FINALLY: A BOOK LAUNCH!!!! Co-Author/Editor Gayle Moore-Morrans celebrated as she launched Moomor Publishings’ latest book on the Amenities Floor at FRED DOUGLAS PLACE, her seniors’ residence in Winnipeg, on September 10, 2021, almost 11 months after the book had first been published. Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, it had not been possible to have an in-person launch for the book until then. There was a good turnout of residents eager to hear about Gayle’s insights (some of them had already purchased and read the book in months past), an interview of Gayle as co-author/editor, a book signing/sale and a chance to watch a video of Ian reading a story from the book, plus a number of videos of him singing as a Scottish entertainer in years past. More book readings are being planned: A zoom presentation across all five Canadian time zones, sponsored by the Facebook Group LUTHERAN WOMEN CONNECTING on November 6th at 3 p.m. Central Time (plans are to record the presentation for later sharing online) and a live presentation for members of the ROBERT BURNS CLUB OF WINNIPEG on November 20th.
Reviews of Came To Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad, by Ian Moore-Morrans with Gayle Moore-Morrans
From James Osborne, author of Amazon #1 bestseller, The Ultimate Threat:
“Came to Canada, Eh? is a brilliant and beautifully told story of the journey through life by a newcomer to Canada, at once both candidly disarming and brutally honest. This book is an important contribution to Canadian heritage.”
From Charles H. Cameron CD, Past President, Robert Burns Club of Winnipeg:
“Mr. Ian Moore-Morrans, in my humble opinion, reminds me so much of aPoet/Song writer in Scotland, each travelling the countryside in search of employment and happiness to better his life and that of his family. A paraphrase of Robert Burns’ poem, Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin could aptly describe Ian’s story: “Ian was a rovin’ boy, Rantin’, rovin’, rantin’, rovin’, Ian was a rovin’ boy, Rantin’, rovin’ Ian! He’ll hae misfortunes great an’ sma’, But ay a heart aboon them a’, He’ll be a credit till us a’ —We’ll a’ be proud o’ Ian.”
From Liz Olson, award-winning short story writer, occasional editor/copy editor and former editorial assistant for Canada Lutheran magazine: “Put down that celebrity bio and pick up Came to Canada, Eh? Ian is the real deal, the most relatable Everyman you will ever meet. Circumstances don’t allow for fame or fortune, despite his remarkable gifts, but nothing keeps this guy down for long. His indomitable spirit and quirky humour sustain him through a rollercoaster of adventures and tragedies, and the ride even leads him to a second chance at love at the end of the road. Don’t miss this!
From ARK on amazon.ca, 4 out of 5 stars:
“Never a Dull Moment. Ian’s experience as an immigrant to Canada with the attendant challenges of employment are possibly representative of the challenges faced by many immigrants now, and in times past. Ian’s experiences will likely resonate with immigrants especially, as well as with those who have felt like an ‘outsider’. Ian’s determination in the face of obstacles will be an inspiration to many readers. Very readable and enjoyable chronicle.”
By Amazon customer on amazon.ca: 4 out of 5 stars:
“Ian is a story teller. Reading the book I can hear Ian telling the stories and the book is full of his storied life. There is a chuckle on every page.”
From Pat, a Winnipeg reader and a fellow resident at author’s senior housing. “Dear Gayle, I did enjoy reading Ian’s book “Came To Canada, Eh?” It was a hoot! But I was again struck by his unskeptical and unsuspecting manner as I earlier evidenced in his first memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada.” As I had indicated, an alternate title might have been – “Innocents Abroad.” However, when I read the Epilogue and noted that Ian had chosen ‘honesty’ as (what he thought) his most important characteristic, it somehow all fell into place! Because he was such a generous, trustworthy person, he trusted others to be as open and honest as himself. What a guy!”
From Editorial Evaluator at Friesen Press prior to publication:
“First off, I found Ian to be an incredibly strong storyteller, very direct, down-to-earth, and relatable. His writing style is straightforward and easy to read, even when “speaking” with the Scottish burr.
More importantly, he truly lived an extraordinary life. Although the individual moves and layoffs, for example, are fairly commonplace, when told en masse, in this sort of personal narrative, I found it incredibly impressive that he managed to maintain his hope and optimism. I can’t imagine that, in his shoes, I would have shown even a fraction of his determination.
