Sunday, May 25, 2014


I will always wish that my children could have known us and seen us when Christine and I were young. When Christine walked with long legs under pleated skirts, with her waspish waist, and confident stride. When she sat with her cascading brunette hair over her shoulders, and smiled so infectiously the room became happy. I wish my children could have heard her sing as she sang in the years before they were born. The young voice, untrained yet, still finding its way, but with the promise of accomplishment and joy, striking notes that soared to the highest ceiling. I wish they might have known her when her faith was still fresh from God’s work in her heart at seventeen and she was willing to follow God anywhere.

I wonder what my children might have thought of me if they had seen me as a young man of eighteen, with strong body, legs of power, lean and muscled torso. Would they have said, “wow” when they watched me on the two hundred-metre track or rolling over the bar at the high jump pit. I would like to have them see my hair swept back at the sides and dovetailed behind, held in place by Brylcream, a curly wisp of hair falling at the forehead. If only they might have heard me sing when I was sixteen and winning vocal contests as a boy soprano and then within months singing a resonant baritone song. And what pleasure they might enjoy to see me baptized at seventeen years of age, and later at eighteen, attending Urbana Inter Varsity Conference in Illinois and telling God that I would set a career in art aside to serve Him with my life.

Monday, May 19, 2014



No one here but us at Mud Bay today. 
With tide water out, at water’s edge
scavenging birds leave opened shells
to dry under cloudless sky with snow tipped peaks
in the distance, a train’s approach and ducks lift silently
and turn away.

From White Rock comes the Amtrak,
horn echoing in the hills through Crescent Beach,
across the bridge, around the bay, passengers’ faces
savouring delights of sparkling waters and sun bleached logs.

We sit as butterflies flit to find
flowers, blossoms, anything sweet.
Printed pages blur as sleep takes over
and no one cares. No clock to punch,
no projects to complete.
I’m done, retired six years ago,
free as these birds and bees.
Next time I’ll come with paints and take home
plein air treasures, perhaps to sell or give to friends.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Life never seemed as complicated
Until I moved to this place,
Sold our private detached house,
And downsized to our small space.

Life never seemed as populated
Until I came to this home,
From every unit daily
Countless dogs and people roam.

Life never seemed as regulated
Until bylaws issued here.
Now a strata council makes
Misdemeanours very clear.

Life never seemed as insulated
Until enclosed with people
But they’re extremely private
Not like folks beneath a steeple.

Life never seemed abbreviated
Until I came to this time
Retirement’s closing chapters
Many years past my prime.

By Ron Unruh, May 14, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014


What will they be, these fledgling treasures
Once so helpless, not any more.
Each month changes in subtle measures
Make it difficult to ignore
The truth that our lives are declining
Their lives are reaching for their peak,
Proficiencies and skills refining
Each one unique while we’re antique.
Might we survive until they marry,
Our grandkids with careers ahead?
Might we their tiny babies carry,
Before at last we go to bed?
We pass to them that when we rest
We own a hope for life above
Their own faith is our preferred bequest
For our invested faith and love.

by Ron Unruh, May 12, 2014
Taken at Easter 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014


My Dear Christine, a Mother, My Wife

An astral voice with promise she
Imagined a marquee to herald fame,
Her name famous, yet
The primacy of faith and call to service, governed
Choices, one of which was me.

This long legged beauty strode with
Chestnut tresses, pleated skirts swaying,
Into my heart until she walked an aisle
In white one August day, beginning
A life, a marriage, a motherhood.

To spaces, places far from home she
Made a home, she was at home, charming
Adaptation to roles thrust hard
Upon her, pastor’s wife and mother, her
Gifts seemingly unobserved.

Yet she coached others, not least of whom,
Her children, her love tattooed
Forever on their hearts, they love
Their children as she did them, and
Countless others whose lives touched hers.

She could have been, she might have been, those
Thoughts sometimes recur, then pale
Before the faces of five sweet people, small now
Growing, gone to soon she’ll be
Remembered for all the memories she birthed.

Ron Unruh, May 11, 2014 on Mother's Day
July 23, 2013 on Christine's 70th Birthday

Friday, May 9, 2014


on her wedding day, in pink
Mom was born Tina Martha Doerksen, the second of two children to Isaac and Marie Doerksen. Her brother Peter (Pete) was two years older. They were small children when 29-year-old Isaac died on their acreage in Montana, to which they had moved from Minnesota. For a reason unknown to descendants, Grandma Doerksen moved to Saskatchewan where she met and married Abram Willems, a recent widower with six children. My mom was now a stepchild to Mr. Willems. Marie bore five more children to Abram and her hands and her life was full of responsibility. The initial Willems six had loved their birth mom and it was difficult to acquire affection for this stand-in mom. At age 17 Pete, left the farm and travelled back to Minnesota and distant family. Losing him hurt mom deeply. This was post WW1 and Pre-WW2 Prairie life, lean, meager, subsistence living. Mom managed to stay in school until grade 9 when she had to go to work, gardening, housecleaning, anything for a tiny stipend. She was a baptized believer, a churchgoer, a choir member, a good lady, very attractive with long dark hair. There were early family incidents, secrets about which she never spoke.

Ed Unruh noticed her when she was 19 and she agreed to marry him when she was 22. He was 26, a very good man, but he also was not a Christian. In the Mennonite community of Hepburn Sk., that relationship was forbidden. She could not be married in the church, and she could not wear a white gown. Those were the graceless cultural rules. Had anyone asked Ed why he was not a child of faith, they would have learned that he didn’t understand mercy and forgiveness. His parents were god-fearing people, and he saw his mother go daily into the barn, bow on her knees in prayer, and he concluded that he did not qualify and could not live up to such devotion. He liked jazz and dance music and an occasional cigarette and a bottle of beer.

