that we weren’t compatible because she couldn’t open my attachment–she had a Mac and I had a PC! Then she said that we’d need to have a serious discussion that night. That left me on pins and needles waiting to see what was up.

That evening she explained that she had confided in a good friend, their secretary at work, who had been appalled that she had agreed to marry me after knowing me for only about a week. Gayle said that her friend felt she had to slow things down and withdraw her acceptance of my proposal “for the time being” as we really needed to take a little more time to get to know each other better.

My reaction was, “Okay, I’m not happy about this but I’ll go along with it if that’s what you want. I have just one thing more to say, however. If you decide you want to marry me in the future, you are going to have to ask me. I won’t do it again!”

I’m happy to say that it only took her another week before she proposed to me! And this is how it happened. We had been talking about our mutual talents for writing. I had told her the story of agonizing over the birthday poem I’d written for Mary for her 60th birthday and that Mary hadn’t really appreciated it. Gayle replied that she dearly would have loved to receive such a poem written just for her. In fact, she said, she’d love to receive a love letter from me.

Well, I pulled out all stops the next day and composed a doozy–most of which is a bit too personal (and steamy) to quote here. I’ll just include the conclusion, “I love you; I love you; I love you. Without you I would be nothing. The one thing I know for certain is that we were meant to be with each other. I’m sure you’ll agree that this love of ours has been manufactured by One who cares for both of us, that it was He who made the introduction, then left it for us to make it work. Till we are together again, from your own WEE (I hope ‘adorable’) Scotsman, who worships the very ground you walk on. IAN XXXXXXX———OH GAYLE, MY DARLING, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS!” And I meant every word of it.

A return e-mail shot back indicating that the love letter had worked its magic. Gayle worded her “proposal” in “code,” however. It was something like, “Would you consider joining our two names when we get married (sooner rather than later) to something like “Moore-Morrans?”

Well, I couldn’t reply quickly enough, “I don’t care what name we use, as long as you’ll marry me!” In retrospect, I’d even have dropped “Morrans” and just taken the last name “Moore.” But I didn’t think of that at the time and, anyway, Gayle likes the double-barreled name, which I still find a bit “highfalutin’!”

~*~

The week after we met Gayle invited me to attend worship services at her Lutheran church where she was actually going to deliver the sermon as part of an Evangelical Lutheran Women’s annual service that was one of the programs that Gayle was responsible for at her job. I was intrigued by her obvious talents and curious about the type of service in her particular denomination. This also gave me a unique glimpse into Gayle’s sense of self confidence and “moxey” when, after the service a woman I had got to know at the seniors’ dances came up to me with a quizzical look on her face saying, “What are you doing here, Ian?” She seemed genuinely surprised to find out I was a guest of Gayle’s. Turning to Gayle, she boldly asked, “How long have you been dating Ian?” Gayle’s answer? “None of your business!” (I loved it!)

We had been together every day for about a month, usually at my house where we would have some privacy as her almost-grown children still lived with her. We reluctantly departed late each night as Gayle returned to her home.. . . .

Gayle and I had decided to have a traditional Scottish wedding. Since my Prince Charlie jacket was gone, I needed to get a new formal jacket to go with the kilt. It seemed appropriate to order an Argyll jacket since I’m originally from Country Argyll and the handle I had used when Gayle and I were hooking up on Lava Life was “Argyll.” I located a Scottish-Canadian who had a Scottish shop in the basement of his house. Gayle and I went to his shop so that I could order and be fitted for this jacket which is slightly less formal than the Prince Charlie jacket but which is more versatile, in other words it can be formal, semi-formal or informal depending on the type of shirt, tie and waistcoat one wears with it. It doesn’t have tails and is a longer jacket which has silvery (nickel-plated) Celtic-design buttons on the sleeves and front.

As the shop owner measured me for the jacket he made the remark, “Man, are you ever a Pict!”

Surprised, we both asked, “What do you mean?” I knew that the Morrans family had originally come to Campbeltown from Northern Ireland (my great-great-grandfather). In other words, my family heritage was Celtic. However, they had been in Scotland for several generations so had intermarried with families whose origins might have been in Scotland many centuries. The Picts were the original tribe of people who had populated what eventually became Scotland.

