And What do you do?

mapDay 10-11, Sept. 8-9

The Bow River, post spring floods, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


My Niece, Michelle, and husband, John, with the Calgary skyline in the background.

Not going to lie, I was a little nervous about visiting the Williamson side of my family, while staying in Calgary. After all, it had been a long long time.


Summer of 1984
IMG2367 1984 – Me, my Gandma Orr, Grandma Williamson on my sister, Shannon’s wedding day.

Shelley leading John and her niece, Michelle into Aunt Rita’s backyard: Hiiiiii everyone! So good to see you. I can’t believe that it’s been twenty-nine years since we’ve visited. Here you go.

Cousin Gordon: You’ve actually hugged Bob. Bob’s not related to us. He’s my daughter, Yvonne’s, boyfriend.

Shelley: Of course he is. Ha! Ha! Well then, I’m just going to hug the rest of you so I don’t leave anyone out. Come here you. And you.. And you.. And you… And you

Aunt Rita: Shelley, you haven’t changed one bit, except you’re older.

Shelley: Could have done without part two of your greeting, that’s for sure. Ha! Ha! So what’s everyone been up to?

Aunt Rita: Danny’s an electrical engineer. Ken’s in the oil patch, as is Gordon. Mark owns two oil companies. John unfortunately couldn’t be here. He’s a chartered accountant. And I’ve headed a campaign to raise money and awareness for the first Sisters and Nurses of Calgary since I’ve retired. But at eighty-one it’s time to step down from the chair position.


Miniature Bronze Replica of the First Sisters and Nurses of Calgary

Shelley: Wow.

Aunt Rita: How about you, Michelle?

Michelle: I’m with an oil company. I’ve bought and in the process of renovating a house. Renters will move in the basement in the beginning of October. In the fall, I’ll start an “Office Manager” degree program.

Aunt Rita: Excellent. And now that the two of you have retired from teaching, what do you do?

Shelley: Do? Well. Let’s see. When we’re not traveling, we keep ourselves busy kayaking, fishing, climbing, running, hiking, biking, the odd golf game. You know, play.

Aunt Rita: Play?

Shelley: Aaannnnndddddd, we volunteer at “Habitat for Humanity” oh, two, three, even four times per week. We’d love to do more, but they only build four days a week in the summer. Right, John? 

(No way John was going to throw me under the bus, because he’d go down with me.)

John:… Right.

Rita: That’s admirable.

Cousin Gordon’s wife, Denise: It must have felt great when everyone headed back to school this week and you didn’t.

Shelley: You bet it did. “See you later suckers!!!!”  Oh! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Denise: I’m a Grade 1 teacher.

Shelley: Well how about that? Isn’t that something. Honey?

John: Sure is.

Rita: Dinner’s ready. Everyone to the table.

Shelley: Your home is exactly as I remember it. The garden and lawn look amazing.

Rita: It wasn’t always like that. When we built it in 1958, the gophers dug holes all over my new lawn. I was incredibly annoyed. The only way to get rid of those pests was to kill the little devils. 

Denise: We have gophers on our school’s playground. Can you believe they waited until school started to get rid of them? They had all summer.

Aunt Rita: There was no other way. My friend and I would flush them out by pouring water down their tunnels, wait for their heads to pop out and shoot them. Bam!

Denise: They don’t shoot gophers now. Instead they shove air guns into their tunnels, blast them with pressurized air, and when they fly out of the holes, gather them up and chuck them on a pile. If the blast doesn’t kill them, they smack them on the head with a club.


                                        Guessing they look like this sucker. 

Rita: We’d get ten cents per tail.

Cousin Ken: Or if you saved enough of them up, you could have made a gopher tail hat.

Aunt Rita: I don’t think that you get any money for gopher tails now.

Denise: Isn’t that terrible?

Cousin Danny: Sure is. If I took the trouble to kill a gopher, I’d want at least ten cents per tail.

Cousin Mark’s son, Evan: Jeesh! Ten cents per tail. Imagine how many gophers you’ld have to kill to buy a ticket to the Coachella concert in Palm Springs.

Michelle: “The” Coachella Concert? I’d love to go to that concert if only…

Shouldn’t have worried. It was a great visit. Still, I definitely won’t wait twenty-nine years before my next visit.


Aunt Rita, niece, Michelle, second cousin, Yvonee, her boyfriend, Bob. Me, Cousins, Ken, Dan and GordonIMG2364

Aunt Rita, me, second cousins Evan and Ross, Michelle and JohnIMG2368

Great Grandma Williamson, unidentified man, Grandma Williamson, and Grandpa Williamson

Shelley and John

air gun –   Daystate Air ranger Rifle

16 thoughts on “And What do you do?

  1. Been to some of those get togethers, many years later. They all seem to have a familiar ring to them, in some cases – almost ‘processed.’ The language and stories are from similar templates yet the entire experience is unique and often, enjoyable. Love that your closed with the fireside photo. A fitting conclusion.


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