Where I am today?
George passed away on Wednesday, January 15th. We started to celebrate his life with having soup in the dining area. We even got Micheal in the picture.
On Sunday in between the visitations we had a meal for the family catered by Quehl’s in Tavistock. Of course we had to take a picture of the buffet and a plate full of food. We also had a toast in his honor. Can't forget that.
|Chicken, mashed potatoes, cauliflower mix vegs, coleslaw and desert.|
Yesterday was a celebration of the life of George. He is now at peace without pain. Parts of the service included my brother Dennis, reading the Optimist Creed (totally George), with comments about his and my life. Son Ken, spoke about his Dad’s life, taking parts from what his Dad had written. Son-in-law Brian, read comments from the blog and Facebook that had been compiled. George really liked a Kris Kristofferson song, Why Me Lord, which was played during the service. The postlude was a song by Billy Kell. It was our first song we danced to at our wedding.
|These two were a breath of fresh air, honoring their grandfather|
The family and myself want to thank everyone for their condolences and comments on their blogs and on Facebook.
The blog will continue, especially so his recipes are there for all to enjoy. I may continue to post but it will not be everyday. At least at this point. I also need those recipes as I can adjust some from barbecue to oven.
Life and Times of
George Thomas Yates
May 20th 1949 to January 15th, 2020
This is the beginning of a story about me over the last 70 plus years.
Not sure where to start but will give it a try. It could be long, it could be short probably boring but it is all about me as much as I can remember of a very good happy life.
Over the years I have discussed many memories of relatives, but so many gaps and questions, most of those memories are just memories. All gone nothing documented. So I thought this would be a fun project. I have written and published close to 3,800 blog postings of our full time travels in our Motorhome from Aug 2006 until this date and found it very satisfying. So another project I can do while confined to a wheelchair and keep my mind busy. Helping my typing skills return that went away for quite a few weeks.
So where to start???
Hmm let’s start back as far as I can remember and see where that leads. And pretty well all these memories are happy fun times. Smiling and enjoying a good life.
The early days, way back when I was 4-5 years old I recall living in Toronto’s east end first Brooke Ave, Kingston Rd and Woodbine. Going to Norway Public School, where my Father went as a child. A cosy semi detach (#39 I believe) with Mom, Dad, his parents (Nan and Grand Dad) also dad’s sister Aunt Beryl.
Somewhere about that time we moved to Scarborough in a newly developed area further east almost country to 50 Larkhall ave. Wow a new house, bush behind us and adventure farm land and baby sister Louise, (4 years younger) . I began a brand new school (grade one I believe). About a mile walk all through new neighborhoods.
This was a great new house, neighborhood and lots of young families with children to play with. Loving this. Shortly afterward the family purchase a property on Georgian Bay between Collingwood and Wasaga Beach and proceeded to build a new prefab cozy cottage. (Heck more fun and adventure). Only an hour from home. I was still only about 6-7 years old. Cottage fun, building, playing, meeting, more new kids. Practice! Only 5 lots from the Georgian Bay, open lake water and swimming. The cottage was mostly done that summer with help to Dad, Mom, aunts, Uncles, cousins etc. There, pretty well every weekend mostly year round now and so much for us to do. New friends, hide and seek in the bush, by the lake, house games, board games, learning card games, boating, swimming and water skiing. A neighbor had a boat house which half became a clubhouse for us kids, playing records, old 78’s on a wind up record player, making popcorn over an open flame, hot melted butter. Telling stories and generally have fun at the cottage. We were all from somewhere in Toronto. So weekend and holidays were special times. Fun all summer long, How could we not enjoy a fun happy childhood. And a bonus for my sister and myself was our Grandparents who lived with us. We got to spend pretty well the whole summer there at the cottage. Enjoying real fun times in the bush and even helping some neighbors there as well.
Some very special memories I have was the neighbor across the street, Him and I spent some fun times together, chatting, swimming and snorkeling around the huge rocks in the lake, spotting so many fish, even fishing and swimming way out in the bay, crystal clear water that seemed bottomless back then.
So for many years I enjoyed all this fun time. Somewhere in my early teens we stayed home a bit more when school started. So to keep busy in the city for a while I got a paper route and made a few bucks. Then with my good buddy Jim Kelly from school, we worked a few Saturday mornings in a car wash (when cars were washed by hand) .85 cents an hour. Then once in high school Dad bought me my first car (10 bucks) to putter with and keep me off the street. I excelled in Auto Mechanics in school. This was a 1950 Chevy (did not run but had fun with it along with buddy Jim. A few more 10 dollar cars kept me busy and having fun.
