Dad (Michael Bain Sr.) always said, “I’ve had a good life.” It began on September 15, 1911, when he was born to Rose and Michael Bain in Glenbow, which is now part of Calgary. As we reminisced about Dad, we felt there were some key trademarks that identified him as a person. These are a love for his wife and family, business and community and the Town of Castor. Woven through all this was a sense of humour, fun, a love of life, and a caring for people, especially the young. Dad was one of four siblings. He had one sister, Mary, and three brothers, Ambrose, Joe, and Pat. He used to tell great stories of their lives growing up and some of the adventures they had. He talked about the dairy business and gathering the fresh mushrooms and putting them on the stove to warm and how tasty they were.
I think, from some of the stories he told, the boys gave their parents some premature grey hair! Though we are not sure this fully prepared him for some of the antics of his own children, especially the four boys! After his parents moved to Castor so he and his siblings could attend Theresetta School, he met Rita Meyer and this fun-loving baseball player became his wife on October 9, 1941. They had 68 years together and raised the seven of us, Maureen, Frank, Jeanne, Mike, Pat, Kevin, and Brian.
He warmly welcomed their spouses to the family and the 14 grandchildren Stacey, Chris, Steve, Bradley, David, Kathleen, Lisa, Greg, Keith, Sherri, Jennifer, Jeffrey, Michael and Sarah were a joy to him. We learned so much from our Dad. He was always there to guide and support us. Education was important to him and he made sure that each of us had the opportunity to pursue whatever career we chose. For this, we are forever grateful and as we have raised our children, appreciate that this was not an easy feat to accomplish.
Dad really enjoyed baking and cooking. He got his start at this when, as a summer job during his university years, he sold Wear Ever Cookware. He would travel around cooking meals as part of his demonstration. Some of the pots he sold were used by Mom throughout their entire marriage and are still in use by Mike and Wendy in their trailer. We used to look forward to a Sunday when we could convince Dad to make French toast. Dad was an adventurous and creative cook and would often try new recipes or alter them. Sometimes this was a good thing and at othertimes, not so good. One of the “not a favourites” was the attempt to make fudge using Velveeta cheese.
When Dad baked, he used almost every pot, pan or dish in the house and had every cupboard in the kitchen open. He denied this, but we have photographic evidence! Dad was very understanding and was able to go with the flow, even when he asked about the tree branch he found in the grill of the car after being used by a nameless child and the answer was, “Well, it just jumped out in front of me in the alley!”
Or, when he was a passenger when another nameless child got a speeding ticket. As we each encountered a difficulty, Dad was always there to listen and ask questions to help us make our own decisions. Dad had very interesting pockets. As kids, they held a mint patty or a two cent chocolate bar for us. For the grandchildren, they held a “loonie” for when it was time to leave and so he became known as the “loonie grandpa”. The ever trusty jackknife was kept there as well. Dad loved his work with his brother, Pat, in the Drug Store. We recalled the many times that the phone would ring late at night, during supper, or on a weekend and someone needed to get a “per”, as we called prescriptions, filled. This was never a bother to him and it would often mean that we might get the chance to go with Dad and read comics while he filled the per.
I think this reading of the comics was a favourite pastime for many of the young people in Castor during the 60’s. Dad was a great supporter of the Town of Castor. He served as councillor and mayor for 22 years.
Even after he “retired”, his concern for the town did not lessen. He tried to keep himself informed and showed his concern by offering suggestions and ideas, especially if it concerned the town water!
He took this civic duty very seriously and when Mike was elected recently, Dad gave him the “duties” talk. Dad was not what we would call a “handyman”, but there was no job he wouldn’t tackle and he always came up with an inventive solution. His tools were not of the best quality and if he did not have one that fit the job, he would create one. For example, he needed a windshield broom for the car. He decided to make one and used a broom head attached to a hockey stick handle. While it worked well, you needed a paint job on the car after using it because of the screws used to attach them! Another example of his ingenuity was the day he decided he needed to remove a fence post and built a lever. Mom was to jump on the end of the board and that would pull up the post. Mom was very wise and said no she would not do that. So Dad, at about 90, jumped on the end of the board. The fulcrum worked, but not as he expected and he ended up flying into the raspberry bushes head first. His last great tool was the extra long shoe horn.
It became his bed smoother, blanket puller upper, his shoe horn, his door opener and closer, and more. We’ll never think of a shoe horn in quite the same way! Dad had a great sense of humour! He loved to play jokes on his fellow businessmen and even bought a special pitchfork to take to coffee to shovel out some of the outrageous comments made by his coffee mates.
He would read the Reader’s Digest and then retell us the jokes. He had very unusual ways to refer to things. He would explain that he did not want to eat cheese because it was more binding than the laws of Moses. We were never quite sure what Dad would say. Dad loved poetry and had a book with him in the hospital. Each visit had him reciting a part of some poem that was important to him. One he marked as a favourite is on the back of the leaflet you received as you entered.
One of the most special things that set Dad apart for us was the love, care, and devotion he gave to Mom.
His tender care for her as her memory began to let her down made us realize even more how blest we were to have had such a role model as our father. His footsteps are big ones to follow. His quiet and private acts of kindness were a great example to us. Throughout his 100 years and a few months, Dad saw and experienced so many changes: the coming of electricity, WW2, the Depression, the boom of the 80’s, and even the use of the computer.
He said he would not have wanted to live in any other time. We were very grateful that Dad could spend his last days in the community he loved and received the special care and attention from the staffs at the Paintearth Lodge and Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital. Dad left us in body on December 3, but will remain forever in our hearts and memories. With a smile from Dad: Thank you for coming. Vigil was held at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on December 7, 2011 with Duane Nichols presiding.
Veronica Weber and Brenda Kneller presented their gifts of music. Mass of Christian Burial was held on December 8, 2011 at 1 p.m. with Father Arlan Parenteau officiating. Eleanor Mah was Cross Bearer, Tony Nichols was Adult Server, Readers were Chris Bain and Steve Bain, Intercessions was presented by Stacey Prefontaine. Interment was at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church with honourary pallbearers being Lawrence Hoffart, Eddie Mah, George Keller, Camiel Dooleage, Jim Schaffner, Ken Wetter, Lawrence Zinger and Bob Frank. Active pallbearers were Kathleen Berg, Steve Bain, Chris Bain, Ed Bain, Jeffrey Theriault, Brad Berg and Greg Bain.
Following the service family and friends gathered at the Golden Circle for a time of fellowship and a luncheon by the C.W.L.
Memorial donations may be made to the Paintearth Lodge or to Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital Foundation. Condolences may be sent to www.parkviewfuneralchapels.com. Parkview Funeral Chapels & Crematorium entrusted with the care. 403-882-3141