On July 24th 1913, twin girls were born to a country doctor, Dr. Alfred Ernest Stewart and his wife Delphine, two baby sisters
to Hanson Pure. The first was named Madeline Lucile and the second, Catherine Agnes.
Before these twins were a year and a half they had lost their big brother to a heart condition that their father, a doctor,
was helpless to fix.
They grew up in McGregor, Ontario, which meant walking to school with slates and scribbles to be taught by 3 very strict nuns.
As is often true with twins, they were each other's best friend. They were rarely apart. Even after high school, they attended
nursing training together.
They started living separate lives when Madeline met and married Tommy Holland.
Both worked as nurses for a time until Madeline quit nursing to prepare for the arrival of her first child. Delphine Ann.
Only three years later the family was complete when David Richard arrived.
Catherine continued her life long career of nursing as the nurse at Fords. When Catherine retired from nursing, she had the
freedom to go and do as she pleased. She traveled to the British Isles a couple times. She also moved around a bit. Leaving
Windsor and Detroit behind, she lived in four different homes in Florida, and twice in Arizona. I asked her what the attraction
was to Arizona. She told me just how beautiful she thought the desert was. She loved to paint and took art class from a well-known
Arizona artist and painted the desert.
She saw beauty in the wild and untamed, whether it was the desert or the stray cat she found while living in Florida the last
time. This cat had the most unusual markings on its face and she got it perfect when she named it Picasso.
She married her childhood sweetheart late in life, but like the wild and beautiful desert she loved, marriage couldn't tame
her, so she moved on. She was an eccentric, creative woman who also was very intelligent.
While Catherine worked as a nurse, Madeline raised her family. She was loyal and submissive to her husband. A constant theme
throughout Madeline's life is her loving and kind nature. She opened and welcomed into her home Nancy Leith, a life long friend
of my mother's. Nancy spent many lunches and weekends there and told me that she was made to always feel 'like family not
When I was 8 years old, my grandparents moved in with us. That was the beginning of a special relationship between grandparents
and 3 of their grandchildren. We witnessed and experienced first hand the kind and loving nature of Grandma Holland.
Do you know that love makes food taste better? It's true. You only have to try Grandma's Apple Crisp or her Potato Salad to
understand. Love was shown with the twinkle in her eye after you kissed her hello. It was shown with each afghan she made.
It was shown with a congratulatory hug as each Grandchild was declared 'grown up' after they stood 'back to back' with her
and they were suddenly 5 foot something. Which of course was bigger then Grandma's five foot nothing. Spencer was the last
to cross that threshold in Feb. this year. The only Great-grandchild to stretch his spine and wait to be told you're taller
then Grandma Holland.
But most of all, for me, Grandma's love was like a warm summer's day. It seemed to me that Grandma and summer went together.
We spent our summers with them at the Cottage and we escaped the winter on occasion to Florida. So, you see, the sun always
shone on my grandparents.
Life at the cottage was carefree and happy. We had perhaps the coolest childhood summers of anyone anywhere. It was magical
there. Maple Lake rippled in the sun, the motorboat zoomed by with Tom water skiing behind. Margaret catching frogs. Jefferey
avoiding the lake like it might swallow him, hunting tree toads instead and Michael getting into everything at once, he even
managed to fall off a cliff and break his shoulder. Then there was Frank who fished, but didn't eat his catch. Squire, Pooke
and Mitzi all had room to play.
My very favorite Orrville story happened one weekend when my Dad arrived with a box of lobsters. He was just arriving back
from a business trip to the East Coast. Well, kids will be kids and we decided that we all wanted to see how the lobsters
would swim in Maple Lake. We placed them in shallow water and they flipped their tails propelling them through the water.
Grandma Holland was in the kitchen fretting. She had dinner just about ready and a large pot of water about to boil. When
Dad arrived with the lobsters fresh out of Maple Lake, she asked, 'You're not really going to put those in that pot, are you?
I've heard that they scream when they go in"! Dad's answered in the affirmative drove Grandma right out of the cottage.
She didn't want to be there in case they really did scream. When she returned, she asked my Dad if in fact they screamed.
His answer will go into the Orrville history books forever. Holding his hands up like snapping lobster claws he answered,
"Sure they did. They screamed GRANDMAAAAAAA!" She had a fit. While we dined on Fresh Maple Lake Lobster, Grandma
ate an egg.
On Feb 13th this year, I arrived at Chelsey Park to give Grandma Holland her valentine. When she saw me her eyes grew big.
"I'm so glad you're here!" she said. "How did you know to come?" I didn't know what she was talking
about and replied that I brought her valentine. As it turned out, an ambulance was just arriving to take her to the hospital.
She had low blood pressure and couldn't catch her breath. I spent most of the day with her in the emergency room. A few days
later she made her last trip to the hospital. She would stay there 2 weeks.
I nursed her the best I could. The last real conversation we had was after a bunch of tests, x-rays and a visit from her team
of doctors. I told her that she may be tiny, but she's tough. She responded that, "You have to be in this world. That's
what it takes. The whole family all of them have what it takes." She added, "I've been lucky, they've been good
to me, everyone, the whole family has been so good to me."
This kind and loving women had pronounced a final blessing on her posterity. You all have what it takes and you all have a
lot of love to share.
Two days later, Uncle David and Aunt Nancy arrived to watch over her till the end. It wasn't lost on me as I turned the reigns
over to them that there was a lesson here. When her children had left home, Grandma returned to nursing. It's a good thing
she did. I benefited when I was born premature and in need of special care. My grandmother was head of the Nursery at the
time and saw that I got all the care that I needed. Grandma had nursed me at the beginning of my life and I had helped to
nurse her at the end of her's.
You reap what you sow.
She died early on Saturday March 2nd, 2002 in London. Exactly two weeks to the day, Aunt Catherine died in Ottawa. Two sisters
born together, lived very different lives, but were never really too far apart.
We will miss them but just imagine, the joy of a mother, even Grandma Stewart.
She has waited 86 years to have her family together again. She knows now what we will all learn in time, that Families are
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.