The car years were fun times too, I bought and sold many back them even trading a car for a motorcycle. Made a few bucks and stayed off the streets. At 14 years old Grand Dad couldn’t drive anymore so gave me his 1956 ford, that needed body work and mechanic work, so I had a project. Next 18 months did what needed to be done and was all done and on the road for my 16th birthday. On which day I wrote the test and took the driving test and was now officially driving!! In the meantime, I got a job at the gas station belonging to neighbor Noel Simpson (Simpsons’s Super Shell Service). This was back in the mid 1960. Where I actually, pumped, gas, check oil, washed your windshield and checked the air in your tires!!!! Even changed oil and did brake jobs there when the pumps were slow. Hey more fun times enjoying the good life.
Now the car was on the road, cruising around just because I could. But need some money for gas. High school just over a mile away so I arranged with some friends to drive them to and from school. Way back then the bus fare for students was 10 cents, so that is what I charged 10 cents each way to and from school. Pretty well paid for most of my gas back in the day when it was much cheaper. Some days as many as 9 piled in my car, what a sight and fun times we had!
Still playing with having fun buying trading etc, different cars, motorcycles etc. Lotsa great old cars. One day pumping gas a customer came in with his family and asked if I wanted to buy his car. An interesting looking 1956 Plymouth, American made. He had bought it in California to drive here with his family. Never seen road salt no rust and slightly customized, no Chrome, electric remote trunk all black custom interior, lowered springs plus factory tinted glass, A rare car for sure. So $125.00 I had yet another car. The engine was not the best but it was a cool car.
To resolve the engine issue, a neighbor we knew built racing boats and offered me a 391 V8 (hemi) from a 1958 Desoto all rebuilt but the car was totaled. A huge engine rated at over 400 horsepower, for only $100.00. With his help and some minor changes we shoehorned this in there and man would this car fly! So fast it scared me, never lost a race with that car back in the day. But at only 5 mpg was kinda expensive to drive, all my money went into fuel. It was a great challenge and so glad I got that car and made it happen. Eventually sold that Plymouth and bought sensible 1964 Chevy Belair Air 4 door 6 cylinder.
Then Jim and I headed to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) for some fun. There we met 2 girls, one who ended up being my first wife, the mother of Daughter #1 Kim and my son Ken. Enjoying a good life happy as can be, working a midnight shift at the bus depot in downtown Toronto. A few part time jobs, found a nice 3 bedroom room apartment to live in for a while. (Trudelle Court) but decided I did not like living in the City.
Well as luck would have it, an opening occurred at the bus depot in Kitchener, Ontario. A much smaller city. Population 100,000 compared to one million in Toronto. With the help of my parents back in 1970 at 20 years old, purchased our first much older home (16 K). Renovated it for a bit then 2 years later built a new bungalow (18K) very nice. Now working at the bus depot in Kitchener and part time driving Taxi in Kitchener making good money, new appliances, and another car, etc. Determined to make a good life for our perfect family. Hmm, only thing missing was me. After 7 years ended up divorced. Oops. goofed.
Determined to carry on and smile my life moved forward. Still in the house I met a few guys so here we are 4 bachelors in a nice new house, almost party central. Still working and carrying on trying to decide what direction to go. Eventually met a nice lady for a few years, but not what I wanted. Single for a few more years getting close to 30 years old, still working 2 jobs and 2 more houses later. Was getting worried still not married, something I always wanted. Yes, I visited my 2 children frequently (in Toronto) an hour away. Then I met another lady she became my second wife, and eventually married and mother of daughter #2 Jessica.
In the meantime real estate interest rates went ski high! My newer bungalow in Waterloo became unaffordable, so got lucky as I usually did. Sold it and bought a much less expensive house in Kitchener and carried on.
Now here I am again wondering about a life change. Have a good job 13 years now, pays well and a pension in the future, to retire on in 25 years at 55. Hmm do I want to work here 25 more years? Shift work, holidays and Christmas etc...? Naw, so found a factory job at Old Time Stove company, a day job, with nights and weekends off. More to life than money and working, right? Grinding, painting, lift truck etc. plus a regular Monday to Friday work week. Something I have never done. This job was more fun, a challenge and some physical labor. I enjoyed it, plus a bonus, for the 3 years I was there, slow periods was laid off in the winter, and with employment insurance, time off and a few casual jobs, a more interesting lifestyle.