His answer was: “The Celts and the Picts had different body types. You can tell someone of Pictish heritage by the short legs but inproportionately longer torso and arms. That fits you to a tee, Ian.”

So there you have it; I was a Pict more than a Celt. I’m not sure that this has made much difference to me, but it certainly describes why all my trousers have to be shortened to 28 inch-length, but my shirts and jackets are normal length. The Scottish tailor who made my Argyll jacket and mailed it to Canada did a great job. I added a formal tuxedo shirt and black bowtie to complete the outfit. My sealskin sporran, sgian dbuh, green flashes, formal white stockings and black brogues completed the outfit.

Gayle went across from her office on Portage Avenue to a fancy bridal shop. She originally had in mind to buy a red gown to match my red tartan kilt. However, a magnificent, gold lace wedding dress caught her eye. When she insisted I come over to see her in it (and hang tradition), I saw that she was beautiful in it. It suited her to a tee! (I surprised myself by insisting on paying for it; though I still cringe thinking of the thousand dollars it cost! That was pretty painful for this Scotsman!)

We were married on September 7, 2003 at Gayle’s church, Sherwood Park Lutheran, in the East Kildonan area of Winnipeg. Our attendants were friends, Stan  (a Scottish-born Canadian with whom I played in a band at one time) and Alexi  (a lovely friend of Gayle’s). Stan wore a rented kilt and sporran. Alexi wore Gayle’s long kilt skirt and matching cape which she’d bought in Scotland years before.

Gayle likes to relate our preparation for the wedding at her house on Battershill Street. She and Alexi had been treated to a professional make-up session by my oldest granddaughter, Tammy, a makeup artist. Then they got dressed in the master bedroom while Stan and I donned our kilt outfits in the den across the hall. Soon the women heard singing and stomping from the hallway and came out of the bedroom to view a “parade.” Stan and I were marching up and down the hallway singing,

I’ll never forget the day I went and join’d the ‘Ninety third’

The chums I used to run with said they thought I look’d absurd.

As they saluted me, and gather’d round me in a ring,

And as I wagg’d my tartan kilt they a’ began to sing –

He’s a braw braw Hielan’ laddie, Private Jock McDade.

There’s not anither soger like him in the Scotch Brigade.

Rear’d amang the heather, you can see he’s Scottish built,

By the wig, wig, wiggle, wiggle, waggle o’ the kilt.[2]

Calan and Ian, my two grandsons, were ushers; my granddaughters, Tammy and Ainsley were punch servers at the church reception and granddaughter Tiffany presided at the guest book. Our three daughters participated as well. Audrey and Gwynne read the lessons during the church service and Shirley was emcee at the evening reception. All three served as hostesses for the church reception.

We were piped out of the church by a young lass of 15 years to an afternoon reception in the lower church hall with lots of friends and family present. During the festivities, I sang Gayle a Scottish song which she delights to hear any evening we do a little bit of singing.

“Oh, my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.

Oh, my love is like a melody that’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, so deep in love am I;

And I will love thee still, my Dear, ‘til a’ the seas gang dry.

‘Til all the seas gang dry, my Dear, and the rocks melt wi’ the sun.

And I will love thee still, my Dear, while the sands o’ time shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Love! And fare-thee-weel, a while!

And I will come again, my Love, tho’ ‘twere ten thousand mile!”[3]

This was followed by a smaller reception for family and a few close friends in the Scandinavian Centre. (Gayle likes to keep her Scandinavian roots alive!) That night was a howling success. We had a delicious smörgåsbord (gotta get in those Swedish vowels or Gayle will correct me!) meal and then lots of music provided by friends and family.

To Gayle I sang, “Cailinn Mo Ruin-sa,” a beautiful Gaelic song. Some of the verses (in English) go like this:

“Dearest my own one, oh won’t you be mine,

Full of devotion, so modest and kind,

My heart’s full of longing and yearning for you,

Come close to me darling, you know I’ll be true.”

(I rewrote and combined parts of the next verses to reflect “our story”)

Do you remember when in Grace Cafe

I made your acquaintance on that perfect day,

Since then you are mine dear, the choice of my heart,

My promise I give you that we’ll never part.”[4]

 

Gayle and I concluded the reception by singing a duet, “September Song:”

“Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December,

But the days grow short when you reach September.

