My Residences

My father was a Gypsy, a nomad never happy with where he lived, so he moved from place to place. The one long stay was on the farm seven miles southeast of Winkler, Manitoba, where he and Mom lived many years after neing married in 1918.

The moves began in 1947 when we pulled up stakes and moved to Chilliwack, BC, for the winter. We lived in a small house on a strawberry farm.

After we came back we lived on the farm in summer and in the Town of Winkler in winter. It shifted to winters in the City of Winnipeg.

Moving all the time meant I enrolled in many schools. Each time we moved I had to start a new one, adapt to new surroundings, make new friends and get to know new teachers. Poor eyesight was always a problem. I could not see what was written on the blackboard unless I sat in the front row. Even then I had a hard time reading if the teacher’s handwriting was small. Sometimes I had to stand between desk and blackboard to copy notes.

It did not seem to bother me. I went with the flow of going to new schools and playing in new yards. In fact, it sharpened my ability to adapt with the seasons in each new location.

The pattern my Dad established influenced me after I married Diane Dowling in 1966. We often moved from one apartment to the next until in Lincoln, Nebraska, we bought our first house. Our oldest daughter Kirsten was in Kindergarten.

When we moved to Winnipeg we lived in four apartments before occupying the huge 15-room mansion we had just bought on Maplewood Avenue. That began a long and steady occupancy as our three daughters went through Riverview Elementary and Churchill High.

Before settling into another new place near St. Vital Mall in south Winnipeg, Diane decided she would like to visit New York for a winter to be with her sister Maureen and brother-in-law Bob Paulson, who had ALS, a form of Lou Gerig’s Disease.

But it never happened because her mother Jo Dowling became infirm and in old age had to come from Florida to Canada to live with us. We moved to several apartments in Fort Garry Place until the owner found us a big and beautiful seven-room suite on the 20th floor – two apartments combined.

The biggest change in my life came in 2004 when Diane drowned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Guatemala. I lived alone in that apartment, moved to California, moved back, lived on Deerbank Farm in Morris, Manitoba, lived in the WestEnd Commons, and finally settled in with Anne-Shirley Clough on McAdam Avenue in Winnipeg’s culturally diverse North End.

Age has taken its toll. I’m happy living with Anne-Shirley, but she’s 77 and I’m 83. It’s hard getting around. She has a walker and I have a walking stick made of yew in BC. It’s a twisted art piece that people say makes me look like Moses parting the Red Sea, or a wizard whipping Harry Potter through the treetops.

I have downsized from that 15-room house on Maplewood, to an art room on the main floor of Anne-Shirley’s house, and an office on the second floor.

I am sometimes envious of couples my age who stay on the old farmstead with enough room for children and grandchildren to come for night at Christmas. However, I don’t need it. I have a Grandpa’s Room in each of my three daughters’ homes.

The Gypsy in me makes me want to go back to places like New Mexico or the Black Hills, but it’s too hard for Anne-Shirley to drive that far, so we content ourselves with day trips. Her son Chris or my daughters Kirsten, Lara and Rebecca, are often behind the wheel.

I don’t want to move again.

More Stories