Drumheller Files: Crystal Hill

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My favourite phone call was from my grandma when my grandpa would pick me up.

I would spend an average of a month at my Grandparent’s house in Drumheller throughout and even before grade school.

During summer break, right after school ends from ages three to seventeen.

After retiring from Red Deer, my grandparents moved to where my grandpa was born. He was born in Wayne, Alberta, in the valley of Drumheller.

After that, they would move back to the valley near where my grandpa grew up.

They both spent most of their lives and careers in Red Deer, Alberta.

My grandpa was an inspector, and my grandma was a nurse at the local hospital. My favourite time of year was not Christmas, but the day after the last day of school, as it was time not to get Christmas presents but to get the ultimate gift of my grandparents’ presents and the many things they taught me.

Those summers in Drum were spent exploring the hills, going camping and fishing, gardening, flowers, flowers, and more flowers every step, backyard, and front, picking saskatoons, raspberries, and strawberries with my grandma along with picking her favourite flower—Tiger Lilies.

Countless hours playing cards, dice, and other games with grandma, well, enjoying her cooking would impress the world’s best cooks.

But, perhaps my favourite of all was my Grandparent’s apprentice as we would work daily looking after a campground, the local community centre, outdoor arena, baseball diamonds and other things that build fundamental life skills.

Mirror neurons, genetics, epigenetics, modelling, and other significant cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development are involved. It was some of the most fun, funniest, and most important times of my life.

One of my favourite things was climbing close to Crystal Hill’s top, then digging and finding buckets of quartz crystals.

Crystal Hill was founded by my grandpa and his siblings one day when they were exploring as children.

I was about ten years old when we were nearing Crystal Hill’s summit, and along the narrow walking path that approaches the top is surrounded by thorn bushes.

At the same time, they saved me and broke my fall.

Unfortunately, they also caused many scraps throughout the exposed parts of my legs, arms, and face.

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My grandpa helped me up by grabbing one end of the shovel as he used his leverage to propel me out of the thorns.

I do not remember when we came back empty-handed or with empty buckets.

Crystals grow like anything else that grows in and above ground.

Once, I found a fossilized bone in the hills one day and asked their long-time neighbour what it was.

He happened to be a paleontologist who worked for the Tyrell Museum.

I gave him the fossilized bone, and he examined it and determined it was from a woolly mammoth that went extinct in this region during the last ice age.

He said if I wanted to, I could donate it, and he would put it on display at the museum in my name.

As a 10-year-old, it was like finding gold or the covenant.

At my age, he could have been telling my ten-year-old self to boost my confidence and the importance of finding something rare that not too many people get to see and hold, or it could have been a petrified dog bone.

Either way, I will take what he told me back then as truth.

However, it did spark a lot of inspiration, imagination, and personality.

Freud calls his psychoanalytic theory that personality comprises the id, the ego, and the superego.

These three things work together in a symbiotic relationship to form complicated human behaviours.

My id was formed through thongs like learning how to fish from my grandpa and learning that’s a way to feed myself.

The id is created through people’s desires, wants, and needs.

My ego was formed and kept in a healthy mind space through my grandparents taking me camping and fishing, playing cards, hiking, walking, and meeting and talking to many families, friends, and other community members.

The ego is formed through the id to ensure it has an appropriate place in reality to express itself.

When I was five years old, my grandparents developed my superego to help me make proper guidelines to make judgments, hopefully well-balanced ones, for leading a civilized happy life.

The superego keeps the id and ego in a place not to act on certain impulses and urges to live an acceptable lifestyle.

My grandparents taught me a lot during those times we spent together, and I am lucky enough to remember most of it.

As a child, I viewed what we were doing as fun and a great bonding experience with my grandparents.

Sometimes I would go to the post office with my grandpa, a mayor and councillor at the time, and not leave for sometimes hours, as he listened and communicated humorously but effectively with people.

He would introduce me to someone, and I figured you have many friends when you get old.

Sometimes my grandma would iron a suit for my grandpa, leaving for a few hours.

Meanwhile, my grandma and I would watch him on channel ten.

They might as well have been talking Russian at those televised meetings.

As I and probably most people would agree, I had no clue what they were talking about.