As the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,

One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.

Oh the days dwindle down, to a precious few–September, November.

And these few precious days, I’ll spend with you.

These precious days, I’ll spend with you.”[5]

This seemed appropriate because we were both “seniors” and Gayle had eventually come around to accept the fact that I was ten and a half years older. She said her late husband had been eight years older than her and she had always said if she ever married again it would be to someone younger than her! Then along came Ian, aged 71 to her 60 years. I made a promise to her then and there that I would live to be 100. I said when my 100th birthday came and I was interviewed by the press as to the secret of my longevity, I’d reply, while leaning on my cane, “SEX, every day; twice on Sunday!”

[1] Definition of “twitterpated” from the Urban Dictionary.

[2] First verse and chorus of Harry Lauder’s “Waggle o’ the Kilt,” written in 1917.

[3] “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” was written by the Scottish bard, Robbie Burns, over two hundred and fifty years ago.

[4] Traditional Gaelic song to a waltz tempo.

[5] “September Song” composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. Wikipedia describes it as “an older person’s plea to a younger potential lover that the courting activities of younger suitors and the objects of their desire are transient and time-wasting. As an older suitor, the speaker hasn’t ‘got time for the waiting game.’”

–Previews from Came to Canada, Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrant’s Story by Ian Moore-Morrans with Gayle Moore-Morrans, ©2016

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September 7, 2003

DECORATING OUR “FOREVERMORE HOME” WITH PICTURES AND MEMORABILIA

After two and a half months getting settled in what we have come to refer to as our “Forevermore Home” (or should that be “Forevermoore”? Nah, it leaves out the “Morrans” part of our name), Gayle is finally posting about what some of our friends and neighbours have started calling “the MM Gallery.” You see, we have made 10 moves in our almost 13 years of marriage and we’ve started saying the only way we will move again is if we are taken out in coffins or to a nursing home. At ages 73 and 84, and with Ian’s not-so-good health, we are planning to stay put “forevermore.” We moved last summer half way across Canada to a downtown senior’s high-rise apartment building in Winnipeg but to a too-small apartment as that was all that was available at the time. On June 1st this year we moved “up in the world” to the penthouse floor (17th) to a bit larger apartment with a fabulous view of the city and sky. After cleaning out a rental storage area and (again) downsizing some things that we have given away to family members and the Sally Ann Thrift Shop, we have finally found room for all those pictures and memorabilia that we’ve decided we just don’t want to part with. That leaves us living in the “MM Gallery.”

Hallway-Memorabilia Plaque.JPG

The above-pictured plaque is a feature of our hallway wall and poetically expresses our sentiments about the type of decorating we have in our Forevermore Home.

One of Gayle’s hobbies is combing used book stores for unusual books that mirror her interests. Some years ago she came across a book entitled “Decorating With Pictures” (© 1991 by Stephanie Hoppen, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York).

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Hoppen’s text and pictorial examples couldn’t have matched any more perfectly Gayle’s natural inclinations to decorate with lots of colour and gusto. Reading the book and looking at the many and various examples of rooms full of a “wonderful kaleidoscope of colors and textures” were a true inspiration and vindication. Now, in our Forevermore Home nothing is going to be stored away for use “some day”; we are going to use things or get rid of them. Like Hoppen, we believe “pictures are the soul of a house.” Some people may remark that our home looks “busy” or “overwhelming”; but we have persisted in celebrating those items of artwork and memorabilia that we have collected over the years. We continually delight in relishing the displays on a daily basis. How great it was, then, to read Hoppen’s statement, “I love lots of pictures. I love mixing different media and different subject matter. I love framing some identically, some differently, and I love the effect that simply regrouping or reframing a collection of pictures can have on a room. A collection of pictures takes time to amass, time to evolve, and is ever-changing as new pictures come and old ones are reframed and rehung. It is a living, growing thing but don’t be frightened by it. Use it, tame it, tailor it to your own likes and needs.”

