Huh? – You may be thinking? Fun and funeral aren’t usually words that you see paired up, but this time they went hand in hand. And that’s exactly what my Aunt Madeleine (or Mad as many called her) would’ve wanted.
She was my dad’s aunt, thereby my great Aunt, and she passed away on March 15/08. She was 79 years old.
Aunt Mad was an awesome lady whose love of both playing and inventing games were renowned. She had an amazingly artistic creativity and she donated her talent to several organizations in the form of posters or whatever else was needed. She was a great friend and could be counted on to be ready with a pot of coffee whenever a visitor dropped by the house.
I loved and appreciated her bluntness. Many of my life lessons came from her in a one sentence straight-up manner. She was always pragmatic but genuinely loving.
I could go on, of course. Her love of reading, her propensity for good times and laughter, and her weird ability to draw children to her. But you can’t wrap up someone’s life in a few sentences. It’s enough to say that she was loved and she will be missed.
My parents and I traveled nine hours to Eastend (the epitome of small town), Saskatchewan this past weekend for the funeral. There is much of my family’s history wrapped up in this town. Nestled in the Cypress Hills far from everywhere, it’s a secluded but beautiful prairie community.
Photo compliments of Eastend Economic Development site.
Because I spent many of my childhood summers in Eastend it became like a second home. Just rounding the corner and seeing main street come into view after the long drive gave me a profound feeling of peace.
It doesn’t look like much perhaps but this street is where I walked many a time as a child with various summer friends so, to me, it’s special.
That’s me on the right with my friend, Sherri, at the Dino Days parade. We never wore shoes, for some reason.
This weekend was indeed a good-bye to Aunt Mad but it was also a good-bye to the town of Eastend. Around 1912 my Great Grandparents came to homestead in South Fork just outside of Eastend.
My Great Grandparents
For a long time that farm was the heart of my family, the Beausoliels. It was where my grandma, Yvonne, along with her brothers and sisters (Lucien, Adrienne, Marcel, and Madeleine) were raised.
The Beausoleils from left to right: Antoine (Joe’s brother), Joe (my great grandpa), Laurence (my great grandma), Lucien, Yvonne (my grandma), Adrienne, and Marcel. Madeleine wasn’t born at the time of the photo.
Eventually Adrienne, Yvonne, and Madeleine married and raised children of their own. Adrienne and Madeleine moved to BC; Yvonne stayed in the area. When my grandfather died she came home to live with her brothers who never did marry. Uncle Lucien had stayed and worked the farm while Uncle Marcel was drafted to the army and fought in WWII.
During their older years Uncle Lucien still lived at the farm while Uncle Marcel lived in Eastend with my grandmother. With many a child coming to stay during the summer, the farm and Eastend continued to remain the foundation of the family. It’s the home to which many of us returned.
The house where I spent my summers with my Grandma, Uncle Marcel and Aunt Mad.
My summers were rich and fun filled. Most days I could be found at the town pool, romping around town with friends, or eating fries at Jack’s Cafe.
I love that tree. I had great times climbing it and just hanging out in its branches.
Two of my favourite haunts: Jack’s Cafe had THE best french fries. My friends and I would always stop in there when I saw one of my uncle’s trucks parked outside because they’d be sure to pay for our fries. On the right is Charlie’s. At the outside sidewalk window, he served the best chocolate milk shakes I’ve EVER had.
After Grandma passed away, Aunt Mad came to live in Eastend in order to care for her brothers, Marcel and Lucien. I came to stay for two more summers with her. Later, with my uncles having passed on, Aunt Mad was the last surviving member of her brothers and sisters. Now the farm’s been sold and everyone else moved away. With her passing so has 96 years (almost a century!) of our side of the Beausoleil family’s presence in Eastend.
Gorgeous prairie countryside.
Dad attended this school for about a year when he was seven years old.
Aunt Mad’s children (Linda, Kenny, and Danny) hosted a wonderful weekend celebratory of her life and so, the family returned to this little town with a big heart to say good-bye. Right from the beginning they set an up-lifting tone that we gladly followed. Stories were told and laughed over and no one even minded that we’d heard most of them already.
There was a simple service held on Saturday morning with Aunt Mad’s wonderful friends and, of course, family in attendance. Afterwards we returned to the house and with a meal fit for royalty along with much laughter, I think Aunt Mad would’ve been proud. I almost heard her laughing along with us.
A memory table. Family photos on the wall and mementos on the table including a bottle of Cointreau, apparently my aunt’s favourite drink and known to most to be not so good tasting. 🙂
This is Aunt Mad when she was younger. I think she’s just beautiful.
Aunt Mad dressed up for my medieval wedding (click the link to see a short slide show of the wedding).
A video of our final toast to Aunt Mad.
The celebration carried on well into the night. See that glass of red wine I’m holding? Well, it certainly wasn’t the last one I drank that night. (I used the green guy because that’s how I felt the next morning.)
Good bye, Aunt Mad. Good bye to Eastend, this lovely town where everyone waves at you when they drive by.