George William Calder was called home on Tuesday, June 6, 2020. He is preceded by his wife of 69 years, Eilleen (Marshall) Calder. Having just celebrated his 93 birthday, George is the last of his siblings and generation to pass on. He joins his wife, who took her journey in her 92nd year. George is the 5th of 6 children born to William John Calder and Florence I'anson.
George had a novel way of remembering his anniversary. Eilleen (Marshall) Calder and George William Calder were married on his birthday in a modest ceremony. He never forgot to celebrate that auspicious date. George and Eilleen have 4 children, in order of birth, daughters Diana Florence Calder [Thomas Grayden Withnell], Dale Laura (Calder) ben Ephriam [ Michael ben Ephraim], and son's Jerald Edward Calder [Maria Lyn Saylon] and Roger William Calder. We have record of 7 grandchildren. Bethany Ann (Carroll)Scea [David Scea], Angela ben Ephraim, Aaron ben Ephraim, Jorge William Calder [Hailey Manchester], Nathan Scott Calder, Ashley Elizabeth (Calder) Conyard [Kelson Conyard] and Kenji Drake Saylon Calder. To this date there are three great grandchildren. George joked that with the birth of Travis Scea, he became Great! So, the addition of Serenity Scea and Finlay Jane Calder added to that Great-ness.
Dad loved to travel. When I, Diana, was married to Joseph B Carroll, we moved often due to his career in the US Navy. Depending which side of the country we were on, we travelled to either Ontario, or Oregon to spend Christmas with family, but there were several years that Mom and Dad travelled to us. They were with us when I married Joseph Benjamin Carroll in the Salt Lake City Temple. They were “visiting” us in Coronado California, when I gave birth to Bethany at the San Diego Naval Hospital. Mom and Dad came to California to pick Jerald (Jerry) up when he ended his mission, and visited with us in Coronado. We took a day trip to Tijuana and purchased Mexican Blankets. I remember Dad being amazed that he could walk around in a light shirt in December, in Aurora, Colorado. Mom came, cleaned and organized my home, and thanked me for having them. Always the most gracious of guests.They drove out to Colorado to bring me home, and thanked me for giving them the reason to travel. On that trip, we visited with a distant cousin, then in her 106th year, and also visiting with the Charltons, members we became close to, when they lived in Bognor, part of the Owen Sound Branch.
Many of his activities revolved around his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both parents held many callings and positions of responsibility in the branches and wards they lived in. I remember my mother taking a count, one day, and commenting, I have 10 callings. Both served with dedication and testimony, and shared their insights and experiences with us freely. They spent many years serving in the Toronto Temple as ordinance workers, and thoroughly enjoyed that service. I suppose we could list the callings but Dad is ever modest, and probably wouldn't want that. He did not serve for notoriety or fame. Just a short list, though, he was a seventy, counsellor to many Branch Presidents and Bishops in Windsor and in Owen Sound, not sure what callings he had in Kitchener, Sunday School President, multiple times, and served as Branch President in Owen Sound. When Dale and I were young, he was the scout leader. I remember a wide brimmed scouters hat from that period of time.
Dad enjoyed the outdoors. I remember several summers where we travelled to the McKee's cottage on the Georgian Bay Peninsula, on Cameron Lake. It was on those summer trips that I learned to row a small dinghy that was there. Dad also enjoyed being on water. When we were big enough, we went to Point Pelee and learned to canoe. Dad also built a canoe while working at the CNR, in Owen Sound. Dad attributed that attraction to boats and water to his Scottish heritage. In light of his pride in that heritage, he encouraged Dale and I to take Scottish Highland dance when I was in grade 1 and Dale in kindergarten when we started our lessons with “Nanny”, a Scottish woman who owned and ran a fish and chips restaurant in Windsor. Her last name was Lawler, but we all called her Nanny, as she was teaching some of her grandchildren, and we thought that was her name. We danced competitively for several years, as well as sharing out talents in talent shows and for entertainment in various venues. It was a matter of pride to Dad that Dale and I learned the Highland Fling in a month, and eventually became models to our dancing colleagues who had been practising much longer. He is fond of telling the story of Dale and I coming off the competition floor, having been dancing the sword dance, and handing him our swords. Thereafter, other dancers just handed him their swords, as well!