Here are some samples of the lavishly-laden walls, shelves and windows in our apartment:

Balcony Monkey, Parrot & SombreroBalcony Southeast CornerBalcony Window View 2Balcony window viewBalcony-Calla Lily & Sunflower artBalcony-Mexican Mask, Embroidery & WeavingBedroom Music WallBedroom North WallBedroom Southeast Corner into EnsuiteBedroom-Ian and Gayle musicmaking photosDen East WallDen-Bookshelf WallDen-north wallDining Room Watercolour Peonies and Ceramic ButterliesDining Room-Artwork - Oil, Lithograph, Silkscreen, etched candles, crystal stemware and decantersHalf-bathHallway looking southHallway to Den - Macrame HangingHallway-Family baptismal photosHallway-Family photosHallway-German and Alsatian picturesHallway-Ian's book promotionsHallway-Scandanavian and Scottish greeting shelfHallway-Scottish GalleryHallway-Scottish Swords and Shields plus Horses' BrassesHallway-Wedding and Ethnic PicturesKitchen-Egg Coddlers, Swedish shelf, Austrian and Scottish pot holders, cow bellKitchen-Rosemaled Canisters and Dalarna Hest, Swedish ClothKitchen-Slovakian, Norwegian and German Plaques, Swedish Dalarna Hesten, German and Norwegian doll pot holdersLiving Room Northwest CornerLiving Room West WallLiving Room Window View and Stained GlassLiving:Dining Room Northeast Corner

The particular tastes in memorabilia that we have chosen to celebrate are as follows:

For Ian: Anything Scottish, such as swords, shields, bagpipes, kilts, tartans, crystal bells and whisky decanters; items associated with his avocation of music-making; memorabilia from his profession as a machinist, such as metalwork, coins and vintage model automobiles; reminders of his early apprenticeship as a blacksmith, such as figures of horses, horses’ brasses and smithing; animal pictures and figures.

For Gayle: Folkart of many countries, particularly the Scandinavian and North Dakota traditions to which she was exposed from childhood and the German and other European traditions she encountered in her early adult years; percussion instruments; flower displays, vases and unique flower pots; embroidered, macraméd, rosemaled and appliqued items; crystal and porcelain; handmade pottery; original oil, watercolour or acrylic paintings; lithographs and copies of medieval manuscripts; religious artwork; German wood carvings.

Jointly: Family photographs including baby and childhood photos; group photos; graduation and wedding pictures. Items from our over-two years’ living in Mexico and from our shared interest in depictions of birds from stained glass to paintings to needlework to figurines.

Perhaps these will be subjects for in-depth postings in the future.

We’ll close with the house blessing made for Gayle years ago by Pam, a dear friend.

Hallway-House Blessing Plaque

 

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

AN APRIL SWIM IN PARADISE

Gayle is experiencing a nostalgic evening and needing a break from visiting Ian in hospital (he is recovering well from two mini-strokes or transient aschemic attacks three days ago), preparing for a Saturday moving sale in our garage and back yard and trying to pack a few boxes a day in preparation for our move in May. (Any semblance of having a routine day has vanished for the time being, yet she feels compelled to do a long-overdue post on this blog.) We have sold our house in Vernon, British Columbia, actually move out in three weeks (on May 11th), will have our household stuff put into storage and move in with friends for about 10 days before heading east to Manitoba where we hope to settle once a life-lease apartment (for which we have been on a waiting list) comes available – hopefully by June or July. In the meantime, we plan to drive to northern Manitoba to deliver our dog, Misty, to her new parents, daughter Shirley and son-in-law Brien, visit for awhile and then head south to Winnipeg where we plan to settle. In a way it will be like coming home as that is the city in which we met and married almost 13 years ago.

Nostalgia has been brought on by our choosing to sell some of our Mexican treasures that we accumulated when we maintained a home in Mexico (November 2004-May 2007, with yearly trips back to Manitoba to retain our Canadian residency). It is now early spring here in British Columbia with tulips, magnolias, daffodils, lilacs and fruit trees in full bloom, and still the end of winter in Manitoba. In contrast our first April in Mexico was glorious with a warm, full-blown spring, as we moved from our motorhome into a rental house in Chapala Haciendas, a suburb of Chapala in the mountains of central Mexico on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. Here we became acquainted with new types of flowering plants and trees, a much earlier and warmer spring than either of us had ever experienced and an exotic atmosphere that led to a charmed fascination with all the new experiences we were enjoying. Though Gayle got fully acquainted with Location Writing last summer, now that we think about it, the following piece was an even earlier occasion for Location Writing. Our rental house was a one-and-a-half story brick house, inside and out. We mostly lived on the front veranda and garden surrounding the swimming pool which took up most of the front lawn. You will notice that Gayle refers to Ian as “Scotty,” the name he chose to be known by during our Mexican sojourn. We will start with a slide show to illustrate her story.

