This is a picture of my grandmother when she was a young woman, before her marriage.

< NTRODUCTION:

This was published on another site when my grandmother turned 94. I have republished it on this blog so that I can maintain all the wonderful comments that were left in response, something which would not be possible if I published it on a writing site. I have removed the ip addresses. Otherwise, they are as is.

Flora Blanche Bergstrome (nee Baldwin), my grandmother, is 94. She is the last member of her generation in her family. She can no longer play instruments, although she has on occasion still sung some folk songs. She is ready to die, but this article is not going to discuss what her life is now. This hub is all about what her life was up until a few years ago.

Grandma Flora, my namesake, is a talented musician who has played nearly every instrument that has ever been played in folk music (except guitar), plus a few more. Singing she has always done. In no particular order, she has also played piano, keyboard, banjo, ukulele, banjolele (a cross between ukulele and banjo), drums, maracas, and a couple instruments I never learned the names.

Grandma is also a songwriter. She has composed several songs for women's choirs. The highlight is a lullaby she wrote and published when my youngest cousin was born. Not all of her songs have been published, but they have all been performed in front of live audiences and recorded by the Florian singers.

These choral songs are titled:

You Shall Be Like A Watered Garden

The Angels Adore

Autumn

It's Always Morning Somewhere In The World

Lullaby

O, The Wonder of it All!

FAMILY GET-TOGETHERS:

Everyone in the family sang or played instruments. Several of my cousins and Mom's cousins are musical. If they aren't, they are involved in visual arts. This has always been true. Therefore, there were always evenings and afternoons of music. If you couldn't read or play anything complicated, there were always the maracas. It was a regular occurrence in the Baldwin and Bergstrome households to have sing-alongs. This included Mom's cousins, aunts and uncles. Some families get together to watch sports or play cards/board games. Grandma's family got together to sing.

GRANDMA HAS ALWAYS PERFORMED:

From a very young age, Grandma and her sisters performed in front of people. They were born in Adanac, Saskatchewan-a place that no longer exists, before moving to Summerland, B.C. We have photographs of the sisters dressed up in costumes and dancing or singing. Her sister Ruby was a seamstress who would create most of the costumes throughout their lives.

Grandma's talents were natural, and she taught herself to play several instruments. I'm guessing that someone taught her to read music and play piano, but that is it. She never had a voice lesson and yet, she had an operatic voice. I have taken lots of voice lessons to try and achieve an operatic voice, and I still do not sound like her. I'm not trying to put myself down. I have always sung even before any voice lessons, but my style of singing was a more popular, folk, or jazz style before I took lessons. It is just amazing that Grandma never had a voice lesson, yet sounds in recordings of operas like she had several years of training.

Grandma's main source of theatre during her time in Summerland was performing with the Summerland Singers and Players. They only ever put on muscials-mostly Gilbert and Sullivan operettas-and would perform in the Okanogan. Although none of the performers were professionals and they all had a "day job," the productions were professional quality. All the soloists sounded trained. Grandma started off in the chorus, became a secondary lead, and eventually became the soprano soloist. These musicals were staged over several decades. They were recorded in the 1950s.

FOLK MUSIC-GRANDMA'S FIRST LOVE:

As much as Grandma loved performing operettas, her first love has always been folk music from her mother's generation and earlier. She has been a member of several bands in Summerland who would perform at the legion and retirement homes. Her two main bands were The Fiddlers, and the Apple Chords (a musical play on words). Her band members were fellow Summerland residents and close friends of hers. She always sang unless they were playing instrumentals for dancing. She would choose which other instruments to play based on what the other musicians played. As the most versatile, she was often the only one who did more than sing and play one other instrument only.

THE THREE GENERATIONS:

Grandma moved here to Chilliwack in 2002 and continued to play music. She rarely sang anymore, but played instruments. She, Mom and I formed a band and called ourselves The Three Generations. I sang, Mom sang and played guitar, and Grandma played her keyboard, banjo, or ukulele. We held several recitals a year at retirement homes -always folk music, except for our Christmas concert. We would always have a theme of nationality based upon what month it was. For example, we would sing Irish folk songs for St. Patrick's Day and Scottish folk songs for Robbie Burns Day. Our performances were popular and well attended.

