Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Coolest Grandma Ever
My Grandma passed away on Cinco de Mayo. It was sad. She is THE coolest ever. This is the eulogy I gave at the funeral (Special thanks to little Asher Kay for distracting me enough to get through it).
My Grandmother, was born here in Cardston, on October 31st 1922 to Ernest & Jenny Albiston and grew up on a farm near Sterling. She was the 6th of eight children having four older sisters: Rhoda, Edith, Maxine and Blanche, one older brother, Arthur, and two younger brothers, Garth & Keith, all of which are deceased. Growing up on the farm meant the kids had lots of chores to do. . . feed the pigs, herd sheep, milk the cows, feed the horses and clean their stalls, gather the eggs, and do dishes and even make their beds. The had neighbors that owned a buggy and a sleigh that the families would use to pull the kids to school. She attended the Pershing School and Cardston High.
She considered herself a little hellion. One Christmas she received a pair of black slippers and ran outside, covering them in slush and dirt. Her dad was so disappointed in her that he used a roof shingle and gave her a whack over the backside. In the warmer days when she and her siblings would come home from school, lots of times there would be mice or snakes along the ditch and on more than one occasion Grandma chased her sister Blanche with a snake (and Blanche was petrified of snakes). Another time she got a scar on her forehead because she tried to ride a dumb pig and he ran under a hay rack. She said, “I did some stupid things”, whereas her sister Blanche, whom she was always close too, never did.
At school there was always a big Christmas play. One year they put on “Scrooge” and Grandma played the part of Peter with the big Christmas turkey.
When she was a teenager, during the summer she boarded with a family south of town where she helped cook for the ranch hands. All these experiences taught my grandmother to be a hard worker. Following her schooling she worked in a café in Turner Valley and then moved to Toronto to work in a factory producing pistols for the war. When World War II ended she moved to Vancouver where her parents had re-located. There were interurban trains which ran from New Westminster to Vancouver so she got a job in the restaurant in the train depot. She really liked it, because she was able to meet a lot of people and her future husband, Sidney Hopkins, who was a motorman on one of the trains. Ruth and Sid eloped to Washington, where they were married on February 20, 1953.
Trains were being replaced by buses, and by the end of the summer of 1954 they made the decision to leave the big city. This was one of many adventures my grandmother would take throughout her life as they moved to the newly established town of Kitimat in northwestern BC where the Aluminum Company of Canada was building a plant. They drove some of the first buses to Kitimat which were used both to transport workers to the construction site, as well as transport children to their schools. My grandfather was a mechanic and my Grandmother went to the bus depot and managed the cafe there. There, they lived in a small camper trailer. The man who owned all the buses asked grandma if she would roll the money and do the banking. Gradually she was doing more and more and that is how she got started doing book work and she loved it.
Their plan was to stay just 5 years and then return to the lower mainland, but that changed when grandma became pregnant in 1957 and my father was born the following year. It was during these early years that grandma made friends with many, including Manuel and Patricia Cordeiro. In addition to raising her only child, she enjoyed working as a part-time bookkeeper / payroll clerk for the local bus company and an auto dealership. She was proud of the fact that she never worked after my father was born, until he went to school. Then she worked part-time or was home when he was home. The Hopkins house had a big chalk board on the wall, and grandma would leave my dad a note on the chalkboard and he would too if he was going some where after school. That tradition has been maintained in the Hopkins house in Heber City.
She learned to curl while in Kitimat and enjoyed participating in a women’s league as well as bonspiels in the neighboring communities from Prince Rupert to Prince George. She became an avid follower of both the men’s and women’s briar and tournament of hearts following her favorite teams on televison. When the 2002 Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City curling was included as a winter sport. Unlike tickets to the regular winter sports, curling tickets were relatively easy to get. So my dad made sure he was able to buy a couple of packages that included the Canadian Men’s team - - and we got enough tickets that a couple of us kids could attend with grandma. We were bored - -but she was right in her glory - - even pulled out a mini Canadian flag and waved it.
My grandpa liked to golf and taught my dad, but the closest golf course was in Terrace, thirty-plus miles away. When they built a new course in Kitimat, my parents bought a membership so my mom learned to golf. That was something the whole family did regularly from May to September.
Grandma – despised the fact that she was born on Halloween, viewing it as pure torture to have to hand out candy to children on HER birthday!
My grandpa died in 1981 just 4 months before my parents were married. Shortly thereafter she sold their home and undertook another adventure by moving back to her roots here in Cardston so she could be closer to family, including her dear sister Blanche. While living in Cardston she was a volunteer with the hospital auxiliary and worked part-time in the Cardston Temple kitchen where she enjoyed interacting with the patrons. She enjoyed the annual live theater productions and kept busy. She was alone for 11 years and during that period of time found out she had breast cancer - - which she beat! Then during one of her visits to our family in Utah, she told my Mother that she had met Arthur Strudwick and my Mom teased her saying , “Grandma’s got a boyfriend! Grandma’s got a boyfriend!”
On December 4, 1992 she married Arthur Strudwick and began a new chapter in her life, expanding her circle of love with his children and grandchildren. Their adventure together included wonderful opportunities to serve side-by-side as ordinance workers in the Cardston Temple as well as a church service mission to the Lethbridge Cannery / Bishop’s Storehouse. They even travelled a little bit taking trips to Branson, MO and a Caribbean Cruise. Arthur died in 2008.
She was a kind and loving mother and grandmother and is survived by her son, Rod (Janet) Hopkins, Heber City, UT and six grandchildren: Janene (Kay), Denae (Hart), Reece, Neil, Collin, and Nicole. Ruth also has four great-grand children Leah Kay, Corban Kay, Brice Kay, and Asher Kay.