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AN APRIL SWIM IN PARADISE

by Gayle Moore-Morrans

With the sun’s rays a bit deflected as the clock nears four, it is finally time for my daily rendezvous with my beloved new pool. I don my orange flowered swimsuit to contrast with the turquoise pool walls and lavish on some sunscreen. My swim shoes await me at the brick steps that surround our upstairs bathtub; but first I need to shake them out in case any wee scorpion has decided to take refugee in one of them. (Thankfully, one hasn’t.) Grabbing my sunglasses and a towel from the clothesline downstairs, I descend from the terrace to the front lawn and down the steps into the pool. Scotty, my husband, has already moved the solar blanket off the water, skimmed the water’s surface with the pool net and turned on the pump so the water is shimmering fresh and turquoise in the sunlight.

My routine begins – ten laps along the length of the pool. Not too impressive when you think the pool is only 16 feet long, but that’s all my metal-laden bones can handle. With a humerus supported inside by a titanium rod, an artificial knee and an ankle held together by plates and screws, I’m proud to be able to do that much kicking and stroking. Then its time to whip out my trusty foam noodles – one fuchsia and one chartreuse. Without them, my pool time would be shorter and much less fun. Spanish practice comes next – cientos agua (100 water) sit-ups with the noodles’ assistance. When I started five months ago I kept track of my sit-ups while counting from uno to diez (1-10) in Spanish, over and over until the counting became rote. Then I graduated to the teens – onze, doze, treze, quatorze, quince, dieseseis, etc. Now its second nature to get from uno to cien (100) and beyond.

Sit-ups done, it’s time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Fronting the built-into-the-hill pool is a brick wall which I peer over to enjoy the panorama in front of the house. A bright red-headed-and-breasted bird sits on his usual perch on our car window where he visits with and pecks at his reflection. Then he flies to the front gate leading to our driveway, on to the bodega (gardener’s shed) and finally into one of the towering jacaranda trees lining the street. I admire those graceful trees, profuse now in all their springtime glory, blanketed with large grapelike clusters of tiny, light purple trumpet-shaped flowers, their fernlike leaves just beginning to appear.

Beyond the street our hill continues descending into a valley dotted with houses peeping out from swatches of purple from more jacarandas and the dark green of pine and fichus trees. Then the heavily wooded mountains loom at the horizon, still brown from their winter rest but beginning to show patches of green with the promise of an emerald blanket once the rainy season begins in June. Towering over the highest peak is a cluster of telecommunications towers and a clear blue sky broken only by a fading jet stream.

Now my attention turns to my immediate surroundings. Several “critters” attempt to share the pool with me. A few days ago when I first started down the pool steps, I jumped at the sight of a two-inch long scorpion floating by. He (or she) wasn’t alive, though, so I relaxed and watched it sink to the bottom of the pool. Today I decide to check the drain pail at the far end of the pool and, sure enough, “Scorpi” has been drawn into it by the action of the pump. (I ask Scotty to take it out and let it dry so we can add it to the collection of dead scorpions I’m planning to take as souvenirs to my son in Canada.) Another of my more unpleasant swimming companions is the “helicopter-wasps” who buzz around my head from time to time. I’m not sure of their scientific name, but Scotty has given them the helicopter handle because they seem to have revolving antenna on top and long legs that hang down when they are flying, resembling landing gear. (Luckily, they don’t seem to be interested in stinging me, except for the one that got caught in my towel when I was drying myself the other day. The cool water sure felt good on that sting.)