I remember living in a modest little home that Dad finished. We called it the White House, because it was painted white, not realizing, of course, that the Presidents of the US live in The White house. No matter, what do little girls care about politics? It was certainly white, and it was our house. If I remember correctly, it was a shell when Mom and Dad purchased it, and Dad learned to build and renovate by working for free with a carpenter/builder friend. Mom loved that little home. It was tiled throughout and so easy to clean. It was in this home that missionaries knocked on their door and Mom and Dad were introduced to the church. When I was school age, Dad saw the potential in a two story red brick house with a full basement and attic on Lincoln road. I remember going with Dale and my parents to look at, and kicking up layers of dust. It was shrouded with cobwebs and kind of scary. My mother was appalled and asked, “Couldn't you have at least washed the floors? Well, turns out, Dad had. The house had been abandoned for some time. My parents spent the next 10 years remodeling, cleaning, organizing, updating. As was common at that time and place, there were layers of wallpaper, peeling and ugly. My parents scraped all those layers off until they got to the original walls, then patched and painted, restoring the lath and plaster walls to a “antique” white, my mother's colour choice. They also spent time restoring the beautiful woodwork, as well as the furniture that had been left in the house. It was in this house that Jerry and Roger joined our family. To this day, I hesitate to put holes in walls, and will never use wall paper. And, it is in that home, that I learned to appreciate the beauty of wood. Dad also invited Mom to design her dream kitchen and they built a spacious kitchen in the back of that house. I remember it being airy and light with lots of storage. Many wonderful meals came out of that kitchen, and it was there that I learned to make cakes from scratch. It was also in the house on Lincoln road that we rented upstairs to my Aunt Ivy and Uncle Ted. Mark was near our age, and we played together. The older boys didn't have much to do with us, but how we looked up to our cousin, Sandra! Sandra was tasked with walking us to our school, King Edward School, about a 5 or 6 block walk across Wyandotte, a fairly busy road. From my vantage point as a 5 year old in kindergarten, I thought Sandra was very mature. She was in grade 6! That was fun. I was sad when they moved to Toronto, then out west. Having family in the church and so close, was a lovely thing. The year between grade 8 and high school, for me, we moved to Owen Sound. We got a newly built home in Sarawak county and I got to pick my own carpet colour. For some reason, I selected a bright orange. It did have a nice contrast with my olive green basket chair. We lived there for a few years, then moved to a hobby farm in Desboro. One of Dad's dreams was to live on a farm, and here, he realized that dream. He raised rabbits, meat chickens, goats, ducks, and bought us a pony. We also had a black lab mixed dog named Salem that loved the farm. Our neighbour also appreciated the dog, as he turned out to be great at killing groundhogs. Dad had acquired a set of bagpipes when Dale and I were dancing, and would occasionally play a few hymns. The dog would join him, and howl. We tried to pull the dog away, thinking it was hurting his ears, but he actually enjoyed serenading us. We then moved into Owen Sound behind a storefront on 10th street, where I finished my high school years. Dad had always wanted to own an ice cream store, so I worked in the ice cream store for a few summers, until we closed.
Dad is a great storyteller. I remember cuddling up beside him, with Dale on the other side, as he read the comics to us. He would often regale us with stories about how he courted Mom, or experiences he had. I always enjoyed listening to him. In their later years, a stake representative met with Dad and Mom and asked them about how they met and joined the church. Later, he said to me, “Your parents are so cute! “ While Dad told the stories, Mom was hanging on every word, laughing as if she was hearing it for the first time.
Even though George retired from CNRailways at age 55 he continued working as a highrise apartment building superintendent with Eilleen for many years. During this time he built his retirement Dome in Dundalk, Ontario. In that home he helped raise his grandkids, Bethany, Ashley, Nathan and Jorge. They spent many fun summers at Grandpa's retirement home and credit many of their successes in life to the influence and example of their beloved Grandpa. At different times as needed his grown children returned to live in that retirement home as well until they could recoup from the struggles of life and move on again.
As George and Eilleen's health began to fail due to old age they accepted an invitation from their daughter in law Maria Lyn Calder to come and live with her and their son. A motor home was purchased to facilitate the move out west and everything they would bring with them was stored inside. Most of their belongings they had already passed on to family members when they had downsized from their retirement home to a small apartment in Guelph, ON. They had a great time in Cold Lake, watching the Jets doing training maneuvers, sitting in benches at the provincial park or at Cold Lake Beach. They thoroughly enjoyed three years of relative good health. As his beloved wife was suffering from diabetes, dementia and alzheimers George became her primary caregiver along with the help of AHS who provided in-home care and eventually a full time and part time caregiver for the last six months of her life. He stayed by her side for the entire time making sure that her needs were being met and telling her stories of their lives together. George and Eilleen had known each other for so long that she always knew who he was but other details were lost to her. When she woke up sometimes she would be a little girl, sometimes a mature woman, sometimes a teenager.
One day, while Jerald was listening in she woke up with all her memories intact and starting asking George some hard questions. Why can't I get out of bed? Where are we? Hold old am I? After a long discussion Eilleen said to George I want to go. I don't want to live like this anymore. George bravely said, It's ok, you can go. You have my permission. Eilleen asked, How do I go? George said I can't help you with that only God can you have to say a prayer and ask God. His beloved wife then said a prayer. They had a wonderful last day together and the very next day Eilleen entered into the end of life cycle. A week later she was gone. Since that day George has wondered why he got left behind. A few weeks before his passing he related to his son Jerald that he had seen Eilleen and that sometimes she was talking to him and sometimes to others. Jerald said Dad, Next time mom comes for you, Don't keep her waiting go with her we will be fine. Dad went from being fully able to care for him self to Palative care so fast that the Home Care Nurses didn't even have time to arrange for a hospital bed to be delivered to the house. When his son found him on his lunch break from work he knew that Eilleen had come for him finally.
