Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Pink Wedding – My Mom and Dad

It was 1941. The war was on in Europe. Who knew what the future would bring. Mom was in love with Dad. He was the youngest son in a respected church going family. He played hockey and ball on local teams. He completed grade eleven before beginning work at various jobs in the community. Then he owned and operated a gas station, well the one and only gas station in Hepburn. His brother Harry owned the local hardware store. His father was the town Reeve. Dad, Edward by name and known as Eddie, was a debonair man, prematurely bald, with a manicured pencil mustache. He whistled everywhere he walked. Church was not on his priority list. For that reason, when Mom fell for him, the counsel she received was cautious.

Mom had worked ever since she was a teenager. Compelled to work for the sake of the family she had to end school after grade 9. She always regretted this and bore a sense of educational inferiority through her adult years. It was against the general will of the Christian community for her as a committed Christian to marry someone who had not yet settled eternal matters with God as far as anyone knew. Dad and Mom loved each other. He was 26 years of age and Mom was 22. So on June 12, 1941 Edward Unruh and Tina (Doerksen) Willems exchanged wedding vows. Mom couldn’t afford a traditional wedding dress, white and clearly sanctified. She wore pink and she wore a hat. They honeymooned in Saskatoon. They were very happy.

Ed and Tina wasted little time in beginning a family which began with me, firstborn, on Sunday, September 13, 1942. WWII was raging and Hepburn’s inhabitants were primarily Mennonite people with a pacifist position with regard to conflict. They would be exempt as conscientious objectors. Dad was not bound by such religious strictures. My father had already made up his mind that he was a Canadian and he bore responsibility for the nation into which he was born and into which his child was born. Against the predictable community behaviour he and a handful of young townsmen enlisted. Dad joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and Mom became a war bride who would spend much of the next years on her own. Dad was never shipped overseas. When he was sent to Gananoque, Ontario, Mom was able to accompany him. When he was sent to White Horse for an extended time, she felt his absence. They would remain in love and together for 66 years.

• Mom in her wedding dress and hat June 12, 1941
• Mom and me in the Hepburn Central Office and residence where mom and dad operated the switchboard.

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