Overall, he is a very sympathetic and likable character, even when occasionally coming across as a bit grouchy―and I like the fact that he actually acknowledges this likelihood.
In a personal memoir, unless one is famous, it is very important that the main “character” is compelling, likable, three-dimensional, and flawed. I never got the sense that he was painting himself as a victim or a hero. Instead, it seemed like a very honest retelling of the events that made up his Canadian experience.
I appreciated the way he retained his connection to his Scottish roots, and found it particularly interesting when he felt the need to defend England and Queen Elizabeth from his German colleagues. When combined with the various historical facts that are shared within the narrative, I found it very impressive that he was able to put his natural Scottish biases aside in order to speak to the larger picture.
The inclusion of his essay, “Destroy the Scots: A Brief History of the Peoples of the Highlands of Scotland and their Desperation in Trying to Exist,” really added a great deal of depth and gravitas to the narrative as a whole, and gave the reader a clearer insight into not only a historical period that most non-Scots are unaware of but into his character as well.
His deep roots were clearly a large part of the man he was, and influenced the way he interacted with the world around him, balking at injustice, appreciating practicality, and standing strong against anything that threatened to get in his way.
I very quickly felt like I knew him, and was enjoying following him on his various moves around the country. I also found it sort of refreshing, in an odd way, that he came across so many dishonest, unpleasant Canadians. As an editor, I have evaluated many of these sorts of stories, and in almost all of them, we Canadians are portrayed almost universally as polite, generous, kind, and so on. And on the whole, I think we are. But at times, one starts to wonder at the almost total absence of jerks. I have certainly come across plenty of those in my life, all of them born and raised in Canada. By including these negative representations, I found the story seemed somehow more real and relatable. His love of Canada, and its people are showcased as well, but in a seemingly more realistic way.
With so many changes of setting and scenery, the pace of the narrative was good, always moving forward. It also afforded him the chance to introduce many interesting people, and does an excellent job of keeping them recognizable and individual.
While his writing is generally very simple in style, he also showed a real knack for capturing a moment. For example (from his essay): “Even today, over 250 years later, one can feel an air of mourning that persists in Scotland’s Culloden Moor. No birds sing; no heather grows on the mounds of earth that cover the many mass graves.” One can almost feel the haunted stillness of the place. This is very good writing.
Lastly, the organization is very effective. Largely chronological, and interspersed with pictures, poems, song lyrics, articles, and so on, as well as the lovely eulogy and epilogue. I found the narrative flowed very organically and kept my attention right through to the end, with the elements written by you, Gayle, fitting seamlessly into the story, never detracting or distracting from the rest but actually adding greatly to it.”
The Editor’s Manuscript Evaluation written for Friesen Press before publication: “A sequel to From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada, this story follows Ian Moore-Morrans’ continuing experiences in Canada, endeavouring to survive and thrive in his new country, while facing and overcoming recurring professional and financial setbacks, as various recessions lead to lay-offs and dozens of relocations around Canada―with his wife, children, and pets―in search of new opportunities. Through all the ups and down, he and his family manage to stay positive and hopeful, overcomingthe hardships, supporting each other, and always staying open to whatever life has to offer next. This story follows his personal and professional adventures through his retirement, the death of his first wife, and to his second marriage, during which he is finally able to focus his energies on singing, dancing, writing, and basically enjoying his life to its fullest until his passing in 2019.
Exciting News! I’ve just begun the publishing process for Ian’s and my fifth book! Second time publishing with FriesenPress.
The next weeks and months will mean continuing on with keeping my nose to the computer and now dealing with their publishing consultant.
I’ll keep everyone apprised of the progression.
Title of the book: “Came to Canada, Eh? Adventures of a Scottish Nomad.”
It covers Ian’s astounding adventures in the years 1970-2004, including the many moves all over Canada of Ian and his first wife, Mary, Mary’s death in 2002 and our whirlwind romance and marriage in 2003 prior to our move to Mexico in 2004.
On February 22nd it will be exactly a year since Ian passed away from a sudden stroke.
Bringing this book to fruition has helped the grief process and kept him close to me.
Here’s a photo of “traveling Ian” eagerly arriving at Glasgow Airport on a visit to the Old Country in 2000.
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.
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)
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:
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!”
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.
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.
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)
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!
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!
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).
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.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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!).
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.)
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. How 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.
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.
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.”