Memories & Condolences
Musical Rent Lyrics
525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
It's time now to sing out,
the story never ends
let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends.
How about love!
Measure in love!
January, February and March 2012
By E-mail and Blog Entries
John's Scattered Memories Of Mom
My mother was a Catholic and insisted that her kids go to Catholic school. I didn't think much of memorizing Latin verbs, but the French came in handy because years later my wife, Marjorie, and I moved to France where I acquired a B.A. in French. St Jerome's High also stood me in good stead because that is where I started the violin in Mr. Pohl's after-school music class which ability has added something positive to any community where I lived, whether I was a musician for a church group or for a community orchestra.
My mom was happy about my "classical education" during my high-school period. She was not happy though, about my "hippie days" when I started growing long hair after grade 13. I remember Bill Oates and myself with back-packs and sleeping bags [most likely the summer of 1970], ready to hitch hike all the way to New Brunswick to visit Mark Hymers and Glen Soulis' Aunt Peggy. Mom stood on the front porch and in German prognosticated: "Ich sehe schwartz!" I see black! Well, Bill and I were picked up by the QPP just outside of Montgagny at midnight and put in jail for the night. The door was left unlocked and in the morning the police drove us 20 miles outside of town to drop us off on the highway to resume our journey. They even fed us breakfast!
We went East again in October 1973, but this time in luxury, with my 1963 Parisienne, so we could bring our suit and ties for Mark Hymers' wedding. We also brought hockey sticks for him as wedding gifts. I'm not sure of Heather ever appreciated the gesture. John Turner photographed Bill and myselfsporting our suit and ties and our shoulder length hair, the "conforming" style at the time.Mark actuallye-mailed merecently about those hockey sticks: "I loved those hockey sticks. We got many a laugh over that. A gesture in keeping with the rebellious non-conforming 60s generation. And now those pinko hippies are balding, SUV driving retirees talking pensions and prescriptions, with wallets stuffed with credit cards and photos of their grandchildren.-- Marcus"
1996, Kitchener, "The Farmer's Market". Lance Russwurm gave his permission by e-mail to use his artwork since the subject was a personal family history.
Mom was a regular at the farmer's market in Kitchener. I remember how she was very European about her duties as a house-wife. She had dad's lunch pail filled every morning for his hard days on construction. I'd have his cigarettes squeezed into his little plastic container for his work, stuffing the cigarette tubes with tobacco the evening before with a little machine I'd use. Mom would walk to the Kitchener market in her high heels every Saturday morning and buy the week's veggies, tomatoes and onions, and come home with herring, or chicken hearts, which she'd fry up for lunch. Sunday morning she'd send us off to church and have the chicken soup, roasted chicken and mashed potatoes ready for us by the time we came back. The meal was a worthwhile exchange (just in case the sermon was boring).
I appreciated mom and dad's support through all those years. They said they would not charge me room and board, as long as I stayed in university, and that was a great help through a lot of years of education. My mother was a real individual. She spoke her mind and had independent ideas. I was glad she kept up her spirit for dancing at the Seniors' Home, even if it was dancing with her walker. She always enjoyed joking with the staff in several languages. I'm also glad that she could still get up on the dance floor, up to 3 years ago (at the age of 89) and that her dementia was not loud and angry like some people's is and that it did go on for long years of suffering. That was a blessing in itself. Mom could say, at the age of 92, that she had had a full life.
Her son, John Hartig
E-mail request to
Artist Lance Russwurm
Saturday, March 3, 2012
I photographed a picture of yours, The Kitchener Farmer's Market, which my brother bought some years ago: copy 216/ 395 limited editions. I used the photo in our family website:
so I'm asking permission to use it there. The farmer's market meant a lot to my mother who was an Austrian immigrant. She just died at the age of 92 in January 2012. She shopped there Saturday mornings and visited with people in 5 languages. If you feel uncomfortable with a photograph of your artwork on our family website like that, then I will remove the photograph. I gave you credit under the photograph. Since we came to Canada in 1954, two other memories I have are the steam engine that carried us from Halifax to Kitchener and also the old Kitchener Train Station which I remember so well as an 8 year old kid.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Go ahead. I have no problems with anyone using my work like this.(ie...not for profit) I can see that it really means something to your family.