Grandma continued to be able to play the keyboard long after she could no longer sing. mom and I continued to play music with her in her room until recently. Now she is a listener only, although she does sometimes surprise Mom being able to sing along with her favourite folk songs. Which goes to show that long after other memories are gone, music lingers.

ORIGINAL COMMENTS FROM ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

Breen Bergstrome 4 months ago

Flora, this is a wonderful tribute to Mom. Thankyou so much for writing it.

I wish your readers could have heard her voice..crisp, clear…I can't listen to it right now, but she did indeed have a lovely, lovely voice.

She always told us kids there was nothing we couldn't accomplish in life.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Mom-It's been a long time since I have been able to listen to her recordings. at this point, I'm not sure when I will ever be able to listen to them. There is a way to to transfer the CD recordings to computer video, but I find I don't want to do this as I can't do it without listening to her.

Victoria Lynn Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

Flora, this is a beautiful tribute! You're right that music lingers. I work in a lifecare community, and, in our dementia unit, our folks who can't remember family members names will sing along with songs they knew from childhood. Music remains…. When you are able, I hope that you will share with us your grandmother's wonderful voice. Take care.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Cadisa and Victorialynn-

perhaps I will be able to upload her songs eventually. When I feel up to it, I let people know. At this point, I can't. But after she is gone and I am able to listen to her again, I'll reconsider. Mom and I I have just come back from singing Happy Birthday and some of the old folk songs to her. She loved it. And yes, Victorialynn, she has forgotten nearly everything except music. She recognized us today, but she doesn't always recognize Mom when she visits Grandma alone. .

mary615 Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

I'm sure you know how fortunate you are to come from a family like you described, and to have a lovely Grandmother like this. You will always have beautiful memories of her, and that's a wonderfule thing. "It's always morning, somewhere in the world", I love that line, and I want to remember it. Thanks for sharing this. I will vote UP, etc.etc.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

mary-thank-you. I do have lovely memories of when she was healthy. I do consider myself very lucky to have had a grandmother like her.

Hyphenbird Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

How incredibly sweet you are and your heart just shines with love for your grandmother. You have had an amazing chance to learn from her and I know she feels your love and dedication. Bless you Flora!

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Hyphenbird-Thank-you. I have loved performing with her and I'm glad we have been able to keep music in her life.

writeronline Level 7 Commenter 4 months ago

This is wonderful, FBR.

Your words "long after other memories are gone, music lingers' encapsulate beautifully the way we can share (and sadly, not be able to avoid) deep emotions, across generations – because music exists.

I agree with mary's comment above, "I'm sure you know how fortunate you are to come from a family like you described, and to have a lovely Grandmother like this."

But I'm also certain that if your Grandma was able still to put voice to her feelings, she'd say, "I'm sure you know how fortunate I feel, to have a family like mine, and to have a lovely Granddaughter like you."

The music will linger long, FBR.

mckbirdbks Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

Flora this is a superb tribute. I meet you on Hubpages and thought, ‘what a wonderful person’ you are, then you introduced your Mom, and I thought ‘well, no wonder’, now you introduce to us your beautiful, talented grandmother and we see three talented women with such an artistic, both musical and creative media streaks in them. I hope you read this to her. It will warm her heart even more.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

WOL and mckbirdbks-

There is a reason why music is referred to the universal language. Performing music kept Grandma functioning highly a lot longer than some of her contemporaries. She was very sharp until she she moved from a retirement home into a nursing home. That was about 4 years ago, I think. Even then, she was sharp for a while because we played music together. I haven't read this to her, although we told her I wrote it and published it. Thank-you both.

