Advice To Self with Bernice Treichel

May 5, 2018

By Susan Weisenburger

Back in 1930 the Lamont area was covered with homesteads and small farms.  Families were large and often poor.  As children grew they were expected to work out and “give their money home”.  But they were HAPPY.  They often had enough family members for their own ball team and knew how to take care of one another.  These are the days Bernice remembers with a smile on her face.

At times these large families had to make the tough decision to move to a different part of the province in order to better themselves.  This is how Bernice ended up in Alberta Beach where her family became very friendly with the Treichel family who had an established farm there.  Bernice ended up marrying one of the boys!  They moved in with her in-laws for 5 years until the young couple eventually took over the family farm.  Her son now runs the farm and is doing very well.  She remembers that she could drive everything on that farm but a bicycle.  She loved to sing on the tractor any old song that would come to mind.  She believes the cows especially enjoyed her singing because they always let their milk down really well!

Bernice raised her 2 boys there in Alberta Beach while attending the Lutheran Church.  She still attends there occasionally and when she walks out the church door she can see her farm.  It is a good feeling and a blessing.

When Bernice and her husband decided to retire off the farm they tried country living in Duffield but Bernice suffered from severe asthma so they moved into Stony Plain.  They lived in High Park and on the Golf Course.  She was used to the busy life of the farm and transferred that energy into making a home with everything “just so”.  She remembers her husband always headed out for a walk each morning.  If her older self could give her younger self some good  advice she would tell her, “Go walk with your husband!  Forget the house.  Life is short.”  Her husband did pass away in Stony Plain and Bernice lived alone for about 15 years.  She ached for him and was very lonely.

Four years ago Bernice moved into Whispering Waters where she remembered her skill of how to make friends – and good ones!  She has lots of good memories of close friendships out on the farm in AB Beach, especially with Kay and Herb Arndt.  She still enjoys chats with her sister who lives in Oregon, and she has an old Sunday School friend – Frieda Hardman – whom she calls every morning.  Bernice is thankful for her one surviving brother who still comes to visit, and of course, her two boys.

But after 15 years of lonely Bernice used her great social skills to make new friends at Whispering Waters.  They play cards and enjoy all the entertainment.  She loves to watch people dance, especially the waltz and the two step.  When Bernice was younger she loved to square dance.  She now has a special friend, Bill Denis with bright blue eyes and a mischievous smile.  Bernice has created another extended family who accepts her and are so nice to her.  Stony Plain has given Bernice close and dear friends to laugh and play with.

What do seniors of the Tri Region need?  Bernice says they need to connect.  They need to find joy.  They need to belong to one another.  She says she is not lonely any more.  And for that she is thankful.  “If you smile, they’ll smile back!”  Bernice could never be someone who just thinks of herself.   She’s a doer.  She knits toques to be donated and sews and reads.

One piece of advice her older self gives her older self…….”Get out of your room!  There’s a friend and a purpose right down the hall!”