Then at that time was I was offered a job in Toronto (Scarborough) in a Woolco Catalogue warehouse, another interesting change about 1981. Picking driving a lift truck, more money and benefits, plus my wife was offered a job there as well. Good deal. So we commuted for a while 1 hour each way. Shortly afterwards rented our house for a year and moved into an apartment building where father lived with his wife. Now that was fun, less commuting and more time with my father and his wife. Almost a full year, then got laid off and went back to Old Time stove in Kitchener for while until the tenants moved from the house. During this time working and commuting in Toronto I joined a CB club. Lots commuters travel back and for. This made the drive more fun and another social group we got involved in. We would have get togethers, meetings and picnics all related to our CB’s, meter hunts etc, and actually got to meet some of these people behind their voices on the radio. We all had a Handle (name) not unlike on blogging and cyber names. My handle was “Day Dreamer”, maybe because that was me always Daydreaming and making my dream and wishes come true. My 2 oldest children we around 12 year old Kim was “Fancy Figure” as she was a figure skater, and Ken’s handle was “Pokey”, LOL because he was.
Back to the house in Kitchener applied for a job at MTD products (They made lawn mowers, snow blowers, tillers, garden tractors etc) working at various jobs, assembly painting, lift truck, here has benefits and lots of over time. I became a Union Steward for about 3 years, a very interesting addition. In the meantime sold our house in Kitchener in 1982 and bought a nice tiny affordable house in the village of Plattsville. Population 750 at the time on a double lot. Finally out of the city!!!
Small town living. It did not take long for us to fit in. Friendly neighbors community functions. Church etc and only a 20 minute country drive to work loved it! Weekends off mowing lawns, bbq’s with new friends and neighbors. Now this is the life.
While living here in the small village My 2 children Kim and Ken, almost teenagers came to visit on weekends as they lived in the city. Coming to the country was a treat for them. Hiking, biking, the beaches and even went camping with my tent trailer. One fun adventure we enjoyed was rowing down the Nith River that came through Plattsville in August. Well the river in August there is not a lot of water, so for us to travel 2 concessions. Took about 5 hours of fun, laughter and splashing in the river, frequently having to get out and pull the 8 foot row boat down stream. Enjoyed the scenery past cow pastures, and even a few places where people had built cottages right on the river.
Then along came daughter #2 in 1985 Jessica, and my involvement as a charter member of the Plattsville/Bright Optimist club. Meeting more local people with membership around 50 including spouses. Here we organized, lots of children activities, like bus trips, bike rodeos, teen dances even adult dances at the town hall, Christmas, New Years etc. Community stuff that brought so many together. Going to other clubs and dinner meetings saw they had newsletters. Well nobody wanted to do one in our club so I thought I would give it a try. We had a portable typewriter so trying to type I could write a newsletter (this took a while) cut and paste pictures, update every month with new and birth dates then photocopy. One day I was invited over to our ministers and he showed me what he could do on his Apple computer, wow! Was I impressed. So managed to get an old PC (before windows) and tried to teach myself how to use it. Hmm a computer course did not help much so plugged away with this thing and when windows came along I was catching on. Still having fun in the community.
Then in 1989 the small restaurant in town was for sale, a soup and sandwich a good price. Well something else I always wanted to do own and cook in a restaurant. This place was busy and was needed with all the new construction popping up in town. So here I am quite my job at MTD products and dove right in head first. Never even worked in a restaurant but liked to cook. With the help of Jessica’s mother, we opened the door of Jessie’s Diner. Decided on some long hours to see if we could fill a void. Well after a year the 100 hours a week plus, we took on the contract at the factory across the road. Took a toll on our marriage. We parted ways, amicably and carried on with new lives.
Having liquidated some assets to start over. The listing agent for our house wanted me to meet a new woman. She had a lot of single girl friends, Suzanne is her name. So here I am still working the restaurant by myself with some hired staff taking and some time to meet some of these interesting ladies. Not easy being 40 years old single divorced twice, 3 children and working all the time. But eventually, Nov 23rd 1990 a Friday night, I met this interesting lady somewhere down this list of women. We enjoyed a coffee at Tim Hortons in Kitchener hit it off and agreed to have our mutual friend disappear. The night was young and I had a good friend and his band played just outside of town at The Blue Moon Hotel (Billy Kell). So we decided to take a drive out there and catch a set of his great music. I had been there earlier that week with another woman, and as soon as we walked in, Billy on stage in the middle of a song welcome us with! And here is George Yates with another woman! Good thing Suzie has a sense of humor and knew my situation she stayed and enjoyed a fun evening. Yup we hit it off.
