Friday, September 7, 2012

45 Years Ago Today – Part Two

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45 Years Ago Today – Part Two
(This post follows the one of September 6 – yesterday)

The next day after my arrival in Regina’s Airport from Montreal was Graduation Day.  My beautiful Fiancée, Alida Jones, was graduating from her Nursing Program at the Regina General Hospital.

Everything that we did on that Friday was about getting ready for the Graduation Exercises that evening. What a joy that was to see her so excited about the final day at school and that special night.

I should explain to my readers that Alida’s Nursing program and studies all happened at the Regina General Hospital. The Nurses residence that she lived in was right beside the hospital.  The buildings were connected by a tunnel where the girls could go back and forth in the winter time easily.

It had been a three year program for Alida where she went from her High School studies to a graduated Registered Nurse. The final year of studies was a full year of work at the Hospital in various wards.

Now you must remember that this was a Friday of the week. On that Friday during the day she had to have her white uniform ready for the Grad Exercises to becoming a Registered Nurse that evening… and her wedding gown ready for the next morning for her second “grad” – to become a Married Woman at 10:30 AM on Saturday.

She was moving from being a young lady to a Registered Nurse and a Married Woman within a 12 period of time.

I know that Alida and I never thought about the huge realities of what was taking place that day before the Wedding.  It was kind of a whirl… a dream… a fast moving theatre experience… a Hollywood production that we were actors in… it wouldn’t be until much later when we would realise what had really taken place and we would say “Wow – can you imagine – we did all that!”

Back up… away up… there was so much more to know
I would have married Alida in 1964 or 1965 or 1966 – instead of 1967. BUT – her mother didn’t think that was a smart idea at all. And her mother Ida Jones had other ideas for her daughter.  Her daughter had to finish her schooling and get an education before she married.  What she did with the education was entirely up to her after she graduated.

“Don’t you even think of anything else until you graduate!” was my future mother-in-law’s stern warning to her daughter.  And Alida and I both knew that she meant business!!!

Alida’s mom had married before she graduated many years before.  Then as a young mom with two daughters she faced the horrific fact that her husband Edgar Jones was not going to live that long.  Sometime before 1955 they had discovered that he had cancer.  And in 1955 that cancer took his life.

Alida was 9 years old when that happened and doesn’t remember a whole lot about that time. She remembers being outside the hospital and seeing him looking down at his two little girls standing on the sidewalk below. The little girls were not allowed to go into a hospital back then. That was the last time she saw him – waving to his little girls from the room up above….

Her mother was 14 years younger than her dad. When he passed away she was a young mom that had not completed her High School, with two young daughters and alone.  She now had to get a job with no training and it was 1955 – when being a single mom with a family was not the best thing to be… specially without an education of any note.

Ida had enrolled in a secretarial school to better herself and perhaps find a job somewhere to support her family.

While she had struggled with this area of her life other things took place in the family that would change the direction for Ida and Alida and her little sister forever.

Her dad’s family had many kids. I think that there were 13 brothers and sisters from what I recall. I only know a few stories about them all. And Alida only knows a few as well.

One of Alida’s Aunts, her dad’s sister took Ida to court. She had launched a law suit against Ida for the custody of Alida and her sister. Her claim was that Ida was an unfit mother.  And her claim also stated that Ida’s cooking had caused the cancer that her brother had suffered and died from!!!!

No kidding. This lady that had no children of her own thought she should have her brother’s daughter’s to raise as her own… because they were her own kin!  There was no thought of the person named Ida, the mother of the children, and the new widow of Edgar Jones – her own sister-in-law.

I also came from a fairly large family that had scuffles with each other, were sometimes upset with each other but always got it together and moved ahead.

Edgar Jones’ family – and specially one of his sisters were not that way unfortunately.  I have to say here that the rest of the family simply stood back and let her do what she tried to do to Ida – and never stopped the Aunt from carrying out her action.

Alida never knew that part of her family’s story when I started dating her.  She only knew that she had no connection with her dad’s side of the family all through her growing up years. She only had her mother’s side of the family – that is all that she had – one uncle and one aunt.

It wasn’t until one year before we were married that her Uncle, her mother’s brother, took me aside and told me that horrific side of her family’s story.

He, as a well-known business man, had travelled from Ontario to Saskatchewan to attend that court case with his sister Ida. He had watched as the Judge had thrown out the case from his court room because the grounds of the aunt’s claims were simply ridiculous.

Ida won the battle with the aunt. But the whole Jones family lost.  They would never see the two little girls again – nor would Ida ever darken their door or their lives again!  What that court case and that attempt to take her girls away had done to Ida was beyond imagination. And Ida never – ever told her daughters about what happened. She had cut off that side of Edgar’s family and it was over… it was as if they had all died as well.

When her Uncle told me – I told Alida. That is how my Fiancée found out about her family that she never knew… but even up to her mother’s own death they never talked about what happened. It was their secret that they never shared with each other.

How sad.. how sad… and Alida turned out to be the most beautiful person that I have ever known… wow!

That night of her Graduation Ida beamed with pride as her daughter walked across that platform to become the Registered Nurse. Ida had done all she could and her daughter had graduated completely.

That night traditionally should have been a Wedding Rehearsal – but that never happened.  Tomorrow was good enough. We both knew what we had to do to get married – stand there and say “I do” and “I will” – and then eat cake later.  What more do you need to know – when you are so deeply in love???!
That night I went to bed and couldn’t sleep a lot… I was just too excited…

Oh boy!  More tomorrow… I can’t wait!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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