In my earliest years, there was an abundance of motherly love. Burdened with lifelong health issues, my mother’s sister Lorna was unable to have children. This cruel circumstance and her close relationship with my mother lead to her being actively involved in my upbringing.
Lorna was a teacher; she lived on an acreage near Millarville with lots of trees, a garden, a few farm animals, and a kennel of purebred Norwegian Elkhounds. During summers, I would go to stay, and experience aspects of culture not found in the farming community where I grew up. We went to dog shows, nice restaurants, and always on long walks in the hills. Lorna taught me what biodegradable meant; she took me to buy my first bra. I believe her early influence helped me find the tenacity to complete four degrees, including a doctorate in education.
By the time I was 10, life on the farm had become turbulent: my father was seriously ill and drank too much. Millarville was my escape from all of this. The house was enclosed by birch trees and you could see the mountains from a hilltop covered in wildflowers. I loved everything about it. When Lorna succumbed to a rare form of blood cancer when I was 12, it broke my heart.
A few years later my uncle quietly sold the property and I felt my heart break again. The Millarville place was my refuge as it had been Lorna’s. Her ashes had been scattered there among the wildflowers. In 1986, my mother died after a long battle with breast cancer and her ashes were also scattered in the meadow. Lorna had lived 42 years and my mother 43.
I feel as tied to the land near Millarville as to the farm I grew up on. I’m a writer and educator with a deep passion for conserving nature and adding to its splendour with lush gardens and stunning pieces of architecture. Such places demand caretakers, not owners.