I was wondering why we talk about roots when we speak of our legacy, our heritage and all those history words.
You see, I’m a bit of a history person, with archival academic training and refinished heirloom oak furniture.
Roots live in the ground and give life to the blooming thing up top. Sometimes the roots are a bit twisted, sometimes they are sturdy, sometimes they wither up, sometimes they just are – and that is about the best thing we can say about them.
My Grandfather homesteaded just to the east of the Town of Kindersley, before it was named Kindersley! Had he been the one naming the town, he would have suggested Carlington – his own name! He survived through the years of the sod house, turning the soil for planting, and passing the farm on to his sons.
Over the years, the homestead, located on the far side of the Motherwell dam, became the residence of nine children, herded by their mother and teased by their father. The home was full of laughter, and more than one child was “adopted” into the family over the years.
“Oh Carl”, was the exasperated call of Grandma Clara Baker as her prankster husband took another sucker on a “fishing trip” in the living room – with only a piece of string, a vivid imagination and an unsuspecting volunteer.
The family was forbidden to swear, so they developed their own approach to expressing themselves with force and vigour. Using the comic strip characters of their day, they would say something like this, “Oh, *!+ . . .”, speaking the name of each symbol. As one of the second generation, the only swear word heard in our house was “gurk”, and I’m not sure what that meant!
I’ve had the great privilege of hearing these tales over my life span (which is just into the sixth decade). Most recently I had the privilege of officiating a number of funeral services for friends, family and neighbours. As we sat at the funeral receptions, the tales of surviving members of the “Baker clan” was a sight to behold – no tale goes without great gesturing and laughter.
Humility was an outstanding family trait. No one was better than anyone else. I suppose the old English phrase – “Do not esteem yourself better than another” was reinforced in family meetings.
Esteeming meant more than just tolerating another person, as we define the word today. Our current society has redefined “tolerance” to merely say, “Don’t bug me, I won’t bug you.” Tolerance, for many in a previous generation, meant not only accepting another person, but it also meant finding another person’s areas of excellence, and then honouring them for that.
The Baker farm house held people in high esteem. Imagine nine precious children, with two sets of twins. Yes, there was the genius who later became a highly esteemed physicist involved in the early days of cancer research involving radiation treatments. There was the creative creature who never failed to attract teens even into her eighties – even though I’m sure her mother’s hair just barely survived her teens. There was the eccentric young man from down the road who “happened” to show up over meals.
And there was my father, quiet but with a dry wit, faithful and dependable. He was not inclined to be a public speaker, or a public anything. He enjoyed his family and provided for them. He married a young spritely thing, thirteen years his junior. They brought us up to respect others, to live to serve others, and to make your home an example of community.
You can’t help but love a local community that adopts the well spoken and the foul mouthed, the rich entrepreneur and the struggling addict, the outspoken youth and the quiet grandmother. This is where you want to belong.