Cogerson Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

An awesome tribute to your grandmother, your willingness to share such an important part of her life and your life is appreciated. I am sure that she is very proud that music continues to be such an important part of her children and grandchildren's lives. I agree with the other comments you need to read this outstanding tribute to her. Voted up and awesome….as well as beautiful and interesting.

Robwrite Level 7 Commenter 4 months ago

Grandma sounds very talented. And reaching 94 is an achievement in itself. Happy Birthday to Grandma Bergstrome.

Rob

Regis 4 months ago

This is such a fine tribute, Flora; and very interesting. Happy birthday to your Grandma!

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Cogerson-I am pleased that everyone is enjoying reading about Grandma Flora and her music. I will indeed print this story up and read it to her. Thank-you.

Rob- Yes, hitting 94 is an achievement in itself. Thank-you.

Regis-Thank-you. Being musical yourself, you know how wonderful it feels to perform live in front of people. See you at rehearsal tonight.

Jools99 Level 7 Commenter 4 months ago

Flora, Great hub which made me think back to lovely times listening to my usually shy grandfather inspiring us all with his amazing playing of the harmonica. I've never forgotten it and he left us a long time ago. How wonderful you were able to perform with your grandmother and your mother – Happy Birthday to your gran. I hope she enjoyed her day.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Jools-How lovely that your grandfather was able to be bolder with a harmonica. thank-you for sharing your memories of him. Grandma did enjoy her birthday. Thank-you.

b. Malin Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

I Loved this Hub on your Grandmother and your Talented Family…"The Three Generations"…how cool was that to be a part of. What Wonderful, Wonderful Memories, Flora, and what a proud Namesake you are! Happy B-day to a very Special Lady, Grandma Flora. Thanks for sharing, this was a Treat to read.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

b. Malin-I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about Grandma and The Three Generations. We loved performing together. 🙂

Vinaya Ghimire Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

Flora, couple of weeks ago my grand aunt celebrated her birthday, she turned 102. Life of your grand mother is very different from the life of my grand aunt in Nepal. She was married at the very tender age and was widowed at the age of 15. All her life she has lived for the sake of her son. Tradition did not allow her to marry again. Your grand mother is truly blessed in comparison to my grand aunt.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Vinaya-your grandmother sounds a bit like what happened with my great grandmother on my Dad's side who was married at 12, but she died at 41, before her husband.

Yes, Canada and Nepal have quite different cultural norms. My grandmother was 25 when her first child was born and my Mom and her siblings didn't work when they were children. But she had to work in the packing plant to pay bills and all four of her children had after school jobs from the time they were 12. Grandma's life was hard at times. I just don't talk about it here.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

I have been talking to Mom and there is something this hub does not let you know but you should. She has given me permission to tell you. I chose to talk about the happy times in her life. But she has had a very hard life. Grandma was forced to raise four children on her own as a single mother. There was very little money and if Mom and her siblings didn't help pay the bills, they went without things. It wasn't her choice to work all day . She had no choice. The reason I haven't mentioned this before is that I don't want to dwell on the past. The fact remains, however, that as the youngest, Mom never knew her father.

Alladream74 Level 6 Commenter 4 months ago

A great tribute to your Grandma. Sounds like she lived a very productive fulfilling life. A wonderful inspiration to us all in celebrating our gifts.

Vinaya Ghimire Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

Flora, thanks for sharing about your grandma. I thank your mother for giving you permission. I think women endure hardship in every culture and country.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Alladream-thank-you. We should celebrate and share our gifts. She has lived a productive life.

Vinaya-yes, that's true. Hardship is a theme across many cultures. Thank-you for returning and leaving another comment.

epigramman 4 months ago

..wow what a lovely story Flora and what a rich family history too – I must post this labor of love to my Facebook page with a direct link back here – you know how much I love music – this hub subject and sentiments remind me of that classic song WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN ….. lake erie time 8:12

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Epi-thank-you for posting this to your Facebook page. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my Grandmother. I am familiar with that song title. and yes, I do know how much you love music.

always exploring Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

Thank you Flora for sharing your Grandmother with us. I wish you would have posted a picture of her. I'm sure her love of music has made her live a useful and happy one..Thank you…

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Ruby-Thank-you. I don't have a digital picture of her. I have to figure out how to digitalize old pictures when you don't have the negative. I'll have to ask one of my technical friends. Then I will add a picture.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

I have taken a picture of a photograph and uploaded the best of them. I am not thrilled with the results, but you get a general idea of what Grandma looked like before she or any of her sisters were married.

