(written March 1985 for use in his Memorial Service, April 2, 1985 at Hennepin Church)
Betty is Wilford's oldest child. These recollections deal with the first 10 years of Betty's life, which correspond to the years when Wilford was in his 30's, practicing as a country doctor in Brownsville, Ontario, Canada.
My clearest memories of Dad are a child's memories.
I remember him best as a young father and country doctor.
I considered myself fortunate to have a Dad who was around most of the time.
His office with its call pipe and horse-hair furniture
and the laboratory in the basement was part of our white clapboard house.
So I felt I was part of the heart beat of the village as he was.
And he was always there to take part in some new discovery.
It was he who produced my first skates and taught me to skate one moonlit night;
and it was he who demonstrated the intricacies of threading a worm on a hook
and fishing through alders with my bare toes wiggling in the mud.
In those young days Dad had a kind of exuberance that fed a myriad of interests.
There were village stage productions, community amateur nights,
picnics to relatives and the Sandhills and sometimes a movie in some distant town.
I learned about gardening because there were always horticultural competitions to be entered.
Without fail he won the rose and gladioli section and kept the church supplied with flowers as well.
My brother and I became adept at picking potato bugs off the potatoes for pennies a canfull;
and we learned how to beat the skins off new potatoes
by putting them in a pail of water and stirring them with a stick.
Dad kept bees for a while.
It wasn't unusual to find him wondering around the yard in his bee-keeper's attire,
encased in net with smoke pouring out from somewhere.
He was one of those fathers who could do anything and did.
In a short time span he could metamorphose
from an overal led and booted farm lad hoeing his beets
to the white-frocked physician ushering waiting illness onto his examining table,
then again into the smart young professional on his way to town,
suited and vested, his pearl-buttoned spats hugging his shoes.
I thought him the most handsome of gentlemen.
He could hitch teams of horses, plumb the house,
graft orchards, recognize all the birds and flowers,
grow bushels of grapes for the village folk, play a fast game of crokinole
and read fairy tales to a small girl in a very large rocking chair.
Yes, he was happy and full of dreams and plans.
He sampled life as the sure-footed can.
Folks paid his bills with unplucked chickens or a side of pork, a handful of onions
or a bit of tatting and often never at all because these were the depression years.
I learned with fascination the parts of the digestive system of a chicken
when I was big enough to climb on a chair
and about bunsen burners and microscopes because there was always time to be around.
But then the war came and I grew older.
All of our lives changed then and there was never time again.