"Ruth Anne Anderson Stewart"

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The story of our Mother Grandmother and Great Grandmother
Ruth Anne Anderson Stewart

I am the second daughter of Ruth and my name is Nadine Stewart Schaddelee.  Ruth’s mother Hanna was a Johansson and her father Axel was an Anderson.

Today I wear the dress Stewart tartan cape which is the same tartan that our mother Ruth created little kilts out of for her daughters from our father Bill’s scarfs.  That took a lot of courage for Ruth to create something new and I call on the courage of my mother.  The Stewart clan’s motto is  “courage grows strong at the wound” and I am entering the wound of our mother’s passing.  I wore that little kilt at my first public performance as a tap dancer and I believe it gave me the courage I needed then, and I ask for that courage now.

I call on the Anderson motto “stand sure” with the emblem of a tree with branches and leaves that reminds me that I speak on behalf of our family and the roots that were prepared before us.  The following is  our mother Ruth's story that she told to me over the years.

Ruth was born on January 16, 1917 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Her mother, Hanna Johansson, and father, Axel Anderson, were of Swedish ancestry and had emigrated from Sweden.  Axel was a cane furniture designer and Hanna was a nurse and midwife.

   My Mother, Ruth, was the sixth surviving child of seven.  She had three older brothers, two older sisters and one younger brother -- Steve, Violet, Buddy, Edwin, Edward, Ruth, and Gilbert.

      Ruth’s only memory of Hanna was when Ruth was four years old.  She can remember clearly Hanna’s spirit flying out the window.  Hanna had died at the age of thirty-four.

      My Grandfather, Axel, could not take care of the children and they went to an orphanage until they were old enough to tend themselves at home while he worked painting Fords at the time.  Ruth remembers one story of her father bringing white chickens to the orphanage and all the other children calling their family ‘White Chickens’.  Ruth remembers the discipline of having to make beds perfectly and having to chew each piece of food many times.   

      At one point they were moved to a convent.    Ruth said they were separated from their brothers and this made her sad.  Cousin Larry, Gilbert’s son, tells of the nuns almost adopting Gilbert out to a family.  Violet wrote to her father and this precipitated them being sent west to be with him.

      Around 1923 they rejoin their father in Tacoma, Washington, where he had secured work painting the Olympia Hotel.  They lived in a number of houses including a houseboat.

      Ruth remembers one story of a rumor the authorities were going to take the children from their father.  They felt the authorities were looking through the windows at them so the children opened all the cans of food and pretended to be having a good meal; they lived in constant fear of being separated from their father.

      By Christmas, 1927, Axel acquired enough money to purchase a touring car and heard of work on Vancouver Island.  On the journey north they had eleven flat tires.

      There was a house on Tennyson Street and it was here Axel became concerned with the attention Violet and Buddy were getting from boys and he moved them out to Happy Valley.  Ruth recalls her father digging into the hillside to build a house.  They built it themselves.  There was a natural spring for water.  Her oldest brother, Steve, lied about his age and joined the Navy at 15.  The other boys assisted their Dad logging the land and fishing and hunting for food.  Axel took any jobs he could while raising the family.  Ruth says at night they could hear their father’s plaintive prayer  “God, why have I been blessed with all of this?”  The children would put their pillows over their ears so they could not hear and their mournful prayer was “Why were they blessed with all this?”

      She remembers a longing for a Mother or some female role model to assist in who she should be.  She was a dreamer and wanted to be an actress but most of all a dancer and her dream came true for a short time when her father traded fire wood for lessons from Florence Clough.  Ruth recalls her excitement of learning a cartwheel and cartwheeling her way to different locations. She played basketball through school. and won a championship.

