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Walking To Work – A Love Story

Here is another family story, this time from my Mom, about her father.

When I was six years old my parents moved our family to the north end of Winnipeg. We lived approximately one city block from King George Public School which was located on the corner of Selkirk and Arlington. It would have been so easy to send five of their six children there for school if our parents hadnít been so adamant about us getting educated in the Catholic school system. This meant we had to be up by 7 a.m. to be ready to catch the streetcar (yes, I did say streetcar) and be on time for school which for us was St. Maryís Parochial School. Our school was located directly across from St. Maryís Cathedral on St. Mary Avenue.

Not until we were finished school and were out working did our mother reveal to us how our father would walk to work on many occasions, so that there would be enough money to pay for our streetcar tickets. Our father was a barber and the barber shop where he was employed was on Fort Street, just off Portage Avenue, in downtown Winnipeg. This was an incredibly long walk for anyone on a cold winterís day, no matter what his age may have been. I remember to this day the feelings I experienced upon hearing that our father made such an enormous sacrifice for us. It really spoke to me of unselfish love, something our dear parents were filled with. While by the worldís standards were classed as a very poor family, in my heart I always knew that God had blessed us with the kind of riches the world could never have given us.

When my father took a stroke in December, 1979, the doctors and nurses would comment often about the fact that not one day passed that some or all of dadís children were there to visit him. We would bring our mother and go to spend time with Dad, who, although paralyzed on one side of his body, never lost his ability to speak. How do you help anyone understand that what we were attempting to do was to give back to dad some of the love he had given so freely to our mother, and to all his children and grandchildren. – Loretta Reichardt

What’s interesting for me is that with each short story from my Mom or Dad about their earlier lives, I get to know a bit more about my grandparents, and uncles and aunts, and life before I was born, thus enriching my life experiences as well. We have it so good in the 21st Century – I can’t imagine walking the distance my grandfather did every day for years, at times in -40F weather, no doubt in blizzards, snowstorms, and rain showers as well, simply to save a few pennies for transit fare. Unselfish love, indeed, there is not enough of that in the world today. You were amazing, Grandpa.

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