327 Hazelglen Drive,
Mark (Heather) Hymers
[John's Teenage Friend]
Friday January 20, 2012
One of my great fortunes of youth was to meet John and his family. The Pandora St home was filled with Old European charm and not the least was Mrs Hartig. She was like an extended mama for me with her candid voice, her delightful accented English ("ach mein Johnny"), and especially her informal, friendly welcome to teens like me hanging out as if I was just another one of the family. I remember her threatening with a twinkle in her eye to chase me down the street with scissors to cut my longish hair (it was the 60s!). With age comes wisdom and I only wish I could have known her even better on a personal level. So much to say and ask. We should all learn from her inner strength to overcome adversity and raise a fine family, see her children and her grandchildren prosper. I'm sure that is all Rosa wanted and now she can go home, mission accomplished to be with her Lord forever. I'll miss you Mrs Hartig until we meet again.
More Memories From Mark
Thank you so much John for sharing that lovely photograph of your mother. Our parents were all young once and we sometimes forget that. When I compare my cozy, comfy, secure life as a young Canadian boy growing up in middle class parliamentary Canada with your mother's life, well the contrast is utterly astounding. They could make a movie or an epic adventure of the first 35 years of her life. 1948 is significant for me because that was the year I was born (November 18, 1948).
Heather reminded me that she has met your mom too. The last time was at the Trinity home I guess and she gave Heather a number of clothing items. Your mom seemed to be thrilled with her and the fact that we had a daughter or two. Old-world charm eh. It was a privilege and honour to know her and I don't mind sharing the fact with others. Already I have had a few people tell me (strangers to you) what an amazing and incredible story about her life. Hard for us suburbanites to relate eh!
I am so sorry to hear about your Mom's passing. My deepest condolences to you, Marjorie, George and all the family. This e mail is hardly a fitting conveyance. Your Mother was always kind to me and she had a amusing, delightful 'eastern European' mannerism, accent and all which I found quite endearing. I know there was a culture clash between you and your folks from the wide generation gap (especially the 60s and 70's!) and also the western pop-culture of North America that she had to adapt after the dislocation and struggles of post-war Europe. Being at the front-line of the titanic clash between National-Socialism and Stalinism, I imagine she saw and endured many things that we and our children thank heaven never had to face. She lived a long life and I feel a special honour that she was part of mine too and always will be. May the good Lord grant her rest, peace and joy.
On "Our European Ways"
Ok. I must admit the cinder block wall in the last picture didn't look right, like the basement in mom's house where we used to hang out as teenagers but otherwise, the TV, the chairs, the rug, everything else fit Pandora's Box. Yeah they were great times. I remember enjoying a supper at your table where everything was served in bowls and I particularly loved the stew. Afterward you told me it was rabbit. I don't think I've ever eaten rabbit since but I did enjoy it. Your mom's table had a quaint (to me) European style to it. Also enjoyed tea mixed with honey. Well I'm a card carrying Kitchener boy too and despite my anglo-saxon/Irish heritage, I was well immersed in Germanic culture.
Kids in the new-land wanted desperately to shed their old country identity and be accepted by their Canadian peers. All kids, even today are like that. I remember a Hungarian friend of mine from Renfrew/Ottawa telling me that she used to be embarrassed when her mom (Hungarian refugee from '56 Uprising) spoke Hungarian to her in public. Now she is ashamed that she ever had those thoughts. Her mom died some years ago from breast cancer.
I note that you and your family entered Canada through Pier 21 in Halifax. A few years ago Heather and I visited Pier 21 which is now a tourist site by Parks Canada with her cousin who's mom arrived their in 45 as a war bride. It was very touching to see the pictures and artifacts from the past. It now has even more personal meaning to me through my connection to your family.
I know this is a solemn day for you and all your family to say your final goodbye but may it also be a time of celebration of your mother's love.
John Recalls Her High Heels
Mom was a gorgeous woman when she was young. She loved fun and could joke in 5 languages. She also loved dressing herself up and walking in high heels. I remember her walking all over Kitchener in her high heels and then walking all the way down Frederick Street to her apartment with her groceries. How she did it, I don't know? Mom also spoke her mind and had her opinions on anything from politics to religion. She didn't trust politicians and often religion too. As to religion, she once told me: "You know, I believe in God but not religion." When we were teenagers, she was happy to send her 3 kids to Catholic Schools (I guess for a good upbringing and education). Nelly had already married and moved out of the house.
I'm so glad I had a chance last Wednesday to tell her I was glad she was my mom. She opened her eyes briefly and I believe she recognized me. That was a blessing.
Mom Loved Dancing
Just 3 years ago, Rosa Hartig was still alert and showed she loved dancing. Her daughter, Reni's 60th birthday was celebrated at the Concordia Club. Mom got up to dance with Nick. I was amused to see her lips puckered as she danced. Not for a kiss! She was whistling to the music as she and Nick swept across the dance floor. Yup, she loved dancing.and whistling!