Ruth has an uncanny intuition about timing and without making prior arrangements on June l6th, 1999 on a date with Ruth we took a drive out to the site of the Anderson Homestead.  The road we went down was called Anderson Road.  When we arrived a beautiful woman named Norma Lohbrunner and her son Art greeted us.  Norma looked into the car and said, “You must be Andersons.”  I asked if it was our white hair and she said, “Only Anderson’s come down this road.  I asked if many had come down and she said no not for a long time.  Norma and Art took us for a tour while Ruth shared memories by the well her father divined and dug with the help of her brothers.  We saw the hill side that Axel and the boys had logged and Ruth talked of the deer that they hunted and the fish they caught in the stream.  Axel also had been a butcher and raised the occasional pig and butchered it.  They had an old horse and dogs.  There were berries on the property and they planted a garden.  Norma invited us into her house.  The Lohbrunner’s had lived on the property since 1942.  She explained that Axel had lost the property in back taxes.  Norma plans to leave the property to a Nature Trust when she dies and Art will be the caretaker.  Her and Ruth shared their desire for a tube of lipstick (Norma) and an eyebrow pencil for Ruth when they died and spoke of what they wanted done with their remains.  Norma would be sprinkled on the property and Ruth wanted her remains scattered in the ocean in front of our property called Maarnada.
When she got older she took jobs as a housekeeper and child care worker. One job was on Beach Drive and this family had a Hoover electric upright vacuum cleaner.  Mom understood nothing of electricity but was left to clean house.  She plugged it in and it took off breaking a large vase by the front door.  She panicked, pulled out the plug of the dancing Hoover and ran next door with the broken vase.  A young Scottish man named Bill Stewart answered the door and glued the vase together for her.  She dated Bill for seven years.  She says he was a stylish dresser, very neat and smart.  He played soccer and had learned to dance at the YMCA.  Ruth loved to dance.  He was in Victoria to apprentice as a tile setter with Thomas McDonald, his mother’s sister, Kate’s husband. Ruth loved Bill even though he was stubborn and difficult as well as charming.

      Ruth and Bill were married  November 29, 1939.  She had always dreamed of a white bridal gown but it was not to be.  I felt she looked beautiful in the pictures in a stylish dress and hat.  Her father had a reception for them at Terry’s Ice Cream Parlour at the corner of Fort and Douglas.  Later Ruth heard Bill’s mother, Agnes, worked for the Terry's as a housekeeper in Toronto.

      Ruth was very beautiful and as years went by she continued to create outfits for herself that were very attractive.  She took pride in always looking her best -- moderately slight, well formed body, 5’5 1/2”, brunette,  blue eyes, big dimples and gorgeous smile.  No wonder the men melted in her presence.  I always thought of her as a movie star, Rita Heyworth type.

      Ruth and Bill were not married long when the second world war began.  Bill enlisted, my sister Bonnie was born and Bill was gone.  Ruth and Bonnie were left alone to fend for themselves.  Financially it was a very difficult time for Ruth but when you see pictures of her and Bonnie, they are dressed beautifully in clothes Ruth created and seemed happy.  Ruth always pulled things together.  She cut lino tiles to make money plus  other jobs.  She suffered a rat-infested accommodation and wrote letters to Bill during his absence.  He was wounded in Italy.  Ruth was never told how badly. 

      Ruth adored Bonnie and it was a real bonding time for the two of them.  Her sister, Buddy, had a daughter Patsy, two years younger than Bonnie and the four of them enjoyed times together while their husbands were overseas.

      I was born in 1947 and our younger sister Karen in 1954.  Ruth adored us. Bill was disappointed that we were not boys.  My Mother would sit on the floor with us playing jacks and telling stories.  The whole neighbourhood of kids loved her and thought she was beautiful.  She taught us how to play lacrosse ball, bouncing the ball and moving legs and hands over it, skipping rope and the songs to sing.  She bought us a little record player and I remember her doing the waltz clog.

      I finally convinced her I wanted to dance and from that moment forward she became my agent, seamstress and benefactor in finding ways to pay for my dancing.  My second teacher was Florence Clough, my mother’s dance teacher.   My mother was a self taught seamstress.  The clothes she made for my sisters and I were fabulous. 

      There was a time Ruth worked at the Race track.  Then she worked for Bapco Paint as a typesetter, then at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the nursery.  She was a natural in creating formulas for babies.  Perhaps it was her mother Hanna’s legacy to  her. Later she worked at a fish packing plant doing very hard labour and also worked at the concession at the Memorial Arena at nights. 

      Ruth loved Christmas; buying us gifts, decorating the tree and creating wonderful dinners for family.  .Perhaps it was Ruth never having anything as a child that gave her the energy to continue to try making the holiday a special celebration for us.   For years, even when we all had families, she would have us all over for breakfast Christmas morning to open presents and then make Christmas dinner for us. 