The next night was Saturday and my staff party for the restaurant (staff about then) I invited her and Suzanne (our friend) out and a fun time was had. Then while I was at it, Sunday was my day to have Jessica for a visit (5 year old then). What an overload she took in and the rest is history. We had a lot of things in common, travel being one of them. She did not want to work in the restaurant, enjoyed our quiet times together and she liked doing my book work for me. Allowing us to spend more time together and taught me how to slow down a bit and enjoy life as opposed to working non stop all the time. (ya know stop and smell the roses).
A short while later, we bought a house in Plattsville (fixer upper) and spent the next 15 there. I still had my tent trailer from 1967 in good shape. We took it out a few times and I found out she enjoyed camping too, not fancy but we were off the ground and dry. Cut hours back a bit in the summer so we could camp Saturday afternoon and Sunday, touring all around southern Ontario having a ball, hiking, canoeing, reading biking, reading on the beaches, hey this is a real life! Then about 1997 we bought a Class B van RV. Toured, took a trip to the Maritimes and New England with Jessica and a girl friend (2- 12 year old's by now). Another great time we had.
Moving ahead to 1999, 10 years in the restaurant, I was burning out so got a job in a Tool and Die shop. Working with a good friend Marc (owner) driving lift truck loading trailers, running production etc. Working straight afternoon shift Monday to Thursday 4 -10 hours shifts. Friday off. Wow 3 day weekends every week, I am in heaven more time together and more camping! No stress less hours my back beginning to feel better not on my feet all day. Suzie did not mind the quiet evenings during the week either. More quiet and reading time for her. Life is good all the way around. Me Happy, she Happy what is not to like. For the next 7 years I worked there, I was put in an office to write up policies and procedures for this factory to pass a workers compensation audit. I had 1 year to complete this. We passed the audit, then I was assigned to do employee training. All 125 employees plus newly hired ones. For another year then Lift truck training, and crane training and safety.
In the meantime we got more and more camping in and enjoyed it even more is some slow winter time a friend and I remodeled the Kitchen in our house. It was finally all renovated. With no pensions to work for no need to keep on plugging away. Suzie being a bookkeeper checked with our accountant, financial adviser and worked on numbers. Bottom line, we knew what it would cost to go full time if we were frugal. Sold our house as we had recently purchased the RV of our dreams (1999 Holiday Rambler Vacationer) and owed no money. In May 2006 we decided it was time to get going what up loose ends, quit work, sell house, (we got more than asking) liquidate and hit the road. People thought we were nuts, (too young they said). Suzie was 49 and me 56 at the time. But with most of females in my family getting sick with cancer, strokes, heart problems etc, we decided best live our dream now while we can.
So Aug 18th, 2006 the house closed and we were now full time RV’ers. Free to travel, explore follow the sun and avoid these cold snowy winters here in Canada. At that time, I thought it would be a great idea to document all this stuff down and started our blog (Our Awesome Travels, www.geosuzie.blogspot,com). Thinking for our own records and the family to know where we are and what we were doing. The rest is history and pretty well a daily journal of what us young retired people do living in an RV.
Then in October 2019, I had some major pain, a visit to the Stratford Hospital and I was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer that was affecting my liver as well. Consulting all the specialists, it was determined that this is not curable. I could do radiation, chemo to extend my life, but not cure this, or choose for the rest of my life to be comfortable and pain free. Second choice by the 2 of us was agreed upon. We have enjoyed an amazing life together for the last 30 years, lived most of our dreams travelling and spent 13 of our 26 years married, living in our Motorhome exploring places most people never get a chance to see and meet so many fun and interesting people.
Now with this diagnosis, heading south and travelling is out of the question. Plus living here in Ontario for the winter is really not feasible either, especially considering my health conditions.
So we got lucky found a brand new apartment in Stratford, close to her family for support and less than 10 minutes from the hospital. The perfect place to be. One bedroom plus den, ground floor, patio, southern exposure and 6 brand new appliances. Boy did we get lucky. But then after only 2 nights in the apartment, back to the hospital, more specialists, consulting and tests. I was admitted into the Perth County Hospice, an amazing facility that caters to my every needs. Friendly staff, amazing food, almost like a luxury resort and people came to visit us frequently. Some I have not seen for quite a while, plus the doctor even gave me a prescription for 2 beers a day if I wish! Now how does that sound?
Many of us are between 65 and death . An old friend sent me this excellent list for aging , and , I have to agree it’s good advice to follow … particularly the item 19 .