I prefer more pleasant pool companions, although they don’t seem to fare too well in the water. Lovely dragonflies flitter along above me, the occasional one getting too close to the water. As its wings get waterlogged, it struggles to free itself, just getting wetter and in danger of drowning. I come to the rescue, picking it up along with a handful of water and gently toss it to the brick edge of the pool. Its struggles lessen as it feels the solid wall beneath it, but its wings are still too waterlogged to fly. I watch to see how it is drying out and, when the drying seems to take excessively long, swim over to it and gently blow on the wings. Before long, the lovely insect seems to shake itself, flex its wings and take off for another flight. It’s not the only reckless flyer, however; before long I’ve got three other dragonflies recovering on the sides of the pool wall.

Peppy, our wee poodle, strolls down from the terrace to sniff around the pool and watch my antics. I try to coax him in for a swim, but he’s not interested. He’s joined me swimming in a lake in Canada, but I think the steps into the pool are a bit daunting for him. Or maybe he’s decided he’s just too old to swim or, like Scotty, thinks that the water is too cold.

My last daily routine includes floating around on the noodles, exercising my arms and “bicycling” with my legs while checking on the growth and beauty of the plants and trees in the yard surrounding the pool. Two fan palms on the south side provide a lovely bit of shade and an ever-interesting view of their delightful crisscross patterned trunk made from the scars of palm fronds long ago wilted and cut away. I continue to be appalled at the sloppy job the landlady’s son did while painting the pool – the turquoise paint somehow made its way over to the palm trunk, strangely colouring some of those crisscrosses. Surrounding the palms are eight-to-ten-foot tall poinsettia trees, rather scrawny now that their winter blooms have faded and most of the leaves have dropped. They’ll need severe pruning before long, having earned a bit of rest before those barren stalks again produce profuse red, pale pink or white flowers ready for another Christmas. I remember that they are native to Mexico and have a most apt name in Spanish – flor de nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower). I also love to think of the large scarlet poinsettia blooms that covered about a mile of cobble-stoned streets last December when we watched a village parade in honour of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint.

After the poinsettias, a number of very strange looking “skeletons” line the walk going around the south side of our house. These trees are called “frangipani” in English, but in Spanish are known as flor de mayo or mayflower trees. At present they look a bit like giant saguaro cacti with their barren arms sticking out and up, except that they don’t have spikes and their fat leafless stalks are a dull gray colour. I’ve noticed that the ends of each stalk have begun to produce a deep dull reddish and spiky growth, several of which have turned into a circlet of long green leaves with small buds in the center. Apparently, by May these buds will open into delicate, fragrant clusters of small four-petaled pink or white flowers that are often formed into leis. It’s hard to imagine that such an ugly tree will turn into a celebrated beauty in just a few short weeks.

Swimming into the southeast corner, I gaze at the fascinating banana trees. Though rather young and thus not very high yet, one of the trunks has produced a huge, full-grown dull red flower whose large top and bottom petals are slowly curling open, little by little each day. Several days ago the inside of this flower revealed small teeth-like protrusions which have been very gradually turning into larger rows of “teeth” and now today the top row has begun to look like teeny green bananas. I know they will eventually become larger hard green bananas and finally ripe light green and then softer yellow fruits. Surprisingly, the huge bunch of bananas that is finally formed doesn’t hang down as I supposed; instead, it proudly “hangs” upward, just waiting for the picking. Every few days, I ask Scotty to get the camera and record the progress of the flower as it gradually turns into fruit.

Across the cobblestone driveway on the west side of the pool, I enjoy the shade of a towering fichus tree with its huge, gnarled trunk and large, exposed upper roots surrounding several hills of ant debris and a crowded pot of peace lilies which I’m planning to divide into two pots, claiming one for my own. On either side of the fichus, vibrantly-colored bougainvillea vines climb the fence and twine their way into the trees, cascading with lush flashes of purple, violet, crimson, orange, gold, fuchsia, pink, rose and white. Several beds of brilliant, scarlet lilies complete the scene.

After an hour in the water, I’m suddenly feeling a bit cold but do another couple of laps before calling it quits. My swim completed, I climb the steps and take a seat to dry off and warm up in the fading hour of sunlight. My eyes linger on the pots of fragrant blooming rose bushes and flamboyant orange, blue and yellow tufted bird-of-paradise plants that I’ve planted along the brick path around the pool and then onto the lush potted ferns and geraniums along the terrace. This surrounding beauty captivates me anew each day. If April is this gorgeous, I anxiously await the wonders that May and June will bring to my daily dip in this Mexican paradise.