The rule of three

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist and contributor Karen Haviland offers up her latest "Off the Line" column

Is it true that deaths come in threes? If so, then I am going to be crossing my fingers and toes and holding my breath.

About a month ago, my uncle Roy Englund passed away. Many of the Castlegar and area oldtimers might just remember him. Uncle Roy had a twin brother named Ralph who was an archeologist and worked for the University of BC. Ralph also staked some claims near Red Mountain with Johnny Landis, another Castlegar pioneer.

Roy and Ralph were foster brothers to my mother, Rose who was adopted into their family as an infant, and sons to Signe and Johann Emil Englund. The twins, as they were commonly referred to, were born in Trail, but were raised in Castlegar.

When my mother was adopted, it was believed that grandma Englund would never have children of her own. Boy were she and grandpa surprised when not only did she become pregnant, but bore twins.

Unfortunately for my mother and my uncles, their father, my grandfather, passed away at the age of 51 from a massive heart attack and left behind his two sons, age 10 or so, and my mother, who was 10 years older than that.

At that time of her life, my mother was in the service doing whatever Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWACs) do. So it was left up to my grandmother, a Swedish immigrant to raise two, young rambunctious boys on her own.

With little to no education, grandma went about providing for the twins. Living through the dirty thirties wasn’t easy, and it was harder yet to raise two young boys alone. But grandma did the best she could. She lived in a house across from what is today’s Castlegar Cadet Hall in the home that my grandfather, a master carpenter, built. The first thing grandma did was take in boarders. That helped stretch the few pennies that there were, but there still wasn’t enough and so grandma took in laundry and began cleaning other people’s homes.

Somehow she managed and her two beloved boys learned the value of hard work and sacrifice. When old enough, my Uncle Ralph, who was the oldest of the twins, went to work on the Distant Early Warning Line, commonly known as the DEW line and sent almost every single penny back home to help grandma and to help put his brother Roy through orthopedics school. Roy would eventually become renowned as one of the better orthopedic surgeons in North America.

Ralph also made a name for himself in the university and geological world.

Getting back to the original premise of this column, and just to illustrate how my mind sometimes wanders from one thing to another, I was going to write about the recent passing of my other uncle, Keith Watson, of Fort Frances, Ontario. Uncle Keith was married to my mother’s natural sister, Ellen.

He was truly a treasure and worked hard throughout his life. Uncle Keith came from humble beginnings also and he remained humble his whole life. He knew the value of a penny earned and he knew how to make something from nothing. Best of all, he knew how to make people laugh. Now that’s a talent that is precious above all else.

Just writing about these three great men, my uncles, led me away from contemplating bad things coming in threes and instead led me to consider what it is in the human spirit that enables simple beings to excel despite the greatest challenges life has to offer; to take humble beginnings and turn their lives into exemplary beacons of hope for others.

If I were to carry that theme about things coming in three, maybe I should expand it to include those good things which also come in three.

If so, that would include my uncles Roy, Ralph and Keith.

Just Posted

South Slocan woman killed in Friday crash

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries School’s got talent

Talent show to be held Feb. 21 at Brilliant Cultural Centre

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

Selkirk College Saints score pair of crucial wins

Stellar goaltending and timely goals lead to victory over the Vancouver Island University Mariners.

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

East Kootenay mine deaths prompt safety initiatives

Teck produces educational video, introduces new procedures after contractor drowns at Fording River

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Most Read