Mom started school at the age of five. In the small school she attended, she would have had to wait two years until there were enough children to have a class. Her Dad bought a bomb proof pony and trained it to go back and forth to this one room school. Mom learned how to harness the pony on her own and at the age of five took herself to school each day, fall and spring. During the winter, she studied at home. She was a remarkably bright child, and this shone through her whole life as a proficient reader, writer and teacher.
Music was a large part of Mom’s life. She had a special teacher who taught in a music festival in Swift Current. This teacher taught and inspired Mom and this training was a highlight of her life; singing in the United church choir; singing with her daughters and encouraging her grandchildren to sing and play music. We started each extended family meal with the grace, Johnny Appleseed.
Growing up in Southern Saskatchewan during the depression was a tough time for her family. She became very resourceful because of the hardships endured such as drought, locusts, food stamps and the relief train. Mom and her brothers worked hard but made lasting memories from the fun times they had with neighbours along South Saskatchewan River.
Mom graduated from Grade 12 in 1938 and moved to her Aunt's farm in Virden with her family. She taught on permit for a year at Laggan; took teachers training at Brandon Normal School. The building housing the Normal School, was taken over by the air force during war time and the students spent the month of June at Gimili (Camp Morton). She first taught at Wingham District NW of Elm Creek and then she taught for a year at her home school, Parkland, before she married Sid Foote July 4, 1944.
Mom was very proud of her seven children and their families Janie (Eric Schroeder); Carol (Jake Banman); Ellen (Bob Blain); Shirley (Nelson Leask); Jack (Andrea Hauntz); Joyce (Jeff Nicolajsen); and Donna (Rob Riddell). Mom had 18 grandchildren; 37 great grandchildren and 5 great great grandchildren. Mom was predeceased by her husband Sidney Foote (2009); daughter Carol (2015) and her husband Jake Banman (2020); son in law Nelson Leask (2004) and grandson Dane Nicolajsen (2018). She also leaves to mourn sisters – in - law Frances Reid, Dorothy Cox and Hazel Frost as well as many nieces and nephews.
Many good friends were made over the course of her life: teaching St Andrews United Church Sunday School, teaching the Junior choir, leading Wingham Busy Bees and Elm Creek Combined 4H club, serving on the United church board, the Dufferin Agricultural Society, the Ripples of the Creek Seniors citizens and the Elm Creek Manor Board.
Family and life on the farm were very important to Mom and Dad. They met the challenge of making a success of a section of land on a sandy ridge that they were told would never be able to support a family. They raised chickens, pigs, and beef and milk cows, and planted a huge garden which was preserved for the winter. Money collected from the sale of eggs and cream was stored in an “egg box” and used for groceries and other necessities
Mom was multi-tasker extraordinaire! She would haul grain, supervise garden and house work and do chores all at the same time! Mom was up early in the mornings to milk cows before getting school kids up to eat oatmeal porridge. Mom and Dad worked hard to keep us clothed, fed and educated. Family outings such as a wiener roast at Ken’s pasture or a swim at Norquay Beach were the rewards for hard days work. There were many winter ski doo trips back west which ended with a winter wiener roast.
The era in which Mom grew up, instilled a sense of frugality and creativity. She bought or repurposed fabric to make new outfits for us. She could cook! Not many groceries were bought from the store when living on the farm! And not wasting any morsel. Even from her hospital bed, she was sneaking away leftovers to feed our family pets!
Mom loved to write. Her cursive handwriting was impeccable. She enjoyed writing stories about her past for the Glenboro Gazette, the Senior Magazine and a variety of writings to coincide with photographs that she had taken. She filled her writing desk and closets with her wonderful hand written stories.
Our parents loved to travel with family in their retirement. Jamaica, Hawaii, Holland, British Isles and Arizona were some of their adventures. Trips to visit children in Peace River and Dawson Bay were always memorable times.
All of us were recipients of Mom's beautiful birthday cards which she made to suit each one of us including a comic strip from the newspaper. When the grandchildren were young, she always included money but once the grandchildren were older, she put the money into a card for the great grandchildren. "It's costing me too much money to send to all of you!" she would say. She supported Mission and Service in church making birthday cards for everyone in church who celebrated birthdays. Mom had many hobbies and did not like to sit doing nothing! She knitted or crochet many afghans, embroidered many quilt blocks for baby quilts, knitted mittens, scarves, toques, many, many pairs of slippers up until she went to the hospital. There was always knitting at her chair as well as a good book to read! Mom liked to bake bread, buns, muffins or cookies to share with her family in the manor, always thinking of others.
Our family is spread out over the span of 20 years and as such, there were always babies and toddlers running around at each of our gatherings. Mom could typically be found with the babies! And she never lost her touch – bouncing each of the latest additions on her lap! Her Grandchildren of all generations kept her going all these years. She enjoyed their visits, hearing of their activities and participating in their lives in any way she could. She loved and was so loved.
It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving, but like the morning light, it scattered the night and made the day worth living.
Donations can be made to the Carman and Area Foundation / RM of Grey Fund, Box 160, Carman, MB, R0G 0J0.