01 – It’s time to use the money you saved up . Use it and enjoy it . Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it . Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital . Warning : This is also a bad time for investments , even if it seems wonderful or fool-proof . They only bring problems and worries . This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet .
02 – Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren , and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself . You’ve taken care of them for many years , and you’ve taught them what you could . You gave them an education , food , shelter and support . The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money .
03 – Keep a healthy life , without great physical effort . Do moderate exercise ( like walking every day ) , eat well and get your sleep . It’s easy to become sick , and it gets harder to remain healthy . That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs . Keep in touch with your doctor , do tests even when you’re feeling well . Stay informed .
04 – Always buy the best , most beautiful items for your significant other . The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner . One day one of you will miss the other , and the money will not provide any comfort then , enjoy it together .
05 – Don’t stress over the little things . You’ve already overcome so much in your life . You have good memories and bad ones , but the important thing is the present . Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you . Feel good in the now . Small issues will soon be forgotten .
06 – Regardless of age , always keep love alive . Love your partner , love life , love your family , love your neighbor and remember : A man is not old as long as he has intelligence and affection .
07 – Be proud , both inside and out . Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber , do your nails , go to the dermatologist and the dentist , keep your perfumes and creams well stocked . When you are well-maintained on the outside , it seeps in , making you feel proud and strong .
08 – Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age , but keep your own sense of style . There’s nothing worse than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters . You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you – keep it and be proud of it . It’s part of who you are .
09 – Always stay up-to-date . Read newspapers , watch the news . Go online and read what people are saying . Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks . You’ll be surprised what old friends you’ll meet . Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age .
10 – Respect the younger generation and their opinions . They may not have the same ideals as you , but they are the future , and will take the world in their direction . Give advice , not criticism , and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today .
11 – Never use the phrase In my time . Your time is now . As long as you’re alive , you are part of this time . You may have been younger , but you are still you now , having fun and enjoying life .
12 – Some people embrace their golden years , while others become bitter and surly . Life is too short to waste your days on the latter . Spend your time with positive , cheerful people , it’ll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better . Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around .
13 – Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren ( if you have a financial choice , that is ) . Sure , being surrounded by family sounds great , but we all need our privacy . They need theirs and you need yours . If you’ve lost your partner ( our deepest condolences ) , then find a person to move in with you and help out . Even then , do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone .
14 – Don’t abandon your hobbies . If you don’t have any , make new ones . You can travel , hike , cook , read , dance . You can adopt a cat or a dog , grow a garden , play cards , checkers , chess , dominoes , golf . You can paint , volunteer or just collect certain items . Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it .
15 – Even if you don’t feel like it , try to accept invitations . Baptisms , graduations , birthdays , weddings , conferences . Try to go . Get out of the house , meet people you haven’t seen in a while , experience something new (or something old) . But don’t get upset when you’re not invited . Some events are limited by resources , and not everyone can be hosted . The important thing is to leave the house from time to time . Go to museums , go walk through a field . Get out there .
16 – Be a conversationalist . Talk less and listen more . Some people go on and on about the past , not caring if their listeners are really interested . That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you . Listen first and answer questions , but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to . Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to . Try to accept situations as they are . Everyone is going through the same things , and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints . Always find some good things to say as well .
17 – Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older . Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through . Try to minimize them in your mind . They are not who you are , they are something that life added to you . If they become your entire focus , you lose sight of the person you used to be .
18 – If you’ve been offended by someone – forgive them . If you’ve offended someone – apologize . Don’t drag around resentment with you . It only serves to make you sad and bitter . It doesn’t matter who was right . Someone once said : Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die . Don’t take that poison . Forgive , forget and move on with your life .
19 – If you have a strong belief , savor it . But don’t waste your time trying to convince others . They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them , and it will only bring you frustration . Live your faith and set an example . Live true to your beliefs and let that memory sway them .
20 – Laugh A Lot . Laugh at everything . Remember , you are one of the lucky ones . You managed to have a life , a long one . Many never get to this age , never get to experience a full life . But you did . So what’s not to laugh about ? Find the humor in your situation .
21 – Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking . They’ll do it anyway , and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved . Let them talk and don’t worry . They have no idea about your history , your memories and the life you’ve lived so far . There’s still much to be written , so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think . Now is the time to be at rest , at peace and as happy as you can be !
And , Remember : Life is too short to drink bad wine ! ! ! Or , in my case , bad Arnold Palmer
Want to learn more about Membership camping at Rock Glen Family Resort ? click this link www.geosuzie.rockglen.com to book a tour