Seeing him on television led me to believe I could see myself on tv one day, which would later spark my passion for drama for a shot at acting one day, but what I learned from that later in life is that writing was my true passion.

Some mornings after breakfast, grandma and grandpa sang me the song “Teddy Bear Picnic,” my grandpa and I would then leave to start our day, which began going outside and running errands, amongst other things.

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Those fun times I was bonding with my grandpa, helping him, helping his community that he was born into and then passed away in.

My grandpa taught me by modelling a solid work ethic and listening and communicating with people in a fun environment. At the same time showed me the art of comedy and how to use it in all areas of life.

My grandma was the foundation, the inspiration behind what made the family work.

The engine to the car, if you will.

Without an engine, you or the vehicle will not go anywhere.

My grandpa donated over 25 years of service to his community and represented the Metis community well, and he did this after retiring from a 40-year career.

My grandma was and is an intense energy that, with her smile alone, used to light up even the darkest of rooms, the smile that makes you forget about all of your problems for a minute, like a yawn, it is contagious and you have no choice but to smile back.

My grandparents were there through critical developmental periods throughout infancy, childhood, adolescence, and well into my adult years. They helped me grow up in a stable and thriving environment.

My grandparents always provided me with only healthy foods cooked by my chef grandma.

I got plenty of exercise staying busy with my grandpa, from hiking the hills to riding our bikes on many trails, well, getting an adequate amount of vitamin d from the sun.

I went to bed simultaneously and woke up at the same time daily.

Exercise, healthy dieting, vitamin d, and lots of sleep were positive contributing factors to my cognitive and motor development.

Playing dice and card games with my grandma was also favourable for my brain and social development.

They help improve memory, math, and problem skills, helping with concentration, patience, and discipline.

My grandparents had a positive aspect on my social and emotional development.

Daily we would do many things for the community and interact with many people.

I bonded with my grandpa as I modelled after him by watching him have positive interactions and conversations with many people.

So I may already have the gene for being an influential conversationalist like my grandpa, or I may have picked it up through epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the genetics you pick up from the people you hang out with most, usually family and very close friends, or even pick up genes through their adopted family.

Also, I share specific genes with my grandpa and grandma that I do not share with my parents.

For example, my dad has a red/green colour deficiency, and so did my great-grandpa. So my grandpa and I are not colour blind or deficient, but my children could be, especially if it is a male.

My grandpa also taught me my favourite pastime, fishing.

I was diagnosed with Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) as a kid, and fishing seemed to be one of the only things that kept me calm and quiet, and I could focus on one thing for a long time.

I view it now as my first form of meditation.

I could not sit still usually, so being so active throughout the day with my grandpa helped the ADHD brain.

Fishing was very similar in that all my concentration was used for fishing.

When the fish were not biting, I would then use my mind to imagine how the fish and other animals interacted and how the trees around me interacted.

I would wonder if the trees were all connected through their roots underground and if they knew whose seed came from who.

When I was in my early twenties, I watched a PBS show called NOVA, a documentary-type science show and on it that featured scientists from the University of Alberta (U of A).

They were the scientist who discovered how older trees in the forests of British Columbia communicated and fed each other nutrients.

They showed that even if a tree is cut down, the stump that remains will be fed nutrients through its roots from other trees nearby and connected to their roots.

Like how trees communicate and feed each other for proper development and growth, my grandparents gave me a healthy, nutrient-dense diet in a relaxed social environment, with lots of exercises, vitamin d, adequate sleep, and lots of time bonding to grow a healthy emotional development.

My grandparents were great mentors and teachers who taught me the teacher I plan to be in the future, which involves much work, time, and ways to help all learning styles provide a healthy learning environment.

For example, I would dedicate the first five minutes of class or meditate to set a proper intention for class.

I would set up my social classes similar to what I saw on tv when watching my grandpa at his city council meeting.

People sit in a circle and face each other with lots of group work, and issues are resolved amongst the students themselves with other teachers and me as mediators to help the students resolve such conflicts.

I would bring a loving, open mind like my grandma to the classroom, well-remaining stoic and humorous like my grandpa.

I would bring similar teaching methods to my classrooms from my favourite teachers, my grandparents.

My grandparents never tried to teach me anything but taught me so much.

Dean Mathers


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