Boerjans - Retirement Years
Val and Bill had acquired the travelling bug, and drove to Texas to spend the winter of 1940-41. They also travelled to Florida on holiday in 1953. In 1955, they again travelled to Texas to scout out properties where they could spend the winters. Many of the wealthier farmers in the Elrose area were now spending the cold winter months in the warm southern states.
After their daughter, Vi, died in 1962, Bill and Valerie were distraught. She was their baby and they always felt they were too far from her to help her when she was suffering from breast cancer, although they did travel to British Columbia several times. After that, they decided to spend their winters in Texas and settled in the Rio Grande valley, at McAllen. They purchased a mobile home and moved it into Trailer Town, where many winter Texans lived.
Bill died on August 19, 1981 just after his birthday. He had experienced chest pains and he was diagnosed with an aneurysm on his aorta so the doctor was going to schedule him for surgery. Bill seemed to be feeling much better. The doctor said that if he took care of himself, and did not do any stressful chores around the house, he should be okay until the surgery. Bill told Val that she and Anita should go to Minnesota to visit relatives. While they were away, he was cutting tree branches in the backyard (something he was not supposed to do) and he collapsed. He was rushed into Saskatoon University Hospital by ambulance and lived through surgery to repair the artery; however, his blood pressure never rose enough to keep him alive, and he passed away. Fortunately the RCMP were able to reach Anita and Val and they had arrived before Bill died so were able to spend some time with him. All the grandchildren had travelled to Saskatoon on hearing Grandpa Bill was in the hospital, so everybody was home for the funeral.
Val travelled to Texas only once after Bill died. The last year Val spent in Texas, her granddaughter, Patricia, drove her down to McAllen in Bill's car. They travelled with Carl and Blanche, and it was a wonderful adventure. The trip lasted 4 1/2 days. Patricia recalls the morning they left for Texas.
"We woke so early that it was still dark. The alarm hadn't gone off for some reason and both Grandma and I jumped out of bed and hastened to get ready. We washed as fast as we could and rushed to put our clothes on. Poor Grandma - she put her pants on inside-out and didn't even realize it in the dim light. Fortunately I had loaded the car the night before, so it was just a matter of making sure that everything in the house was secure, then heading for Blanche and Carl's house.
The days were long. We had prepared lunches in advance, and stopped on an approach to eat our lunch. I remember I asked Blanche how many miles she got per gallon in her car, and she replied "40 bushels to the gallon". I guess she was still thinking of home. We usually drove for another 5 or 6 hours, then stopped for the night. Blanche, Carl and Grandma had made the trip so many times that they knew exactly where to stop. However, one day we travelled too long and arrived in a small Texas town too late to get two rooms in the motel. There was a lot of drilling for oil going on in the area, and all the rooms were rented by drilling companies. We managed to get one room with two queen-sized beds. Grandma was quite uncomfortable with sleeping in the same room with a man who was not her husband, and insisted that she sleep as far from him as she could, with me and Blanche in between. We all had a shower; the shower curtain didn't keep the water in and we were slipping and sliding on the bathroom floor. We were so tired we were giddy. We all got the giggles as we sat up in bed telling jokes and family stories and eating chocolate bars. It was such fun! I will always remember that night."
Anita had made the trip south with her youngest daughter, Cheryl. They travelled down the west coast, stopped in Los Angeles and enjoyed the sites through the southern United States, and arrived in McAllen the same time as the group that had left from Elrose. Anita had rented a little trailor, and she and Cheryl stayed there. Patricia stayed with Val.
Val lived very near Anita's trailor and was across the street from Carl and Blanche. Trailor Town was a small, beautiful trailor park in those days, and you could easily walk around and visit everybody. The weather was beautiful, about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. One day was spent at Padre Island, sitting on the beach and suntanning. Another day was spent in Reynosa, Mexico, a not very pleasant border town. After about a week, Cheryl and Patricia flew back to Canada. All in all it had been a very memorable trip.
Valerie lived in the house she and Bill had shared in Elrose for quite a few years after his death. However, she had fallen a few times and she was afraid that she would someday fall and not be able to get help. She put her name on the list to go into the Golden Years Lodge in Elrose and was scheduled to move in within a few weeks. All the items in her home had to be either stored or sold and the house sold. A young Alliance minister and his family purchased the house which pleased Val.
Val was never happy in the Lodge. She had made the decision to go into the Lodge herself but she lost her independence. She didn't fit in to the regimen; she had been so independent since Bill died. She had come into her own, learning how to manage money, how to manage the day-to-day and monthly expenses - she had enjoyed making decisions for herself. Now she was back to having decisions made for her by somebody else. She broke her wrist and the doctor didn't set it properly; she got arthritis and experienced continual pain in that wrist for the rest of her life. She got more frail as time went on. Her favorite times were when the family all got together for Easter and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was our traditional "Little Christmas" when Anita prepared a huge turkey dinner, and the family exchanged gifts. Then in the spring, when Anita returned from Texas, the family would all journey home again for Easter.
In 1995, Val suffered a stroke and had to be rushed to the hospital in Rosetown. At the time Anita was in the United States. Anita's daughter, Adrienne, made sure that Val was admitted to the hospital in Rosetown. The family was called home and arrived in time to say goodbye before Val slipped away. She is buried alongside her husband in the Elrose cemetery. She is missed by her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.
We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to see Val blossom into an independent woman after Bill's death. She really missed him but after the mourning period was over she readily adapted to being on her own. Bill had such an overpowering, attractive personality that Val would seem to stay in the shadows, and her grandchildren never got to really know her. She was a sweet, funny, loving person, and we were all privileged to have spent lots of time with her.
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