As a StoryTerrace writer, Amy interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below
When I was a child, especially around 7 or 8 years old, I reveled in the chance to visit my grandparent’s farm. It was five hours north of Regina, SK — the drive felt like it took forever — with the last bit of the journey along dusty gravel roads, our car shuddering with the uneven surface. It felt like dipping back in time when I visited the farm, to where my grandpa had cleared his land with the strength of his large hands. I always felt safe when my hand held his.
At the farm I was utterly free, and I roamed into mucky pastures to visit spring calves, or jumped across round hay bales, testing the limits of my courage. When I was hungry or thirsty I visited with my grandma while she baked pies, or made me a frozen upside-down Saskatoon berry “cake”. The milk was always fresh from that morning, the berries picked from nearby low-lying scrubby bushes.
Walking with my hand in his, Grandpa took me with him to the barn, where the cow stood bellowing, its udder nearly full. I sat nearby, usually cradling a kitten, while Grandpa perched on his wooden stool. Gently he grasped a teet, squeezed it downward, and the forcible spray of milk gushed into the pail at his feet. If lucky, a cat might catch a spray in its direction. I felt so content in the warmth of those earthy smells, the sweat and dirt and hay.
Getting older was hard because I began to see the fissures in this perfect place. Where I once innocently named calves and let them lick my cheek, I now accepted that this was an industry of life and death.
My grandparents aged and like all teenagers I was self-centered, barely cognizant of the gradual diminishment of my grandmother’s mind. Her Alzheimer’s affected her sense of calm; she would stand anxiously at the front door, watching us “kids” who rode the quad. On another day, she proclaimed she was an expectant mother. The humour was a thin veil atop the tragedy of a dwindling life.
Many years later, I now reflect on the pioneer life my grandparents committed to — the long hard winters on the prairie, the droves of spring-time bugs, the lack of security as farmers.
Mostly, though, I think of their love and commitment to their family, and to me.