Irma Buehler and her daughter Carol sit in Irma’s bright suite in The Village at University Gates overlooking the Laurelwood Conservation Area in Waterloo’s north end. The early wisps of Spring are in the air as the two reminisce together, looking ahead to the warmer days of May and the celebration of family love that begins in the heart of mothers.
To celebrate Mother’s Day carries special meaning in 2022, for we saw how difficult it was when the threat of illness kept loved ones apart for many special events in recent years. This spring offers glimpses of a more hopeful future, but it’s clear to see that no matter what, Irma and Carol don’t require a Hallmark occasion to enjoy each other’s company and be grateful for it. They are together often, as are Irma’s other children and grandchildren.
The gift of a close family is a point of pride for Irma as she talks of their history this spring afternoon. She speaks of meeting her husband, Floyd, set up as they were through friends, and creating a life together in a quaint family home on Main Street in the Village of St. Jacobs. They raised their family in that home and were in it until 2008, when she and Floyd moved into a condo unit.
Floyd would eventually embark upon a career in computer technology as a pioneer, in many respects, while Irma was at home while her five children were growing. They lived a simple, yet full life in their early days as a family spending many an afternoon and evening working together in the garden plot they groomed on a friend’s vacant property not far from their home. If the kids were lucky, Carol recalls, they might be treated to a root beer at the A&W once dusk had fallen and the day’s weeds had been pulled from the soil.
Their summer weekends of relaxation were often spent on the beaches of Lake Huron near Zurich, where Irma grew up. Irma would pack picnics and they’d settle into the sand dunes of summer days in simpler times on weekends, and Carol says they share many fond memories gathering with extended family there.
“Those were really good days,” she says.
Time together is what helps keep a family close and Irma always ensured that no matter how busy everyone was, the family would gather around the dinner table together.
“We worked together and we played together,” Carol says, and even today they all make a point of coming together when they can to create new memories with their own growing families.
After Floyd passed in 2020, Irma moved from St. Jacobs to University Gates and has settled into a new, quaint Village where she has grown quite comfortable. “It’s opened a whole new world, in a way, because I’m meeting so many people from different walks of life that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet before,” she says, and Carol nods in agreement.
“We care about each other and know our neighbours,” Irma continues, evoking some of the same sentiment discussed earlier as she spoke of the village she raised her family in only a few kilometres to the north.
“Seeing my mom engaged with the people and activities and comfortable in her room and smiling at everybody and everybody knows her, that to me says a lot about making people feel at home,” Carol says of the University Gates environment.
Reflecting on family and the special day marked for Mothers in May, this, it seems, is the greatest gift a child can receive: knowing the one who cared for them for so long is, in turn, so beautifully cared for in a home where comfort is natural.