ellensagh

3. Tom Harcourt Eulogy

EULOGY FOR TOM HARCOURT

Born: August 27, 1921 Died: September 25, 2007

“The life given us by nature is short but the memory of a well spent life is eternal”

Thomas Michael Harcourt was a son, a brother, a friend, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather.

Tom became a son to Fred and Anne Harcourt on August 27, 1921 and a little brother to Dick.  They were a pioneer family settled in the Caseyville district in the RM of Leroy.  He was a big brother to Edith, Bill, Jack, Margaret and Betty.

He first picked up the fiddle when he was nine and walked cross country to the school house; did lots of horse back riding with his mom and his dad; sometimes hunting coyotes; played lots of ball and learned to skate on a slough.

He finished Grade 10; worked on the family farm for awhile; freighted fish in Flin Flon, did a short stint in Ontario, travelling by train; actually rode in the box car with the horses from here to Ontario.

He married Nellie Casey in 1949; a love relationship that lasted longer than 50 years.

He was in road construction and bought his own farm 9 miles west of Leroy.  They had about a 600 sq foot house and had 3 boys; Brian , Kevin and Gary.  He built on to make the house 880 sq feet; and had 3 more girls -Ellen, Phyllis and Dorothy.

By then he was a grader operator and the only thing that matched the miles and miles of roads he graded was the miles he walked patting children to sleep.  And they kept coming – Lois, Laura, Marlene and Shirley.

On the farm, Dad was milking cows and carrying pails of water as there was no running water to make a skating rink.  The boys were amazed an old man could skate.  By then we had a piano; and besides the fiddling; he was playing at dances on weekends; in between filling the cisterns.  He also was into trap shooting and going hunting up north by Hudson Bay or Carrot River.

We were in the 880 sq foot house – boys in the boys room; the 6 girls had 3 bunkbeds in the girls room and Shirley was lucky to have a crib in Mom and Dad’s room.  Christmas’s were unreal with all the presents under the tree – we had the scraggliest tree you could ever see; but we had Music and lots of love.

A station wagon got the 12 of us to church each Sunday; and every baptism, communion, first confession, confirmation; sports days, Sinnett Picnic, 4-H.  He was so proud of us 7 girls singing at the Legion or the 4 little girls at the Villa.  Lois and Cyril married on Mom and Dad’s 30 th Wedding Anniversary and they renewed their vows – love and committment.

During that time, many in-laws became part of our and Dad’s life.

Mom always said his best decisions were marrying her and selling the farm when he did.  Shirley was 18 when Dad and Mom retired into Humboldt.  He retired after grading roads for 35 years for the RM of Leroy and the RM of Wolverine.  He is the only man we know who was receiving the family allowance and his pension cheque at the same time.

Family was important to him as I don’t know anyone retiring these days who would buy a home with 6 bedrooms in it.  When he moved, we found out Dad saved every piece of paper he had ever had; if you need to know what the price of gas or groceries were in 1962; we could find out for you.

After moving into Humboldt, he and mom took lots of trips in the motorhome.  He took in his grandchildren when his daughter Dorothy died.  After retirement he learned to golf. He started bowling. He never quit playing the fiddle. He had been in many bands thoughout the years; the Westernairs; the Merry Makers to name a few.

We had lots of family gatherings as 30 grandchildren came on the scene.  Dad knew how to balance his life – time with others and time alone.  We’d say “Where is Dad?” and he’d be in his bedroom with the door closed; playing the fiddle or he’d be watching a ball game; and there’d be one of the grandchildren curled up beside him..

He knew how to listen.  As a family; as all families do; we had our struggles; no matter what we did; or trouble we had been in; he was there for us; quiet strength; unconditional love; no judgment; steadiness.  He remained a dedicated son; taking Granny to her appointments and at her bedside when she was dying.

His care of Mom throughout her life; his being there for her daily when she was sick the last five years; rubbing her legs; checking her insulin; going every day to the care home to see her; to feed her.

It was hard on him after Mom died – he stayed in touch though – all the telephone calls; what the weather was like; what the roads were like; or his golf score; his bowling score; frame by frame by frame.

Grandchildren knew the concern he felt for their well being – his love of their sports; to Englefeld or Muenster for Volleyball; ball game in PA; clarinet concerts; kindergarten graduations; church Christmas programs and always the music.

His joy in Sarah and Casey and all the 18 great grandchildren.  It was the caring of all of his friends that made it easier for the move to Eastside Village and it was new friends for all the pool and shuffleboard tournaments.  He continued singing and playing the fiddle.   His Saturday night routine with       Aunt Laura Miller – 5:00 Church, sharing the Chinese Combination # 1; and their game of crib.   For the last five years he had been driving people to their appointments; picking up groceries and getting many to church.

We didn’t worry about him having nothing to do ; last winter; the icy roads; blizzard day; lots of people didn’t go to work – where was Dad?   Driving Highway # 20 to Imperial – to play the fiddle for the old folks.  He was only 85.  He was playing non stop with George, Glen, Rudy and Arnie Ecker.  Any given day he could be going to play at Cudworth, Middle Lake, St. Brieux, Watson, Leroy or Lanigan.  He would tell us about someone in a wheelchair; who could hardly move; but their toes or fingers were tapping to the music.

We have to thank Kevin and Marg for having the foresight of making a CD of Dad and Mom  – Dad fiddling his fiddle tunes.

Or he would be at the Golf Course – even May and June this year – I found his little book – near every week day he golfed 9 or 18 holes – two days he did 27.  His hole in one in 96 was big but he was not one to want a fuss made about him although he enjoyed it when we did.

Steadiness; steadfastness; quiet strength – that was the character he showed throughout his life and in these last two weeks in the hospital.  A son – in – law said ; that in this fast paced world where everything is instant – he took the time to think – to decide and then when it was time – It was time.

He was born with No phones; No electricity and at the end; he had this little cell phone at the hospital – he’d pull it out of his pocket – the connection with family and friends was so big for him.

At the end, he held onto a picture of Mom,  nodded his head; told Laura Deibert he was ready; made the sign of the cross; and We Sang Him Home.

We will keep the toe tapping spirit of Grampa Tom alive.

Thank you for sharing his and our lives.

 

—-Ellen Sagh

summer:  306 382-5204
winter      480 373-1734
writings:   ellensagh.com

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