Elsie May TkachDecember 2, 1932 ~ January 15, 2018 (age 85)
Elsie May Tkach, Gramma, was born to Clifford and Esther Dewolfe in Consort on December 2, 1932. She was the youngest of seven and is predeceased by all her siblings: Helen, Ralph, Walter, Alfred, Clayton and Clifford. Her Mother passed away when she was only 2 and so Helen, her older sister, became the only mother she knew. But Helen left home when Grandma was only 6 years old, leaving her with a houseful of boys. She spent her young life on a farm about 6 miles northeast of Consort. She started her schooling at Whitten School which was about 1½ miles from home, then traveled to the big school in Consort, learning there until she was 16.
Her favorite thing was following her Dad outside. Even though there were 5 boys already, he used to call her Dick; she was his shadow, enjoying life outside. She loved the horses and would sit out among them. Being only 4 at this time, she had no fear and the horses loved her visits.
Their home was nothing but a tar paper shack with buildings built on as needed. Water came from a spring, or the well behind the house, having to be carried in.
There was a time when she and Uncle Clifford, being the only children at home, had gone barefoot all summer. When it became time to go to school, a note was sent home that said they had to have shoes or could not attend. The teacher was kind enough to still let them attend and wait until her dad could afford to buy a pair for them both.
She also remembered a year when the school was having a Christmas Concert and all the kids were talking about Santa Claus. Since her Mother passed away within the Christmas holidays they were never really celebrated or spoken of. But this year, on Christmas Eve, her Dad told Clifford and her to put a stocking up on the clothes line, maybe Santa would come. When going downstairs the next morning the stockings were filled to the top with candies and treats, she remembered screaming “He came, He Came, He Came”. It was 1938 and that was the first year they had celebrated Christmas since her Mother passed away.
Summer would come and Dick would be the go girl - go for the horses, go for the cows, go chase the pigs. Go, go, go. Her Dad was a very hard taskmaster and was not one to spare the rod. She would help him move cattle to town to sell. One time they rounded up the herd - about 20 cows - and drove them all into town. After they cut out one or two, he helped her cross the highway and then left her to bring the rest of them home by herself. She got 3 miles from home, at this point its pitch black, the cows are hungry and thirsty and she couldn’t get them to move any further, so she left them and went home. By the time she got there everyone else was in bed, and she went crying into the house.
At the age of 10, she would come home from school to do the morning dishes and daily chores. Saturday’s were always for mixing bread and sometimes washing clothes. The washing was done in a big tub, you would have a plunger that you pounded the clothes with then you’d put them through a hand wringer, rinse them, then through the hand wringer again. There were a lot of sweat and tears put into this operation.
There was a time when her sister Helen sent a parcel from Calgary with a note saying “do not open till Christmas.” Being home alone a lot, she decided to open it carefully and rewrap it. Inside she found the most beautiful doll she had ever seen and fell in love, but when she was rewrapping it a letter had slipped out and her Dad found it the next morning. Realizing what she had done, he made her take the beautiful doll to the neighbor kids. There was a time when she ran away and stayed the night with the neighbors and she had found her doll torn to pieces.
When she was about 11, she had a satiny blue dress that she wore for years, it was the only one she owned. For the Christmas Concert she had washed it and was pressing it with the old sad iron and managed to burn a hole in it. With tears she told her teacher what happened and that she couldn’t be in the concert, but the teacher insisted that she come and her Dad actually took the dress and said he would see if Mrs. Polson could mend it. The cattle never got fed that morning because he took the team and sleigh and drove to Polsons to get the dress fixed. And, well, the patch certainly didn’t match. While waiting, Gramma received a call at home. It was Mrs. Tainsh saying her Dad was coming from town but he couldn’t find her a dress, so Mrs. Tainsh was making her one and did she want pink or green. At this point she didn’t know that Mrs. Tainsh had torn her own dress apart to make her one and the teacher had rearranged the program to put Gramma on later.
When she saw her Dad, he had a box with a lovely green dress and she was so happy. On she went to the concert and sang Whispering Hope; there were tears in her Dad’s eyes and he was not the only one. When she thought of how many miles her Dad drove that day and the kindness of two wonderful ladies she then realized that her Dad kinda liked his little girl.
At 16 she quit school and answered an ad she found in the paper asking for a girl at Merritt Webb’s in Veteran. Never having any experience with children she was shocked to find twin 5-year-old boys, a one-year-old boy and a very pregnant Mother. She came to love those bratty twins, wee Dougie and baby Cheryl.
This is the time when she met the love of her life, Arlos Tkach. He was one of Merritt’s neighbors. They were married September 11, 1951 in Consort and from this union came 6 beautiful children: Greg, Dwayne, Terry, Joanne, Pat “Fudd”, and Lory “Shultz”.
