It’s been a chilly, and perhaps lonely, fall for seniors during COVID-19, but 90-year-old Rimbey senior care centre resident Anne Teeuwsen has her memories to help keep her warm — and a pile of writing awards to show for it.
For years, Teeuwsen, who has Parkinson’s disease, has been recording her memoirs and short stories, with the help of friend and fellow Women’s Institute (WI) member, Shirley Greene.
The Alberta Women’s Institution holds an annual creative writing competition. This year, Teeuwsen won first place in non-fiction memoir, non-fiction essay and best overall for creative writing.
She was also presented with a a Branch Life Membership certificate, in recognition of her membership since 1983, and turning 90 years old.
“Anne’s comment when I asked her how she feels about winning for her writing was ‘proud,’” said Greene.
“I think she is proud to show her children that her writings have importance, especially down to the second and third generation.”
On Oct. 29, members of her WI chapter, The Half-Way Grove, traveled to Rimbey to present her with her certificates: Dorothy Ungstad, president, Cornelia Bossart, Barb Hartman, treasurer, and Greene, secretary. There were also three members of Teeuwsen’s family watching over social media.
For many years, Teeuwsen lived in the Ponoka-area. She and her late husband had a farm in the Sylvan Heights area, about 25 miles west of Ponoka.
Later, she was a resident at Seasons Ponoka, before moving to Rimbey in November, 2019.
When asked what her stories are about she replied, “my life and upbringing.”
Her first-place essay, “Spring; The Queen of Seasons,” is about the new life and beginnings that come with spring.
“Spring is the first bright and glorious dandelion, offered to you in the small hand of a child. It brings happiness to both of you,” reads an excerpt.
“All the new shoots pushing their way up through the ground, maybe even through a light spring snow, bringing the renewal of life which are the little soft promises that come with spring. There is a sweet smell of freshness to spring. Even the smell of the dirt is like a perfume.
“Melodiously the flutter of wings, warbling throats, tapping of the woodpecker, hoots of an old owl, and the cawing of a crow are all added to the sounds and echoes becoming louder and louder. Each bird, the blue jay, the little junco, the rose coloured grosbeaks, the colourful finches, and even Mr. Squirrel join in the chorus.”
“Hannah,” her non-fiction memoir, is a biography of her grandmother.
It details her early life working on a farm, and then her marriage, and her eventual move to Saskatchewan.
“Any role that Annie (Hannah) Boynton Wellman played, she put her whole heart and soul into it. As a daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother, she fills the role to the utmost. Holding her head high with pride, integrity and dignity. She put forth an example that each person should try to live up to,” the memoir reads.
“In our Women’s Institute Group, we have enjoyed many of Anne’s stories. It is a wonderful thing that we are able to bring this joy to Anne … during this COVID time,” said Greene.
“Anne’s stories are so important to her. She wants them preserved for her children and their children.”