By Donald Sutherland

Grandma Betty’s pancakes

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul (St Augustine).

Some six decades ago, Betty Kuntz, as a young adult, arrived in Eston, Sask., and obtained a job working in the grocery department of Fielding and McLean. Each morning the smell of fresh bread wafted through town. Few aromas are a match for that of fresh bread.

Most farmers are familiar with air movements known as updrafts, usually following very calm mornings. My hunch is that one of these drifted northeast of town and caught the attention of my cousin Jack. As a young farmer he was interested in finding a life partner, particularly one with a big heart, love for children and skilled in the kitchen. Betty is all that and much more. As those cowboys back on the ranch were wont to say, “She’s quite a package.” Their young family soon outgrew their small starter home on the farm. They built a larger home in Eston so their own six children would be closer to school. Now they enjoy 14 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren with a 10th on the way.

The location of their Eston home proved to be ideal for grandchildren to settle in for summer holidays and take swimming lessons. The town pool was one block to the south and a confectionary store was close by to the west. Usually six to eight out-of-town grandchildren, adding to the four living in town, arrived about July 1st with bicycles, bathing suits, and a little pocket money. Grandma scattered children’s books, puzzles, blankets, drawing paper, crayons, and board games on her living room floor. This spot became the hub of activity on days when the pool closed due to rain, lightning, or wind. As part of her “make ready” preparations, Betty purchased at least four large containers of ice cream, along with scoops and several packages of cones. The ice cream was available as “self-serve and as much as you want” day or night. In good weather, the children spent the whole day at the pool. They came back at meal times ravenous for Betty’s tasty and nutritious food.

There was extra excitement on “pancake day.” Each child placed his or her order and then waited for the creation of a custom crafted cat, angel, doll, or teddy bear. Betty told me that flipping pancake cats, while keeping tails intact, was an art requiring considerable practice. She added further, “I have no memory of conflict among the cousins. To this day they are all good friends.”

Betty and Jack were called Grandma and Grandpa by the neighbour’s children. Betty was thrilled when a neighbour’s child knocked on her door and said, “Grandma Betty, I am wondering what it might be like to eat at your house.”

Unfortunately, not all of us have had the good fortune to bask in the love of grandparents, but maybe we have other fond memories to share.

Sutherland, MBA, is a personal coach and relationship builder in Winnipeg. Visit

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