Monday, December 8, 2008

In Loving Memory

Today we put to rest Shaun's mom, Shirley Ruth Gifford (nee Spencer). She passed away suddenly on Thursday, December 4, 2008. What a beautiful bride she was and a wonderful lady who was loved by more than she knew. Spending family time this weekend brought us to the photos, and my sister-in-law found this BEAUTIFUL photo of her tucked away. It has been wonderful to spend the days listening to the boys and their Dad reminisce. During all these times with everybody around, I couldn't help but think how happy she would have been to be there. There was nothing that made her happier than to have all her family in her home visiting and talking about all the great times they had. Of course it makes me wish that we had done more of that when she was with us. She will be missed by many and remembered always.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

Remembering her.....
· Known to all as “Shirl”.
· Married to “Tiny”.
· Mother of “Lubner”, “Bourke”, “Big George” and “Bowzer”.
· Grandmother to Jacob “Giff”, Hailey “Penny”, Spencer “Spence”, Melissa “Peanut”, and Kyler who is too young to have earned that all famous Gifford Nickname yet, David, Rick, Cynthia and Aleta. From David and Rick come great grandchildren Blaire, Shayne and Jordan.
· Mother in Law to Sherry, Chrissy, Mary Jean and Kim – we don’t get nicknames – that we know of.

Shirley was born in Seneca in 1932 to Raymond and Dorothy Spencer. Shirley had three sisters – Mary, Joan and Wray. Shirley also had the joy of living with her grandmother Lizzie who she was very close to.

Shirley was raised to hunt and fish – she ran her own trap line with her mother when she was young. Not surprising that she would eventually raise four sons to hunt and fish with their dad to.

Growing up Shirley was very close with her father, but having been raised in a house with six women and only one man must have done something to her hormones since when she got married and began her family – four boys, well five technically, was to be her future.

Shirley met Ron while working at Community Telephone. Their fist date was at the annual company Christmas Party in December 1962. Ron and Shirley were married in Cayuga July 20th, 1963 – seven months later. Their boys began arriving the following June 1964, followed by July 1966, July 1969 and January 1972. In 1966 another very important event in Shirley’s life was the opening of the Byng Firehall. Ron joined the year it opened in 1966. Eventually moving up to the rank of Deputy Chief. Shirl really should have been Chief. She never missed a call.

And so the fun began…. Firehall, hunting, hockey, baseball, camping, firehall, hunting, hockey, baseball, camping…. And more boys – everywhere boys – Ron and Shirley’s and everyone elses. There was rarely a time when there wasn’t a houseful of her adopted sons. Son number five Steve Schwoob, and son number six Keith Andreason were constant fixtures for many years. But the count didn’t stop there, the sons kept coming – and when they grew up, their sons came – in particular Micheal and Brian Culp who Shirley babysat for years and most definitely included in her list of adopted sons. One other boy that must be mentioned who we all know and love and held a very special spot in Shirley’s heart – because she loved to see his antics – particularly naked ones was Paul Baird. I’m sure she would want us to thank you for all the laughs.

Firefighter’s and their wives will remember Shirl as one of the fanout dispatchers for many years, the head of the Sparkettes and a constant helper at the hall whenever there was a fire. Many will also have fond memories of the many special events held to do with the fire hall; fish fries, dances and the conventions that might have included the odd “table dancing” event.

All the boys and Ron played hockey. Can you imagine having to get four boys to hockey games and practices – often in four different arenas in four different towns. And at every arena – behind the glass there are dents in the wall from Shirley kicking boards in excitement or frustration.

Baseball often meant more frustration for Shirley – pacing up and down behind the bleachers praying while they played. The “A”s was a family affair with all four boys playing and Dad coaching. Shirley loved baseball the most for that reason.

Camping started on the last day of school and continued straight through to Labour Day weekend. The Rave-a-way, George Cowell’s camp with the Worrall’s, the Link’s, the Smeltzers, the Newhouse family, Charlie and Jerry Waivle, the Skewe’s, the Heaslips, the Stowe’s, Mathesons, Murphys, Rowes and some that we might have forgotten. Lots of fishing – tell mom your gonna stay in the river and head right to the lake. Shirley didn’t like the water so once you were out in the boat – you were free.

Shirley’s only job – well make that paid job – was working as an operator for Community Telephone – the perfect job for someone who loved the phone as much as she did. The boys can tell you that phone jumped off the wall and attached itself to her head the minute they went out the door to the bus. They drove by Aunt Elsies and other kids would say, the Gifford’s mom is on the phone, Aunt Elsie is waving in the window. The telephone network was already burning with the news of the day.

One memory that everyone who new Shirley will have is the jokes. Nobody loved to tell jokes as much as Shirley. She loved to hit you with a new one and the more off colour the better.

Shirley and Ron lived for their boys. Life revolved around sports and the firehall. Soon though the boys began to grow up. The girls that Shirley never had were to come by way of her sons. Each of the boys soon began bringing home girlfriends and eventually getting married. First would be the youngest Shawn to marry Kim, then Todd would marry Sherry, Darrin married Chris and Terry to Mary Jean. With each of these unions would come grandchildren. Mary Jean’s children, David and soon his children Blair and Shayne, Rick and soon his daughter Jordan, Cynthia and Aleta, Sherry and Todd would have Jacob and Hailey, Kim and Shaun would have Spencer and Darrin and Chrissy, Melissa and Kyler.

24/7 Shirley was there. No matter what time of day or night, if you dropped in, or snuck in – you got in. The door was always open and Shirley would always get up. The boys new she would always be waiting – someone wasn’t home yet. Sometimes if you made enough noise she would get up and make you a snack too. Now, Ron does say that when he went hunting she locked the door and it was only him that couldn’t get in.

Friends know – you go in the back door, up the stairs, turn left and speak to the end of the couch and there would be Shirl, cigarette in hand waiting to talk, have a drink, have a laugh. Everyone welcome, any time, any day.

Shirl, the Firefighter’s Wife, the sports mom, Grandma and Greatgrandma, - honourary Firefighter, Friend ….. she will be deeply missed by so many and will be in our hearts forever.