Volume II, Numbers V and VI: 2005
A Special Double Catch-Up Edition
Reader Discretion is Advised
For the record, Professor Steven P. Banks of the University of Idaho is a spoil sport. This time last year, even as the editors of this periodical struggled against an immovable but often missed deadline, the good professor was doing media interviews about his academic treatise on what he called “annoying” Christmas letters -- chalked full of “success propaganda” about the “achievements of adults, children and livestock.”(1) Curiously, Banks and company also faulted these kinds of letters for treating bad news as redemptive.
After an unscheduled hiatus, the International TaylorGram returns for the 2004-2006. We enjoyed reading your letters and hope ours provides some sort of substitute for not being able to get caught up with each other face to face. And in writing it, we were reminded of the redemptive purposes of the good and bad from the year just past. For Dr. Banks, we offer a lump of coal. For the rest, we offer our best wishes for a peaceful and plentiful new year.
Pink Ribbon Campaign Hits Home
We have had reason to become particularly attentive to the Pink Ribbon Campaign against breast cancer for each of the last two years.
As most of you know, Elaine’s mom Rachel died on May 13, 2004. The whole family had an active role in providing care. Elaine was able to be in Hamiota for three months as both nurse and, more importantly, daughter. One of the sweeter memories of Rachel’s final days was her insatiable appetite for chocolate – so much so that, during an unseasonably cold and snowy spring, the kids smuggled chocolate milkshakes into the hospital from the local drive-in.
In the 18 months since, Elaine’s dad Jim has maintained a busy social calendar and remains actively engaged with friends and family in the community. Ron (2) and Pattie moved to Hamiota in the interim which means that, for Jack, the most direct route home from school is through grandpa’s house.
We were back in Manitoba for the first anniversary of Rachel’s death which coincided with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on a bitterly cold May day in Hamiota. We walked laps for Rachel and Routledge relatives who had also lost battles with cancer in the last few years before adjourning to the drive-in to raise a chocolate milkshake toast to Rachel – the beginning of an tradition that we plan to continue every May 13th regardless of where we are.
We also walked a lap for Paul’s mom who underwent surgery for breast cancer the following week. A particularly difficult year for Wilma and Mel appears to be ending well. Dad saw mom through the ordeal that is chemotherapy followed by a regime of hormone therapy. The clearest sign that she was finally feeling better was she treated herself to a big dose of retail therapy just in time for Christmas.
Still with family, we were back in Manitoba in August for the wedding of Andrew and Darlene Toews in Gimli.
Googling Home the Bacon
Despite exhaustive research in advance, there was no evidence of living Taylor or Bacon relatives in England when we were on the Taylor genealogy tour of 2002 with Paul’s parents to Manchester and environs. Notes and pictures from that trip were posted on Elaine’s website (markers.com) and that seemed to be the end of it.
Then, on September 17, 2005, we received an e-mail from Rosemary Jeffers of Aberdeen, Scotland who had turned to Google in a search for her Canadian relatives as part of promise made to her grandmother and mother. (Rosemary’s grandmother and Paul’s great grandfather were brother and sister.)
As it turned out, the Jeffers planned to holiday in New York City on November 3 – coincidently Paul was scheduled to be in the big apple on business. In less than six weeks, a half century search ended in Manhattan restaurant with four hours of conversation and connecting the branches on the family tree. Central casting could not have done a better job finding long lost old country relatives.
Earlier in the year, we rendezvoused with old friends and some of Elaine relatives from Northern Ireland and Scotland – Michael and Gale Anderson and kids plus Adam Beatty and his girlfriend Eleanor – when they arrived in Calgary for a western Canadian tour.
Other notes from our Northwest outpost:
Now in a third round of upgrades to your northwest bed and breakfast – don’t forget your standing invitation.
We continue to be blessed by good employers and sometimes the work even feels like it might matter.
That said, the year ended with the surprise move by Elaine’s supervisor to Tucson, AZ, taking 30 years of institutional memory with her. Ouch.
Mistoffelees is back for his 9th life after a raccoon bite, surgery and renal failure. Good grief.
1 Banks, S.P., Louie, E., and Einerson, M. (2000). Constructing personal identities in holiday letters: A grounded theory study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 3, 299-327.
2 Ron was featured in the Globe and Mail for his work to implement a system for the arcane sounding practice of automating enterprise resource planning (ERP) – central ledger, payroll, personnel and procurement. Most people and organizations get ERP wrong – Ron got it right.