Growing up on a farm in Galahad, Doreen Buchholz was the middle of three sisters. As she remembers, you had to make your own fun, “We would be playing ante-I-over and stuff like that. It was a silly sort of a game but we had fun. We didn’t have TV in those days so you made up your own entertainment.”
Doreen stayed on the farm until she was 18 when she got married. “My sister married my husband’s brother and we started dating. Isn’t that something,” she laughs. She and her husband were married for 62 years before he passed away.
When she and her husband first got married they spent around eight years in different towns as he worked for the Wheat Pool. When he decided to go back to farming, they moved into her childhood home. They eventually built a new house on the farm and tore down the old one, and the farm remains within the family. Her daughter and son-in-law bought a quarter of the land while Doreen still has some of the land.
Altogether, Doreen has three daughters and eight grandchildren (four girls and four boys) and four great grandkids. She sees her family quite a bit since moving back to the Flagstaff area, with her sister living in Big Knife Villa as well. “I think she’s happy I moved here,” says Doreen. The two do a lot of walking around town in the summer together. “The three of us got along pretty good and visited back and forth,” she explains. Their youngest sister passed around 10 years ago but Doreen and her other sister continue a close relationship.
When her husband left the farm they moved to Camrose. Part of their reasons for moving to a larger community was for the access to hospitals and services, as well as wanting to “try city life.” They built a house in Camrose where they lived for eight years before her husband had open heart surgery and they decided to move into a condo. “He couldn’t watch me out there shoveling snow and cutting grass,” says Doreen.
Though they enjoyed their life in Camrose, her husband’s ailing health meant more changes. It was while her husband was in Camrose hospital that Doreen made the move to Big Knife Villa.
“This is quite a story,” she says with a chuckle. “My daughter showed me a picture on my iPad of what my room looked like. Would you believe they moved all my stuff, including putting pictures up, into the room and I hadn’t even seen the place yet,” she laughs. Though she had technically moved into the lodge, Doreen didn’t actually spend the night in her room for some time. “My husband was moved to Killam hospital so I was spending time there.”
Originally, Doreen moved into the original part of the lodge but once construction was complete, she moved into the new addition. “I just love it down here. I’ve got more of a home. I got a suite with a separate bedroom so I’m really happy.”
Doreen is happy to return to her roots. “I really enjoy living here, I’m very happy. You can walk around here whereas in Camrose you had to drive. When it’s nice, I like to walk to town.”
While Doreen grew up with little technology available in her early life, she certainly has embraced it now. “The iPad is quite the pastime really,” she says with a smile. “If there’s nothing on the TV I even play solitaire on it. I also do emails and whatever else you can do on them, including taking photos.” She also remembers recounts a tale when on holiday, “When I went to Mexico with the family, I had my iPad out just like everybody else.”
She and her husband enjoyed travelling and took two trips to Europe. On their 25th anniversary, their children took them on a trip to Hawaii. They had promised on their 50th they would take their kids and extended family on a trip so they took them to the Dominican Republic. They are also planning a trip to Palm Springs as a family.
When not visiting with family, Doreen is pleased to visit with fellow residents and enjoying activities at the lodge. “I always go to play Bingo here about three times a week. We also come out for coffee in the morning and in the afternoon. We do a lot of eating and drinking coffee,” she says while laughing. One of the things she really likes about living in the lodge is “no dishes to do!” She also loves the meals, except when they have liver, of course.
“I’m just very happy here,” she says. “It’s a great place to live.”
Beryl Gleisner has lived in the Forestburg area all her life. “I was born and raised west of town and went to the Coulee School,” she says.
Growing up on a farm with her parents and five siblings, Beryl describes her early childhood. “We used to drive many miles to school. There were no buses in those days so everybody had their own way of getting there. We’d pick people up along the way.” She also loved school, even when it meant a long trek to get there. “I always liked school even when I had to walk or ride a horse.”
After she finished school, she moved into Forestburg to work. “I worked in the hotel for some years and then worked in the Moore’s store for several years,” she remembers. Her father had passed away already and her mother decided to move into town as well. Beryl’s brother built a house they all lived in together before she got married.
She and her husband, a local boy, continued living in Forestburg. He worked for the county at the time. “He had his own truck and a CAT. When he semi-retired, he continued working in the area doing landscapes and new developments.”
When Beryl had her first son, she stopped working to take care of them. She laughs, “There was a lot of washing.” They later had twin boys. “I decided to quit then – too many boys and no girls,” she says while chuckling.
Though her husband passed in the 1980s after 45 years of marriage, Beryl continued taking care of their house. It was when she started having back problems that she began thinking of moving.
“I was having back trouble and couldn’t do a lot of things so I put my name down for here thinking I might come in. Then I decided I didn’t have to come in yet because my son would be here for the winter and could help me.” However, tragedy struck and her son, one of the twins, was killed on a construction site.
At that time, Beryl moved into Big Knife Villa but given the circumstances, it wasn’t an easy time. “At first I was having trouble adjusting but it’s nice in here.” It also helped Beryl that many of the residents were people she knew or were familiar with from years living in town. “You don’t feel quite so alone, I guess is the way I’d put it,” she says. Beryl’s surviving sibling, her sister, also lives in the lodge. The two remain close and visit quite often.
Though her health limits what she can do, Beryl helps out wherever she can. Whether it’s with bake or rummage sales or whatever the activity coordinator may need, Beryl will try to help when able. She chuckles, “She tries to keep us busy. Sometimes she has to do a lot of prodding.”
When it comes to her day to day activities, Beryl says, “there’s always something to do here it seems. I’m not busy but I’m doing something all the time.” In the mornings, she does exercises before returning to her room to do odds and ends. Sometimes she visits for coffee or joins in the afternoon activities. “Lately, it seems like I can’t do much of anything but read,” she says ruefully. “What I’d like to do is sew or play the piano but I can’t do either one very well anymore because my hands don’t work.”
In her youth, Beryl loved playing piano. She’s hesitant to play now despite requests to do so because “I start to play and then I mess it all up.” She smiles and continues, “I used to play in music festivals as a kid but I was never that good.”
Though Beryl still drives, she sticks to town mostly. “I used to drive out to see my sons and grandkids but I don’t do that anymore. They’ll come visit me but like all young families, they’re busy.” However, she has one grandson who is quite insistent she is there for special occasions. “He has cerebral palsy so he usually gets his way,” she chuckles. “He doesn’t want to hear it if I can’t come. It does make you feel good when you know they want to see you.”
After living in the lodge for some years now, Beryl is quite at home and settled. “I like it here fine. The staff are very good and the food is good. I have no complaints. Once in a while you think it would be nice to live in your own house but it doesn’t work sometimes.”