Son John Hartig
Rosa and Mike's Taste In Music
Singing wasn't exactly something Mom and Dad were particularly good at. They hummed to music and they loved listening. And oh my goodness, they loved dancing. They even won awards at the ethnic clubs in Kitchener which they attended.
I remember how emotional mom was when she first heard Via Con Dios in 1953 while we still lived in Austria. She would actually sing along to that one, full of emotion. My sister, Nellie, also loved that song. There was something nostalgic about it, with a quality of romance and sadness, because of the Spanish words, so exotic sounding to Germans.
Mom and dad continued to buy German records when we moved to Canada. Their favourite singers were Freddy Quinn and that child singing wunderkind, Heintje. As mom and dad acclimatized to the Canadian culture, they developed a taste for Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Dean Martin, Al Martino and of course, Elvis Presley, though for more of his sentimental songs and not the rock-around-the-clock stuff.
[Another Teenage Friend]
It was very special for us to be able to be present! I am sure Mark Hymers must regret sometimes the distance to New Brunswick and the lack of high speed rail train that would have made his attendance possible.
We all have many fine memories of your mom.but surely not as many as you!
"requiem in aeternam dona ei Domine"
William and Christine Oates
Glen & Helen Soulis
I just wanted you to know that even though I was unable to attend your mother's funeral, you and Marjorie were in my thoughts. It is always difficult saying goodbye to our loved ones and especially to those who have given us life. I look forward to reading your blog and learning about your Mum.
Helen [and Glen Soulis]
Mom Had Her Own Sense Of Logic
Mom wasn't a stupid woman. She had, I think, grade 3 education but a mind that was nimble enough to master 5 languages and a mind that satisfied her own sense of logic.
Mom was, after all, born in 1919, lived through the Great Depression, the Stalin and Hitler era, World War II, and then a huge move to Canada. When Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon in 1969, mom refused to believe it. She said it was a hoax by the United States. That man would never step foot on the moon, simply because "God would never allow it."
I used to watch Star Trek, the original series, from 1966-1969 and mom would say to me, "You watch garbage like that?" Well, mom had strong opinions and she was unflappable about many things she believed in.
Glen Soulis, an old friend of mine, recalled mom's sense of logic. She had a reason for why the astronauts floated around up there in their cramped capsule in space. "That's because the air is so thick up there." When you think about it, in a strange way, that does make sense. And that was mom, a product of the 20th century, understanding progress in her own special way.
[Friend From University]
Sunday January 22, 2012
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men--
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those who in their turn shall follow them.
John, George-I share your grief
My Niece, Silvie Kuppek
Dear Onkel John,
We are sorry to hear of Omi's passing. She lived a good long life and her passing causes us to reflect on the tremendous events she experienced in her life: the Depression after the First World War, the horrors of the Second World War, time spent in a labour camp. the evacuation and loss of all that she had and time spent in a refugee camp in Austria before embarking on a new life with her young family to Canada. Mom used to tell us stories of the passage over here and landing at Pier 21 and the journey to Kitchener. It took a special resilience to have endured all these hardships and amazingly, Omi always maintained a sense of humour and love of life.
Our memories include her love of fashion and meticulous attention to her appearance. She was a very attractive woman and was always able to look good with very little means. She also had a raucous laugh which we can still hear!
Sandra, Monika and I shall attend the service at St. Aloysius on Wednesday morning. Please convey our deepest sympathies to Nate (Reni), George and Shelley and we also send you and Marjorie our heartfelt condolences.
Silvie, Monika and Sandra [Kuppek]
"Funerals Bring Us Closer Together"
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Dear John and Marjorie,
As always, funerals bring us closer together. Your blog was very interesting. I only wish I could have spent time personally with you and all of our mutual friends to share family news, catch up on gossip, and share memories and tributes to Mrs Hartig. I must admit, and as so often the case, I have learned far more about your mom in the past week then I could have ever imagined and now I wish I had the wisdom and hindsight to have engaged her on her life years ago. But of course youth are youth and our minds were channelled elsewhere.
I've just returned home last night from a funeral of my daughter Sharlene's step father-in-law, Lloyd Markey, age 69 who had cancer. January has been an emotional roller coaster which you will agree.
