Drumheller Files: Imaginationland

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

After retiring from Red Deer, my grandparents moved to where my grandpa was born in Drumheller Valley.

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

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 my grandma her favourite flowers—Tiger Lilies.

Countless hours playing cards, dice and other games with grandma, well, enjoying her cooking would impress the best of chefs.

But, one of my favourite things was climbing too close to the top of Crystal Hill.

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.

Once, I found a 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.

Those summers were also filled with looking after a campground, community centers, baseball diamonds, outdoor and indoor arenas, and many other things within The City of Drumheller.

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

Sometimes we would go to the post office and not leave for 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. So from the time I can remember, some mornings after breakfast, grandma and grandpa sang me the song “Teddy Bear Picnic,” my grandpa and I would then leave to run errands and such as he would tell me, “when you get up in the morning, after breakfast, go outside, stay busy until bed.”

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.

Some years later, I would grow to understand my grandpa was a long-time councillor and mayor.

Those fun times I was bonding with my grandpa, helping him, helping his community that he was born into and will most likely die.

My grandpa taught me a strong work ethic, 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 a machine, you or the vehicle won’t 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 a vital 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’s contagious, and you have no choice but to smile back.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. Still, the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

— Steve Jobs, 1997

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Dean Mathers


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