Hyphenbird Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

Your Grandmother was/is gorgeous. Look at those cheekbones! And I love her dark hair.

Breen Bergstrome 4 months ago

This is the photo I would have chosen. Thankyou Flora:)

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Hyphenbird-Thank-you. This photograph is displayed quite prominently on the top of a cabinet in my living room.

Mom-I know. It's a great photograph.

Moderate my own commentStatus: Visible.
ip: 50.92.158.242

mckbirdbks Level 8 Commenter 4 months ago

I am shamelessly borrowing Hyphens remark: Your Grandmother was/is gorgeous. Look at those cheekbones! And I love her dark hair.

(Thanks Hyphen for the loan of your remark.)

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

mckbirdbks-As long as you cite the original author, I don't think there will be an issue 🙂 I'm glad you love the picture.

Breen Bergstrome 4 months ago

Incidently this picture was taken in Summerland beside the still-standing Bank of Montreal on Main St. Mom, a sister and two girlfriends performed song and dance routines they made up.

I think this was about 1936.

She was a beautiful young woman who's life in a few more years would never be her own again. She never once complained her lot to us. Even now.

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

That would make her 18 based upon the foliage-her birthday would not have happened yet.

Maralexa Level 6 Commenter 4 months ago

Hi Flora. This is a wonderful tribute to your grandmother and, in fact, your very loving and talented family. It brings back such happy memories of my own grandmothers. I wish I had known them more.

This is just a thought: why don't you get a friend who knows how, to transfer your grandmother's music to a medium you can enjoy now or in the future. Would your grandmother enjoy listening to herself when family visits her?

Blessings, Marilyn

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Marlexa-One of my cousins-in-law put all the music on a cd. But yes, Cds are dying out. Everything is going digital. Thanks for the suggestion.

I'm happy my article on Grandma Flora reminded you of your grandmothers. Thanks for sharing that.

Aka Professor M Level 7 Commenter 4 months ago

@FloraBreenRobison:Thank you so very much for sharing such a beautiful warm and multitalented individual in the person of your Grandmother! The Creativity Genes are very strong in the DNA strands that you've inherited from her, Flora.

Being blessed with sharing her name and having your mom here as well is something that shows the true love that all of you share, my friend!God bless All of You Fine Ladies!

I am very happy to be able to vote this Hub up and push all the buttons that apply to it, Flora!

Regards Mike (Aka Professor M!) ;D

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Mike: I am grateful that this has been so warmly received. I am indeed lucky to have received my Grandmother's genes for music. It is a major part of my life, singing. Thanks for the votes and well wishes.

Hi Flora,,,,this is one time I've pushed your buttons and it's a "good" thing. Gramma met me for the first time on the side of the road leading into Summerland,,,we were on tour. We were a pretty roudy looking bunch straight out of Hollywood,,,,but a true "person of music and art" she accepted us immediately,,,,then early that evening began enthralling us with her stories of Gilbert and Sullivan and her musical days gone by. But for being in the wrong place ,,,,,,,,,her tapes of "then",,,reflect an incredible undiscovered talent,,,I can still see and hear her,,,,"Breen,,you play tamborine,,,,Sonny, get your harmonica,,,Charlie, use Breenie's old guitar,,,,,and I'll play piano,",,,,,And so it was on any given evening,,,,,,Happy Birthday Mum,,,,,!!!!!

FloraBreenRobison Hub Author 4 months ago

Dad – Thanks for sharing your memories of meeting Grandma for the first time.

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