PS Whenever I hear you mention your old address Pandora Street, I get an amusing flashback to jokes about contrasting Pandora Crescent, that other end of the street where the wealthy doctors and lawyers lived. Not one of their fair occupants so far as I know, ever heard of Pier 21. Mind you, our family dentist, Dr Messershmidt [SP?] lived there. I often wondered if he was related to Willy of aircraft fame. He acted like a Wermacht officer when I sat in his chair. He didn't have great people skills with children and it took decades before I overcame my fear of dentists.
PSS Just finished an interesting biography, 'Mennonite Girl' by Mary Ediger. She writes about her life coming of age in a poor, working class North Hamilton neighbourhood where her parents ran an outreach centre back in the late 60s. Amusing yet tender anecdotes especially about her mom and dad and their struggle to preserve and shield their children from worldly temptations while struggling to run a resourceful and self sufficient home on a tiny income.
Jorg and Jana Kuhne
[Friends In Germany]
Hiermit sprechen wir unser Herzliches Beileid und Tiefes Mitgefhl dir Lieber John aus und wir sind tief in den Gedanken bei dir. Wir knnen dich leider nur so trsten wobei wir dich gerne in die Arme nehmen wrden und dich zuumarmen und dich fest an uns drcken! Sei tapfer alter lieber Guter Freund das wnscht dir von Herzen sehr dein Kumpel und Freund Jrg und Frau. Wie gesagt unser Herzliches Beileid ! Mit Freundlichen Grssen
Jrg und Jana Kuehne
aus Germany Salzgitter.
John Gets Photos
From Niece Monika
Wow, these pictures bring back memories! I'm also pleased to get a whole bunch, Monika, to update me on what your husband, Tim, looks like and for sure, what your cute little one, Jaidyn, looks like. My goodness, we've got to have you over in spring for a barbecue, so I can play soccer in the backyard with Jaidyn, if she's into sports!
Thank you so much for sending all these photos. I will include some of them in aRosa Hartigwebsite I'm creating, in honour of my mom. Silvie has already sent me a bunch of jpg photos.
E-mail From Monika
I'm glad you are enjoying them. I still have more that I haven't gone through yet. Yes, the memories.. I so miss all who are gone..but never will forget. The BBQ sounds great and we look forward to playing some soccer too. She has a soccer ball that she has been learning to kick around.
Until next time,
- Mony [Kuppek], Tim Nease, Jaidyn
John's Note On:
The Funeral Home's Slideshow
The funeral home made a slideshow for us. The first few black and white ones were of mom and dad when they were still in Austria and oh, so very young! We lived in a refugee camp then, Lager Wegscheid. Well, all that exists now in that very spot is a field and the turnoff on the highway is named Wegscheid. Gone are the barracks and evidence of our ramshackle lives.
Newenka (Nellie or Nevi) was 8 years older than I. I don't remember much in my earliest years with her because I had contracted tuberculosis and spent the first two years of my life in the sanitorium in Linz. I do remember being a sickly toddler having high fevers to the point of delirium. I believe that rheumatic fever damaged my heart valve so that years later, in Canada, I had to get an aortic heart valve replacement at the age of 41 at the Saint Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. That teflon valve has been clicking since 1986. I can hear it when I'm in the bathtub.
Time To Start A New Year 2012
We didn't know how sick mom was since Christmas. Marjorie and I were on a 10 day cruise in the Southern Caribbean. We were in our beds in our little cabin, in Rm 2618, on The Amsterdam, fast asleep as 2011 turned into 2012 at midnight. We docked in St. Lucia in 2011 and docked again in Bridgetown, Barbados in 2012. I took a photo of a rainbow as we sailed in and I wondered what promise the New Year would bring. We didn't know how much mom Rosa had declined. We got home on January 6th and got an email from George and Shelley to visit mom because they were afraid she might not last much longer. I drove to Kitchener the following week on Wednesday, Jan. 11th, and spent the day with mom. By Saturday, she had passed away shortly before 1 p.m.
Today is Friday, January 27th. It's almost 2 weeks now since mom's been gone. Marjorie's report cards are due today and I finallygot theChristmas tree down for another year. I joked with Marjorie about just leaving itup for next year, ready and rarin' to go. Just plug 'er in. But no, Marjorie made me promise to get it down and to vacuum the floor and tidy up a bit. Mom was still alive for this Christmas and now that's all packed up and put away.
John's Additional Thoughts
I've still got a few more wandering thoughts to share about mom Rosie. She'd been in the Trinity Home for something like 10 years, a whole decade. She was glad she was there but this wasn't always the case.
