Oh Give Me A Home...
(originally posted by Katherine at 13th April 2012 at 05:37)
So the inevitable has happened. I was explaining to a friend via text the other day, that the reason I was running up and down Mount Douglas (don’t get too excited, its elevation is only 853 feet) was to train for the Mongol Derby, and he said “Little bit of that Parker blood surfacing I am thinking there Kathy?”
Oh yes, the Parker blood. That would be a reference to my paternal grandmother Azalia – yes, the fearsome woman who begat the incredible life-force that is my father.
It’s almost like one of those jokes: “Oh you think THAT’S tough, well, you should have seen MY grandmother….blah blah blah” and believe me, she was the toughest creature any of us poor little petrified grandchildren had ever seen. I was personally scared of her until I was in my late twenties.
She was actually one of the reasons I entered this Derby – you can ask the Derby people – I put on my application that I couldn’t think of much else that would top the stories my grandmother had to tell about her life and growing up on the prairies.
She was born in the late 1800’s and came to Canada from Utah in a covered wagon. Her family name was Parker, and for years we speculated (much to her annoyance and vehement denial) that she was related to the legendary outlaw Butch Cassidy (whose real name was Robert LeRoy Parker). Cool! we used to say. We’re related to outlaws!
Anyways, for some ungodly reason, the wagon train stopped south of Calgary near a small town called Brant (sorry, Brant people) where trees were the stuff of community worship and whispered legends; in short, my great grandparents built their home from sod carved from the short-grass prairie, and sent my grandmother and her sisters out to collect buffalo chips (yes, that means buffalo crap, for those of you who don’t know) for fire because they had no wood to build with or to burn. She married my grandfather, sensibly moved to a more arboraceous area in central Alberta, had seven children, six of whom are still alive today to tell you embarrassing stories about me when I was little.
So I can hear you saying “So, what, did she run up and down Mount Douglas too? What’s the connection here?” and my answer is “Of course not! Or maybe. She probably could have, I’m not sure.” But no, what my friend meant is that those who knew my grandmother knew her as an absolute going concern. She was like determination in a nice old lady sweater. She rode horses well into her 80’s, fished until her early 90’s (I think she taught all of us grandchildren how to properly weight a line and bait a hook). She was absolutely offended if you hinted in the slightest that she couldn’t or shouldn’t be doing something.
She lived to be 97, was sharp as a tack to the very end. I hope I have inherited her grit; I suppose I must have some of her determination or I wouldn’t have entered this thing in the first place. I’m not quite as scary as her – not yet anyways. Rock on Grandma! Let’s ride, Butch Cassidy! Woo hoo!