Sunday, November 15, 2009

A little Giles Family History

An integral part of the Giles family passed away recently. Our beloved Aunt... At the funeral, I got dad and his siblings together for a pic. Unfortunately, I didn't have my good camera, and I missed Grandpa.

Dad did the eulogy. There is a whole lot of Giles history in this eulogy, and I wanted to preserve it, so I'm posting it here. He did a great job of it...

Eulogy of Thora Giles

"I have been given an opportunity by being asked to give the eulogy, a chance to talk about Thora. I am appreciative of that. Before I start I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming here today to help us remember her. Some of you know her as Thora Giles but in our family she is known simply as “Aunt.”

I think Aunt can be best described as “the wind beneath our wings” kind of person. Before anymore can be said about Aunt it is important for us to travel back in time. Let’s set the stage with a series of events that were to mould her life.

Aunt was the first born to Jack and Jessie Giles. She was born in 1923 and was 6 years old when the world entered into an era know as the great depression. 1929 half of all Americans and Canadians were now living below the substance level. Average yearly income had fallen to $750.00 and for farm families it was a mere $273.00 per annum. Once fertile land was now dried up and blowing away. Not everything was infertile though, by 1936 there were 9 at the dinner table, Jack, Jessie and their 7 children. It was tough times........Tougher times than I can only imagine and then it gets worse............much worse. In March of 1939, at the age of 39, Jessie Giles passed away.

Here is the starting line-up at the table. Thora was 16, Jean was 15, Terry 14, John 12, Dennis Russel, better known as Barney, 10, and two babies, Merv was 4 and Joan was 3 years old. Wow, let’s just stop and think about that...... and the bad luck does not stop there. 4 months later on stampede parade day, hmmm, parade day. Parade day, in 1939 as always, the Giles’s attended the Calgary Stampede parade and then went on to St. George’s Island for a picnic, only this year it was without Jessie. It was on this parade day that Harry Anderson sought out Granddad with more bad news. After they had left home that morning their house had burned to the ground.. Jack gathered the kids around and declared that they would get through this.... they were going to stick together. Thora was darn sure listening and stick together she did. She gave the rest of her able years to taking care of family. As the years went by and the siblings went on their way, nieces and nephews started showing up. Aunt’s house was always like a second home to me, I spent almost as much time at Aunt’s house as I did at home. Being the oldest and the first of the nieces and nephews I am going to say that I single handedly am the reason that Thora was first called Aunt but it didn’t matter if you were a niece, nephew, sibling, or any relative, everybody felt at home at Aunt’s. It was always that way.

If you were to poll the family and ask everybody what they remember about Aunt, all lists would include one common denominator, the “New Year’s Day “ traditional dinner at Aunt’s house. I am going to guess that I went there for dinner on New Year’s Day for forty odd years, I never missed one and I wouldn’t have missed one. I have memories that stretch from myself being there as a young boy to our girls being there with their dates. She did all of this and more, probably way to much more, yet still never lost her love of ranching. There are stories of her feeding and checking the cows, and tipping over the truck while hauling barrels of fuel home. So surely, surely, if your jobs range from raising the family, cooking the meals, checking the cows, etc.etc etc., one would guess that she probably did not have time to pay attention to details around the house. Right? Wrong.......The house was spotless. Everything had to be perfect. Blankets were folded a certain way, blinds were open this much and the chair had to be turned that way. It was unbelievable.

Even more details. When Aunt was cooking she took recipes to a new level. I guess it started with Granddad’s recipe for overcoming the tragedies of 1939. When Aunt made her famous cherry cake or even chilli it was a 2 day ordeal, but she could whip up a fruit salad in half a day or so and still wash and dry each grape individually, cut in exactly half, lined up side by side and then placed perfectly, one by one, into the salad.

Aunt was also our teacher. I can remember sitting on her knee while she read me countless books, taught me math and how to write my name. Later years, she taught the kids how to drive, but I am not really sure anybody picked up on how to take two days to make a cake. Aunt never stopped teaching right to the end. I know that Claudia took a few lessons and knows exactly how far the blinds should be open and exactly how Aunt’s blanket was to be folded at the foot of the bed.

I have talked a lot about fond memories that I have accumulated over the years growing up at Aunt’s house and I am going to guess that under these circumstances that is kind of normal, most of us want to remember the good years. But this story has a different ending. One, and one, of my fondest memories comes from about a month ago when my sister Susan had flown in from B. C., and Merv and Mona had invited Susan, Karen and I for dinner. After dinner, Merv suggested we go and visit Aunt. In hind sight, I guess you could say she was on her death bed. I understand she did not weigh 90 pounds. She had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer get out of bed, but we never noticed that. We sat and visited for over an hour, just chatting, laughing and having a good time together. She was funny, witty, always of a sharp mind and had a great memory. It was another great visit and I left feeling lifted. I never saw Aunt have a bad day and it was never a bad day when I saw Aunt.

She truly was the wind beneath our wings. "

Taylor Giles also did a slideshow of pics of Aunt's life. It was awesome, and I hope to one day get my hands on it and post it here as well.

We will all miss you Aunt. Rest in Peace...



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