Dad Michael had died on October 7, 1980, of a heart attack at the age of 54. The old house on Pandora Ave where I'd spent my teenage years was too much for mom to handle by herself, so it was sold the following year, on April 6, 1981. Sometimes when Marjorie and I drive to Kitchener for a visit, we'd drive by 157 Pandora Ave and I'd show her the old house, along with Eastwood Collegiate where my old teenage friends used to go to school, then we'd tour the streets where Bill Oates used to live on Stirling, Ian Mingay on Weber and Mark Hymers on Merner, and of course, we'd drive by my old High-school, St. Jerome's off Weber Street. I used to run to school before jogging became fashionable.
Shepherd Elementary School was across the street from Ian Mingay's house. We'd play basketball at the back of the school, during the summer, and road hockey there on the paved school lot during the winter. Occasionally, my little brother, George [about 9 or 10 at the time], and I would shoot pucks there on winter weekends. George would be goal. Those were my teenage years when mom and dad were still in their prime.
Across the field, you could see the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium above the hill. That's where dad put in his janitorial years after he couldn't handle construction work anymore. I remember watching the Ali/ Frazier fight there in 1971 on the big screen. That boast, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," didn't work for Ali that year. Smokin' Joe won that fight on points. My brother, George, and I also took in a Jethro Tull concert there in 1973.
157 Pandora Ave was important to me and selling the house closed a big chapter in the life of the Hartigs. Mom Rosa moved into the Surrey Place Apartments on Frederick Street after 1981, cramming as much of the old household furniture into the apartment as possible. The Kitchener Market was only a couple of kilometres away, and thank goodness for mom, the Market was still accessible by bus and walking despite her high heeled shoes. She liked to walk.
She lived at Surrey Place until she was 83, on the 3rd floor, taking the elevator downstairs whenever she needed to go shopping for groceries or dresses. She liked buying dresses, especially if there was a sale. Mom used to buy 5 dresses of the same style but different colours if there was a sale, because that way, she was saving money! She also bought fruit, like she always did on Pandora Ave, fruit that would spoil just sitting on the counter. But at least it was there, maybe giving her the feeling that she won't starve. Maybe that came from a war-time mentality, a fear that starvation might be just around the corner. We don’t know. They say that old people get that way, storing things up for the lean years.
When we visited her, it was difficult to maneuver around the apartment because of the clutter. She'd become such a hoarder. I was afraid she'd use the stove for counter space and maybe set the apartment on fire. She had clothes and piles of stuff stored high on her bed and also out on her veranda. The mouthpiece on her telephone needed cleaning once in a while, well because, maybe she ate while she talked on the phone. Since she couldn't use her bed to lie in, mom used to sleep curled up like a little mouse on her couch.
In 2002, George and Shelley organized the move to the Trinity Home. Mom was not too happy about that and thought we'd abandon her there. We were afraid for her safety if she ever fell and couldn't get up or got sick in her 3rd floor apartment with no one immediately there to help her. So when George designated a date for the big move, Marjorie and I drove to Kitchener andhelped George and Shelley to packthings up. Piles and piles of stuff went into boxes and big black garbage bags. I drove to the Salvation Army, I don't know how many times? There were 140 garbage bags in total, full of purses, boots, shoes, coats, and dresses and more bags full of jewelry and nick-knacks. There were 2 TVs, one of them a huge console from the 1970 era (when we still lived on Pandora Ave when dad was still alive). The Salvation Army told me they were getting full up and I shouldn't come back any more. Then, I carted stuff to Value Village.
Mom was lucky to get into the Trinity Home. She got to love it there. Many of the care givers came from immigrant families themselves and mom could speakall thoselanguages, whether Serbian, Croatian, Russian, Hungarian or German. The Home had wide bright hallways and mom was assigned a spot at the dining table just like in a restaurant. There was a lovely garden with flowers and tomatoes at the back of the Home, a gazebo with benches to sit on and a pathway where she could wander with her walker. Since my sister Reni was handicapped with Multiple Sclerosis, mom had her own daughter rightthere where they could arrange visiting each other. My brother George and I, and Reni as well, were pleased that mom wasn't in her cluttered little apartment, alone and lost to the world. She settled into the Trinity Home very well, with things to do and lots of people to talk to.and a medical staff that really cared about her.
Memories of us, is what we leave behind; with some of us, it's writings, photographs, works of art, with others, it's just the memories. I took Latin at St. Jerome's High School and there's one quotation from Horace that would apply to mom: "Exegi monumentum aere perennius." -- I have built a monument more lasting than bronze. That was mom, Rosa, forever engraved in our memories.
-- her son, John
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