But Dad loved his country Canada, and when war broke out, he enlisted in the RCAF, another dissident act in a pacifist community. And Mom gave him up for those war years as she nursed me. I saw him occasionally. She and I travelled with him to Gananoque for one of his postings but then he was shipped to White Horse, Alaska and mom and I were back in Hepburn. In post war years, mom and dad ran their own coffee shop and gas station, made the decision to move to Ontario and dad began working in factories. Mom bore Murray, five years my junior and much later Neale, eleven years younger than I. During those early years, my mother contributed to the family income by sewing clothes for others, costumes for the Ice Skating company, some house cleaning for others, and cooking special meals when commissioned. She developed this into a remarkable home-based catering business and was in demand by wealthy families to serve up delicious custom ordered dinners for many people. Part of her Christian service was head chef at Fair Havens Conference Grounds for many summers. Eventually Mom landed a role with Ontario Paper Mill Head Office to prepare lunches and coffee break snacks. She assembled her recipes to produce a cookbook for which Neale and I provided graphics, and she printed 1000 copies, all of them gone quickly.

During her primary working years the 117 pound young women became a hefty 185 with arms like Hulk Hogan, and then in retirement and following a drastic emergency surgery, she became petite once again. For some early years she questioned herself because she had married a non-Christian, but Dad at age 37 put his trust in Christ. All three of her sons grew up to become involved in Christian work. Her supreme surprise and satisfaction came from recognition of her leadership skills by other women and their investment of confidence by electing her to President of a Christian women’s organization. For several years she wrote monthly articles and marvelled that a grade nine grad could have accomplished this.
She lived until November 2007 when she was 88 years of age, her last years being difficult until her mind could not recognize her predicament any longer. She is in paradise now, as surely as when Jesus spoke to a convicted felon impaled beside him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” If true for him, then certainly for her.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. Pain may be sharp or dull, be sporadic or constant. Pain can be helpful in diagnosing a problem. On Friday I began to feel pain from a tooth on the right side of my lower jaw. On Monday I failed to identify for my dentist from which of two teeth the pain was being generated. Remember that point. The following day, Tuesday, after an agonizing night, I felt I could identify the problem tooth. It was infected and it received a root canal procedure. During the night I continued to experience acute pain and on Wednesday I was in the dentist’s chair again at 8 AM to have another root canal on the tooth beside it. Rare, but it happened, two teeth experiencing a Phoenix abscess at the same time. This is one of the severest pains.

However, yes, however, near the end of the procedure, my experience with pain took a turn yesterday. I customarily handle pain as well as anyone, having had a life time history of cluster migraines until I was about 60 years of age, and having sat enough times in a dentist’s chair, this time, after several days of various degrees of pain, I had developed such a level of anxiety during the procedure, that my body suddenly felt cold and I began to shake involuntarily, breath rapidly and I became incoherent and disoriented. That was alarming enough for the dentist to call 911, so paramedics with a fire truck and ambulance were dispatched. By the time they arrived I was recovering. Christine, returning from the beach, passed the clinic and saw the emergency response vehicles, as well as my parked car but decided not to pop in because there might be a lot of commotion due to some incident inside, and she continued home. There she was greeted by a voice message telling her, not to be alarmed and that I was OK but on my way to Hospital for tests. She could pick up my car at the clinic. The voice message was mine. En route to hospital, a paramedic gave me his phone to call home.

I am hypoglycemic and my blood sugar was low, and together with that, my pain and fear of more pain triggered the Vagal nerve to respond by shutting down a few connections. So after another 5.5 hours in the Emergency ward I came home at 7:30 PM. And here I am the day after, still on post operative meds and happy to be relatively pain free.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Gina, the birthday girl
This weekend we celebrated Gina's 40th birthday. She is my daughter in law, the only one I have, married to my son Jeff. Gina is the youngest of the six adults in our small cloister of eleven in the  immediate family, with five grandchildren. Now Gina too, has passed the imaginary line into middle age. That doesn't carry the stigma or dread that it once did. Forty is the new beautiful. That's right. My 40-something daughter Cari, is a spectacular blue-eyes blonde with smarts and skills. Now my 40 year old daughter in law Gina, is a ravishing, fun loving, outdoorsy, sports minded, educator mom.

so here we are, adults all over the hill but feeling and looking terrific.

The kicker for this fortieth birthday bash was that Gina asked all guests to come dressed in 80's attire. Sounds like fun right? The 80's were colourful and strange, playful. So how will a guy my age find anything with an 80's flavour that fits a body that has put on a lot of weight and wrinkles? Rent a wig, long hair, attach a braided feather piece hanging from one ear, with black T-shirt and jeans & sandals and bandana around my leg. Willie Nelson came to life. Sure he was around in the 80's and decades before that. Had his greatest hits in the 80's.
Kristin, Wenche, Gina, Cari, Farah AKA Christine

Jeff and Jayson O

Will Nelson

Gina receiving a gift, she sort of liked
Tim, totally astonished to see 

Her most serious moment of the night - she'll hate thus

Farah once again, my date for the evening

And me

Happy Birthday Gina!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Yesterday's post says it all. On May 1, 2008 my father passed away. "You are still a good example to me Dad."