George you will be missed. We are all happy that you are reunited with your parents, siblings and your beloved wife Eilleen.
Co-authored by Diana Calder and Jerald Calder.
Now for some stories.
The Man who Wouldn't Die,
On June 4th 1927 a baby was born in a home in Windsor Ontario. Sadly the baby was blue, still born. The delivering doctor put the baby to the side and concentrated on the mother. A sister of the mother in attendance looked sadly at the dead baby. Hey this baby is trying to breath. The doctor quickly turned his attention to what he thought was a still born baby. This traumatic experience may have snapped George's mind into full alertness because he has memories from a very young age.
At the age of two he was swimming and not knowing how to swim he somehow ended up in the deep section of the swimming area. As he sank to the bottom he sat down and said to himself, well this is it I'm going to die, drowning isn't a bad way to go. His big sister Ivy pulled him up by the hair a little after that saving his life once again.
As a young boy old enough to ride a two wheeled bike he somehow managed to attract the wrath of a very evil man who repeatedly tried to run him over with his automobile. The man kept trying to hit him with his car and he kept dodging out of the way on his bike. Eventually George decided to go off road thinking he would not follow into the fields of grass. Well he was wrong. The man in the car kept coming after him. George was certain he was going to die that day then he remembered in that field some work was being done and there was a big pit with cement ( likely a foundation for a home yet to be built). He quickly rode past that pit in the ground with the car chasing him through the field. George cut the edge of the pit and kept peddling for his life. The car crashed into the pit and rolled over upside down trapping the occupants and likely injuring them as well. George then went and told some adults a car has crashed in the field and I think they are hurt. George saved his own life that day.
As a young father. Sometime after 1965. He was at a Church Conference in Utah and got pneumonia. While in the hospital he died. He instantly had 360 vision and could see and hear everything going on around his body in the hospital room. He was aware of beings or spirits and they communicated with him telepathically, he knew that with a thought he could go anywhere he wanted, he instantly knew many other things that he could not recall afterwards but remembers being amazed by all the knowledge he suddenly acquired. He refused to see the beings that he knew where there as he instinctively knew that if he saw who they were he might decide to go with them. The beings offered him a choice. They said you have died, you can go now. George asked about his family. The beings said they will be ok, it's not your problem anymore. The beings also communicated that it was not his designated time to go so he could choose to go back but the choice was his. George decided he could not leave Eilleen to raise 4 young children all by herself. His spirit went back into his body. Later the nurses, amazed that he saw and heard everything that happened while he was clinically dead, asked him how he felt. He said I never felt better in all my life. The nurses quickly called for a doctor.
As a man of sixty seven years old he suddenly became weak. After checking they saw that one of his main arteries was 90% blocked. They scheduled a surgery to expand the area with a balloon. On the day of the surgery the process was abruptly stopped. The doctor said I can't do this procedure. Shocked George later asked why? Because your artery is 100% blocked. Why haven't you had a heart attack. For the rest of the time that George lived in Ontario the first Monday of every month the doctor's office would call to see how he was. He joked they were just checking to see if he was still alive. So he slowed down a bit for about a year while the capillaries around the blockage widened to carry the blood flood around the blocked artery effectively growing his own bypass.
Once he fell off the second story of his house landed flat on his back. Lied there for a while and finally said well I'm not dead guess I will go back to work.
Once he was left alone cleaning out a tank at work. Before they had enclosed area training. He woke up in the hospital to some very concerned workmates. They were very happy he was alive.
Only George can count all the events. We often joked death came for him so many times that he already thinks he is dead and ignores new death notices with George's name on it. When he finally left this planet it was because he wanted to see his beloved Eilleen.
One little Story that dad wrote down.
George (Honk) loved to get a long piece of string, light one end of it and make smoke lines in the air. His mom always forbade this so Honk did it in secret. He had just lit a piece when mom came looking for him. He ducked into mom and dad’s bedroom. Got under the bed and was very quiet. He heard her come in so he squeezed tight against the wall that had a window in it. The lit end of the string touched the curtains and to Honk’s horror, it burst into flames. Mom rushed in , reached up and took the curtain rod and ran out of the back door and flung the burning curtain on to the grass. She then came back into the kitchen, with her face flushed, sighed and said This is one thing I won’t tell Bill about tonight. Honk was happy and thought his mother was the bravest person in the world.
-Respectfully the Calder Family.