They lived in Consort, then moved to a farm south of Veteran. My Mom recalls when Gramma was raising turkeys, chickens, and pigs. The kids would help slaughter, pluck and clean the turkeys, then everyone would pile in the Chevy 2 and peddle turkeys around the area before Christmas.
She remembers going to the Coronation Auction Mart where Gramma bought two small calves. But she didn’t think about how they were going to get them home. The calves were loaded in the back seat with the kids holding them down till they got back to the farm.
Gramma worked all her life - the kitchen in the nursing home, a waitress, a cook, a store manager, a barmaid, even as a printer at the Consort Enterprise where she worked with her dear friend, Mary Readman.
Gramma was a little league baseball coach hauling kids around to all the games, a bookkeeper for Jim Slater, worked in the greenhouse for Wilma Slater, and spent time with Kory Krotesch in a butcher shop, and owned her own store.
Although being very well read Gramma didn’t graduate. So gramma, my mom and dad (Robert and Terry) decided to get their GED’s. They went to write the exam in Castor, time passes and she proclaims she was finished and heads out, gravel flying from the tires on her way. Turns out she was in too much of a hurry to finish so she failed to follow the essay instructions, did not write a draft and did not pass her GED. Her reasoning why she finished so quickly and skipped the steps - she would have missed BINGO!
She also loved bowling, and has a 300 game to her credit; bonspieling; and was a Legion Member in Consort.
She was a world traveler and loved it ever so much. She’d been all over Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Great Britian, the Mediterranean, China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Panama Canal, Israel - Bethlehem. It was during her trip to the Holy Land when Grandpa Arlos passed away and the travel bug was lost a little.
After Grandpa’s passing Gramma moved into King Court in Coronation where she remained until her passing.
Gramma always said she had a good life with no regrets. Her love and caring way was evident by all the people she helped. She loved to visit and spent a lot of time going to Bingo with Aunty Jo all over the country and visiting casinos. Her days at home were spent reading, resting and watching TV. She was very content with her life.
She managed to stay in her home because of so many people willing to help out: friends, relatives, family and home care. She had a dear neighbor down the hall, Anne Lakusta. Anne would always check on her, feed her, and just be there for her. We, as a family, would like to say a special thanks to Anne for her thoughtfulness toward Gramma.
In the mornings she would have home care come in. Anne came for coffee and would sometimes stop after dinner. Auntie Jo also stopped in whenever she was working, stopping to shop, get the mail, play nickels or take her to play Bingo. We all stopped when we could.
She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and great mother-in-law. And most of all a best friend to all in her family.
She made a point of keeping in touch with her grandchildren. She was there for us when we couldn’t talk to our parents, or buy cigarettes. She always listened without judgement and always tried to solve our problems.
She never wanted to be considered one of those old ladies and was still sharp as a tack with a frisky side to match.
I’ll leave you with this final story.
When she first moved into the manor you could still smoke in your rooms, some of the other residents were non-smokers and did not like it very much. Betty Orbeck, who lived down the hall and would come over to visit, came out into the hall one day to see Gramma on her hands and knees in front of a non-smoker’s room. Betty asked her what she was doing. She told her, “Shut up and get down here.” There they were, two senior ladies blowing smoke under the non-smoker’s door.
We all loved that woman as much as anyone could, she will be missed by so many and has left a deep hole in our hearts. Today we cry for the loss of an amazing lady, but we will always remember her with a smile. I know she will always be an angel on our shoulders still taking care of us. Whenever she started a new journey she would say a little prayer. May we all remember and say to ourselves before all our journeys - GIVE US A GOOD DAY DEAR LORD!
Elsie May Tkach passed away at the Coronation Hospital and Care Centre on Monday, January 15, 2018 at the age of 85 years.
Greg (Vi) Tkach
Chris (Jing) - Chloe Tkach
Brandi (Matt) Lavigne - Nolan Lavigne
Terry (Robert) Preston
Jennifer Preston (Justin Jarhl)
Candice Preston (Andrew Felczak)
Joanne (Wes) Sieger
Misty (Conrad) Schacher
Garrett Schacher (Kayla Studley)
Makenna Schacher (Nik McMordie) - Maverick McMordie
Robyn Sieger (Jeff Lowe) - Shayla, Tacey, Mylee
Logan Sieger (Kelsey Glazier) - Brooklyn, Seth, Jayda, Deken
Ashley (Dustin) Duncan - Cienna, Elise
Lory "Schultz" Tkach
Predeceased by her husband Arlos, sons Dwayne and Pat "Fudd".
Memorial donations may be made to the Alberta Diabetes Foundation, or to a charity of the donor's choice.
Heather Caseley has been entrusted with the care and funeral arrangements; Coronation Funeral Home P.O. Box 358 Coronation, Alberta TOC 1CO; 403.578.2928 Condolences can be sent to the family by visiting our website at www.coronationfuneralhome.ca.