Saturday 2 January 2021

Losing a Friend

 Andrew Neilson Hutton (1934-2020)

I lost a good friend just before Christmas, a man I had known for almost 50 years.

It’s inevitable that, as you grow older, you will have friends die, some early in their lives, others late in yours. Neil’s death was not a surprise as he had been in a nursing home for the last couple of years after suffering a series of strokes. Another one during the week leading up to Christmas proved to signal the end, though. 

His passing does leave an empty place which we will fill with great memories.

In my studies of family history, I have focused mainly on my ancestors, but all along the journey I have noted that, within the communities in which they lived, each of them had neighbours and co-workers among whom many would undoubtedly have been good friends. We have examples of some children in ancestral families being named for such individuals

We cannot go through life without others touching us in some way. Genealogy, of course, involves the study of families. But a large part of our connections are the friends we make over the years. There is a poem titled A Reason A Season and A Lifetime (author unknown) that describes how and why people come into your life. I have reproduced it below. Some friendships are short-lived; others last as long as you do.

Neil and his wife, Maureen, became our friends for a lifetime. We are richer and wiser for having known them.

The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, not the least was the imposed separation of loved ones. Rules for nursing homes and long-term care facilities, in particular, have kept families and friends apart. Visits are restricted to only the closest relatives and sometimes even these have been limited. That has made giving comfort or saying goodbye exceedingly difficult.

I am not good at hospital visits and I know I could have made a better effort to see Neil in the months before our COVID-19 lockdown. I am glad we had the years before though.

As with many people I think, friends are often made through the workplace. That was the case with us. Neil and I were both geologists and we found ourselves collaborating in oil and gas exploration efforts for Texaco Exploration Canada Limited in the 1970s. While we initially got of to a bit of a rocky start, in the end we became good friends. We even carpooled to work for many years.

Neil was not only a co-worker, but a mentor as well. His insight and leadership had a profound influence on me and my career, even after we stopped working together. His inspiration also extended to projects outside of geology for which I am immensely grateful.

Our families got to know each other. We had growing children in common as well as professional interests. As is the case with many friendships, we seemed to occasionally drift in and out of each other’s lives. Sometimes our calendars were not always synchronized. Changes in jobs, children growing up, moving residences, grandchildren appearing, and a host of other distractions took their toll on our social get-togethers.

Neil loved parties and social outings. We both hosted a few events on birthdays, New Year’s and other special occasions. Neil was ever ready to share in the fun and never afraid to dress up.

With our common Scottish ancestry (he was a true Scot while I have only a small bit of Scottish blood) we spent more than a few Robbie Burns’ nights together. At the last one we were at together Neil danced up a storm, in spite of the fact that he was scheduled for knee surgery.

We have many happy memories of Neil and Maureen. That is how it should be when thinking about old friends.


A Reason A Season and A Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.



Tuesday 29 December 2020

Legacy Family Tree Webinars 2021


The Legacy Family Tree Webinars program for 2021 is now open for registration. See details at the Legacy Family Tree Blog. This is another great lineup of talks and expert speakers.

You can register for any or all webinars at one time using the form listing the Upcoming Webinars.

Watch the Legacy blog for more news about an event to be held in April.

Monday 28 December 2020

A Zoom Christmas

As was the case with most families this year, our family was split up in many parts of the world: Linda and I in Calgary; a daughter and grandsons in Vancouver, BC; a son in Chilliwack, BC; and a son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The timing was a bit awkward, but we managed to visit via zoom.

At our home in Calgary, we were determined to have Christmas dinner anyway, with turkey and trimmings. We all shared the cooking of Christmas dinners at the various family homes on WeChat and Facebook. That was different!

For this holiday I put together a slide show of Memories of Shepheard Christmases Past. I went through 51 years of photos taken during Christmas dinners, mornings, trees and decorations, and especially family gatherings.

In pictures we could watch children and grandchildren growing up, always a treat.

And we could relive times when our own parents were still with us. It was a tear-jerker!

Of course, the Zoom get-together was itself recorded for posterity, so we can revisit how we shared the 2020 celebration any time.

It was fun, but I don’t want to do it like that again. I would really rather have everyone together in person.

I hope all of you who are seeing this post had a great Christmas, even if, like us, with family members absent but present in spirit.

All the best in the New Year!