Over the past week, I have had a lot of time to think about my priorities, where I want to focus my energy, how I want to spend my time, and who I want to spend it with. I’m generally the kid that loves school but I’ve found it challenging to enjoy the time and emotional commitment my program demands after having worked for two years following my degree. I’ve found it a struggle to balance school and life outside of school, and I realize that I agonize over homework and doing well way too much. Not that prioritizing school isn’t important – because it is. But I am now much more committed to spending more of my time and energy doing the things I love with the people I love, because life is really much too short.
My wonderful grandfather, my Papa, passed away at the end of Reading Week. Instead of working my way through piles of homework like I was supposed to, I spent my week off surrounded by family and friends, mourning my Papa and celebrating his life. As some of you may know, my grandparents lost their home in December to devastating fire and had to adjust very quickly to life in the city. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents over the past two months, and even though the fire wasn’t a blessing, having a chance to be near my Oma and Papa certainly was. I am so lucky that I got to see my Papa almost every day and that I got to hug him and tell him how much I loved him that last time I saw him. But I can’t tell you how much I wish I had had more time with him.
In remembrance of my Papa, I’d like to share with you the beautiful words my sister shared at my Papa’s funeral on Tuesday. She paints such a true picture of my Papa and captures all of my favourite things about him – the things I will always remember and cherish.
Rudolph “Rudy” Schindle: 1935 – 2015
Today we are here to remember and celebrate the life of my papa, Rudolph Schindle. He will forever be cherished in our hearts as the father, and grandfather of our family.
He raised loving children Shellie Sklepowich (Peter), Sandra Evinger (Les), Darlene Schindle, Darrell Schindle (Cheryl) and Shannon Schindle.
He will be missed and lovingly remembered by his devoted wife Elaine; and grandchildren Amanda, Jeffrey, Adam, Katrina, Tyler, Selena, and Hayley.
He is survived by sisters Hilda and Olga, and brothers George (Jane) and Stanley (Shirl), sister in law Sue, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews, and the many friends that surrounded him. And of course we can’t forget Nipa, his dog. Waiting for him in Heaven are his parents, Michael and Elsie Schindle, brothers Emile, Ben, and John; and sisters Minnie, Esther and Emma.
Papa was born on May 30, 1935 in Camper, Manitoba – the youngest of 11 children. He grew up on the family homestead and lived on that land for nearly his entire life. Then one day he met my Oma and he loved her more than anything. Their marriage was filled with a special love, honour, and respect. They were married in 1959 and shortly afterward they were blessed with their first child, otherwise known as my mum. Soon after, she was followed by Sandra, Darlene, Darrell – and eventually, Shannon. Oma and Papa farmed and raised their children. My Papa also drove school bus for over 25 years. His family was the most important thing to him and the farm was a central part in all our lives. All of us grandchildren spent much of our time there and it is my favourite place in the world.
Over the past little while, Papa’s health had been declining. As many of you know, he and my Oma lost their home to a fire right before Christmas and it broke his heart. It was obviously devastating and the stress of this took its toll – he wasn’t quite himself.
Today I would like to tell you about the man I will remember him as:
- My Papa was up at the crack of the crack of dawn, every single day. He’d have toast and coffee and head outside to start his day, humming and singing to himself. He enjoyed tending to his garden and making sure everything was in order, exactly how he liked it.
- I will remember his love of the farm and especially the land and animals that roamed it whether tame or fowl, our farmer! He was truly our angel here on earth.
- I will remember that his favourite story to tell about me was how when I was learning to talk I told him I wanted him to make me a “jammy” (toast with jam) too. And he told this story to everyone. In fact I’m sure just about everyone here today heard him tell that story.
- I will remember his “uniform” of a plaid shirt and jeans.
- I will remember how when my mom would tell me I couldn’t use the four wheeler cuz it was muddy my papa would quietly hand me the keys and tell me not to make too much of a mess.
- I will remember how my Oma and I would pack Papa lunch, hop on the trike and find him working hard in the fields. I will remember wondering how on earth anyone would want hot tea when it was scorching outside.
- I will remember bringing friends home to the farm and how Papa took one look at my blue-haired friend, smiled and said “You better get inside before the neighbours shoot you!”
- I will remember how he helped me move home from Norway House. He loved the trip and being able to experience the beauty of the North.
- I will remember how he kept my dog Nipa after I managed to convince him the whole thing was really his idea, even though it wasn’t.
- I will remember how much he loved to play with my dog Hershey.
- I will remember how he tried to retire and it didn’t quite take at first.
- I will remember how my mother decided he needed a hobby and had him building willow furniture, how he had his whole “station” set up and with the help of a brad nailer could whip together a willow basket in about 15 seconds, and how the basket was mostly nails, and how he yelled “ELAINE BRING THE NEEDLENOSE” when he shot himself in the hand. I will remember how there were no willows within a ten mile radius of their house thanks to his hobby.
- I will remember how he’s never ever taken off his wedding ring.
- I will remember how after the fire that took his home and my Oma’s wedding ring the first thing he wanted to do was get her a new wedding ring, because to him that ring wasn’t just a ring – it was a daily reminder of his love for my Oma.
- I will remember the funny little German songs he’d sing.
- I will remember sitting in the kitchen late Friday night watching him play cribbage with my Oma and my mom and dad, laughing at the end of a long day.
- I will remember how he could strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere and loved to chat. Much to the dismay of many of our teachers, my sister and I both inherited his “Plappertasche”.
- I will remember how he’d trick me into eating my vegetables when I didn’t want to.
- I will remember how he would do little things just to make my Oma smile, like presenting her with “the prettiest plastic horse” in the whole store just because it was the prettiest and he wanted her to have it and smile.
- I will remember how he cut out little jokes from the local paper and kept them in his wallet so he could show everyone else.
- I will remember how after being married to Oma for over 55 years that she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, as was always the most beautiful woman in the room.
- I will remember how when I was born he said he was far too young to be an Opa and that’s why we called him Papa.
- I will remember how a couple weeks ago he was standing out on his balcony and saw some “old fart” looking at him with “field glasses” and decided to flip him the bird just to see what would happen. Even at 79, he hadn’t lost his sense of humour.
- I will remember that many of his stories included the phrase “… And so I grabbed the shotgun and then…”
- I will remember him showing me which veggies I could eat straight out of the garden dirt.
- I will remember how he always told me to be thankful for everything I have.
- I will remember his strength and intense love of his family and how every time we parted ways there were hugs, kisses and about 100 “Love yous”.
- I will always remember that he was a loving son, husband, father, uncle, grandfather and friend.
- Lastly I’ll leave you with our favourite Papa-isms: “irregardless”, “Oma did it”, and “Mrs. Sue Wiggins”.
We love you, Papa. Rest easy now in the arms of our Creator and when the time comes, we will see you again.
Some of the things I’ve learned this week: prioritize your friends and family. Spend time with them. Tell them you love them. Don’t get too stressed out about the little things. And make sure to take time for yourself.
I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for your support and care and friendship – thank you for being there for me. You’re all fantastic.