    She made birthdays special by baking a cake with silver charms or money wrapped inside wax paper and placed inside the cake.  She created fun games to play and everyone had a joyous time.

      She steadfastly cared for Bill and nursed him with his prostate cancer.  She was there for him at the end when he died.

       Ruth  had severe osteoarthritis.  All her bones and joints were in constant pain.  The aspirin she was told to take over the years has created bleeding under the skin.  She bruises from the slightest touch.  Her balance is affected by past deterioration of her spine. 

   Every morning , in spite of great discomfort, she starts slowly moving to give warmth and lubrication to her joints and though sheer will power and two hours of  gentle exercise she is up and rejoicing in her day.  Her apartment is immaculate.  With every hair in place, clothing and jewelry coordinated and make-up applied,  she faces the outside world with a smile and a cheerful chatter. She prepares food for family and visitors, tends her patio garden and does her daily crossword. 

      Ruth has taught herself throughout her whole life to push through the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical challenges.  She has more courage and endurance and pride than the mightiest of warriors.  She is the queen of survival.   Like the Eveready bunny she keeps going and going and going.

      Axel died in 1949..  Steve died in his fifties around 1965 from a blood disorder.  Gilbert died in 1969; Edwin and Edward in 1985.  Ruth’s beloved sister, Buddy, who she companioned till the end, died in 1993.  Buddy shared a vision with Ruth of her Father and brothers waiting for her.  Violet, who lived the longest so far of her family, died in 1994 at the age of 83.  Her daughter, Dee, spoke of Violet seeing a vision of her family as well.

      Grandma Hanna had spoken to me when Violet was nearing death.  She said “Call your Mother and tell her I am with Her.”  I delivered the message and Mom told me she had felt her Mother’s presence all morning.  So Ruth is the last survivor of her generation.

Two years ago we almost lost Mom when she was in the hospital for a month and a half with an obstructed intestine.  Our older sister Bonnie was an advocate for her homecoming and soon after purchased a sunny condo on the other side of the street with a view of Ogden Point  and gave Ruth an incredible gift.  Bonnie’s children Vickey, Tara, Sheralynn and Jamie helped paint and fix up the apartment later Bradley would join the team.  Ruth had a purpose to care for the apartment and make meals when she could.  She remained as independent as possible because of Bonnie Karen and family support. Our sister .  Karen was always comic relief for Ruth.  Taking her on shopping sprees and helping her with the patio garden. Inviting Ruth over to hers or her daughter Kiara’s.  And all of our supportive partners, Maarten, Tony, Ken, Jim, Tracey,  The grandchildren all took turns helping Ruth with whatever her needs were and Ruth adored her great grand children Kelsey, Matthew, Hannah Ruth, Michael, Kyla,  Stella Ruby and Jaxon James.

When Bonnie couldn’t  arouse Ruth on Monday January 26th she called our paramedic son Troy and he suggested she call 911.  Bonnie had Ruth taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital.  She was there until January 30th.when she died of pneumonia and intestinal problems.  During these five days Bonnie was constantly by her side.  The family all came and said their farewells.  At one time Ruth’s three daughters were alone with her and Bonnie mentioned that when Ruth was admitted they asked her if she knew why she was there.  Ruth said, “I think I’m having a baby”.  Now Ruth’s mind was still sharp she had been doing cross word puzzles the day before so that comment reminded us that Ruth had given birth to each of us at Royal Jubilee, so this is a good place, Bonnie gave birth to her six children there Vickey, Tara, Sheralynn, Darren, Jamie and Bradley; , so this is a good place, I gave birth to Trevor and Troy there; so this is a good place, and Karen gave birth to her daughter Kiara there.  And just as it was a good place to give birth it was a good place for Ruth to die.  Loved by family and calling to her sister Violet at the end it gave us  peace to  know that she is reunited in Heaven with the Anderson Clan again and that she lives on in each of us and there are more yet to come.
In Loving memory of our Mother Ruth,
Her second daughter,

Nadine Stewart Schaddelee

Nadina - Storyteller of Maarnada

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